NOTE: This insightful article first appeared in Media Monitors Network March 9, 2001
In January of 1997, an Israeli soldier opened fire on Arab civilians in the city of Hebron in occupied Palestine, killing some and wounding others. His motive was to prevent the return of Israeli-occupied lands to the Arabs.
This soldier was convinced that God has given the land of Palestine to the Jews, and that it would be a sin to return the land to the Arabs. Many evangelical Christians, while not condoning the soldier's act of killing Arabs, agree with him that the Jews have a divine title deed to Israel and that the land must not be given back to the Palestinians.
Christian Zionists who believe this way, when asked to cite a Biblical justification for their views, usually go all the way back to Genesis 12 and 13 in the Old Testament. Many such Zionists are dispensationalists, who teach that the Old Testament and the Law of Moses are not for today, and that only selected parts of the New Testament are to be followed in this dispensation. However, they never quote from the New Testament to justify their Zionist convictions, for the simple reason that no New Testament teaching exists that would possibly back up such beliefs.
Zionists prefer to rely on the Old Testament, citing Genesis 13:15 where God said to Abraham, "For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." They construe this verse to teach that a large chunk of the Middle East still belongs to the Jews today, including the ancient lands of Edom and Moab, even though God said in Deuteronomy 2:5, 9 that He would never give those lands to the Jews.
Christian Zionists regard God's covenant with Abraham, including the land grant, as an unconditional covenant. They admit that the Jews have broken that covenant, and have rejected their Messiah, but insist that Palestine still belongs to the Jews because God gave it to them "forever."
However, the Bible teaches that God's covenant with Abraham and his descendants was a conditional covenant, not unconditional. In Genesis 17:9-14 the Jews were warned that they must keep the covenant or be cut off from God's people. Leviticus 26:40-45 teaches that the Jews must confess and forsake their sins in order to maintain the covenant. Deuteronomy 7:12, 1 Kings 9:6-9 and Exodus 19:5-6 all teach that the covenant was conditional. Joshua 23:15-16 and 2 Chronicles 7:19-22 not only teach that the covenant was conditional, but they also specify that the Jews would lose their land grant if they broke the covenant.
As for the statement in Genesis 13:15 that God was giving the land to the Jews "forever," we must compare this with other uses of the same word in the Law of Moses in order to understand what God is saying to us.
In Exodus 12:23-24, God ordained the ordinance of the Passover to be observed "forever."
In Deuteronomy 18:3-5 the Levites are ordained to be God's ministers, and to receive the offerings of the people, "forever."
In Deuteronomy 23:3 we find that an Ammonite or Moabite cannot join the congregation of the Lord's people "forever."
In Leviticus 7:34 we find that the peace-offering was to be observed "forever ."
In Leviticus 10:15 we are told that the wave-offerings are to be observed "forever."
Leviticus 16:29 specifies that the Day of Atonement is to be observed "forever."
In Leviticus 23:41 we are commanded to observe the Feast of Tabernacles "forever."
Numbers 18:19 tells us that we are to observe the heave-offerings "forever."
In Numbers 19:9-10 we are instructed to use the ashes of a red heifer for purposes of purification "forever."
If we ask our dispensational Zionist friends why they are not observing any of these commandments today, they will explain that they are not for this dispensation, that they were intended only for the observance of the Jews in the dispensation of Law, before the coming of Christ.
The same reasoning applies to the land grant of Palestine to the Jews. Not only is that land grant no longer in effect in the new dispensation of grace, but it is also very clear that the Jews were given that land under a conditional covenant, and that they broke that covenant when they rejected and crucified their Messiah.
The covenant and the land promise to the Jews were not eternal, to last until the end of time. The Jews did not keep the conditions of the covenant, and for this reason God took away the kingdom of God from them, Matthew 21:42-45, and gave it to the New Israel (Galatians 6:16,) the Church which consists of believing Jews and Gentiles.
The inheritance of the new Spiritual Israel is not land in the Middle East, but rather the new Jerusalem in heaven. The old Jerusalem on earth is of absolutely no importance to God's people, John 4:21, Galatians 4:24-28, Hebrews 12:18-24. The Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:25 condemns as children of Hagar all those whose focus is on the earthly Jerusalem.
In Hebrews 8:13 we read that the old covenant with Abraham was about to disappear. The final disappearance of the old covenant took place in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple, the City of Jerusalem, and the Jewish state. The genealogical records of the Jews were destroyed also, meaning there is no Jew alive today who can trace his ancestry back to the Palestinian Jews of the First Century.
There is no statement or hint in the New Testament that God will revive the Jewish state. It has been revived by man twice, in 132 AD and in 1948 AD. There is no prophetic significance in these human restorations of the Jewish state, and Christians are under no obligation to support such a political entity.
Even our father Abraham has no interest in a restored Jewish state, Hebrews 11:13-16. He is in a much better place, the new Jerusalem. Instead of encouraging our Jewish friends to seek out the earthly Jerusalem, we should point them to the heavenly Jerusalem, available to them by faith in the Messiah. Some Zionists accuse American Jews of greed, saying that they belong in Israel and have stayed in America so they can make more money here. Instead of telling American Jews that this is not their country and that they should emigrate to Israel, we should rather encourage them to stay here where they enjoy all the blessings of religious freedom for their faith as well as a better opportunity to convert to Christianity if they so desire
Nowadays there are prominent evangelists who preach to their followers that God never fulfilled His promise of giving all the land of Palestine to the Jews. They support whatever action necessary, even nuclear war, to obtain Arab lands in the Middle East and give them to the Jews.
This belief is not only a threat to world peace, but it is also totally mistaken and unscriptural. The Bible clearly teaches that God did keep His promise to His chosen people the Jews, and that He did give them all the land that was promised. The boundaries of the land promised are given in Genesis 15:18 - from the river of Egypt (the Wadi El-Arish, not the Nile) to the river Euphrates.
Read Joshua 11:23, Joshua 21:43-45, 2 Samuel 8:3, 1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 8:56, 2 Chronicles 9:26 and Nehemiah 9:7-8, 24 and it will become very clear that God did give all of the land promised to the Jews. If God says that He did, who are we to say that He did not?
It is not necessary for us to start a war in the Middle East to fulfill a promise that God already fulfilled 3400 years ago. As for the Old Testament promises that Israel would be restored some day, these prophecies were fulfilled by the return from the Babylonian Captivity in 536 BC. The prophet Jeremiah is often quoted to prove that God promised a restoration of the Jews to their land and that the promise began to be fulfilled in 1948 AD. However, Jeremiah very clearly said in 606 BC that this prophesied national restoration of the Jews in their land would take place within 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10, Daniel 9:2). Christian Zionists need to study their Bibles more carefully, so that they will realize that God already kept His promise, when He said that He would, and that we do not need to stir up war and bloodshed in the Middle East in order to fulfill the promise yet again.
Christian Zionism and dispensationalism represent a giant step backward in our theological progress. Instead of resting in the once-for-ever sacrifice by Christ on the Cross for our sins, dispensational Zionists look forward to the building of another temple in Jerusalem with animal sacrifices. Instead of rejoicing in the New Covenant which was promised to all God's people, Jeremiah 31:31-34, they want to go back to the Old Covenant which has been forever abrogated. Instead of inviting our precious, beloved Jewish friends to partake in the eternal blessings of the heavenly Jerusalem, they try to send them back to the Old Jerusalem, even though they believe that 2/3 of them will be slaughtered in a 7-year period of Tribulation to come very soon.
The entire tendency of this theological system is to lead us all back to Judaism. The founder of dispensationalism, John Nelson Darby, openly admitted that his teaching would lead us back to Judaism. Let us rather heed the exhortation of the apostle saying, "Let us go on," Hebrews 6:1, rather than turning back to the empty shadows of a religion that was meant only to prepare mankind for the coming of Christ.
The duty of Christian churches today is to seek the well-being of Jews according to the flesh, Romans 9:3. We will accomplish that, not by lobbying for the territorial expansion of Israel, but rather by preaching the Gospel and planting churches, thereby giving all Jews and Gentiles an opportunity to enter the heavenly Jerusalem for all eternity.
Mr. Thomas Williamsom is an ordained Baptist minister who lives in Chicago, Illinois. WHTT hopes you will visit his website