Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Should we support Israel or not?

It is of course not at all uncommon to see Israel engaged in warfare and conflict, and this last week has been no different--with the Palestinians and Israelis bombing each other. It happens seemingly every year, and the result is many dead.

Politically, it is a bit predictable how people will respond:  conservatives generally support Israel due to their being the only democracy in the Middle East; liberals will oppose the Jews because the conservatives support them.

Among evangelical Christians, the support is overwhelming: indeed, according to recent polling, evangelicals like Jews better than any other religious group--including, oddly, other Christian groups like Catholics! (The feeling is not mutual, however: Jews give evangelical Christians an even lower rating than they give to Muslims, despite the centuries of battling between the two.)

Indeed, evangelicals tend to support Israel in any conflict, no matter the situation. The mindset goes something like this:

  1. The Jews are God's chosen people.
  2. God set aside the Promised Land for the Jews.
  3. The Jews do not currently have all of their promised land.
  4. Therefore, God would support the Jews to retake their land.
  5. Therefore, we should support Israel as they retake their land.


The first three statements are all undeniably true. But the conclusions do not necessarily follow from the first three points.

Remember that the Jews received their land in return for covenantal promises to God--promises which historically are not always upheld. And when those promises are not upheld, God often brings judgment upon the nation, including the loss of land for generations.

The Bible records several times that the land of Israel was handed over to non-Jews, always for the purpose of bringing the Jews back to God. From 740-722 BC, the Assyrians were in control of Israel. From 586-539 BC, the Babylonian Empire was in control of Judea. From 539-332 BC, it was the Persians. From 332-305, it was the Greeks. Starting in 63 BC, it was the Romans. And Jesus tells us during the Olivet Discourse that the Romans would sack Jerusalem again, for the abandonment of the Messiah.

The point is--sometimes in the Bible, we see God encouraging the Jews and helping them regain their kingdom. Sometimes in the Bible, we see God helping the enemies of the Jews to bring the Jews back to repentance.

And that is why I say we, as Christians, should be awfully cautious in picking sides in Israel's conflicts. The "right" side from God's view might be Israel's, or it may actually be His will to bring enemies to them in an attempt to drive them to Christ. It is in fact entirely possible that the blind support of Israel will lead one to oppose God's will at times!


Conclusion

In general, I don't take political sides: it's hard to say that we know God's side when we have such incomplete views of things. In particular, I REALLY don't think it's wise to take political sides when it comes to war, except in the most extreme of situations.

So what should we as Christians do in regard to Israel?

First, what we should do is pray as the Lord taught us:  "Thy will be done." Whether it is for Israel to retake the promised land or be driven from it, we want God's will done.

Second, I think that we should be praying for peace and for the Gospel to spread, regardless of circumstances.

So be cautious of always supporting Israel, or always opposing it. Our support should be tied to God's Kingdom and New Jerusalem, not any human kingdom here.

1 comment:

  1. There is much going on in Israel that doesn't make the evening news here. Rockets launched from Gaza; suicide attacks all over the country; Arab leaders who say one thing for "public consumption" and something else much more violent and hateful to their own people... No wonder Israel sometimes over-responds! I do not like war; but sometimes that's the only choice there is.

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