Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Christians Love Them Some Israel! Why?

Biblical Israel is comprised of all individuals who are in Christ.* These disciples of Christ are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. The welfare of this Israel ought to cause Christians to become passionately zealous rather than the modern secular nation-state called Israel. According to the New Testament, one is a Jew inwardly. Their heart has been circumcised. "It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring." This "Israel" is very different from the state of Israel.

Christians know this. They confess this. Why, then, have we seen such vocal and enthusiastic support for the nation of Israel and such disgust for Gazans this week? This is, in fact, nothing new. It happens every time the violence escalates between Israel and the Palestinians.

Some might say, "Yes, we know the difference between 'spiritual' Israel and the state of Israel. But doesn't Paul admit that God has not rejected Israel in Romans chapter 11? That God is not through with Israel? This is why we care so deeply about what happens to Israel.

Yes, God has not rejected Israel. If ethnic Jews do not continue in their unbelief (Romans 11:23), they will be grafted back into their own olive tree. However, Paul makes clear in Romans 10:1-4, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

Paul's strong desire was for the salvation of his fellow countrymen. He wanted them to be "in Christ." If Christians are passionate about the nation of Israel, we ought to be passionate like Paul. We should be zealous for the salvation of the Jews just as we are zealous for the Gospel to be received by all people-groups of world, including the people of Gaza. This looks very different than vociferously cheering on a secular government entity as they drop bombs on an enemy.

Wedding party struck by U.S. drone.
Yes, Hamas fires rockets into heavily-populated areas of Israel. Yes, Hamas has hidden weapons in schools and hospitals. They encourage people to become human shields. This is evil and reprehensible. In the meantime, "We the People" are drone-bombing civilians at weddings in foreign countries. What have American Christians done about these evil and reprehensible acts which are committed in our name? Nothing. And, yet, we are cheering on the death and destruction of Gazans because they sent missiles into civilian areas of Israel.

If Christians spent less time defending the actions of a political entity named Israel perhaps we could devote more energy toward the salvation of both Israelis and Palestinians. Like Paul, our heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

*Edited to add: Although this article was intended for a general audience that is no excuse for a lack of clarity. The reason I can say, "Biblical Israel is comprised of all individuals who are in Christ" is based on Christ's status as the true Israel of God. Everyone who is "united to" or "in" Christ is, therefore, also the true Israel of God. I can also make this statement based on Paul's "Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16.

For more on this topic, read my post: He Said What?! More on the Identity of "Israel".

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