Is Israel the apple of God’s eye?

How many times have you heard someone say, I believe the Jews i.e. modern-day Israel, are God’s chosen people and the apple of God’s eye? In the minds of many, this view is so sacrosanct that to dare question it is to hang one’s toes over the precipice of heresy. Rather emphatically and defiantly, John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, makes clear that receipt of heavenly blessings is contingent upon the way individuals and nations treat Israel. After quoting Genesis 12:3, Hagee writes, “God has promised to bless the man or nation that blesses the Chosen People. History has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the nations that have blessed the Jewish people have had the blessing of God; the nations that have cursed the Jewish people have experienced the curse of God.” So if you even question Israeli policy, Hagee asserts that you become an enemy of God.

Oddly and contrarily, all those who espouse this popular doctrine known as Christian Zionism put little to no emphasis on the way nations and individuals treat Jesus the Messiah. And I find that somewhat curious, don’t you?

It might be argued that Jesus is central in the Christian Zionist view, but if we listen to those championing this message, rarely is there mention of Jesus in this same context. And I find this rather telling. Perhaps it should be the first sign that something is amiss with this supremely popular doctrine.

So, according to this view of the Bible, the secular nation of Israel (which was founded in 1948), is THE focal point of Bible prophecy. Let me again point out that any doctrine, unwittingly or not, neglecting to make Jesus Christ the centerpiece of both history and prophecy, must be questioned. Admitted or not, intention or not, in the political rhetoric of the Christian Zionist, the supremacy of Jesus Christ has been supplanted by the nation of Israel.

And lest anyone think Hagee stands alone, the late Jerry Falwell, founder of one the largest Christian university in the world, echoed Hagee when he wrote, “I believe that the people of Israel are the chosen people of God.” Not to be outflanked, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke in 2006, former presidential candidate and founder of CBN, Pat Robertson, made this startling and disturbing declaration, “God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says ‘This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.’ … He was dividing God’s land. And I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations, or the United States of America.’ God says, ‘This land belongs to me.You better leave it alone.'”  

So, not only must we support the nation of Israel and turn a blind eye to the human rights violations it commits, but we must protect the dirt on which the nation rests lest we incur the wrath of God.

The above statements are standard fare within evangelical Christian leadership and not surprisingly, it is also the view held by the majority of the laity in American mega-churches. Given the dominance of Christian Zionism, one might conclude that this doctrine has overwhelming Biblical support. But to the surprise of those who take the time to study this issue on their own, that is not even remotely the case.

You may be shocked to learn that every New Testament usage of the word “chosen” (by God), refers singularly to those who have faith in Christ. And nary once is it mentioned in the context of national Israel or even physical descendants of Abraham, that they are “God’s chosen people”.

So, how in the name of intellectual honesty, have we come to the place where we regard the Jews as “the apple of God’s eye”? It’s as if the New Testament was never written because save for a few cherry-picked verses, there’s not a shred of New Testament support. Neither Jesus nor any New Testament author ever stated or even implied that ethnicity was a Kingdom factor. Matter of fact, Jesus emphatically stated, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” Does this sound like an endorsement for the Jews continuing to be God’s chosen people? How can one read this and other similar statements in light of what Christian Zionists teach?

It will be developed more thoroughly in the video below, but suffice it to say, the Apostle Paul couldn’t have been clearer in his opposition to Christian Zionism when he wrote, “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GODAND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”  What about the Jewish birthright, Paul?

Well, just a few verses down Paul added, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Therefore, becoming a child of Abraham didn’t/doesn’t involve heritage, birthright or any other physical factor…for we all, both Jew and Gentile Christ-followers, are heirs according to the promise. Today there is neither ethnicity in God’s Kingdom nor is there any advantage to being born with even a fraction of Abraham’s blood. The first century Jews had every advantage (Romans 9:1-5) but it was all for naught since only a remnant (Romans 9:27; 11:5) was to be saved.

And if you think any of the above verses are isolated, let me say gently that you would be wrong. The New Testament overwhelming rebuts the notion that the Jews are God’s chosen people and it resoundingly opposes this idea that the modern nation of Israel must be supported at all cost. The decision to support Israel or any nation for that matter should be made on political and moral grounds irrespective of one’s bloodline.

At this point let me make clear that I am NOT saying that Israel has no right to exist or to defend itself against aggression. That is a false charge that I, and those who side with the Apostle Paul, have been accused of. Simply because I believe Christian Zionism is seriously misguided and cannot be supported Biblically, does not mean that I side with Muslim extremists who wish to drive Israel into the sea. I vehemently oppose ALL aggression, for Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” And this ministry of reconciliation should be the role of all Christians as we bring the good news of the Gospel to all, showing no genetic partiality.

In fleshing out this extremely important issue, let me recommend to you the following lecture from friend and UK rector, Stephen Sizer. He. in my view, did a masterful job of dealing with and exposing the fallacies of Christian Zionism. If you will set aside your presuppositions for just a few minutes, you may be exposed to some ideas that you’ve possibly never considered. Surely, none of us likes change and we even less want to admit being wrong, but after studying this issue a number of years ago, I was forced to alter my view and admit that I had been very wrong. So please keep an open mind. Perhaps this article and the video won’t cause a complete change of mind right now, but it may provide the seeds that may grow into a paradigm alteration.

Let me add that both Stephen and I love the Jewish people just as the apostle Paul did. For in his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”. Paul was so distraught by the Jews stiff-necked unbelief, that he was willing to be accursed if it meant their salvation. But, and this is a very important distinction: those of us who oppose the doctrine of Christian Zionism don’t love the Jews exclusive of other people groups. Everyone needs the Gospel, no less the Muslim, the Hindu or our mail carrier. 🙂 Jesus Christ has brought His bountiful blessings to the nations, and this includes Israel, but it also includes China, Iran, India and the rest of humanity!

“Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you. So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.” (Galatian 3:6-9)

Anyone, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, deist or agnostic, can become a child of Abraham by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the focal point of human history and how you treat Jesus Christ will determine whether you will be blessed or cursed eternally.

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