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  • The danger of Christians “standing with Israel”…or any other nation!

Nov
21
The danger of Christians “standing with Israel”…or any other nation!

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.

Now, that’s an incredibly controversial thing to say…so allow me to clarify what I mean. But first, a disclaimer:

ANYTIME one attempts to speak to the situation regarding the states of Israel and Palestine (I choose to acknowledge both Israeli AND Palestinian claims to statehood), there will ALWAYS be backlash–particularly if one brings issues of theology into the discussion. However, it is a VERY important discussion to have and we must not be afraid to engage the issue head-on…particularly those of us who claim to follow the Jewish Messiah! That being said, disagreement and criticism of any ideas presented in the Dojo are fair game for rebuttal and critique, especially mine! But what will NOT be tolerated in this discussion are personal attacks or flippant use of inflammatory and unhelpful labels (such as “antisemitic” or “godless”) toward those with whose view you may disagree. Now, back to this post…

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??”

Well…no.

No He didn’t.

Look at the passage:

 ”Now the LORD said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
and I will make you a great nation,
and I will bless you,
and make your name great;
and so you shall be a blessing;
and I will bless those who bless you,
and the one who curses you I will curse.
and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”" (Gen 12:1-3 NAS)

This is God speaking to Abram (who would later be renamed “Abraham”) about His plan to reconcile ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH back to Himself. This is one of the most foundational promises in all of Scripture. It is the “Big Idea” of the Bible.

It is later confirmed by God to Abraham and extended to all of Abraham’s “seed”:

 ”Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him,
“I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.
and I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
and I will multiply you exceedingly.”
And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,
“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,
and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.
No longer shall your name be called Abram,
But your name shall be Abraham;
For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.
And I will make you exceedingly fruitful,
and I will make nations of you,
and kings shall come forth from you.
And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants [Heb. "seed"] after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant,
to be God to you and to your descendants [Heb. "seed"] after you.
And I will give to you and to your descendants after you,
the land of your sojournings,
all the land of Canaan,
for an everlasting possession;
and I will be their God.”" (Gen 17:1-8 NAS)

There are many things–entire semesters’ worth, in fact!–that could be said about the passages above. However, the most important, at least for Christians, is what the New Testament writers said about them. Look at what Paul himself a Pharisee who knew the Hebrew Scripture by heart said about God’s promise to Abraham and his “seed”:

“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” (Gal 3:16 NAS)

“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
(Gal 3:29 NAS)

This is one of the deepest and most profound teachings of the entire Bible…but I only want to make a few observations:

  • The promise of blessings and curses are given to Abraham and his “seed”
  • Abraham’s “seed” would include a “multitude of nations”
  • Jesus, as Israel’s Messiah, is the culmination of all the promises given to Israel by God, and thus the true “seed” of Abraham
  • Those who are united with Israel’s Messiah in covenant faith are heirs to the promise–regardless of their ethnicity or earthly citizenship

Of course, in light of the New Testament, while we are to love and support the Jewish people, which includes seeing to it that no one ever threatens them with genocide or other horrors like they have endured over the centuries (much of it, shamefully, at the hand of people professing to follow Jesus!) ever again…we do so because they are created in God’s image and are dearly loved by Him, not because we’ll “be cursed” if we don’t. God is definitely not done with the Jewish people–as some throughout Church history have erroneously taught! He still has a unique plan for the “descendents of Abraham according to the flesh.”

[For more on the New Testament's teaching regarding the Jewish people and the End Times, see my audio CD course "Apocalypse Now??" or download and listen to it for FREE here.]

But it does not follow from any of this that Christians are called to “stand with” the modern nation of Israel.

To equate modern Israel with the Jewish people is theologically wrong and, I would argue, very irresponsible…especially given the fact that modern Israel is a thoroughly secular (i.e. non-religious!) nation which engages in a number of practices and policies which are not in line with Torah itself. For instance, according to Torah:

“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
(Lev 19:33-34 NAS)

Thus, regardless of how bad the nations surrounding Israel may be, this cannot be used as justification for mistreatment or prejudiced policies regarding Palestinians.Yet, as even many Israelis recognize, Palestinians are systematically treated as suspicious at best, and enemies at worst by the Israeli government. Anyone who claims otherwise should spend a year living in the Palestinian territories…they will likely change their minds as a result.

Furthermore, according to Torah, Israel was only allowed to occupy the land so long as they obeyed the Covenant. Breaking the Covenant was grounds for eviction from the land itself, just as the previous inhabitants had been evicted due to their sin:

 You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out. (Lev 20:22 NAS)

Now, no matter how much we may agree with or approve of modern Israel’s form of government from a political perspective, it is no more based on Torah than the U.S. Constitution is based on the Sermon on the Mount.

Nor is the modern state of Israel submitted to that which Torah points–the New Covenant of the Messiah Jesus. Despite the efforts of various Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ to share the Gospel of Yeshua with their fellow Jews in ways that do not advocate abandoning one’s “Jewishness” (the best of which can be found in Dr. Michael L. Brown’s excellent “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus” volumes), the numbers of Christians and Messianic Jews in Israel remains very small. [Note: I have a TREMENDOUS amount of respect for Dr. Brown and have even had the pleasure of having dinner with him after he spoke at CharlotteONE a few years ago. He is an incredible scholar with a first-rate mind who I am deeply indebted to in my own theological development. He and I would likely not see eye-to-eye on many things regarding the current state of Israel, but that does not in any way diminish the admiration I have for him and his ministry.]

Thus, by both Old or New Testament standards, the modern nation known as “Israel” can in no way be said to have God’s unconditional blessing.

Furthermore, even when Israel was under Torah (that is, during the Hebrew Monarchy and 2nd Temple period), there was never a one-to-one correspondence between supporting them militarily and receiving blessing from God. In fact, Prophets such as Jeremiah were often persecuted precisely because they spoke out against the nation of Israel…and their persecutors were those who, regardless of the nation’s behavior, were most definitely “standing with Israel”!

This is why, even from a Hebrew Bible perspective, one cannot justify an unconditional support of Israel as a nation–particularly when such “support” comes in the form of billions of dollars worth of US military hardware and bulldozers.

 

So are you saying we should “stand with Palestine” then?!

No.

Like modern Israel, modern Palestine is an earthly political state. While I personally believe Palestinians have been on the receiving end of a greater degree of violence (be it from early Zionist militias, modern settlers, or IDF bombs and bullets), I do not believe this automatically exonerates the state of Palestine from wrongdoing, nor does it automatically render them the “good guys” (as many anti-Israel proponents often argue). Palestinian leaders and radicals bear a large measure of guilt in this ongoing conflict and this should not be downplayed by those who are sympathetic to their cause.

But the fact remains:

ALL modern political states are a mixed bag.

ALL modern political states are earthly powers.

Jesus specifically said that His Kingdom (that is, the Kingdom of God!) was not of this world.

Jesus did not “stand with” Israel’s leadership anymore so than he did with Rome’s.

Jesus knew that being Abraham’s “seed” was a matter of devotion to God and covenant faith, not ethnicity or earthly citizenship.

Why then do modern Christians have such a hard time living this out when it comes to Israel and Palestine (or Iran, or China, or Russia, or America, or North Korea, or *insert ‘bad guy’ country of choice*)??

Why do we ignore the clear teachings of the Bible (“love your neighbor as yourself” in Torah, interpreted as “love your enemy” by Jesus) in favor of folk-theology or esoteric “End Times” scenarios that require an engineering degree to chart out properly, and which show little, if any, regard in particular for Palestinian followers of Jesus??

I would suggest it’s because many of us want quick, sound-byte answers; we want to know who the “good guys” are and who to “stand with”…rather than having to do the complicated, tiresome, and challenging work of being a true peacemaker!

I would also suggest it’s because we have a natural tendency to identify with those who are more “like us”, either in terms of ethnicity, socio-economic status, form of government, or cultural outlook. “We” are the good guys…”they” MUST therefore be the “bad guys” because “they” are not “us!” Yet these are the very walls that the Gospel was given to tear down!

Bottom line:

When we choose to “stand with” a modern nation–even one named “Israel”–we often end up unintentionally “standing against” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…as well as our Jewish Messiah.

The potential irony should at the very least give us pause in our political/military/sociological convictions, should it not?

As Christians, we are free to gravitate toward policies or endorse political outlooks which we believe honor God and demonstrate love for neighbor (keeping in mind Jesus’ definition of “neighbor” is often quite different than ours!), but we must never seek to baptize those ideologies or political views which openly favor one modern geopolitical nation over another by appealing to Scriptural proof-texts.

To do so is to mishandle the Sword of the Spirit and risk wounding ourselves and others in the process.

The situation with Israel and Palestine is a VERY complicated one; anyone who believes otherwise is either misinformed or woefully naive. But it is for this very reason that we must resist the urge to sanctify “our side”–be it that of Israel, Palestine or any other modern nation. It’s hard to maintain such balance…but that is what we are called to do as peacemakers!

In fact, it is the “peacemakers”, rather than those who “stand with Israel”, who Israel’s Messiah Himself said were to be “blessed” (Matt.5:9).

May we “stand with” the Prince of Peace rather than continue waving our own particular flags…regardless of the colors.

Blessings from the Dojo,

JM

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Comments

  1. Jacob I.

    JM,

    I’d like to pose the same question to you that I posed to Dr. Witherington…

    You use the term “Biblical Israel” several times (and in one case “Biblical Covenant Israel”). What exactly do you mean by this term?

    Thanks,
    Jacob

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    This is a good question, Jacob. And I tried to be specific by saying “Covenant Israel” because it was the Covenant at Sinai that gave birth to Israel as a nation. The heart of Torah is the teaching that Covenant faithfulness (hesed) is what defines the People of God. This is what the Prophets were sent to call Israel back to.

    Israel was exiled because as a nation they abandoned the Covenant. Every promise of Scripture regarding Israel “returning from exile” is tied up in Israel returning to Covenant faithfulness…and ultimately in the giving of the New Covenant, which Yeshua inaugurated. In fact, as you know, thousands and thousands of Jews–both priests and laypersons–were part of this New Covenant inauguration through the ministry of Yeshua and His disciples, and only later did Gentiles begin to “stream to Zion” and worship the God of Abraham through the spreading of the Gospel.

    The modern state of Israel has never in any way attempted as a nation to return to the Covenant (Zionism was birthed from very secular/Marxist ideals combined with a desire for military security–neither of these are necessarily bad, but they are not in any way a return to the Covenant). Even after the Babylonian captivity, Israel renewed the Covenant under Ezra/Nehemiah. Modern Israel has yet to do this, nor does the government or people as a whole seem to desire to do (with the exception of many in the ultra-orthodox community).

    Without the state of Israel openly returning to the Covenant, I don’t see how one could claim even under Hebrew Scripture criteria that they are in any way a continuation of Biblical Covenant Israel or a fulfillment of the Prophets’ promises concerning Israel’s regathering–which was always in conjunction with a return to Covenant obedience.

    From a New Testament perspective, there is even less grounds for considering the modern state of Israel as Biblical Covenant Israel. At best, the state is part of the “broken off branches” until as a nation they turn to Messiah. But even then, the conflation of “modern state of Israel” with “the Jewish people” is one that I cannot justify…particularly with the bulk of the Jewish people living outside of the state of Israel.

    I’m headed out for the holiday, but I hope this somewhat helps to answer your question and give better perspective on where I’m coming from on this. I don’t know how Dr. Witherington would answer; he is a Premillennialist (which I am not) so I think his view of Israel as a nation might differ from mine a bit. But I believe he addresses it at length in “The Problem with Evangelical Theology” in the section on Dispensationalism, as well as in his “Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary” on chs. 9-11. Let me know if you’d like and I can send excerpts from both of those to you in digital format.

    Blessings from the Dojo,
    JM

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jacob I. on November 23, 2011 at 1:52 am

  2. Olatunde

    The true church/body of Christ/kingdom of God on earth seems to be the issue, as well as the role of ethnicity in Christ’s kingdom/church/body. Why ethnicity at all? Why did God create nations/people groups, and Israel in particular?

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    I believe it is very much the issue, Olatunde. But one thing that often goes unnoticed is that even in the Hebrew Scriptures, we see that being part of “Israel” was not a matter of ethnicity, but rather of Covenant faith:

    Joseph’s wife was Egyptian…yet she brought forth the Israelite tribes of Eprhaim and Manasseh.

    Moses’s Cushite wife was vindicated by God Himself over and against Aaron and Miriam’s objection.

    Rahab was grafted into Israel along with her entire household because of her faith in the God of Israel.

    Caleb, one of only 2 adults who left Egypt and entered into Canaan, was a Kenazzite.

    The “mixed multitude” who left Egypt with Israel were part of Israel.

    Ruth gave birth to the lineage of David, despite being a Moabite (who were forbidden to enter into the assembly of the people).

    There are other examples of “non-Jewish” Israelites in the Hebrew Scriptures. And in the New Testament, this it is made explicitly clear that while people retain their ethnic backgrounds and cultures to a large degree (even in the John’s vision where “every tribe, nation, people and language” worship the Lamb in Heaven), in Jesus there is also no “male or female”, “Jew or Greek”, “slave or free.”

    Thus we cannot justify supporting any modern government that is established upon racial lines, I would argue. This is why I cannot in good conscience at the moment “stand with Israel”…

    [Reply]

    Comment by Olatunde on November 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

  3. [...] JESUS, THE MESSIAH OF ISRAEL, WAVES NO FLAG. [...]

    Pingback by Disciple Dojo – JMSmith.org » It’s not about “dead Jews” – a response to a friend on Israel and Gaza on November 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm

  4. Mikhael H GtN

    Good day to all

    Christian are in reality jewish people who followed the step of jesus, as they called jesus christ, they become a nation of christian. If christian are besided of jewish people its natural,. what you dont understand also many arabs who are not really arabs they are also jewish they just learned the language who are also close to jewish people.

    if some people are not with israel, do not mean they are against the people, they are against the government, against all of who are just encouraging hate, war and discrimination.

    one thing you should inked in your mind and heart, who hate another human he is not worty to be a man of faith, because we are all god creation, no human should hate another human. So what they feel about, they have a strong deception how things goes, and you most know Zionism is not only in blood of some jewish radical, they are also arabs zionist, and others race.

    what the humanity is against, they are against those human who follow the destruction, hate, discrimination, thief, scum mostly are in politics those we call them zionist. they are the one we want them out of our life.

    Jews , christian or muslim they are all human, are all good religion who is the bad one its the human who doesn’t follow the rule of life, who is always exagerating and adding things without reason just for power and abusing the weakness of the others.

    PS. Israel is killing its own people, because Palestinian have jewish roots believed or not. that mean jewish in israel are killing jewish in palestine.

    israel have no right to force human to follow their belief to be trusted or not, if you dont want to trust me dont, never ask a human to deny his belief and faith to please your ego of have and selfisheness.

    Shalom and hope you will stop your arrogance no human is a winner in this situation. you are all wrong.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Mikhael H GtN on February 1, 2013 at 1:09 am

  5. Leif GuIIberg

    A well written article worthy of reading. Let me hasten to say I agree with most of it, but take issue with the following statements:
    “Its [Israel's] Constitution is not based on Torah, but rather on Western democratic ideals and a European/American form of government.”

    Israel has no Constitution – the Jewish nation considers the Torah as its constitution. They do, however, have something they call “Basic Laws” which functions as a type of Constitution.

    “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..”

    There is no record in Jewish writings that the Jews spread over the face of the earth after Jerusalem’s destruction. But before that, Jews had migrated to the regions around Palestine, as well as many had stayed on in Babylon. There is therefore no credible record showing a mass exodus from Palestine to the surrounding countries and beyond. Neither are the majority of today’s Jews descendants of the original Jewish tribes, but rather descendants from peoples who converted to Judaism, as is documented in Shlomo Sand’s book “The invention of the Jewish people.”

    [Reply]

    Steve Lumbley Reply:

    “Israel has no Constitution – the Jewish nation considers the Torah as its constitution.”

    if that is true it is an even greater indictment against the modern state of Israel as the Torah testifies of Christ. If they truly followed Torah they would repent and return the the God of Abraham through the cross of Christ.

    The modern state of Israel is an attempt to do by the arm of the flesh what God has already accomplished by His son. Therefore geopolitical Israel can be nothing more than a part of the great end time deception, strong delusion sent to those who refuse to love the truth.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Leif GuIIberg on October 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

  6. Ted Fay

    Very sound and well-written article. I’ve spent some time in both Israel and the West Bank, and I’ve had the experience of hearing personally from loyal Jewish Israelis how heavily the occupation weighs on them in a moral sense, and I’ve seen it first-hand in the West Bank. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting a number of really remarkable Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, whose personal stories reflected the love and grace of Christ in ways that I will not soon forget. An Israeli advisor to the PM told us he saw one of the greatest threats to the potential of peace for Israel was the shrinking population of Christians in Palestine. There are still tens of thousands, but there used to be many more, who have fled from pressure from both Israelis and Arabs, but, according to this Israeli advisor, mostly from the pressure that Israel has applied during the occupation. Conditions have become very difficult, so many Christians who were able to leave and move elsewhere have done so. In Bethlehem, where there has been a continuous Christian presence since the time of Christ, the Christian community has been reduced in population dramatically over the past few decades, mostly by Christians being forced out due to unlivable conditions, where family homes are often cut off from their farmland by fenced or walled settler roads, or where land has been illegally confiscated or declared “abandoned” because the families can no longer reach the fields to work them. Perhaps we Christians in the US should consider what obligation we might have to stand with our Christian brothers and sister who still remain trapped under these conditions.

    [Reply]

    Ted Fay Reply:

    …and I would note that it was arguably General Ben Gurion’s war of independence against the British, and not the Arabs, that established Israel as a state. Palestine was under British rule, not Arab rule, a detail which neither Israelis nor British seem to enjoy people talking about much. Perhaps the fact that the British and Israelis chose to get along much sooner after Ben Gurion’s troops took up arms against them and drove them out than it did for the United States to have warmed up after our own revolution seems to have resulted in neither side wanting to talk much about the details of that war. Yet Israel’s independence was secured at gunpoint from the British, not handed to them as a gift. The British had certainly proposed a Jewish state, but a Palestinian state was to exist along side it, and apparently those terms weren’t much more palatable to Ben Gurion then then are to Israeli hardliners today. So war it was to be.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Ted Fay on October 9, 2013 at 4:01 am

  7. Kevin

    Hey JM,

    I have a couple of points.

    1. Can a Nation come into existence without God? Is Modern Israel a mistake of history or ordained by God?

    2. The bible indicates two gathering of the Jews. First unbelieving Jews would be brought back into the land where God would deal with them in judgement during the time of Jacobs trouble (the tribulation) and then be scattered into the wilderness (the abomination that causes desolation) mid point of the tribulation, where they would be judged and then believing Israel would be brought back to enjoy the millennial reign of Christ. Also at that time the Nations will also be judged (sheep enter, goats do not) based on how they treated the Jews during the tribulation.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Hi Kevin, thanks for commenting.

    To answer your points:

    1. It depends on what you mean by “without God.” If a nation can’t come into existence without being ordained by God, then Nazi Germany and North Korea were both ordained by God. But surely you wouldn’t say followers of Messiah should “stand with” those nations, would you?

    God is sovereign over all nations. But just because he allows or brings to power a certain government, that is not grounds for believing that he endorses or favors that government. He called Cyrus his “annointed one” and “shepherd”…yet Persia was not, therefore, a nation that could expect to be above judgment when they committed evil acts. God regathered Israel after the Babylonian exile and established them back in the Promised Land…but that doesn’t mean God favored the Herodian dynasty, does it?

    The same goes for Israel today. EVEN IF God has sovereignly allowed some Jews to return to the land over the past century, that doesn’t mean that he favors or even approves of the secular government that resulted from the secular ideology of Zionism–especially when it has come about through bloodshed and violence against the Body of Messiah who had already been living in the land.

    2. This interpretation, while popular among some Christian Zionists (such as my friend Dr. Michael Brown), is not taught unambiguously in Scripture. It hinges on very specific interpretations of multiple passages of Scripture which are quite capable of being interpreted otherwise according to the “plain meaning” of the text.

    So we should avoid basing our modern political affiliations on speculative eschatological constructs which may or may not be accurate. History rarely looks like what people’s interpretations of prophecy lead them to expect, remember. This is why almost no one understood Messiah’s first advent (including His followers!). How much more will it likely apply to his 2nd advent.

    We will only know in hindsight how it all worked out in detail. Until then, we must follow the parts of Scripture which are clear and unambiguous such as:

    * Refusing to align the Body of Christ with the kingdoms of this world

    * Striving to be peacemakers who love their enemies

    * Seeking justice for those who are persecuted, especially Messianic Jews and Arab Christians who are members of the household of faith

    * Recognizing that in Messiah, all believers have entered into the promises of the Covenant and are co-heirs to the Seed of Abraham with no dividing wall (Ephesians, Galatians).

    To claim that God is backing the modern secular nation known as “Israel” in a Covenant relationship that extends from Abraham or Sinai is thus to not only in conflict with Torah (which is why so many Orthodox and Haredi Jews have always opposed Zionism), but also to deny the work of Messiah in inaugurating the New Covenant with the house of Israel embodied in Israel’s Messiah and those who unite under Him in faith.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    JM, thank you for your reply.

    Surely you are not comparing the modern state of Israel with Nazi Germany or North Korea, that would be ridiculous. Israel is the only Democratic state in the Middle East that allows freedom of religion among other things; many Palestinians are citizens of Israel and live much better than the Palestinians that are not, even though they receive millions of dollars in relief, where is that money going?

    Israel has been attacked by neighbor countries many times without provocation (unless existence is provocation) with the intention of wiping them out and being greatly out numbered has ‘somehow’ remained.

    Israel does desire peace but has been under constant terrorism forcing them to take actions to protect their citizens even their very existence, what would another sovereign nation do under the same circumstances.

    God gathering Jews back into Israel in disobedience is not in conflict with the Torah nor the New Covenant, but Israel being in the land bothers many people’s theology because it puts it in conflict and rather than reevaluate they turn against Israel, that is what is dangerous. The scriptures you used out of Galatians are being written against legalism; no one will be saved by the keeping the Torah and Israel never did and yet have been brought back into the land many times.

    Someone has said “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel”.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Kevin, I’m comparing them in the sense that they are all secular nations. I’m simply turning your question back on you in order to press your logic. You said “Can a nation come into existence without God?” So the question applies equally to nations you see as evil, does it not? If God is sovereign, then he is sovereign over more than just establishing Israel as a nation. And if he establishes all nations, then that means that his establishment of a nation cannot in any way be interpreted as divine favor automatically.

    Israel the modern nation is MUCH more similar to American. A modern democratic state that was founded in large part by first removing the indigenous population’s autonomy and at times removing them physically (such as the Native Americans being placed on reservations…as the current Israeli government is doing with Bedouin peoples in the Negev).

    Also, your account of Israel’s innocence is simply incorrect. As I will be debating with my friend Michael Brown this Spring, Israel is by far the superior military power in the region. It is a false statement (even though it’s constantly repeated by Zionist politicians and lobby groups) that “if Arabs put down their weapons there would be peace.” Palestine has no army; their weapons are rocks and crudely made, unaimed rockets. Israel, on the other hand, enjoys BILLIONS of dollars worth of high tech military might provided by American taxpayers. They have hundreds of nuclear weapons and the most advanced air force in the middle east.

    BOTH sides must “put down their weapons.” And followers of the Prince of Peace should be encouraging them to do so equally instead of supporting military occupation or radical terrorist tactics (which BOTH sides have employed throughout the decades of the 20th and 21st centuries).

    The mentality of Israel as the “helpless victims constantly surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies who hate them for no other reason than that they are Jewish” is a myth…and one that needs to be put to rest once and for all by all who seek truth.

    Here is an excellent overview of how we can approach the situation in a way that affirms the lordship of Messiah and the dignity of all peoples: http://lynnehybels.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-six.html

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    JW, thanks for your reply

    It is no myth that Israel is hated by the surrounding Muslim Nations and has been attacked many times by those nations; they brought more than rocks every time and against overwhelming odds ‘somehow’ remain.

    You said “EVEN IF God has sovereignly allowed some Jews to return to the land over the past century” and then in a following post talked about the wealth and technology of Israel; How is it they ‘somehow’ remain without God’s grace?

    I do not know for sure because I have not spent a lot of time on your site but it appears you are aligning yourself with people like Lynne Hybel’s and Stephen Sizer along with groups like Sabeel, who are given to Liberation Theology and Christian Palestinianism.

    These people are not telling the truth about the history of Modern Israel or the Palestinians.

    Here is an excellent overview for you to read: http://www.raptureready.com/soap/wilkinson.pdf

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Kevin, you have to ask yourself “Why?” though. WHY do so many surrounding nations have such animosity toward Israel. They see Israel as a European colonial entity that came into their lands in the early 20th century and systematically removed hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. Much like the U.S. did to Native Americans. This, rather than some general sense of hatred, is what fuels so much antagonism toward Israel (as well as Israel’s refusal to recognize international law, establish proper boundaries, return refugees to lands they fled during wartime and cease occupying territory claimed through military victory).

    I don’t accept Liberation Theology, nor am I a theological liberal. Sizer goes too far many times, in my opinion, but Lynne Hybels does an excellent job of summarizing a truly Christian approach to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict at http://lynnehybels.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-six.html

    The historians I appeal to most are all Israeli Jews themselves who recognize that the history of Israel that most people hear growing up is not accurate and whitewashes the crimes committed by many in the name of Zionism.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    JW, what you are writing is nonfactual.

    Comparing Palestinians to what took place to the American Indian is ludicrous. The American Indians were the only inhabitants of U.S. and were slaughtered by the millions and it seems Native American Indians should be offended by such a comparison.

    The area in dispute prior to the legal partition was occupied by Muslims, Christians and Jews and there is archaeological evidence of the Jews living there dating back 3000 years. Europeans can make no such claim about the U.S.

    Palestinians have been offered a state of there own many times and have refused and caused much of their own hardship, Native Americans were never offered a state of their own.

    Israel has over 1 million Arabs living as citizens with equal rights out of the 160 thousand that accepted Israels offer to remain and has absorbed thousands of the 850 thousand Jews that were stripped of their citizenship and had their homes confiscated by Arab countries.

    Why do the Arab countries refuse to allow citizenship to their brethren like Israel and other nations have done? The answer is not that hard. And again where has the millions and millions of dollars gone to aid the Palestinians? Is there corruption?

    You said that you do not support Liberation Theology or Liberal Theology yet have linked to Lynne Hybels twice, she supports both the social gospel and liberals like Jim Wallis and writes for the Sojourners Magazine!

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Kevin,

    Firstly, it’s “JM” not “JW”. :)

    Second, as a thought experiment, would you be okay if tomorrow the United Nations and, say, Russia, decided that Native Americans were to get their land back and divided up America, sending the majority of non-Native Americans to live west of the Rockies in isolated pockets of land…and Native Americans also continued to move into large well-funded settlements in those pockets of land as well for the next 60 years?

    Would that be at all acceptable?

    Comment by Kevin on December 10, 2013 at 8:24 pm

  8. Jeshurun

    An article written according to the letter not the spirit. Therefore you are without understanding and under the old convenant; the law as Paul teaches. A man of the flesh thinks and speaks according to the flesh and a man of the spirit thinks and speaks according to the spirit. Which of these do you think Jesus was?

    It was not in vain that Christ says that the words he speaks are life and spirit. If you would understand Christ then you must become like him. This is why Paul says, “we have the mind of Christ” referring to those who are not of the flesh – the true Israel.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    This is a pretty broad and unhelpful comment. What specifically is “not according to the Spirit” in the post? It’s easy to dismiss something with spiritual sounding language and vague Bible quotations (as even satan himself did in the wilderness temptations, remember). But what specifically are you taking issue with?

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jeshurun on December 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

  9. Jeshurun

    The whole basis of your understanding of what a Jew is, is false; in other words of the letter. Paul most clearly states in Romans 2: 28-29 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Where in the above post do you see me discuss my “whole understanding” of what a Jew is, Jerushun? Are you perhaps reading more into the post than I’ve stated? It seems so to me.

    Paul uses the term “Jew” (as do the authors of the Gospels) in more than one way. Surely you are aware of this, are you not?

    “Ioudaios” (1) as an adjective “Jewish” (Acts 10.28); (2) predominately substantivally; (a) Jew in respect to race or religion as opposed to non-Jews (Colossians 3.11); (b) the Jew (Acts 24.24); (c) “the Jews, the people of Palestine, especially as known by foreigners” (Matthew 2.2); (d) in John’s Gospel occasionally in a narrower sense of “those hostile to Jesus, especially the national leaders” (John 2.18)

    These are the range of meanings the term has, and Paul is constructing the entire book of Romans to show that while the ethnic/cultural identity marks of “a Jew” are not salvific, they need not also not erased entirely because the “Israel of God” consists now of BOTH “Jew” and “Gentile” united in faith and covenant loyalty to Israel’s Messiah, Jesus–who in Himself is the fulfillment and embodiment of the Biblical people “Israel” (and to whom Gentiles have been “grafted in” as wild branches).

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jeshurun on December 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

  10. Jeshurun

    The only proper meaning of Jew is (a) minus race. A Jew is one who calls himself after the name of the Lord. If you call yourself a Christian then Jesus is your King correct? And Jesus is what? The King of the Jews. Those who live in the nation state called Israel and call themselves Jews are not really Jews; they are (c) which is a false understanding – the deceit of Satan. In the bible they are “not a people” as it is stated in the Song of Moses.

    (d) are those who call themselves after the Lord but are of the letter and are therefore opposed to Jesus for He is Spirit and Life. As Paul teaches us that the flesh is opposed to the spirit and the spirit is opposed to the flesh.

    In truth I am a Gentile and am uneducated by any man. My education came from the Holy Spirit just as Jesus says in John 14, 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

    So what worth I ask is the education of man from college and classes, that lets not even mention cost an arm and a leg when the Holy Spirit will teach you for free?

    And the LORD ask in Isaiah 55: Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
    and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
    Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
    2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

    Why indeed…

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    I’m still not sure what you’re getting at, I’m afraid. The Gospel of John used the term “Jew” to refer to non-believing Israel and the Epistles use it in different ways at different times.

    It seems you take pride in not learning from others, but only from the Holy Spirit. But if this is the case, why would Jesus himself appoint “some to be…teachers” (Ephesians 5), if we’re only supposed to learn directly from the Holy Spirit?

    Be careful you do not exult in a lack of education as a badge of honor and a point of pride. We need those in the Body who Christ has gifted and called to teach us every bit as much as we need our own discernment and communication with the Holy Spirit. After all, it is the same Spirit at work within the same Body.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jeshurun on December 11, 2013 at 11:35 pm

  11. Jeshurun

    I take pride in being Christs’. He chose me, I did not choose him. The teachers are the Son of Man and the apostles and your reasoning is false.

    The apostle John tells us in 1John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you.

    It is written about the Lords second coming in Jeremiah 31: 33-34 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

    When John says the world and the things in it are passing away he’s talking about things like colleges that teach Christ for a profit and do business in His word. Also each time one goes to a building built with human hands each Sunday the summation of their words is, “know the Lord.” No longer will one call themself a baptist or a methodist or whatever other doctrine of man but all will simply be a disciple of Christ, a holy nation of priest for the Lord has desired this.

    As far as you not hearing what I’m saying the Lord addresses this in Luke 10: 16 when He says, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    You have basically just said I have no relationship with the Lord, Jeshurun. It makes me sad that you seem to have rejected the role of teachers within the Body of Christ whom the Holy Spirit has called and gifted. That’s a shame.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jeshurun on December 12, 2013 at 12:40 am

  12. Kevin

    JM,

    I would agree to Native Americans having land if it was promised specifically to them by God dozens and dozens of times in the bible. It’s not there!

    And given to them legally and they fought a war for Independence and won it and was attacked 3 other times and against overwhelming odds won decisively. What are the chances? That would be miraculous. Yet ‘somehow’ Israel remains!

    It is not intellectually honest to argue for the Nation of Israel and against the Nation of Israel at the same time as Hybels and others do.

    Muhammad declared that every nation must be subject to Islam and that is the Muslim goal, the world should be very glad for Israel because that little country has taken the attention and brunt of Muslim aggression, if not for them all the Middle East would be in complete Muslim control and aggression would be directed at others.

    What about you, would you agree to give Israel the west bank if God specifically promised it to them?

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    God never–never–promised to give a single inch of land to any descendent of Abraham who was not in Covenant with him (as modern Israel is certainly not in covenant and does not observe Torah; they are thoroughly secular and always have been since the days of the early secular Zionist leaders like Herzl and Ben Gurion).

    Furthermore, the Messiah is the true and ultimate “seed of Abraham” (Galatians) and anyone–Jew or Gentile–who is in covenant relationship with Him is automatically “heirs to the promises” given to Israel in the Hebrew Bible (Ephesians 2).

    So applying the promises of God to His Sinai Covenant people to the modern secular state known as Israel today is biblically and historically illegitimate.

    And since many followers of Jesus live in the West Bank who ARE in covenant with God, I would never support bulldozing their homes to make room for non-Covenant people to have their land based on promises made to the “seed of Abraham.” If anything, the rightful claimants to the land of Israel promised in the Hebrew Bible are Jewish and Arab followers of Messiah.

    But, to answer your question, I would agree to give Israel the West Bank IF God had specifically given it to non-Covenant-keeping ethnic Jews AND if they agreed to allow indigenous Palestinians to remain their and thrive alongside them with full rights and equal status–as Torah commanded Covenant Israel to treat non-Israelites living among them originally (with the exception of the specific Canaanite city-state peoples listed).

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    So I believe God has a future plan for the Nation of Israel and you don’t.

    Jeremiah 31:35-36

    35 Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name:

    36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

    The following seems to be a better warning than the title you have given to this peace.

    Zechariah 12:3

    And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    ‘peace’ was a typo should be piece. :)

    Kind of ironic though…

    Psalm 122:6
    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Kevin, why did you start that Jeremiah reference at v.35?

    Why not back up to v.31…which is a promise of the New Covenant which Jesus inaugurated and in which he invited all who follow him–Jew and Gentile alike–to become co-heirs in?

    Applying Jeremiah 31 to a modern, secular, non-Covenant, non-Messiah-recognizing geopolitical nation is something that the New Testament never does. So why do you?

    If someone stands with Messiah, they are–by definition–standing with the true Israel of God and are included in the promises given by God to His people (Ephesians 2 makes this point about as clearly as one could imagine).

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kevin on December 14, 2013 at 7:10 pm

  13. Kevin

    JM, you are selectively responding to my comments.

    You do not believe God has a future for the Nation of Israel or non believing Jews, I do!

    Your comments are against Israel, you have a Replacement Theology.

    It seems you can not see that the the word seed is used differently in scripture? Can you answer this or ignore it also?

    And that the Abrahamic Covenant and the Palestinian Covenant is not same. Abraham was given unconditional promises that are still going to be fulfilled, the purpose of the Palestinian covenant was to show man their sin was utterly sinful and no one can come to God based on works, it does not cancel the unconditional promises.

    Israel was removed for disobedience and brought back many times, they are being regathered again in disobedience, or it is a fluke.

    Christians are not called Israel in the bible…read slower.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Kevin, you are likewise selectively responding to my points. But please don’t put words into my mouth in order to win an argument. I reject Replacement Theology completely. I reject it because it teaches that God “replaced” Israel with something that’s not Israel. Or that he “transferred” the promises He made to Abraham’s “seed” to something that is not Abraham’s “seed.” Replacement Theology is just as wrong as Dispensational theology because both see “the church” as something foreign or new in God’s plan–which Scripture definitively does not. However, many people confuse Biblical “fulfillment” with Replacement Theology because they have not fully thought through the implications of what Jesus and his Apostles taught in the NT (or because they’ve been told repeatedly and dogmatically that there are “two peoples of God: Israel and the Church”–which is an entirely unbiblical concept to say the least).

    Jesus, contrary to Replacement Theology AND Dispensational Theology, WAS and IS the only “Israel” that’s EVER remained faithful to the Covenant. Therefore, all who are “in him” (Jesus’ words in John 14-16) are “in Israel.” In fact, the entire book of Ephesians and Galatians are built upon that premise.

    And throughout the books of Revelation and 1Peter, the followers of Messiah (Jew and Gentile together) are spoken of with all the symbols, terms and descriptions used in the OT to speak of Israel. So the claim that “Christians are not called Israel in the Bible”, while a popular Dispensational slogan, is simply not correct. It has as much validity as denying the deity of Jesus because “the word ‘Trinity’ is never mentioned in the Bible.”

    As for the Abrahamic Covenant, yes, it was unconditional…and it was directed toward the “seed” of Abraham. The Sinai Covenant, on the other hand, was COMPLETELY (as Deuteronomy takes pains to spell out) conditional and was broken repeatedly by national Israel.

    So the true “seed of Abraham” (Paul makes a BIG deal of this in Galatians), Jesus the Messiah, was God’s means of fulfilling the calling and destiny of national Israel in Himself (Matthew’s words in ch.2) and inaugurated the long-promised New Covenant WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND THE HOUSE OF JUDAH (Jeremiah’s words in 31:31). All those who rejected this New Covenant were “broken off” (Paul’s words in Romans 9-11) and those who were non-national-Israel but who placed their faith in Israel’s Messiah were “grafted in” (Paul’s words again). What were they “grafted in” to?? ISRAEL! The One People of God. The heirs of the Covenant. The root. The bearers of the promises. The faithful remnant whom God had maintained Covenant faithfulness to through their faith in His promised salvation now fully revealed in Messiah.

    None of this is Replacement theology. It is Biblical Theology. In fact, one of the best summaries of it currently in print is Christopher Wright’s “The Mission of God” (which I believe everyone who values the Hebrew Scriptures should read).

    Does God have a future for the nation known as “Israel” today? Yes. Just as he has a future for nations like France, China and Syria.

    Does God have a future for the Jewish people (who are NOT the same thing as the modern nation of Israel)? Absolutely. Paul foretold of a future return to faith in God through receiving Messiah as Lord.

    Does support for a secular, largely-atheistic, Western military nation (often at the expense of brothers and sisters in Messiah who find themselves under occupation by that state) in any way honor the New Covenant or the God of Israel? I don’t believe it does.

    As I said to my friend Dr. Michael Brown (and will say again in April when we debate), EVEN IF God is regathering the Jewish people to the land today (rather than people claiming that title and acting in his name presumptuously–as Haredi Jews believe Zionists to be doing), there is no reason to support the ungodly manner in which their leaders are acting during the process.

    After all, God was the one who regathered Israel from exile in Babylon and brought them back into the land in the 4th-1st centuries BC…yet that doesn’t mean that faithful Israelites were supposed to “stand with” the Herodian rulers, does it? (Please seriously consider this point because I think it’s one that Zionists have simply not grasped or responded to, as far as I’m aware.)

    My point is that no matter what God’s ultimate sovereign plan for the current secular nation of Israel may be, they as a nation are not in any way currently in covenant with Him and until they return to Covenant faith in God through Messiah, their actions (many of which explicitly harm our very own brothers and sisters in Messiah) are more than enough reason for no follower of Messiah to ever feel pressured to “stand with” or support them politically.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    JM, I will try to respond to your points. I am not putting words in your mouth, it is a conclusion from what you are saying, and whether a person calls themselves Replacement or Fulfillment they both ultimately end up believing the same thing, God does not have a future plan for Israel as a Nation and Israel is living on the land illegitimately and is basically an Apartheid State and the position can be taken that others can lay claim to the holy land, (with one the promises are fulfilled with the church with the other they are fulfilled in Jesus).

    Jesus fulfilled the Law and brought redemption Matthew 5:17-18, this does not do away with or fulfill prophesies regarding the Nation of Israel.

    I am not sure who you are quoting e.g., “in him” or “Israel”?

    In Ephesians the point isn’t gentiles believers come into Israel but that they i.e., Jews and Gentiles alike become neither Jew nor Gentile but a new man i.e., Christians. Prior the New Covenant there were two people i.e., Jews and Gentiles, now there is three i.e., Jews, Gentiles and Christians (Christians being made up of believing Jews and Gentiles).

    In Galatians Israel is a reference to Jewish believers.

    Romans 11 is not saying that Gentile believers are grafted into Israel but into God’s line of privilege (the Nation of Israel had special favor with God), non-believing Jews were being cut out of the privilege which they had as a Nation and believing Gentiles were being grafted in. If the Olive tree means Israel rather than privilege you would have a rather bizarre tree, you would have Israel growing out of Israel, Israel cast out of Israel, the Gentiles grafted into Israel, the Gentiles possibly cast out of Israel, and Israel grafted back into Israel, Absurd!

    The Nation of Israel is not just like France or some other Nation, but they have been set aside until “the fullness of the Gentiles” (not to be confused with “the times of the gentiles”) “but not completely” as is the case with Paul and then God will resume diplomatic relations with them. They are being gathered for this purpose and no one should burden themselves with it as stated earlier:

    Zechariah 12:3

    And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    The NT authors are the ones claiming Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel, Torah & Prophets. Their conclusions are to be given authority, regardless of what it does to our understanding of ethnic non-believing Israel.

    But when you say, “Prior the New Covenant there were two people i.e., Jews and Gentiles, now there is three i.e., Jews, Gentiles and Christians (Christians being made up of believing Jews and Gentiles).”

    …I have to ask, where in the NT could you point in order to ever arrive at this conclusion? Ephesians 2, in particular, could not disagree more forcefully with such an idea.

    And the idea that God “set Israel aside” during the New Covenant is also something that cannot be found anywhere in Scripture.

    “If the Olive tree means Israel rather than privilege you would have a rather bizarre tree, you would have Israel growing out of Israel, Israel cast out of Israel, the Gentiles grafted into Israel, the Gentiles possibly cast out of Israel, and Israel grafted back into Israel, Absurd!”

    That’s EXACTLY what Paul is saying! Unbelieving branches broken off, believing wild branches grafted in. The tree remains that which grows from the “seed of Abraham”. The true vine. Israel.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    This reply is disappointing.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kevin on December 17, 2013 at 3:34 am

  14. Thank you James Michael for laying out for as Christians the dangers of “standing with Israel” or what has become Christian Zionism. It is clear that our Western theology of undying adoration for the State of Israel is misguided. I too see my fellow Christians proudly wearing pins, necklaces and even tattoos of the star of David and I silently cringe. To even question this seems heretical to some, and at the very least breaks friendships. The truly dangerous fall-out of Christian Zionism is that we have become “stumbing blocks” to non-believers as they see blatant injustices against Palestinians and cannot for the life of them understand how this could be Biblically sanctioned and holy. Because it isn’t. And giving superiority to Jews/Jewishness as “chosen” or more loved over anyone else is inappropriate. Because they aren’t. My question is: how can we gently but firmly address such erroneous teachings to those we worship and commune with, without causing hatred and division? Sadly I believe (particularly with influence of the most recent U.S. Congress) that it has become less about theology and more about politics-dividing the body of Christ even further. Help!

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    I don’t think there’s an easy answer, Lynn. But hopefully discussions like this and gatherings like the one at Gordon-Conwell this coming April are steps in the right direction. Baby steps…but steps nonetheless.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Lynn Grassmeyer on January 3, 2014 at 4:26 am

  15. All you guys who love to separate Israel from God’s plan should read Ezekiel 36, pay special attention to verses 24 -26. If you have any intellectual honesty you will recognize that God is a Zionist. The return of the Jews to Israel is for-told by all the prophets as was the birth of the Messiah in Micah 5. If you deny the Jews right to Israel you then must also deny the Messiah which obviously you won’t. God clearly states that the remnant of Jews who return to Israel will be spiritually unclean but God will cleanse them in the end. So this nonsense from Biblical amateurs whose hatred of modern Israel has no basis in what actually the Bible states. The secular state of Israel in God’s eyes is unclean spiritually but this does not negate the Jews right to the land and the eventual coming to faith with their Messiah in the end and in their own land. We are in the period between the return of the Jews to the land of Israel and the return of the Messiah. You guys just need a little more patience

    [Reply]

    Comment by Keith Davies on January 20, 2014 at 5:24 am

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