An Open Response to Knox Theological Seminary, Liberal Theologians, and other parties opposed to the Jews' Right to the Land of Israel

Knox Theological Seminary has posted an open letter on their web site to evangelical Christians who support the Jews’ right to the land of Israel. Their position is from a teaching that is known as Replacement Theology which states that Christians have replaced the Jews as God’s people and therefore have obtained all the promises that God gave to the Jews in the Old Testament. This open letter can be found at An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties: The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel.

When Christians resort to spiritualizing the plain reading of God’s word then it is incumbent on Bible-literalists to speak out and correct the error of their teaching (James 5:19-20). I wish to address the belief that since the majority of Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah all covenant relationships were dissolved between God and the Jews. What does God’s word say about this?

We will start with what is known as the Abrahamic Covenant. This is God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis that the physical land of Israel would be given to Abraham and his descendants.

When you or I speak of our ancestors or our descendants we are speaking of physical human beings related to us. We are not speaking about our relatives in a spiritual sense. Therefore the plain reading of this text declares that God will give the land of Israel forever to the physical descendants of Abraham. As we will see the physical descendants of Abraham to whom this promise was made are the Jews.

God didn’t just promise the land to Abraham only but He also made the same promise to Abraham’s son Isaac.

Here God renews His everlasting covenant with Abraham but God also makes an everlasting covenant with Isaac, Abraham’s son. There are two interesting observations here. The first is that God has shown in this verse that the covenant would descend physically to Isaac. The second is that God also established the covenant not just with Abraham but also with Isaac and thereby Isaac's descendants who are the Jews.

This is the plain reading of the scriptures pertaining to the Abrahamic Covenant. Now I will respond to the various claims made by Knox Theological Seminary (KTS) in their open letter. I will write my responses under the heading of the Roman numerals as they correspond to those Roman numerals in the KTS open letter.

I. - I agree completely with KTS that salvation is an undeserved, unearned gift of God through the sacrificial death of the Jesus the Messiah.

II. - I agree completely with KTS that All human beings are sinners and under the God’s judgment of death. However, neither I nor the Bible agree with KTS that apart from Christ there is no special divine favor upon any member of any ethnic group; nor is there any divine promise of an earthly land or a heavenly inheritance to anyone, whether Jew or Gentile.

In verse 27 God says that He has a covenant with the unbelieving Jews to save them after the fullness of the Gentiles has been fulfilled. Verse 28 states clearly that even though the Jews are enemies of the gospel they are beloved because of their patriarchal ancestors. Finally verse 29 states that the gifts of God are irrevocable therefore God’s gift of the land to the Jews is irrevocable.

III. - I agree completely with KTS that God, who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, has made only one way of salvation. That way is through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ alone.

IV. - I agree with KTS that Jesus is fully man and fully God who took away the sin of the world through His sacrificial death. I also agree that Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the sacrifices that God ordained the Jews to offer in the Old Testament. I also agree that all who would worship God must come through Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth. However, neither I nor the Bible NOR THE APOSTLE PAUL agrees with KTS that the death of Jesus eternally ended the sacrifices of the Jewish temple. That Jewish believers could still offer sacrifices at the Jewish Temple, possibly as a memorial sacrifice is evidenced by the following section of scripture.

Here we see that the apostle Paul, who had been saved for many years, still entered the Jewish Temple and made a sacrifice long after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

V. - I completely agree with KTS that as many as receive Christ alone through faith alone, both Jews and Gentiles alike, God gives to them eternal life.

VI. - I agree with KTS that believers in Jesus Christ are of the seed of Abraham. In the case of Gentile believers this of course pertains to a spiritual seed since we are not physically a descendant of Abraham unless of course a Gentile believer is a physical descendant of Ishmael and therefore a physical descendant of his father, Abraham. However, the Abrahamic covenant was not given through Ishmael but through Isaac and therefore the Jews. You will not find the phrase the "church of Israel" in the Old Testament. The Gospel writer Luke (most likely a Gentile) wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to Theophilus and used the Greek word "ekklesia" of Israel which various translations render as church, congregation, assembly, etc. However, I do not agree that the Jews cannot participate in the Abrahamic Covenant. As stated above, Romans 11:27-29 shows that the current unbelief of the Jews does not nullify their participation in the covenants God made with them.

VII. - I completely agree with KTS that Jesus was referring to His body as a Temple. But the verse KTS quotes illustrates that Jesus was not talking about the physical temple of God: John 2:19-21, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' Then the Jews said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?'" But he was speaking of the temple of his body." If as the KTS believes, Jesus is the only temple of God, then how is the "man of lawlessness" that the apostle Paul speaks about in II Thessalonians 2:1-4 going to enter into Jesus and declare himself God?

The plain reading of Paul’s writing here shows clearly that he expected there to be a physical temple built before the time of the second coming of Jesus. Since KTS says that Christians have no need of a physical temple then it has to be the Jews who build this "third" Temple for the man of lawlessness to enter into. For the Jews to fulfill this prophecy of Paul's they have to be in the land of Israel and in control of the Temple Mount.

VIII. - I agree with KTS that the apostle Peter spoke about the creation of the New Heavens and the New Earth. But to extrapolate from this that since Peter didn't mention the restoration of the kingdom of Israel there is not going to be a future kingdom of Israel is in error. As a matter of fact, the scripture that KTS also quotes in this section Acts 1:6-7, "Therefore, when [the disciples] had come together, they asked [Jesus], saying, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' And he said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority.'" shows that the disciples expected there to be a restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Jesus did not correct them and say "Where did you get that teaching from?" He simply stated that it was not for the disciples to know when the restoration of the kingdom of Israel was going to take place.

IX. - Neither the Bible nor I agree with the KTS position that the Bible does not declare that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews. If as the KTS states in this section, the promises of the land were fulfilled under Joshua's reign then that means that there are no further claims to the land available. Therefore the land of Israel belongs to Joshua and the Jews and no other ethnic group after them had or has a right to the land. Amos 9:14-15 agrees with this assessment: "I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God." The Jewish disciples never claimed that the land of Israel belonged to Christians. Therefore the early Christians cannot be the ones the Bible speaks about being scattered across the earth and thereby be the ones regathered to the land of Israel. When the Bible speaks of God bringing the captivity of Israel back to the land He can only be speaking about the physical Jews.

X. - I completely agree with the KTS that bad theology led to the crusades which led to tragic cruelty against both Moslems and Jews. But the bad Christian theology that was the impetus for the crusades is the one being espoused by KTS and Replacement Theology. This theology states that the land of Israel belongs not to the Jews but to the spiritual heirs of the Abrahamic covenant, the Christians. Therefore the crusaders thought that they had a mandate from God to take over the land of Israel as the heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. If anyone from KTS reads this open letter I hope they will be more restrained in the future about assigning blood-guiltiness to other Christians. That's a dangerous implication to lay on God's children and I cannot believe that He is pleased with such terminology being used against them.

The apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote the following section of scriptures in Romans 13:1-2, "Let every soul be subject unto the governing powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." If, as Paul states here, God sets up the governments then we have to believe that God ordained the Jews’ modern return to the land of Israel. In Ezekiel chapter 37 God speaks of the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel as taking place in stages.

We can see from these scriptures that the Jews start out as dry, dusty bones but end up as spirit-filled human beings at the end. Just because modern-day Israel is a secular nation at this time does not mean that at Jesus' second coming they will not be spirit-filled believers. For Zechariah 12: 9-10 declares, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced." Since Jesus is returning to the land of Israel at His second coming the unbelieving Jews will have to already be in the land to see Him.

I will continue my support for the Jews’ right to the land of Israel as promised to them by God in His word who created the land of Israel, the whole earth, and the Universe.

James Jackson
Feb 2004

I posted this article on my blog. If you wish to comment on it please go to An Open Response to Knox Theological Seminary, Liberal Theologians, and other parties opposed to the Jews' Right to the Land of Israel

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