Thinking about Israel

Some quick thoughts on this WSJ opinion piece on Israel: The roots of anti-Semitism.

I think Satan has probably capitalized on those factors mentioned in the article to specifically attack Israel, especially when he knew the Messiah would come through the ethnically Israelite part of the Church. He was preoccupied with that portion of the Church for quite some time, as the vivid imagery of Revelation 12:4 shows: “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when it bore her child he might devour it.” But post-incarnation, as God has continued to graft more gentiles into the Church that was at one time mostly ethnically Israelite, I think Satan’s focus is less on ethnic Israel and moreso the global Church (although I’m sure Rom. 11:25-26 gnaws at him considerably).

But it’s not surprising to me that Israel continues to be the subject of much hatred. The old feuds go back very far, and I suspect that the current animosity between Israel and Arab peoples is not based on theological differences (as it was in the OT), but more simply hatred due to the fact that they have long been at odds. So now the fighting is because each side wants to beat the other.
As far as the western countries are concerned, here is my theory. I think that the US’s support of Israel in recent history has been largely based on theological beliefs – especially the interpretative novelties of 20th century dispensationalism that sees Israel as central to God’s future/end times plans, and understand verses like “pray for the peace of Israel” to be a command to endorse and support that nation however we can. However, as the US theologically liberalizes, we are moving farther away from any biblical foundation and so find ourselves more uncertain about what we should be doing in relation to Israel and why. I think this is also why a lot of other Western countries are becoming more wary of Israel (which may sometimes be [or wrongly understood as] antisemitic). They wonder why Israel should be the favored child in the Middle East, especially if, as George W. theorized, everyone longs for democracy, some people just need to be liberated from their oppressive governments so that they have the ability to choose democracy.

I think our response to this is threefold:
First, we try to know and understand history (I saw a horrific survey a couple months back reported that approximately 66% of millennials had no clue what Auschwitz was). Being educated helps us to make wise social, economic, and political decisions going forward. It also helps us make wise decisions about what our country should be doing in the middle east (which, on the surface, may look similar to our current alliance with Israel) without (un)consciously trying to fulfill some sort of perceived biblical mandate. Which leads to my second point:

Second, we believers need to do some hard work to strip our theology of the end times baggage that dispensationalism (Hal Lindsey, Left Behind, and pretty much every other modern non-reformed pastor) has saddled the church with. (How many countless hours and dollars do evangelicals waste trying to read current geo-political events into Revelation/Daniel, or in their support of Israel because they see the (existence of the) nation state as integral to God’s end time plan?) It is unbiblical and wastes the resources of the Body.

Finally, we should call a spade a spade by acknowledging when Israel has the right of something…but also when the muslim countries do. Muslims are not automatically wrong by virtue of their spiritual unbelief. Israel is probably just as unbelieving as a nation as many majority-Muslim countries.


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