Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on David’s Tent, a ministry of Israeli believers Avner and Rachel Boskey. The Boskey’s have ministered at Tabernacle of David, and we consider them trustworthy and Biblically sound.
The German word ersatz is commonly used around the world today to refer to an “artificial and inferior substitute or imitation.” During WWI, the shortage of coffee in Germany catalyzed the development of over 11,000 ersatz products, including a coffee substitute using roasted acorns, chicory and beechnuts. Thousands of U.S., British soldiers, primarily airmen, captured in Europe by Nazi forces during World War II. were given Ersatzkaffee, an inferior Getreidekaffee or ‘grain coffee,’ as a coffee substitute by their German captors.
The original German word ersatz is accurately translated as ‘substitute’ or ‘replacement.’ The theological term Replacement Theology (when theologians substitute Gentile Christians for Jews when interpreting positive prophetic promises for Israel, leaving the Jewish people out of the picture) is usually translated ‘ersatztheologie’ in modern German.
Real prophetic promises to David
I recently was privileged to teach a week of meetings in the former East Germany, near Count von Zinzendorf’s Herrnhut (‘the watch of the Lord’) community. One of his most famous quotes was “There can be no Christianity without community.” Under his ministry, a movement of 24/7 intercessory prayer caught fire, new worship music was penned, and a worldwide evangelistic outreach surged out, affecting notables like John Wesley.
My theme that week revolved around Yeshua’s declaration, “May Your kingdom come, and may Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). What is the Father’s will? What is His kingdom? How is this connected with the pearl-like promises of the kingdom nestled away in the Davidic covenant? What will this look like when it is realized on earth, beginning in Jerusalem?
Messiah Yeshua declared to the twelve Jewish apostles: “You are the ones who have stood by Me in My trials. And just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28-30; also Matthew 19:28). These promises and this Jewish kingdom are part of the irrevocable gifts and calling on the Jewish people (Romans 11:28-29). We had a wonderful time in southern Germany considering these amazing days yet future.
Counterfeit Nazi promises
The common German translation of the Hebrew word for kingdom (‘malchut’) is Königreich or Reich (and less often, Königtum). The ancient Old High German sense of the word Reich involves riches, might or royalty (it’s also related to the Sanskrit ‘Raj’). The Hebrew word ‘malchut’ does not have the meaning of riches, but rather focuses on the ‘ruling’ aspect. The German word Reich can also refer to an ‘Empire.’
Standard Christian interpretation of Yeshua’s reference to the kingdom is 100% Replacement Theology, pickled in an ersatz understanding of the Davidic kingdom. In a similar fashion, Adolph Hitler’s pervasive use of the term ‘Drittes Reich’ (the Third Reich) is a venomous flowering of this poisonous plant of Replacement Theology, a pagan “boasting against the branches” (see Romans 11:18 KJV). That dark Hitlerian vision looked toward a counterfeit anti-Semitic kingdom, a black Nazi substitute for the light and life of God’s Jewish kingdom flowing out of Mount Zion (Isaiah 2:1-4).
Origin of the term ‘the Third Reich’
Arthur Wilhelm Ernst Victor Moeller van den Bruck, born in Westphalia, was deeply influenced by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. A German cultural historian and writer, van den Bruck was best known for his controversial 1923 book Das Dritte Reich (‘The Third Reich’), which promoted German nationalism and strongly influenced both the Conservative Revolutionary movement and the Nazi Party. Surprisingly, van den Bruck was opposed to Hitler and anti-Semitism, and initially stated in the preface to his book: “The Third Reich is but a philosophical idea and not for this world, but for the hereafter. Germany could well perish dreaming the Third Reich dream.” Nevertheless, the Nazis made use of some of van den Bruck’s ideas, including appropriating his catchy book title for their regime and his (and Nietzsche’s) use of the ‘Germanic Übermensch’ philosophy for their racism.
Van den Bruck postulated a development of the Holy Roman Empire in three stages:
First Reich: from 962 A.D. (the East Francian Otto I) to 1806 A.D. On February 2, 962, Otto I was solemnly crowned Emperor by Pope John XII. In the 13th century, the Empire was called ‘Sacrum Imperium Romanum’ in Latin, the ‘Heiliges Römisches Reich’ in German, and later, the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ in English.
Second Reich: from 1871 (the unification of Germany) to 1918 (the November Revolution leading to the Weimar Republic). This entity was given the name ‘Deutsches Reich’ (the German Empire). Its leader was Kaiser (or Emperor) Wilhelm I, King of Prussia from the House of Hohenzollern.
Van den Bruck saw the coming Third Reich as an ideal state, the only way by which the scattered German people would achieve common purpose and destiny: Otto von Bismarck’s Second Reich had been an imperfect empire, since it did not include Austria, van den Bruck stated. “Our Second Empire was a Little-German Empire which we must consider only as a stepping stone on our path to a Greater German Empire.” A new revolution from the right, embracing both Prussian socialism and nationalism, a unique form of German fascism, was what van den Bruck thought was needed. He chose Nietzsche’s vision over that of Karl Marx. The one contemporary politician that he praised above all others was Benito Mussolini.
The prophet Daniel ‘translated and improved’
Van den Bruck and his later Nazi camp-followers were walking an already well-tread path. Christian Replacement Theologians had for centuries been charting how David’s coming kingdom (the one prophesied both by Daniel [2:39-40] and by Yeshua [Luke 22:28-30]) had undergone ‘replacement’ and ‘spiritualization,’ morphing into a Gentile-Roman ‘Reich of our Lord and of His Christ” (to paraphrase Revelation 11:15).
Medieval writers described the process by which royal and Roman imperial succession (translatio imperii – ‘transfer of rule’) moved forward through the centuries:
- The Roman Emperor Constantine I established Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) as a second capital of the Roman Empire in 330 A.D. After Emperor Theodosius I’s death in 395 A.D., the Roman Empire was permanently divided into the Western (Roman) and the Eastern (Byzantine) Empires.
Many far-fetched theories were created to shore up the fanciful roots and authority of individual countries looking for a higher hierarchical pecking-order on the imperial food-chain.
- The French Benedictine Abbot Adso of Montier-en-Der (900’s A.D.) stated that God’s Roman Empire authority had been transferred first to the Carolingian Franks and from them to the Germanic Saxons.
- The German church chronicler Otto of Freising (1100’s A.D.) stated that that authority moved from Rome to the Franks to the Longobards/Lombardi) and then to the Germans.
- Chrétien de Troyes (late 1110’s A.D.) spoke of a transmission of authority from Greece to Rome to France.
- Richard de Bury (1300’s, Durham), spoke of a transmission of authority from Athens to Rome to Paris to England.
- Snorri Sturluson(Prose Edda Prologue, Iceland, 1200’s) stated that the transmission of imperial authority came through Troy (Turkey) to Thrace (‘Thrúdheim’) to Norway.
- The Puritan Fifth Monarchists (1660’s) stated that, based on the Book of Daniel, four empires (Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome) would rise and fall, the fifth being the eternal kingdom of Christ (identified with the British Empire).
- The Jesuit diplomat and orator António Vieira (Portugal, 1600’s) saw Portugal and not England as being the Fifth Empire: Greece to Rome to Christianity to Europe to Portugal.
In nearly all of these scenarios, the earthly and spiritual Jewish apostolic and Davidic kingdom authority gets transferred to Gentile Christian kings in various and sundry lands. Yeshua’s prophesied hope for Jewish kingdom restoration was scorned or ignored. But while Jewish physical kingdom hopes were mocked, Gentile physical kingdoms were celebrated as the ‘real and spiritual fulfilment’ of Jewish prophetic promises. And to this day, that is where the majority of the body of Messiah’s theologians still stand. YHVH’s Messianic and Davidic kingdom has suffered painful plastic surgery at the hands of Christian doctors of theology, and the result is a horridly scarred ‘kingdom face.’
Russia and Moscow – the Slavic ‘Third Reich’
In 1472 Ivan III of Russia married Sophia Palaiologina, a niece of the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI, and styled himself Tsar (Царь /‘Caesar’/ Emperor). In 1492, the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Moscow Zosimus, in his foreword to Presentation of the Paschalion, called Ivan “the new Tsar Constantine of the new city of Constantine – Moscow.” The Russian monk Philotheus (1500’s A.D.) later proclaimed:
- So know, pious king, that all the Christian kingdoms came to an end and came together in a single kingdom of yours. Two Romes have fallen, the third stands, and there will be no fourth. No one shall replace your Christian Tsardom according to the great Theologian.”
The spiritual foundations of the Russian Orthodox church are deeply rooted in ersatz Replacement Theology, for Moscow sees itself as a Third Roman-Russian ‘Reich’ or Kingdom. As well, the ‘succession’ is based on a shaky foundation of uneasy competition with Rome, Constantinople, Kyiv and the West.
A Reformation of Real Hope
The history described above is dark and depressing. This is because the theological foundations of much of Christian theology and history stand at quite a distance from Messianic, apostolic and biblical truth. Luther, for all his faults (both in character and as regards his anti-Semitism), stood as a champion for many important foundational and scriptural truths. In our day, similar courage is needed among followers of Messiah Yeshua, both among young men and women, and among sages and prophetic leaders, if there are to be breakthroughs in the proclamation of Yeshua’s kingdom.
The time has passed for God’s spokesmen to be focusing on peace, prosperity and party-time. King Messiah is at the door. He is focusing more strongly, minute by minute, on:
- the restoration of King David’s constituency – the Jewish people
- the Jewish people’s return to King David’s kingdom soil – the Land of Israel
- the Last Days calling on King YHVH’s Jewish people – bringing much greater riches (Reichtum in German) to the nations (Romans 11:12) and life from the dead to all the peoples of this planet (Romans 11:15)
Repentance also means a change of direction
C.S. Lewis once said in his ‘God in the Dock:’ “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road. In that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
The worldwide body of Messiah needs to once again be preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23), giving honor and priority to its clear emphasis on Jewish restoration ‘on earth as it is in Heaven.’
This will require courage and willingness to suffer and sacrifice, for that will be the cost when Christians stand alongside of the Jewish people at the time of their national re-birth.
The fierce opposition of the Islamist and anti-Semitic world to Israel’s restoration (both to YHVH and to their Promised Homeland of Israel) is a given. What has not yet been manifested is how Gentile followers of Yeshua will act – and on which side of the fence they will stand.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for the leadership of Messiah’s body, that YHVH would tune their hearts, perspectives and strategies regarding the Jewish people and their kingdom
- Pray for revelation and courage to Bible teachers and preachers about these foundational biblical truths
- Pray for receptive hearts amount believers worldwide to hear and to water these words with their tears and prayers
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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