There is a belief that exists within the Church that argues that because Jews have a special relationship with God, they will be welcomed into Heaven even if they have rejected Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
Therefore, the thinking goes, there is no need to evangelize the Jews. They'll be saved automatically. This is known as 'Dual Covenant' theology. But is it Biblical? Is it valid?
If not, why is it so popular? Let's take the last question, first. I am a Christian Zionist. I believe that the Jews of Israel are descended from the Jews of antiquity and that Israel is the Divinely-appointed Jewish homeland.
Christian Zionists love the Jews. It is painful to think of them as being unsaved because they rejected their Messiah. Unlike Replacement Theology, which is rooted in jealously and hatred for God's Chosen People, 'Dual Covenant' theology finds it roots in our love for the Jews and our desire to see them saved.
How were Jews saved before the coming of the Messiah?
We know that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. (Romans 4:3) Hebrews Chapter 11 addresses the conundrum of salvation for the Jews. It is a conundrum because we Christians don't fully comprehend it.
We know that God entered into a special covenant relationship with Israel at Sinai when He gave them the Torah (means teaching / instruction – not LAW). But how do these covenants, and the additional instructions from God – forming the rest of the Tanakh, work out in the life of the Jew?
God said, "If you will keep all…." Obey the Torah and all its 316 commandments, you will be right with Me. Clearly, nobody, Jew or Gentile, is capable of meeting that standard. The Torah will cause the man of faith to throw himself on God’s mercy for forgiveness.
David was a man after God’s own heart, but he fell well short of Torah standards. David acknowledged his sin, repented and was forgiven and restored. The Torah included a system of sacrifices for dealing with sins, but the sacrifice had to be offered in faith that God would accept it as a token of his repentance and forgive him.
The Bible tells us that Abraham, Isaac, David, Joseph, Moses, (and even Rahab the Harlot) were all saved by faith before Messiah came.
Hebrews 11:13 says of the patriarchs:
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
The OT patriarchs were saved, not by the Abrahamic Covenant, but faith in its eventual fulfillment by the Messiah, Jesus.
The Scriptures say,
"without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
Dual Covenant Theology comforts those Christians who love the Jews and can't bear the thought of their not going to Heaven unless they accept the Messiah. But for that thinking to work, then there must be two Messiahs -- one for the Christians and another for the Jews.
Dual Covenant Theology ignores the fact that Yeshua Hamashiac is, first and foremost, the JEWISH Messiah. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not," we learn from John 1:11.
Jesus came to the Jews first. Mark tells the story of the Syrophenician woman who begged Jesus to cast a devil out of her daughter. Note His reply carefully:
"But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs." (Mark 7:27)
The 'children' referred to here were the 'children of Israel'. "Dogs" was a slang name among the Jews for 'Gentile'.
Jesus' first ministry was to the Jews.
He did NOT teach that the Jews could be saved by trusting in their ability to keep the Law. He told them, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me."
Now we run into a major stumbling block. Did you spot it? Replacement Theology argues that the Jews have forfeited promises of the First Covenant to the Church. Dual Covenant Theology argues that the First Covenant has NOT been replaced by the Covenant to the Church.
Replacement theology is wrong. And so is Dual Covenant. How do we reconcile these glaring contradictions in Scripture? By recognizing they cover two separate Dispensations of God.
As we've already seen, Hebrews 11:13 says the Patriarchs were saved by faith that God would fulfill His promise of a Redeemer. During the Age of Grace, we are saved by faith that the Redeemer is come.
Dispensationalism takes into account the unfolding revelation of God. God exists outside of time and space, but we don't. We are bound by chronology. The Bible 'dispenses' revelation progressively throughout history, even as God, at different times in history, dealt differently in his interactions with man.
He walked in the garden with Adam (Age of Innocence).
He allowed Adam's descendants to conduct themselves according to their own consciences, devoid of further revelation (Age of Conscience). After the Flood came the age of Human Government.
Abraham's covenant with God was yet a new progressive revelation (Age of Promise).
But man was not accountable for violating Divine Law until God's revelation of the Ten Commandments (Age of the Law). That revelation was truly progressive, in that the longer man had to try, the more obvious it became that it was impossible to keep the whole law.
In keeping with His covenant with Abraham, God provided for a temporary system of sacrifice whereby the blood of bulls and rams would serve as an imperfect covering for the sins of the children of Israel until the advent of the Messiah.
The Prophet Daniel outlined the future history of Israel from the restoration of the Temple sacrifice system following the Babylonian exile until the coming of the Messiah to a period of 490 years, divided into seventy 'weeks' of years.
From the issuance of the order to rebuild the Temple by King Artexerxes in 445 BC until the coming of the Messiah, Daniel predicted, would be a period of 69 weeks, or 483 years. Fast forward the requisite number of years and you come to the third decade of the first century.
Daniel says at the conclusion of the 69th week shall the Messiah be cut off (killed) but not for Himself (for the sins of His people). The seventieth Week is put on hold to allow for the next Dispensation (Age of Grace) to move forward. The Age of Grace is the New Covenant which was offered at the Last Supper.
Yet there remains one more unfulfilled week of the Law. The Prophet Daniel says that a prince of the people who destroyed the Temple (the Romans in AD 70) would confirm a covenant with Israel that will result in the restoration of Temple worship and animal sacrifice on Temple Mount.
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:26)
The Age of Grace concludes before the 70th Week because they represent two different Dispensations of God.
During the Tribulation, the antichrist desecrates the Temple. Jesus called it 'the abomination of desolation.' That raises an interesting question. If the Tribulation Temple is not legitimate in the eyes of God, how could it be desecrated in the eyes of God? It is Jesus Christ who links the antichrist's presence in the Temple with the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. He ought to know.
Paul describes this coming abomination more thoroughly:
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2nd Thessalonians 2:4)
Paul does not describe it as the Tribulation Temple, or the antichrist's Temple. He calls it the Temple of God. Paul was an Apostle of Christ. Once again, he ought to know.
None of this is possible during the Dispensation of Grace. During the Age of Grace, those indwelt by the Holy Spirit are 'the temple of God'.
But Daniel says Temple priests will resume Temple worship, including sacrifices and oblations to God. The Third Temple will be desecrated, says Jesus. Paul says it is, at that time, the Temple of God.
Jeremiah refers to Daniel's 70th Week as the "Time of Jacob's Trouble". Jesus warns those living in Judea that when it comes, "pray it not be on the Sabbath".
All of this body of evidence taken together suggests that the Tribulation is, as Jeremiah indicates, the time of Jacob's Trouble, not the Church's.
There are TWO covenants, and God has not abandoned the First Covenant in favor of the Second. If He had, Replacement Theology would be valid. Where Dual Covenant theology is wrong in that it assumes both covenant agreements operate simultaneously.
The Church exists under the New Covenant, or Age of Grace, which is concluded at the Rapture. The indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn, and with Him, the Temple that He occupied. That leaves nobody on the earth except the Christ-rejecting Gentiles and the Jews who remain in unbelief.
Jeremiah, Zechariah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Paul all clearly state that the Tribulation results in the national redemption of Israel.
"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, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10)
Daniel clearly says that God's covenant with Israel has one more week. All Jesus' comments and warnings about the Tribulation are addressed to Sabbath-keeping Jews. Jesus declares the Third Temple will be desecrated by the antichrist. Paul describes how, and in so doing, identifies it as "the Temple of God". Daniel says that at the time when this abomination of desolation takes place, Jewish priests will once again be offering animal sacrifices.
Remove Dispensationalism from the equation, and Dual Covenant and Replacement theology are either both wrong, or they are both right, while simultaneously contradiction one another. Introduce the Church into the Tribulation Period without first concluding the Age of Grace at the Rapture muddies the picture still more.
Restore pre-trib Dispensationalism and Scripture is in harmony with itself. We're not yet in the Tribulation because the Lord, in His mercy, has not yet concluded the Age of Grace.