How should Christians respond to Israel?
Today there is a global trend towards anti-Semitism and it is not only in the world but also in the professing Christian Church. There is a division coming in the Church between those who hold fast to the authority of God’s Word the Bible where Israel is concerned and those who don’t. One of the central issues that will divide the Church in these last days will be over the Church’s attitude to the nation of Israel. In most churches today there is an increasing move towards replacement theology. Replacement theology says that God has finished with Israel and that the Church has now replaced Israel. Furthermore most of the same people will tell you that Israel does not have a right to the Land and support those who now advocate a “Two State Solution.” Yet others who also claim to be Christians think that the land of Israel in its entirety should in fact be a “Palestinian” State. These people see Israel as an Apartheid State!
A matter of theology?
Even in the Charismatic Churches today kingdom now theology is coming to the forefront as Christians are told that the Church will take the nations for Christ and present the world to Him when He comes again. The same people will do a “knee jerk” reaction to those who teach that the fulfilment of God’s prophetic purposes for the world depends on His promises to restore Israel and not upon their movement taking dominion over the nations. As for Post Millennialism it is unscriptural Eschatology! Many sincere Christians actually believe that the New Covenant was made with the Church, however, scripture does not teach this. In fact the new Covenant was not made with the Church but with the House of Israel and Judah. The Church is the wild olive shoot grafted into the olive tree and is included in the blessings of the New Covenant made with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah! As Jeremiah said, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).
Satan’s main priority today is the destruction of Jerusalem and the annihilation of the Jewish people. If he can succeed in doing this then he will be able to prove to the world that God’s promises of the Second Coming of Jesus to reign from Jerusalem will prove to be false. However, he will never succeed no matter how much persecution and opposition he raises against Israel. Jerusalem id God’s Eternal City on the earth and will be the Capital City of the whole world in the Millennium. When the Lord Jesus comes back He will fight and win the battle for Jerusalem! If we have been born again by the Spirit of God and love Jesus and His Word then we will love His brethren as well. You cannot love the Lord Jesus and not love His Jewish brothers and sisters. Faithful Bible believing Christians have a God given responsibility to pray for and to support Israel especially those organizations and missions in Israel spreading the good news about Jesus to His wayward brethren the Jewish people. While we cannot all go to Israel or be evangelists to Jewish people there are things we can do as faithful believers and as those who owe our entire spiritual inheritance to Israel.
1. We need to align ourselves with God’s Purposes for Israel revealed in His Word.
(Isaiah 40:1-2) “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God. ‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.’”
When we read these words spoken by the prophet Isaiah we need to ask ourselves to whom is the prophet speaking? The most acceptable answer is to the Church. God is telling the Church to comfort Israel but not with sentimentality but with the message of the gospel. Every Israeli needs to know urgently that the Lord Jesus their Messiah and older brother has paid the price for their sin and rebellion and that through repentance and faith they can be restored to the God of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. With another holocaust looming over Israel at the hands of the Antichrist and the Islamic nations it is imperative that Israeli’s are comforted with the message of the gospel. The Lord wants to restore His people spiritually and there will be a great revival just before Jesus comes back but preceding this there will be another holocaust at the hand of the Antichrist’s beast empire that will see two thirds of Israelis die in the land of Israel. (Zechariah 12:10-12 13:7-9 14:1-2) Just bringing Jewish people back to the land of Israel without sharing the Gospel with them as well is not a love for the Jews at all but a kind of sloppy sentimentalism at best. The reality for the Jewish people is that the Lord is gathering them to Israel for the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. Many Christians who support Israel in their sincere zealousness for all things Jewish do not like to hear this kind of thing. Furthermore, they will say it is “Anti-Semitic.” Of course they argue against the scriptures. How are we to bless Israel? God’s Word clearly tells us to bless them and not to curse them.
2. We must bless Israel and not curse them.
(Numbers 23:19-20) “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfil? I have received a command to bless; He has blessed and I cannot change it.”
Balaam was a prophet of sorts who was bribed with money to curse Israel. He was not an Israelite but a gentile soothsayer or fortune teller who prophesied for money. However, when Balaam went to curse Israel, God supernaturally intervened and made him pronounce a blessing on Israel instead of a curse. Balaam was the one who introduced immorality and idolatry to Israel; however, he was killed when the Israelites went in to occupy the Promised Land. He was bent on cursing Israel and was cursed himself. While God has dealt severely with His ancient people because of their hostility and rebellion and sin He has never given them up or given up on them. If He denies His promises of restoration of Israel then He denies Himself and He can never do that. He has sworn an oath in blood to Abraham through the blood of Jesus and that settles the issue once and for all. God never goes back on His covenants. If He cannot keep His promises to Israel then how can we rely upon Him to keep His promises to the Church?
Who is cursing who?
Whoever curses Israel will themselves be cursed. When you look at the nations gathered against Israel today and the increasing anti-Semitism around the world and in the Church you see people and nations setting themselves up to be cursed. The nations that are candidates for the curse of God for starters are those who are deliberately trying to enforce a “two-state solution” upon Israel. Obama actually tried to force Israel to withdraw to their pre-1967 borders which would have been be indefensible for them. One of the chief offenders was the Obama Administration. Now we have President Trump who is undoubtedly an avid supporter of Israel but as yet has not relocated the US Embassy to Jerusalem as promised neither has he radically changed the American governments Middle –East Policy spanning the Obama and the Bush era. It is a fact that Winston Churchill the English prime minister who led Britain through the dark days of World War II was ousted from office soon after the war because his administration divided up the land of Israel and hindered the Jews from returning to Israel. In fact God Himself says that all who seek to move Jerusalem will ‘tear’ or ‘injure’ themselves.
Zechariah tells it like it is!
Listen to what the prophet Zechariah said, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure (tear or rip apart) themselves.” (Zechariah 12:1-3) It is the same for the Kingdom Now and Dominion minded Mega Churches who are calling the Church “the New Israel” and ignoring God’s prophetic purposes for Israel. Their day of reckoning is coming. Much more could be said about these issues, however, God is jealous for His ancient people and ultimately has planned an eternal blessing for them not for their sakes but because of His Holy name and His covenant oath sealed in blood. (Ezekiel 36) (Genesis 15) How else can we bless Israel?
3. We must pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Love Her.
(Psalm 122: 6-9) “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’ For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity”.
Today we live in a very insecure world. However, God tells us here that if we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and love her we will be secure in His purposes. This does not mean we will be free from trouble or hard times but it does mean that we can experience God’s peace in the middle of extreme conflict and know that He is still in control in all the fluctuating circumstances of our life. God’s peace (Shalom) does not mean the absence of conflict but the ability to know that God is in control and is working everything out according to the counsel of His own will despite our circumstances. The world’s idea of peace is absence of conflict but the Bible’s idea is different. You can be in the worst conflict of your life and yet know the peace of God that transcends all human understanding.
How then do we pray?
How do we pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Today there is nothing but conflict in that part of the world. According to the Bible there will be no lasting peace in Israel until the Prince of Peace reigns from the city of Jerusalem. Forget Rick Warrens so called “Peace Plan!” The Lord Jesus Himself taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is (done) in Heaven.” To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for the full and visible manifestation of God’s kingdom on earth. This is not praying for Kingdom Dominion by the Church over the nations but to pray for the return of Jesus Himself to set up His Physical Kingdom on earth. In the Last Days the Lord Jesus Himself said that the Last sign preceding His Coming again would be the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Yes it includes the Gospel but the Gospel connected to His Second Coming.
The Lord Jesus is coming to restore the kingdom to Israel and not to the Church as the kingdom now and dominionists would have us believe. The disciples, being Jewish, fully expected that the Lord Jesus would restore the kingdom of Israel and Jesus did not correct them as this was the truth however He implied that God would restore the kingdom in His own time but that they were to concentrate on preaching the gospel. Luke records Jesus words, “So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
No lasting peace
Until Jesus comes back Jerusalem will have no lasting peace. They will have a false peace set up for them for a time but it will not last. Israel will be betrayed by their so called allies and then the Antichrist will come to desecrate the temple mount ushering in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. (Matthew 24:15) The best way to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray that many Jewish people in Jerusalem and Israel will be saved. If we faithfully love and pray for the peace of Jerusalem to come then God will in turn bless us with His peace. To pray for the prosperity of Jerusalem then is to pray for the salvation of the lost in Israel. We may well be passing through conflict and adversity ourselves but God promises us His peace because we remember Israel. This is God’s promise to us!
4. We must keep in mind that Jesus will judge the nations on how they have treated Israel.
(Matthew 25:40) “The king will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’“
According to the Bible people’s eternal destiny will be decided on whether they rejected or accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal saviour and Lord. However, according to the account recorded in Matthew 25:31-46 when the Lord Jesus judges the nations at His Second Coming He will also judge people on how they have treated His Jewish brothers. If we have been born again then we will love Israel and pray for the salvation of Jewish people however if we are not born again we will not love Israel or pray for the salvation of the Jewish people.
The sheep and the goats
The “sheep” are those who are Jesus’ true followers and the ones who stood with the Jewish people in their times of tribulation and gave them the gospel. The “goats” are those who were not His true followers and who had turned their backs on Israel and had not given them the gospel. In fact the “goats” didn’t even realize that they had neglected to give the gospel to the Jewish people. On the other hand the “sheep” also did not realize consciously what they were doing but simply responded from their hearts.
These things the sheep had done
The “sheep” gave the Jewish people physical and spiritual food when they were physically and spiritually hungry and thirsty. The “sheep” also visited them in the prison of darkness and sin and gave them the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The “sheep” befriended the Jewish people and supported them and gave them the spiritual clothing they needed to cover their nakedness before God. The clothing speaks of the garments of Salvation and the robes of the righteousness of Christ by which men are made fit for heaven. The “sheep” gave the Jewish people the remedy for their spiritual sickness in presenting them with the blood of Christ that has atoned for their sins and offences against God. These things the “sheep” had done. Not only had the “‘goats” not done these things they weren’t even aware of what they had failed to do. In the end those who did not respond to Jesus or to His brethren went into eternal punishment while those who had responded to Jesus and to His brethren went into eternal life.
Over the centuries Israel has suffered more than any other nation on earth and their long history is one of suffering and conflict. They have experienced times of prosperity and blessing. When they have obeyed God’s Word they have been blessed but when they have broken and violated His law they have been cursed. No other nation in history has been so blessed and yet cursed as the nation of Israel.
The bad and the good news
The bad news for Israel is the Time of Jacob’s Trouble but the good news is the coming of their Messiah to deliver them. However, the very best news they can have right now is that their older brother and Messiah has bled and died for their sins and risen again to give them life from the dead! They need to know that their “Passover Lamb” has been sacrificed for them! Israel must hear the gospel! This is God’s call and challenge to the Church! Israelis need to know that there has been, “a fountain opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from their sin and impurity.” The apostle Paul was definitely Jewish and there was no doubt in his mind or theology for that matter that God would have mercy upon the Nation of Israel. He writes. “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins’” Romans 11: 25-27).
A spirit of grace and supplication!
Indeed the prophet Zechariah confirms this when he declares what the Lord will do for Israel in the Last Days. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit (the Spirit) of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn Son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great.” (Zechariah 12: 10-11a)