Last evening I left a comment under another post which concerned a topic which has puzzled me for some time. It concerns the State of Israel:
I realize many if not most Christians strongly believe what we see as ‘Israel’ today, is a fulfillment of prophecy. But if you read closely in the old testament, the conditions which were to be met PRIOR to each and every time God ‘restored’ the people to the land, (repentance, forsaking idolatry, turning back to God, etc), what has occurred in the 20th century, DOES NOT FIT. This puzzles me. (from comment section – Romans 11: 25-26)
George responded with,
Regarding modern day Israel, I suspect that one can find the answer by asking whether modern day Israel is founded on FAITH or on FLESH.
I agree. And this is the cause of my confusion, for what we see as the State of Israel today, was, without a doubt, founded by the arm of the flesh. And lest you think I’m not aware that God uses man’s actions to fulfill His will, believe me I do understand that. But in this particular case, it has never lined up with the requirements (for restoration) laid out in God’s Word.
Anyway, this morning I came upon a message at a website previously unknown to me. I actually stumbled upon it while reading something else, in which the link (to this message) was embedded within.
Read it please. The author (again, someone I’m not familiar with) has written on the topic and made some very good points.
I won’t say I agree with every jot and tittle in this message—but as a whole, the message makes perfect sense: from a Biblical perspective. If you’ve read here for any length of time I don’t need to go into why I believe this is an important subject: you’re already aware the topic itself has “colored” the theology of millions of Christians in the last 150 years.
Below is only a small segment, but I do encourage you to follow the link and read it all. Afterward, would like to hear your thoughts…
Last week I saw a picture on a Facebook page that had a drawing of the star of David with the words “I STAND WITH ISRAEL” imposed over it.
Artistically, it was a beautiful design.
Theologically, it was very troubling.
I believe Christians (and even Jews) who proudly boast of “standing with Israel” as a modern nation are in danger of borderline idolatry–by both Old and New Testament standards.
The nation that exists today in the Middle East with the blue and white Star of David as its flag is a secular state. Its Constitution is not based on Torah, but rather on Western democratic ideals and a European/American form of government. I don’t know many people who would dispute this–in fact, most who support Israel are quite proud of this very thing!
However, because it was named “Israel” when it was established in the mid-20th century, many Christians saw it as the reconstitution of Biblical Israel…and thus as a divinely-sanctioned nation that was to be a key event in ushering in the return of Christ. In fact, most evangelical Christians claimed it as a “miracle” (despite the fact that after WWII, politically and militarily speaking, there was very little that could be said to be “miraculous” about superpowers with modern weaponry establishing a country in land they controlled) and “fulfilled prophecy” (despite there being very little in the actual details of the events which could be correlated with Biblical prophecy in anything more than a superficial or vague manner).
Understandably, then, those who saw the formation (or “ingathering” as they might rather call it) of Israel in this manner would have a favorable view towards this new nation. And since in just the previous decade the Jewish people had suffered tremendous horror in the form of Shoah (the Holocaust), the world was rightly sympathetic to the plight of the Jewish people and many believed they deserved a homeland where they would be able to live free from fear of attack or persecution.
Through political maneuvering and negotiation between the victorious powers of WWII and the European community, it was decided that the place for this new nation of Israel would be the land in the Middle East where Biblical Israel once lived. It seemed only logical.
The only problem was that during the nearly 2,000 years in which the Jewish people had been spread over the face of the earth as a result of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans, many other people had continued to live in that very land, including a number of Jews of Middle Eastern descent (In fact, a friend of mine whose family was forced to flee Israel in the 1940s can trace her family’s ancestry back to 1st century Christians in Jerusalem!). Needless to say, when this massive influx of Europeans arrived in the new nation of “Israel”, there was conflict with those–both Jews and Arabs–who were already there.
[Note: This is a VERY simplified summary and I am intentionally avoiding getting into the numerous historical nuances of the past 60+ years, both because it is beyond the scope of this post and because there are many accounts with varying degrees of bias to which interested readers can refer.]
However, despite being established as a homeland for the Jewish people, at no point in time has the nation of Israel ever been established according to the Covenant given by God at Mt. Sinai. Rather, many of the earliest and most influential leaders of this new state (often referred to as “Zionists”, to distinguish the political goals they sought from the religious aspects of “Judaism”), such as Theodor Herzl, were mostly secular European Jews who were quite clear that they had little use for Torah’s commandments, other than for their religious symbolic value in gaining support among the larger Jewish and Christian world population (see here for more on the secular roots of Zionism). Incidentally, there were and always have been a vocal minority of devout Jews who openly oppose Zionism in principle because they believe that the true return of the Jews from exile cannot happen apart from the coming of Messiah. For more on this, see “A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism” by Yakov Rabkin.
So despite the claims to the contrary by many prominent and prolific voices among Conservative Christian Zionists, the nation of Israel as a nation cannot be said to have legitimate claim to the promises given to Biblical Covenant Israel. This is a CRUCIAL distinction…and one that many of my fellow evangelical Christians often seem to miss.
[For an incredibly thought-provoking and level-headed discussion of this issue by Jewish Psychologist Mark Braverman, see my previous post: A Jewish voice that needs to be heard by Christians.]
“But wait…what about the famous promise to Abraham’s seed? Didn’t God say flat-out that He would bless those who bless the nation of Israel and curse those who curse them??”
No He didn’t.