Editor’s Note: Pastor Roger Barrier’s “Ask Roger” column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].
Now we have the results: the President has made a bold move to protect Israel. It seems to me that a lot of older Christians have an unhealthy obsession with Israel. They view the country as sacred, and support it both politically and financially. I’ve always believed that since God created everything, no part of creation is more holy than another, and that Israel should be regarded no differently than any other country. Do you think it’s appropriate for Christians to be so loyal to a country based solely on its biblical history? – RD
The answer to your question hinges on whether or not God is still dealing with Israel and the Jews, or if, as you say, Israel is just like every other nation. Does God still have a special plan for Israel?
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Many theologians debate whether or not the promises that God made to Israel before the coming of Christ were passed on to the Church.
Israel must still be part of God’s eternal plan. Nothing less than the hand of God can explain today’s existence of the nation of Israel. In 1948, Britain withdrew from Israel and 200 million Arabs stood ready to annihilate the newly formed nation. Some Arab leaders predicted that the war would last two or three days. In Ezekiel 37, God promised that one day Israel would be reborn as a nation. That rebirth took place in 1948 when Jews from all over the world returned to the land. No Israel existed from when Rome devastated the land in 70 a.d. until our generation. This seems to me rather miraculous. Surely, God has special plans for Israel! This is Ezekiel 37 fulfilled for the nation of Israel–right before our eyes!
For a comprehensive information from a Jewish perspective, read our article from the Jewish Federation Foundation.
In May 1948, the Arabs were driven from the land. The 1948 War of Independence was a success. Who could ever imagine?
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Israel was caught off guard by the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Israel abandoned all defense of the Golan Heights north of Israel because of Egypt’s stunning successes in the south. As a last resort, all Israeli troops were mobilized to fight Egypt on the southern border.
The heart of Israel was open all the way from the Heights to Jerusalem. Instead of marching ahead all the way to Jerusalem, the Arab commanders suspected a trap; they held their positions for three days until the Israeli army secured their southern border with Egypt and were able to deploy troops to defend the Golan Heights. Only a miracle of God could save Israel and God came through just in time.
If God is no longer dealing with Israel, then Christians are misguided in feeling that they need to help to defend and support Israel.
Some wonder how God can still call Israel His chosen when they see Israel acting like the other nations of the world. They question Israel’s aggressive policies regarding the Gaza Strip. But I fully support any nation under attack to fight back–especially Israel.
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Replacement theology is the idea that the Church has replaced Israel in His plans. According to this interpretation, the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people. If this is true, you are right in perceiving that the Zionist perspective of many (often evangelical Christians) is misguided. Israel is a nation just like any other and should be treated as such.
On the other hand, if the interpretation is correct, it is fine for Christians to do all they can to further the nation of Israel.
However there is a third perspective.
In my opinion, the answer to your question is found in Romans 11:16-36 where Paul described the symbol of an olive tree. He described Israel as the natural branches of which some are broken off because of unbelief. The new branches which are grafted in represent the Church. The key is to understand that God has two plans operating simultaneously. He has a plan for Israel that began in Genesis 12 when He promised to make Abraham a great nation. He has a plan for the church that began on Pentecost and will end when He establishes His kingdom on earth.
According to Paul, we are in the Church Age. The existence of the church was a “mystery”, or secret that was hidden from the Old Testament prophets and only revealed in the New Testament.
Thus, both plans intersect in the Olive Tree. There is a lot more to an Olive Tree than two branches. The Olive Tree represents the whole plan of God. The branches together make up the whole.
By the way, at the Second Coming of Christ, the nation of the Jews will weep at Jesus’ appearance. Zechariah pictures Jesus’ return with scarred hands, feet, and side. They will recognize in horror that they crucified their own Messiah and many will turn to Christ.
We have a definitive command to pray for Israel. Read my article entitled How Do You Pray for Peace in Jerusalem?
From my perspective, it is important for Christians to do anything they can to help the nation of Israel. I hope this helps. May God bless you in the days ahead.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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