Dr. Gary DeMar Brands You a ‘Prophetic Houdini’ If You Take God at His Word

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According to Dr. Gary DeMar, if you believe that God will literally keep His promises to Israel and you see redemptive significance in the fact that Jesus will return to Jerusalem, you are a “prophetic Houdini.”

In his April 18, 2024 article titled, “My Response to Michael Brown’s Response,” Dr. DeMar not only derides those who take God’s promises literally, but he also makes a number of extreme unbiblical statements, also misrepresenting my position and engaging in personal insults, all of which underscores the weakness of his own position. 

Dr. DeMar is responding to my April 8, 2024 article, “The Hoax of Denying the Reality of Replacement Theology,” which in turn was written in response to his April 4, 2024 article, “The Hoax of Replacement Theology.”

In short, in his first article, Dr. DeMar outrageously claimed that there is no such thing as “replacement theology,” the idea that Gentile Christians replaced national Israel in God’s redemptive plan, even though this is the fundamental position to which he holds.

Tragically, in his lengthy response (over 2,500 words) to my article, he refuses even to acknowledge the tragic, bloody history of replacement theology in Church history, despite the fact that no bona fide Church historian on the planet would deny it.

Why can’t Dr. DeMar simply state, “It is true that the teaching called ‘replacement theology’ has brought great suffering to the Jewish people over the centuries, but I believe the term itself is misguided and unhelpful”?

Instead, he calls the very notion of replacement theology a “hoax.”

Perhaps even more remarkably, in his continued denial of the reality of replacement theology, Dr. DeMar quotes a Bible teacher who explicitly espouses replacement theology, stating,

“Kim Burgess writes: ‘The redemption or the consolation of Israel was to have nothing to do with Old Covenant Israel as a national or political/civil form or entity just as the New Jerusalem would have nothing at all to do with the material/physical, visible, and geographically limited city of Old Covenant Jerusalem.’”

How extraordinary. That is replacement theology on steroids.

Worse still, rather than focusing on substantive, exegetical issues, he resorts to personal insults, such as: “Like Dr. Brown, the Jews of Jesus’ day saw everything in physical terms.” And, “Dr. Brown is a modern-day Nicodemus when he insists that the promises made to Israel must be fulfilled again in a physical way.”

Based on Dr. DeMar’s criteria, that would also make Charles Spurgeon “a modern-day Nicodemus,” since he stated emphatically in 1864 while preaching on Ezekiel 37,

“The meaning of our text, as opened up by the context, is most evidently, if words mean anything, first, that there shall be a political restoration of the Jews to their own land and to their own nationality; and then, secondly, there is in the text, and in the context, a most plain declaration, that there shall be a spiritual restoration, a conversion in fact, of the tribes of Israel.”

Spurgeon also said,

“If there be anything clear and plain, the literal sense and meaning of this passage—a meaning not to be spirited or spiritualized away—must be evident that both the two and the ten tribes of Israel are to be restored to their own land, and that a king is to rule over them.”  Indeed, he declared, “I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough about it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this. I imagine that you cannot read the Bible without seeing clearly that there is to be an actual restoration of the Children of Israel.”

Sadly, Dr. DeMar manages to do the very thing that Spurgeon could not imagine, namely, read the Bible “without seeing clearly that there is to be an actual restoration of the Children of Israel.” 

And what kind of insult would Dr. DeMar hurl at John Owen, the greatest of the Puritan theologians. He wrote,

“There is not any promise anywhere of raising up a kingdom unto the Lord Jesus Christ in this world but it is either expressed, or clearly intimated, that the beginning of it must be with the Jews.”?

Or what would Dr. DeMar say to Robert Leighton, a contemporary of Owen? Leighton wrote:

“They forget a main point for the Church's glory, who pray not daily for the conversion [turning] of the Jews....Undoubtedly, that people of the Jews shall once more be commanded to arise and shine, and their return shall be the riches of the Gentiles (Romans 11:12), and that shall be a more glorious time than ever the Church of God did yet behold.”

Some of Dr. Demar’s language even suggests that I am among the “Judaizers” and have a mentality similar to that of “the chief priests and Pharisees” who “were the antichrists of that generation (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:1-3; 2 John 7), the ‘synagogue of Satan’ (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).” And he writes all this, knowing that:

1) I have devoted more than five decades of my life to preaching the Good News of Jesus the Messiah to my Jewish people, stating unequivocally that there is no salvation outside of Him;

2) I have endlessly repeated that Jew and Gentile are one new man in Jesus, equally loved by the Father, with equal standing and equal status, emphasizing that there is no caste system or class system in redemption;

3) I have made clear that there are both physical and spiritual aspects of God’s promises to Israel. 

Why, then, must Dr. DeMar resort to such unhinged and inaccurate rhetoric? Why resort to slurs and misrepresentations?

He further states, “Like dispensationalists, Dr. Brown is awaiting Israel’s purge through the Great Tribulation when only a third of Israel remains after the antichrist has his way with the Jews.” But he cannot refer to a single citation from me to back this claim, despite my having more than 7 million words in print and countless more words in audio and video archives.

Dr. DeMar goes as far as saying, “He does not address this future holocaust issue in his apologetic for the future Israel. He didn’t address it in our past debate or in his response article even though it is fundamental to his position.”

That’s because this is not fundamental to my position, which prompts the question: Why must Dr. DeMar resort to creating fictitious views which he then ascribes to me in order to buttress his own position? 

It is either a matter of downright dishonesty and Dr. DeMar is knowingly lying (which I hope is not the case) or it provides clear evidence of the bankruptcy of his arguments. (For the record, my position is that there will be parallel extremes at the end of the age, both of light and darkness, with great suffering and upheaval along with great spiritual outpouring worldwide, as well as in Israel, but with great deliverance for the Jewish people explicitly promised in Scripture. I would also hold that, the closer we get to the end of the age, the land of Israel will be the safest place for a Jewish person to be.)

Other outrageous claims he makes include:

1) “the regathering of Israel to Jesus was taking place in that Apostolic generation,” which is directly rebutted by the fact that Paul affirmed the future redemption of those very Jewish people who were enemies of the gospel during that very apostolic era (see Romans 11:11-29). The salvation of “all Israel” remains in the future.

2) “The land promises were fulfilled ages ago (Josh. 21:43-45; 1 Kings 4:21). Israel was displaced for 70 years and was brought back to the land as promised, but this was before the coming of the long-awaited Messiah.” 

Not only does he refute himself in the same paragraph, since the return of the Jewish people from Babylonian exile postdated 1 Kings 4:21 by almost 500 years, yet he admits this return was “promised” by God. He must also ignore every single prophetic witness in the Old Testament subsequent to 1 Kings 4, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others, all of whom affirmed that the land promises remained to Israel, using the most explicit, detailed language, which is then seconded by the language of the Psalms, as God’s people longed for the day of their promised return.

As for the verses in Joshua and 1 Kings, they state that, just as God promised, He gave the land to His people – but not to then take it away and never give it back! That would be like someone promising you a new car for life, only to deliver it and say, “I have kept my promise,” before taking it back the next day.

Notice also Paul’s words in Romans 15:8, namely, “that Christ has become a servant of the Jews [lit., the circumcised] on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed.” So, the Messiah confirms the promises to the patriarchs rather than cancels them. And what were some of the promises made to the patriarchs?

Let the Word of God speak for itself, and then ask yourself: Could the Lord have made Himself any clearer?

“He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.’” (Psalm 105:7–11)

3) “... nothing is said in the New Testament about Jews returning to the physical city of Jerusalem or the land of Israel.” In point of fact, the most explicit reference to the Jewish people being scattered from Jerusalem, found in the words of Jesus, is the very place where the Lord clearly implies their return:

“They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).

The Jewish people have been “taken as prisoners to all the nations” but it is only “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,” which is exactly what we have been witnessing in front of our eyes, as the Jewish people have returned en masse, just as Jesus stated, and Jerusalem has returned to Jewish hands.

As I noted in Our Hands Are Stained with Blood

Amazingly, some teachers have tried to get out of this perpetual land promise to Israel.

They claim that in the New Testament, neither Jesus nor the apostles ever reiterate this particular aspect of the covenant.

But why should they reiterate it? When almost all of the New Testament was being written, about one million Jews were living in the Land, Jerusalem was the spiritual and national capitol and the Temple was still standing.

And Jesus made it clear that, despite Jerusalem's soon-coming destruction - a destruction that would last “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” - He would come back to a Jewish Jerusalem (Luke 21:24; Matt. 23:37-39).

Obviously Jews would be in the Land!

But there is another reason why Jesus and the apostles did not explicitly. stress the land promise to their people. The specifics of God's covenant with the patriarchs were so clearly stated in the Scriptures that it would have been a waste of words to repeat them all!

David Brown, the respected nineteenth century Bible commentator, was correct when he said: “What is permanent in the kingdom of God under the Old Testament is PRESUMED in the New. Put another way, when you build a two-story house, you don’t remove the first floor when you finish the second, otherwise the whole house will collapse. Instead, you build the second floor on the first.

One must also ask why the New Testament explicitly states that Jesus is coming back to Jerusalem if the city no longer has significance, which is Dr. DeMar’s position. 

As the angels said to the disciples as they watched the Lord ascend to heaven from the Mount of Olives,

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10–11, my emphasis).

Yes, in the same way He left, visibly, bodily, from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, He will return, visibly, bodily, to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. As expressed by the prophet Zechariah, “On that day, He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east” (Zechariah 14:4a).

So, the angels in Acts 1 stated in the clearest language that the words of Zechariah would find literal fulfillment, yet to maintain his position, Dr. DeMar must deny the explicit witness of both the Old Testament and New Testament.

This is truly a counsel of despair.

As noted by David Pawson,

“Once you accept that his return will be physical as well as personal, tangible as well as visible, in a word ‘bodily’, then another adjective has to be added: it will be ‘local’.  Once that has been said, the location needs to be identified.  I have never heard anyone claim it will be Rome or Geneva, Canterbury or Moscow.  Every opinion that I have come across plumps for Jerusalem.”  (David Pawson, Defending Christian Zionism, 100. See further Mark S. Kinzer, Jerusalem Crucified, Jerusalem Risen: The Resurrected Messiah, the Jewish People, and the Land of Promise.)

4) In his companion rebuttal article, “The Dividing Wall Has Been Broken Down,” which is equally misleading in terms of its implications of my position, Dr. DeMar quotes Milton Terry to argue that the phrase “the end of the age” or “the consummation of the age” in Matthew refers to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. This means that, when Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” He was actually saying, “I’m with you until the destruction of the Temple, and after that, you’re on your own. As for those who will follow you in succeeding generations, they’ll be on their own too!”

This, again, is what happens when you deny the plain and obvious sense of the Scripture, one which is affirmed elsewhere in the New Testament (see Hebrews 13:5; note that in our online debate on Matthew 24, Dr. DeMar espoused the position that Jesus was saying two separate things, namely, that He was with His disciples always, which included until AD 70. This is both an exegetical and grammatical monstrosity, not to mention nonsensical, since if the first part of the statement was true, there would be no need for the second. It is clear that Dr. DeMar did not have the Greek in front of him during our debate.)

Dr. DeMar asks, “Does the Bible require that every physical promise made to Israel must be fulfilled in a physical way?”

The answer is quite simple: Yes – when the Bible says so itself! 

Consider passages like these, which could easily be multiplied, and then ask yourself: If God was seeking to communicate something to His people, what would they understand these words to mean?

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks. In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, land in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, land in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 33:12-13).

If Dr. DeMar argues that this was fulfilled with the Jewish return from Babylonian exile, that would only underscore my point: literal promises are literally fulfilled, and the literality of the healing must be just as real as the literality of the smiting.

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.’ 

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.’ This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?’ declares the LORD Almighty. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.’” (Zechariah 8:2–8; note that this was written shortly after the first return of exiles from Babylon)

Our God will do this, just as He said He would.

He can be trusted to keep His word, regardless of what Dr. DeMar might argue.

The Lord Himself said through the prophet Isaiah, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth” (62:6-7). 

Dr. DeMar says, “Ignore this! Jerusalem doesn’t matter anymore! This is talking about the church!”

I say: “Let God speak for Himself. Yes, for sure, believers from around the world can call on the Lord anywhere, and not just in Jerusalem (see John 4:22-23). And yes, there is a heavenly Jerusalem as well as an earthly Jerusalem (see Hebrews 12:18-24), and our eyes are fixed on that eternal city which is above.

But Jesus is coming back to a physical city on the earth, and from that city, He will rule the world” (see Isaiah 2:1-4).

Peter said that heaven must receive Jesus “until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:21).

Dr. DeMar says, “Anyone who tries to take what the prophets said literally is a prophetic Houdini!”

I say, “Let God be God! His Word is clear. And it is preposterous to think that any New Testament author would completely void out the meaning of Old Testament verses, as if with one stroke of their pen, they could revoke and rewrite and radically reinterpret what the Lord had previously said.”

Stop for a moment and read a chapter like Isaiah 62 from beginning to end, then consider these questions which I raised in Our Hands Are Stained with Blood

If Zion primarily means the Church, then where is Zion’s land, what are its walls, and who are its people? (Before you answer, are you sure your answer is scriptural? Do you think the original authors would be totally shocked at your interpretation?) We can make all the spiritual application we want. All believers have a spiritual right to the promises. But we must remember: They are literally true for Zion! Jerusalem’s restoration will be glorious.

This principle also applies to the many verses Dr. DeMar cites regarding the spiritual application of some Old Testament promises. They are wonderful, and I rejoice in those promises with all my heart.

The New Testament writers can make a spiritual point without negating the physical.

As for the author of Hebrews speaking of the termination of the Sinai covenant, that same author then points to God’s new and better covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Hebrews 8:8-13), a fact conveniently overlooked by Dr. DeMar when he cites Hebrews 8:13, as if it referred to all the promises God gave to Israel.

Heaven forbid that those have already passed away!

The fact that New Testament writers can emphasize the spiritual aspects of some of God’s promises to Israel does not for a moment negate the fact that God also spoke literally about the people of Israel.

He promised to scatter them around the world.

He promised to preserve them in exile.

And He promised to bring them back to the Land, all in preparation for their final, spiritual redemption. 

That’s why, after spending several weeks with the risen Savior before He ascended to heaven His disciples could ask Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”, He did not rebuke them and call them carnal and unspiritual. Instead, He told them it wasn’t for them to know when the Father would bring all this about. Instead, their focus was to be on the Great Commission. (Acts 1:6-8)

Their question, in itself, was quite logical – and remember, they asked it after spending weeks with the risen Lord.

The bottom line is that our God can be trusted to keep His word – literally. And so, just as Jesus was literally born of a virgin in Bethlehem, was rejected by His people, died a horrific death, and rose from the dead, just as the prophets predicted, so also will He literally return to earth and establish His kingdom in Jerusalem, just as the prophets and apostles and Jesus Himself declared. 

If that were not the case, meaning if God could say one thing explicitly and plainly today only to change its meaning entirely tomorrow, then Christians should beware.

If the arguments of the replacement theologians are true, then the Lord might just change His promises to the Church too.

Dr. DeMar’s sword of a disingenuous God cuts both ways.

Christian Antisemitism 

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