Monday, July 21, 2014

How I "Stand With Israel!"

When Israel goes to war, the American evangelical rallying cry is, "Stand With Israel!"

I, too, stand with Israel but perhaps not in the same manner as most of my fellow evangelicals.

I stand with Israel in Palestinian areas as they are forced to flee their homes due to both persecution from other Palestinians and to avoid the bombs of the Israeli Defense Forces.

I stand with Israel in Mosul, Iraq as they must choose to become refugees or be executed at the hands of Islamic State (IS) fighters.

I stand with Israel in Texas as they have decided to enter another country illegally rather than stay home and die at the hands of violent gangs.

How could I say that Israel is trying to avoid the bombs of the Israeli Defense Forces? How is Israel fleeing from ISIS in Iraq? How could Israel possibly be entering Texas illegally?

I can say these things because the Israel of God is the people of God, those who are Jews inwardly. The people of God are not synonymous with any one nation-state even if this nation is called "Israel."

The apostle Paul explained that one is not a child of God due to ethnicity or religious rituals but by faith.
Romans 2:28-29: "For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God."

Romans 9:6-8: "For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but 'Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.' This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring."

Galatians 3:24-29: "So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise."

Galatians 6:12-16: "It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God."

If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise!

Those who are a new creation in Christ can be found all throughout the world. They represent a multitude of ethnicities and people-groups. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek for all are one Christ Jesus.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ live in Iraq, Guatemala, and the United States. They can be found in both Palestinian areas and in the nation of Israel.

I stand with Israel: those who have been circumcised inwardly, Abraham's offspring in Christ, the sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ.

OK, but what about the current war in Gaza? How could I justify the fact that Palestinians (Hamas, really) are lobbing missiles into heavily-populated areas of Israel? I don't. Well, then how come you won't support Israel's right to defend itself by launching an offensive against Hamas in Gaza?

Galatians 6:10 reads, "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Everyone" means everyone: Arabs, Jews, Muslims, everyone. Bombing them is not doing good to them.

Paul also writes, "especially to those who are of the household of faith." Perhaps some of the people who are being killed in Gaza right now may be of the household of faith. Why would I support killing them? Paul says "especially" implying that we would give even greater effort to doing good to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and we have fellow Christians in both Israel and Palestinian areas.

I stand with Israel, Abraham's offspring in Christ, but I do not stand with Israel, the secular nation-state. I am allied with the uniquely beautiful kingdom of God so I stand with Christ and his kingdom which is advancing through the sons and daughters of God in both Israel and Gaza.

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