7 Comments

Israel, Gaza and the Christian’s Response


The latest,

Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with about 300 airstrikes Saturday and shot down a Palestinian rocket fired at Tel Aviv, the military said, widening a blistering assault to include the Hamas prime minister’s headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. The intensified airstrikes came as Egyptian-led attempts to broker a cease-fire and end Israel’s four-day-old Gaza offensive gained momentum. The leaders of Hamas and two key allies, Qatar and Turkey, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials, and the Arab League was holding an emergency meeting.

The White House said President Barack Obama was also in touch with the Egyptian and Turkish leaders. The U.S. has solidly backed Israel so far. Speaking on Air Force One, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said that the White House believes Israel “has the right to defend itself” against attack and that the Israelis will make their own decisions about their “military tactics and operations.”

My prayer is the White House continues to hold to the position that “the Israelis will make their own decisions about their military tactics and operations.”

Much more with death tolls as of 3:30 ET may be found here

Below is the repost of an excellent article by John Piper I first shared in 2008

Land Divine? – We should treat the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as we would any other
By John Piper – Desiring God Ministries

How should bible-believing Christians align themselves in the Jewish-Palestinian conflict? There are biblical reasons for treating both sides with compassionate public justice in the same way that disputes should be settled between nations generally. In other words, the Bible does not teach us to be partial today to Israel or to the Palestinians because either has a special divine status. Israel has a unique place in God’s plans, but this status does not warrant a claim, at the present time, to divine prerogatives.

Israel was chosen by God from all the peoples of the world to be the focus of special blessing in the history of redemption which climaxed in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

“The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

Moreover, God promised to Israel the presently disputed land from the time of Abraham onward. “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring'” (Deuteronomy 34:4).

But neither of these biblical facts leads necessarily to the endorsement of present-day Israel as the rightful possessor of all the disputed land. Israel may have such a right. And she may not. But that decision is not based on divine privilege. Why?

First, a non-covenant-keeping people does not have a divine right to the present possession of the land of promise. Both the experience of divine blessing and the habitation of the land are conditional on Israel’s keeping the covenant God made with her. Thus God said to Israel, “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all peoples” (Exodus 19:5). Israel has no warrant to a present experience of divine privilege when she is not keeping covenant with God.

More than once Israel was denied the experience of her divine right to the land (not the final right itself) when she broke covenant with God. For example, when Israel languished in captivity in Babylon, Daniel prayed, “O Lord … we have sinned and done wrong…. To You, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame … to all Israel … in all the lands to which You have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against You” (Daniel 9:4-7; see Psalm 78:54-61). Israel has no divine right to be in the land of promise when she is breaking the covenant of promise.

This does not mean that other nations have the right to molest her. She still has human rights among nations even in those seasons when she forfeits her divine right. Nations that gloated over her divine discipline were punished by God (Isaiah 10:5-13).

Secondly, Israel as a whole today rejects her Messiah, Jesus Christ, God’s Son. This is the ultimate act of covenant-breaking with God. God promised that to Israel “a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7). But with tears this Prince of Peace looked out over Jerusalem and said, “Would that you … had known on this day the things that make for peace! … You did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:42-44).

When the builders rejected the beautiful Cornerstone, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43). He explained, “Many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham … while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness” (Matthew 8:11-12).

God has saving purposes for ethnic Israel (Romans 11:25-26). But for now most of the people are at enmity with God in rejecting the gospel of Jesus their Messiah (Romans 11:28). God has expanded His saving work to embrace all peoples (including Palestinians) who will trust His Son and depend on His death and resurrection for salvation. “Is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? … He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (Romans 3:29-30).

The Christian plea in the Middle East to Palestinians and Jews is: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). And until that great day when both Jewish and Gentile followers of King Jesus inherit the earth (not just the land), without lifting sword or gun, the rights of nations should be decided by the principles of compassionate and public justice, not claims to national divine right or status.

Also, as we have brethren caught on both sides of the situation, let us lift them up in prayer..

Can I live continually among my fellow-believers and see their sorrows, and never cry to God on their behalf? Can I observe their poverty, their tribulation, their temptation, their heaviness of heart, and yet forget them in my supplications? Can I wrap up myself within myself, and be indifferent to the case of those who are my brethren in Christ Jesus? Impossible. I must belong to some other family than that of God, for in the family of love, common sympathy leads to constant intercession. God forbid that we should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for our brethren.- (Charles Spurgeon)

About these ads

7 comments on “Israel, Gaza and the Christian’s Response

  1. Good article. While it does seem God has some end time plan for the remaining Jews, the secular nation of today is to be treated like Ecuador. (i.e.)

    • Excellent teaching Rick. I read it before even coming to my blog today after seeing it in my feeds. Loving one’s enemies is something we in America have forgotten how to do. I find that pretty strange for a nation which claims to be Christian, don’t you?

  2. […] PJ Miller shared this a few days ago and to be honest, I was shocked (in a good way) when I read the article. The article is a few years old, but worth the read. […]

  3. Hi PJ,

    Interesting topic. I do however find that from a Christian perspective, the idea God maintaining a purpose for the Jewish people something of a platitude. I’m sorry, it’s not a very savoury opinion and I know I’m not going to win any popularity contests with this one, but if you bear with me.

    Paul’s argument in Romans 11 is rarely ever brought to it’s conclusive reference scripture of Isaiah 59:20:

    “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
    And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,”
    Says the Lord.

    It’s all about repentance and receiving Christ.

    To suggest that modern day Israel is a regathering of ethnic descendants of Abraham is plain absurdity. The fact is, no serious historian believes there was a scattering of the entire nation of Israel post AD70 or AD140. Many Jews stayed in the land. Many became Christians and the gospel was very successful, others remained Jews. When Islam came to the land, many people adopted the Muslim faith (apparently you got tax breaks if you were a Muslim). This isn’t to say that Judaism didn’t travel or gain proselytes, but to suggest an ethnic link with the people in the Bible and today’s Israel is as ridiculous as suggesting that you or I as Christians can trace our lineage to those baptised by John The Baptist. If you made that suggestion, people would laugh in your face, but we solemnly accept a similar notion from modern Israelis in regard to their lineage. Have we been so cowed as to simply accept this without any question?

    Then we come to the faith aspect. I do struggle with the notion that today’s Judaism is relevant. After the events following the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism had to be reconstructed. That reconstruction resulted in the Talmud. The three monotheistic religions all worship the same God of Abraham, but all have taken turns from the Torah. Christians go to the Torah via the New Testament, Muslims via the Qur’an and Jews via the Talmud. Each would argue the other two are apostate, but for some reason, many Christians seem to wear spiritual blinkers to this. Are we suggesting that God would hold any special favour with those who have deviated from His word and Laws? The Old Testament is full of warnings and events to suggest otherwise. I don’t see how apostate Judaism is any different to apostate Christianity or Islam from a purely Christian perspective. One could arguably make a case for Torah Jews, but they make for a very small minority within Orthodox Judaism and have still rejected Christ. In fact, to the contrary, Islam acknowledges Christ’s role as saviour, whilst rejecting his Divinity. If we were keeping score on a purely human level, Islam is in fact closer to Christianity than Judaism.

    Personally, I do see God having a special place for the Jew, but in his mercy through Christ, He tore the veil and elevated all of mankind to the level that the Jewish people enjoyed and allowed us all to have a relationship with God through Jesus.

    But you’ve got to receive Christ. It’s not that the Jews aren’t special any more, it’s just that everyone is special as well.

    Sorry. I said I wasn’t going to win any popularity contests.

    • Interesting topic. I do however find that from a Christian perspective, the idea God maintaining a purpose for the Jewish people something of a platitude. I’m sorry, it’s not a very savoury opinion and I know I’m not going to win any popularity contests with this one, but if you bear with me.

      Steve, many thing i’ve said or posted at this blog haven’t won me any popularity contests either, so that’s ok. :-)

      It’s funny you should bring up the points you did because i’ve been searching for a sermon by John Stott to share. He addresses some of your concerns.

      In the meantime or until i locate it,

      To suggest that modern day Israel is a regathering of ethnic descendants of Abraham is plain absurdity. The fact is, no serious historian believes there was a scattering of the entire nation of Israel post AD70 or AD140. Many Jews stayed in the land. Many became Christians and the gospel was very successful, others remained Jews.

      From what i recall off hand, you’re correct. One thing immediately comes to mind and that was the fact of all the Jewish believers (in Christ) who avoided being caught in Jerusalem during its destruction in 70AD. They remembered Jesus’ warning to flee,

      When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Matthew 24

      I’d have to read through Josephus’ account but if im not mistaken he recorded that many of these returned after the destruction to help others who survived and had not been taken captive.

      Then we come to the faith aspect. I do struggle with the notion that today’s Judaism is relevant. After the events following the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism had to be reconstructed. That reconstruction resulted in the Talmud. The three monotheistic religions all worship the same God of Abraham, but all have taken turns from the Torah. Christians go to the Torah via the New Testament, Muslims via the Qur’an and Jews via the Talmud. Each would argue the other two are apostate, but for some reason, many Christians seem to wear spiritual blinkers to this.

      I don’t believe (as a Christian) that Judaism, in any form, is relevant. As a matter of fact i believe it to be a false religion. Many Christians would be offended at that observation, but nevertheless it is true. Can Judaism save? Absolutely not! So like any other religion which does not have Jesus Christ at its center, it is false because it cannot offer life.

      Personally, I do see God having a special place for the Jew, but in his mercy through Christ, He tore the veil and elevated all of mankind to the level that the Jewish people enjoyed and allowed us all to have a relationship with God through Jesus.

      But you’ve got to receive Christ. It’s not that the Jews aren’t special any more, it’s just that everyone is special as well.

      Agreed! Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, it could be said, leveled the playing field. ahaha…Under the new (and better!) covenant God’s chosen people are those in Christ.

      The way is open to all who will walk in it, from any/all ethic groups.

      John Piper makes many excellent points in his message concerning how we (as Christians) should respond to what we see occurring between Israel and the Palestinians, and frankly we don’t see many Christian leaders being as even-handed and/or biblically led in responding to the situation as he was…especially in 2002 which is when (i believe) he wrote this.

      Saying that, it doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything he said. It also doesn’t mean we (even as Christians) don’t hold personal opinions concerning the atrocities we know are being committed against innocent civilians: especially little children. My heart weeps…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Disrupting Culture

A blog by Dr. Jonathan Welton

Holy Spirit Activism

Signs, Wonders, Peace and Justice

Fishing For Men

paul the slave humbly serving Christ Jesus the Great Fisherman

Gralefrit Theology

Trying to explicate the inexplicable

Pursuing Truth

Eschatology studies, discussion forum, and more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 462 other followers

%d bloggers like this: