Concerning “Evangelical” Support for Israel

This forward [Israel – An Evangelical Idol] was sent from a friend. Note other articles on this post on the same topic that merit your attention. Note how closely nuanced this issue has become. It underscores even more how costly the loss if Dan 11:28, 30 is relegated to antiquity, as common among commentators. There you will see that the issue of the “holy covenant” concerns the object of Antichrist hatred. Ironically, it is the holy covenant that he “confirms” or formally recognizes. This is how I read Dan 9:27. It is not only a peace alliance. It is that too, as shown in Dan 11:23. There is a treacherous human false trust in this covenant with death and hell (Isa 28:15, 18), but I believe it is also a pretentious and feigned recognition of a covenant that is already in existence, namely, the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30.

This suggests to me that the Antichrist will recognize what the PLO and others have always denied, namely, Israel’s right to exist in their Land. But notice, the Antichrist’s violation of the “holy covenant” is divinely regarded as the ultimate affront against God (fury comes up in His face; Isa 34:8; Ezek 38:18; Joel 3:2 over the ‘controversy of Zion’). We need not to affirm the truth of this; we need to ask and to show why. We need to show the theology that underlies this divine contention that sweeps all nations into a divinely “valley of decision”.

These disputed passages (Dan 11:21-35) are particularly decisive in showing that the “land” and other ordained institutions (temple and sacrifice), do indeed matter. They are still called “holy” (Mt 24:15). They still represent the set apart things of God. The NT hasn’t changed their significance, but only interpreted the mystery that they always signified and typified in them. The future context of these passages are decisive in showing that the land and the temple area are not mere “real estate”, but holy and set apart, Jewish unbelief notwithstanding. Again, it is the issue of unconditional election, of deeply contested divine rule and authority.

Certainly, in God’s sight, Jewish unbelief and God’s resolve to bring the nations down in covenant chastisement, does not make them “fair game” for the nations. When will our theologians take note that this is not God’s usual response to aggressions between nations? When the Antichrist brings his ten nation crew against Jerusalem, something called “covenant” and the “Word of God” has been fatally transgressed. It is the ultimate provocation. A host of scriptures show that. Manifestly, something of the sacred boundaries have been crossed. Jews matter! The Land matters! The status of Jewish faith, and the absence of the Shekinah glory, does not make the temple any less the temple of God (2Thes 2:4). Through pride, the nations have gone too far. From this point on, ‘the game is afoot’, the final tribulation has come.

Where the nations are concerned, there has been the ultimate presumption. Something holy has been violated. On the Jewish side, the euphoria of apparent success, which is based upon a false presumption concerning the nature of righteousness (the age old stone of stumbling), is met with ultimate divine rejection and chastisement. For the Jews, it will be the ultimate toppling of all their trust in man to become righteous apart from the miracle of regeneration.

While there is much prophetic affirmation of these things based simply on the literal reading of prophecy, these questions are not being asked or considered by either side in terms of their covenant context and background. One reason is because, these particular passages (Dan 11:21-35) are dismissed as already fulfilled, and are therefore ignored for their decisive influence on the question of Jewish “right” to the land, since a context of future tribulation (as we believe) would settle the issue with finality.

It is the Antichrist’s violation of this ‘holy covenant” that marks the point of no return for all nations that are brought into the “controversy of Zion”. Ironically, our best and most ‘Christ-centered’ evangelical leaders are denying the very thing that the Antichrist will “confirm”, namely, Israel’s right to the Land (perhaps even “divine right”?). What’s wrong with this picture?

However, if these scriptures can be exegetically vindicated as NECESSARILY future, then who can deny that the land and the holy places are counted as “holy” and set apart, despite Jewish unbelief? Whereas, there is no hope apart from personal regeneration, Paul shows that Jewish enmity against the gospel does nothing to nullify or modify their elect status as a nation, God’s beloved prodigal among the nations (Amos 3:2). Why can’t this simple distinction be made? National corporate election and a predestined future guarantees nothing for the individual, but everything for the nation, considered as a corporate entity.

Orthodox Jews are as aware as any in the church that only a remnant will be saved. The only difference is who are the remnant? And what constitutes the basis of that distinction? All agree that is the answer is easy and simple: It is righteousness, of course. Yes, but righteousness of what kind? And that ultimate question can only be discussed and defended intelligently, as the church comes to understand the nature and history of the covenant, both in demand and in promise. Our present understanding poorly equips us for a ready and prepared conversation with Israel.

But back to my point. You can see what I’m saying, can’t you? I’m saying that if the holy covenant of Dan 11:28, 30, can be shown to be future, then who can say that Jewish unbelief disqualifies them from a right to the Land? From what I’ve been hearing from evangelical leaders, a modern aggression against Israel has no more significance than any other war among nations. One recently said that the land dispute in Israel had no more “divine” significance than a border dispute between Uruguay and Paraguay.

This seems far from what we read in scripture. If the nations are not covenantally obligated to recognize Israel’s existence in the Land, as something more than the product of mere Jewish aspiration, then why is this called a wicked hatred of the “holy covenant”? Why is violation of the covenant counted as the ultimate crossing of the line that brings the age and the entire history of the covenant to its fore-written, divinely ordained conclusion? Regardless of how much it transcends human understanding, or insults our evangelical presuppositions, there it is; it is Scripture!

Even our own brethren, who agree with us in nearly every particular, reduce the modern return to an ill fated and reckless Jewish preoccupation with the Land. Some ascribe the modern miracle to ancient “Zionists ambitions” that have no meaning except to incur the wrath of God against. They hasten to point out that even some rabbis take this view. It is assumed that any judgment that comes to the Jew, comes most especially because he is in a land where he shouldn’t be, so that judgment for returning to the Land before the Messiah comes is all the more deserved.

I know deeply in my spirit this is a very wrong way to look at the situation. Certainly, the Jew has no claim on God apart from Christ, and who of us don’t “deserve” the fruits of our sin? But God has brought Israel back, not only for judgment and severity, but also for mercy. He has also brought them back to the Land to deal with the pride of the nations in their natural contempt for His covenant election. God’s name, as distinctly the “God of Israel,” signifies the God that elects, and that has always been a primary bone of contention with the principalities and powers, as it is with the flesh.

No, although many dreams combined with unspeakable horror to inspire and constrain a mass return, the existence of Israel is no mere human result. God was in it all. Although the present return is in unbelief, as foretold, it is no less by the hand of God. Certainly, not in the sense that His hand will be supernaturally raised in their final and permanent return after the tribulation, but I believe we would be wrong not to see the measure of ‘probationary’ mercy that was granted in their return.

This explains such a passage as Ezek 39:26, which shows that this probationary return provided a further test that was failed in order to drive home the point that Israel will not be able to conform to God’s righteousness until the time appointed. A measure of security in the Land after the long exile actually magnifies the offense, because Israel did not use the occasion to repent and fully turn to God. Rather, their sins only increased in the time they dwelt safely. This is the strength of the prophet’s indictment against them.

Final and secure possession of the Land, of course, remains in constant jeopardy until the issue of righteousness is forever settled. That is the Jewish side of the contention. So we can respect that this is a closely nuanced issue. We are searching out a mystery of divine strategy against principalities and powers, and such that is calculated to expose the thoughts of many hearts. But these particular scriptures, together with others that are equally ignored, leave no doubt that even an unbelieving Israel is yet regarded as “off limits” where God’s contention with the nations is concerned. In the sense of beloved and set apart, they are holy even BEFORE they are holy. Jacob is loved, even BEFORE he is Israel.

In this way, the covenant becomes the great test for the church, as well as the nations, because it is preeminently Jew centered and Land centered. This tests the heart concerning its attitude towards election, and ultimately grace itself. Of course, Jesus is evermore center-most in all this. He is, in that sense, God’s last word. But until the mystery was revealed of His twofold advent, the incarnation, atonement, and resurrection in the midst of history, was the more hidden side of the covenant. It belonged to a hidden wisdom until the set time (1Cor 2:7-8).

This revealed secret indeed solves the dilemma of the covenant that demanded a righteousness that was beyond human ability to attain. The messianic righteousness is “wholly apart and wholly other”; It is found only in Him. Granted, the salvation of Jesus is the “without which not” of any hope of salvation, so that to put it on the ‘back burner’ in our relations to extending mercy to Israel, is, as these authors rightly point out, absurd in the extreme. However, it is equally absurd to make the issue of the Land a non issue. It begs a serious ignorance of the covenant to say that Israel “may” (?) fulfill a biblical covenant. Next, only to Jesus, is the centrality of the covenant with Israel that has come to the church through revelation of the mystery, but remains fully intact, with nothing changed in its promises UNTO THEM (Ro 11:27), with its inalienable designations concerning a set apart land and people.

I have some important differences with Wilhelm Vanderhooven, but I agree with him that the Land is not Israel’s to negotiate. The Land is the Lord’s. You can’t blame a Jew for believing that. It’s the Word of God. The Land is given on the basis of God’s right to give what He will to whom He will, even BEFORE the heir of promise is made fit through the further work of predestined grace. Otherwise, many times throughout Israel’s history, the Land could never have justly called “their Land” on that basis, simply because they were seldom ever sufficiently righteous to remain in the Land. Yet, it was always called “their Land”. Lasting peace was always an eschatological hope, bound always to the promise of an “everlasting righteousness (Dan 9:24; Jer 32:40)’.

But I strongly disagree with Vanderhooven that God will not permit another Holocaust. Rather, He is covenantally pledged to send it. The Land remains in covenant jeopardy until the “coming in of the everlasting righteousness” at the end of the 70th week. Then “all Israel” will know the righteousness that was revealed to the church (godly remnant) at the end of the 69th week, due to the unexpected revelation of the mystery of Christ’s atonement and twofold appearing to Israel.

I think the issue of Jacob’s trouble is the missing hermeneutical key, but Jacob’s trouble is not only about Jesus, but the covenant that forms the context of the divine contention that is only answered in the apocalyptic revelation of Jesus, as “the Lord our righteousness”. Factor these considerations, as you read the articles, and let me know what you think and how we should proceed to address this and find that grace of balance between extremes, each with legitimate points, but which both miss the mark. reggie

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