BY STAN GOODENOUGH—
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8)
The question could hardly have graver consequences and so is not easily asked. But it is hanging right out there and, with increasing stridency, demanding a response.
Is the issue of Israel (the people and the land) – whether we stand with or against it – ultimately creating irreversible division in the world wide Christian community?
To take it even further:
Will great numbers of people who consider themselves Christians one day find that, by choosing to side with the nations against Israel, they in fact joined with the Enemy’s camp against the very Lord they profess to love?
Or will great numbers of people who consider themselves Christians one day discover that, by standing with Israel in the face of incessant international censure of the Jewish state, they have allowed themselves to be deceived, have forgotten what Christianity is really all about, and have aided and abetted a rogue regime in criminally abusing its foes?
The matter cannot be avoided, for a deep – and ever deepening – schism in Christianity already exists concerning it.
And it is set to fracture more.
Christians For Israel
On one side, we have millions of professing Christians who believe that the Jews remain God’s Chosen People, and that the land of Israel remains God’s Promised Land to that people.
These Christians believe that the waves of Jewish immigration to the historical Land of Israel that began in the late 1800s, and the 1948 rebirth of an independent Jewish national home in that land, is all in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and, as such, in line with the preordained plan of God.
They fully anticipate that this physical reconstitution will be followed by a spiritual awakening and national revival in Israel that will mean “life from the dead” for all mankind.
They believe that all the God-rejecting nations of the world will come – and are coming – into alignment against Israel, and against those who stand with Israel.
As such, these Christians understand it to be God’s will and purpose that they ally themselves with Israel and play their part in comforting, encouraging and supporting the ancient “people of God” in numerous ways, especially in the face of ever-increasing hostility from the international community.
And they understand the major manufacturer of this seamless enmity against Israel to be the global news media, which brazenly champions the Muslim/Arab version of Middle East history and land ownership, and rejects the Judeo-Christian version that is based on the Word of God, the historic rights and claims of the Jewish people, and international law.
According to these Christians:
God unconditionally gave the Land of Canaan (which includes at least all of the area today under Israeli control) as a national homeland exclusively and irrevocably to the offspring off Abraham’s grandson, Israel.
That offspring forfeited the right to live in the land by their unfaithfulness to the Lord. God, through Babylon and then Rome, expelled them from their country, allowing other nations to rule over their land for the duration of their exile. And God promised that, after their second exile, He would gather them back into the land and keep them there.
The Jews never relinquished their title deed to their historic homeland.
No other people group ever established a national country on this territory.
The Ottoman Empire lost this (and other lands) when it was defeated in World War One, and the victors in that conflict chose to create different independent states in the newly liberated Middle East. Ultimately 21 states were established for the Arab nation. Promised in the Balfour Declaration was the establishment of just one, small, state for the Jewish nation – within the borders of their ancient land then known as Palestine.
The League of Nations ratified the Balfour Declaration and at San Remo in 1923 established it in international law – law that stands until today, according to the Charter of the United Nations.
Britain was tasked to oversee the implementation of this law. To appease violently intransigent Arabs who demanded sovereignty over all the land, the British betrayed the Jews, closing a potential escape route to European Jewry even as the Holocaust loomed.
In the wake of the slaughter of a third of the world’s Jews, the United Nations voted to partition a slice of the original territory of Palestine between Jews and Arabs, but then planned to revoke that resolution to again mollify the clamoring Arab states.
The Jewish people, on their own initiative, and fully within their rights based on all the aforementioned biblical, historical and legal facts, declared independence and the rebirth, after 2000 years, of their independent Jewish state.
In the 64 years since then, the Arab world has repeatedly sought to erase this reality, forcing Israel to face at least one war every decade, and endure 24/7 terrorist efforts to attack and kill its people.
Despite this, the Jewish state has thrived, evolving into an economic powerhouse that has become a beacon of democracy and model of civil and human rights in the Middle East.
But anti-Semitism, much of it cloaked in the more politically correct guise of anti-Zionism, has relentlessly maligned Israel. Daily false and misleading news reports; barefaced subjective pro-Palestinian bias masquerading as journalism, has been gleefully soaked up by nations more interested in ensuring access to Arab oil than in following the path of what is morally and ethically righteous and just.
Despite this, the Bible promises that Israel will survive, overcome, prosper, and flourish, and that it will one day again be elevated to the pole position as the head of the nations of the world, instead of what it has been for so long – the tail.
For these Christians, standing with Israel in and through all this, is standing with God’s purposes against a God-hating world
Their faith means they can do nothing less.
Christians Against Israel
Opposite these millions are many millions more professing Christians who embrace a conviction so contrary to theirs it makes impossible any reconciliation between the two.
These people believe that, because Israel as a nation rejected Jesus, they lost their special status and can no longer lay claim to being God’s Chosen People. They believe that the “Church” (not necessarily any particular denomination but the worldwide “Body of Christ”) has replaced Israel, and that Christians – to the exclusion of national Israel – are now God’s elect.
These people believe that, following Christ’s life on earth, and with Rome’s ruthless suppression of Jewish rebellion – the destruction of Jerusalem and the banishment into exile of the Jewish survivors – the Land of Israel lost all significance insofar as it pertains to God’s redemption plan for the world; the Lord “is no longer into real estate,” as they put it.
The banished Jews and their descendants have no more national purpose; their hopes of one day returning to their erstwhile land were nothing more than pipe dreams; their prayers for this return have always been in vain.
For these Christians, therefore, the influx into Palestine (subsequently Israel) of millions of Jews has been a chance happening; nothing more that an instinctive reaction to antisemitic persecution. And the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 was simply a political occurrence – an “accident,” as many say – with nothing prophetic about it.
They hold the world’s animus against Israel to be a respectable response to the “ungodly behavior” – and increasingly even the “illegitimacy” – of the Jewish state, as depicted incessantly by the press.
By the media’s account, the list of Israel’s crimes is long indeed. These Christians have chosen to believe it. So they see that:
The Balfour Declaration was an illegitimate act perpetrated by the colonizing British Empire and as such has no valid standing.
The world powers after World War Two, driven by guilt over the Holocaust, brought about the creation of a Jewish state on “ancestral Arab lands” at the expense of the indigenous people.
Using military might, Israel ethnically cleansed these Arab lands of their rightful owners, establishing its state by force and creating the Palestinian refugee crisis through its belligerency.
Not content with the territory they held after 1949, the Israelis became warmongers, through repeated aggression against the Arabs extending their control over more and more land, and adding to the number and misery of the Palestinians.
Israel is an occupying power on Palestinian land, and while successive Israeli governments mouth platitudes to peace, they continue to build obstacles to peace and make it increasingly difficult for the United Nations to dislodge them.
The Palestinian Arabs have historic national rights to the West Bank, and in fact to all the land presently under Israeli control. The Jews have stolen the land from the Arabs.
In its efforts to suppress rightful Arab protests and efforts to regain their land, the Israel Defense Forces regularly resorts to the use of excessive force, and is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Israel steals Arab lands, deprives Arabs of water, destroys Arab olive groves, erects apartheid walls, deliberately fires on Arab civilians, purposefully spreads Aids and other diseases among the Arab populations around Israel; threatens the Arab-Muslim world with nuclear weapons.
Deprived of all hope in the face of the Israeli juggernaut, poor Palestinians are left with no recourse but to use whatever weapons they can get their hands on, including their own bodies, to ensure that their just cause is not forgotten.
The world’s answer to the injustice is the creation of a Palestinian state, but not even this compromising solution is acceptable to Israel. It would rather have continued conflict than give in to the demands that it relinquish lands it has no right to.
For these Christians, standing against Israel is obeying God’s command to speak out against injustice and support those who are criminally oppressed.
Their faith means that they can do nothing less.
And when Judgment Day comes?
All Christians (I think) believe that a day is coming when every person will have to give an account for the choices he/she made and the actions he/she took – and their reasons for making those choices; taking those sides; fighting those battles; doing those things.
Before that day arrives for each of us, we would do well to personally consider how and why we relate to Israel and the Jewish people the way we do.
It would not be amiss for those who consider themselves Bible-believing Christians to evaluate how they feel about Israel in the light of Scripture – and how they feel about other Christians who hold the opposite belief to theirs on a matter of so much significance that it is causing division in families and congregations the world over.
At the end of the day, each of us must do what we believe to be right. But we should carefully weigh our reasons for believing what we do.
Consider: When it comes to your fellow believers, where do you stand? On the side of the hated few who seek to follow the Lord and act out of conviction that they are in line with God’s Word concerning Israel? Or with the masses who deny God’s existence and/or reject His Word?
It is a short distance between siding with believers who love the Lord, and siding with God. (Luke 9:50)
And it is a dangerously short distance between siding against the nation the Lord says He loves “with an everlasting love,” (Jeremiah 31:3) and siding against God.