Written By
S.R. Shearer

The Olive Tree
Romans 11: 15-26

The Church
The Candlestick
Revelation 1:20


The first thing one must do in coming to any meaningful understanding of the Prophetic Scriptures is to distinguish between Israel and the church. This distinction is forced on all those who take the Bible literally - which historic evangelicalism does - i.e., the evangelicalism of men like Hudson Taylor, C.T. Studd, Dwight Moody, Harry Ironside, C.I. Scofield, etc. This distinction is called "Dispensationalism" and is the central core around which the concept of what we today call premillennialism is arranged** , i.e., the premillennialism embraced by such denominations as the Assemblies of God, the Conservative Baptists, the Regular Baptists, etc. Charles Caldwell Ryrie of Dallas Theological Seminary writes:

"A dispensationalist (i.e., a biblical literalist) keeps Israel and the church distinct. This is stated in different ways by both friends and foes of dispensationalism. Fuller (who embraced amillennialism) says the 'basic premise of dispensationalism is TWO purposes of God expressed in the formation of TWO peoples WHO MAINTAIN THEIR DISTINCTION THROUGHOUT ETERNITY. Gaebelein, a friend of dispensationalism, stated it in (the same terms) ..."


Lewis Sperry Chafer, first President of Dallas Theological Seminary, agrees with Ryrie; he emphatically believed that if one read the Bible literally (reading "Israel" as Israel in the prophetic Scriptures, and the "church" as the church) one would be led systematically and logically to the conclusion that -

"... throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes: one related to the earth with earthly people (i.e., the Jews) and earthly objectives ... while the other is related to heaven with heavenly people (i.e., the Christians) and heavenly objectives, which is Christianity ..."2

All these men believed that the denial of the distinction between Israel and the church rested on a very superficial understanding of the Scriptures and the rejection of a literal interpretation of the Word of God. The theology which denies that such a distinction exists is known as Covenant Theology [i.e., post-millennialism (amillennialism is merely a sophisticated adaptation of post-millennialism)] - and is the historic theology of the liberal churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Covenant Theology sees the ages of history as the development of a single covenant made between God and sinners by which God would save, through the value of Christ's death on the cross, all who come to Him by faith. 3 While there certainly is much in Covenant Theology which is in agreement with the Scriptures, it is woefully inadequate to explain the "doctrine of end times" (eschatology) and ultimately it leads the church down into the box canyon of the social, cultural and economic reformation of man-devised institutions - which institutions are not meant for reformation, but judgment and destruction.

Chafer writes:

"The theological terms (so dear to the Covenant theologian), 'Covenant of Works' and 'Covenant of Grace', do not occur in the Sacred Text. If they are to be sustained it must be wholly apart from biblical authority ... Upon this human invention of two covenants ... [Covenant Theology (and Post-millennialism)] ... (have) largely been constructed. It sees the empirical truth that God can forgive sinners only by the freedom which is secured by the sacrifice of His Son - anticipated in the old order and realized in the new - but that theology utterly fails to discern the purposes of the ages; the (differing) ... relationships of God to the Jews ... and (of God to) the church, with the distinctive, consistent ... obligations which arise directly and unavoidably from the nature of each specific relationship to God. A theology which penetrates no further into Scripture than to discover that in all ages God is immutable in His grace towards penitent sinners (which He no doubt is) and constructs the idea of a universal church (in which Israel is swallowed up by the church) - a church continuing through the ages - on the one truth of immutable grace, is not only disregarding vast spheres of ... (Scripture) but is reaping the unavoidable confusion and misdirection which part-truth engenders."4


The "unavoidable confusion and misdirection" of the church alluded to by Chafer (above) results ultimately with the church involved up to its neck in the social, economic and even military affairs of this world - which activities are forbidden to the church - after all, how is it possible for the church to justify, for example, its involvement in the military affairs of this world in the light of Luke 6:27-35:

"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

"Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

"And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

"Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

"For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

"And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

"And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." (Luke 6:27-35)

To deny that Covenant Theology eventually leads its adherents into the useless activity of social reformation (and even into military activity) - and then finally into the denial of a literal interpretation of Scripture (which Covenant theologians must ultimately accept in order to involve themselves and their churches in this kind of activity - at least in light of the New Testament) is to deny history itself. This has been the historic fate of the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, American Baptists and countless other denominations which started off as conservative, Bible-believing bodies but which are today merely shadows of their former selves, bodies which at the drop of a hat are prepared to compromise the Scriptures to accommodate whatever current social fashion is in vogue (women and homosexuals in the ministry, the female God, etc.) and whose single aim seems to be nothing more than the fruitless task of world reformation.


Of course, if we demand of Covenant theologians the Scriptural basis of their theology, it's only fair to demand the same thing from old-line evangelicals. What then is the Scriptural evidence upon which old-line evangelicals base their concept of the distinction between Israel and the church? What Scriptural proof exists to support the evangelical contention that Israel is not to be swallowed up by the church and is to maintain its distinction, as John F. Walvoord puts it, "throughout eternity ...?" Simply put, evangelicals base their belief on the eternal distinction between Israel and the church on a LITERAL interpretation of God's Word and what logically must follow such an interpretation - specifically, the IMMUTABILITY of God's "COVENANT TO ABRAHAM" which was reinforced and expanded upon by the "PALESTINIAN COVENANT," the "DAVIDIC COVENANT," and the "NEW COVENANT."


Charles F. Lincoln defines the word "covenant" as follows:

"A divine covenant is (1) a sovereign disposition of God, whereby He establishes an UNCONDITIONAL or declarative compact with man, obligating Himself in grace, by the untrammeled formula, 'I WILL', to bring to pass of Himself definite blessings for the covenanted ones, or (2) a proposal of God, wherein He promises, in a CONDITIONAL or mutual compact with man, by the contingent formula 'IF YE WILL', to grant special blessings to man provided he (man) fulfills perfectly certain conditions, and to execute definite punishments in case of his (man's) failure." 5

Two additional points should be noted -


First, God's covenants are literal. G.N.H. Peters writes:

"In all earthly transactions, when a promise, agreement, or a contract is entered into by which one party gives a promise of value to another, it is universally the custom to explain such a relationship and its promises by the well-known laws of language contained in our grammar or in common usage. It would be regarded absurd ... to view them in any other way ... The very nature of a covenant demands that it should be so worded, so plainly expressed, that it conveys a decisive meaning, and not a hidden or mystical one that requires many centuries to resolve in order to develop." 6


Second, no Gentile nation (including so-called "Christian" nations like America, Britain, France, etc.) has ever received a divine covenant from God; there is only one nation that God has ever covenanted with - Israel. J. Dwight Pentecost writes:

"Finally, these covenants were made with a covenant people, Israel. In Romans 9:4 Paul states that the nation of Israel had received covenants from the Lord. In Ephesians 2:11-12 he states, conversely, that the Gentiles have not received any such covenants and consequently do not enjoy covenant relationships with God. These passages show us, negatively, that the Gentile (nations) were (and are) without covenant relationships (with God) and, positively, that God had entered into covenant relationships with Israel." 7


The Scriptures refer to five major covenants with Israel, all of them made by God with the Jewish people. Four of these covenants answer to the first formula defined above and are UNCONDITIONAL; one of them answers to the second formula and is CONDITIONAL. Lincoln writes:

"The four UNCONDITIONAL covenants, with the formula 'I WILL', are found in (1) Genesis 12:1-3, where the formula is found either expressed or understood seven times; (2) Deuteronomy 30:1-10, where it is found either expressed or understood, twelve times; (3) II Samuel 7:10-16, where it is found seven times; and (4) Jeremiah 31:31, where it is found seven times. The CONDITIONAL covenant, (5) with the formula 'IF YE WILL', is found besides in Exodus 19:5 ff., also in Deuteronomy 28:1-68; verses 1-14, 'If thou shall hearken diligently ... blessings;' verses 15-68, 'If thou will not hearken ... cursings'." 8

Thus, it is to be observed that there are two kinds of covenants which God entered into with Israel: CONDITIONAL and UNCONDITIONAL.

(The Mosaic Covenant)

In a CONDITIONAL covenant that which was covenanted depends for its fulfillment upon the RECIPIENT of the covenant (Israel), not upon the one making the covenant (God). Certain obligations or considerations must be fulfilled by the receiver of the covenant (Israel) before the Giver of the covenant (God) is obligated to fulfill that which was promised. It is a covenant with an "IF" attached to it. The MOSAIC COVENANT is such a covenant.


An UNCONDITIONAL covenant depends ALONE on the Giver of the covenant for its fulfillment. That which was promised is sovereignly given to the recipient of the covenant on the authority and integrity of the One making the covenant apart from the merit or response of the receiver. It is a covenant with no "IF" attached to it whatsoever. In addition, it should be noted that the unconditional covenants made by God with the Jewish people are ETERNAL. Lincoln writes:

"All of Israel's covenants are called eternal except the Mosaic Covenant which is declared to be temporal, i.e., it was to continue only until the ... (advent of a better covenant - the New Covenant). For this detail see as follows: (1) the Abrahamic Covenant is called 'eternal' in Genesis 17:7, 13, 19; I Chronicles 16:17; Psalm 105:10; (2) the Palestinian Covenant is called 'eternal' in Ezekiel 16:60; the Davidic Covenant is called 'eternal' in II Samuel 23:5; Isaiah 55:3; and Ezekiel 37:25; and (4) the New Covenant is called 'eternal' in Isaiah 24:5; 61:8; Jeremiah 32:40; 50:5; and Hebrews 13:20." 9


Let us now turn our attention to an examination of the four specific UNCONDITIONAL and ETERNAL covenants of God with Israel.


The Abrahamic Covenant is the first of the four great ETERNAL and UNCONDITIONAL covenants made by God with the Jewish people (Genesis 12:1-3; 26:1-5; 28:10-15). It forms the basis for the remaining three. It contains seven promises:

  1. "I WILL MAKE OF THEE A GREAT NATION." This promise was to be fulfilled in two ways.
    1. NATURAL POSTERITY, i.e., "as the dust of the earth" through Isaac and the Jewish people.
    2. SPIRITUALLY, i.e., "as the stars of heaven" - that out from the Jewish people would come Christ (Messiah) and that out from Christ would come the church.

[It should be noted that the first hint is made here concerning the two entities through which God planned to bring into subjection the earth and the heavens: Israel was to subject the earth ("a" above), and the church was to subject the heavens ("b" above).]



In the closing chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy, the children of Israel faced a crisis in their national existence (Deuteronomy 28-30). They were about to pass from the proven leadership of Moses to the unproved leadership of Joshua. They were standing at the entrance to the land that was promised to them by God. BUT THIS LAND WAS POSSESSED BY ISRAEL'S SWORN ENEMIES who had shown that they would resist any attempt by Israel to enter the land promised them. It was impossible for them to return to their former status as a slave nation, and the land to which they were journeying seemed shut before them. As a result, many of them doubted the efficacy of the original ABRAHAMIC COVENANT. Had the inauguration of the MOSAIC COVENANT, which all agreed was CONDITIONAL, set aside the UNCONDITIONAL ABRAHAMIC COVENANT, the promises of which were now in doubt? To answer these important questions, God stated again His covenant promise concerning Israel's possession of and inheritance in the Land of Palestine.

The PALESTINIAN COVENANT promised the following:

  1. It reaffirmed title to Israel of the land of promise.
  2. It substantiated to Israel the fact that the introduction of the TEMPORAL and "CONDITIONAL" MOSAIC COVENANT had not set aside the UNCONDITIONAL and ETERNAL promises of the ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.
  3. It enlarged the boundaries of the promised land given in the ABRAHAMIC COVENANT. IN ADDITION, THE PALESTINIAN COVENANT contained certain statements:
  1. That the nation would be punished because of its unfaithfulness vis-á-vis the MOSAIC COVENANT (Deut. 28:63-68).
  2. That Israel would be eventually restored to the land of promise after an as yet future dispersion among the Gentile nations (Deut. 30:5).
  3. That Messiah would come (Deut. 30:3-6).
  4. That there would be a future repentance of Israel (Deut. 30:1-3).
  5. That Israel would embrace Messiah as a nation (Deut. 30:4-8; cf. Rom. 11:26-27).
  6. That Israel's enemies would be judged (Deut. 30:7).
  7. That the nation would receive her full and eternal blessing (Deut. 30:9). 10

It is interesting to note that the exact conditions which prevailed at the time wherein the PALESTINIAN COVENANT was given, prevail again today. We do well to stand with Israel despite temptations to the contrary; it is a fearful thing to be found fighting against the God of Israel for ANY reason.


These promises made by God to Israel are contained in II Samuel 7:12-16. The historic background of the DAVIDIC COVENANT is well known. Inasmuch as David had come to power and authority in the kingdom and now dwelt in a house of cedar, it seemed incongruous that the One from whom he derived his authority and government should dwell in a house of skins - a tent. It was David's intention to build a suitable dwelling place for God. But because he had been a man of war, David was not permitted to build this house. However, God made certain promises to David concerning the perpetuity of his house. These promises pertained to the eternal nature of:

  1. David's House.
  2. David's Kingdom.
  3. David's Throne. 11

John Walvoord, past president of Dallas Theological Seminary, writes:

"What do the major terms of the (DAVIDIC) covenant mean? By 'David's House' it can hardly be doubted that reference is made to David's posterity, his physical descendants. It is assured that they will never be slain in toto, nor displaced by another family entirely. The line of David will always be the royal line. By the term 'throne' it is clear that no reference is made to a material throne, but rather to the dignity and power which was sovereign and supreme in David as king. The right to rule always belonged to David's seed. By the term 'kingdom' there is reference to David's political kingdom over Israel. By the expression 'forever' it is signified that the Davidic authority and the Davidic kingdom or rule over Israel shall never be transferred to another family, and its arrangement is designed for eternal perpetuity. Whatever its changing form, temporary interruptions, or chastisements, the line of David will always have the right to rule over Israel and will, in fact, exercise this privilege." 12

As with the PALESTINIAN COVENANT, certain prophetic implications resulted which naturally followed from the provisions of the DAVIDIC COVENANT:

  1. Israel must be preserved as a nation.
  2. Israel must be brought back into the land of her inheritance (including not just her 1948 boundaries, but also the so-called West Bank, the whole city of Jerusalem, and much of present day Jordan, southern Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, etc.
  3. David's "Seed," the Lord Jesus Christ, must return to the earth bodily to reign over David's promised kingdom.
  4. A literal earthly kingdom must be constituted over which Messiah will reign. Peters writes: "The fulfillment of the covenant promises implies, in view of this restored Davidic throne and kingdom, that the Messianic Kingdom is to be a visible, external kingdom, not merely a spiritual one ..."
  5. This kingdom must become an eternal kingdom.13


The NEW COVENANT as stated in Jeremiah 31:31-34 guarantees to Israel what the temporal and conditional MOSAIC COVENANT could never accomplish - a converted heart as the foundation of all her blessings:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I WILL make a NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them out of the land of Egypt (the MOSAIC COVENANT); which covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I WILL make with THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL; after those days (i.e., the "last days") saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I WILL forgive their iniquity, and I WILL remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Ryrie writes:

"The NEW COVENANT promises:

  1. "An UNCONDITIONAL, grace covenant resting on the 'I WILL' of God. The frequency of the phrase in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is striking (cf. Ezekiel 16:60-62).
  2. "An EVERLASTING covenant. This is closely related to the fact that it is UNCONDITIONAL and made in grace ... (Isa. 61:2; cf. Ezek. 37:26; Jer. 3135-37).
  3. "The impartation of a renewed mind and heart which we may call regeneration ... (Jer. 31:33; cf. Isa 59:21).
  4. "Restoration to the favor and blessing of God ... (Hos. 2:19-20; cf. Isa. 61:9).
  5. "Forgiveness of sin: '... for I WILL remove their iniquity, and I WILL remember their sins no more' (Jer. 31:34).
  6. "The indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is seen by comparing Jeremiah 31:33 with Ezekiel 36:27.
  7. "The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit will be manifested and the will of God will be known by obedient hearts ... (Jer. 31:34).
  8. "As is always the case when Israel is in the land, she will be blessed materially in accordance with the provisions of the NEW COVENANT ... (Jer. 32:41; Isa. 61:8; Ezekiel 34:25-27).
  9. "The sanctuary will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, for it is written, ' ... I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them'. (Ezek. 37:26-27a)
  10. "War shall cease and peace shall reign according to Hosea 2:18. The fact that this is also a definite characteristic of the Millennium (Isa. 2:4) further supports the fact that the NEW COVENANT is Millennial in its fulfillment.
  11. "The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of all the blessings of the NEW COVENANT, for 'by the blood of THY COVENANT I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water'. (Zech. 9:11)

"By way of summary, it may be said that as far as the "Old Testament" teaching on the NEW COVENANT is concerned, the covenant was made with the JEWISH PEOPLE. Its period of fulfillment is yet future, beginning when the Deliverer shall come and continuing throughout all eternity. Its provisions for the nation of Israel are glorious, and they all rest ... (solely) on the WORD OF GOD." 14


In an era of spiritual confusion, when truth is being sacrificed for political expediency. when growing numbers of evangelical Christians think nothing of forming alliances with the Roman Catholic Church for political gain - stand up and be counted - e-mail: Sean Mayfield.

Covenant theologians (once again, those theologians who deny that modern day Israel has any biblical significance) have attempted to appropriate the provisions of the NEW COVENANT wholly and exclusively to the church. But to do so is to (1) deny the LITERAL nature of the Word of God which should be taken at face value (because the wording of all four UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS make clear that these covenants were made specifically with the Jewish people), and / or (2) make God out as a liar. There is simply no way to get around it: Israel is CLEARLY the recipient of these covenants.

Covenant theologians base their contention that the church is now the exclusive recipient of the UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS on certain passages in the New Testament which link the church to these covenants, specifically, Luke 22:20; I Corinthians 11:25; II Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; and 9:15.

Evangelicals, however, do not deny that the church, as a "MYSTERY" is "hinted" at in these covenants:

"Now to him that has the power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the MYSTERY, which was kept secret since the world began. "(Rom. 16:25)

Moreover, these "hints" are substantiated and made real in the New Testament in innumerable passages as when Paul declares that Christians are children of Abraham by faith (Gal. 3:7 and 3:29). But these passages do not make void the original promises of God to Israel; they point out, rather, that in some "peculiar" way, Christians are to be made "joint heirs" with Israel. How? Not by displacing Israel or even making the church a partaker in the EARTHLY promises, but by GRANTING THE CHURCH THE HEAVENLY COUNTERPARTS OF ISRAEL'S EARTHLY PROMISES - so that now the following situation pertains and is made real:

The Earth




The Heavens
The Church

The Abrahamic Covenant



The Palestinian Covenant



The Davidic Covenant



The New Covenant
The Earth

(1) The children of God
(2) The household of God
(3) The children of Abraham
(4) Abraham's seed
(5) The children of Promise
(6) A people of His own
(7) Heirs of God
(8) Heirs according to promise
(9) The Temple of God
(10) The circumcision
(11) The Israel of God
(12) A chosen generation
(13) A royal priesthood
(14) A holy nation
(15) A peculiar people
(16) Heirs of the kingdom
(17) The sons of God
(18) Kings and priests of God
(19) The New Jerusalem
(20) The holy city
(21) The people of God
(22) Mount Zion
(23) The city of the living God
The Heavens

The Church
Rom. 8:16
Eph. 2:19
Gal 3:7
Gal 3:29
Rom. 9:8
Ti 2:14 RSV
Gal 3:29
Rom. 8:17
I Cor. 3:16
Phil 3:3
Gal 6:16
I Pet. 2:9
I Pet. 2:9
I Pet. 2:9
I Pet. 2:9
Jas. 2:5
Jn. 1:12
Rev. 1:6
Rev. 3:12
Rev. 21:2
Heb. 4:9
Heb. 12:22
Heb. 12:22

So now, what do we have? A church that has replaced Israel? - by no means! Rather, two entities, one heavenly - the church; and one earthly - Israel, which compliment and mirror the other; both of which reflect the glory of God, each in its own respective sphere.

Lastly, one additional point: this is not simply an academic exercise in "peripheral matters." How one answers the question concerning Covenant Theology as opposed to pre-millennial dispensationalism has very grave consequences - and these consequences go far beyond whether it's permissible for the church to participate in the political and military activities of this world. Ultimately, it also colors one's attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people.


Historically, anti-Semitism developed in the Western World as a response by the church [and the Gentile governments that the church's authority ultimately came to undergird (i.e., the Roman, the Frankish, the Germanic, etc.)] to the Jewish community's stubborn refusal to give up its claims to the promises of the Old Testament and quietly disappear as a separate entity.

If the church was indeed the "New Israel of God" (as Covenant theologians postulated) it stood to reason that after the establishment of the church [and the greater "reality" that the church seemed to represent], the Jewish community should have been absorbed into the church, and/or absorbed into the nations into which they had been dispersed. After all, was not Israel merely a "type" or "shadow" of the church, and when the reality appears, should not the "type" or the "shadow" disappear, there being no further need of it? But this was not what occurred. And not only that, but the Jewish community - despite the fact of its dispersion - gradually developed into an astonishingly tightknit, well organized, and - in some countries - influential community whose organization and arrangement transcended national boundaries; a community that was international in scope at a time of growing particularizm, provincialism, and insularism.

What possible explanation could there be for such a phenomenon? The continued existence of the Jewish people seemed to defy explanation by any normal standard. And that was the rub! - it could not be explained on a normal or rational basis. No people had ever before survived so long as a separate entity after losing their national homeland and being dispersed so widely. The explanation for such a phenomenon could only be accounted for on some supernatural ground. But if this was so - and all seem to agree that it was - was the supernatural presence which so obviously seemed to surround the Jewish people malevolent or benevolent?

For Covenant theologians, there could be but one answer to such a question, and that answer was but the natural consequence of Covenant Theology. It was an "either/or" situation that the church had created for itself in relation to Israel and the Jewish people - either the church, or Israel and the Jewish people. There was no middle ground. And if one believed that the church was of God, than the presence which surrounded the Jewish people, and which empowered their continued existence beyond all reason, had to be of the Devil. There could be no other answer!! And once this conclusion was reached, than everything else followed - from the stories of their "apostasy" to the "Judeo-Masonic world-conspiracy" and the Illuminati.

But if, on other hand, the church could see its way clear to give up its misplaced earthly ambitions and seek its heritage in the sphere proper to it (which was to say, the heavens), and on spiritual terms rather than material terms - than there was room for both. The "either/or" situation which had been the traditional approach of the church to the problem of the Jewish people and Israel dissolved into an arrangement approximating a partnership. No longer was the relationship between the church and Israel (the Jewish people) one which was adversarial, but one which could be based on cooperation.

The concept which embraced this kind of thinking was called "dispensationalism." Actually, as we have already discussed, it was not a new theology, for it had been the theology of the early church, but it was new insofar as the last 1500 years of church history was concerned. The development of this "new" theology was cataclysmic in its reconstruction of the church's relationship with the Jewish people - just how cataclysmic can best be judged by comparing the following views, each representative of the two views mentioned above (i.e., Covenant Theology and pre-millennial dispensationalism).

First, the traditional view: Covenant Theology. Great care has been taken to choose as representative of the "traditionalist" image of the Jewish people and the state of Israel a view which encompasses in its presentation no overt anti-Semitic overtones. Nonetheless, it should be noted how easily such overtones could be injected into such thinking. It is precisely this kind of thinking which has provided the necessary intellectual (and theological) nourishment for anti-Semitism.

"We stated ... that God's promises to Israel were conditional. Dispensationalists ... greatly error in teaching that God ... gave Israel a blank check ... They teach that God's promises to national Israel are binding upon God - regardless of what Israel does or does not do ...

"... the crucifixion was Israel's most heinous crime against God. It was at this point - their treatment of the Messiah - that Israel failed the most miserably to keep the conditions laid down in God's promise to her ... What was the penalty for Israel's failure to meet the conditions laid down by Jehovah, and which climaxed in her heinous treatment of the Messiah? ... God withdrew his presence from Israel as a nation. The Jewish state come to a bitter end in A.D. 70. Nor will national Israel ever again be a fruitful nation ... The historic Christian teaching holds that national Israel was a type or forerunner of the church, and that the church replaced Israel on the day of Pentecost. This view holds that God made two sets of promises to national Israel - national promises, and spiritual promises. All earthly promises to Israel have been either fulfilled or invalidated because of disobedience. All spiritual promises are being fulfilled through the church ... The New Testament teaches that the church is the true heir to the Old Testament promises, that it alone fits the description of the chosen people referred to in the Old Testament, that it alone is God's special instrument for consummating His eternal purpose, and that in the sight of God there is no longer any difference between the Jewish nation and all the other nations of the world ... Once upon a time there was a real difference between the nation of Israel and the other nations of the world.

"At Calvary, however, that distinction vanished as the universality of Christianity replaced the provincialism of Judaism.*** ... The church is the new and spiritual Israel which has replaced the old, natural Israel. There are many people, however, even many believers who embrace instead the belief that God today does not have only one chosen body of people, which is the church, but that He has two bodies - the church which is His 'heavenly' people and the nation of Israel which is His 'earthly people'. Israel was a type of the church, and as such its personalities, institutions and experiences are for the church 'examples', ... 'figures', ... 'patterns', ... and 'shadows' ... of the new and better things that were unveiled at Calvary. The great lessons enshrined in the Old Testament are for the admonition ... and instruction ... of the church ... The Scriptures teach us that in all of God's dealing with mankind, from the time of Adam ... we may discern the same divine principle at work, namely, 'first the natural, then the spiritual ...' God has progressively revealed His purpose through, first, His dealing with natural Israel and, second and finally, His dealings with spiritual Israel. There is no Scriptural basis for the regressive idea that God's dealing will again be centered ... in natural Israel at some future date."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And now the "new" theology, "dispensationalism" - mark the mighty change. Hostility (or at least indifference) has given way to love, and scorn to deep respect.

"For upwards of 4000 years, amid all civilizations and countries and under all conditions of government, there has existed a distinct people, with laws, habits, and customs distinctly their own. The history of the Jewish race reads like a story from the 'Arabian Nights', and is without parallel in human history. Though oppressed, downtrodden, carried captive to other lands, scattered among the nations, like the fabled Phoenix they have risen from the ashes of their dispersions, and appear ... again and again on the pages of history. They are remarkable in the first place for their 'Antiquity'. No nation can trace back its lineage by the clear light of reliable history so far as they. In comparison with the Jews the nations which are making the history of the world today are young. The 'Golden Age' of Israel's glory was long before the palmy days of Greece and Rome. Long before Socrates and Plato taught philosophy, or Herodotus wrote history; in the dim ages of which Homer's 'Iliad' preserves traditions and memorials; before all other authentic and circumstantial records, the nation of Israel was an organized, civilized, and well-established people. They had a literature before most nations had letters, a literature that today, in the Scriptures, is more widely diffused than the literature of any other people. Assyria has perished, Babylon is in heaps, Rome has tottered and fallen, Egypt has become a 'base' kingdom, but the Jew has outlived his conquerors and walks ... amid the general wreck. Dispersed for centuries among all nations, without a national center, capital, government, flag ... he has never been absorbed by the nations, nor lost his identity or national peculiarities and characteristics, and we have the unique spectacle of a nation without a king, government, or land retaining its national existence, and a land (the Holy Land) that seems to be under a curse, awaiting the return of its legal owners [it should be noted that this commentary was written in 1918, thirty years before the re-establishment of the nation of Israel].

"No nation has ever had such manifest and visible tokens of the 'divine presence'. For them the Red Sea was driven back and the Jordan parted. They were miraculously fed in the Wilderness, and divinely sheltered and guided by the Pillar of Cloud and Fire. At the blowing of ram's horns the walls of a besieged city fell, and the sun and moon stayed in their courses that they might have time to slay their enemies. The angel of the Lord encamped about them, and one angel slew 185,000 of the army of Assyria for their deliverance. No nation has given to the world such a number of great men. Such a man of faith as Abraham; such a great leader and lawgiver as Moses; such a statesman as Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon; such a king as David, and wise man as Solomon. In the First Century there is no name that shines more resplendent than that of the Apostle Paul ...

"The preservation of the Jews is the 'Miracle of History'.

"How are we to account for the wonderful preservation of the Jewish people? We can only account for it on the supposition that God had, and still has, some great work for them to do. In the first place the Jewish people were raised up to reaffirm and teach that there is but one God. In the days of Abraham the nations of the earth were given over to universal idolatry, pantheism and polytheism. For 2,000 years ... no other people but the Jews believed the 'unity' of God, or taught it. The Jews have been the teachers of 'monotheism' to the nations. No Gentile nation, untouched by Jewish influence, ever became monotheistic. In the second place, the Jewish people were raised up to be the writers, preservers, and transmitters of the Holy Scriptures. To them were committed the 'Oracles of God'. (Rom. 3:1,2) In the third place, the Jewish people were raised up that God through them might give the world a Savior. Who was Jesus? A Jew!! How carefully His genealogy has been preserved in the Scriptures from Abraham to His birth at Bethlehem. In the fourth place the Jewish people were raised up that they might save the world from moral degradation. When Jesus said, 'Salvation is of (from) the Jews', (John 4:22) did He simply mean that from them should come the Savior of the World - Jesus? Or did he not mean when he said 'Ye are the salt of the earth' that the Jewish people were to be the means of preventing the moral degradation of the world ... that is, the salvation of the nations, morally and physically, and that the preservation of the human race on the earth, depends on the preservation and continuance of the Jews as a people (nation).

"(The Covenant) with Israel is not a conditional promise, and there is not a passage in the Bible anywhere that revokes it."

It is this love, this respect, this awe of the Jewish people which - in the concept of dispensationalism - came to replace the "Traditional" view of the church towards Israel and the Jewish people in the thinking of thousands upon thousands of Christians in America. And it is this theology which became a bulwark against the spread of anti-Semitism here in America before and during the Second World War, a bulwark which threw back the assaults of this pestilent disease here at a time when these same assaults were swamping European civilization on a scale never before witnessed by man.


  1. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today. Chicago: Moody Press, 1965, 44-46.
  2. Lewis Sperry Chafer. Systematic Theology. Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, pg. 107.
  3. Please see J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958, pg. 65.
  4. Ibid., pg. 42.
  5. Charles Fred Lincoln, "The Covenants." Unpublished Doctor's dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, 1942, pg. 26.
  6. G.N.H. Peters, Theocratic Kingdom I, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1952, pgs. 290-291.
  7. Pentecost, op. cit., pg. 69.
  8. Lincoln, pg. 26.
  9. Ibid., op. cit., pg. 181.
  10. Please see Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, IV, pgs. 317-323; also J Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, pgs. 96-97.
  11. Please see J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, pg. 101.
  12. John Walvoord, "Millennial Series," Bibliotheca Sacra, 110:98-99, April, 1953.
  13. Pentecost, op. cit., pg. 118.
  14. Please see Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today. Chicago: Moody Press, 1965, 44-46.

The following articles expand to one degree or another on the theme developed in this chapter.

Israel And The End Of Age
The Origins Of The Illuminist Myth
Pat Robertson, Illuminism, And The New World Order
The Real Enemy Of Isreal: It's Not Who You Think!
The Religious Right And Israel; A Relationship That Cannot Hold
The Republican Party And The Jews
Schizophrenia In the Jewish Community


©Copyright - Antipas Ministries