Perspectives on Israel
Converting a Jew to the Christian faith was always a 'spiritual
target' for me. I've told the story before, but after leaving Bible college
in Sydney in 1983, I returned home to Marlborough via Wellington airport -–
where I had heard 'there was a Jew'. Please keep in mind that growing up in
NZ in the 60's was a very different experience to that experienced today. NZ
was a multicultural country, but the other cultures represented were mainly from
the Pacific Islands or the UK. Seldom did you meet anyone from the Middle East
or the Mediterranean.
Spiritually enthused, prayed-up and ready for anything, I
approached Mr Philpott, owner of the Wellington Airport bookshop with confidence
and zest. "Mr Philpott" I said boldly. He turned and looked at me "That's
me," he said. His stare was intense and I immediately sensed a dwindling of
confidence. "I'm here to tell you about Jesus". Without even blinking Mr
Philpott shot back, "Oh Jesus. We Jews know about Jesus. Jewish retailers
invented Him so that we could sell more Christmas presents..." I bought a
newspaper and left.
Since that day, I have grown up a bit more. I now realise
that 'every soul' is precious to God and that "Whoever wins souls for the
Kingdom of God is wise". With regard to the Jewish people, I have noted
tremendous wit and ability to think on their feet. Generally, they are practical
by nature and culture -– and very motivated.
Historically, individuals and institutions have 'tried to
convert the Jews'. The Universal Church could not convert them, so chose
another strategy, persecution and destruction. Keep in mind that the
Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians had held them in captivity and forcibly
extracted taxes from them over subsequent ages. The Greeks and then the Romans
after them, tried to force the Jews to respect their gods (small g). But - only
'the Church' went as far as massacring them, in their dogmatic attempts to
Psalm 124 -– speaking about a very real, physical
"If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, Let
Israel now say -– If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side, when men
rose up against us, Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath
was kindled against us; Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream
would have gone over our soul; Then the swollen waters would have gone over our
soul. Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul
has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken and we
have escaped. Our help is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Perspectives on the 'Land of Israel'
Replacement Theology: The Apostle Paul makes it clear
that Jehovah, the God of the Bible is not exclusively the God of Israel. Romans 3:29
"Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?
Yes, of the Gentiles also."
'Replacement theology' is permeating the modern church as
it did the historical church, and holds that the people and land of Israel, have
been replaced by spiritual Israel -– the Church.
As soon as someone attempts to 'spiritualise' physical
Israel -– they contradict a very weighty portion of bible prophecy. ISRAEL IS
NOT A SYNONONUM FOR THE CHURCH. I would recommend a book by Ramon Bennet "When
day and night cease". Types and shadows are not 'replacements for' -– and
God has much more to do with real Israel in these last days.
Moslem claims to ownership: Interestingly, the Koran does
not once mention that the land of Israel or Palestine is holy to Moslems (it
does make reference to the Jews right to the land -– Sura 5;20-21, Sura 7;137
and Sura 17;104). Even more surprisingly, the name 'Jerusalem' does not get
a mention in the Koran. Simply -– the Holy Land and the Holy City have 'never'
belonged to the Moslems.
Biblical Zionism: Believes that God has chosen the Jewish
people and bequeathed to them the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.
It holds that the modern restoration of Israel is not a political anomaly, but
evidence of God's faithfulness to the promise He made with Abraham. The
restoration of Israel is seen as two fold 1. Restoration of the Land, then 2.
Restoration to the Lord.
Both Amos 9:15 and Isaiah 11:11 indicate that the Jews will
never again be exiled from the Land. Aliyah ('to go up') -– the return of
the Jewish people to Israel.