WHY SHOULD ISRAEL MATTER TO CHRISTIANS?
How Should Christians View the Israeli-Palestinian Situation? Many Believers today, especially in the younger generations, have serious questions about why they should stand with the people of Israel. They wonder, “What connection does the modern State of Israel have with ancient biblical prophecy?” And why should Christians stand with Israel when Israel is allegedly guilty of committing atrocities against the Palestinians? What about standing on the side of justice? These are all great questions for sure.
This Sunday we’re going to take the time to address some of these questions as we turn our focus on Israel and what scripture has to say about it. There is no shortage of reasons to stand with Israel, but by far, the primary reason is the biblical verse from Genesis 12:3 in which God says to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” God blesses those who treat the Jews decently and curse those who seek to harm the Jews.
There’s no doubt that Israel is a lightning rod. Just bring up the subject and watch what happens. Few topics are guaranteed to divide Christians as quickly as discussions about modern Israel. Not only do theologians and laity debate this but the U.S. Congress does as well. Israel is in the news every day.
God determined that he would regather his people and plant them back in the land he had chosen for them. And he promised that it would happen in one day flat:
“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.” (Isaiah 66:8-10)
Never in the history of the world had such a thing happened before–but God keeps His word. As definitely foretold here and in Ezekiel 37:21, 22, Israel became a recognized nation, actually “born in one day.”
After being away from their homeland for almost 2,000 years, the Jews were given a national homeland in Palestine by the Balfour Declaration in November, 1917. In 1922, the League of Nations gave Great Britain the mandate over Palestine. On May 14, 1948, Great Britain withdrew her mandate, and immediately Israel was declared a sovereign state, and her growth and importance among nations became astonishing.
The church fathers struggled to know how to interpret the numerous references to Israel after hundreds of years had gone by, and the nation of Israel was apparently no more. After the destruction of the temple, the Jewish people were scattered far and wide, and with every passing century it seemed less and less likely that the situation would, or could, ever change. The question arose: “How to make sense of those promises for this nation that seemed to have disappeared for good?” The solution they landed upon was to claim all the references and promises should be transferred to the church. This is known as replacement theology, or supersessionism. Israel had rejected the Messiah, so God had rejected them, and now the church must surely be the true Israel.
Paul strongly rejects this way of thinking in Romans 11, “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!” but it’s easy to see why it did look like a forlorn situation. You and I have the privilege denied to millions of believers who have lived and died before us – we know that this prophecy has indeed finally come to pass. We can know that God’s promises to Israel still stand.
God promised to regather the exiles from the four corners of the earth and he promised to reestablish Israel. It just took an awfully long time. People gave up and got confused during the wait. What a great reminder this is for us to hold on to God’s promises and not give up! “Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come.”
I can’t wait to see you this Sunday as we consider Israel and what God’s Word has to say about her. Come expecting an outstanding day!