I was extremely encouraged to see your response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address last week. Our continuing support of Israel is crucial to our country being blessed by God. Your numerous bipartisan standing ovations brought my heart to tears in light of the biblical implications of our need to passionately stand with Israel….for several reasons.
First, I believe that in a reaping and sowing sense America has wonderfully prospered because our cultural foundation stems from all that Israel has historically provided us relative to scriptural truth. As a nation we have effectively borrowed from historic Israel; there is no doubt the biblical truths of historic Israel have provided the cultural moorings for historic America. One might summarily call this our philosophical union with Israel.
In another sense, we as a nation have been blessed — and will continue to be blessed — because of our national support of Israel. God’s Word contains a clear and absolute promise relative to the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:3a, “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse.” History vividly punctuates this truth. Whether you are blessed for supporting Israel as has been our nation (President Harry Truman acknowledged the sovereign state of Israel within 11 minutes of the signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948) or cursed for attempting to demolish her like ancient Babylon, Hitler, or the present-day Arab nations, one thing is for sure: This people and country are extra special, set apart by God from all others. No other countries compare.
Given the recent attention on Israel I thought this would be a good time to provide a biblical primer as to why you and our nation should remain staunch allies of Israel. Can you immediately and cogently reason from Scripture why this should be?
There at least three pragmatic reasons why our nation should support Israel:
• ISRAEL IS LEGITIMATE
In 1948 when Israel became a nation, 160 other countries acknowledged it. As a non-racist democracy, even Arabs hold public office in the Knesset and high positions in its military. It is a nation that believes people are made in the image of God and endowed with inalienable rights.
• ISRAEL IS RELIABLE
In an increasingly tumultuous Middle East we need an ally to protect ourselves. Due to the overtaking, crippling religion of Environmentalism in America we have become energy-dependent; our way of life is subject to our ability to import oil from this area of the world. In addition we need a reliable ally due to the nearly-enriched nuclear threat of Iran.
• ISRAEL IS SMART
Many scientific and technological advancements have been achieved by her. Financial management1 and information processing make her a world leader. Now void of earlier socialistic economic tendencies, her free-market, roaring entrepreneurial spirit makes her a world leader and an awesome trade partner. Gildner’s recent book, The Israel Test, documents the historically disproportionate contributions of the Jewish race to the betterment of mankind.2 (This is a must-read and helps to explain why other nations are so jealous of her.)
More important however than these excellent pragmatic reasons as to why America should support Israel is the biblical one. What follows is the exegetical case; the three major biblical chapters, when studied together, exclaim why every legislator, governmental leader, citizen, and human being should befriend Israel3: Those three chapters are Genesis 12, Romans 11 and Revelation 7. One need have these passages down cold; they are the preeminent drivers of conviction regarding unwavering support of Israel.
I. GENESIS 12
In Genesis 12:1-2 God makes a covenant with Abram. But before examining that in some detail, it is important to understand the whole of Genesis. There are two main divisions in the book, each possessing 4 sub-points. The first portion (1-11) deals with Beginnings: The Creation, Fall, Flood, and Dispersion. The second portion (12-50) of the book deals with the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. We are picking the book up at the start of the second portion where God chooses a man from whom He will generate a family, a tribe, and then a whole nation: The nation of Israel, a distinctive nation as described by God Himself in Exodus 19:6 and Deuteronomy 7:6-8:
“AND YOU SHALL BE TO ME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, AND A HOLY NATION”
There are three unilateral promises that God makes with Abram: A land, a seed, and a blessing, as evidenced from this passage (12:1-2).
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing…
This is where the case for being pro-Israel begins. Noteworthy here is God’s promise of a land which is referred to as the land of Canaan.4 Again, the promise of a land is critical to the study that follows because in the following (previously-cited in the prologue) verse (12:3) God states the consequences of not being an ally of His people and their land:
…And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
This passage at first glance seems quite straightforward except for this. Do the promises God made to Israel “evaporate” forever due to her rejection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ? There are many Evangelicals today who would answer in the affirmative. They reason that, due to Israel’s rejection of Jesus, God has replaced her with the Church. This is called Replacement Theology (RT) and it comes in many versions. RT reasons that the covenants herein made to Israel are null and void and spiritually accrue to the Church in the New Covenant of the New Testament, and are fulfilled more so in a spiritual sense of understanding than a physical one. For a time that is true, but not forever.
There are many passages that are found throughout the Bible that indicate God is not forever finished with Israel. Notice for starters the following passages in Genesis that use words like [unlimited] “descendants,” “forever,” and “everlasting” in describing the nature of the land promise. First notice Genesis 12:7:
The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
There is no qualifier or limitation relative to the understanding of God’s meaning of “descendants” in the above passage. The same holds true in 13:15. Notice the word “forever”:
For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.
In 17:7 train your eyes on “everlasting covenant”:
I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
Israel’s right to hold onto the land (which someone last week commented they should give away) is stated in 17:8 (See endnote #4).
I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Summarily of the first point of the outline is that there is no limitation or qualification to God’s promise relative to the land God will give His people Israel. No passage of Scripture states “all bets are off forever if My people reject My coming Messiah….because if you do I will spiritualize these promises forever and give them to the Church.” What I am hinting at is this: The case for supporting Israel today turns on the immutability of the Abrahamic Covenant.
IF THE ABRAHAMIC PROMISES ARE NOW NULLIFED, THEN ONE IS CORRECT TO REASON THAT THERE IS NO BIBLICAL BASIS FOR AMERICA TO SUPPORT ISRAEL
If Israel’s rejection of Jesus voids the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12, then it stands to reason that Israel has no future in God’s economy. If God is done with Israel, then why shouldn’t others be also? The truth is God has not replaced Israel forever with the Church, and that He has a huge future plan ahead for Israel; His promises to Israel are not nullified, as will be seen in these NT passages.5
II. ROMANS 11
This is a tremendously informative passage in light of the subject matter. In the context of Paul’s epistle to the Gentile Church at Rome, he inserts what is commonly referred to as the parenthetical chapters of 9 through 11 in his long letter.6 These three chapters reveal God’s plan for Israel. All need be read as a whole to capture the total impact, but having stated that, I have copied some of the pertinent portions to underscore the point: God has a bright future for Israel.
1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew…” 11a I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be!
In God’s big plan He has temporarily sidetracked His chosen people. He did this right after they rejected their Messiah (cf. Matthew 27:51). This passage makes it clear that being sidetracked or having badly stumbled is to be distinguished from having been rejected or fallen.
During this period God is grafting in the Gentiles (cf. Eph. 2:12-13). Notice that idea from our passage:
11b But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!
God will greatly bless Israel in the future — when He fulfills His covenant promises to her. Paul continues in his reasoning to the Gentiles at Rome, metaphorically calling Gentiles a “wild olive [branch] grafted in…”
16 and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree
This is a great word picture. Speaking further about the hardened hearts of Israel, a people having previously rejected Jesus, there remains much hope…
23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
To paraphrase Dr. Charles Ryrie, a leading professor at Dallas Theological Seminary (a theologian with a consistent hermeneutic, see endnote #7), Israel has been sidetracked while God gathers in the Gentiles. In the end times however, God will bring Israel back on track, joining up with the now much larger heavenly bound train. During this period of biblical history in which we live, Israel’s hearts are, for the most part, hardened. States Paul:
25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery….that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written….28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Yes, presently Israel is a Gospel-rejecter, but for the sake of the fathers (the great OT saints) God will honor Israel at a future time when they too will come to Christ en masse (fr. “all together”); God is ever mindful of His irrevocable promises; after all He is immutable in His character (“incapable of change”).7
At a future time (by the way, Harold Camping of Family Radio, a time that “no one knows” [Matthew 24:36]) after God gives Israel back their land, He will change their hearts toward Jesus; this is evident in the clear and powerful passage of Ezekiel 36:24-36:
24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Stemming from this passage, there should be no doubt: God is not finished with Israel. Prior to examining the fulfillment of these promises in the prophetic book of Revelation, it is important to emphasize that forever Replacement Theology8 is herein discounted by Romans 7 and Ezekiel 36; it is evident here that God will be faithful to His own unilateral covenant of Genesis 12. Therefore it stands to reason that His two-way “if-then” covenant of 12:3 also remains immutable. That is to say this: The promise of blessing or else cursing those who bless or curse Israel remains intact today, which more than insinuates and informs — it screams loudly — as to what American foreign policy should be relative to Israel!
III. REVELATION 7
This passage of Scripture reveals that there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will herald the Second Coming of Messiah. What a massively huge turnaround will occur in Israel between now and then; at this point in time the hardened hearts descriptive of Israel in Romans 11 and Ezekiel 36 are obviously absent:
4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel…
Numerous other passages speak of the rebirth of Israel and her inheritance of Jerusalem in conjunction with the Second Coming of the Messiah. These important passages include Zechariah 12:10; Psalms 132:13-14; 2Chronicles 12:13b; 33:4 & 7b; 1Chronicles 23:25; 1Kings 11:36b and 2Kings 21:7b. The plain meaning of these texts indicates that Israel will not only reinherit the land, but her heart will have been changed and the coming Messiah will bless the whole earth as He reigns in perfect majesty from Jerusalem as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
A flurry of people will put their faith in the Messiah during these end times (cf. Matthew 24:14).
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.
Salvation is the main theme due to the effectiveness of the 144,000 worldwide Jewish evangelists:
10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
What a glorious scene! What follows is the 1000-year Jewish-cultured Millennial Kingdom where Jesus will reign over all the earth from Jerusalem — wherein in the Abrahamic Covenant will be literally and ultimately fulfilled!
Since God is not through with Israel, and since God has a huge future plan for Israel, it stands to reason — based on the healthy fear all should possess relative to Genesis 12:3 — that all individuals and all nations should be sure to stand on the side of Israel. Amen!
1 Romans 11:12a speaks specifically to this.2 Gildner, George The Israel Test (Minneapolis: Richard Vigilante Books, 2009)
3 Obviously this statement should not be taken too far so as to mean a blanket endorsement of everything the nation might engage in or do that is ethically or morally unsubstantiated.
4 Later in Israel’s history, Joshua will lead Israel into the Promised Land. In Joshua 3:16 Scripture records that they crossed the Jordan River at a location east of Jericho, which means they crossed just north of the Dead Sea. I mention all that to make a simple point: If Israel were to now revert to her territory prior to the Six-Day War, she would in essence be forfeiting this area originally promised to them by God as an “everlasting possession” (cf. Gen. 17:8).
5 There will be two unique people of God relative to future things: Both Israel and the Church. The later does not eclipse the former, as many NT and OT passages evidence, nor will the former enter the Kingdom of God apart from salvation in Christ, per John 14:6 and Acts 4:12. In a real sense the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant accrue to the Church for a time (until God grafts Israel back in) due to the present apostasy of Israel, having executed the Messiah.
6 Paul’s first-century letter to the Gentile Church of Rome pertains to God’s sweeping program for Gentile followers of Christ. It is his summum bonum (lat. “supreme good”) his magnum opus (lat. “greatest work”) pertaining to God’s plan for salvation. He therefore begins his thesis by painting the world in sin (1:1-3:21); in chapters 3:21-5 he presents God’s plan of salvation from sin. In chapters 5-8 he progresses into how the believer ought to live in this world, a discussion he continues in chapters 12-16 after the herein-mentioned parenthetical discussion of God’s plan for Israel. In the contextual thesis of the whole it makes perfect sense that Paul (himself a Jew) would include an overview of God’s summum bonum and magnum opus for the Jews too! This insight into the greater context of the passages under study adds much weight as to the authorial intent for their inclusion, lending much weight to a literal understanding of their meaning. One should therefore not take liberty to “spiritualize” the parenthetical chapters, as if Paul’s language were now suddenly and conversely symbolic, figurative, allegorical, or poetic. Context does not permit such interpretive license.
7 It is important to underscore the truths of John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 as it relates to Israel. No one will enter the Kingdom of God apart from faith in Christ. In the End Times a person will not go to heaven just because they are Jewish; it is not as if there is a second pathway to heaven that circumvents the way of the Cross.
8 Replacement Theologians often change their hermeneutic when dealing with prophetic passages so as to avoid the plain meaning, the authorial intent, or literality of passages like these so as to fit a predetermined theological disposition. That is to say, they do not consistently apply a grammatical, historical, normative interpretive approach to such passages (like they do the remainder of Scripture, wherein they reason for instance, their convictions relative to their salvation). I believe that to change one’s interpretive rules relative to Bible passages is incongruent; such is to engage in hopscotch hermeneutics.