“Does the Bible Make a Distinction Between Israel and the Church?” Hank Hanegraaff asks in the CRI Journal, Vol. 31/Number 01, page 54. If you “Ask Hank” (which is the title of the featured page), the answer is unequivocally, “No.”
Here is an excerpt from the current Bible Answer Man:
At the heart of the popular end-times theology is the belief that God has two distinct people—one of whom must be raptured before God can continue His plan with the other. Rather than teaching that God has two categories of people, Scripture reveals only one chosen people who form one covenant community, beautifully symbolized by one cultivated olive tree. First, far from communicating a distinction between Israel and the church, the Scriptures from beginning to end reveal that God has only ever had one chosen people purchased “from every tribe and tongue and language and nation” (Rev. 5:9)…Furthermore, just as the Old and New Testaments reveal only one chosen people, so too, they reveal only one covenant community…Finally, the one chosen people, who form one covenant community, are beautifully symbolized in the book of Romans as one cultivated olive tree (see Romans 11:11-24)…it is not the natural children [i.e., the Jews] who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring (Romans 9:6-8). Jesus is the one genuine seed of Abraham! And all clothed in Christ constitute one congruent chosen covenant community connected by the cross.—Hank Hanegraaff
To further explain why Hank Hanegraaff is now referring to himself as a “partial preterist”, believing the tribulation took place before AD 70, and God has no special covenant with Israel any longer, he refers readers to his “Apocalypse Code” (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2007) marketed widely in the “pop-Christian bookstore” sub-culture adrift.
So, if all promises to Israel pertain to us as Christians in “replacement theology”, how about the prophecies in texts such as Ezek. 36-39 pertaining to Israel? Also, Hank has a dilemma with Romans 11:29, whether he realizes it or not. “The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable.”
Romans 11:25 is another verse in opposition to what Hank is proposing:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
As I write this I have to stop to imagine how I would feel and live if I believed that “the last days” were over and Revelation has already been fulfilled. My prayer times would certainly be different if the book of Revelation was merely one big allegory, subject to a whimsical interpretation, based only on whatever suits the fancy of the reader. After all, “hell” is a metaphor for ____ (whatever someone “understands” it to be subjectively), etc. I heard Hank say at a conference on this topic in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel that the “great harlot” of Revelation 17:1 is Israel! I heard that with my own ears. Convenient and lucrative, isn’t it, to have the liberty of allegorical interpretation going out on such an unorthodox limb? These days, a “Bible answer man” can even get a publishing deal to write a “study bible” on such error.
If the judgment from God in Revelation is all just an allegory then so are the faithful promises to His elect. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it for the time is drawing near.” (Rev. 1:3)
And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb…and they shall see His face…and there shall no longer be any night…because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever. And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 22:1-6)
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost….He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Come Lord, Jesus. (Revelation 22:17, 20).