Before 1948, nobody really studied eschatology (the study of end times events). The church for the most part was being taught that IT replaced Israel in God's redemptive plan. This is called Replacement Theology - the idea that God was done with Israel, and all His present and future workings would be through the church only. After all, wasn't the temple destroyed in 70 AD? Didn't this mean that God was finished with the Jewish people?
I am not sure what these theologians did with verses like Romans 11:1 - I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin or Romans 11:11 - I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
What part of "certainly not" was unclear to these replacement theologians?? Not to mention the many, many verses that spoke of the regathering of Israel in the Tanakh (aka Old Testament). I listed two of them in my last post, but there are many more.
But thankfuly, now that Israel is a nation again, Replacement Theology is slowly being, um, replaced! Look at the very next verse in Romans - 11:12 - Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! This verse speaks of Israel's return, and the effect that it would have on the rest of the world!
We are living this out today! When Zionism (the desire for a Jewish homeland in Israel) began in the late 1800s with Theodor Herzl, eyes began to open. When Israel became a nation in 1948, things really began to pick up in God's kingdom worldwide. And after the Six Day War in 1967, when Israel was given control over Jerusalem, the gospel began exploding throughout the world! There has been a tremendous parallel awakening between Israel and the church - look at some of what has taken place since the birth of Zionism:
- When Israel became a state in 1948, there was only a handful of believers in Yeshua. Today in Israel, there are over 100 messianic congregations. Similar growth has taken place all over the world among the Jewish people.
- In 1897, the population of South Korea was 1 percent Christian. Today it is close to 40 percent, with the world's largest church (Yiodo Full Gospel Church) located in Seoul with over 800,000 members.
- Seventy percent of all of those who have ever come to faith in Yeshua in the last 2000 years have done so since the first Zionist conference in 1897.
- Seventy percent of THOSE people have come to faith since 1948 - the year Israel gained statehood.
- In China in 1900, there were about 100,000 believers. By the time China became communist in 1949 and closed its doors to outside visitors, there were about 700,000. In the 1970s, when the door was opened again to outsiders, it was feared that communism had beaten the church to death. Instead, it was discovered that there were millions of believers! In spite of persecution even today, the believers are numbered at about 100 million!
- The pentecostal movement exploded onto the world scene at the beginning of the twentieth century, simultaneous to the birth of Zionism. With this revival came the outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit (just like in the time of Acts), which still continue today with signs and wonders happening all over the world.
- Billy Graham began preaching in the 1940s. A major milestone of his ministry was when he got together with his evangelical team in Modesto, California and committed themselves to righteousness and purity within the ministry, which really took off from that point. The year: 1948. Israel statehood year!
- The tumultuous 1960s saw the birth of such groups as the Jesus movement (which saw many Jewish people coming to faith in), Jews for Jesus, and YWAM. Other groups saw their births in earlier decades: Youth For Christ in the 1940s, Campus Crusade For Christ and Operation Mobilization in the 1950s.
- More Muslims have come to faith since 1980 than in the previous one thousand years. Worldwide, Islam is growing at a 3.2 percent annual rate, but worldwide faith in Jesus is growing at 6.9 percent annually
- India has 103 million believers and counting, with new churches being planted among Hindus at a rate of one every seven minutes.
Most of these statistics came from the book The Coming Israel Awakening by James W. Goll. What exciting times we live in! Gentiles all over the world (including myself) are awakening to the Jewish roots of their faith. This is a movement that cannot be traced back to any one person but can only be attributed to a movement of the Holy Spirit.
Plain and simple, Israel must be back in her homeland and seeking the Messiah before He can return. Satan is working feverishly to see that Israel doesn't survive. But the scriptures tell us Who wins in the end, and I want to be on His side!