Since the release of Summorum Pontificum, various talking heads have been apoplectic because the Tridentine mass includes a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Much ado is being made of nothing, though.
I’ve heard many Christians imply or explicitly state that Christians ought to be supportive of Israel in ways that exceed our support of other nations. This is predicated on the notion that Israel is still a nation of God’s chosen people. I’m curious what their theological basis for believing this is.
The argument, as I understand it, is that God never backs out on a promise, let alone a covenant. Thus, the state of Israel, as the remnant of that once mighty nation, is favored by God. As such, Israel deserves the unwavering support of Christians, who are bound to protect that which is made holy by God. For me, this argument fails in two ways.
For the first, let’s assume that the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 19-24) is still in effect. In that case, I do not believe that the political entity known as Israel is identifiable as the other party contractually bonded with God. Through the work of Jesus Christ, Jews and Gentiles are united in one Mystical Body of Christ (c.f. Ephesians 2:13-18), and that body, the Church, is the new Israel. God did not stop favoring Israel. He did, however, redefine who are Israelites. In other words, in this view the Mosaic covenant was transferred to the Church and the modern political entity of Israel is not in a unique covenant with YHVH. Therefore, it deserves no extraordinary protection or unquestioning support from Christians.
For the second means of failure, we need not assume that the old covenants were transferred to the Church. Rather, the old Mosaic covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 8:6,13) was terminated and replaced with the new Messianic covenant (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8,13; 9:15; 12:24). The people of Israel were bound by the covenant to adhere to the Law. Since Israel had not adhered to the Law, God was not obliged to fulfill His end of the bargain, yet He continued to do so. During the times the Israelites did respect the Law, God made them a great nation. However, when they did not, He allowed invasions, exiles, and other calamities to befall them. Ultimately, the life, death, redemptive suffering, and resurrection of the Messiah were the final fulfillment of the Law and the old covenant. Jesus established a new covenant with a new Israel, chosen not by racial descent but by grace through faith, bound not by Law but love. In this view, even if the political Israel is identifiable with the nation of the old covenant, that covenant has been fulfilled and no longer binds either party. The Church is the new Israel and therefore the political nation of Israel deserves no extraordinary protection or unquestioning support from Christians.
In light of these two interpretations of God’s covenantial relationships with Israel and the Church, I wonder how Evangelicals and Fundamentalists defend the belief that Israel is still representative of God’s holy people. I’m no scripture scholar, so do not take my questions and assertions as surety on my part. I look forward to discussing this issue with those having opposing views. Given the current strife in the Holy Land, Christians’ role in the affairs of Israel has become a matter of some importance.
There are three key reasons why Christians must support Israel.
* For Humanitarian Reasons.
* For Political Reasons. The State of Israel has the only true democratic system of government in the entire Middle East and has been America’s most faithful supporter in the region.
* For Religious Reasons. The founding of Israel as a nation in 1948 was ordained of God to provide a homeland for the Jewish people and to prepare for the future return of Jesus Christ. The Abrahamic Covenant demands it.
- I’m all for humanitarian aid, but I think it should be offered to all civilians hurt by this conflict, regardless of nationality.
- Since the State of Israel has received unwavering support from the United States, I’m not surprised that it’s America’s most faithful supporter in the region. Anyhow, why should "faithful support" from them guarantee future unquestioning support from us?
- The founding of Israel in ’48 was ordained by God?!? Says who? Proof, please.
"You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" – Matthew 23:24
The irony in the following was too good for me to pass up. My favorite (I mean that. He’s a nice fellow when not on his soap box.) Bible thumpin’, street preachin’, Jack Chick resemblin’ Fundamentalist, Rand, had an unpleasant exeperience at a church he recently visited.
"We visited a Brethren Gospel Hall on the Lord’s Day and we enjoyed the sermon. There was however, a weird moment, at the Lord’s Table. The problem was with one of the elements. It was the bread. They distributed a loaf of bread; a loaf of leavened bread that you would find at any bakery."
The following day he explained why that was wrong.
"Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.’" (NIV)
"Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD.’" (NASB)
"Adam slept with Eve his wife. She conceived and had Cain. She said, ‘I’ve gotten a man, with GOD’s help!’" (The Message)
"The man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.’" (NAB)
"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.’" (ESV)
Why have I listed five versions of the same verse? I believe they demonstrate differing viewpoints on translational accuracy in the Bible. The first three more clearly convey in modern language what Adam and Eve did. On the other hand, the last one maintains more of the meanings found in the Hebrew. (I do not mean this as an apologia for the ESV. I’m well aware of the many faults that are not apparent in this particular verse. ) "To know" is idiomatic and obviously denotes sexual intercourse. It means more than that, though. It connotes intimacy and the notion of becoming "one flesh". "Cain" sounds like the Hebrew for "gotten". Strangley, more of the translations maintain this parallel. But I digress; it is "to know" that interests me today.
An interesting thought occurred to me as I listened to today’s scripture readings at mass. I’m speaking specifically of the Old Testament and Gospel readings. Here they are.
“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests…[If] he is a leprous man, he is unclean; the priest must pronounce him unclean; his disease is on his head. The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp.'” – Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46
“And a leper came to [Jesus] beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.’ But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.”
Today, I noticed an interesting contrast in these verses that I’d never noticed before. Hearing the passage from Leviticus, we picture a leprous man submitting himself to a priest. The priest declares the man unclean, thus sentencing him to a life outside of common society in order to prevent the spread of his contagion. Whereas in the gospel a leper approaches the Great High Priest, Jesus, who declares him clean and sends him back into common society. Once there, he tells of the good news of Jesus’ healing power, and that news spreads like a contagion. As a result, Jesus is unable to openly enter towns and remains in the country. In effect, Jesus takes the place of the leper.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of that, but I found it fascinating and wanted to share it. Anyone else have some light to shed on this matter?