This week at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has promised to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state. If he does, the United States will veto. Why?
Largely because of something we'll call Christian Zionism, an American theological movement that preaches a Christian obligation to help Jews reclaim the biblical Promised Land.
I travel constantly, speaking about the Middle East to evangelical Christians across America and Europe. I lived in Lebanon for 12 years and churches invite me to talk about how to love their Muslim neighbors.
Often before I get invited to speak at churches and Christian conferences, I go through an awkward period of questioning, an interview that feels more like an interrogation.
Pastors and conference leaders want to size me up to make sure I’m “safe” for Christian audiences. The interrogation usually goes something like this:
“Carl, we love your books and your message. You have a lot of insight on how Christians can be more Jesus-like to our Middle Eastern neighbors. We hope you’ll talk a lot about that!”
Translation: Please, for the love of God, don’t say anything controversial about Israel or the Palestinians.
Though they are too polite to ask, what those pastors and conference leaders want to know is what is my position on Israel. For them, the modern Jewish state is a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the catalyst for a series of events that will culminate in the return of Jesus.
As the Palestinians press ahead in their bid for statehood, prepare to hear from this crowd. These Christians number in the tens of millions and they go into a state of frenzy every time a politician so much as winks at the idea of Israel giving up a few settlements or withdrawing to pre-1967 borders.
They’ll tell you their concern has nothing to do with their particular interpretation of the Bible and everything to do with America and Israel’s national security interests.
Don’t believe a word of it.
When it comes to U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East, Christian Zionism is the elephant in the room.
Christian Zionists believe that when God told Abraham 4,000 years ago, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” he was making a promise that extends to the modern state of Israel. Any nation that “curses” Israel will face God’s judgment.
Not all evangelical Christians believe this, but the ones that do are the loudest voices in the media, and they lead huge organizations.
Television evangelists like Pat Robertson and John Hagee mobilize millions of Christians every year to write to their congressmen demanding that Israel be allowed to expand settlements indefinitely. They seem to oppose every peace deal that comes to the table.
There’s a reason for this. In their minds, the modern Israeli state is not only a fulfillment of biblical prophesy. In a bizarre twist that leaves most outsiders dumbfounded, Christian Zionists say the Bible predicts that Jews and Palestinians will forever be at war until Jesus returns.
They say the only person that will bring peace before the end of the age is—wait for it—the devil, in the form of the anti-Christ.
When you hear some Christian politicians say, “The land belongs to Israel”, what they’re really saying is if America blesses Israel – that is, if it gives uncritical support to the Jewish state - God will bless America. If America curses Israel, God will curse America.
When it comes to Israel and her neighbors, many Christian Zionists believe that peacemaking is the devil’s work.
They may forget that it was Jesus who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers."
One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda. But Christian Zionism blesses military action by the modern state of Israel, under the banner of "national security," including the demolition of Palestinian homes to pave the way for new settlements.
So how would Jesus vote this week if he had a seat at the U.N.?
Surely love, compassion, justice and peace-making would top his lists of concerns for all involved. Maybe he would give a new parable - the Parable of the Good Palestinian - offending all who would hear.
Rather than allowing obscure Old Testament promises to dictate our foreign policy, what if we stuck to the clear commands of God - love your neighbor, your enemy and the foreigner in your midst - which appear in Exodus, Leviticus and three of the four gospels.
Many Christians in America think of Jews and Christians as “us” and anything that sounds Muslim or Arab as “the other.” But the call of Jesus is to be more loving towards the “other” than towards the people we think of as “us.”
This command works both ways. When I’ve had audiences with leaders in the Hezbollah or Hamas, I tell them the same thing: That Jesus said to love your enemies. Who are your enemies? Israel.
It’s true that there are elements of Palestinian society that do not want peace, no matter the price. They need to be isolated and dealt with.
The same goes for elements of Israeli society that don’t want peace. The good news is that extremists are a minority on both sides of the conflict.
People ask me all the time what I think about Israel and end-times theology, and how the Palestinians factor into that.
Here’s my answer: If your end-times theology trumps the clear commands in Scripture to love neighbors and enemies, then its time to rethink your theology.
As to the basic message of the Gospel, man is a lost sinner that is in dire need of redemption. Then man must come to God on His terms. Jesus Christ and His work on the cross is the only way that man can be redeemed. Man must repent not only of his sin but all other attempts to please God. As the Lord said “no one comes to the Father unless by me.” Mr. Medearis should realize that Christ would be put to death as a blasphemer if he were preaching today in any Moslem country. I do not think the Lord would take the easy path as regards a testimony to the Islamic world. Satan is using Islam to enslave persons to a false religion. We have to face that fact. It is love to tell the Moslems that they are in danger of a lost eternity in the lake of fire, but they can be saved in Christ. God does love all of mankind, but we must repent and believe the Gospel. Preaching love without repentance is not true to the Gospel.
As to those who have received the Savior and His Salvation, the heavenly calling becomes the will of God. The Lord did say “my kingdom is not of this world”. The Jews are the only people on earth that have been give a mandate to a land. Christians do not have an earthly calling with a land. To get into confusion on this issue is to weaken the Christian message. The kingdom will be restored to Israel in the future. Amillennialism, replacement theology, “liberation” theology and the like have weakened the true Gospel message. That present day Israel has a relation to biblical prophecy is clear to all those who read the whole bible with an open mind, not hindered by the traditions of men.
Dispensationalism, the theology so despised by those claim to have better understanding in the things of God, was truly a factor that God used in bringing about the present state of Israel. The San Remo resolution that divided the Ottoman lands after WW1 incorporated the Balfour Declaration into its language.
Finally, a strong case can be made, despite all the loud voices against it, that the Jews have been done the greater injustice in relation to the land than the Arabs ever have. But God is taking account of it all even when men are not. His justice will be seen in His judgment on the nations when Christ returns. Christ in fact will show what he will do in the not so distant future. In the mean time we should be true to the Gospel until His coming. May it be so, for His names sake.
Islam denies that Jesus is the Messiah, but so does Judaism. See 1 John 2:22 for a description of people who deny Jesus is the Messiah.
It's weird to say that Jews have a mandate to a land, but Christians don't. So a Jew who starts to believe in Jesus as Saviour, does he lose his land mandate because he is a Christian or does he keep it because he's a Jew? The whole question is nonsensical.
God gave His promises to Abraham and his descendants. Read Galatians 3:7 and its context to see who are Abrahams descendants today. See also 1 Peter 2:6-10 and Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8.
God has only one people (not two) and that consists of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus as Messiah. These are also Abrahams children.
God does not just look at whole people, but also at individuals. Even if it is true that Jews in general have suffered more injustice than Arabs, it does not mean that it's less bad to do injustice to Arabs than to Jews. All injustice will be judged, not
just the injustice against Jews.
The current status quo contains certainly injustice against Palestinians and therefore against God's will. Whether a Palestinian state would solve that problem of injustice remains to be seen, but the current status-quo is certainly not Biblical.
A Jew who is converted to Christ presently is incorporated into the assembly, the body of Christ, and becomes a partaker of the heavenly calling. The kingdom being restore to Israel is yet future and there will be a believing Jewish remnant at that time that will inherit the promises God give to Abraham about the land. The present Jewish state, although prophetically significant, is only preparatory to the future.
Show me the scripture that give Christians a mandate to any specific land on earth. Our blessings are spiritual and heavenly. (see Ephesians)
You are confusing the calling of God for Israel and the Christian calling. Abraham is the father of the children of physical Israel, and also, as the great man of faith, he is the father of the Christian faithful spiritually. As accepting Christ as my Savior, I did not become a Jew, nor am I following the ways of Judaism. Some so called “Christian Zionist” might not agree with that but that is the reality of the present truth.
The point about injustice is that God will be justified in what He is doing and He is not in the process of destroying the Jewish state, but, in His plan, He will bring them through the time of Jacobs trouble (the great tribulation) to ultimate blessing in the fulfillment of His promises. The present injustice is the attempt to deprive the Jew of these promises (see Psalm 83) etc.
There is a great deal of deception that is going in this attempt to take the land from the Jew. The idea of a Palestinian state may go forward temporarily but in the end it will bring all the nations into judgment. Christ judging the nations at the time of the introduction of the Kingdom is a separate issue from the great white throne judgment.
The current status quo is neither biblical nor unbiblical. The attempt to deprive Israel of the physical land including the west bank was foretold and it will bring on the final disaster. There are a number of passages in the prophets that speak of God’s disfavor on those that try to divide the land. I trust this may clarify the first comments.
I believe that if Israel had carefully kept that command, then it's very well possible Palestinian nationalism wouldn't have become so strong as it is now. Many Palestinians just want to get rid of the checkpoints and want freedom and a dignified life. There's nothing unbiblical about that.
Also, the verses against dividing the land are about dividing it after Israel has been completely destroyed, which is not the case here.
The Bible states nowhere that the eastern borders of Israel will be the river Jordan. The form of Israel varied greatly in Biblical times.
As I said, God has only one people, not two. You will find nowhere in the Bible statements about different callings for different people. That's 2-way covenant theology, which is very unbiblical. Which calling would Messianic Jews have? That for the Israel or for the Christians or both? Besides that, Arabs are just as much Abraham's descendants as Jews and no less. Hebrews 8:13 and context states clearly that the new covenant would replace the old one, not just stand next to it.