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Proper Thoughts on Israel

Came across John Piper’s post, “Israel, Arabs, and the Family of God.” If you haven’t read this, you should. John Piper was right on here.

Let us heed his words, and be careful not to link the Old Testament people of God too closely with the secular nation by that name in the Middle East. God’s people are the people that are rightly related to Jesus as Messiah. This is true whether they are Arab or Hebrew.

 

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6 Responses

  1. Amen James! After knowing a number of Arab Christians – some Palestinians and a classmate of mine who is an Egyptian Copt, I’m always disturbed when this much-persecuted group of Christians is basically ignored if not derided by American evangelicals.

    Favorite point of Piper’s:

    “American Christians are more closely united to Palestinian Christians and Arab Christians and Jewish Christians throughout the world than we are to the state of non-Christian Israel.”

  2. As much as I agree with the gist of this article, Israel was promised under the Old Covenant and there are still many Jews there dedicated to that covenant. Though officially, it is a secular nation, the Jewish people are still predominately in control and have every right to that land.
    That said, I agree that Christians around the would should be more helpful and supportive to our Brothers and Sisters in war-torn areas, regardless of the cause of that war, or what side of the political border they happen to live.

    • Good word, Pat. The danger is in too closely linking the biblical people of Israel to the geo-political state of Israel. The other danger is the failure to recognize that unbelieving Jewish people, who have rejected the Jewish Messiah, are not entitled to any rights under the covenant. The covenant promises are for believing Israel, and Christians believe that means belief in the Jewish Messiah.

      Unbelieving Jews are entitled to nothing more than unbelieving Arabs. They are all created in the image of God, all children of Abraham, all people that Jesus died for, and all people that we should be calling to repentance and trust in Jesus.

  3. I’m confused. I though the Old and New Covenants were separate, as decided by the incident with the Circumcision Group . Christ wasn’t even prophesied when the God made His promise to Abraham or again to Moses. The prophets came much later.
    Is it really true that these promises were only valid until God decided to change the rules. I thought when Christ said, “My Kingdom is not of this Earth” that it meant He was calling his people to something greater than an Earthly kingdom. I would argue that Jews rejecting the New Covenant but keeping the Old Covenant are entitled to that Earthy kingdom as well as the current war to keep it, which was also promised. It is a small consolation compared to The Kingdom of Heaven.
    I do agree that, as believers, we need to support other keepers of the New Covenant to a greater extent than those who only keep the Old, as our Kingdom is not of this Earth. As unbelievers go, however, we should favor the Jews, Christ did.

  4. Pat, great points.

    The Old and New Covenants are to remain distinct. The decision of the Jerusalem council did distinguish between the New and Old Covenants, making it clear once and of all that new converts to Christianity would not be bound by the Law of the Old Covenant.

    It did not, however, give license to Jews to remain under an old way of submitting to God. All people were called to submit to Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.

    There is a lot of debate between whether there is still a distinct, Old Covenant that will be fulfilled for the Jewish people. Some people believe that the current people of God inherit the promises that were given to the people of God under the Old Covenant. The promises will be fulfilled, but they will be fulfilled for the spiritual descendants of Abraham rather than the physical ones. When we all sang “Father Abraham, had many sons… I am one of them, and so are you,” we were essentially making that point. It’s a good point, considering Paul says in Galatians that there is no longer any Jew or Greek.

    Others, arguing from Rom 9-11 argue that there is a distinct plan to fulfill the promises made to Abraham and that the plan will be fulfilled for Abraham’s physical descendants.

    A lot of ink has been spilled on that by smarter people than me. But one thing that isn’t up for debate, even those that believe there are promises left to be fulfilled for Abraham’s physical descendants, is that these promises are going to be for the remnant who repent and trust the Jewish Messiah. There is no special Old Covenant for Jewish people that reject their Messiah. Paul goes so far as to argue that the salvation of the Gentiles came to make Israel jealous (Rom 11.11). God’s promises will be fulfilled for Israel. No doubt. But this will be for the remnant who are faithful to God. There is no special program in force for anyone who doesn’t respond in faith to God’s revelation: Jew or Gentile. In fact, beyond favoring unbelieving Israel, Jesus was sometimes even harder on them than he was on unbelieving Gentiles. In Matthew, he tells them the kingdom will be taken from them and given to those that produce fruit (Matt 21.33-45).

    All that to say, I do agree that it is important to distinguish between Israel and the Church. However, it is equally important to distinguish between believing Israel (that is, those who have responded in faith to the Jewish Messiah) and unbelieving Israel. Unbelieving Israel has no benefits beyond other people God made, loves, and died for. All bets are off for those who don’t respond in faith. It was true under the Old Covenant and it is true under the New Covenant.

    Much love, Pat.

    • James,
      Thank you for your patience in clearing up this confusing issue. It is no doubt that the Holy Land has a part to play in the years leading to His Return. –Prayers that the Jews, the Arabs, and all people turn to Him.
      With Love,
      Pat

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