Is the Church “superior” to Israel?

As we understand it, the dispensational position is not that the Church is placed in the most advanced position because it is the most recent. Because it is based on “better promises” (Heb. 8:6), and was a “Sacred Secret,” the Church is privileged, not “advanced.” It is not unique that God would give special privileges to the Church that set it apart as a separate entity from Israel. In the same sense, Israel was given special privileges that set it apart from the Gentiles, and even within Israel the priests and Levites were given special privileges that set them apart from the other tribes of Israel. We note the three key purpose statements for the Church in Ephesians 1:12, 2:7 and 3:10 and 11 that indicate the high and holy purpose of the Church as distinct from the nation of Israel. The Church is to the praise of God’s glory, but Israel also has a glorious destiny. God has more than enough glory to go around. Israel is marked out by the blessings associated with the “searchable” riches of Christ, and the Church is distinguished by the “unsearchable” riches (Eph. 3:8).

Some theologians say that Dispensationalism is anti-Semitic. We see that as a hollow accusation with no basis in fact. First of all, it is like saying that the Law of Moses is anti-Gentile. It is not. When God separates out a group for a purpose, it never means He is “against” another group. When God separated the Levites out of Israel to minister to Him, it certainly did not mean He was “against” the rest of Israel. When Christ chose the twelve and called them apart to himself as apostles, it does not mean he was “against” the other believers. God has jobs to do and purposes to fulfill, and He calls people out to do them. God had a purpose to fulfill, and He called the Church of the Body. Ephesians says that Jesus Christ created “one new man” out of the Jews and Gentiles. That was God’s idea, and it is hardly anti-Semitic. The Church doors are open to any Jew or Gentile who cares to answer God’s call.

The traditional view, called “Replacement Theology,” states that the Church has assumed the destiny and the promises of Israel. To us, this has bred much more anti-Semitism than Dispensationalism ever could have. Dispensationalism respects Israel and recognizes that, while the Jews who reject Christ are unsaved as individuals, God still has a purpose for the Jewish nation that will be fulfilled in the Tribulation and Millennial Kingdom. The theology of the non-Dispensationalist, on the other hand, says that the Church took over the destiny of Israel, and as such the Jews are “yesterday’s news,” a nation that God once used to bring the Messiah, but now He has moved on to bigger and better things. The fact is that, as Dispensationalists, we respect Jewish culture and heritage and acknowledge Jews as God’s covenant people. We particularly admire those Jews who have maintained their religious commitment in the face of terrible persecution, even though we recognize that they could be Christians and still maintain their nationality. The horrific treatment of Jews has to be inspired by Satan, who wants to thwart the purposes and promises of God to Israel in a vain attempt to make God a liar. Nothing in a dispensational view of Scripture in general, or of Jews in particular, justifies prejudice, hatred or a sense of superiority. Whatever the Church has, it has by grace, and the Church is to use what God has given it to serve all mankind, including Jews.

Is it not far more demeaning to Jews and Judaism to have the Church take over Israel’s destiny and usurp her promises than to honor Israel as God’s covenant people? Furthermore, we recognize that God is faithful to keep His promises to Israel, even if that includes allowing her temporary blindness and requiring a period of tribulation and purging before granting her access to her “rest.”

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