[Cross-posted at RedBlueChristian]
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.
Update 03/24/06: Jerry Falwell has provided a perfect example of the kind of Evangelical reasoning I’m talking about.
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.