This book explores whether Christians’ support of the modern state of Israel is justified according to the scripture.
The belief that God judges people based how they treat the Jewish people and the state of Israel is based on the promise God made to Abraham that God will bless those who bless Abraham and curse whoever curse Abraham (Genesis 12:3).
Is God’s promise to Abraham still applicable to his descendants today? Even though the promise was iterated by Abraham’s son (Isaac) to his grandson (Jacob), like the promise to Abraham, it was a personal blessing.
Unlike the present day Israel that wants an exclusive Jewish state, Moses warned the Jews against racial exclusivity (Deuteronomy 23:7-8). King David looked forward to the day when other races would share the same identity and privileges as the Israelites (Psalm 87:4). God welcome “those who acknowledge me” — an inclusive Israel. The Bible does not grant a racial exclusivity; it does not give any race preferential or elevated status in God’s kingdom.
Abraham was chosen to lead his family to follow God, so that his descendants would become a godly nation, and through them, the whole world will be blessed. The promise made to Abraham was conditional — the privilege of being ‘chosen’ brought with it responsibility. The promised blessings were conditional on the faithfulness and obedience to God’s law. In his letter to the Romans, Paul explains why the majority of Jewish people of his day, having rejected their Messiah, were now excluded from the covenant promises.
Was the founding of present-day Israel the fulfilment of God’s promise? The boundaries of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants are demarcated in Genesis 15. If these boundaries were applied today, it encompasses parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait and part of Saudi Arabia.
Nearly sixty years since the foundation of Israel, it still has not declared what is its territorial boundaries. Israel is the only country in the world that has not yet recognized its own border.
The books of Joshua, 1 Kings and Nehemiah all indicate that God’s promises were already fulfilled — this nullifies the argument that the founding of modern Israel is the fulfilment of God’s promise to the Jewish people. In Joshua’s farewell address before he died, he said: “Not one of the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:45).
The land of Canaan was given to the Israelites as a sign of God’s grace and mercy, not because of their size or significance. Nor was the land a reward for their righteousness or integrity. Moses and the Hebrew prophets repeatedly state that the land belongs to God and residence there is always conditional. For example, “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers” (Leviticus 25:23).
It is God’s land, not theirs. The land is never at the disposal of Israel for its own purposes. It is Israel who is at God’s disposal. In Deuteronomy 19:8-9, residence in the land is explicitly made conditional on adherence to the law.
In Ezekiel, God anticipated the reasoning of those who arrogantly claim rights to the land because of the promise made originally to Abraham. God warns that they will be exiled from the land because of their arrogance and disobedience.
In Ezekiel 47:21-23, God gave the following instructions to the returning exiles: “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe foreigners reside, there you are to give them their inheritance, declare the Sovereign Lord.”
The Israelites are commanded to share the land with the ‘foreigners’ and treat them as equals.
Isaiah’s vision of Jerusalem is an inclusive one. In Isaiah 2, we learn that people of many different nations will come to Jerusalem and put their faith in God. One of the consequences of this is that Jerusalem will become associated with the end of war, peace and reconciliation between the nations. Isaiah’s vision is of an inclusive and shared Jerusalem, in which not only the Jewish people, but the nations themselves, are blessed.
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