• OPINION \ Apr 24, 2001
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    Unconditional Support of Evangelicals to Israel is a stumbling block for Arabs
Unconditional Support of Evangelicals to Israel is a stumbling block for Arabs Dear Pastors,

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ.

I recently came across an article in The Miami Herald about a meeting your church held with former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and I felt that I had to write to you and express my shock about it.

I understand that many American Christians believe that the nation of Israel is God's chosen people and because they do so, they support the current state of Israel unconditionally.

I want to try and bring a number of facts to your attention and try to view the article below and offer some comments on it.

First of all, please remember that there are Arab Christians (from traditional churches as well as evangelicals) living in Israel and the Palestinian Authority right now. The Evangelical community aims to spread God's Word among fellow Arabs in Israel fulfilling God's command of "Go Ye". The unconditional support of Evangelicals around the world for the state of Israel is a stumbling block for Arabs everywhere and for Muslims in general.

Two facts quickly come to mind here:

1. The Arabs in general - both Christians and non-Christians - are being oppressed by the Israeli government and the Jews in Israel in general.

2. Israel has specific laws and practices limiting evangelism in Israel.

But what is surprising to me is the fact that many Christians embrace the state of Israel and its people as God's chosen people.

I want to challenge you to read God's promises to Abraham again and to see the distinction between His promises to Abraham himself vs. His promises to Abraham's seed. This is a whole study that I feel is crucial for understanding the origins of national Israel and where it stands in relationship with God and the Bible.

When God speaks about giving an inheritance forever, I wonder if He is speaking about the people of national Israel or is He speaking (spiritually) about the eternal body of believers inheriting the Kingdom of God forever. Remember that earth and heaven will go away and instead there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-2).

When God speaks of Jerusalem - does He speak about the literal city Jerusalem today or is He speaking about the more glorious Jerusalem - the Body of Believers?

I wonder where the Christian believers fit into all that, especially how do they fit with the language of the New Testament where it talks about the believers being the elect of God as in Ephesians 1:4-5 and other passages.

> Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel, brought a crowd of mostly Christians to their feet Monday night with a message of Christian and Jewish unity in supporting Israel.

I'm again surprised about this "bond" between Christians and Jews - not that I'm rejecting it, but I don't see how this should be a special relationship. Personally I think it should be purely "evangelical in nature", not at all different from the relationship Christians have with Muslims, Buddhists and any other religion or practice. Our task as believers is to get the Gospel out according to the great commandment of Jesus Christ.

> The audience of 4,500, mostly members of the Calvary Chapel, 2401 W. Cypress Creek Rd. in Fort Lauderdale, where the event was held, applauded most when Netanyahu and other speakers talked of Jews' rights to Israel and the inevitability of Israel's victory in the current prolonged conflict with the Palestinians.

A couple of questions:

1. Does this mean that we should applaud the killing of Palestinian stone throwers (elderly, men, women, children and infants) because they want to keep their land? Is this what God is asking us to do? Or if not, is God really asking us not to do it ourselves, but support Israel to have it do that instead?

2. When someone supports the Jews' right to Israel, what does it really mean? Or what does the land of Israel include? Because when I read the Bible, I see it speaks about the land of Syria and Jordan today as part of the land of Israel. Does this mean that the next step for Israel is to take over parts of these countries? Will you support that?

3. Israel's victory? I thought the battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12)

4. What is the plan to deal with the inhabitants of the land now? Is it to drive them out as the Jews did since the 19th century going on until now? Does God really call for that? Please examine me here and examine what the Scriptures say? What did Jesus call for?

> ``There is a battle that is raging as we speak, and in this battle, Israel will win,'' Netanyahu said to a chorus of applause. The night was also a fund-raising opportunity for the small Israeli town of Ariel. At the end of the night, people donated money to the town in the same way that the chapel collects money at its services -- in brown boxes at the back of the sanctuary.

What kind of battle is this? Is it the spiritual battle that the Bible is talking about? Or is this the battle over the land that Israel wants to take by force from its original inhabitants? Please remember that the Jews are NOT Christians, that is, they are not Christ's followers. How can they be God's chosen people - I'm assuming that by being called "God's Chosen People" that they will end up in heaven. Are they really? What about the New Testament language which clearly talks about the only the believers in Christ would be saved?

In Genesis 6 we read how the Jews of the Old Testament were saved: Noah found grace in the eyes of God. Job said "I know that my Redeemer liveth", and in the New Testament God explains this: Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the earth. To me it means that people in the Old Testament and in the New Testament were and are saved in exactly the same way - through the blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ.

One note on the donation, when I think of donating money, I think of how this money will be used to evangelize and send out the Gospel. Are the people in Ariel planning to do that?

> Ariel's mayor, Ron Nachman, touched on a similar note as Netanyahu, speaking on the importance keeping Ariel, and the contentious land of Jerusalem, in Jewish hands. ``It's not Arafat's city,'' Nachman said of Jerusalem. ``It is God's city.''

On a personal note, I totally agree with the last statement that Jerusalem is God's city, so leave it to God unless Nachman or Netanyahu are God's agents...

> Nachman quoted from the Bible on this topic, as did the pastor of Calvary Chapel's Fort Lauderdale ministry Bob Coy. Coy reiterated a theme heard throughout the night, that Jews and Christians share the same God, and that God has commanded Christians to support Israel and the Jews, the chosen people.

The Jews do not believe in Jesus Christ who is God Himself. How can then Jews and Christians share the same God? (John 17:22)

> ``If we are indebted to them in spiritual things, how much more are we indebted to them in material things,'' Coy said.

We are indebted to them only to tell them the good news and that is true for all peoples including Jews, Palestinians, Chinese, Koreans and people from all other nationalities in the world. Would you agree?

> Deena Shalit, executive director of American Friends of Ariel, admitted that asking Christian groups to support Israel is not the traditional way of building a country that has relied on American Jewish dollars and lobbying since its founding in 1948.

I understand where Deena is coming from, it's simply because the two faiths don't have much in common. Christians believe in the whole Bible as the Word of God (Old and New Testaments) while Jews don't. This is a clear violation of Revelation 22:18. This puts them in the same boat as Muslims because Muslims don't have the complete revelation. This also puts them in the same boat as Mormons, for example, who have another inspired book.

> Shalit said the jaws of her all-Jewish board of directors dropped when they heard a gospel singer perform a rendition of Israel's national anthem. But because Shalit has organized six events like this, she said she was not surprised, and either was Netanyahu, who she said has spoken to groups like this before. Netanyahu seemed at ease with the crowd, who greeted with admiration a man many Americans felt derailed the peace process during his term. After first acknowledging Coy as also a ``prime'' minister, Netanyahu talked about the history of Jewish and Christian partnership in Israel, as he joined Nachman and Coy in asking the congregation to support Israel today.

``The partnership we have today is one that goes back at least a century and a half,'' Netanyahu said.

My jaws dropped also when I read this.

I feel I have said more than enough. I wish I could have my confusion straightened out. Please help me if you can.

In Christ,
Roger Haddad