Flag of Israel
The nation of Israel is regularly in the news, especially now with the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
This post is not about the political position of the United States. In fact, let me say that what you think and believe about our policy regarding Israel politically is your opinion. Israel is a democratic state, non-Islamic, and key to American interests in the region, so there are numerous reasons to advocate American support of Israel. But in this article, I want to simply address the question, “Do we have a Biblical mandate to support Israel as Christians?”
Many Christian groups claim that we should financially, prayerfully, and nationally support Israel because of the Bible. Typically this revolves around the idea that the Jewish people are “God’s chosen people.” Many see the current nation of Israel as the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham and predicted in the prophets. Finally, dispensational premillennialist, which are a large section of evangelical Christians, believe that the nation of Israel is an essential component in the end of time coming of Jesus to reign on earth for 1,000 years.
However I believe Christians have no Biblical mandate to support the nation of Israel and here are four reasons. (BY THE WAY – I preached a sermon on this topic which is available in the audio resources.)
1. The current nation of Israel is not a fulfillment of Old Testament promises and prophecies.
God made some key promises to Abraham primarily in Genesis 12. He promised him a nation, a land, and a seed that would bless all families of the earth. All three of these promises were fulfilled in the pages of Scripture. Abraham’s descendants became a great nation, conquered the land of Canaan, and Christ came to bless all nations.¹
The prophets of Israel, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, warned of the impending doom and captivity of Israel because of their idolatry. They also predicted their restoration and a period of renewed peace and hope. The prophecies were primarily fulfilled by Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel as they resettled the land. There is also a dual-fulfillment aspect of these prophecies as they also point to the gospel age and the coming of the Messiah.²
In fact, there is not a single New Testament passage that predicts a restoration of national Israel days into the future. Quite to the contrary, the New Testament teaches against a national hope for the Jewish people. It makes it clear their purpose has been accomplished.³
2. Jews are not the chosen of God today, but rather the church is God’s people today.
Israel and the law of Moses had a special purpose to lead us to Jesus (Gal. 3:19-25). The New Testament makes it clear that God is not a “respecter of persons.” The gospel is made available to all. Israel’s favor was always based on the condition of their obedience, of which they often fell short.
Christians today are the people of God. God has broken down the wall of separation that divided Jews and Gentiles and reconciled them together in one body–His church. Paul even calls the church the “Israel of God.” God does not have two special chosen peoples today. To think that the Jews still are, despite their rejection of Jesus, goes against the entire message of the New Testament.¹¹
3. The Jewish people, like everyone else, must accept Christ to be saved.
Jewish people today, just like every other nationality and ethnic background, must look to Jesus for salvation today.²² The Apostle Paul had such a burning desire for the salvation of His people that he wished himself accursed if it would mean the salvation of his countrymen. He hoped the salvation of the Gentiles through Christ would provoke the Jews to jealousy causing them to come to Jesus. He desired for them to hear the gospel, because it is through hearing the Word of God that faith comes (Rom. 10:17). Paul taught that it was only through the gospel that all Israel can be saved.³³
4. The Jewish nation is not essential to the return of Christ.
Contrary to what is often written in best selling predictive end of time books today, the New Testament does not teach that the nation of Israel has a role in the end of times. The book of Revelation is not focused on the Jewish nation, but rather aiding persecuted Christians with hope and strength. There is no call in the NT for the temple to be rebuilt, rather the book of Hebrews shows the obsolete nature of such worship. Christ is described as coming at an hour that no one knows. His return will be sudden, swift, and bring destruction upon this world. Only the patience and long-suffering of God prevent this event from happening and it will only require a word from God for its commencement. All of us are encouraged to be sober and vigilant in our preparation of this day.¹¹¹
While this should not be an area of divisiveness and contention amongst Christians, it is important for us to properly understand the Bible on this subject. Think what you want about the nation of Israel politically and its role in the Middle East; but do not feel like you have a Biblical mandate to stand with the nation of Israel because of their heritage. Thus, by way of application, it is my opinion that Christians should consider these truths when asked to contribute to Israel-support ministries. We should not encourage our political leaders to use our military to protect Israel from a Biblical position.
What questions or thoughts would you have for me on this subject?
¹ Regarding the promises made to Abraham here are some scripture references: Nation Promise – Gen. 12:3; 13:6; 17:6, 18:18 – Fulfilled – Ex. 1:7; Deut. 26:5; Land Promise – Gen. 12:2, 13:16; 17:6; 18:18; Fulfilled in the days of Joshua and Solomon – Josh. 21:43-45; 23:14-15; Psalm 80:11; 1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chron. 9:26; Seed Promise – Gen. 12:3; 22:18; fulfilled in the coming of Christ – Acts 3:25-26; Gal. 3:16
² Restoration prophecies – Jeremiah 29:10-14; Isaiah 43:18-19; 52:5-12; Some Minor Prophets; Fulfilled – See the books of Ezra and Nehemiah; Haggai;
³ The NT teaches against a national home for Israel. Jesus warned of their destruction (Mat. 21:33-44; 22:1-8; 23:37-39; ch. 24; Luke 19:11-14; 27. Regarding their purpose being accomplished see Galatians 3:19-25; Ephesians 2:14-16; Col. 2:14.
¹¹ Acts 10:34-35; The gospel is available for all peoples – Gal. 3:28; Rom. 1:16; Mat. 28:18-20; The church today – 1 Peter 2:9-10; Ephesians 1 – 2; “Israel of God’ – Gal. 6:16.
²² John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 1:16; Galatians 2:16; ch. 3
³³ Paul writes about his desire for the Jewish people in Romans chapters 9-11.
¹¹¹ See 2 Peter 3; 1 Thess. 4 and 5; Matthew 24:36-50