Saturday, August 30, 2014

support for Israel?



I posted a video on Facebook in support of Israel keeping current boundaries rather than reverting to those of 1948.  A friend posted the following in answer...

"Bogus. They are in violation of international law. The U.S. Knows it. That's why our embassy is in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem. They are harassing and killing Christians, Palestinian and otherwise. Anyone who goes there with their eyes open and talks to people, especially in the West Bank will see clearly what the situation is. Our support of Israel is a huge reason for much of the international hatred of our country worldwide."

Now I don't usually debate issues on Facebook, but thought I might respond to this, or maybe just to say what I mean, and don't mean, about supporting Israel.

I do not support or approve of everything that Israel does, any more than I do for our own country. Israel offers freedom of religion within its boundaries, but I know that there are restrictions in outreach.  And there are injustices. 

Yes, I have met and had fellowship with Arab Christians living in the West Bank.  It is difficult for them, and there is unjust treatment. Yet, I dare say they would prefer the Israeli government rule over them than any of the other current governments or religious authorities in the Middle East. 

I do support Israel's right to exist and to defend its boundaries from hostile attacks. They are surrounded by enemies that seek to destroy them completely. Even though many in Israel still reject the Messiah, the nation still has a special place in God's redemptive history, and they have the right to that land.  

But the question remains, which boundaries? I think Israel is seeking to have defensible borders and keeping the land given to them as a people under the Mosaic Covenant (Ex 6:4; Josh 13). International law, then, would be secondary. Ultimately, Israel's accountability regarding borders is to the decree of God rather than to the laws of other nations.   

So, my support of Israel is qualified.  In speaking of unbelieving ethnic Israel, Paul writes, "As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:28-29 ESV) Note, the same people -- Jewish opponents of the gospel -- are called "enemies" and "beloved."  They are both opponents of the gospel and yet elect for God's purpose.

I have to embrace that tension. This obviously means there will be much that should be opposed.  But one thing I believe is that God gave them that land.  And their Messiah (and mine!) will return to Jerusalem, and then will be fulfilled the word of Zechariah...

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10 ESV)

  



2 comments:

Jeff-Adrianos Burke said...

I would agree with much of what you write. But, there is an intellectual/theological leap when you say, “the nation still has a special place in God’s redemptive history, and they have the right to that land.” There is much debate, even among Jews, as to whether the State of Israel is synonymous with the nation of Israel. Since before 1948 there were, and continue to be Jewish religious groups (particularly at the right end of the Orthodox Jewish continuum) that reject the notion of the State of Israel as being “God’s chosen people”. It has been documented that among the Zionists and founders of the State of Israel the argument of a “right to the land” was not used. In recent decades this argument has been used to draw in the evangelical Christian community to support the State of Israel. However, if one looks at the literature throughout the whole history of the Christian Church one does not find this entitlement to the land doctrine to be anything more than a recent innovation. A very detailed and scholarly link that touches on this and other topics can be found at: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith9285. Further reading on the topic from a scholarly, contemporary perspective can be found in the recent books by the Jewish professor, Shlomo Sand. An introduction to him can be found at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/14/whatever-happened-to-shlomo-sand/

It is interesting to me that for the vast majority of the time of Islamic occupation of Palestine both Jews and Christians were allowed to live, to worship, and to maintain some degree of normalcy of life. In fact, within the boundaries of the State of Israel, Moslems, Christians, and Bedouins have gotten along amazingly well. The two latter groups seem not to have any champions in the world. Life for them has come to be miserable. The Bedouin have no place to go. The Christians are leaving in droves. However, the heavy handed policies of the State of Israel have incited much of the distrust/hatred that is found for them (and for the U.S.) in the greater Muslim world and that world has reacted in greater or lesser degrees of civility. Further, much of Western Europe is reacting to current Israeli action (particularly in Gaza) to call for economic boycotts of Israeli corporations.

I don’t think there were any Christians supporting Saul in any form or fashion when he was persecuting the Church. At best, they were praying for God to be merciful to him and to forgive him. They would not have been touting his rights as a Jew any more than Christians today should be touting the rights of modern Jews as they harass, displace, and kill Christians or Muslims living within their borders. The “Hebrew of Hebrews” who was blameless concerning the righteousness found in the Mosaic Law realized that the stumbling block was Christ. As St. Paul he came to know that there is no salvation outside of Christ. Any group that is persecuting the Body of Christ (in Saul’s day or now) cannot expect to have God’s blessing. Our compassion should be directed toward those who suffer, starting with our Christian brethren and any other groups (Jews, Muslims, etc.). Our cooperation should be withheld from any group, national entity, or individual who is less than humane to any people, Jew or otherwise.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Jeff, for the comment. I want to think about your points and look at the sources you cited.