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Reconsideration: The Theological Background of Christian Zionism: Bible Prophecy and Israel
Part Three: Reconsideration
by Mikael Knighton
Christian Zionism: The Jews are the "Chosen People" of God
Of fundamental importance to all Christian Zionists is the belief that the Jews are God's "Chosen People"; the "Apple of His Eye". This belief, widely supported throughout both the Hebrew Tanakh and the New Testament, is centered on the biblical description of the Jews as a people who have been "set apart as holy".
For you are a people set apart as holy for ADONAI your God. ADONAI your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his own unique treasure. ADONAI did not set his heart on you or choose you because you numbered more than any other people - on the contrary, you were the fewest of all peoples. Rather, it was because ADONAI loved you, and because he wanted to keep the oath which he had sworn to your ancestors, that ADONAI brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from a life of slavery under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. [Deuteronomy 7:6-8]
Moreover, several biblical passages describe the Jewish people as being the "Apple of God's Eye", and Christian Zionist dogma reflects accordingly. Scriptures lend support for the Jewish people donning such a title on no less than five, separate occasions. (Deut. 32; Psa. 17; Prov. 7; Lament. 2; Zech. 2)
For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye. [Zech 2:8]
Christian Zionism: Rooted in Biblical Prophecy
A cornerstone of Christian Zionist dogma is biblical prophecy. In both the Hebrew Tanakh and New Testament can be found a plethora of writings--many of which were written thousands of years ago by Hebrew prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel-- which foretold of an ingathering, in the latter days, of the Jewish people in their biblical homeland; a restoration of the Jews to Eretz Israel. The Hebrew prophets served as "custodians" of the covenant between God and Abraham, and each of them were tasked with communicating an essential message to the House of Israel. Exegeses of the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel reveal a common, divine pattern in their warnings to and admonishments of the House of Israel. They each foretold of God's impending and divine punishment of His people for their continued disobedience, idolatry, and unwillingness to repent. Yet, these prophetic warnings were routinely proceeded by prophecies through which God promised deliverance and redemption in the wake of His divine wrath. Such can only be the nature of a God who remains faithful to His promises.
The importance of God's faithfulness cannot be overstated, especially when seeking to gain a deeper, more accurate understanding of Christian Zionist dogma. Simply put, the answer to many of today's essential questions pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people may be effectively linked to the faithfulness of God--the One who is called "Faithful and True" (Rev 19:11, 22:6) to His promises. Biblical prophecy is accurate when it is viewed and interpreted through the "prism" of God's faithfulness.
The Rebirth of Israel
While opponents of Christian Zionist dogma see little, if any, value in the biblical parallels that exist between Israel and prophecy, few can deny the clear and present significance of what the prophet Isaiah foretold thousands of years ago. Isaiah 66:8 represents prophecy that unfolded before the very eyes of this generation, as it is a foreshadowing of a time when Israel, as a nation, shall be reborn. While the skeptics are quick to dismiss prophecy as "irrelevant" or "not yet imminent", the circumstances and the reality of what happened on May 14, 1948 simply cannot be overlooked, nor can the significance be denied. For thousands of years, a time in which the Jewish people were scattered and dispersed across "the four winds" (Isaiah 43:5-6) and left without a homeland in which to live, no other historical event can come even remotely close to resembling what the prophet Isaiah foretold nearly 2,700 years ago:
"Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." [Isaiah 66:8]
Biblical scholars far and wide cohesively recognize the declaration of Israel as a sovereign nation on May 14, 1948 as the single most definitive fulfillment of prophecy in the modern era. As Dr. David Reagan, founder of Lamb and Lion Ministries, so eloquently states:
"The prophets stated that when the people were regathered, the nation of Israel would be re-established...This is the cornerstone prophetic event of our age. It is an event that prophetic scholars have pointed to for 400 years amid much scoffing and ridicule by those who did not believe that Israel would ever exist again as a nation."1
1967: Jerusalem Returned to Jewish Sovereignty
Christian Zionists also consider the Jewish reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, as a result of the Six-Day War, as another example of modern prophecy fulfillment. This surrounds the prophecy, spoken by Christ, in the Gospel of Luke.
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. [Luke 21:24]
Christian Zionists maintain that for the first time since their dispersion--a period encompassing over 2,000 years of non-Jewish dominion--Jerusalem's sovereignty was once again returned to the Jewish in 1967.
The Battle for Jerusalem
In addition to biblical prophecies that have already been fulfilled, the doctrine of Christian Zionism looks to several prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled. Furthermore, Christian Zionists assert that a portion of said prophecies are unfolding in the present. One such prophecy with perhaps the highest degree of applicability in this day and age can be found in the book written by the prophet Zechariah.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. [Zech 12:3]
Considering the nature of and circumstances surrounding the current Middle East peace talks--specifically, the "final status" issues concerning Jerusalem, as well as the overwhelmingly-biased, international pressure on Israel to divide her Jewish capital--a justifiable argument may be made surmising that there may be no better time in which to defend the legitimacy of this prophecy's imminence than now. Pursuant with Zechariah's prophecy, Christian Zionists emphatically believe that God will render judgment upon those nations who align themselves against Jerusalem. In fact, the prophecy of Zechariah goes on to state that all nations shall come against the Holy City. A question to ponder: Where does one find mention of the United States in the prophetic events of the latter days? An answer to consider: One doesn't.
The War of Gog and Magog
Among the most intriguing of biblical prophecies can be found in the book of Ezekiel, and marks a spot on the prophetic timeline on which Christian Zionists keep a watchful eye. Yet to be fulfilled, this is an event commonly referred to as the "War of God and Magog". Written approximately 500 years before the time of Yeshua, Ezekiel's 38th chapter foretells of the emergence of an Iranian-Russian alliance that will bring war "against the mountains of Israel". Christian Zionists also believe, pursuant with Ezekiel's prophecy, that the aforementioned alliance will also garner the support of a host of smaller, Arab nations to include Turkey, Libya, and Sudan, to name just a few. Ezekiel states that the enemies of Israel will cover the Holy Land "as a cloud", and the world will see that Israel is seemingly on the verge of annihilation. However, the prophecy confirms that the enemies of Israel will be eradicated on a level that is unfamiliar with recorded history.
And thou shalt come up against my people
of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter
days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may
know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their
eyes. Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in
old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in
those days many years that I would bring thee against them?
"All Israel Shall Be Saved"
Finally, Christian Zionists hold sacred the biblical prophecies foretelling of Israel's redemption, examples of which can be found in both the Hebrew Tanakh and the New Testament. Such an example can be found in the book of Zechariah:
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. [Zech. 12:10]
Turning to the New Testament, we find such a prophecy in the book of Romans:
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliver will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.' [Rom. 11:25-26]
It is with this prophecy that Christian Zionist dogma is aligned in its belief that the salvation of Israel follows God's divine timetable: Warning, Wrath, Forgiveness, and Redemption. Furthermore, Christian Zionists maintain that it is a prophecy that is indicative of not only God's mercy and love, but of His faithfulness to His promises, as well.
The Abrahamic Covenant: "Irrevocable" and "Everlasting"
As previously stated, Christian Zionism rises and falls on the "irrevocable" (Rom 11:29) and "everlasting" (Gen. 17:7) nature of the Abrahamic Covenant, which can be found in the book of Genesis. God's unconditional covenant with Abraham can be effectively broken down into three, essential components. First, God promised Abraham personal blessings:
"As for Me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations" [Gen 17:4] "I will establish my covenant between Me and you, and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you." [Gen 17:7] "And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;" [Gen 12:2]
Second, God promised Abraham and his descendants a great land; to make him a "great nation".
"I will make you a great nation." [Gen 12:1] "On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying 'To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates." [Gen 15:18]
The final component of the Abrahamic Covenant, and perhaps the most well-known, consists of God‘s promise to bless others through Abraham.
"And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." [Gen 12:3]
The Biblical "Mandate" of Christian Zionism
The backbone of Christian Zionism consists of a Biblical "mandate" under which Christians are directed, by the Lord, to bless His people. Christian Zionists know that God blesses those who seek to bless His people, and curses those who would curse them. The mandate of Christian Zionism consists of numerous Scriptural passages found in the Hebrew Tanakh as well as the New Testament. These not only validate the "everlasting" and "unconditional" nature of God's promises to Abraham and his descendants, but also His faithfulness to His people, their restoration to the land of Israel, and future redemption .
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee. [Psalm 122:6]
Christian Zionists believe that God wishes for Christians to pray for the peace of His eternal and indivisible city. As the prophetic events in the Middle East continue to unfold, the need to intercede in prayer on Jerusalem's behalf grows exponentially.
Comfort, comfort ye My people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. [Isaiah 40:1-2]
Christian Zionists seek to "comfort" His people--the Jewish people while proclaiming that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has not abandoned them, and that His promises are still very much alive. Christian Zionists seek to heed His call and "prepare ye the way of the Lord," as Scripture clearly states that "the Deliver will come out of Zion."
The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you. Therefore your gates shall be open continually; They shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession. For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined. [Isaiah 60:10-12]
In this passage, as with Genesis 12:3, God promises to curse those who would curse His people. Furthermore, we see that The Lord continues to have big Plans for Israel. As the aforementioned passage illustrates, the Goyim (Gentiles) are a very big part of that Plan. Christian Zionists recognize the call to not only to "speak tenderly to" and "comfort" Jerusalem, but to serve and minister to her as well:
I have set watchmen on thy walls, O
Christian Zionists willfully and joyfully act as the "watchmen" appointed by God to never keep silent "for Zion's sake". They seek to honor this by "educating the nations" in the cultivation of a sound, Biblical doctrine that recognizes not only the Biblical significance of the Jewish people, but God's command to serve, support and love them, as well. Christian Zionists also fulfill their roles as the "watchmen" when they become intercessors through unceasing prayer on Israel's behalf. Finally, Christian Zionists are the "watchmen on the walls" through service. Today, there are several Christian Zionist organizations in Israel, such as CFI (Christian Friends of Israel) and Bridges for Peace, which serve and love the Jewish people--unconditionally.
Christian Zionism: Conclusion
The theological foundation of Christian Zionism is predicated upon the faithfulness of God to His Promises--specifically, those found in the Abrahamic Covenant. This represents a formidable obstacle for Replacement Theologians--those who would maintain that God is "finished" with the Jewish people--who, as a subsequent result of their disobedience and rejection, can no longer be called the "Apple of His Eye". God's faithfulness not only discredits Replacement Theology, it completely renders it as a position that is as unbiblical as it is untenable.
Even so, in response, the Christian Zionist would ask: what if
God is a Faithful God? What if the Holy One of Israel is an
omniscient God--knowing beforehand the transgressions and
backslidings of His people? What if God is a God of forgiveness and
mercy? Are these not the fundamental character attributes of our
Divine Creator? If we truly know God as such, then how is it we've
failed to acknowledge His promises accordingly? Is our God a God who
would intentionally facilitate a Covenant with a people He chose
[Deut 7: 6-8], label it as "everlasting" [Gen 17:7-8] and
"irrevocable" [Romans 11:29], with the full knowledge that He would
nullify said Covenant at a later time when His people failed to live
up to it--a failure of which He knew beforehand?
"For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things." [Romans 15:27]
 Reagan, D. (2006). The Jews in Prophecy: Cast Aside or Destined for Glory? Retrieved from http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_jews1.php
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