Jesus and a Palestinian State

Sunday, September 25, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

The Palestinian statehood bid provided a platform for many views and positions regarding the Middle East, including those of Evangelical Christians who no longer believe in the validity of the promises contained in the Bible.

In the run-up to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas officially requesting UN membership for the "State of Palestine," Carl Medearis, a recognized expert on Middle East Christians, suggested on CNN's Belief Blog that Jesus would support the Palestinian statehood motion.

"So how would Jesus vote this week if he had a seat at the UN?" Medearis asked. "Surely love, compassion, justice and peace-making would top his lists of concerns for all involved. Maybe he would give a new parable - the Parable of the Good Palestinian - offending all who would hear."

Medearis continued by deriding the Christian Zionist movement and its insistence on a literal reading of the Bible:

"In their minds, the modern Israeli state is not only a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. In a bizarre twist that leaves most outsiders dumbfounded, Christian Zionists say the Bible predicts that Jews and Palestinians will forever be at war until Jesus returns."

Medearis' remarks were hotly debated in various publications, but it is not his personal view of the situation that is troubling. Medearis was merely the mouthpiece of a post-modern, humanist-infected strand of Christianity that no longer believes the Bible carries any literal meaning beyond the commandments regarding basic gestures of goodwill and proper moral behavior.

In other words, while it is still important to love one's neighbor and not to steal, passages like Jeremiah 31:36-38 or Ezekiel 36:24-28 that confirm the eternal nature of Israel's divine right to the land are, in Medearis' words, "obscure Old Testament promises."

In order to cement their position as the "sane Christians," Medearis and others like him will highlight the often-unsympathetic positions of those perceived "lunatics" who do hold fast to the Bible's every promise.

It is true that in their zealousness a good many Christian Zionists often spout rhetoric that is hateful toward the Palestinian Arabs. It is also true, as Medearis pointed out, that Yeshua told us to love our enemies, even those seeking Israel's demise. But this point of supporting Israel (uncritically, Medearis wrongly claims) and opposing Palestinian statehood is not what Christian Zionism is really about, not at its core.

Christian Zionism is the recognition that long-awaited biblical promises and prophecies are being fulfilled in our time. It is about getting behind that fulfillment, and opposing efforts to reverse it. And though God may not actually need our help in preventing that attempted reversal, one day we will be held accountable for the stand we took (or didn't take). Ultimately it is a question of whether or not God keeps His word and has the sovereignty in our lives to do so.

"Christian Zionists believe the scriptures are true, active and alive today. They believe that by acknowledging the truth that God has given the Land of Israel to the Jewish People as an everlasting inheritance we are acknowledging God's sovereignty," wrote local Messianic leader Eliyahu Ben-Chaim in his book Setting the Record Straight.

If God can renege on a promise to Israel that He repeatedly labeled as "everlasting," surely we should all be concerned that other promises can be annulled or rewritten, like that promise of eternal life for the members of an equally sinful Church.

The truth is that God does not go back on or alter His promises. He made abundantly clear that the most important factor is the glory of His name. The biblical record has shown, even up to the present day with the rebirth of Israel, that when God makes a promise, He keeps it, not for our sake, but for the sake of His good name. To suggest otherwise is to attack not only God's credibility, but, more detrimentally, the glory of His name.

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