CAPE TOWN, November 8th 2022 – Hostility to Israel has taken on yet another ugly form, this time from so-called Christians I’m sorry to say.
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s top decision-making body has passed a series of anti-Israel resolutions, including the call on members to observe Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, which is effectively to believe that Israel has no right to be a nation.
Nakba is the name applied by Palestinians to the Jewish state’s annual Independence Day, and is normally marked by protests, sometimes violent.
The approval by Anglicans of such behaviour is diabolical to say the least, a direct challenge to God’s promises, and an extraordinary irony on several counts as they allow themselves to be used as a mouthpiece of the ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44).
First of all, it flies in the face of the Abraham peace accords through which former enemies of Israel have extended the hand of friendship.
It also goes against the grain of the burgeoning movement of reconciliation between Jews and Arabs who follow Jesus (most Messianic congregations in Israel are mixed).
Thirdly, the apartheid regime was eventually defeated thanks in great measure to South Africa’s leading Jews, such as industrialist Harry Oppenheimer and the courageous MP Helen Suzman.
And yet clerics and politicians from that part of the world now have the gall to accuse Israel of practicing this form of discrimination which, apart from being a shocking lie, is a gross insult to those who suffered most from apartheid.
Yet another irony was the involvement of South Africans in the founding of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem in 1980 to signal support for the Jewish people by recognising their eternal capital – support mostly lacking from the rest of the nations with the honourable exception of President Trump. And now it seems that Britain is backing down from earlier indications that they were prepared to move their embassy to where it rightfully belongs.
Another irony is that Anglicans in England earlier this year held a service of repentance in Oxford Cathedral for historic antisemitism perpetrated by Christians.
I fear that those behind the South African resolutions, and other ‘Christians’ who think this way, are not worshipping the God of our Lord Jesus Christ who is, after all, the God of Israel.
Tragically, it affects our witness to the Jewish people who thus become more convinced that an antisemitic Jesus could not possibly be their Messiah.
As a Cape Town-based missionary with an Anglican society put it:
“To regard the founding of any nation as a catastrophe is ungodly to say the least, but this kind of thing conveys a distorted picture of Jesus to the Jewish community which makes witnessing much harder.”
A Haifa-based pastor has credited Christians who love Israel as responsible for bringing his family into a relationship with the Saviour. This is also the likely effect of the many thousands of Christians from around the world who attend the annual Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem to indicate their love and support for the nation.
Commenting on the response to their ‘march’ of witness from Israelis lining the route, one of those who went this year said:
“I’ve never felt such joy and received so much love from Israelis.”
Another described it as “a wonderful rehearsal for the millennial age” (see Zechariah 14:16).
But we should be slow to point a finger at Anglican failings at the southern tip of Africa. For much of the Western church has effectively been saying the same thing for years – that modern Israel is unrelated to biblical Israel; that the Jewish nation making such an impact on today’s world is somehow an aberration and not part of God’s plan.
All of which is a travesty of the truth. Much of this ‘theology’ emanates from the unscriptural teaching that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s purposes.
We should hang our heads in shame for entertaining such ideas, and repent while we can. The Bible is sprinkled with hundreds of references to Jewish restoration – both to the land (called ‘making aliyah’) and the Lord.
Here is just one example from Jeremiah, speaking for the Lord:
“See, I will bring them (Israel) from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth.” (Jeremiah 31:8)
And he goes on to announce God’s promise of a new covenant with the people of Israel (verse 31). Did you notice that? Not “with the Church” but “with the people of Israel,” though of course Gentiles are, by grace, able to share in that covenant.
Later in the same chapter, the Lord promises that as long as the sun shines by day and the moon and stars by night, Israel will never cease to be a nation before him (verses 35-37).
I agree with American pastor Lou Engle, who I understand has called for the Church to make ‘spiritual aliyah’ – by which he means returning to the Jewish roots of our faith. That’s my prayer too.
For unless we identify with the Jewish people, from whom we have been blessed both with the Scriptures and our Messiah, and take every opportunity of showing them love and concern amidst rising antisemitism, how can we expect them to respond positively to our message?
As Isaiah put it, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news…who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7)
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew First, A Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.
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