There have been a number of conferences, articles and events held recently about the Israel-Palestinian crisis that unfortunately promote myths and untruths about those of us who believe the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people by virtue of God’s covenant with the Patriarchs.
As always, there are dedicated and godly believers on both sides of these issues and our posture must always remain respectful in spite of deeply-held differences. However, we must also be honest with one another.
I usually try to remain positive and to keep the dialogue constructive, but this is becoming increasingly difficult. There are a growing number of untruths being promoted in the debate, and I am sorry to say that the rhetoric is also becoming harsher in tone.
This is why I want to take a moment and try and shed more light than heat on five of these critical untruths in the hopes that our dialogue will remain friendly, although it may be passionate. We must seek the truth and always treat each other in a way that honors the Lord. This can only happen when we respond to one another in love and clarity.
Myth #1 – Christians who love Israel do not care about Arabs, Muslim or Palestinians
Nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the Christians I know who support Israel do so because they believe the Bible, which includes John 3:16 – that God sent His son to die for the whole world. This includes Jews, Arabs, Muslims, and all nations and religious groups on the face of the earth. Most of us who support Israel and the Jewish people have a sincere love and compassion for the peoples of the Middle East.
Arguing that Christians who love Israel do not care about Arabs is a straw man argument, overly simplistic, naïve and untrue. Believing that God gave the land to the Jewish people does not mean that one automatically lacks compassion or concern for Palestinians and many others.
Myth #2 – Christians who believe that modern Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy believe that the government of Israel “can do no wrong”
This is also patently untrue. Personally, I do not know any Jewish person or Christian who believes that any government “can do no wrong.” This is once again a straw man argument designed to bolster a more radical fundamentalist Muslim narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We believe the land belongs to the Jewish people because it was promised to the chosen people in God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:18-21, 26:3-5) and reiterated throughout the remainder of the Bible. We also believe that the long-awaited kingdom of God is coming, and the Messiah will reign upon His rightful Davidic throne. Only then will we witness a perfect government.
You might take a moment and go to videos.chosenpeople.com for the messages from our conference, The People, the Land and the Future of Israel for detailed biblical teaching on these topics.
Myth #3 – Christians Who Believe the Land Belongs to the Jewish People Unfairly Favor the Jewish People Over the Palestinians
Of course there are fringe “believers” on every side of an issue, and certainly this is true of Israel’s Christian supporters. It is perhaps less true today than in previous years amidst the euphoria of the formation of the state of Israel. However, many of those who are critical of Christian supporters of Israel do not believe that God granted the deed to the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. Therefore, any support for Israel is deemed “over the top” and “imbalanced.” The biblical teaching on land ownership seems to be getting lost in the shuffle of our varied narratives.
Can people be unfair? Of course – we are all sinners and we need to become more like Yeshua, filled with His love and compassion for all! As a Jewish believer I have felt the sting of anti-Semitism and know from first-hand experience that prejudice is hateful and destructive. We must ask God to cleanse our hearts of all prejudice and for the strength to treat others in ways that please Him.
However, it is unfair for enthusiastic support of Israel as a Jewish homeland, based upon an understanding of the Bible, to be deemed anti-Palestinian. This is indeed prejudice.
As Reb Tevya said in Fiddler on the Roof, “Next time choose somebody else!” It was not man’s idea to choose the Jewish people and give them a Land – it was God’s. Supporting Israel’s claim to the Land is not a question of fairness or unfairness! It is affirming God’s choice and celebrating and supporting His plan.
God regularly makes promises of blessing and judgment to specific groups of people. He even specified future blessings for Israel, Egypt and even Assyria:
In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isaiah 19:24-25).
Specific promises to specific people and nations are common throughout the Bible. This does not indicate favoritism, as God is fair and just. Yet it does demonstrate that God treats different groups differently according to His holy purposes.
Myth #4 – Jewish people do not yet have a right to the Land because they have not recognized Jesus as Messiah
Clearly, the majority of Jewish people alive today have not yet come to know Jesus as Messiah. If this were true – I would be blessedly and happily unemployed. However, our God of grace did not promise the land to the Jewish people on the basis of their deserving it, any more than the salvation we enjoy was earned (Eph. 2:8-9).
God never rescinded the covenant He made with Abraham, and that sacred agreement endures from generation to generation. The Jewish people have a divine right to the land at all times. God gave the land to the Jewish people as a gift.
Thus, Jewish ownership of the Land is always available to the Jewish people based upon the covenant God made with the Patriarchs, but peace will not come until the Prince of Peace reigns (Isaiah 9:6-7).
We now await the rest of the story as, according to the Bible, the Holy Land will experience the zenith of Shalom (peace) when the Jewish people turn to Jesus and He returns to reign as king (See Zechariah 12:10, Romans 11:25–29 et al.) In that day the nations of the world will join in the celebration as well! (Zech. 14:16-19)
Myth #5 – Jewish people lost their election and right to the land when they rejected Jesus
This is a basic tenet of what we called replacement theology. It goes like this – the Jewish people rejected Jesus, so God rejected the Jewish people – the Church then is the new Israel and has replaced Israel. Therefore, all the promises of God to the Jewish people are fulfilled in the Church. As a result, the promise of the land of Israel has been taken away from the Jewish people and can no longer be taken literally!
My response to this is to simply quote the Apostle Paul, who wrote in Romans 11:28-29.
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Does this sound to you like God has rejected the Jewish people? Absolutely not!
If we begin our discussion by believing that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, then we can discuss the ways in which this might be effectuated peaceably and fairly.
On the other hand, if we do not believe the Jewish people have a divine right to the Land, then the discussion is really of a different nature. All we have left to talk about is politics and our mutual narratives and how we might live as believers in spite of our very deep differences. Another good discussion! Either way, the Scriptures reminds us to Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6).
Our fervent prayers for the crisis can only help and lead us to work together towards the greater end of proclaiming the Gospel, so that individual Jewish people and Palestinians come to know Jesus as their Messiah.
This gives peace a chance!
Going beyond media images for an in-depth look at the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, this book places the “crisis that never ends” in its scriptural, historical, and prophetic contexts.
Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict challenges the reader to think biblically as we stand with Israel in “praying for the peace of Jerusalem.” By Dr. Michael Rydelnik, professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute.