This isn’t an easy post to write. I know some will find it offensive because it will be critical of Israel, and as anyone who has seen the inside of US style Christian evangelicalism will know, Israel is beyond criticism. Anything critical said or written against Israel, or what Israel does, is seen as an attack against the apple of God’s eye.
The unfortunate thing about that view of Israel is its unconditional nature – that Israel must be supported no matter what, as if Israel can do no wrong.
In recent days, Israeli troops have been responsible for the deaths of dozens of barely armed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border.
There was a lot of rock throwing, and while that can sound relatively benign, (what boy hasn’t thrown a few rocks at some time in their lives, particularly in childhood or adolescence) but TV footage clearly shows something a lot more potentially lethal, with the rocks being thrown from slings as per David when he killed Goliath.
I have been to Australia’s War memorial in Canberra many times over the past few years. One of the displays is a series of marble sculptures, carved into the shape of folded flags. Depicting the national emblems presented to the families of soldiers killed in action. There are 41 of them, representing the 41 Australia servicemen who were killed during the war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014.
Note the number: 41 and the period, around 13 years; and note these were servicemen, who signed up in the armed forces and they were combatants in a war zone.
Compare that number to the at least 58 dead (at time of writing) and thousands wounded (including 116 in serious or critical condition) IN A SINGLE DAY on the Israel Gaza border, where the dead were not trained military personnel and were not armed with sophisticated weaponry. And note that some were killed from a distance by IDF snipers and not in open, close conflict.
I fully recognise that God chose the people of Israel as a special people of His own. I fully recognise that Israel has an ongoing place in God’s purposes, culminating in a permanent return to the land He promised to their ancestor Abraham.
But that does not mean that Israel, as God’s chosen nation has been given carte blanche, free from all consequences of their actions.
Scripture shows that Israel has always paid a price for any transgression of God’s standards. Their relationship to Him comes with conditions, with consequences: blessing or cursing dependant on their keeping of those conditions or not.
There is a standard of behaviour required of them.
Since 1948 when the nation of Israel was restored to the world’s maps, it has been interpreted by evangelicals as a fulfilment of biblical prophecy, the realisation of ancient promises made by God. But one significant part of prophecy about Israel’s return to the Promised Land is missing: the restoration of their relationship to God through recognition of their Messiah Jesus.
So Israel is not yet the nation that God intends them to be.
That doesn’t happen until after events that Jesus described as a time of:
“great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be”.
In other words after the most terrible period of human history that will exceed every other atrocity including the Holocaust.
Jeremiah calls this time “Jacob’s trouble” after which God promises the people of Israel:
I will save you from afar,
And your seed from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet,
And no one shall make him afraid.
Amos describes that time in this way:
For surely I will command,
And will sift the house of Israel among all nations,
As grain is sifted in a sieve;
Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword,
It is worth reading the rest of Amos 9 to see what happens AFTER the sinners of God’s people have been killed.
It is after that deadly sifting that restoration to the land comes, culminating in the promise that:
I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.
From this I find it clear that the current political state is not the culmination of God’s plan for His people Israel. While the political establishment of that nation has taken us a step towards that culmination, it is still NOT the Godly, Messiah serving people revealed in various Bible prophecies, so should we consider them and treat them as if they are?
The nation of Israel today is a secular and significantly Godless nation, just like the other nations of the earth; and as such they should not be excused for their unrighteousness any more than any other nation should be excused.
Godlessness is Godlessness whether it’s done in the name of Israel or any other national group. If we are representatives of God’s Kingdom we cannot legitimize injustice even if it’s Israel’s injustice. If anything we should expect of them a higher standard because of their historical (and future) relationship with God.
As a people they know better, and as followers of Jesus Christians should know better than to excuse un-Godly behaviour no matter whose behaviour it may be.
By excusing a person’s or a nation’s sin, we are not being a friend to that person or that nation.