When I have shared the fact that 90% of the Jewish people around the world and in Israel are atheistic, agnostic, and secular, Christians have been quick to pick up on the realization that the Israeli government is secular in nature. They are also quick to accept the fact that the Jewish people are estranged from God, rejecting the Messiahship of Yeshua, disobedient and under discipline. What they have trouble understanding is the proper response to take to this state of affairs. As a result, I have been asked this question on a number of occasions, “Bob, if Israel is in disobedience, what are we supporting then?” That question has revealed to me that some Christians have trouble distinguishing between biblical principles and political realities. I understand the underlying concern to sound something like this, “As a Christian, how can I support Israel if she is disobedient to God and if her actions are sometimes wrong, ill-advised, inappropriate, or even ungodly?” My answer to that question is this, “We are supporting God’s program for the Jewish people not the Israeli government.” This answer leaves me with the responsibility to explain what God’s program is for the Jewish people.
I need to start my explanation by making an important distinction: biblical principles and political realities are not the same thing. To support the biblical fact that the Jewish people have been given the title deed to our homeland, the Land of Israel, and to support the right of the State of Israel to exist on that territory is not the same as supporting an Israeli government. In fact, Israeli governments change constantly. Supporting an Israeli government would be impossible, frustrating, and confusing especially in light of the ever changing Israeli political landscape. In contrast, biblical principles never change. So what are we supporting then? We have to turn to our Bibles for that. The foundation for our support of Israel and the Jewish people is scripture. It is not blind, unqualified defense of any Israeli government and its policies. The foundation we have to look to is God’s program for the Jewish people as revealed in scripture. God’s program contains these facets.
God’s Program for the Jewish People
- God’s choice of the Jewish people as His treasured possession—Deuteronomy 26:18, 7:6, 14:2; Psalm 135:4.
- God’s covenant with the Jewish people—Genesis 12:1-3, 7, 13:14-17, 15, 17 (see chart entitled Abrahamic Covenant)
- Israel’s title deed to the Promised Land is guaranteed in the Abrahamic Covenant and Land Covenants.
- The Jewish people are entitled to occupy the Promised Land
- Blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience—Deuteronomy 28.30; Leviticus 26
- The Times of the Gentiles—Luke 21:24
- The First World-wide Regathering—Ezekiel 20:33-38
- Judgment of the Tribulation—Revelation 4-19
- National Regeneration of the Jewish People—Romans 11:25-27
- The Second Coming—Isaiah 63:1-6; Revelation 19:11-16
- The Second World-Wide Regathering—Isaiah 11:11-12
- Institution of the Messianic Kingdom—Revelation 20
- The Institution of the Eternal State—Revelation 21-22
The first facet Christians have to recognize is God’s sovereign choice of the Jewish people as His vehicle for glorifying Himself and bringing about His program of mankind’s redemption. This does not make the Jewish people superior to anyone else. It simply means that they are the proper tool. For example, you do not choose a fork to dig a post hole. You chose a post-hole digger. In addition, when the proper tool is chosen and used what happens? It gets very beat up. Just look at any used post-hole digger. You will find it scratched, rusty, dented, twisted, and dull. It will no longer be the shiny, oiled and sharp instrument you purchased at the hardware store. That is exactly what has happened to the Jewish people over the years. God is working out His program using us, the Jewish people, but it comes at a cost. As Tevye said in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “God, next time You choose a people, choose someone else.” It is not always fun to be Jewish.
God’s choice of the Jewish people was expressed externally and practically through His call to Abraham and the revelation of the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12. That covenant is then passed on the Isaac (not Ishmael) in Genesis 26:2-5, 24, next to Jacob (not Esau) in Genesis 28:13-15, and finally participation in the Abrahamic Covenant comes down to all the 12 tribes in Genesis 49. Thus the unconditional and eternal Abrahamic Covenant follows an unbroken chain of transmission from Abraham down to the Jewish people today.
In the Abrahamic Covenant, God made three promises to Abraham and the Jewish people. First, He made a two-fold spiritual blessing promise (Gen. 12:2b, 3b) that He would bless Abraham personally and that Abraham would bless others. The apex of that promise was realized when the Gentiles were justified by faith in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua (Gal: 3:8).
Second, God made a two-fold nation promise (Gen. 12:2a, 3a) that He would forge Abraham’s descendants into His chosen nation and that nation would experience a unique relationship with all the other nations of the world. The unique relationship is contained in the words, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” Such a statement is not made regarding any other country on the globe; not the United States, or England, or China, etc.
Third, God made a two-fold land promise (Gen. 12:1, 7, 15:7) to Abraham and his descendants. Abraham and his descendants would be entitled to live on a particular plot of ground. About 20% of that parcel of property is what we call the modern State of Israel (see chart entitled The Promised Land).
These three promises to Abraham and his descendants were further elaborated and explained in three other unconditional and eternal covenants God established with the Jewish people—the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Eze. 36:24-28), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:10-17; 1 Chron. 17:10-15; Ps. 89:1-4, 19-37) and the Land Covenant (Deut. 29-30).
I need to point out that while all these covenants are unconditional, meaning that God alone is responsible for their fulfillment, obedience is required of the covenant people. Therefore, each covenant contains provisions spelling out discipline for disobedience. However, when discipline is meted out, that does not mean that the covenant has been abrogated by God. Nothing could be further from the truth. The expression of discipline actually confirms that the particular covenant is still very much in effect.
This principle is true due to the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant. God has committed Himself to its fulfillment. Ultimate fulfillment does not depend on the actions of the Jewish people. The unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant is witnessed in Genesis 15. In Genesis 15, God formally ratifies the covenant with Abraham in a culturally understandable manner. In that culture, when a covenant was formally “signed,” animals would be sacrificed. The animals would then be cut in two and the pieces placed beside each other with a walkway in-between. The parties “signing” the agreement would walk between the pieces of the animals. They were communicating this thought, “May what happened to these animals happen to me if I break this agreement.” In Genesis 15 all of this occurs with the exception that God alone passes through the pieces. God alone takes on the responsibility for the fulfillment of the agreement. It is unconditional.
Jeremiah 25:5 affirms this principle, and principle number three in no uncertain terms,
“Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the Lord has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever…”
Since God determines the history of the world and the course of nations (Deut. 32:8, Acts 17:26), how much more true is this principle in relation to Israel. Ultimately, it is not the modern Zionist movement that brought the Jewish people back to our homeland. Rather it is the sovereign hand of God using both Godly and ungodly elements in the world to affect the return of His people to their homeland. However, this first return from a world-wide dispersion does not come without moral boundaries. Remember, God’s covenants always demand obedience, and there is discipline for disobedience.
This leads us directly into the fact that God’s program for the Jewish people includes blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Those blessings and curses are graphically described in Deuteronomy 28-30 and Leviticus 26. The Jewish peoples enjoyment of the Promised Land is contingent on obedience. Possession of the Land will expand if Israel is obedient. Conversely, possession of the Land will contract when Israel is disobedient. This phenomenon of expansion and contraction is seen throughout the pages of scripture. It is not a unique occurrence. The most severe curse for disobedience is the promise of a world-wide dispersion when the Jewish people are thrust out of the Promised Land altogether. However, the promised world-wide diaspora is followed by the promise of ultimate regathering to the Land (Lev. 26:40-46; Deut. 30: 1.6).
The most severe chastening of the Jewish people occurs during the Times of the Gentiles. Times of the Gentiles consists of that long period of time extending from the destruction of Solomon’s temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC until the return of the Messiah at the conclusion of the Tribulation period. The period of time is marked by Gentile domination of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. This “trampling under foot” does not preclude temporary times of Jewish sovereignty and self government, as experienced during the times of the Hasmoneans (168-63 BC), and as we are experiencing today with the institution of the modern State of Israel.
The most critical piece of information to have clear in our minds, and one Christians seem to have the most trouble understanding, is that there will be two world-wide regatherings of the Jewish people. The first world-wide regathering will be in unbelief in preparation for judgment, the judgment of the Tribulation. The modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of the first world-wide regathering. 80% to 90% of the Israelis (and the Jewish community world-wide) are atheistic or agnostic today. The 10% to 20% that do believe in God follow the man-made religion of Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism is not the faith of the Bible, but rather a religion that follows the writings of the Sages. Only 1% of the Jewish people today have placed their trust in Yeshua. The Jewish people are truly back in the Land in unbelief and are ripe for discipline.
When we support the existence of the State of Israel, we are supporting, in particular, this facet of God’s program and not any particular Israeli government. This temporary time of Jewish sovereignty will come to a close when the nation enters into a covenant with the anti-Christ (Dan. 9:27). This covenant is crucial because with its institution, the Tribulation period commences.
The Tribulation period is a unique period of time in the history of the world when God pours out His wrath on punishment deserving humanity. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, in his book Footsteps of the Messiah, notes three reasons why God pours out His wrath on humanity. The first is to make an end of wickedness and wicked ones (Isa. 13:9). The second purpose is to bring about a world-wide revival (Rev. 7:1-17). However, it is the third reason that concerns us the most in this essay. The third goal for the Tribulation is to break the power of the holy people. The reference in Daniel 12:5-7 is in regard to the Jewish people and our biblically recognized stubborn will (Deut. 9:6-27, etc.). In the middle of the Tribulation, the anti-Christ begins his Tribulation Holocaust (Matt. 24:15-22; Rev. 12:5-6) which ultimately leads to his murder of two-thirds of the worldwide Jewish population (Zech. 13:8). The Tribulation Holocaust will make the Holocaust of WW2 look like a picnic in the park. If the Tribulation Holocaust were to begin today, that would mean the murder of approximately 10 million Jewish men, women and children. Six million perished in WW2. It is this severe chastisement from God that brings our stubborn rejection of the Messiahship of Yeshua to an end (Zech. 13:9; Isa. 10:20.22).
Our stubborn will and reliance on Rabbinic Judaism finally broken, the nation will experience a national regeneration. Every Jewish man, woman and child still alive at the end of the Tribulation, the one-third remaining of Zechariah 13:8-9, will personally place their faith in Yeshua as Savior and Messiah and be “born again (John 3:3-8). Three days before the end of the Tribulation, as Yeshua insisted (Matt. 23:39), we will begin pleading for Him to return (Hos. 6:1-3).
In response to our entreaty, Yeshua will rise from the right hand of God and move out to save His people.
The second regathering at the end of the Tribulation in conjunction with the national regeneration of the Jewish people fulfills Isaiah 11:11-12. The second world-wide regathering will be very different from the first. The second world-wide regathering will be in faith in preparation for blessing, the blessing of the Messianic Kingdom.
With the return of the Jewish people to our Promised Land, the Messianic Kingdom commences. The Millennial Kingdom will be a time of unparalleled prosperity and peace (Isa. 9:1-7, 11:1-10). The world will return to near Edenic conditions and death will be greatly reduced. Death will be for the unbeliever only (Isa. 65:20). At the end of the Messianic Kingdom, the final rebellion will occur and be squashed in no uncertain terms by God (Rev. 20:6).
Finally, we come to the conclusion of God’s program for the Jewish people. The New Heavens and New Earth, where only righteousness dwells, is instituted.
In closing, let me return to the question that prompted this essay. “As a Christian, how can I support Israel if she is disobedient to God and if her actions are sometimes wrong, ill-advised, inappropriate, or even ungodly?” The answer to that question is this, “We are supporting God’s program for the Jewish people not the Israeli government.” I have just outlined in very brief terms the program that we are supporting. Currently, facets number 5, 6, and 7 are in operation. Knowing that the Jewish community is facing facet number 8, the horrors of the Tribulation, we should be throwing all our efforts into obeying the Great Commission and Romans 1:16. We should be taking the Gospel into all the world, to the Jew first. In doing so we will experience the privilege of being God’s agents to snatch many from the jaws of the Tribulation and the horrors of Hell. Selah.