Excerpted from an article by Dave Hunt at thebereancall.org
ACCORDING to a Fox News poll (other polls basically agree), “fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God”; only 5 percent say they don’t, while the remaining 3 percent are not sure.
In How We Believe, Michael Shermer, director of the Skeptics Society and publisher of Skeptic magazine, claims that “Never in history have so many, and such a high percentage of the [American] population, believed in God. Not only is God not dead as Nietzche proclaimed, but he has never been more alive.”
This statistic, however, is not as encouraging as it sounds. When we ask what respondents mean by “god,” very few believe in—much less know—the God of the Bible. Yet belief in a false god is no better and could be even worse than believing in no God.
For many, “God” is simply a “higher power.” Higher than what? Power? What kind? And how could a “power” of any kind have the infinite intelligence (or any intelligence) to design the atom, the universe, imprint the written instructions in a coded language on DNA for constructing and operating every cell, and create intelligent, personal beings with a moral conscience and a passion for purpose? The very thought of a “power” creating anything is ridiculous! Then why is belief in a “power” so appealing? Did the Star Wars slogan, “May the Force be with you,” have that much influence? It went a long way toward changing movie fans’ thinking, especially among American youth. Of course, this has always been a popular idea because a power/force can’t impose moral laws, demand obedience, or judge and punish anyone—instead, it can be used for one’s own ends.
Clearly, the true God who created us for a purpose holds mankind responsible for creation’s witness to His existence and for obedience to the moral laws He has implanted in every conscience (Rom 1:18-25; 2:14-16). He will not be used. Furthermore, just as human beings are jealous of their individual identities, obviously the true God would insist on being properly identified. He will neither reveal Himself to, nor enter into a relationship with, anyone who will not acknowledge Him as He truly is. Nor will He look with broad-minded favor on those who call Him a “higher power.” To do so is an insult to the true God!
The God of the Bible declares to wayward Israel, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). Those who hope to find a god that suits their imagination will not find the true God. It is common sense that the true God would only reveal Himself to sincere and earnest seekers who want to know Him in truth in order to obey Him. The first prerequisite to knowing God is the willingness—indeed, the passion—to know Him as He really is, not as one imagines or would like Him to be. It is no less idolatry to create an imaginary god in one’s mind than to make one out of clay, wood, or stone. So, who is the true God who proves Himself by unfailingly foretelling the future in the Bible?
The Bible identifies Him as “the God of Israel” 203 times, “the God of Jacob” 28 times, “the God of Abraham” 17 times, and “the God of Isaac” 13 times. Never is He called the “God of any other ethnic group.” These designations are foundational to everything the Bible teaches, including the very character of God. To profess to believe in God and at the same time to hold a prejudice against God’s chosen people, the Jews, or against Israel, which turns these clear biblical identifications into meaningless titles, casts doubt upon whether one really knows the true God.
In His refutation of the Sadducees’ denial of the resurrection, Christ’s primary argument was based upon God’s statement to Moses: “I AM…the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Ex 3:14-15). Clearly, this was the identity of the true God then; it is now and will be forever. God never changes. Notice Christ’s reasoning: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God….[H]ave ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mt 22:29-32).
Christ is saying that if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will not live eternally through a resurrection, then it would be a mockery for God to be identified with them eternally. He would be the God of, and have identified Himself with, beings of limited existence— scarcely a blip in eternity. To be called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, if they no longer existed, would demean God. If the nation of Israel is dead, or has been replaced by the church and does not have an eternal future, then the very term “God of Israel” would not be to God’s glory but a slur upon His character in view of His many promises that Israel would never cease to exist.
Yet that is the position taken by those who say that Israel has been replaced by the church. In The Last Disciple (p. 88), Hank Hanegraaff has a key character say, “The covenant between God and Israel was broken with the rejection of His Son.” Hank gives no explanation how an “everlasting covenant” could ever be broken, nor how Israel’s rejection of Christ could break a covenant that was not conditional upon her accepting Him, for which there were never any conditions Israel had to fulfill, and which God said He would bring to completion in the last days.
Indeed, at the same time that God promises eternal blessings to Israel in a full restoration in the last days, He also recites her unfaithfulness to Him without a hint that the many sins of Israel and the Jewish people would be any deterrent to His fulfilling all of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: …the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them…the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever….I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen… be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel…in the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities….For I will…gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land…and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord….I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it. (Dt 1:8; Jer 7:7; Ezk 36:11, 22-26, 32-36)
Here again, as elsewhere, it is quite clear that there are no conditions for Israel to fulfill, but God will, for the integrity of His name, fulfill every promise in spite of Israel’s rebellion against Him. Furthermore, the prophets foretold that the Messiah would be rejected by Israel and crucified, yet in all of those prophecies there is never a suggestion that because of this rejection God would break His everlasting covenant with Israel. The covenant was made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—not with their descendants (Gn 12:1-3; 15:7, 18-21; 17:7-8, 19, 21; 26; 28:13; 1 Ch 16:14-18, etc.); it was never conditioned upon the obedience of their descendants, and therefore could not possibly be broken by anything those descendants did or failed to do. It is a slap in the eternal God’s face to say that Israel has been replaced!
Scripture records literally hundreds of promises from God that Israel as a nation would never cease to exist (Jer 31:35-37, etc.). These cannot be annulled even by God himself. To do so would make Him a liar. Nor can they be spiritualized away as though the land of Canaan, which became the land of Israel, could simply mean the heavenly inheritance of the church. It is irrefutable that Israel once possessed a physical, historical land that was given to her by God’s eternal decree. It is equally an historical fact that she was expelled from this land by God himself for her rebellion. And it is no less an historical fact that Israel became a nation once again, May 14, 1948, and that millions of Jews have since returned to that Promised Land from more than 100 countries, just as Scripture foretold.
This can be nothing less than the beginnings of God’s promised restoration of Israel so that her latter end would be better than her beginning.