Asking The Wrong Questions: Kevin H
Questions about to what extent do the land promises of God to Israel in the Old Testament still apply today, to what extent will a national Israel or Jewish population play a role in the times leading up to the Second Coming of Christ, and to what extent of biblical importance is the modern state of Israel, are all questions of much study and debate within Christian belief and doctrine.
Seemingly, a good many Christians who believe that the land promises still fully apply today and that this current manifestation of Israel is of great importance, support and justify pretty much everything that modern day Israel does and never dare to say a critical word about her. From this faction, we regularly hear the refrains that God will bless those who bless Israel and stern warnings to those who oppose Israel in any way….. ostensibly, Israel can do no wrong. I am reminded of an incident many years ago where I was working in a company with many other Christians, when a Christian colleague of Egyptian descent made some sort of critical comment about Israel and another Christian colleague immediately, loudly, and combatively accused the Egyptian Christian of committing blasphemy and demanded that he repent.
During this current war in Israel, we are seeing those who speak only in absolute terms of supporting Israel and acting as if all the contentious issues in that land are simply solved by God’s land promise – God gave it all to the Jews, so why is there even any debate about anything going on there….. the Jews must be right. Simultaneously, in our political climate, we see those who speak only poorly of Israel and only positively of Palestinians, even Hamas – the reasoning often being that Israel is the oppressor and so the oppressed are righteous and justified to do anything against her, even the kidnapping, torturing, and murdering of innocent civilians, indeed even babies.
For those of us who follow Christ, the question is, why do we allow secondary, uncertain, genuinely theologically debated issues take precedence in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions over those things which are primary and/or clear and obvious in Scripture? Moreover, why do we allow political beliefs, desires, and loyalties, precede the plain teachings of Scripture?
Inevitably, Christians have historically struggled with the temptations to become fixated on secondary doctrines and issues and allow those things to negatively affect their attitudes and behaviors on more important things. From the “End Times”, to the Calvinism/Arminian debates, to what foods could be eaten in the New Testament church, Christians have long fallen into the trap of majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors. This so often results in a lack of love, sinful actions, unhealthy and unnecessary division, and hurt people. All the more today and especially in recent years, we have witnessed political ideologies and loyalties take on an outsized importance in the Christian culture, further perverting theology and doctrine, and forging an atmosphere which is rife with misplaced priorities and corrupt allegiances.
So when we see Israel treating Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank harshly or unjustly, do our minds go to the primary teachings of Scripture such as loving our neighbor, or do we default to a predilection to defend Israel no matter the issue?
When we see Israel killing thousands upon thousands of civilians in attempts to wipe out a far smaller number of the enemy who attacked them, does it cause us to at least pause and think about the morality and legitimacy of taking such life in regards to everything we are taught in Scripture, or do we just automatically justify it all because God gave the land to Israel?
Do we choose to admit that there were multiple and very long periods of time that God, Himself, brought judgment upon Old Testament Israel and drove them out of the land because they were living in disobedience and faithlessness to Him, or do we choose to ignore those historical happenings and unquestionably support everything Israel does because we focus only on “God blesses those who bless Israel”, wanting ourselves and our country to get blessed?
Contrarily, if we happen to be of the other political bent, do we also ignore the clear commands of Scripture to not murder and love our neighbor when we see Hamas intentionally capture and kill civilians in Israel and choose instead to justify what they did because we have decided that we must always and unequivocally support the oppressed, even when they do things that are seemingly morally wrong?
When there is great injustice in the world, when war breaks out, when there is political and cultural turmoil at home….. do we default to loving our neighbors or do we default to our pet theological and political positions and loyalties? Do we default to remembering the Gospel and the Beatitudes and the Fruits of the Spirit, or do we default to actions and attitudes which are expedient to proving our side to be right and achieving victory for it?
Is our goal to achieve victory and set all things right according to our own eyes, or is it to love and serve our neighbor, to love and serve Christ, and to faithfully make Him known?