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.
- 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
- 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
- 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