We don’t write all that often about Israel, here.

Well, make that modern-day Israel.

There are some current events there, though, which I believe merit some comment, though I’ve not had the think-time to synthesize a nice article from them. It’s kind of weird, but since a number of folks in my church know I’m so interested in the Hebrew roots of Scripture, they ask me all sorts of questions about modern-day Israel politics (often with Left Behind tinges that I pretty quickly (and effectively, IMHO) squash through what is now a fairly pat refutation of futurist pre-mil dispensatinonalism…).

1) The current situation surprises me none in the least, and I predicted last summer that if Obama won the US election that Israel would be taking significant military actions to protect itself, as it would not be able to count on US support (or non-opposition) after January 20, 2009.  It also would not surprise me if the Gaza action wasn’t a feint to distract from a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

2) I support Israel’s ignoring the “sternly written letters” from the UN (not endorsed by the US) in the current fighting.  Israel is trying to eliminate Hamas, a terrorist organization supported by Iran, and quash their ability to lob rockets into Israel several times a day.  I can guaran-darn-tee you that if Cuba decided to lob rockets into Key West every other day that we’d be pounding the ground of Havanah toot-sweet, without much protest from the US populace, regardless of the number of sternly written UN letters gathering mold in our in-box.  In fact, I have to say that Israel’s shown quite a bit of restraint with Gaza, as I believe most Western countries would have leveled Gaza city years ago, with the shenanigans they were involved in…

3) As the sole independent democracy in the region (hopefully to be fully joined soon by Iraq), I believe we should support Israel, though we should not condone true atrocities committed against the Palestinian people (noting that “I put my hood on and now I’m a ‘freedom fighter’” followed by “I take off my hood and now I’m an innocent civilian” doesn’t square with victimhood in my book…)

4) I find that support of Israel, based on hopes of them clearing off the Temple Mount and building a “Third Temple”, is pretty stupid.  Such support gives Israel a blank check in terms of humanitarian policy, completely apart from the shoddy theology on which it is built.  (It seems to me that Paul put to rest the notion of building a Third Temple in his letter to the Corinthins, observing that we, the church, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit – since it vacated the Second Temple on Pentecost, 33 A.D.)

5) In the current conflict, I would also note the “soft” opposition Israel has received to this point from the Arab world, and from the (Fatah) Palestinians outside of Gaza.  Iran (a Persian country – not an Arab one – a distinction we Westerners often miss) is feared more by most Arab countries moreso than Israel is hated.  As such, Israel’s Arab enemies would like to see Iran’s plans thwarted, after which they will go back to hating Israel with a fervor greater than any other passion.

6) People sometimes ask about Genesis 12:1-3 along with other OT passages about the nation of Israel, and whether or not they are still in effect.  My answer to this on is – I am not certain.  I do not believe that the modern state of Israel is equivalent to the ancient religious state of Israel.  However, I do believe that God’s promise was to His chosen people, the Jews, and I don’t see an expiry date on it.  Thus, I see that a pro-semitic policy is wise, particularly in view of the generally anti-semitic view historically held my most corners of the world.  Again, though, I do not see that this is, or should be, a blank check.

So, when I’m asked about Israel, like I was just a few minutes ago in line for lunch, I try not to be too simplistic (realizing that this article is still pretty darn simplistic and that there’s a LOT of context behind what’s going on in that patch of land on the Mediterranean Sea), while still trying to remain true to my faith.

Thus, when someone says “can you give me the short answer”, my answer is “I don’t think there is one”…

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41 Comments(+Add)

1   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 9th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

“Such support gives Israel a blank check in terms of humanitarian policy, completely apart from the shoddy theology on which it is built.”

No, notn in my view. I completyely separate Israel the nation from Israel the decendents of Abraham. Now God uses them both providentially, however only He knows where thos specific entities merge and mesh.

The convergence of events may surely be a subject where we disagree as to the puzzle pieces, but I do not believe God approves of everything Israel does, just like He did not approve of everything the OT Israel did, and infact, used her enemies sometimes to correct His people. (And then punished the enemies as well – only God!)

So while I loosely espouse the Left Behind model and the rebuilding of the Temple and all the shoddy theology, I do not consider today’s Israel as being God’s “people” as such, although sometime in the future it seems God will have some redemption for those Jews at the end. (September 23, 2018 at 4:56 PM EST – give or take a few minutes)

2   Neil    
January 9th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

I can guaran-darn-tee you that if Cuba decided to lob rockets into Key West every other day that we’d be pounding the ground of Havanah toot-sweet, without much protest from the US populace, regardless of the number of sternly written UN letters gathering mold in our in-box. – Chris L.

While this is true, it is not an exact parallel. Unless southern Florida was once populated by Cubans who were displaced from their home by the creation of the state of Florida… and forced to live in Cuba.

I’m not advocating for Hamas – just say’n there are two sides to the story.

Palestinian
Palestinian Ahmed Elaian, 86, shows the keys of his home in Israel, on the 57th anniversary of Al Naqba, or day of catastrophe, in the Kalandia refugee camp near the West Bank town of Ramallah, Saturday May 14, 2005. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

3   Neil    
January 9th, 2009 at 5:20 pm

RE: Genesis 12 – The promise of blessing those who bless and cursing those who curse was promised to Abraham. I think it pretty thin exegesis to apply it to Israel – particularly to modern day Israel.

4   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 9th, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Neil,

I agree – to a point (noting that many “palestinians” were not long-time residents of the current state of Israel, either).

Perhaps a better example would be:

If the Navajo tribe in New Mexico started lobbing rockets into Albuquerque, I’m not sure we’d put up with that all that long, either. And if the Navajo who were integrated into the US public started shooting up wedding parties, malls and churches, I don’t imagine we wouldn’t go back to some means of forced segregation…

5   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 9th, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Neil – I agree (to a point*) on modern-day Israel, though I would take the view that the promise to Abraham was in conjunction to him and his descendants (particularly taking into account later refinements to the blessing), and not just Abraham…

*I do not believe that modern-day Israel is analogous to post-Babylonian ancient Israel. However, as most citizens are Jewish, I would say that they are still part of the tree outlined by Paul in Romans (i.e. children of the promise).

6   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 9th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

The issue is not Israel protecting it citizens, it is the power and pervasiveness it uses to exterminate the guilty. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and while we view the anticeptic CNN news reports centering on Israel vs. Hamas, we as believers must be sensitive to the plight of the innocent Palestinians, as well as those who have been indoctrinated since infancy to hate Jews.

A Paletinaian mother weeping over her dead child is no less a tragedy than a Jew or Christian mother in the same situation. The phenomenon in evangelicalism that teaches American Christians to be uncompassionate to Palestinain suffering and cheering everything Israel does due to a misunderstanding of Scripture does damage to the gospel message.

See Chris, a “left behinder”with balance!

7   andy    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:28 am

I really like your orginal post Chris, your so correct there are no easy answers..

I was banned from RR last week,for eveing daring to imply the deaths in Gaza,are anything but Hamas fault (and i’m very pro Israel)..

Neil i’m interested in your point about the “Al Naqba, or day of catastrophe”

I was under the impression that was the date that Israel accepted the UN partion plan and Palistinian rejected it,to a certain degree they brought the “catastrophe” upon themselves..

8   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 10:00 am

I do not like the term “pro-Israel”. We as believers must acknowledge the place Israel, or more specifically the Jews, played in God’s revelation of Himself in the earth. But the nation of Israel is a distinct mixture of orthodox Jews, conservative Jews, atheistic Jews, and many Gentiles including Palestinians. They are not “God’s people” as it now stands.

The western evangelicals have created a theological superstition about Israel, and some (Hagee) have had unsaved Jewish leaders speak in their pulpits just because they are Jews, overlooking the fact that they deny the Christ. Most of the leaders do not even believe in a Biblical Messiah.

There definitely are certain prophecies that point to an end time revisiting of Daniel’s 70 weeks, but we do a great disservice to the evangelistic effort to the Palestinians when we preach the gospel with a divine favoritism toward present day Israel.

Nowhere in the New Testament does God instruct us to favor Israel, and in fact, many of Paul’s words and the words of Christ are harsh judgments against what once was God’s people. For the America evangelical community to sit in our air conditioned homes and have a smug pro-Israel theological stance, while having no compassion or tears for the plight of millions of Palestinians, is unchristian to be sure.

The Middle East situation is in God’s prophetic hands, our calling is the gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature.

9   andy    
January 10th, 2009 at 10:19 am

Rick when i say i’m pro Israel i’m not saying that as a spiritual confirmation of them, i’m fully aware that “the nation of Israel is a distinct mixture of orthodox Jews, conservative Jews, atheistic Jews, and many Gentiles including Palestinians”…

I was using the term (no doubt i was being lazy) to imply that Israel as a right to exist, as a right to defend itself,and should be recognised as one of the few democratic countries in that region…
I was also using the term to contrast that even so i believe that, i was still banned from RR forum …

I’m not saying i’m pro Israel to the point that it can never be critized,i have no problem with people critizing Israel, but i do have a problem with people critizing JUST Israel…

10   andy    
January 10th, 2009 at 10:30 am

PS i would say my spirital opinion of Israel & the Jewish people as been informed by the writing and sermons of Art Katz, who i admire greatly..

11   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 10:30 am

andy – I agree, I was not commenting on your use of the term, I used to say I’m pro-Israel also. But I realized it gave the wrong impression that somehow I am not pro-Palestinain.

God is most definitely at the helm of these events, but it is evident that even when the events mesh together to reveal God’s end time revelation of Himself, Israel was not a knowing and cooperating partner with Christ. God will accomplish His will on the earth sovereignly and providnetially with some cooperation with His body, the church.

In the end, God’s will is redemption for humanity, not protecting Israel. You seem to have the same thoughts as do I, Andy. BTW – Israel has just dropped leaflets over Gaza warning them that their incursion and military attack is about to increase.

All of it is tragic, and the wrath of men works not the righteousness of God. This military action, much of it instigated by Hamas, may well increase the popularity of Hamas and make Israel less safe from terrorism. I am sure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using the entire thing for his own propaganda.

Until Christ returns, all the cries for peace will fall on the fallen deaf ears of mankind as a whole.

12   andy    
January 10th, 2009 at 10:43 am

Yes your so right Rick!!

For the life of me i don’t know why i joint Rapture Ready…

But i totally lost the plot last week,people were posting “Goooo Israel” like its a football game,other post reminded me of Arlos song Alice Restaurant..

“Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill”

Sheesh what the heck do Non-Christians think when they read the post there !!!

13   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I was banned from RR last week,for eveing daring to imply the deaths in Gaza,are anything but Hamas fault (and i’m very pro Israel).. – Andy

I was banned from rr-bb a while back as well. The reason they gave was “Promoting unbiblical doctrine.”

Here is exactly what I wrote that got me banned:
“I am an American Evangelical that supported a two-state solution.”

14   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

I was under the impression that was the date that Israel accepted the UN partion plan and Palistinian rejected it,to a certain degree they brought the “catastrophe” upon themselves.. – Andy

Well of course they rejected it. It’s the day they lost their homes. All I am saying is, from the Palestinian POV it is a day of catastrophe.

Every year on that date the Palestinian refugees who still have the keys to the homes that were taken from them pull them out to remember.

15   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Let us not forget that many Palestinians live in Israel itself, I do not believe many Jews live in Arab states. Additionally, how many Arab states have teken in substantial numbers of Palestinian refugess – specifically Syria.

16   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I’ll see if I can find the link. But I read a book about Christian Palestinians in Israel.

In one story a Christian Palestinian woman attended a meeting at the office of an organization. I think it was an evangelical ministry that was hosting a forum.

When it was time for Q & A, the woman waited her turn and then told the panel that the office building they were meeting in, the building that housed this evangelical ministry supporting the Jews, was the home she grew up in. It was the home here father died trying to defend.

Just promoting the other side of the coin…

17   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Additionally, how many Arab states have teken in substantial numbers of Palestinian refugess – specifically Syria.

I’ve never understood this question. If the other Arab States had taken in the refugees – then what? They’d still be refugees. They’d still have lost their homes.

18   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 8:43 pm

They could have been cared for and assimilated. Besides the Biblical account of God giving the land to Abram, how far back in history do you go to find its rightful owners?

The Jebusites?

19   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:47 pm

They could have been cared for and assimilated. Besides the Biblical account of God giving the land to Abram, how far back in history do you go to find its rightful owners?

Sure they would have been cared for. And “assimilated” is a very interesting word…
But that does not make it right?

I figure, if a family are living in a house. If they have the keys to that house. If they have lived their as long as anyone can remember… it’s kinda tough for a European Jew to come in, and claim it based on Genesis.

That’s my take on rightful ownership.

20   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Pope Benedict’s chief cardinal in charge of peace and justice called the Gaza strip a big “concentration camp” because of Israel’s violence. Israel is deeply offended by the Nazi reference.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28594474

21   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

“I figure, if a family are living in a house. If they have the keys to that house. If they have lived their as long as anyone can remember… it’s kinda tough for a European Jew to come in, and claim it based on Genesis.”

Does the same thing apply for a teepee? If so, pack your bags!

22   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Pope Benedict’s chief cardinal in charge of peace and justice called the Gaza strip a big “concentration camp” because of Israel’s violence. Israel is deeply offended by the Nazi reference.

I have always thought it ironic that a people who have been so persecuted, can also be such persecutors.

23   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 8:52 pm

I find your application of the word “persecutors” to be lined with a bias against the Jews. They may well use some excessiveness in their incursion, but I cannot say they were not provoked.

24   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Light Force

I have a friend who was referenced in this book.

I guess I’m biased.

25   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I find your application of the word “persecutors” to be lined with a bias against the Jews. They may well use some excessiveness in their incursion, but I cannot say they were not provoked.

I was not thinking so much of their military actions as I was day-to-day life for Arabs living in Israel who are not citizens ( as oppossed to those who are).

Here is another word then – “apartheid.”

26   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Does the same thing apply for a teepee? If so, pack your bags!

yeah – the parallel is obvious. Except, I am not living in a home that someone else once had a key to.

27   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

“Except, I am not living in a home that someone else once had a key to.”

Wow, just eradicate their dwelling places and “poof”, your guiltless.

Here is an appropraite cartoon of the Gaza events. I don’t know how to paste the cartoon so anyone feel free to do so.

http://www.cagle.msnbc.msn.com/news/GazaConflict08/images/wolverton.jpg

28   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

OK, Rick, I understand. “We” did it 200 years ago, so I cannot speak out about it now.

Got ya…

I guess, following that line of reasoning, no one who has ever committed a sin, can preach against that sin…

29   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 9:15 pm

I believe the Palestinians have commited their share of sins as well. When it comes to sin and violence and land wars and and fairness and etc., etc., I submit that the truth as God sees it cannot be perfectly discerned. Our calling is binding up the wounds on both sides in Jesus’s name and not getting involved with the fog of political partiality.

30   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I’m kinda partial to this:

wall

It’s a nativity scene with a wall blocking the access of the magi…

31   andy    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Neil you said (((Well of course they rejected it. It’s the day they lost their homes))

But you yourself stated you agreed with the two state solution?

My point is it’s Israel bending backwards to get the two state solution through… After all it’s the Palestinians who rejected the two-state solution in 37, 47, and 2000-1…

I doubt it’s the most popular book, but its the last I read so I will quote from it: Dershowitz “Palestinians have never missed an opportunity, to miss an opportunity”

32   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:21 pm

My point is it’s Israel bending backwards to get the two state solution through…

I’m not buying this part… but I agree that the “Palestinians have never missed an opportunity, to miss an opportunity”

33   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Neil – your view has little understanding for the Israeli problems. Remember, Israel dragge many Jews out of Gaza, razed their homes and Temples, and at great cost financially and politically withdrew completely. The least they could expect is no missles being lobbed at them from Gaza.

34   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Wall Picts HERE

35   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Neil – your view has little understanding for the Israeli problems.

I said I was biased. And Gaza is one of the most densly populated and poorest areas on earth. Maybe if they razed all the settlements in the West Bank… maybe…

36   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 9:28 pm

“Maybe if they razed all the settlements in the West Bank…”

If given a chance, and with its security guaranteed, they may well do it.

37   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 9:41 pm
“Maybe if they razed all the settlements in the West Bank…”

If given a chance, and with its security guaranteed, they may well do it.

Then we’d have Israeli’s kicked out of their homes… back to square one…

38   Rick Frueh    http://http?//followingjudahslion.com
January 10th, 2009 at 9:53 pm

There is no painless solution.

39   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 10th, 2009 at 11:24 pm

I think we’re demonstrating why there is no easy answer to be had in this particular situation. I’ve got some friends in both sides of the conflict, and one who is a missionary in Israel, where he works with Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Here’s a link to his blog – which has challenged a number of assumptions I used to hold.

40   nc    
January 10th, 2009 at 11:43 pm

#37,

but those “homes” in the settlements are contested as legit…and rightly so.

41   Neil    
January 10th, 2009 at 11:47 pm

…but those “homes” in the settlements are contested as legit…and rightly so.

By whose standards? In whose court?