“And the scripture, foreseeing that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
preached the gospel to Abraham before-
hand, saying, “In you all the nations shall
In recent years a number church convocations have come to conclusions that are unbiblical but widely believed in Christian circles. The first was the special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Catholic Bishops convened in 2010. Speaking of Israel’s place among the nations they concluded that, “the Abrahamic Covenant has been annulled.” By doing this they can remove Israel’s divine right to the land of Canaan and to Jerusalem. Naturally, if this be true, then Israel enjoys no biblical significance, her modern day restoration is an accident of history and she takes her place amongst the nations of the earth like any other. God has no more purpose for her than He does for Zambia or Switzerland!
The second convocation was that of the Lausanne Conference of Evangelicals that gathered in Cape Town also in 2010. They agreed entirely with the Bishops of Rome in that their pre-conference statement noted that… “we strongly believe that the separate and privileged place given to Jewish people today or to the modern Israeli state in certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, should be challenged, inasmuch as they deny the essential oneness of the people of God in Christ.” Thankfully, after this convocation and because of much pressure, they altered this statement to reflect a more open and neutral view on the matter. However, it is to be noted that to believe in a national destiny for the Jewish people in the land of Canaan does not in any way deny the “essential oneness of the people of God in Christ” because we believe that all people be they Jew or Gentile can only be saved by appropriating by faith the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
The third convocation is the one just recently held by the Church of Scotland in 2013. This convocation not only stated that Israel’s modern day restoration has no biblical significance but it went on to cast doubt on the historical veracity of the Abrahamic Covenant thus implying that at no time in history did it guarantee Canaan as a homeland for the Jewish people! This abuse of scripture by this gathering of so called learned clergy is breathtaking to say the least; especially in the light of Genesis 17:7-8 and Psalm 105:7-12.
Once again, simply put, this means that for these church movements Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys no biblical significance whatsoever. Christians can and should ignore it and move on to more important spiritual things. The Catholic Bishops were at least honest in that they recognized that to hold their position on Israel they have to define the “battle ground.” That is, they must declare the Abrahamic Covenant entirely obsolete and abolished by God Himself. There is just one problem for them in this regard and that is that scripture nowhere says it. It is an argument from silence and wishful thinking!
In fact, if anything, the New Testament scriptures everywhere affirm the ongoing efficacy of this covenant even going so far as to declare that it cannot be annulled (Galatians3:17), that it constitutes an example to believers of God’s truthfulness and unswerving faithfulness (Hebrews6:13-20) and that the finished work of Jesus on the cross was to make good its promises (Galatians3:9; 13-14;). Indeed, if we are Christ’s we are “Abraham’s children according to the promise (covenant).” (Galatians3:29)
Moreover, I know of no Christian Zionist who affords a privileged place to Jews or Israel. If anything, the call of God over the Jewish people was never a “privileged place” but a place of servant hood, suffering and rejection for the sake of the world! As a gentile believer in Christ Jesus I would not want their role in history, but truly I have been eternally enriched by it because “salvation is of the Jews”, “we share in their spiritual things” and from them “Christ came who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
To assert then that, since Jesus’ coming, the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished or somehow reconstructed is quite frankly theological ineptitude! The scriptures nowhere support this theory. In fact, if accepted, these convocations are guilty of the very theological position that they claim to be against! That is, they are guilty of being dispensationalists because they endorse the movement of one plan of God to another throughout history. This is classic dispensationalism! We reject dispensationalism in all its forms because there has only and forever been one plan of God for the salvation of the whole world (Revelation13:8). This plan was unveiled and promised in the Abrahamic Covenant which, according to Paul was the first and foundational proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus. (Galatians3:8) The fact that this saving initiative also promised land as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people (Genesis17:8-9) has always “stuck in the throat” of many people and groups. (Nehemiah2:19-20; 4:1-3; 6:1-2)
The fact is; all nations are blessed and saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus because of the peculiar servant role that Israel has played out on their behalf. A calling that Paul admits is irrevocable! (Romans11:29) For this role or call to be removed the Abrahamic Covenant has to be removed but, if that ever happens and it will not, God’s decision to save the world also has to be removed! It is worthy of note that, years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials, the writer of the book of Hebrews holds up the Abrahamic Covenant to wavering Jewish believers as an example of God’s faithfulness to his word, character and promises. Apparently he was wrong!
The Lausanne Conference, the Catholic Bishops and the Church of Scotland are not only guilty of dispensationalism but of also casting doubt over the character of God in that He has lied! But God is not a man that He should lie. (Numbers 23:19) (Titus 1:2) They have thereby disqualified themselves from participating in one of the most remarkable acts of God in history and have failed to “rightly divide” the word of God. One wonders whether the pressure of having to be politically correct has caused them to do this?
It needs to be borne in mind that the position held by Christian Zionists today was also held by great Christian leaders throughout history including the Wesley’s, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, Professor Jacob Janeway of the Scottish National Church, Robert Murray McCheyne, Sir Isaac Newton, the early church leaders, as reflected by the documents of the early church, and many thousands more down to the present time.
That we are, and all should be, concerned about issues of justice and righteousness in the Middle East and elsewhere is a given. We should be committed to the “whole counsel of God” and are. However, I want to know why these church convocations have abandoned the people of South Sudan where two million Christians, in the last decade and more, were killed at the hands of Muslims and why they have said and done nothing about the “forgotten war” in central Africa that has thus far claimed the lives of four million people? And, what of the thousands of Christians who are being murdered across the Middle East and Africa today by Muslims not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Muslims that are being murdered by their fellow Muslims in Libya, Syria and Iraq? Obviously righteousness and justice for these convocations is a matter of “special selection.” Or, are these people left without hope because, in most cases, they are African?
“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your
Trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and
Contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.”
The “Super Snooper” is the Christian who thinks that it is his spiritual duty to debunk anything pertaining to Christianity that is part of the prevailing culture. In fact this mission, which he or she embarks upon, isolates them from the world that they are called to reach with Christ’s Gospel and turns their witness into something more like hot mustard and vinegar than that of salt and light. Sadly the Super Snooper is proud of his position and never questions why his community of believers is small and ineffective and why his children have rebelled against the system. They defend these realities by affirming that they are the true “little flock and remnant.”
The truth however is that we do not preach against the culture wherein we find ourselves but against sin and ungodliness that afflicts every society. The prevailing culture in Jerusalem in Paul’s day was one of Temple ritual and observance of the Law and he knew that he would have to work with it rather than against it as he preached the Gospel. For this reason he bowed to the culture and did the things that it practiced in order to preach the good news of Jesus. (Acts 21:15-26) The Super Snoop sees this as compromise and failure.
The Target Area
High on the “attack list” of Super Snoopers are Christmas and Easter. At a superficial level their arguments seem plausible but on closer inspection they fall apart. In the western world the celebration of Christmas and Easter have become culturised. That is, part of the fabric of how people live and thus these celebrations constitute their way of life. The commercial world has recognized this and has therefore exploited this way of life as it does all of the prevailing culture. The fact that the commercial world exploits a ball game does not mean that the players on the field do so or the fact that big concerts are exploited by the commercial world does not mean that the musicians or artists do so. It also does not mean that we should never go to a concert or ball game. In like manner, all the Bible believing evangelical churches that I know, and I know a lot of them, always celebrate Easter and Christmas in its biblical context and use these celebrations to reach out to the world with the saving message of Jesus. It is a known fact that many unreached people attend Church once or twice a year at Christmas and Easter because of the culture they live in and thus the Church is afforded a unique opportunity to reach people with Jesus’ message of salvation. The Super Snoopers happily forego this opportunity and so lock their churches on Christmas Day and Easter. “It’s all paganism” they assert and they would rather see people go to a lost eternity than have them in their meetings on the 25th December! By contrast Paul exploited the prevailing culture in which he lived and became all things to all men that he might reach some! (1Corinthians 9:19-23) He even used a pantheon of pagan gods in Athens to do this! (Acts 17:22-34) There is no doubt that whoever built the statue in honor of the “Unknown God” did definitely not have the God of the Bible in mind. It was an unknown pagan god that the builder had in mind and Paul exploited this. The Super Snooper would never do a thing like this just as he wouldn’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th December because the day has pagan associations way back in the past.
The Hypocrisy of Super Snoopers
Sadly it escapes Super Snoopers that in order to hold their position they must reorganize the very calendar by which they live and do their business because all the days of the week are in fact named after pagan gods! So, they will celebrate births, weddings, anniversaries and even deaths on these days but definitely not Christmas or Easter and sadly they cannot see the hypocrisy of all this. I recently met a person like this and he invited me to meet him on Woeden’s Day at a certain time. Woeden’s Day is Wednesday! When I pointed this out to him he was unable to explain his position. He was a hypocrite by default not by intention and I lovingly pointed this out to him. The Super Snooper is therefore selective in his war with the culture around him; he has withdrawn from this culture and has thereby disconnected himself from the purpose of God and, unlike Paul, attributes wisdom and spirituality to himself by so doing. Many are sadly ensnared by this stuff.
An examination of Church history reveals that Christianity designated the celebrations of Easter and Christmas on particular days not to bring paganism into the Church but to demonstrate the triumph of the Church over the pagan origins of these feasts and days. To condemn the celebration of these days because of the ancient pagan root attached to them would be the same as condemning Paul for using a pagan idol in Athens to preach the good news of Jesus. We end up hypocrites!
The Testimony of Great Christians
Great Christians, that we all honor and respect, down through the centuries celebrated Christmas and Easter. No one can deny this and to assert that they were in some way blinded is arrogance at its best. They brought thousands, if not millions, to Christ and they used every opportunity to do so including Christmas and Easter; eternity will testify to this. The Super Snooper wills say on “That Day”, “Lord we knew you were holy and righteous and closed our doors on Christmas Day and Easter in order to honor You and so here I give You the “talent” back that You gave me. It has not been multiplied in honor of Your name.” I will leave you to consider what our Lord’s response will be but Matthew twenty-five verses twenty-four to twenty-eight might help you?”
In addition there is no harm in decorating one’s home during these celebrations, with a Christmas tree! Even the Lord God of Heaven decorates His great messianic Temple with trees. (Ezekiel 41:18-20) Actually, many of us decorate our homes anyway with trees! One can enter many homes and find them done out with small decorative trees. The thing is, we do not worship these trees and in all my sixty-one years of living under the sun I have never seen a real Christian, or anybody for that matter, worship a Christmas tree. Have you? It is merely a thing of beauty and it goes back to the great Reformer Martin Luther who encouraged Christians everywhere to decorate trees with candles in honor of Jesus’ birth. The Super Snooper will of course try and make his case against Christmas Trees by quoting Jeremiah ten verses one to five which has to do with cutting down trees and decorating them with the express intention of worshipping them as gods. Christmas trees have never been put to this use and this is why almost all the great preachers of history have endorsed them and decorated their homes with them.
The Real Casualties
A home beautifully adorned to honor Jesus is a place of blessing, warmth, love and precious memories. Christmas and Easter in our home was always traditional, still is, and the precious memories of family and friends together, reading the Word of God, praying and giving thanks to God for the gift of Jesus’ life and death, will remain with us forever. We took strangers and lonely people in at Christmas time and shared the wondrous love of God with them. Was God pleased? I think so. By contrast the Super Snooper locked his home and Church, hid away and said “Humbug!” Sadly, the real casualties in all of this were his children. They entered the homes of fellow Christian friends and saw the beauty, felt the warmth and wondered why they couldn’t share in all of this? For these kids Christianity became a “kill joy” and when they went home and enquired of their parents why they didn’t celebrate as other Christians did they were told, “Because these Christians are not as spiritual as we are and are doing pagan things!” How else could they answer? In most cases, and this too I have seen in all my years of church planting and ministry, these children rebelled against the Christian faith and departed wholly from the Church. I could tell you story after story in this regard.
The Ongoing Saga
Sadly, all of this doesn’t stop with Easter and Christmas but spills over into other areas of faith and practice. For instance, I know Christians who will not use the name of Jesus in a culture that is traditionally gentile and Christian. They will quickly rebuke you and demand that you use Jesus’ Hebrew name only; Yeshua. In the Jewish/Israeli world this might be a “key” but even here I have discovered that Israelis, who I lived amongst for fourteen years, prefer Gentile Christians to use the word Jesus. But to be counter culture in a predominantly Christian culture is not smart or helpful towards leading the people of this culture, who are only familiar with the term Jesus, to Christ. Again, upon enquiry, their churches are small, out of touch with the culture around them and, to be honest, strange. I have been in many of these and have looked for the sign “exit.”
More problematic still is the fact that many pro-Israel Christians begin to propagate these things in their churches resulting in pressure groups forming that in the end cause division and schism. This should not be as it brings the legitimate Israel ministry into disrepute and puts ministers on their guard about allowing it to enter their churches. This too I have seen over the years. To have a biblical understanding of Israel should make one an added blessing to the local church and not a source of confusion and more than ever these Christians should have a heart for global missions if they love Israel; for when the “fullness of the Gentiles have come in then all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:25-26) Paul exhorts us to me mature in our understanding and not given to doubtful disputes and things that are not essential. (1Corinthians 14:20)
In the end, I would far rather have overflowing churches on Christmas Day and Easter than empty ones and I would far rather have homes beautifully decorated that build precious and godly family memories than empty and barren ones. I would prefer in every way to hear the wonderful stories of the Incarnation and the death of Christ read to family and friends, accompanied with prayer and praise to God than silence and I would prefer to sing the great and marvelous Carols of the Church on Christmas Day than have the doors of the Church locked. I find great joy and peace as I meditate quietly on Good Friday on all that happened to my dear Savior and I happily join the great throng of those who enter the House of God on Easter Sunday to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus.
Quite frankly, we don’t need any more “unreformed Scrooges’ but what we do need is godly families that will take advantage of the prevailing culture, as Paul did, to share the Good News that Jesus has conquered death for all people and calls all people everywhere to respond to His love through repentance and faith is His finished work on the cross.
On November 29th the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state of the United Nations. This decision gave increased credibility and leverage to the Palestinians in their future negotiations to make this a reality and so the consequences of this decision will be far reaching. It will not escape the astute observer of these things that this decision by the world community to disinvest Israel of her land and Capital took place on the 29th November; for it was on this date 65 years ago that this same body recognized the existence of Israel as a nation state. Now this world forum is seeking to give added strength to a people who through their leaders have waged a relentless war of terror against the Jewish people. This war is not for a state of their own but for the removal of the Jewish State in its entirety. This is not a radical right wing position but rather one that is based on the track record, charter, declarations and deeds of the Palestinian Authority.
Their unaltered charter, in violation of the Oslo Accords, continues to call for Israel’s destruction; their school text books do the same and incite hatred of the Jews, their public statements in Arabic over the years, as monitored by Palestinians Media Watch and MEMRI, have called for Israel’s destruction and removal and in April 1994 in Johannesburg after Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, Yasser Arafat assured a Muslim audience that the PLO had not moved away from the 1964 Phased Plan for the destruction of Israel. Faced with an unprecedented offer of peace from the Israeli government a few years later, that included most of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, he rejected it and provoked a second Intifada. This Intifada deliberately targeted and killed hundreds of Israeli citizens including school children of all ages. Sadly, much of the Western media excused these atrocities and thereby found a way to always blame Israel for them! At no time has Israel ever gone after civilians in an attempt to protect herself from this unrelenting and sustained conflict. Yasser Arafat was not a freedom fighter but a terrorist and indeed the father of modern day terrorism and now his Holocaust denying successor Mahmoud Abbas has been rewarded with statehood by the international community. This is a disgrace and more of a commentary on the evil that lurks in the corridors of the United Nations than anything else. Thankfully Canada and the United States of America called it for what it was and rejected the motion.
The recent war with Hamas in Gaza is part of the same conflict. Having pulled out of Gaza in 2005 with good intentions Israel was rewarded with over 12000 missiles that have rained down on her southern towns and villages. No nation would accept this without a permanent holt to this aggression but once again, by the pressure of the international community, Israel has been bullied into pulling back from a total defeat of these terrorists and this by an Islamist in Egypt who certainly fully supports Hamas and seeks only by this move to consolidate his power base before moving on to deal with Israel in the future! It is a sad day when international politicians of all stripes can no longer discern between good and evil and thus, in the near future, there will be a campaign to rehabilitate Hamas and give it legitimacy!! These calls are already being heard.
We are therefore witnessing the rise of global anti-Semitism and with it a sustained attack against Israel. This attack has been pursued through two strategies: First, that of conflict and terrorism and second, by litigation, the smear of Apartheid leveled against Israel and campaigns to disinvest boycott and sanction Israel. Sadly, many main line churches have given their support to this attack. We are looking at warfare and “lawfare” against Israel and now this will escalate! The goal is to discredit Israel, delegitimize Israel and finally dismantle Israel. The Israelis are putting a brave face on the UN decision but nevertheless it is a serious development and the future will demonstrate how this will be played out. The UN decision of the 29th November has put “the wind at the back” of Israel’s enemies and they will now take full advantage of this. For the present we thank God for the USA and Canada that have stood firm in their support of Israel but we must know that the enemies of Israel will do all that they can to corrupt and break the unshakable relationship that exists between the USA, Canada and Israel.
Seventy years ago thirteen million Jews were threatened in Europe and six million were exterminated while much of the world watched silently. This must not happen again. Now is the time for Christians everywhere to stand up and be counted. We must do all that we can to befriend the Jewish people and Israel. We all have a sphere of influence that we can tap into.
The following words are by Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, please note them carefully:
“In choosing not to stand idly by as the age-old hatred of the Jewish
people has been transferred to the “collective Jew”, I have been speaking
up against the new anti-Semitism that is so pervasive today in the world.
It targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, as the source
of injustice and conflict in the world. It is perversely couched in the language
of human rights. Just as conventional ant-Semitism denied Jews the right to
live as equal members of humanity, the new anti-Semitism denies the State
of Israel the right to live as an equal member of the international community.
Worse still, when this new anti-Semitism expresses itself in the call for the
destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, it is no longer hate speech,
it is incitement to genocide. And we have to name it for what it is.”
The dangers are clear and we must rise to meet them, just as John Baird does, knowing all the time that in the end the battle is the Lord’s and He will not fail His people.
Thus prayer and intercession must be the power behind all that we do.
Praying for our national/political leaders is the number one issue for Christians! You would not think so if one listened to the prayers of God’s people today and yet issues of great national concern are handled by such leaders and even the lives of millions of people are affected by their decisions. This is not a small matter! Generally Christians are profoundly ignorant of the spiritual principles that are involved in this matter and if not ignorant they are confused. That is, many have concluded that their citizenship is in Heaven and therefore we can abandon the world to its own devices! This view crippled the voice of the Church in the Holocaust and six million Jews were murdered and some 53 million people died in the wider conflict of the Second World War! We live under this cloud to our shame.
Sadly many Christians think that the President of a nation should be a preacher like person and at the very least a committed Christian. This is also a delusion and not necessarily biblical. For sure the Bible calls leaders the “servants of God” but not in a Christian way. They are set in place to bring order, law, peace and justice to a people and to, at the very least, acknowledge the involvement of God in the affairs of men. (Romans 13:1-7) The American nation was founded by men like this who were not really “born again” believers but who certainly acknowledged the crucial hand of God in the affairs of men. (Proverbs14:34) To this day the One Dollar note proclaims, “In God we Trust.” America’s prosperity and power has more to do with this than we think. (Psalm 33:12) Its future however does not look good as the Democratic Party has abandoned God, betrayed Israel and the Jewish people and has embraced a culture of chaos that dismembers the family as we know it and celebrates the murder of millions of unborn children all in the name of women having the right to determine what they do with their bodies! God is watching! More troubling still is that millions of Americans think that this is “progressive”, as they put it and so fifty percent of the nation supports this platform. It’s nothing of the sort but merely the moral break-down of the nation and, as Lance Lambert put it recently, the rapid paganization of the State. It’s not new but as old as Sodom and Gomorrah! America is in decline because it is in conflict with the God who made her great.
In short she needs the gift of repentance!
So these principles apply to leaders and nations:
1. God raises up leaders and puts them down. (Daniel 2:21)
2. The spiritual state of the nation is measured by its attempt to honor the Ten Commandments. (2Chronicles 7:17-18) These Commandments are written and stamped on the hearts of men even if they do not have access to them as a written code. Their conscience reminds them of them and when they respond accordingly the blessing of God falls upon them. (Romans 2:12-16) As a consequence God establishes peace in a nation and prospers it and enables the Gospel to be freely preached (This is God’s “common grace” at work in a nation-see Matthew 5:45). Make no mistake these Commandments civilized the Western World and made it great (Genesis 35:11; 17:5-6) but today they are being removed from the public domain and the halls of government. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” It is no coincidence then that many of the great halls pertaining to America’s public and political life were emblazoned with this moral code! The trampling on this code goes hand in hand with America’s plunge into darkness and away from God. It is to be noted that America’s Founding Fathers saw themselves as a covenant people whose values were based on those of Moses. The word Federal actually comes from the Latin word Foedus which means covenant! So, in 1636 for instance, John Cotton presented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with a legal code taken directly from the book of Deuteronomy. This foundation became the bedrock upon which America was built and it was no coincidence that the constitution was signed under the now famous Liberty Bell that has upon it an inscription from Moses that states; “…..Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 25:10)
3. God gives peace, power and prosperity to nations that embrace the yardstick of Moses and He thus gives opportunity for the Gospel of Jesus to be proclaimed. Consider the following:
“Our modern world defined God as a “religious complex” and laughed at
the Ten Commandments as OLD FASHIONED. Then, through the laughter,
came the shattering thunder of World War. And now a blood-drenched,
bitter world-no longer laughing-cries for a way out. There is but one way
out. It existed before it was engraven upon Tablets of Stone. It will exist
when stone has crumbled. The Ten Commandments are not rules to obey
as a personal favor to God. They are fundamental principles without which
mankind cannot live together.” (America’s Prophet by Bruce Feiler)
Israel was forged into a nation and given real freedom when God gave her moral laws by which
to live. This concept or idea governed the lives and thinking of America’s Founding Fathers.
4. When nations abandon this moral code they move to a point of inviting the judgment of God to fall upon them. (Isaiah 24:4-6) This judgment is progressive and cataclysmic. Progressive because it is recognized in the proliferation of sexual perversion, the worship of creation, natural and national disasters and the type of leaders that it gets. God has handed over the nation to its perversions by removing what we call the “gates of consciousness” from its peoples. The consequence is that perversion becomes acceptable, celebrated and approved but actually all this is evidence of the judgment of God. (Romans 1:18-32) It is cataclysmic because the nation is finally overtaken by disaster. Before this point is reached the “spiritual gatekeepers” (Prophets) speak out and begin to warn the nation and its leaders. (Isaiah 14:32)(Jeremiah 7:25)
5. Somewhere in the progressive phase of God’s judgment, that we already see “burning in America”, the nation reaches a point of no return. It deserves a terrifying judgment and only God’s grace and mercy can avert it. We are now fast approaching this point! (Jeremiah 18:1-10)
6. A nation’s attitude to Israel and Jerusalem in particular plays a major role in its blessing or cursing. This includes attempts to divide the land of Israel. (Genesis 12:1-3)(Zechariah12:1-9)(Joel 3:1-3)
7. The Church of the living God must “stand in the gap” and call out to God for mercy. (2Chronicles 7:14) We are, I believe, challenged by the God of heaven to take this position today! We must listen, learn, repent and act!
God says, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30)
Rightly do we gather here today to pray and call out to God for mercy. We must ourselves repent of our wickedness, slothfulness and sin and humble ourselves before the throne of Heaven. November the 8th will not be the choice of men through a ballot box but the choice of God determined by what He knows about the nation. We should expect the worst or ………………?
Note: Readers of this article will be interested to know that two proposals were put forward in 1776 in terms of what the Great Seal of America should be. One of these proposed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson was that of an engraving of Moses leading the children of Israel out of bondage and through the Red Sea to freedom. Freedom came from the moral Law of Moses!
“Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by
day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a
light by night, Who disturbs the sea and its waves
roar (The Lord of Hosts is His name): If those
ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord,
then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a
nation before me forever.”
The Movie “With God on Our Side” is supposed to be a refutation of the biblical position held by Christian Zionists. It is not! In actual fact it is very weak theologically and thus puts up no real theological defense of their position other than to accuse those of holding a differing view of subscribing to dual covenant theology. The weakness of this is self evident because great Christian leaders through the centuries have held Christian Zionist views and yet they were in no way dual covenant by belief. This type of presentation is just arrogance which flows out of the theological insecurity of their position and yet it deceives many because it is coupled with a strong emotional argument. If the truth be told they couldn’t even give a reasonable theological answer to Genesis 12:3!
More troubling still, is the fact that the makers of this movie are guilty of misrepresentation and lying! Not only do I testify to this but so do Pastor George Morrison and Pastor John Hagee. They approached us on the understanding that they were doing a totally different type of production. Given that they were Christians and represented respected churches and Christian organizations I believed them and granted them an interview. Naturally, if I had known their real purpose, I would never have done so. Christians do not lie to one another and should not in any circumstances. (Colossians 3:9)This is the clear teaching of scripture and yet the producers of this movie lied knowingly and without hesitation. This is morally reprehensible; a contradiction of scripture and it totally undermines their so called claim to be people of love, mercy and compassion. A claim that Stephen Sizer himself makes at the end! Jesus said that we shall “know them by their fruit” and not by their grand theological positions! There is no such thing as a “white lie” and scripture teaches that lying is not a small matter as those who do so will not” inherit the kingdom of God.” (Revelation 21:8)
The Exposition of Scripture
The early church had no Canon of the New Testament and did not for the first two hundred years of its existence. When Paul writes to Timothy that “all scripture is inspired and given of God” he was referring to the Hebrew Scriptures or what we call the Old Testament! (2Timoth 3:16) Also when Jesus stated that “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17) He was doing the same thing. The New Testament is not a filter of the Old Testament but a faithful exposition of it!! Thus the early church did not subscribe to “Fulfillment Theology” which is just “Replacement Theology” by another name. It thus did not teach that Jesus was in fact the land of Israel and that the Abrahamic Covenant had been abolished or reconstructed so as to disinvest the Jews of a national destiny in it and yet; the movie makes the outrageous claim that Biblical Judaism was never really about land but about ethics! Anyone who reads the Old Testament will know that this is just nonsense!! It is thus clear from the writings of the early Church, and those of its leaders that were close to the Apostles, that the premillenial view of history was embraced and with it a national restoration of the Jewish people to the land of their forefathers. Please note that I did not write that a pre-tribulation rapture view of eschatology was the pre-millennial view of the early Church. So, Christians who believe in a national destiny of the Jewish people in the land of Canaan are not compromising on the nature of the Gospel and they are most certainly in step with much of the early Church and with great Christian leaders through history in this regard.
The Battle Ground
The battle ground in this debate is none other than the Abrahamic Covenant. The people who produced “With God on Our Side” want you to believe that this covenant has been abolished or reconstructed to mean something else. There is no proof of this in the Bible! In fact it is the New Testament scriptures, which we believe to be fully inspired, that entirely validates the Abrahamic Covenant and holds it up as proof of God’s faithfulness to His people. This Covenant has many aspects:
1. It is the one of the first proclamations of the Gospel. (Galatians 3:8)
2. It bequeaths to the Jewish people (seed as in plural) the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession. (Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12)
3. It promises a unique blessing of salvation for the world through the seed(singular) of Israel (Genesis 22:16-19)…and;
4. It gives a stern warning and blessing to those who respond to it. (Genesis 12:3)
When Abraham believed what God was saying to him through this covenant it was accounted to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)That is, he was saved by faith since the covenant, apart from all its other aspects, focused on Jesus!!! This is precisely the point that Paul was making in Galatians three. His readers were in danger of returning to Law as a means of salvation since they were being deceived by what theologians call “Judaizers.” (Galatians 3:1-9) Paul was not reconstructing the Abrahamic Covenant when he wrote to the Galatian believers but merely pointing out that the Law which was given 400 years later did not nullify the promise in this Covenant that God would save the world through the saving work of the “Seed”; Jesus. (Galatians 3:15-16) Salvation is only by faith in His finished work. (Galatians 3:17-18) This was his point and it provoked the question, “Then why did God give us the Law?” Paul answers this by saying, “As a teacher to lead us to Christ.” (Galatians 3:24) That is the Law convicts us of sin. (Romans 3:20) This and this alone is the context of Galatians three. Indeed Paul goes on to validate and confirm the efficacy of the Abrahamic Covenant by stating that if you “belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s children according to the promise”. (Galatians 3:29) Paul was expounding the Abrahamic Covenant as it was originally given and he was not changing it!
Note: To use Galatians three as a means to somehow invalidate the Abrahamic Covenant and debunk it is nothing short of presumption and an argument from silence!!! Yet, this is what the producers of the movie” With God on Our Side” set out to achieve in order to biblically delegitimize Israel’s modern day restoration. There is no doubt that they are accusing God of lying since this Covenant is sworn to, by God Himself (Hebrews 6:13-20), to be everlasting in all its aspects, and indeed it was the reason that John the Baptist and Jesus came! (Luke 1:54-55; 72-75) Not one passage in the New Testament disqualifies it or suggests that it is obsolete.
The Conditional Nature of the Abrahamic Covenant
The Abrahamic Covenant is conditional and unconditional! Herein lays the theological confusion and this is why the issue is so complex leaving the average Christian vulnerable to the error projected by “With God on Our Side.” That is, the promise that the Land of Canaan would be the everlasting possession of the Jewish people is a fact and unalterable but the domicile of the Jewish people upon the land so promised to them is conditional upon their obedience to God and reconciled relationship with Him. (Deuteronomy 28) Failure at the latter will result in warning, correction, judgment and exile. This is the mission and ministry of the Major and Minor Prophets. History clearly affirms this truth. So, the land is theirs forever but their privilege of living upon it is conditional upon their righteousness! In other words; a Holyland is for a holy people! This also means that they should be a people who love the stranger in it and deal with him justly and compassionately. (Exodus 22:21)This was the true message being conveyed to Joshua by the Angel of the Lord as he prepared to lead Israel into the Promised Land. (Joshua 5:13-15) God is indeed on His own side and that is the side of His grace, love and mercy but also the side of His holiness and righteousness. The real truth about the movie, “With God on Our Side” is that the producers think that God is on their side!! They actually say as much since they accuse Christian Zionists of being guilty of dual covenant theology, they delegitimize Israel’s biblical credentials and those that are international. Finkelstein asserts that Israel has nothing to negotiate over since she doesn’t have anything to start with! By this sweeping generalization he contradicts the Bible and international law. The latter has been well established by Alan Dershowitz, one of America’s most respected and renowned legal practitioners, who also helped craft Resolution 242 of the United Nations.
The Challenges of Israel’s Restoration Today
There is no doubt that many passages of scripture speak of a future and final and glorious restoration of Israel.(Amos 9:13-15; Zechariah 12:1-14; Psalm2; Isaiah 2:1-4; Ezekiel 36-39) Many of these remarkable passages await fulfillment and their context is literal. Just as an aside; we are not literalists or spiritualists but contextualists! In other words; we allow the Word of God to retain its own authority and this we acknowledge by the context. If the passage is literal in context we interpret it as such and if it is spiritual or figurative we interpret as such. For example when Jesus said that He was a “door” or a “vine” we know that He is speaking figuratively but when He enters into a discussion about the future restoration of Israel in Acts 1:6-7 or Luke 21:24 we know that the context is literal and must be expounded as such. By the way the former passage is totally ignored by the producers of “With God on Our Side” because it undoes their thesis! Theirs is, “waffle Iron theology”; meaning that what fits into their scheme they accept but what contradicts their thesis they ignore or cut off like batter on the side of a waffle iron! In fact one of their ardent supporters Naim Ateek has noted the “embarrassing scriptures’ of the Old Testament that contradict his thesis and he has thus suggested that these passages have to be “dezionized” as he puts it. For the unsuspecting reader this means, “rewritten!”
Israel’s modern day restoration is not because of some prophetic expectation or longing for Armageddon, as the producers of this movie assert, but because of God’s faithfulness to His covenant that He made with Abraham 4000 years ago. However having said this, it is worth noting that all the passages of the Bible relating to the Second Coming of Jesus are in the context of a restored Jewish nation in Canaan. Nevertheless, essentially the Abrahamic Covenant has nothing to do with prophecy but rather with God’s faithfulness to His promises. He is not a liar and when He says “everlasting” He means it. (Numbers 23:19) Also, the challenge of this restoration unfolding before us is that Israel remains in disobedience to Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord God of Heaven has promised to change this! (Zechariah 12:10-14; Romans 11:25-26) This does mean that she can expect trouble and difficulties but still her modern day recovery from the nations is a miracle and scripture clearly affirms that her latter day restoration will be in two stages; first, a return to the Land and second; a return to the Lord. (Ezekiel 36:24-28) It also states that there will be a return to Canaan that will be final resulting in the nation never being uprooted again. (Amos 9:14-15)This process has never been fulfilled and is unfolding before us today and therefore since, a Holyland is for a holy people, we have no expectation or desire to support a “greater Israel thesis.” I do not know the full spiritual state of the nation and will thus not try to be god in this process by claiming that I do. All I know is that God, by His promise to Abraham, is fulfilling His word by restoring the Jews to part of their ancient homeland and this does place upon Israel the obligation to act justly and righteously with all those under her sovereignty. Also, we have not and are not pressurizing Israel (or the US government for that matter), in any way to grab land or extend her borders toward a greater Israel in the region. This is ridiculous to say the least. Not even Israelis want this! Also we believe that no one; be they Jew or Gentile can be saved by any means other than by exercising faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. A national destiny for the Jewish people in Canaan does not, and never will, presuppose a different way of salvation. After all this great salvation in Jesus is theirs! (Romans 15:27)
“With God on Our Side” has one glaring deficiency in that it totally ignores Palestinian terrorism against Israel and its root causes. It’s the “elephant in the room.” Why would they do this? Because they do not want to acknowledge the truth and they are driven by such an anti-Israel position that by ignoring it they condone it. They give it a pass! But, I have in my possession the official Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement that goes back decades and which has been embraced by all the Palestinian Resistance organizations such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Fatah, the PLO, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade and many more. This “charter” is clear that Palestinian resistance against Israel is rooted in a radical Islamic theology that perceives the state of Israel as an affront to Islam since it has been “built” on land that once belonged to the Dar Al Salem (the House of Islam). This land, according to this theology, can never be occupied again by infidels or those who are not in submission to Islam since it remains the property of Islam until “doomsday.” The Islamic Resistance Covenant then makes the following statement; “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered; it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until judgement Day.”
The Jewish state must therefore be dismantled and all of the above groups still recognize and support this covenant. Yasser Arafat affirmed his commitment to the total destruction of Israel in 1994 in Johannesburg, just a few months after he shook the hands of Yitzhak Rabin on the lawns of the White House. Moreover, Palestinian Media Watch has confirmed year after year that in Arabic this agenda for the removal of Israel altogether is constantly asserted. Just last month a prominent Palestinian Islamic cleric in Jerusalem made the same call and even called the Jews the “sons of apes and pigs.” When he was called out about it he stated that it was only theological rhetoric! Just imagine what would happen if Israelis called Palestinians apes and pigs! The media would go ballistic equating them to the Third Reich!
This is undoubtedly the major issue surrounding this conflict and it is worth noting that; when the Palestinians had everything they say that they want now from 1948 to 1967 they did not establish a state but an organization dedicated to the total destruction of Israel. This too, “With God on Our Side” deliberately glosses over.
The Palestinian Church is small and struggling and definitely needs our help and prayers. The bigger picture all around them of radical Islamic goals, as described above is intimidating and has placed them under huge pressure. They are truly “between the “tyre and the tube” and consequently many have left for more friendly shores. As the erstwhile leader of a huge Christian Zionist ministry in Israel we actually have invested millions of Shekels in the social improvement of the Palestinian communities and we have helped this vital expression of the Church of Jesus. We cannot do otherwise and we are not unmindful of our biblical obligations in this regard. The presentation by “With God on Our Side” suggests that if you are a Christian Zionist then you hate Arabs and Palestinians. This too is just nonsense but no doubt the gullible and unsuspecting will believe it.
The Wall of Discontent
Here too “With God on Our Side” resorts to half truths and blatant lies about the purpose and need for the controversial barrier fence. It was erected, in the middle of the Second Intifada as an instrument to stop terror. This it did with remarkable effectiveness since, before its erection; Israelis were being blown up in buses, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and public squares in their hundreds. The wall/fence put an end to this and it was not allowed to be placed on the so called “Green Line” as the international community stated that this would constitute a de facto delineation of a future Palestinian State. I well remember reading all the back and forth about this. Naturally, “With God on Our Side” conveniently ignores this “little detail.”
The Unfounded Conclusions of With God on Our Side
The movie presupposes:
1. That all Christian Zionists subscribe to the “greater Israel thesis.” They do not!
2. That all Christian Zionists are Dispensationalists. They are not!
3. That Christian Zionists love Jews but hate Palestinians. They do not!
4. That Christian Zionists are “dual covenant” (believing in two ways of salvation). They do not!
5. That Christian Zionism goes back to John Nelson Darby in Scotland in 1830. It does not!
6. That Christian Zionists want to trigger “Armageddon”. They do not!
7. That Jesus taught “Fulfillment theology.” He did not!
8. That the modern state of Israel has no international legitimacy. It does!
9. That radical Islamic theology has no influence on the conflict. It does!
10. That the Abrahamic Covenant has in part been abolished. It has not!
11. That biblical Judaism was never about land but ethics. It was not!
12. That the Jews of today are somehow not the Jews of the past. They are!
13. That only those people holding the views put forth by, “With God on Our Side”, are compassionate and full of love. They are not!
Having said all of this it is clear that many Christian Zionists need to clean up their act. “With God on Our Side” gives us an opportunity to recognize that some of things that have been projected in it do apply to some Christian Zionists. For instance there are most certainly those who have wandered off into dual covenant theology and who have become troublesome and a nuisance to churches with their crazy new found Jewish Roots ministry. Too often their theological ignorance leads the unsuspecting into legalism! They need to read Paul over and over again. Moreover, I have certainly met those whose only engagement with Israel is, not because they really care about the Jews but rather, because the Jews fulfill their prophetic charts and expectations. The pre-tribulation rapture teaching is also a serious problem as it attacks the nature of the atonement and that of the Church. It did come out of Closed Brethren Movement of Scotland in 1830 and it has impacted large segments of the evangelical Church.
Christian Zionists must also be clear about the need to “do good to the household of faith” and therefore they must seek a new engagement with the Palestinian Church. The Palestinian Church also needs our prayers as they face challenges that are huge and the greater conflict around them, driven by Islamic radicalism, has made their lives extremely difficult. Walls and checkpoints put in place by Israel also contribute to their daily hardships and are not the answer in the long run. Therefore, we should all be concerned about the pursuit of a peaceful resolution to this conflict. ‘With God on Our Side” is so distorted and biased that sadly it will not now or in the future make this contribution because for them it’s all Israel’s fault. How narrow minded can one get!
©Malcolm Hedding Ministries