All Israel, Part 1 – Preface

A biblical examination of some commonly held views

of the present and future state of Israel

All my life I have consciously entertained a generally positive attitude about Jewish culture. This is due in part I think, because I, like most people in America, have been brought up to think that Jewish people occupy a special place in world history. Modern Jews are supposed to be the same ancient people of Israel spoken of in the Bible. I knew this even as an unbeliever in my youth. So I imagine that it was through cultural conditioning that I was made to think that modern Jews are presently God’s special people. Clearly, the Old Testament is largely taken up with the ancient history of the Jewish people. Everyone knows that Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of the Christian faith was Jewish too. I have also, always been aware that Jews have historically been persecuted as a group, and this evoked in me a desire to look sympathetically toward them as a sort of underdog class of people in the world. Therefore, I have always been fascinated with the subject of Israel.

Jewish people are a longstanding part of American society, and I always took it for granted they all somehow originated from Israel. There was however, a certain question in my mind about this. People who come from the Middle East are for the most part, of a dark complexion, including many of the Jews scattered about in the various countries over there. But it has always struck me as quite odd that most American Jews look just like me, white and European. All the Jewish people I have ever known have all looked like the picture I occasionally saw on the wall of Jesus. I have also, always noticed that most of the people seen on television in modern day Israel look like they are European too, rather than Middle Eastern. I had always wondered about why this is so. I Know that Arabs, who make up the bulk of the ethnic population of the Middle East, are supposed to be blood related to Jews. If the land of Israel then belongs to Jews who look like me, rather than their Semitic cousins the Arabs, why don’t they look like them? This is an interesting question.

When I was young, my father had a book on world war two in which there was a picture of dead bodies stacked high. These were all European Jews killed in the holocaust. This made a deep impression on me at the time, to the point that I would always feel like it was my duty to be a defender of the Jewish people. And of course, as I grew up learning about the modern state of Israel being the ancient homeland of the Jewish people, naturally, I became pro-Israel concerning the conflicts that rage over there in the Middle East. As I grew up, I took the position that Israel was a great bastion of free and democratic principles, and that it exists amongst a sea of hostile, backward Muslims. In any question raised about this no matter what it was, I always took the side of Israel because it was in my mind, the land of the Jews.

In my late twenties, God revealed Himself to me in a saving way through His word, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Instead of any change occurring in my mind about the state of Israel, now I had an entirely new context in which to place all my opinions. My beginnings as a Christian were associated with the theological system known as Dispensationalism. Everything in this world view seemed to make perfect sense to me at the time regarding Israel. The formation of the nation of Israel in 1948 marked the beginning of God’s end time scenario for the world. According to Dispensational teaching, and with what seemed to be corroborating Scriptural evidence, God has two distinct kingdoms with two different groups of people in them. These two groups are made up of: 1) The church of Jesus Christ which is His spiritual body. And, 2)The nation of Israel that comprises His earthly people and kingdom. The re emergence of Israel as a nation in 1948 seemed in my mind, to mark the beginning of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy relating to their return to the promised land.

Naturally, this explained to me all of the conflict over in the Middle East as part and parcel of that fulfillment. As a Christian, I believed that I was required to look upon every Jew as having a claim to that land because God had given it to them. This appeared to be in accord with what God did, in giving His covenant promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3, 15:18-21, 17:7,8). Along with the promise to Abraham of a seed and a nation, was given the promise of the land of Canaan as their permanent possession. Included with the promise of the land, is the promise of salvation to every Jew without exception (Ez. 36:24-28). Israel was supposed to be God’s everlasting kingdom on earth (II Chron. 7:16-18). With these ideas in mind I accepted the notion that the Jews had a right to go into Palestine after world war two, and take it over. As far as I knew and read from many sources, Jews (in small numbers) had always lived in Palestine, and that it had been stolen from them by marauding herds of Arabic Muslims in the 6th century.

But then came the time in God’s providence, through the diligent study of His word, that I came to a more accurate theological understanding than what Dispensationalism teaches. Over the course of several years the focus of my theological interest drifted away from the subject of Eschatology toward matters of greater more immediate spiritual importance. I became far more concerned with learning the doctrines of grace, God, salvation, and worship, along with other weightier matters of the faith, rather than with end time prophecies. In the course of my study I began to realize that the hermeneutical system known as the Historical-Grammatical, or literal approach that Dispensationalists used, was flawed as a method of theological interpretation.[1] This is especially true when it comes to the study of Eschatology. The term which is coined as the “literal approach” to interpreting the Scriptures, may sound good on the surface, but in actuality it ignores many things in the Bible in order to come to its literal conclusions.

I have since learned that it is an erroneous view to see in Scripture, the idea that God has two different sets of redeemed people and two different plans for them. Scripture reveals that there is but one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has redeemed only one group of people that are called the elect, whether they have lived in the Old Testament or in the New Testament era. There is only one kingdom of God, not two, made up of both Jew and Gentile believers. I have ceased to believe in the notion that the end of the age will be caught up in a bevy of fantastic events that Dispensationalists say will come to pass. Many of these events are based on a literal interpretation of apocalyptic imagery,[2] while others are mere fabrications made up out of whole cloth.[3] Such popular writers as Hal Lindsey and John Walvoord have dazzled the public with their prognostications of nuclear Armageddon starting in the Middle East, surrounding modern Israel for many years.

Even though I came to a new understanding from Scripture that God has only one people, there still remained in my mind certain fixed ideas about the Jewish state of Israel. These ideas were undergirded by an opinion that is common amongst most of those whom I now associate within the Christian church. The position I have now concerning my present theological understanding, is what is popularly known as reformed covenantalism. The word covenantal is a general term of course, but one that implies certain universal things about the Christian world view. Instead of God dealing with people in different ages and in different ways concerning salvation, it gives a better, more cogent analysis of Scripture, that shows God has only one saved people. These people are saved through a single, overarching covenantal relationship. There is but one unified body of people who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, according to God’s sovereign grace. Of course, there are what appear to be individual covenants, or, components of this covenant within the larger covenantal framework. God’s plan then is covenantal, not dispensational.

What I discovered is a standard opinion held by most reformed Christians on Israel is, that there is indeed, a special plan of God for Jewish people in history, related to the church. This plan is not just that Jews will come to faith in Jesus Christ throughout the church era, but that there will come a time at the end of the age when many, if not all of them will believe all at once. Because this is an opinion held by most reformed Christians, there is a tacit acceptance that the conflict which rages in the Middle East around the state of Israel is all part of that purpose. There is a belief among many reformed Christians that because God has a future plan involving Jews, we are required to have a more than favorable opinion toward the state of Israel. The words “And so all Israel will be saved” found in Romans 11:26 forms the basis of this opinion.

Whether it is this view, or the more radical one of Dispensationalism, Americans tend to think and believe positive things about political Zionism and the state of Israel. And though this is true of most Americans, at the same time you would hardly think it so from what most Jews have to say about this. Any public criticism of Israel or Zionism is usually met with an accusation of anti-Semitism from the Jewish lobby. This reality makes Americans who don’t see any theological reason for supporting Israel, fearful of voicing their opinion. This circumstance leads to a great deal of public opinion and support for governmental policies favorable toward Israel. It is apparent to me that this general public opinion has largely come about by the influence of Dispensationalist dominated Christianity in the church for a long time. This, as well as Jewish financial and political influence in our culture, has led to a disproportionate amount of geopolitical effort on the part of America throughout the world, geared toward support of Israel.

Until more recently, I was no different than other reformed Christians in my thinking about these matters. Through Bible study and historical investigation my view of Jewish claims to the land of Israel has become less and less favorable. This is the reason I have set out to write about the matter. What I have learned from Scripture leads me to conclude, that the truth about the state of Israel is being grossly misrepresented, even by Christians outside of Dispensational circles. Not only do I not believe that there is any Eschatological purpose for a future state of Israel from Scripture, but the circumstances surrounding the modern state of Israel show this to be a contrary notion too. There is misrepresentation and suppression of a great deal of information on many facts related to this, that are not known to the public, or, are simply ignored. One example of what I am referring to has to do with the history of the modern day people who call themselves Jewish. An assumption is made by people that these are the same ethnic Jews who lived in ancient Israel. If this were so, they would be the only people on earth to have this distinction. Genetic research however, suggests exactly the opposite is true.[4]

There is one thing I want to be careful about in my personal remarks here. Even though I have a different opinion about Israel than most Christians, I respect the Jewish people for many reasons, not the least of which is their prominence in the Bible. As a Christian and a human being I detest real anti-Semitism, or any other kind of hatred that is motivated by race or ethnicity. When I say real anti-Semitism, what I mean to say is, that there is a completely false definition of what it is in America today. I hope to address this as well as many other things related to it in the following pages. The charge of anti-Semitism has been turned into an ad hominem attack on anybody who does not toe the party line on the subject of the state of Israel. This is true whether it is in the Christian church, or in secular society.

Jews are made in the image of God just like everyone else. This means two things: 1) Jews are depraved sinners who need to be saved from their sin by Jesus Christ. And, 2) Jews are people just like any other people, being made up of both the good and the bad, speaking in purely human terms. I have personally worked for several Jewish owned companies without any complaint. I have worked with Jews in the work place, once again, with no complaint. None of the remarks I have made,[5] have the intention of trying to cause hate against Jews. I feel I have to say this as a disclaimer, because there is readiness today to make an accusation like that, if anyone says anything critical about Jews or Israel. I admit I will deviate from the standard opinion in the remarks I make on this subject. This will be not only from general public opinion, but also from what most Christians tend to believe on it as well. But that’s all right, because truth should always be told, whether it is popular or not.

Notes:

[1] The term Historical-Grammatical is a good one by itself when used to describe one part of biblical interpretation. Simply put, it means that both Bible history and Grammar should be used when interpreting passages of Scripture. This is especially true in reference to many liberal interpretations of the Bible based on Higher Critical methods. The fallacy of this method we mention here is in using it exclusively as a method. There are a number of other ingredients which go into the proper way of interpreting Scripture that Dispensationalists ignore, such as the principle known as the analogy of faith. This principle dictates that we should never come to an interpretation that destroys the general tenor of biblical teaching on any doctrine clearly revealed in the Bible. Dispensationalists impose a certain system of thought upon Scripture, in which they use the term Historical-Grammatical as a cover for it.

[2] One such ridiculous notion is taken from Revelation, chapter nine, verses 3,7. The claim is made from these verses that there will be horse like locusts, with faces of men wearing golden crowns upon the earth.

[3] Dispensationalists teach there will be a secret rapture, in which only believers will suddenly be lifted into the clouds to meet the Lord. When this happens, everyone else on earth will remain and be clueless as to what just took place. This they teach from I Cor. 15:52 and I Thess. 4:16,17. There is no dispute made about the church being raptured at the second coming, only that it will be a secret. No such thing is said like that in these verses, nor is any such thing even implied anywhere in Scripture. To believe this teaching is to believe that Christ will actually come again twice, not once as Scripture makes clear will happen. Also, they teach that the secret rapture is imminent, it can happen any time. Again, this is not taught in Scripture, for the Lord Himself says that there will be signs that precede His coming, signs which have not happened yet (Matt. 24:1ff).

[4] Genetic research reveals that modern Jews are just like everybody else in the world, people made up of many other ethnic groups. People throughout the world intermarry and evolve ethnically, there is nothing unusual about that. But the claim made by many Jewish and non Jewish people, that they are the direct offspring of Abraham, is ludicrous. We refer the reader to research done by a Jew, Dr. Eran Elhaik, a geneticist at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Dr. Elhaik published a paper entitled The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses. In it he shows that genetic research reveal there is no homogeneous race of Jews traceable to the historic land of Israel.

[5] This is the first part of an essay that was started several years ago, and has not been worked on for some time. In the meantime, I started another series of essays’ on God’s Covenant, of which this paper has no part. I have decided to prepare for release what I have completed, with the idea I will add to it later. There is some overlap between these two essays, though this one is focusing on something different concerning God’s Covenant. The next division of thought within God’s Covenant will focus on the promises of God. This paper will certainly interact with that theme.

 

Advertisements
Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
%d bloggers like this: