Christian Zionism—Is It Biblical?

Listen to this piece.

This essay is more academic in tone than my usual blog posts. I trust my readers will find it an intriguing departure (UPDATE on 3/8/13: The form of Christian Zionism that I am defining and reflecting upon in this article is of the Dispensationalist variety. I recognize that while it is widespread, it is not the only form of Christian Zionism).

Is Christian Zionism biblical? I suppose it all depends on what you mean by biblical. Based on a literal reading of the biblical text in its historical context, one finds support for a Zionist reading of Scripture. Of course, this interpretive move is not accepted by everyone. It is not my aim to defend or critique this position, but to contend against the stance held by some within Christian Zionism that the present state of Israel is the realization of biblical prophecy from this hermeneutical perspective.

Still, what is Christian Zionism? It entails the belief that God will restore Israel’s ancient fortunes as a nation in the Promised Land. Accompanying this claim is the conviction that Messiah Jesus will rule from Jerusalem and the Jewish people will believe on him. One of the arguments that is put forth by Christian Zionists is that the ancient prophecies, such as what Christians take to be New Covenant promises fulfilled in Christ set forth in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 (See also Hebrews 8:8-12 where Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted and John 3:5-7 which alludes to Ezekiel 36:25-27, in my estimation), also talk about God bringing his people back to the land to dwell there permanently (Jeremiah 31:35-40; Ezekiel 36:1-24, 28-38). Based on a literal and historical reading, Christian Zionists claim that God’s people would have understood this to take place literally at a future point in history. Christians of this perspective often ask: if God does not fulfill his promises to Israel, how will we know if God will fulfill his new covenant promises for the church? Based on the presuppositions that support this position, the question makes sense.

What does not make sense is the position of some Christian Zionists that the church must do everything possible to bring about Israel’s return to the Promised Land. While the church should never curse Israel, and should always bless Israel (a claim made in keeping with God’s promise to Abram or Abraham in Genesis 12:3; we will return to nuance that point), a Christian Zionist claim of this kind is bound up with a view of the end times that maintains that God will inaugurate this state of affairs, and with no help from human hands. Moreover, on a pretribulational, premillennial reading of Scripture, the church will not even be present at the time of Zion’s eschatological emergence when Christ will reign over it. The church will be removed from this world prior to the great tribulation and Israel as a nation will be front and center once again in God’s kingdom purposes. When Jesus returns at the end of the tribulation, he alone will inaugurate his millennial kingdom and rule as God’s Messiah from Jerusalem. If one were to take a poll of Jewish people living in Israel today, one would hardly find universal support for this position. From this Christian Zionist reading of Scripture, the fulfillment of the ancient promises for Israel’s eschatological return as a nation has not yet occurred.

From a premillennialist perspective (of various stripes), the Lord will usher in the fulfillment of his eschatological kingdom apart from the working of the church, unlike with adherents of postmillennialism. Unfortunately, there are some Christian Zionists who are not satisfied with simply seeing Israel as having a special place in God’s eschatological program; they favor and support Israel in the attempt to facilitate the second coming of Christ. It is worth noting at this point that Dispensationalist theologian John S. Feinberg has cautioned against trying to speed the Messiah’s return through support of Israel: “Some are so excited about things to come, that they unfortunately think they can somehow bring them to pass sooner, rather than later—at least they want to try. Some well-meaning American Christians have even talked of sending rock and stone to help in rebuilding the Temple. If there is anything not needed in Israel it is more rock and stone. Even if there were such a need, contributing money to fill that need won’t make the end-times come any sooner than God has planned. Unless you happen to be the Anti-Christ, there is probably little you can do to make these events happen, and no one can move God’s sovereign timetable one moment faster or slower than he wants” (The quotation is taken from John Feinberg’s paper, “Dispensationalism and Support for the State of Israel,” {pg. 19}, which was presented at the “Christ at the Checkpoint” Conference, March 12–17, 2010, Bethlehem, Israel).

Another thing that does not make sense is Christian Zionists supporting Israeli hostilities toward the Palestinians. Yes, God blesses those who bless Israel. But not everything Israel currently does blesses God. Israel as a nation is hardly seeking the blessing of the Palestinians. According to God’s first promise to Abraham, all peoples will be blessed through Isaac’s seed, not cursed (See Genesis 12:1-3). Moreover, Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom God also blesses (See Genesis 17:19-21, Genesis 21:13, 17-18). Furthermore, many Palestinians are Christians, a point often lost on many Christian Zionists (Don Belt, “The Forgotten Faithful: Arab Christians,” in National Geographic, vol. 215, no. 6, June 2009). Those who believe in Jesus are sons and daughters of God, irrespective of their people group. In Galatians 3:28, we are told that in Christ there is no division between Jews and Gentiles as a result of Christ’s atoning work. As a result, all who believe in Jesus are children of the free woman of whom Paul speaks (Galatians 4:21–31), not just the descendants of Isaac who believe. As much as we should be concerned for all people and all Arabs, for all are blessed by God, our concern should be heightened for those who are fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus.

Speaking of Jesus, we find him often challenging his own Jewish people. Their national identity or ancestral connection to Abraham is not sufficient (John the Baptist makes a similar point—Matthew 3:9). He exhorts them to have the faith of Abraham (John 8:31–58). The Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21–28) and Centurion (Matthew 8:5–13) are sterling examples of those who have the faith of Abraham. Those of Abraham’s faith are Abraham’s spiritual children, according to Paul (Galatians 3:7). We must also account for Jesus’ exhortation to the Jewish religious teacher who sought to test Jesus about what is required to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to love his neighbor as himself and shares with him the parable of a lowly Samaritan who exemplifies righteousness—caring for a man (likely a Jewish man) who was beaten and robbed and left for dead (Luke 10:25–37).

The point of referencing these biblical accounts is to point out that God loves all people and that God is no respecter of persons. While Israel is the people of promise, God blesses all people and calls everyone to account to believe like Abraham in the promised Messiah and to live like the unnamed Samaritan as people of the promise. To believe like Abraham entails living like the Samaritan. As Jesus the Messiah makes clear, my neighbor is not the person like me or the person I like, but the person in need—even my enemy.  I am responsible to care for him or her. Thus, as Christians, we are to promote concern for the well-being of all peoples and pray that the Jews and Palestinians will care deeply for one another.

Scripture specifies that Israel is to care for the foreigners in the land, granting them an inheritance and treating them as native-born (Ezekiel 47:21–22): How much more noteworthy is this text when the people in question—the Palestinians—have lived in the land for generations prior to the Jewish people’s return? Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Theological Seminary, maintains that “when Israel is restored to the land, they are to treat the aliens and strangers as if they were Israelites.” In this light, he challenges the modern state of Israel, as well as the Palestinian authority: “Do you know what is lacking in Israel? Just a minor, little plank in God’s program: treating others as you would like to be treated…The bottom-line principle is so powerful, so biblical: Israel needs to treat others as they would like to be treated. The Palestinian authority needs to treat Israel as they would like to be treated.  This applies to all peoples” (See Mark Bailey, “The Lord’s Land Policy in Israel,” in Veritas, vol. 2/3 {July 2002}, 4–5).

While Israel has a fundamental right to live in peace and security in the land, it must not take those rights from others—such as the confiscation of property and increase of settlements in violation of international law (See Donald Macintyre, “The Big Question: What are Israeli Settlements, and Why are They Coming Under Pressure?” in The Independent, Friday, May 29, 2009; John Glaser, “EU Report: Israeli Settlements Deliberate Strategy to Block Palestinian State,” in AntiWar.com, Wednesday, February 27, 2013; and “EU Report Slams Israeli Settlements, Calls for Economic Sanctions,” in RT.com, Wednesday, February 27, 2013) and building of walls and checkpoints that keep Palestinians from getting to their jobs and having access to healthcare.  (See Josef Federman, “Palestinian-Only Buses Set Off Uproar in Israel,” Time, Tuesday, March 5, 2013; and Karl Vick, “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” in Time, Thursday, September 2, 2010.)

Of course, the Jews are not the only ones to blame. The Palestinians have themselves also been guilty of a multitude of injustices against the Jewish people and Israel (For an article discussing abuses on both sides, including Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes coupled with the murder of members of an Israeli settler family by Palestinians, see “U.N. Official: Israel Engaging in Ethnic Cleansing,” in Reuters/Ynetnews.com). In fact, many Palestinians do not care about peace. Indeed, groups like Hamas have long been known for wishing Israel’s destruction as a nation (For a discussion of Palestinian indifference and/or hostility as reflected in the actions of Hamas and other groups such as Islamic Jihad, see Seth Freedman’s article, “Jerusalem Bus Bomb Will Hurt the Palestinian Cause,” in The Guardian, March 24, 2011; For a recent discussion of escalating violence, see Lawahez Jabari, “Israelis, Palestinians Tense as Violence Escalates Along Gaza Border”, in NBC, Thursday, November 15, 2012). No party is innocent. However, a very large segment of Evangelicalism tends to be one-sided in its criticism of the Palestinians and looks past the injustices committed against the Palestinians by Israel.

Many Evangelicals have a strange view of what it means to bless and not curse Israel. To do what Egypt did to Jacob’s descendants in enslaving them is “cursing” Israel. Cursing in the biblical sense is not refusing to be in favor of all that Israel does. In this sense, the prophets could have been accused of cursing Israel. Related to this point, many Christians fail to place “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” in its biblical context (Psalm 122). Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is never separated from biblical justice (See Psalm 122:5), including concern for those who reside in Israel’s midst (Ezekiel 47:21–22). The best way that we can bless Israel is to pray and call for Israel and the Palestinians to live together peacefully as equals in the land. In that way, whether Christian Zionist or not, all of us who claim to be Christians can be biblical.

For further treatment of these issues from which some of this material is drawn, please see my article in Cultural Encounters. (“Why Should We Care?” in Cultural Encounters, vol. 7/1, {2011})

About Paul Louis Metzger

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and Professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University. He is the author of numerous works, including "Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths" and "Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church." These volumes and his others can be found wherever fine books are sold.

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  • http://www.reachingyouth.wordpress.com Andrew Kruse

    It is also worth noting that Israel was called to be a light to the Gentiles…the nations were inheritance promised to them(Psalm 1) in the sense of bringing news of God’s covenant love and redemption to the world. I’m looking forward to engaging this issue more in World Religions next year at the seminary!

  • https://sites.google.com/site/theendtimespassover/ Joe Ortiz

    I am utterly amazed to see how highly educated scholars [including Paul Louis Metzger] can write articles such as this one. The first mistake he makes is asking the question ‘Is Christian Zionism biblical’ and commences to answer in the affirmative, albeit from a Premillennial Dispensationalism perspective. Mr. Metzger (like so many other proponents of Christian Zionism) tries to appear to be neutral in the argument by using quotes from other premillennialists that come off as caring for Palestinians when he quotes Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Theological Seminary, who maintains that “when Israel is restored to the land, they are to treat the aliens and strangers as if they were Israelites.” Both fail to correctly utilize scripture to support their rather clever “Zionist” propaganda. Your average day Christian drinks this Kool Aid daily.

    It would take 100 times more space to argue the pro and cons that Christian (or Jewish) Zionism has no Bible foundation whatsoever. Therefore, we cut to one group of scripture in chapter 11 in the Book of Hebrews that ever so clearly tell us that this historical conflict as to who owns the current parcel of land called “Israel” in the Middle East is really a moot point. The Bible throughout tells us that God owns the Land, and He has set forth conditions for those who wish to occupy it. But, more importantly, unlike the historical narrative promoted by Zionists, that land is not what the patriarchs were looking forward to, ever!

    “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

    13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them, (Hebrews 11:8-16).

    Is Christian Zionism biblical? Over 70 million mainstream Christians believe so. But those who have done their homework pray daily for them, that hopefully they will come to their senses before Jesus returns, and meets them face-to-face, and asks them: “What were you thinking? Did you not study my word?”

    • Frank Butler

      Joe, your response is lucid and comforting. Thank you for correcting THE great error in the body of Christ today. This dispensationalist/rapture/zionism cult is running in the pulpits like an overflowing open sewer.

    • http://weston.ruter.net/ Weston Ruter

      @Joe, I think you have completely misread what Dr. Metzger is saying here. I don’t see him advocating for the Christian Zionism popular among American Evangelicals today, but rather just the opposite. Note that he says that Christians should bless Israel, but that blessing Israel does not mean to turn a blind eye to any injustice that the State of Israel may do. On the contrary, he cites the example of the ancient Prophets who continuously spoke against the injustices they saw at their time in Israel: to bless Israel is to seek the best for Israel, and the best is always the path toward social justice and national righteousness.

      Furthermore, Dr. Metzger is not specifically endorsing a pretribulational/premillennial eschatology, but rather is using the Christian Zionist’s own views of the end times to argue against their common posture that we need to humanly do all we can in order to bring about Jesus’ second coming by re-establishing Israel in accordance with Biblical prophecy. No, Dr. Metzger is saying that the Biblical eschatology depicts Israel being re-established supernaturally and that there is nothing that we can do to bring it about (or thwart it, for that matter).

    • Fr. John W. Morris

      70 million Protestants support Zionism. At least 200,000,000 Orthodox Christians do not. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets and the end of the old covenant. The Jews rejected the Messiah and thereby lost their status as God’s Chosen People God’s Chosen People are not Christians who are faithful to God’s revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ. The prophecies concerning Israel are fulfilled in the Church which is the true Israel. The modern state of Israel cannot be the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, because Christians are persecuted in Israel. Orthodox Jews spit on Orthodox clergy walking down the streets of Jerusalem, they harass Christian religious processions, and deny Palestinian Christians their human rights. A state that persecutes Christians could never be the will of God.

      • Paladin13

        Sorry, but the Jews are still the apple of God’s eye and the Chosen people. The fact that there are millions of Jews today who believe and practice what God instructed them to do thousands of years ago despite their history of being persecuted and dispersed throughout the world is in itself both a miracle and a sign from God. And the fact that Israel has reformed after almost 1880 years of being destroyed is again a miracle and a sign from God. The prophecies about Israel are not fulfilled in the Church and the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Revelation distinguishes between the Church and the Jews. If you’re going to allegorize prophecy about Israel and Jews, should you extend it to the Resurrection? What it just a spiritual resurrection or actual physical resurrection? Israel has reformed after 19 centuries and resurrected the Hebrew language. It’s not just a spiritual resurrection.

        Please stop the bleeding hearts about the Palestinians, who weren’t even a recognized people until after 1967. Most Palestinians want Israel and Jews destroyed, as do most Muslims in the Middle East. It’s part of their religion. How Gaza has turned out for Israel is a warning to the Jews about giving land next to you to people who hate you. Why are the descendants of Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, etc., now called Palestians, firing rockets from Gaza into Israel? I guess you oppose the security fences put up by Israel?

  • George Babbitt

    The biggest mistake of the twentieth century was enabling the formation of the modern ‘State of Israel’ and equating it with divine prophecy and having the same status with biblical Israel. Christian Zionists are the biggest hypocrites for supporting the dead and obsolete way of Judaism. They believe that there is now two peoples of God and discredit their own Gospel of Jesus Christ by saying so. The redemptive act of Christ on the cross is all for naught when you continue to prop up and enable a system that Jesus completed in himself as no other person could have done. For there to be a any national Israel today is to throw away the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought about and is King of, as well as High Priest of, today and forever. Jew are of course free to believe as they wish, but they should also not be hypocrites in asking Christians for help to do something that is antithetical to the core of Christian belief i.e. enable their Judaism.

    There is the other side of the argument that we should support the ‘State of Israel’ because it is a ‘bastion of democracy’ in the Middle East. To this I would point out that the ‘State of Israel’ has a parliamentary system, with no constitution, and a unicameral legislature that elects its members using the party-list proportional method that results in persons being appointed before or even after the vote. It has no trial by jury. It has what some countries like South Africa, who ought to know, call an apartheid way of life that is leveled against person both within and without it’s borders. It has a socialist foundation for its makeup stemming from the kibbutzim that were used as a foothold in British Mandate Palestine. The kibbutzim were used to create a new ‘Israeli’ people, separating children from their parents to be raised by proctors that would teach primarily Hebrew as the language, and Israeli nationalist identity to manufacture a people that would not adopt any of the old European languages, habits, mannerisms and traditions from their parents who were immigrants. There were militias formed even prior to WWII in order to begin taking and securing land for the purpose of forming a new country from the leftovers of the Ottoman empire. There are many questions as to how things could have turned out( http://www.nkusa.org/Historical_Documents/tenquestions.cfm )had Palestine not been the insisted upon destination for the Jewish people, not to mention that even if things hadn’t been different, there is no reason they couldn’t have just gone back to their homes, and not displaced others from theirs. The British mandate that was created with the participation of the international community on conditions that there be a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both states was violated with the midnight declaration of the formation of the ‘State of Israel’ in 1948. This same international community, which the World Zionist Congress and other Jewish organizations like the Jewish Agency received support from to procure their chief goal, now is considered unwelcome to offer any criticism of the ‘State of Israel’. They do not partake in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that the rest of the responsible members of the Nuclear Club abide by. All of this of course doesn’t change the fact there are millions of people now in Palestine/’State of Israel’ which need to figure something out that is equitable to both ‘Israelis’ and Palestinians, restitution not being out of the question in my mind. The Jews sought restitution from the world following WWII, why not the displaced Arabs and Palestinians following the Nakba?

    • Paladin13

      “The biggest mistake of the twentieth century was enabling the formation of the modern ‘State of Israel’ and equating it with divine prophecy and having the same status with biblical Israel.” Are you kidding? What about Soviet communism, Nazism, genocide, world wars, etc,? How about Jimmy Carter undermining the Shah of Iran when the Shah was going to enter an economic and political treaty with Israel and then supporting the Ayatollah taking power in Iran? How about the election of the current occupant of the White House?

      I agree with restitution – by the Arabs and Palestinians to the Israelis for all the wars and deaths inflicted on Israel by them.

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    Thanks for the insightful and scholarly approach to this difficult subject. I myself tackled one of the unintended consequences of pop dispensationalism for Palestinians Christians living in the church today, over at the Christ and Pop Culture blog. Might be a good complement to your piece.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture/2013/02/i-am-not-abrahams-mistake/

  • David Springer

    I find this to be an article that is both intellectually cogent and stimulating as well as Biblically supported orthodoxy. Moreover, I most resonate with his Scriptural appeals first to the Torah and its multiple commands to NOT “mistreat or oppress the foreigner in the land” (Exodus 22:21 ff) because the children of Israel understand oppression and mistreatment under Pharaoh and must point to and demonstrate a higher King and a better way of living. Yet, it often appears as though the modern (mostly secular) state of Israel, living as it does without the Temple, has dismissed this command and become like Pharaoh when dealing with the Palestinians. Evangelical Christians (and especially Christian Zionists) should first prophetically remind Israel of its ancient call.

    Further, Dr Metzger also reminds us that both historically and presently many Palestinians were and are Christian believers themselves. Beyond the words and actions of Jesus in the Gospels when dealing with Palestinians (the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the Samaritan traveler in Luke 10, the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15), the epistolary portion of the New Testament is replete with commands to love and serve “one another”–that is fellow believers. To support the present state of Israel’s actions against Palestinians, and especially Palestinian Christians, whether they are citizens of citizens of Israel, Gaza, or the West Bank certainly disregards those Apostolic directives.

    Any argument that loses itself in dispensationalism, or the pre-trib/post-trib debate misses these greater Jesus-given, Bible-affirming points. All Christians–Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, Orthodox or Roman Catholic; whether they would self-identify as Zionists or not–can agree that the picture given in Revelation 21 of Heaven, in the form of the New Jerusalem, coming to Earth is one that we long for and pray for to appear. But it is also a picture of Revelation 7 with believer of many tribes and tongues (including Palestinian tribes and the Arabic tongue) as well as the picture Heaven coming to Earth given in Matthew 5-8 when we will be the peacemakers, the comforters, the mourners sitting with those suffering through the Arab-Israeli conflicts. Maranatha and Ishnallah.

  • http://www.roshpinaproject.com Joseph W

    Would Patheos welcome and publish a response to this article?

    • Paul Louis Metzger

      @Joseph W – specifically on this blog or anywhere on the site?

      • http://www.roshpinaproject.com Joseph W

        Anywhere on the site. Sorry Paul I hope you see this late comment.

        • Paul Louis Metzger

          @Joseph W – I don’t have any control over other portions of the site, so unfortunately I’m not able to make that kind of offer. Sorry about that!

  • http://www.emeu.net Adam Estle

    I believe that Paul Metzger has engaged this difficult topic with grace and candor, while attempting to build bridges between those followers of Jesus that are total Zionists in their outlook and those who reject Zionism completely.

    I think that some of the commentators above have misrepresented Dr. Metzger’s intentions in this article. He very clearly states in the first paragraph: “It is not my aim to defend or critique this position, but to contend against the stance held by some within Christian Zionism that the present state of Israel is the realization of biblical prophecy from this hermeneutical perspective.” Dr. Metzger is being very intentional in his treatment of Christian Zionism to dispel the idea that the Bible is very black and white on this issue. The truth is that the way we interpret the text plays a big role in whether we view Christian Zionism as “biblical”. I think his skill in bridge building is evident in the fact that the commentators above believe that he is a staunch Christian Zionist, while I got the opposite impression! To me there are several statements Dr. Metzger makes that bring a heavy challenge to Zionist thinking, while not trying to completely destroy the worldview. One example being: “The best way that we can bless Israel is to pray and call for Israel and the Palestinians to live together peacefully as equals in the land. ” This statement challenges Zionist thinking but in a biblical way that supports his approach.

    Dr. Metzger is careful not to approach Christian Zionism with an “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude because he wants to build bridges , and I commend him for this. Jesus taught us to bring truth and grace in our dealings with others, and we must strive for balance between the two. Truth without grace comes across as bullying, while grace without truth undercuts the transforming power of the gospel message. Jesus brought truth and grace in perfect balance, and we are called to do the same.

    This is bridge-building is difficult work. It is much easier to pick sides and refuse to see the merits of others’ points of view, but it does not bring people together. Jesus prayed for unity among his people, and this is the goal of this courageous peacemaking work. In my work as Executive Director of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, I struggle with the daily tension of bridge-building: between Christian Zionists and those with strong anti-Israel (NOT anti-Semitic) feelings, between American Christians and Middle East Christians, between Muslims, Christians, and Jews, etc. It is exhausting work, but I believe it is the work we are all called to on some level.

    I think Paul’s article highlights some key ways that Zionists and those of the opposite persuasion can find a common ground. I plan on using his work in my interactions with people, and I hope others will too.

  • Mae Cannon

    I grateful to Paul Metzger and others who are willing and able to articulately and thoughtfully expand our conversations about the way we address issues of Zionism, the modern nation state of Israel, the historic suffering of the Jewish people, and the Palestinian perspective and experience. Historically this issue has been incredibly bifurcated not allowing for constructive discussion and dialogue. It is critically important for all of those living and dwelling in the Holy Land and for the future of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim relationships that we be willing to enter into a more robust dialectic. Jesus calls us to “love our neighbor” and also to “love your enemy.” I can’t help but wonder and reflect upon the significance of those words in light of the modern conflict in the Middle East.

  • Brian Scarborough

    “The best way that we can bless Israel is to pray and call for Israel and the Palestinians to live together peacefully as equals in the land.” The best and probably only way for Palestinians to live together peacefully is for the Palestinians to become part of Israel. They would be enormously better off.

    • Hacim Obmed

      According to Islamic law, non-muslims living in Islamic lands are not accorded “equality” to Muslims but can be granted a simple “contractual status” similar to what we accord to green card holders in the united states. Members of such tolerated minority groups are called “Dhimmi”. Jews and christians have been regarded as Dhimmi for years. Thus, since Israel is the Jewish state the same tradition implies that palestinians and other non-jews need not expect to participate in the government or the Army and they may be be restricted in other ways according to the requirements of national security.

    • Paladin13

      Millions of Muslim Palestinians living in Israel would destroy Israel as the home for the Jews. Rather, those Palestinians who are Muslims should renounce Islam, Allah, and Mohammed and become Christian Zionists. Then they could live in peace.

  • Brad Harper

    Thanks for the thoughtful essay, Paul. We evangelicals need to pay more attention to the fact that final judgment and the consummation of human history, whatever that eventually looks like, is God’s affair. Our job is to love our neighbors. And Jesus was pretty clear who they are.

  • rumitoid

    Of what possible usefulness is this pre- and post-trib stuff? What does it serve? How does it work to advance the kingdom or help to change hearts? As a curious sideline of inquiry or perhaps an inducement to deeper overall study of the Word, it could be of some value, I suppose, but other than that I can only see it as a form of vanity. All that we have is now. If we simply do what Christ called us to do and leave the rest to God’s sovereignty we would be far, far better off in our walk and of far, far greater service to the needy and the lost.

    I cannot see looking eagerly for Christ’s return and claim to love my neighbor and enemy alike. I can see earnestly imploring God to stay His hand that we may have more time to bring His kingdom to more people. And for either “trib” view, it seems best that we plead with God to forego the Rapture to be available when the world most needs us. When the going gets tough, the tough take the first train out of Dodge?

  • Hacim Obmed

    According to the law of islam, non-muslim minority communities in Islamic lands do not have the full rights of citizens but are instead granted the lesser status which is called “Dhimmi”. To western ears something short of full citizenship sounds like discrimination but literally, the term simply means “those with a contract”. The position of the Dhimmi is something akin to the status we americans accord to “green card” holders. These people can live and work permanently in the united states but they are not full citizens. In Islamic land, the practical result is that jews and christians are protected them from violence and theft but they are not allowed to participate in the affairs of the majority community and their activities are restricted. Forexample they may have to live in certain quarters of the city and they may be forbidden to practice certain trades. The Christians and Jews are also expected to have their own internal government and leadership and even their own courts of law for settling internal disputes..Disputes between Dhimmi and muslims are settled in Islamic courts and their testimony in this court is not equal to that of a muslim. The Dhimmi may also have to pay a special tax to maintain their status. In view of all this, I think that palestinians on other “goyem” living in the land of Israel should expect, is to be treated in the same fashion as Jews are treated in Islamic lands. Thus the Palestinians communities should not expect to have a voice in the running of the Jewish state or to have the full rights enjoyed by Jews. But they can be still be accorded certain rights and limited self government. This is also the way muslim minorities should be treated in Europe. The Muslims have made the rules and turn about is fair play.

  • Tom

    There already is a “palestinian” state. It is called Jordan.

    • Paladin13

      You are spot-on, Tom. Why won’t the Arab countries absorb the Palestinians but instead force many of them to live in segregation and in camps?

  • Stefan Stackhouse

    All believers in Christ – whether of Jewish or non-Jewish heritage – are the new branches that have been grafted on to the vine of God’s people. Those of Jewish heritage that rejected their Messiah have pruned themselves off. There is a reason why the curtain to the Holy of Holies was split in two when Christ died, and why the temple was destroyed a generation later: the Jewish people rejected their Messiah, and thus broke God’s covenant. The promises to Israel continue, but are applied to the New Israel of those who have faith in the Messiah rather than the old Israel of those who reject Him. The laws of the old covenant have been fulfilled and completed in Christ, which is why we are told in the book of Hebrews that there is no more need for temple sacrifices and why we who by grace have faith in Christ are in a perpetual shabat rest from the works of the law. This all applies to people of Jewish heritage in exactly the same way that it does to people of non-Jewish heritage, and is applied only by grace through faith in Jesus the Messiah.

    There is one people who are the holy, chosen people of God, and it is those who by His grace have faith in His Messiah, Jesus. There is one holy land, and that is the entire Earth, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” Those who are believers and followers of Christ will inherit all the Earth, and not just the Levant, for we humbly depend upon Christ’s righteousness and fulfillment of the law for us rather than upon our own efforts to obey the law, and humbly depend upon our adoption in Christ by grace and regeneration into Abraham’s faith rather than upon a birthright as Abraham’s biological descendants; it will be the meek that will inherit not just “the Holy Land”, but the entire earth.

    By all means, those of us who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ should desire nothing but peace and good will for all the people in the Middle East, Jews and Arabs alike, and indeed for all the peoples of the world. There is no good scriptural reason for Christians to single out some people and exclude others; all without exception should be the recipients of our desire for their peace and good will.

  • james kerrigan

    Bethlehem is not a part of Israel,It is in occupied Palestine

  • Pingback: Christian Zionism — Is It Biblical? | That's Me Inside Your Head

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-McLaughlin/100000039777325 Matt McLaughlin

    The Balfour wasn’t democracy. Nice try.

  • ImJustSaying
  • Avram Cohen

    Zionism ideals have led to more wars and deaths throughout the world.. If Jesus was walking the earth today he would reject it, it’s not about brotherly love and loving your enemy, it’s a warmongering mentality!
    Where are the Christian Zionists when it comes to standing up and protecting your Christian brothers and sisters of the world, Syria, Iraq, Egypt etc where their being murdered in the thousands… There nowhere to be found, except only to be sending their money to Israel.. Where are the Zionist Christians when the Jewish orgs of the USA are going out of their way to block the recognition of Genocides of millions of Christian Armenians(first Christian nation), Assyrians and Greeks that have been brutally murdered for centuries.. nowhere, their sending their money to Israel!?
    I am a devote bible reader and believer in Christ and JEWISH and Yes I believe Zionism is a sickness a evil, an ignorant ideology that separates man from our loving God!
    Shalom!


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