Tag Archives: ethnic cleansing

Does Modern Israel Have the Right to Use Force to Claim the Land?

Here we must be careful to realize that any nation has a right to defend its legal borders and citizenry. At the same time, we must be careful not to confuse the modern secular state of Israel with the armies and tribes of Joshua. While God’s hand may be seen in the return of large numbers of Jewish people to the land, we must always be careful to distinguish between what God may or may not be doing with the Jewish people, and what the Jewish people are doing without God. It is not at all clear that a spiritually unrepentant state of modern Israel can claim land because of a title deed originally given to the descendants of Abraham, and then revoked until the promised last days of physical and spiritual restoration of Israel.

This distinction is important because when the children of Israel first came into the land, God commanded them to kill or drive out its inhabitants. At that time the God of Israel authorized the complete destruction of Canaanites who were living as a morally bankrupt and an idolatrous people. Their debased religion demanded human sacrifice; their social structure was brutal and dehumanizing; and their total lack of sexual decency lead to continual abuse of women, children, and animals, and, subsequently, widespread disease and death.

When Israel first entered the land under the direct command of God, it was with leaders who were specially selected by God on account of their obedience ( Joshua 1:7-9 ). The Israelites themselves had passed through 40 years of purification in the desert and were not permitted to enter Canaan until a disobedient generation had died. Unlike modern Israel, the ancient Israelites swore faithfulness to God and knew of the consequences of disobedience ( Deuteronomy 30:10,18; Joshua 24 ). Also unlike modern Israel, God miraculously prepared the way for them and supernaturally assisted them, so that they wouldn’t become arrogant and think that they had come into possession of the land by their own strength and cleverness ( Joshua 24:1-20 ).

The ideology of modern Zionism 1 is not based on religious faith. It is primarily agnostic and was founded on the ideology of nineteenth-century romantic nationalism, which is based on notions of “racial purity” and “historic rights to the land.”

As a result of this race-based ideology, the ultimate goals of Zionism didn’t favor peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians, but required plans for their expulsion.
2 Over the decades, “the sins of the fathers”( Daniel 9:16 ) have clearly been found on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Furthermore, the nation of Israel, like the Palestinian people, is not in a state of spiritual repentance as required by the standard of the New Covenant. Therefore we must wonder whether modern Israel has been guilty of many of the same corporate sins that led to her earlier dispersion.

Israel as a people and nation still have an important role in God’s plans. (See the ATQ article,  Does the Bible Really Call the Jews God’s Chosen People? ) However, John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the “greatest of the prophets,” warned Jewish leaders not to feel superior merely because of their racial heritage:

Do not think you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:9-12 NIV).

God dispersed the ancient Jewish nation because of her moral and spiritual failures, and made His concern with justice and righteousness clear:

Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24 NIV).

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 NIV).

Jesus declared that Israel would never experience God’s complete blessing until her heart had turned to repentance and obedience:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:34-35 NIV).

God’s covenant with Abraham implies that Israel will not be restored to her place of blessing in the land at the price of injustice and violence to others. (“You will be a blessing . . . and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”) 3If Israel depends on violence and injustice to take control of the land, she will find herself facing the same consequences her ancestors faced.

  1. Zionism is the name of the international Jewish movement that began in the nineteenth century with the hopes of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Back To Article
  2. Although at least some Zionist leaders realized that it would be politically dangerous to make their plans for ethnic cleansing publicly known, some of their intentions have been documented, and history shows their plans for the expulsion of Palestinians have been consistently implemented. (See, for example, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” by Israeli historian Benny Morris, Cambridge University Press; “The Iron Wall, Israel and the Arab World” by Jewish historian Avi Shlaim, W.W. Norton) Back To Article
  3. Before the 1967 War, a majority of American Jews were opposed to Zionism. Orthodox Jews tended to view it as a futile attempt to establish Israel in the absence of Messiah, and liberal Jews saw it as a violation of their commitment to freedom of religion in the context of secular representative democracy. Back To Article
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Who Are the Palestinians?

“Palestinian” is the term that identifies non-Jewish people, both Christian and Muslim, who have lived in the Holy Land for generations. During the last 150 years, many of these people found themselves displaced by Jewish settlers returning to their ancestral homeland. As Israeli immigrants returned in steadily increasing numbers, Palestinians responded in various ways. Some made peace with their new Jewish neighbors. Others passively tolerated Palestinian losses. Still others have resorted to violence and force of arms.

It is important to see that even though Palestinians are often thought of simply as “the enemies of Israel” the real Palestinian populace has a complex make-up and history.

When Israel moved into the land under Joshua, it was called the “land of milk and honey.” Because Canaan was such a hospitable and fertile land, it has been inhabited from the earliest times. Archaeology has determined that Jericho is one of the world’s oldest inhabited sites.

When Israel conquered Canaan, many inhabitants were driven out, but large numbers remained. Many Israelites intermarried with Canaanites and people of nearby nations ( Judges 14:1-3; Ruth 1:1-4 ). Consequently, the land was never inhabited by Israelites alone. Further, when the leading classes of Israel and Judea were driven into Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian exile because of unbelief and non-compliance with the Mosaic Covenant, many common people remained in the land. They multiplied and were joined by colonists from other nations. When Israelite leadership returned and regained political control, they did not expel the great numbers of non-Jews or less observant Jews who lived in the land. At the time of Christ, Jews were actually a minority in large areas of the land.

Again, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersal of the Jews by the Romans in A.D. 70, many common people remained in the land. They had Israelite ancestry to some degree but hadn’t been part of the rebellion against Rome. (It was under Roman rule that the Holy Land, as a whole, was first called Palestine, a name related to the Phoenician peoples who had long populated the coastal areas.) As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, many of the descendants of these common people of the Holy Land became either nominal or genuine Christians. Then, in the seventh century, Arabic-speaking Muslim armies conquered Palestine, Egypt, and all of the nominally Christian lands of northern Africa, along with Spain.

Although Muslim armies forced Christians and Jews to submit to Islamic law and imposed taxes and other restrictions that made them “second class citizens,” they spared their lives and permitted them to stay. This included the residents of Palestine. Further, unlike many historical conquerors, the Arabs didn’t send settlers to colonize the lands they conquered, but set up military garrisons in cities established to maintain Muslim rule. Except for a brief period when the Crusaders established a beachhead in the Muslim world, Muslim rule continued in Palestine under successive regimes until the end of World War I, when it came under the control of Great Britain.

During all of this time — from the time of Roman rule into the twentieth century — life continued largely unchanged. The people worked the land, tended their herds, carried on trade, and practiced the simple professions that supported village life. Although the Muslim conquest introduced Arabic as the language of everyday life and offered significant advantages to those who were willing to convert to Islam, Christians and Jews were tolerated as “people of the book” and many Jews and Christians remained in the land, carrying on their own traditions and generally living in peace with their Muslim neighbors.

Today the vast majority of “native Palestinians” are Muslims, but a significant percentage of them are adherents to other religions, including Christianity.

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Does God Side with Modern Israel?

It is one thing to believe that God has plans for Israel, and that He may be bringing her back to her homeland. It is quite another to imply that God approves or is directly responsible for everything that Israel does. Israel, the Palestinians, Turkey, England, neighboring Arab nations, the United States, or any of the participants in the historical and current Middle East conflict — all are responsible for their own actions. The wrongs of the participants, not God, have produced today’s hostilities.

God never approves injustice. ( Genesis 18:25; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 1:1-20 ). It was the unbelief of Israel — often expressed in injustice — that led to her destruction.

This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back My wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept His decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.” This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back My wrath. They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane My holy name” (Amos 2:4-7 NIV).

Therefore, even though we believe that God has a purpose in His preservation of Israel, she and her allies are responsible before God for their own actions. Israel is responsible for any injustices that that have been carried out against Arab neighbors in the course of re-establishing a homeland. In the same way, Palestinians and their allies will also be responsible for any injustices carried out against Israel. Before God neither side will have a case for returning evil for evil.

Because He is sovereign, God can use the wrongs of people and nations to bring about His good purposes. However, even though the sovereign God can allow and harness evil done by others to further His purposes, He never causes evil or approves of it.

The establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 may prove to be the fulfillment of prophecy. What we do know, however, is that today Israel is living in separation from God. Most of her people are either agnostic (not looking for a Messiah) or followers of the Talmud rather than the Old Testament. The day is yet to come when God will restore Israel to her place of blessing: She will be grafted into the olive tree again, and her blindness will be removed (see Romans 11:24-25 ). This will be a time of great blessing for all the world. It will be as “life from the dead” ( Romans 11:15 ).

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Does the Bible Really Call the Jews God’s Chosen People?

The Bible predicts a unique future role for the Jews that will eventually bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. It tells us that Israel will be “a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”(Deuteronomy 14:2) 1

An important indication of her future role is found in God’s covenant with Abraham:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3 NIV).

The fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham involves much more than the nation of Israel (See the ATQ article, Who Are the Descendants of Abraham?). We believe that God’s promises to Israel apply most completely to the future converted nation of Israel. Israel will again be in the land and possess a new heart demonstrated by humble obedience to God, and an ethical and national consensus that is beneficial for all the nations of the world.

These are the grounds for our belief. God made a promise to Abraham:

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God (Genesis 17:7-8 NIV).

Further, God specified that the land of Canaan would be given to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac:

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned” (Genesis 21:12 NIV).

However, while the passing of the title to the land to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac is eternal and unconditional, God made it clear that Israel’s actual possession and enjoyment of the land was conditioned upon her spiritual state. God made it clear that disobedience would result in Israel’s banishment from the land:

If you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please Him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other (Deuteronomy 28:15, 63-64 NIV).

God also made it clear that national repentance would result in restoration of God’s blessing and promise:

The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers, if you obey the LORD your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 30:9-10 NIV).

Later Old Testament prophets described Israel’s sin, and its consequences ( Isaiah 1:1-24 ; Amos 3-6 ; Hosea 2:2-13 ). In the intervening centuries the people of Israel have been persecuted as no other nation in history, and yet they have been preserved as God promised (Jeremiah 33:19-26 ). Looking to the future, Scripture seems to indicate that:

  • Israel will again return to the land ( Jeremiah 23:7-8; Ezekiel 36:24-32 ). The present nation of Israel may be the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise.
  • Along with the rest of the earth, Israel’s greatest trial is still ahead ( Matthew 24:15-22; Jeremiah 30:7 ).
  • Israel will be preserved and refined through this tribulation and recognize Jesus Christ as her Messiah ( Zechariah 12:10; 13:1,8-9 ; Romans 11:25-32 ).
  • After this, Jesus Christ will rule and reign on the earth for 1,000 years ( Acts 3:19-26 ; Revelation 20:1-6 ; Zechariah 14:9-21 ).
  1. The notes of the New Scofield Reference Bible provide this concise statement regarding Israel’s unique role:
    Israel was called to be a witness to the unity of God in the midst of universal idolatry (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-12 ); to illustrate the blessedness of serving the true God (Deuteronomy 33:26-29 ); to receive and preserve the divine revelations (Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Romans 3:1,2 ); and to be the human channel for the Messiah (Genesis 21:12;28:10,14; 49:10 ; 2Samuel 7:16,17 ; Isaiah 7:13-14; Matthew 1:1 ). Back To Article
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Why Shouldn’t Evangelicals Offer Unconditional Support to Israel or Palestine?

As we view Israel/Palestine today, we must be as concerned for the physical and spiritual well-being of her ethnic Jewish people as for the well-being of her ethnic Arabs (both Muslim and Christian). We must do all we can to awaken both Jewish and Arab people to the reality of the Messiah who gave His life for them.

But before we can effectively present the gospel to Israelis or Palestinians, we must cultivate their respect. All ethnic/religious/cultural groups have “skeletons in their closets.” We Western Christians are no exception. Jews have cultural memories of persecution by nominally Christian peoples in Europe. Muslims, on the other hand, have similar memories of wrongs committed by Christian armies crusading in the name of God, and of Western “Christian” colonial powers exploiting Muslim division and weakness. If we hope to be heard clearly, we must not be perceived as biased or unjust. Unfortunately, far from being unbiased and just, many Christian evangelicals today demonize Palestinian and Israeli Arabs while ignoring or rationalizing Jewish injustice and violence. There are numerous reasons that Evangelicals tend to be heavily biased in favor of Jewish Israelis rather than Arab Israelis and Palestinians. But rather than getting into the reasons for this bias, let’s go to Scripture to see why it is wrong.

At the very beginning of His ministry, just after His baptism by John, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1 NIV). This time of testing wasn’t incidental. The temptations Satan set before Jesus were specifically designed to exploit any vulnerability in His human nature. Satan appealed to the selfishness, distrust, and personal pride that are at the root of all human sin, forcing Jesus to make deep and radical decisions regarding His calling. What kind of Messiah would He be?

  • Would He exploit supernatural power to change stones to bread, as a first act in avoiding the path of suffering that had been set before Him? Would He then feed the poor with the same satanic motivation, seeking their support for His personal agenda?
  • Would He coerce his Father’s endorsement (force His hand) by casting Himself from the pinnacle of the temple?
  • Would He cultivate earthly political power to overthrow Rome and establish an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem under His personal control by alliance with the principalities and powers of this world?

Rather than acting in selfish ambition, Jesus chose submission, servitude, and suffering. The miracles He performed were just as spectacular as those Satan proposed, but they were done through the power of the Holy Spirit in obedience to His Father.

Jesus refused to feed Himself miraculously, but guided by the Holy Spirit He miraculously fed thousands, changed water to wine, and filled the nets of faithful fishermen with fish. He refused to draw attention to Himself or give miraculous signs to those who demanded it, but walked on water, calmed the sea, healed the sick, and raised the dead to glorify His Father. Although He could have requested supernatural deliverance from the agony of humiliation, scourging, alienation, and death (Matthew 26:53), He submitted to them meekly, like a perfect sacrificial lamb.1

Perhaps He faced these tests early on because of the tremendous pressure that would soon come to bear on Him to conform to the false expectations of His countrymen regarding what He (as Messiah) should do on behalf of national Israel. The expectation that Messiah would militarily deliver the Jews from pagan (Roman) rule and establish Jewish rule over the whole world was at fever pitch in the first century. Even Jesus’ disciples reflected this expectation (Matthew 16:20-22; Matthew 20:20-23; Luke 19:11).

Over the course of the first century, enthusiasm for a delivering Messiah resulted in numerous false messiahs, the horrific war of AD 70, and apocalyptic writings that continued to predict a delivering messiah even after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Titus (4 Ezra; 2 Baruch). Eventually, the endorsement of the false messiah, Bar Kochba, by the most venerated rabbi of the post-70 period (Akiba) led to the final catastrophe of AD 135 under Hadrian.

The remarkable Jewish historian of that period, Josephus, described the foundation of Jewish messianic fervor and militant nationalism among his contemporaries:

But what more than all else incited them to the war was an ambiguous oracle, likewise found in their sacred scriptures, to the effect that at that time one from their country would become ruler of the world. This they understood to mean someone of their own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their interpretation of it . . . For all that, it is impossible for men to escape their fate, even though they foresee it. Some of these portents, then, the Jews interpreted to please themselves, others they treated with contempt, until the ruin of their country and their own destruction convicted them of their folly. (Josephus, War, 6.312-315)

N. T. Wright builds a strong case that the “ambiguous oracle” referred to by Josephus is the book of Daniel—specifically the second, seventh, and ninth chapters. (See Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God, pp. 312-320.) The book of Daniel was one of the most popular works in circulation among the Jews during the first century,2 and it is likely that Jewish “wise men went astray in their interpretation of it,” apparently forecasting dates, “times,” and “seasons” for the coming of the expected Messiah into His kingdom in a manner that nurtured popular support for a military confrontation with Rome. (See Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.)

Israel had already given in to temptations Jesus resisted.3Jesus knew that national Israel had formed an alliance with Satan and was hell-bent to carry out Satan’s agenda. Out of love for Israel and her true calling, He confronted her with the fact that she had turned nationalism into an abominable parody of the covenant relationship God intended.4 Like the prophets who preceded them (Matthew 11:20-24; Matthew 12:38-42; Luke 13:1-5), John the Baptist and Jesus declared that unrepentant Israel was outside the covenant relationship, and needed to return like a humble proselyte to be considered a son of Abraham (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8; Luke 15:11-32). In the past, Israel had been delivered from the judgment that fell upon the pagan kingdoms that oppressed her and held her captive (Egypt, Babylon). But now, Jerusalem herself was persecuting true Israel. The true Israel, that Israel that was holding firm (Mark 13:13), was a small remnant—Jesus’ disciples. Jerusalem had taken on the role of Egypt and Babylon, aligned with Satan and facing judgment.

The old covenant had come to an end, replaced by a new covenant, “his blood” (Matthew 26:28 NKJV; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 9:15). Israel’s old covenant story of exile and deliverance (Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon) was over. No longer in exile, Israel had been permanently restored in the person of Jesus Christ.5

  • The family of God would no longer be defined by ethnic and national Jewish categories, but would be made up of all of those willing to trust in Jesus and follow Him (Matthew 7:21; Matthew 12:50; Luke 11:27-28; John 6:29,40; Acts 3:22-23).
  • The Torah, which constituted a central symbol of identity for those under the old covenant, would be replaced under the new covenant by the Sermon on the Mount. The new covenant would be characterized by mercy, forgiveness, inclusiveness, and love rather than a quest for legal and ritual purity.
  • The Jerusalem temple and the system of worship based around it was obsolete and the destruction of the temple immanent, to be replaced by the resurrected Christ (Mark 14:58/Matthew 26:61; Mark 15:29-30/Matthew 27:39-40; John 2:19; Acts 6:14).6When Jesus was crucified, the veil of the temple was torn and its holiest chamber exposed. The epistle to the Hebrews—written to a culturally Jewish Christian audience—declares:

“He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

“By one sacrifice [Jesus] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (6Hebrews 10:14).

“The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:15-18).

Because of the horrific consequences of date-setting and speculative interpretation of prophecy, the rabbis surviving the second war with Rome committed themselves to the principle that Torah-observing Jews should never again seek a return to the land until the appearance of Messiah himself. Orthodox Jews remained committed to this principle for nearly 2000 years, but secular Zionists began a movement to return to a national homeland in the late 19th century. Approximately at the same time, some evangelical Christian leaders began to speculate that the Zionist-initiated return to the land was the beginning of the national return prophesied in Scripture.

For evangelical Christians to use prophetic speculation as a basis for providing unbelieving Israel with political and military support is to repeat the very same error that Israel committed when it sought to use military and political means to bring in the messianic kingdom. It is to join unbelieving Israel in its surrender to the same temptations Satan offered Jesus in the desert.

  • It is an attempt to exploit supernatural power.
  • It is an attempt to force God’s hand.
  • It is an attempt to carry out God’s plan through alliance with the (satanic) principalities and powers of this world.

To think that nurturing national Israel’s political and military power will expedite God’s program of redemption makes no more sense today than in the first century. Jesus said:

“Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ ” (Luke 13:35).

Some evangelicals genuinely hope to befriend Jewish or Palestinian people and win them to faith in Jesus Christ. While this aspect of their motivation may be legitimate, any unconditional support of either side of an ethnic and religious conflict decides against a group of people for whom Christ died. Followers of Christ cannot afford to win converts by supporting violence and aggression.

Although major actors on the political stage, many evangelicals view themselves as detached observers with a biblical key to understanding unfolding world events. They think they are assisting the fulfillment of prophecy, the soon return of the Lord, the culmination of the church age, the great tribulation, and the millennial reign. Like the zealous nationalist Jews of the first century and today’s religious Zionist Jews (Gush Emunim and others), they think they can give the Lord a helping hand in bringing about His Day. In actuality, evangelicals who unconditionally support the establishment and defense of a Jewish state founded upon the rejection of Jesus Christ are nurturing the rise of anti-Christian power throughout the world.

Just as it was folly for Jewish leaders of the first and second century to believe they could have certainty regarding unfolding future events, it is folly for modern evangelicals to think they can predict how current events will fit in with the events of the endtime. (See the ATQ article, How Often Have People Misapplied Prophecy?) Jesus himself declared the folly of such speculation (Matthew 24:44; Matthew 25:13;Mark 13:35; Revelation 3:3).

Many Christians in the past have mistakenly supported violence on the basis of a conviction that they were participating in endtime events. Granted that our pretribulation view of the rapture is true, do we have any more real certainty about when the rapture and the tribulation will occur than first-century Jews had regarding the manner and time of Messiah’s coming? If we are heavily complicit in the violence of our age, isn’t it more likely we will reap the whirlwind (6Hosea 7:7) we have sown?

The day of the Lord is not a time when the devil has his way with an ethnic Israel he hates. Rather, it is a time of God’s judgment on wickedness, both in Israel and the world:

“Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light” (Amos 5:18).

“‘See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap” (Malachi 3:1-2).

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations” (Joel 2:1-2 KJV)

“The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 2:10).

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:31).

“The great day of the Lord is near—near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (Zephaniah 1:14-15 NIV).

“‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them’ ” (Malachi 4:1).

If evangelicals think God will permit them to continue to throw fuel on the fire of violence and hatred and suddenly snatch them out of the conflagration just before it engulfs the world, it is only because they are under the spell of satanic illusion.

The New Testament makes it clear that the kingdom of God is based on justice and love, not violence, ethnic privilege, and possession of “holy land.” The kingdom of God is based on the Sermon on the Mount, not on speculation about unfolding events. The actions of the church must be consistent with purposes of the kingdom of God, or the church may share national Israel’s judgment in the day of the Lord.

  1. “The struggle is precisely about the nature of Jesus’ vocation and ministry. The pull of hunger, the lure of cheap and quick ‘success,’ the desire to change the vocation to be the light of the world into the vocation to bring all nations under His powerful rule by other means—all of these would easily combine into the temptation to doubt the nature of the vocation of which He had been sure at the time of John’s baptism. If you are the Son of God . . .” (N. T. Wright, Jesus, the Victory of God). Back To Article
  2. “We know from Josephus that the book of Daniel was a favorite with Jews of the first century AD. One of the climactic moments in this book, arguably, is the scene in which the true Israel, seen in apocalyptic terms as a human figure, is exalted to a position of glory and authority over the mythical beasts who have been oppressing God’s people. Whatever referents may have been in the mind of the original authors, there should be no doubt that in the first century many would read such imagery as referring to Israel and the nations, and would hear in the background the overtones of Genesis 2. Divine order will be restored to the creator’s garden, through a genuine Adam—i.e., Israel—who will renounce idolatry and so, in obedience to the creator, rule wisely over the creation” (Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, p. 266). Back to Article
  3. “What then must Jesus have thought was going on? How was the story working out? The battle He Himself had to fight was with the Satan; the Satan had made its home in Israel, and in her cherished national institutions and aspirations. The house had been occupied by seven other demons, worse than the first; so it would be with this generation. But, like Jezebel trying to seduce Jehu, the Satan was now attempting to lure Jesus himself into making the same mistake as Israel had done. If that turned out not to be possible, the Satan would try either to scare him off, or to kill him ahead of time.” (N.T. Wright, Jesus, the Victory of God) Back to Article
  4. “Jesus . . . set His face against the central institutions and symbols of Israel. He did so, not because He thought they were bad in themselves, but because He believed they were being wrongly used by His contemporaries to buttress a spurious reading and enacting of the true Jewish worldview. . . . He did not aim . . . to depart from Judaism, from the traditions of Israel; His aim was to call Israel back to what He saw as the true meaning of those traditions” (Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God).Back to Article
  5. “From His point of view, He was fighting Israel’s real battle by challenging Israel’s idolatrous nationalism, which was passing off its Satan-induced worldview as true allegiance to the reign of YHWH. His opponents, meanwhile, especially the Pharisees (during the Galilean ministry) and the chief priests (in Jerusalem) were resisting His attempts, and so challenging the validity of His mission, His vocation, His blueprint for Israel. They rejected His message, His urgent summons to the way of peace, because they rightly perceived that it would mean softening their grip on some cherished, and indeed God-given, national and cultural symbols” (Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God).Back to Article
  6. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” (John 2:19-20 KJV)

    “This remarkable assertion coheres completely with the theme that emerges steadily at the centre of Jesus’ story. He was claiming prophetic and messianic authority to pronounce judgment on the Temple. It was for this that He was eventually accused before the authorities” (Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, p. 335).Back to Article
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