(Mat 23:37 KJV) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war. (Joshua 11,23)
Christian Zionism is undoubtedly a dominant force shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East.
The Pew Research Centre recently discovered that 60% of evangelicals said they supported the state of Israel, and 32% cited their religious beliefs as the primary reason for such support. But does the Bible support the Sate of Israel existence today?
Discovering what the Bible actually, truly now has to say about the relationship between Israel and the Church, in history and prophecy, more then just an academic exercise.
Did the coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection and the founding of the Church, fulfill or postpone the past biblical prophecies concerning Israel? Is the Church central to God’s purposes on earth, or merely a temporary side show?
Covenantalism or Dispensationalism?
Covenantalists believe the Bible teaches that God has one ‘chosen people’ called out from among the nations. Dispensationalists believe the Bible teaches that God has two separate and distinct peoples – the Church and Israel.
If Covenantalists emphasize the continuity within God’s progressive revelation, Dispensationalists emphasize the discontinuity, distinguishing seven ‘dispensations’ in biblical history when God has tested mankind in a different way, and each time they have failed.
Covenantalists tend to regard promises relating to the Land, Jerusalem and the temple as annulled or fulfilled in the Church. Dispensationalists tend to see them as still in force and either being, or about to be, fulfilled in Israel today.
Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous.
I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself. Jimmy Carter is not alone in describing the Zionism practiced by the present government of Israel as a form of apartheid.
The apostle Peter, preaching after Pentecost, and citing Moses, similarly warned those who rejected Jesus, “Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.” (Acts 3:23). Covenantalists believe there has only ever been one people of God – whether under the old or new covenant – and one way to God – by Jesus, grace alone and through faith alone.
Most of the Jews even today and the Judaizers have refused God plan through the ages , that of Jesus being the messiah and they continue on with their own earthly, fleshly replacement, earthly goals, plans.
Even the Apostles didn’t always do this straight away. They brought their Jewish presuppositions with them which sometimes falsely colored their hopes and expectations.
We too need the same illuminating work of the Holy Spirit as we read the Bible, to see the harmony and progression in God’s purposes. But to do that we need to pray and ask God to teach us and to also still read the Bible ourselves now.. not wrongfully let someone else supposedly read and interpret the Bible for us.
(2 Tim 2:15 KJV) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
It is also this still important to rightfully also distinguishes, properly interpreting the valid prophetic and apocalyptic scriptures since prophetic messages often differs from the apocalyptic messages. Sometimes Biblical books contain both the prophetic and the apocalyptic. The Book of Revelation is one example Prophetic and apocalyptic literature like Revelation should be interpreted in harmony with the teachings of the entire Bible
Jesus and the apostles tell us quite plainly that some parts of the Hebrew Scriptures have been fulfilled, annulled or superseded. The question is therefore not whether the promises of the Old Testament should be understood literally or allegorically. It is instead a question of whether they should be understood in terms of Old Covenant ‘shadow’ or in terms of New Covenant ‘reality’.
When Christian writers forcefully interpret contemporary events in the light of prophecy, they run into errors and difficulties. For example,
- Hal Lindsey insisted that Russia’s place in history was predicted in the Bible but as Russia power declined, Lindsey switched his emphasis to Islamic Fundamentalism
-Traditionally some have held the view ‘Babylon the Great’ (Revelation 14:8 and 17:5), variously interpreted as the Roman Empire, the Vatican, and the European Community. – but too many now switched their Biblical interpretations, emphasis to Iraq, Babylon being rebuilt before the final battle of Armageddon and who knows what to next?
The superficial appeal of these kind of interpretations are mostly short-lived as the wreckage of previous false Prophetic claims do now testify evidentially.
For ultra-literalists, too often the biblical text seems to need a little false personal adding to the word of God, ‘enhancing’ to make their interpretation more obvious. Ultra-literalists have perpetuated the false principle of ‘enhancing’ the text to reinforce their own mostly false interpretations. While the ultra-literalists Dispensationalist Bible Scholars claim to provide ‘consistent interpretation’, they nonetheless reach very different conclusions, meaning they rarely agree with each other, and even contradict each other mostly still.
For the Love of Zion (the Bible tells them so) (Seminar 1/5), by Dr. Stephen Sizer Why is there such a close relationship today between the Christian Right, the American political establishment and the State of Israel? Why after 40 years, does Israel continue to occupy territory in Lebanon (the Sheba Farms), Syria (the Golan Heights) and Palestine (the West Bank) while Syria has been pressured to withdraw from Lebanon? Why is Israel allowed to retain nuclear weapons while Iran is threatened with a pre-emptive attack for aspiring to obtain nuclear technology? And how have Britain and America become the focus of so much hate in the Arab world and the target for Islamic terrorism – despite out commitment to the rule of international law, democracy and human rights? The answers to these questions remain inexplicable unless we factor in what is now probably the most influential and controversial movement amongst Christians today – Christian Zionism. Full Article Here http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs1.pdf
Israel and the Church: Who are God’s Chosen People? (Seminar 2/5), by Dr. Stephen Sizer How often have you heard the Jewish people described as God’s ‘chosen people’? Probably so often that you have never even questioned it. It is so ingrained that to deny it is often seen as evidence of anti-Semitism. As is the assumption that God blesses and curses nations on the basis of how they treat Israel – which is sometimes used as a threat. This view goes back to Genesis 12:3. Jerry Falwell, for example, says God is blessing America because ‘America has been kind to the Jew.’1 He claims that God ‘will bless those who bless the Jews and curse whoever curses the Jews.’2 That is why Christians United or Israel conducts ‘a Night to Honor Israel’3 in as many cities as possible so that God will continue to bless America and Canada.
It may surprise you to discover that the New Testament never uses the term ‘chosen’ to describe the Jewish people. It is only used of those who follow Jesus. Does that mean God has two separate ‘chosen people’? Some like to think so. They are usually called ‘dispensationalists’ and this is a popular viewpoint among evangelicals in the United States.
In this chapter we will begin by looking at the evidence for two ‘chosen people’ and then tackle the ‘blessing and cursing’ issue. Then we will examine the term ‘Israel’ in the Old and New Testament. We shall then consider some of the biblical imagery God uses to describe his relationship to his people such as the analogy of the vine and the vineyard. We also need to define what we mean by words like ‘Jew’, ‘chosen’ and ‘children of God’. Full Article Here http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs2.pdf
The Promised Land – From the Nile to the Euphrates? (Seminar 3/5), by Dr. Stephen Sizer In this chapter we will consider what the Bible has to say about the significance and purposes of the Promised Land as well its geographical extent. Then we will look at whether the land was intended as an ‘everlasting possession’ of the Jewish people or whether they were only temporary residents. Then we will examine the terms under which they were allowed to return after the exile, and whether the kingdom was nationalistic or universal. Finally we must consider what Jesus and the apostles have to say about all this. Full Article Here http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs3.pdf
Battle for Jerusalem: The Eternal Capital of the Jews? (Seminar 4/5), by Dr. Stephen Sizer Many evangelicals, especially in America, accept unthinkingly the Zionist mantra that Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal and exclusive capital of the State of Israel. However, Jerusalem existed before the time of the Israelites. Today, Jerusalem lies at the heart of three world faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Israelis regard it as their capital. Palestinians do so also. Attempts to reach agreement in the wider Arab-Israeli conflict have partly stumbled over the contested status of Jerusalem. Jewish Zionists and their Christian supporters are strongly opposed to joint sovereignty or the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. It seems time is on their side. The annexation of the Old City, the aggressive and illegal settlement programme, the systematic demolition of many Arab homes and the construction of the Separation Barrier have all created ‘facts on the ground’ in Jerusalem. Christian and Jewish Zionists also claim a higher mandate for this agenda – the Word of God. Full Article Here http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs4.pdf
The Land in the New Testament, by David Devenish What does the New Testament teach about the land of Israel? Answer: absolutely nothing. There are no references to the importance of the land or of Jerusalem as a ‘holy city’. Some would say that this is simply an argument from silence and that there are sufficient promises in the Old Testament to establish the land as belonging to the Jewish people without the need for New Testament confirmation. However, not only is there silence about the land but the whole tenor of the New Testament message and revelation of God’s saving purpose amongst His people points in a different direction. To a Samaritan, despised by the Jews, Jesus makes special places of worship (including Jerusalem) a redundant concept (John 4:21). When marveling at the faith of a Gentile centurion, Jesus applied to the gathering in of Gentile peoples from all over the world the Old Testament promises of the bringing of God’s people from the east and west into the promised blessings alongside Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Matt. 8:11).
Ryrie considers this the most important dispensational distinction, and approves the statement that… “the basic promise of Dispensationalism is two purposes of God expressed in the formation of two peoples who maintain their distinction throughout eternity.”17 In contrast, Christian theology has always maintained the essential continuity of Israel and the church. The elect of all the ages are seen as one people, with one Savior, one destiny. This continuity can be shown by examining a few Old Testament prophesies with their fulfillment. Dispensationalists admit that if the church can be shown to be fulfilling promises made to Israel their system is doomed. If the church is fulfilling Israel’s promises as contained in the new covenant or anywhere in the Scriptures, then [dispensational] premillennialism is condemned.18
Christ is Coming? Christ is here!, by Stan Moody, PhD, To properly study Christian Zionism, it is critical to examine certain presuppositions. Universally accepted among Evangelicals is the dogma that Christ’s so-called Second Coming will be personal, corporeal and visible. Once we begin from that premise, there is no alternative than to ask, “Where?” and “When?” The “How” and “Why” become subordinate. Thus, all our time is spent on the timing and locus of the event rather than on its nature. Even efforts to counter the extremism of Christian Zionism emanate from the assumption that Jesus has to return at some concrete/specific, cataclysmic moment in human history to rescue the world from the weight of its own sin. An inconvenient truth is that this was the mission of the First Advent. Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11 NIV). For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13 NASV).
The Meaning of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12), by Dr. Stephen Sizer We must begin our consideration of the Abrahamic Covenant not in Genesis 12 but Genesis 2. The covenant began with Gods creation of a paradise, represented in the garden. This was the place where people could receive all of God’s blessings and commune in fellowship with Him. This is where the image of land begins in the Bible. This land of paradise was lost in the Fall but a foretaste of heaven is reflected in the imagery of the promise made to Abraham.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1) When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers”. Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:1-8)
The Rapture? (I Thessalonians 4: 15-18), by Father Daniel Swire The doctrine of a “Rapture” does not originate in the book of the Revelation. The word “rapture” is not actually found anywhere in any English translations of the Bible. It comes from the Latina word, rapere, which is is usually translated “caught up” in the English translations of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Here is what we read in I Thessalonians 4: 15-18: For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
The use of Scripture in Christian Zionism: a critical examination, by Chris Tilling In the next few posts I shall discuss the handling of Scripture in Christian Zionism (CZ). I will suggest it is marked by a proof-texting mentality that not only misunderstands the nature of biblical prophecy, but also displays a naïve and inconsistent hermeneutic. In a later post in this series I’ll also suggest why this subject isn’t merely a theological curiosity – and something best left alone – but impacts world politics. In fact, I suggest it also negatively distracts discipleship to Jesus and thus needs to be challenged. And the use of Scripture in Christian Zionism gets right to the heart of the problem, hence the focus of this small series.
Christian Approaches to the State of Israel, by John M Wilson Jews have an ongoing role in the furthering of God’s ultimate redemptive purposes. But no matter what standard or position one adopts, Christians must not be blind to Joseph Klausner’s objection that Christianity has sought to remove the national and political aspects of the prophetic hope (The Messianic Idea in Israel, p. 10). God works through the sacred and the secular. . . .[I]f God can call a pagan Persian named Cyrus ‘his anointed’ (Isa. 45:1), and another pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar, ‘my servant’ (Jer. 25:9), and accomplish his holy purposes among the nations through both, who can say what plans God may yet have in store for those who from of old have been his people? (ibid, p. 268). Real estate theology is, at best, precarious theology. . . .For centuries Jews suffered discrimination and victimization at the hands of Christians whose theological convictions seemed to permit [encourage] such unjust activity. . . .Therefore, we conclude, as long as Arabs and Jews argue from nonnegotiable theological absolutes, human beings can offer little hope for peace