Making Jesus Accessible

The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of God – A Response

So my recent blog on Israel, Replacement Theology and the Kingdom of God (or Jesus), was the most read of anything I’ve written. That actually disappoints me, but…it’s not surprising. There’s definitely something about that place and the theology behind it that interests the world.

A fairly thoughtful response was given under the comments section of that post and so I’m responding to him (and others) with this new blog.  Here are the common mistakes that the Christians who are also Zionist tend to make. I do believe they make them with the best of motives and are well-meaning Jesus-following people, who have been blinded by modern interpretations of the Bible by dispensationalism.

Top Five Mistakes made by Christian Zionists:

1. They misread the promises made to Abraham and Isaac as being fulfilled in the physical land of modern day Israel. Genesis 17:19-21 talks about the Covenant that will be fulfilled through Isaac. This is clearly the promise fulfilled in Jesus – according to Paul in Galatians 3:15-18.

The other places that say God will give the land to Abraham and his descendants (sometimes specifying Isaac and sometimes not), can only be read in the light of being fulfilled literally at THAT time. It never says that this physical land is an eternal inheritance.  Exodus 3:6-8 where God says that his “Covenant will last for 1000’s of generations” is referring to this eternal covenant that was promised to Isaac and which Paul explains in Galatians chapters 3 and 4 as The Seed – which is Christ.

There were promises of Land.  And a return to the land from exile – which was fulfilled in the Old Testament when the Jews returned from Exile in Babylon and Persia. Thank God he fulfills his promises.  They did return. Promise fulfilled.

2. The Zionists only use the Old Testament, as there are no passages in the New Covenant that would support their views. In the very thoughtful response made on the last post, the gentleman can only say that while it is technically true “that the New Testament does not mention the land….”

Why would someone say that and still try to prove a point from it using Old Testament verses? It’s as if they’re reading the New Testament through the lens of the Old.  Should be the other way around.

Not only do Jesus and Paul not mention the Land as an inheritance of any kind, they continually say the opposite. The Kingdom of God is NOT of this world.  The disciples (who were also confused about this point) kept asking Jesus when he was going to restore the Kingdom of Israel (David’s Kingdom) to them. It was actually the last thing they said to Jesus before he ascended in Acts chapter one.  Jesus doesn’t answer (he must have sighed) and told them the Holy Spirit will give them power to be his witnesses.  He drives home the point. NO physical Kingdom. But spiritual power to be his witnesses.  Anything other than this is a terrible distraction!

3. The Zionists miss the powerful vision of Daniel.  The Prophet Daniel was one of the most quoted and highly recognized Jewish prophet.  In Chapter 7 verses 13 and 14, God shows Daniel that one like “the Son of Man approached the Ancient of Days” and was “given authority and power” and that “all nations…worshipped him” and “his dominion was an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed.”

Here is the danger:  a Christian who is also a Zionist is in danger of denying the true King and his Kingdom the dominion he rightly deserves. THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF!

The Old Testament prophets continually point to Jesus as the one who will come and fulfill all the prophecies given to Israel.

Jesus is not REPLACING anything. He is fulfilling it. This is not “replacement theology” (a title no one that I’m aware of actually accepts), but it is inclusion theology. We have been included in the Promise/Covenant given to Abraham and fulfilled through Isaac’s Seed – the Messiah.

4. An emotional argument often comes up at this point.  “But God loves Israel.”  Of course he does. He loved the people he called out to demonstrate his mercy thousands of years ago, and he loves the modern nation of Israel now.  But he also equally loves the Palestinians and the Muslims and the Americans and the Chinese, and…

A careful (not selective) reading of Romans chapters 9-11 explains this.  Romans 11:1 says “Did God reject his people? By no means.”  God has not rejected them or stopped loving them or even ceased in fulfilling his promises to them.  His promise of an eternal inheritance is fulfilled to them in the Seed of Isaac – Jesus.

But Paul says in 9:6, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel,” and “it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the Promise who are Abraham’s offspring.”

Actually again and again in Romans and Galatians, Paul hammers this home. He repeatedly identifies with the Jews and with Israel – he is from both.  And he honors them, as should we, but he tell us time and time again, that the Kingdom is of the Spirit….not of “a land.”  And it is available to all who trust in Jesus.

5. Finally, the Christians who are also Zionists, make the mistake of equating the current nation called Israel with the Old Testament people of God who were called by that name.  Granted, there is some connection.  But not much.

We should support the current nation of Israel, for three reasons:  1. God loves all people and so we should love and support all people.  2.  They need Jesus like the rest of us do.  3.  They provide a potentially beautiful mix to the region with their diversity.

But we DO NOT support them because we somehow think that God has miraculously fulfilled something by making them a nation.

The “Children of Israel” of the Old Testament were called that because they were literally the children of the Patriarch named Israel – changed from Jacob. Jacob had 12 boys who became the fathers of their respective clans.  The 12 clans of the children of Jacob/Israel.

The most powerful was Judah and from his name we get the name “Jews.”  When the modern secular movement called Zionism started in Europe in the late 1800’s there was no connection with that movement (secular Zionism) and Biblical prophecy or the current land called Israel.  In fact, they simply wanted a homeland for Jewish immigrants in Europe and Russia. They considered large tracts of land in South America and Africa.  And no one suggested that it be called “Israel.”

Around the turn of the century a new idea was formed – move Jews back to the Middle East and loosely to the land ruled by King David around Jerusalem. It was a fine idea. I actually have no problem with that – and they should have the right to live in peace today.  Just don’t confuse it with something Biblically prophetic. And since God loves all people equally, it follows that the returning Jews should respect the rights of the non-Jews who were already living in that land.

Finally, here are the reasons why this discussion is important.

1.If we don’t get this right, we end up supporting anything Israel does, thinking we are supporting God’s will in the Middle East.

2. We can inadvertently become enemies with the enemies of Israel, for no other reason then “just because.” Not carefully thinking this through can actually cause us to hate Arabs or Muslims – because if we think they are the enemies of God’s friend, Israel, then we should be their enemies too.

3. It can lead us to deny or ignore the human suffering of the Palestinians.  Ironically, much like we denied or hid from the Holocaust.  Let’s not let history repeat itself out of either guilt or poor theology.  We know of the current suffering of many Israelis at the hands of terrorism – it’s unthinkable and wicked when anyone kills innocent civilians.  However, we tend to hear only this side of the story. We know the suffering there.  But we may be blinded to the suffering of the other side.

4. We have brothers and sisters in the Lord on both sides. Palestinians and Jewish Israelis both have rich communities of Jesus-followers.  We need to love and honor both, but if we see this only as a political issue, we miss much of what’s actually happening there.

The Middle East needs Jesus. They need his ways. His teachings. His life and his salvation – at every level.  Let’s not allow a simplistic and uneducated eschatology called Christian Zionism ruin this!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

Comments

  1. Col says:

    Hi again, as the author of the fairly thoughtful response, a few further additions to the discussion.
    Your point 1,
    You say “It never says that this physical land is an eternal inheritance.” Yet I had quoted Psalm 105; 10-11 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
    “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”
    You also say; “And a return to the land from exile – which was fulfilled in the Old Testament when the Jews returned from Exile in Babylon and Persia. Thank God he fulfills his promises. They did return. Promise fulfilled.”
    Here we have a problem. Israel was carried off into captivity, yet that captivity was not a sterile punishment, but God promised Ezekiel “ I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
    Israel indeed returned after the exile, lived as a conquered people, fought the Greeks and were destroyed by the Romans. If this exhausts the promises of God for a wonderful future, then Israel were sadly let down! In the New Testament, Zechariah and Mary both look to a future fulfilment of God’s promises to Israel, as does Paul – that is, they were not exhausted by the return from babylon. Again this fails to do justice to other promises such as the also quoted Jeremiah 31:35-36 This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the LORD Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.”
    According to you, God loves Israel, they sin, he punishes them, they return for a few hard years, kill Jesus and are dismissed from the history of salvation. And this fulfils God’s promises to them??? “They did return. Promise fulfilled.”?? This is in flat contradiction of all Old and New Testament prophecies, which conclude with “and so all Israel shall be saved, for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” God does not abandon those he loves, and our sin is not greater than his promises.

  2. Col says:

    Point 2
    “the gentleman can only say that while it is technically true “that the New Testament does not mention the land….”
    What I did show was that the New Testament says Jesus came to confirm the promises (plural) to the patriarchs (plural), affirming that “to them belong the promises”, and that in Jesus “all the promises of God find their yes and amen”. So the New Testament says God will fulfil his promises to Israel. Clearly those promises are to be found in the Old Testament, and clearly God on many times included the land as one of those promises. To say the New Testament, which confirms those promises, therefore confirms one specific one of them does not seem to be a big leap to me. Also clearly, there are many other promises, (eternal nation, Godliness, etc) which are also confirmed by those New Testament verses.
    You say; “The disciples (who were also confused about this point) kept asking Jesus when he was going to restore the Kingdom of Israel (David’s Kingdom) to them.” – Just as the angel from God in Luke (New Testament) says “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” How can you dispute this? Likewise, Jesus does not sigh when asked by the disciples their question in Acts 1, but states that the restoral of the Kingdom is in the Father’s hands, and that their job is to preach the Gospel – (so it is important to preach the Gospel!!). He does not say the disciples are wrong; rather that aspect of salvation history is not yet.
    Clearly God loves gentiles also, Jesus is a light to the gentiles and the glory of his people Israel – it is not an either or!

  3. Col says:

    Your final points are not helpful; “But we DO NOT support them because we somehow think that God has miraculously fulfilled something by making them a nation.”
    So, just because God promised they would be an everlasting nation, and promised them the land of Israel, just because they were scattered for 2,000 years then came back to their own home, restored their old language and live there just as these prophecies would require, and just because the idea of this happening by chance is zero (name one other people who have returned to their own land after being scattered to the four corners of the earth), there is no reason to see God behind this miraculous fulfilment of prophecy. ?? It just happened to happen exactly the way God said it would by total chance. Seriously!! As you say; “Just don’t confuse it with something biblically prophetic.”
    The final point is concerning; “If we don’t get this right, we end up supporting anything Israel does”
    As I concluded my last post on your first article; “At present, they have been re-gathered in unbelief, just as Scriptures says, are still sinning, just as you and I are, and need the gospel. At the same time, when I sin, when I let God down, when I wonder if God could ever forgive and use me again, I look at re-gathered Israel and take hope. If God has not given up on them, he will not give up on me. As a gentile Christian, I am glad God has re-gathered Israel, that he still cares for them and is working for their salvation.
    Thank God for the modern miracle, the nation of Israel!”
    Having said they are still sinning and need the gospel, why would I support EVERYTHING they do? But I can take delight in God’s faithfulness to them, and rejoice they have come this far.

  4. randdmiller says:

    I was a committed member of the “G-d loves Israel” camp until I read John 4 carefully about 5 years ago.

    When you look at the Gospel in its entirity —- Jews thought Jesus came to free them from Rome (a nationalistic vision) — Jesus rejected nationalism, and taught redemptionism — worshipping G-d in spirit and truth. (contributing to their rejection of Him).

    In my own opinion, the wise Christian rejects speculative politics, rejects identity from anything other than Christ, and focuses on Christ and His commandments.

  5. Carl Medearis says:

    The responses above to my response to your response… :)

    Nothing new there. To take a passage out of Psalms now to support the idea that God wants Israel to have all that land is a stretch. When two ideas seem to contradict each other (as ours do), I think it’s wise hermeneutics to go with the main and plain idea of the Bible.

    That is this – God loves everyone and gives no special favors to anyone (American and Israel included). No where in the New Covenant is the old covenant promise of land mentioned – and quite the opposite… God’s new and eternal Kingdom only comes through his Son and a relationship with Him!

    Seems clear enough to me. Let’s not be distracted!

    1. travist81 says:

      Carl,

      How do you interpret Romans 11: 25-27?

      Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob; and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

    2. Col says:

      Carl, how is it a stretch to think this means God gave the land of Canaan to Israel for ever?

      Psalm 105:6-11 O descendants of Abraham his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.
      He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
      He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations,
      the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.
      He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
      “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”

      1. Todd G. says:

        The verses quoted or in the midst of Psalm 105 which is a long narrative about much of redemptive history; it covers much more than the Abrahamic covenant. It is ultimately all about God’s faithfulness. Read the whole thing instead of pulling out just a few verses. Then read Stephen’s long narrative in Acts 7. The two narratives are not much different. Stephen shows how God is faithful. But Stephen was stoned for his narrative. Saul/Paul approved it at the time. Then later we have a wonderful repentant theologian. We have to put all the scriptures together instead of dividing them.

        1. Col says:

          “It is ultimately all about God’s faithfulness.” hat is exactly the point. It is holding up this as one of many examples of God’s faithfulness. That requires it to be true, or God is not faithful. It is a promise, and Jesus came to confirm God’s promises. So if this one isnt true, why put it in a list showing God’s faithfulness, and if it isnt true then Paul is lying.
          “He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”

          1. Todd G. says:

            I will look into this quote about the everlasting covenant more. Right now, I think that it is possible that if we look at everlasting inheritances too much. And then build theologies about inheritances and who should possess them and who should not possess them – that it is possible – to miss out on what I feel is an even greater theme of scripture. A theme of reconciliation. I’m leaving a link here that points to an article by Kenneth Bailey that uses a more modern, western illustration to illustrate to us this same theme that I think is going on with Paul and Stephen; and which I think also can apply to Israel/Palestine. The theme that God loves the oppressed and the oppressor. I will note that: depending on which side of the fence you may sit on, may determine, who you see to be the oppressed or the oppressor. That is why Jesus taught us to Love both.

            http://www.pres-outlook.com/opinion3/guest-commentary3/1091-cs-lewis-thomas-more-and-bitter-conflict.html

  6. cairo10 says:

    Carl,
    Thank you. As I have not yet hit the 50 mark, I have refrained from writing on this subject. I greatly appreciate your willingness to jump in and address a very sensitive issue – even when you know your view may not align with the popular viewpoint.
    As I read your post(s) and the replies by COL, it strikes me that the core issue seems to lie in the fulfillment of the covenant. Who/What is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham? If the answer is land, then one might see it fulfilled in the new nation of Israel. If the answer is Jesus, then we come to a different conclusion.
    A theological study of “the land” or “Jerusalem” in the Bible is a mixture of temporal and other-worldly usually as a metaphor to the unending New Kingdom ushered in by Jesus. It is the genius of “already/not yet” that we are privileged to experience in Christ – already members of the Kingdom, living as foreigners in this world and anticipating the day we enter into Jesus’ eternal realm. If we read the covenant as the physical land around Jerusalem, we must read that the kingdom will arrive on earth.
    COL, in response to your last post about the “miracle”. Before the creation of the modern state of Israel, there were Jews, Muslims and Christians living in harmony throughout Palestine (read Elias Chacour). So, to say they were coming home after not being there isn’t really true since many were still there. What changed was the massive influx of “outsiders” claiming Zionism as a secular, political movement. In many ways, the “outsiders” paid no attention to the religion of the Palestinians but pushed them all out of the way. Regarding the language, the old language is NOT restored. Biblical Hebrew is a dead language (not spoken) and is not the same as modern, spoken Hebrew.

    1. Col says:

      Having studied both Biblical and modern Hebrew, they are essentially identical. Yes, words like “radio” have been added, but in speaking and writing, modern Hebrew is closer to Biblical Hebrew than Shakespeare is to modern English – a good comparison would be Dickens to modern English. The revivers of modern Hebrew made an explicit decision not to go with the later Mishnaic version, but to go with the Biblical version.

  7. tdieterich says:

    Carl, in studying Isaiah, the prophetic promises point to Christ. Romans 9:6 makes it very clear “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” The most helpful positive way that I’ve heard it put and it clicked for me finally is that Israel represents God’s chosen people. Those who accept the seed of promise and are made righteous by faith in His seed. There are many parallels throughout scripture speaking of two covenants (even the prodigal Father). Followers of Yeshua have been grafted in and are considered Israel as a wild olive branch into Israel. This was only possible through the new covenant brought to us through Yeshua. Rom 11:17 “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the *rich root of the olive tree.” Perhaps this will help someone.

  8. stuperfan says:

    Carl,

    Thank you. I’m not as eloquent with words to even what I’m thankful for…but thanks.
    As another brother who recently turned 50 I have seen, heard, and experienced alot of wisdom and retoric regarding Israel over the years.
    If there is one thing I wish you would share more about (primarily because of your personal experience with the people of the Middle East and because I usually only ever see what gets filtered down through our media)it would be how the current state of Israel opresses the Palestinian people.
    Recently I have heard alot about the aparthied state of Israel (which I have a hard time swallowing) and how they are so terrible to the Palestinians. However, I never hear any specifics, and if I do hear specifics it usually sounds like Israel is only retaliating for some attack from Hamas.
    As I stated, I truly appreciate your earlier posts. They did well to explain a Biblical perspective on an often senstive topic…okay, I just said thank you in the beginning…but I meant what I just said…really. I appreciate you as a brother in Christ.

    1. cairo10 says:

      If I can throw my 2 cents in:
      I mentioned Elias Chacour in an earlier post and highly recommend reading his books. He is a Palestinian/Israeli/Christian who was evicted from his family’s homestead/village as a child. He became a priest and serves in Israel and speaks out against the 2nd class (and worst) nature of even Palestinians like himself who have Israeli citizenship.

      As a personal anecdote: Living in Cairo and traveling by bus to Tel Aviv through the Egypt/Israel border several times helped me see a “glimpse” of the issue.

      Once at the border, an Israeli military person would board and, in stern Arabic, demand all Arabs off the bus. If there was doubt of nationality, they checked passports. Once the few were off the bus, the same person would turn on a smile and warmly greet everyone else on the bus. As a Westerner, I would travel with my family to the customs building and return to the bus in 20-30 minutes like passing through a mid-western US airport pre-9/11. The bus would wait for everyone to return and often it was 2-3 hours until the few Arabs returned with luggage obviously gone through. It was not difficult to tell there experience was vastly different from ours.

      One particular trip included my brother-in-law who is from Latin America. While in Egypt, people often mistakenly thought he was Egyptian. When we traveled to Israel, he would get rough treatment … until he began speaking Spanish! It was disturbing and fascinating to watch his interactions with Israelis while we traveled.

      My grandfather ministered to the Palestinian refugees when the camps were first established as he and his family served the church in Egypt from 1945 through the late 1950′s. I asked about those days. He would get choked up and rarely spoke of it.

      Today, Israeli tour companies have created their own network of gift shops and tourism stops. To go to Bethlehem (Palestinian Authority), the bus travels through the checkpoint and directly to the town square by the Church of the Nativity. They usher tourists into the church and back to the bus. Once beyond the checkpoint and back into Israel (proper), they stop at a gift shop for you to buy items from your Bethlehem experience. As recently as the 1980′s, the Bethlehem town square was a bustling place of tourists shopping at local shops and meandering through the streets of Bethlehem. Not anymore. We went back (not on a tour bus) and only a couple shops remained. I stopped in and visited (over tea) with a Palestinian store owner (and a Christ follower). I asked how they survived. He said, “We travel to Germany for 6 weeks and sell everything we can at the holiday/craft fairs. We hope it will carry us through.” This shop had been his family’s business for several decades. That visit was in 1999.

      I have not experienced Palestinian life around Ramallah or Gaza. What I have witnessed over the years is a dichotomous Israeli life – one that promotes joy, wonder and amazement of the Holy Land on one hand to the outside world and a suppressive, cold and harsh hand to anyone perceived to be Arab.

  9. Todd G. says:

    Hi Carl

    I’ve got a few thoughts on this topic.

    First; I know some dispensationalists that are absolutely wonderful and are extremely gifted at loving Muslims. I honestly do think that their interpretation of scripture is very confusing and it seems wrong to me; but at least some of the dispensationalists sure seem to get their application right.

    Second; I have not seen many critiques of Zionism that seem to bet to the main point as I see it anyways. The main point as I see it; is that God sought to bless the nations through Abraham’s seed. God has done that, through Christ. He also did that through the Jewish people and we should feel a sense of spiritual indebtedness to the Jewish people because of that. What we see happen at Pentecost is that all sorts of Jewish Proselytes from many nations were present when the Holy Spirit came to them. These Proselytes, as far as I know are considered to be fully Jewish. (Just like Ruth, they are adopted into the line by faith). We should be thankful to all the Jewish people for the example of their lives that attracted the nations to Jerusalem on that great day of Pentecost. So then if people like Sami and Alex Awad are correct when they claim that as far as they know their family came to God on the day of Penecost, they are then certainly fully Jewish, Just Like Ruth. If that principle is true then I would think the same principle would apply to all that have faith in Christ.

    Third; Now to the Muslims. I’ll just quote Tony Maalouf in his book Arabs in the Shadow of Israel. In it he combats the notion that Ismael was in conflict with his brothers; no; rather he was beside his brothers and that is how God intended it”
    “An often misunderstood and controversial oracle on Ishmael is found in Genesis16:12c , which says that Hagar’s son shall dwell al-pene all his brethren. There has been a debate over the meaning of the expression al-pene. The NASB translates the term, “he will live to the east of all his brothers , while the KJV translates it, “and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren..” However, more recent translations of the Bible have seen a nuance of adversity in the prediction. Thus, a very popular translation, the NIV, renders the expression, “he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Meanwhile the NRSV translates the verse, “he shall live at odds with all his kin.”” However, Hebrew translators since the postexilic era did not see any hostility or enmity in the term al-pene used here. Consequently, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan renders the term in 16:12c “he shall dwell alongside all his kinsmen and he shall be mixed (with them),” and in 25:18 where the prediction is stated as fulfilled, “he dwelt opposite all his brothers in his inheritance.”” Similarly, Targum Onqelos translates 16:12c, “and in the presence of all his brethren he shall dwell,” and 25:18, “he dwelt in the presence of all his kinsmen.”53 Not only did Hebrew translators of old fail to detect a sense of enmity and hostility in that expression, but also modern Hebrew translators did not reflect it either. A fairly recent Jewish translation renders 16:12c, “he shall dwell alongside all his kinsmen” (16:12); and 25:18, “they camped alongside all their kinsmen. “
    Tony Maalouf. Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line (p. 73). Kindle Edition.

    Fourth: Jesus was not into “races and places” He makes this clear in Luke 4 after his inaugural address to his hometown mentioning Namaan’s faith and the Syrian woman’s faith. He makes it clear in John 4 while talking to the Samaritan Woman, basically saying a time will come when Jerusalem vs. Mount Gerizem is a very trivial matter.

    My last point: While there are many great dispensationalists – some go way too far. John Hagee for instance has said some outrageous things; basically denying that Jesus did not come to be the Davidic Messiah; he only came to be the Suffering Servant Messiah. There is a strand of dispensationalism that looks towards a coming kingdom; instead of a kingdom that exists right now. We need to see Jesus this way — “all authority has been given me” Jesus is Lord right now. He is not a Lord in waiting that will finally become king sometime in the future when he comes a second and then again a third time.

    I’m probably a heretic.

    TG

  10. Todd G. says:

    Hi

    I want to commend one other resource that I think is helpful as we all think about this subject. It’s a project undertaken by Robert Satloff. Robert is a Jewish man that lived in NYC during 9/11/2001. His response to the tragedy is amazing. Not long after the tragedy he decided he wanted to find Arabs that were “among the righteous” . “Among the righteous” meaning those people that are honored, in the Yad vashem memorial in Israel , as the people that took risks to protect Jews during the Holocaust. Robert thought that it would be a good peacemaking undertaking to find those Arabs that ought to considered “among the righteous” and he sought them out, to bring awareness both to Arabs and Israelis about one-another. My favorite story from his research is that he found that Vichy France once ordered the King of Morocco to create 200,000 stars of David to pin on the Jews of Morocco. The King refused and expressed solidarity in an interesting way. He said we must create 20 more stars. Why the Vichy administrators asked. “because you forgot about the 20 Jews in my family”. He was not selling out his own Jewish family members; he was sternly warning Vichy that he identified himself with his Jewish family members.

    http://video.pbs.org/program/among-the-righteous/

    http://www.amazon.com/Among-Righteous-Stories-Holocausts-Reach/dp/1586483994

    Maybe this helps
    TG

  11. EdS says:

    Hi Carl,

    Another, almost humorous, thing genetic testing has demonstrated is that many Palestinians have as much or more Jewish ancestry as the Israelis. I can post links if anyone would like. What it seems would have happened is that they are descendants of early Christian converts to Christianity who were totally rejected by other Jews after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Later they were conquered by the Arab armies during the Arab conquest of the area in the 7th century and many (but certainly not all- as you know there are many Christian Palestinians still) converted to Islam, and adopted the Arabic language. Most Jews of Israel are apostate secular Jews. The intriguing question for Christian Zionists is which Jews should they support- the apostate secular Jews in Israel, or the apostate Muslim Jews of Palestine?

    Ed

  12. Q says:

    I think I have two questions.

    I haven’t thoroughly read through all the gentlemen’s comments above, but as I’ve read the original post and this follow-up (and recently Mr. Medearis’ squirrel book), one question sticks me: what explanation/motivation/theology justifies that we read Jesus into the Torah? I’ve been saturated with Christianity all my life (yes, Christianity, not necessarily Jesus), and have already heard a number of justifications. Most of them seem based on the a priori assumption that, well, Jesus is the most awesome thing ever, therefore we can read him into anything. But would Jesus even condone that? Can the Torah not stand alone? How were the prophecies and promises interpreted before Jesus?

    I am also well aware of the Israeli-Palestine issue, and I have dear friends on both sides of it (Jew, Muslim, Christian…). I lean towards the opinion that God’s will was “forced” for Israel, and consequently terror and genocide have ensued. I don’t like terror and genocide. But God commanded it numerous times during Joshua’s campaign. Thus, it often feels like the peace I hope for in the Gaza strip is contradictory to Scripture. If God’s policies are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (are they? do they change?), then how can we condemn Israel’s actions when God commanded them at the inception of the Israeli nation? (And I don’t think it’s fair to so completely separate the Israel now from Israel back then– ancestrally, they are related, and likewise religio-culturally.)

  13. PineapplePrincess says:

    I’m not quite 50 yet so maybe I should keep my mouth shut but it seems like lots of folks feel that being “for” Israel means being “against” something or someone. It is like they read the verse where God says, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” to mean that we need to decide who God would bless or curse and then to bless and curse on His behalf. But Scripture tells us to bless – even to bless those who persecute us. We weren’t assigned the task of vengeance.

    As I understand the whole Abrahamic covenant, God had a plan that included Isaac. Isaac was promised before Ishmael was conceived. Abraham, followed by Isaac & a whole bunch of others, were “chosen” and “set apart” for a purpose – but chosen for what? Were they chosen to occupy a certain patch of real estate or were they chosen to play a part in God’s plan for the redemption of the world. Maybe both, but certainly it wasn’t just about real estate. The covenant with Abraham & Isreal is ultimately intended as part of the plan for the salvation of Israel, Ishmael and the rest of us. Right?

    Here’s a corresponding issue for us as modern Christians: one may have a theology of predestination but the oft forgotten question is “Predestined for what?” Some would answer, “Predestined for Salvation”, but one could Biblically argue “predestined to be carrier of the Gospel to the lost, whom God also wishes to save”. Your perspective on why you are set apart affects your view of others. One perspective says that God sent His Son into the world, that the world through Him might be saved. Another perspective might make you think that God wants to save some but is eager to condemn others.

    It all boils down to this: Does God have a plan for the blessing and salvation of all people or does He will to save only certain people? Not all will accept the salvation offered but the root issue here is “Who does God desire to save?”

    If you believe that God’s plan is for the whole of humanity, then you can be “for” Israel but you can also be “for” Palestine, the descendents of Ishmael, the Gentiles, and anyone else that falls under the category of “those God loves”. That doesn’t solve the problem of national borders but, really, how many of us even have any influence there. Our only real influence may be the way we treat the Muslim or Jewish person we cross paths with in our daily lives. If we’re faithful in those small areas of contact, maybe we’ll someday be fit to answer the big, international questions.