Christian Zionism: Justifying Apartheid in
the Name of God
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer is the vicar of
Christ Church, Virginia Water, Surry. He is acting Chairman of Living Stones,
Chairman of the International Bible Society (UK), and an area tutor at the
School of Theology, Westminister College, Oxford. He has written three books: Panorama
of the Bible Lands, In the Footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles, and
Christian Zionism, Road Map to Armageddon?.
Evangelical Theological Society, Colorado Springs
Defining Evangelicalism's Boundaries
14-16 November 2001
Only one nation, Israel, stands between ... terrorist aggression and the
complete decline of the United States as a democratic world power... If Israel
falls, the United States can no longer remain a democracy. ...Arab money is
being used to control and influence major U.S. Corporations, making it
economically more and more difficult for the United States to stand against
Whether you agree with, or question such assertions made by Mike Evans in his
book, 'Israel - America's Key to Survival', the theological perspective
which he and others such as Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye and Dave Hunt espouse, is
very popular. Their combined book sales exceed 100 million copies.
This perspective is not only very popular, it is also highly contentious and has
a direct influence on events in the Middle East. Hal Lindsey's most provocative
book is probably Road to Holocaust. Like J. N. Darby, he makes
eschatology a test of orthodoxy.2
Lindsey accuses those who see the Church as the fulfillment of the promises made
to Abraham of encouraging anti-Semitism since, he claims, they deny any future
role for the State of Israel within the purposes of God.
The purpose of this book is to warn about a rapidly expanding new movement in
the Church that is subtly introducing the same errors that eventually and
inevitably led to centuries of atrocities against the Jews and culminated in the
Holocaust of the Third Reich... They are setting up a philosophical system that
will result in anti-Semitism.3
It is ironic that Lindsey should equate covenantalists with the Nazis since he
predicts that Israel will make a 'Treaty with Hell',4
and that two-thirds of the Jews will die in the Battle of Armageddon, when the
200 mile valley from the Sea of Galilee to Eilat will flow with irradiated blood
several feet deep.5
Christian Zionism: within or beyond Evangelical boundaries? That is the question
I wish to raise in this paper. Irrespective of whether you share my premises or
agree with my conclusions you will recognise that what we believe influences how
we behave. What Christian leaders teach about the Jews and Arabs influences how
Christians view the events unfolding in the Middle East. This past week in my
own community a local preacher gave a public lecture in which he insisted the
war against terrorism is actually a war against Islam. This is precisely the
mirror image of the theology of Islamic fundamentalists like Osama Bin Laden and
we have all experienced the terrifying consequences.
Christian Zionism is not simply a theological football to be tossed around by
dispensationalists and covenantalists having a bit of harmless debate at their
annual conference. It is also a theology which directly impacts the lives of
billions of people, globally influencing domestic politics, foreign policy,
international relations, as well as the safety of Christian missionaries from
Algeria to Uzbekistan. Let me give you one example. In October 2000, following
Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the Temple Mount timed to bring down the
government of Barak and destroy any hope of a compromise over the status of
Jerusalem, an advertisement appeared in the New York Times entitled 'Open
Letter to Evangelical Christians from Jews for Jesus.' In it they called
upon evangelicals to show solidarity with the State of Israel.
Now is the time to stand with Israel. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
our hearts are heavy as we watch the images of violence and bloodshed in the
Middle East... Christian friends, "The gifts and calling of God are
irrevocable" (Romans 11:29). So must our support for the survival of Israel
in this dark hour be irrevocable. Now is the time for Christians to stand by
This is therefore not simply an academic debate over whether Christian Zionism
marginalises the centrality of the cross, denigrates the Bride of Christ as
merely a parenthesis to God's ultimate purposes on earth or that it disregards
the most basic moral imperatives of the New Testament - and I believe that
elements of Christian Zionism does all these - it is also a theology which, in
my opinion, defends racism and apartheid on biblical grounds, is directly
implicated in the denial of basic human rights, is complicit in the destruction
of the indigenous Christian community in Israel/Palestine and is fuelling the
fire that may ignite into an apocalyptic war between Islam and the West. They
are in the words of Donald Wagner, 'Anxious for Armageddon'.7
In so far as evangelicalism was the womb from which this movement was born, it
is, I will argue, imperative that we recognise that Christian Zionism is beyond
the boundaries of evangelical orthodoxy and that we should heed Paul's warning
to the Church in Galatia concerning the nationalistic and legalistic Judaizers
infecting the church of his day, "Get rid of the slave woman and her son."
1. Some Working Definitions
The word 'apartheid' is a Dutch Afrikaans word derived from the root 'apart'
meaning 'separate' and 'heid' meaning 'hood'. In the context of South Africa it
was used to describe the legal and institutional segregation of inhabitants of
European descent from those of non-European descent.8
In 1975, the United Nations described the ethnic exclusivism of Zionism as, 'a
form of racism and racial discrimination.'9
Earlier this year the UN sponsored the World Conference on Racism in Durban,
South Africa, in August. Following the departure of representatives from the USA
and Israel, in protest at earlier drafts of the conference declaration referring
to 'racist Zionist practices' and the 'ethnic cleansing of the Arab
population in historic Palestine'10,
a final declaration was agreed. It defined racism in the following terms.
For the purpose of the present Declaration and Programme of Action, the
victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are
individuals or groups of individuals who are or have been negatively affected
by, subjected to, or targets of these scourges...
The declaration went on to list examples of racism in various parts of the
world and included the following compromise statement on Palestine carefully
worded to avoid any specific mention of Israel.
We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign
occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self
determination and to the establishment of an independent state... We recognize
the right of refugees to return voluntary to their homes and properties in
dignity and safety, and urge all States to facilitate such return.11
In 1987, the Jewish academic Uri Davis, published 'Israel, An Apartheid
State' in which he revealed the ways in which apartheid is endemic to the
basic structures of the Jewish State which has, since 1948, and like former
South Africa, defined the national status and citizenship rights of its
population on racial grounds. Davis shows how, for example, 90% of the State of
Israel has been legally defined as land which only Jews can lease or cultivate.12
It is an established fact corroborated by numerous studies that in every aspect
of Israeli society, whether in educational provision, access to medical care,
employment rights, or treatment under the judicial system, Arab Palestinians
suffer systematic and institutional discrimination that can only be described as
In 1991 when Sir Yehudi Menuhin, the world-renowned Jewish violinist, was
awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize by the Israeli Govenment, he gave a speech in
the Israeli Knesset. Referring to Israel's continued occupation of the West
Bank, Menhuin said,
"This wasteful governing by fear, by contempt for the basic dignities of
life, this steady asphyxiation of a dependent people, should be the very last
means to be adopted by those who themselves know too well the awful
significance, the unforgettable suffering of such an existence. It is unworthy
of my great people, the Jews, who have striven to abide by a code of moral
rectitude for some 5,000 years, who can create and achieve a society for
themselves such as we see around us but can yet deny the sharing of its great
qualities and benefits to those dwelling amongst them."13
Professor Edward Said, the renowned Harvard academic and professor of English
and comparative literature at Columbia University made similar comments in 1999
when Ehud Barak chose Ariel Sharon, known as the 'Butcher of Beruit', to be his
Both are confirmed Arab-killers, both are clearly contemptuous of Arabs
except as second- or perhaps even third-rate aliens tolerated in what both
consider to be the land of Israel, and neither Barak nor Sharon is much given to
visions of coexistence or equality between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.14
Under Sharon, and in defiance of international law, Israel continues to occupy
the West Bank, Golan and Gaza. Its systematic land seizures, house demolitions,
expulsions, deportations, combined with its expanding settlement programme are
designed to change the demography of the land. These repressive measures,
combined with the use of detention without trial, military courts without judge
or jury, its use of torture and the targeted 'assassination' of Palestinian
leaders have repeatedly been described as racially motivated ethnic cleansing.15
1.2 Christian Zionism
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary offers a tersely neutral definition of
A movement for [originally] the reestablishment of a Jewish nationhood in
Palestine, and [since 1948] the development of the State of Israel.16
A Christian Zionist may therefore be defined in general terms as,
...any Christian who supports the Zionist aim of the sovereign State of
Israel, its army, government, education etc.; but it can describe a Christian
who claims to support the State of Israel for any reason.17
Christian Zionism is born of the conviction that God has a continuing exclusive
relationship with, and covenantal purpose for the Jewish people, apart from the
Church and that the Jews have a divine right to possess the land of Palestine.
This is based on an ultra-literal reading of Scripture and the conviction that
Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel are being fulfilled in the
contemporary State of Israel. For Christian Zionists, God's promise to Abraham
remains unconditional and eternal.
To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great
river, the Euphrates... 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 15:18; 17:8).
Essentially Christian Zionists see themselves as defenders of, and apologists
for the State of Israel. This support involves opposing those deemed to be
critical of, or hostile toward Israel, but also inevitably leads to the
justification of its occupation and settlement of the West Bank, Golan and Gaza
on 'biblical' grounds. As tensions increase in the Middle East, so the stakes
are raised to gain the moral high ground, and the Bible is used by Christian
Zionists to silence Israel's critics. Increasingly, anti-Zionist convictions are
equated with anti-Semitism and the Shoah exploited by what even some Zionists
admit is 'holocaustology.'18
Whether consciously or otherwise, in part or in total, Christian Zionism
subscribes to the Zionist agenda best summarised by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.
We should not forget... that the supreme purpose of the ingathering of exiles
and the establishment of our state is the building of the temple. The temple is
at the very top of the pyramid.19
The Midrash Tanchuma elaborates on this relationship between land,
city and temple.
As the navel is set in the centre of the human body,
so is the land of Israel the navel of the world...
situated in the centre of the world,
and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel,
and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem,
and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary,
and the ark in the centre of the holy place,
and the foundation stone before the holy place,
because from it the world was founded.20
To use a simple analogy of three concentric rings, the Land represents the
outer ring, Jerusalem the middle and the Temple the centre. The three rings
comprise the Zionist expansionist agenda of which part of the outer was claimed
in 1948, the middle ring in 1967 and the inner is under constant threat. The
three therefore ultimately stand or fall together.
Christian Zionism as a movement represents a broad coalition of over 200
different evangelical organisations. These include some which are overtly
political such as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and Bridges for
Peace, both of which have disavowed or redefined 'evangelism' and operate as a
mouthpiece for the Israeli government. Other organisations such as Jews for
Jesus and CMJ are primarily evangelistic but also affirm Zionism on biblical
grounds. Exobus and the Ebenezer Trust fund the transportation of Jews to
Israel/Palestine from Russia and Eastern Europe. Others such as Israel Link -
Christian Friends of the Israel Community Development Foundation, encourage
churches to adopt Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories.21
There are seven basic tenets common to the various forms of Christian Zionism
and these will now be evaluated in the light of scripture.
2. Seven Distinctive Tenets of Christian Zionism
2.1 An Ultra-Literalist Biblical Hermeneutic
The rise of biblical literalism and a futurist reading of scripture, which
equates biblical references to Israel with Zionism and the contemporary State of
Israel rather than the Church can be attributed to Lewis Way, Henry Drummond,
Edward Irving and their associates who began meeting together at the Albury
'Unfulfilled Prophecy' Conferences from the 1820's. These moved to Powerscourt
in Ireland in the 1830's and eventually to the United States to such venues as
Niagara from 1875.22 In
1821, for example, Way published a pamphlet called 'The Latter Rain' in
which he called Christians to pray for the Jews out of the conviction that Old
Testament prophecies have a 'primary and literal reference to the Jews'.23
While it is possible to trace Zionist views back much earlier in history, as a
movement Christian Zionism can be dated to the Albury and Powerscourt
Conferences, to the founding of the London Jews Society (now CMJ) and the
Brethren Church. John Nelson Darby, Edward Irving and Cyrus Scofield were the
catalysts for the emergence of an innovative premillennial dispensational
theology which, historically, became the theological basis for Christian
Zionism. Rob Richards, former UK Director of CMJ, offers a modern paraphrase of
their position. "Israel is Israel is Israel."24
Patrick Goodenough of the International Christian Embassy elaborates further.
We simply believe the Bible. And that Bible, which we understand has not been
revoked, makes it quite clear that God has given this land as an eternal
inheritance to the Jewish people 25
Anne Dexter challenges those who reject this hermeneutic:
Some Arab believers and expatriate Christians in Israel feel so strongly
about these matters that they will not read the parts of the Bible that seem to
promise the land to the Jews or in any way uphold their election... Large parts
of the Scriptures are effectively invalidated by this approach.26
Following this literalistic hermeneutic in which promises made in the Old
Testament are applied in perpetuity with little or no regard to their
interpretation or fulfilment in the New Testament, Christian Zionists claim that
the borders of the land promised to Abraham - from the River of Egypt to the
Euphrates - will become the future borders of the State of Israel since
the Jews have never inherited all the land. Similarly, because the Jewish temple
described by Ezekiel has never been built, it must one day replace the Moslem
Dome of the Rock. Promises made during the Babylonian exile of a return are made
to apply 2500 years later to the emigration of Soviet and Eastern European Jews
simply because the language of the prophets suggest a 'final' return, one much
more extensive than has ever occurred before.
The fundamental error made here is the refusal to acknowledge how Jesus and the
Apostles reinterpreted the Old Testament. Instead texts are made to speak about
present and future events almost as if the New Testament were never written. The
implicit assumption is that Old and New Testament run at times parallel into the
future, the former speaking of Israel and the latter of the Church. This is at
variance with the way the New Testament interprets, fulfils, annuls and
completes the Old. For example, Jesus annulled the Levitical food laws.
"Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make
him `unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then
out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods
"clean.") (Matthew 7:18-19)
A vision of unclean food is specifically used by God to help the apostle Peter
realise that in Christ there is now no longer any distinction between Jew and
Gentile. Both are accepted as equal in the kingdom of God.
He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth
by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as
reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up,
Peter. Kill and eat." "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I
have never eaten anything impure or unclean." The voice spoke to him a
second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
Only when Peter encounters Cornelius does he begin to realise the implications
of the vision for the way he should now view Jews and Gentiles.
I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts
men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34-35)
Logically, if God does not show favouritism, the Jews cannot presume to enjoy a
favoured or exclusive status. This movement in biblical revelation is explained
more fully by the writer to the Hebrews. The Old Testament revelation from God
often came in shadow, image and prophecy. In the New Covenant that revelation
finds its consummation in reality, substance and fulfilment in Jesus Christ.
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and
in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he
appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews
By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete;
and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-- not the realities
themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated
endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship (Hebrews
It is fundamental that Christians read the Scriptures with Christian eyes, and
that they interpret the Old Covenant in the light of the New Covenant, not the
other way round. In Colossians, for example, Paul uses a typological hermeneutic
to explain this.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with
regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These
are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in
Christ. (Colossians. 2:16-17)
The question is therefore not whether the promises of the old covenant are to be
understood literally or allegorically as Christian Zionists like to polarise the
issue. It is instead a question of whether they should be understood in terms of
Old Covenant shadow or in terms of New Covenant reality. This is the most basic
hermeneutical error which Christian Zionists consistently repeat. This is
illustrated in the way the Jews are designated by Christian Zionists as God's
2.2 The Jews Remain God's 'Chosen People'
Based on their literal reading of the Old Testament Christian Zionists believe
that the Jews remain God's 'chosen people' enjoying a unique relationship,
status and eternal purposes within their own land, separate from any promises
made to the Church. So, the promises made to Abraham remain true today for the
physical descendants of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Based on passages like Genesis
15, Christian Friends of Israel, for example, insist,
The Bible teaches that Israel (people, land, nation) has a Divinely
ordained and glorious future, and that God has neither rejected nor replaced His
Similarly, Jews for Jesus perpetuate the
dispensational distinction between God's purposes for Israel and that of the
We believe that Israel exists as a covenant people through whom God continues
to accomplish His purposes and that the Church is an elect people in accordance
with the New Covenant, comprising both Jews and Gentiles who acknowledge Jesus
as Messiah and Redeemer. 28
David Brickner affirms the position first propounded by Darby, that the Jews
remain 'God's chosen people' while the church is merely 'a
God's future plans for the Jews. The implicit assumption is that the Jews
continue to enjoy a special covenant relationship with God apart from through
Jesus Christ. This contradicts Jesus own clear and unambiguous statements to the
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to
yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father.' For 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." (Luke 3:8-9)
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you
possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you
refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39-40)
"Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's
children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did...
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's
desire." (John 8:39, 44)
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me." (John 14:6)
For this reason Peter warned his Jewish audience soon after the Day of Pentecost
that if they persisted in refusing to recognise Jesus as their Messiah, they
would cease to be the laos of God, 'Anyone who does not listen to him
(Christ) will be completely cut off from among his people.' (Acts 3:23)
Jesus and the apostles repudiated the notion that the Jews continued to enjoy a
special status or relationship apart from belief in Jesus as their Messiah.
Christian Zionists fail to recognise that in the Bible, 'chosenness'
becomes progressively universalised, the gift of God's grace in Jesus Christ to
all who trust in Him, irrespective of their racial origins.
In the New Testament the concept of 'chosenness' is applied to those who have or
who will believe in Jesus Christ. It is never used exclusively of the Jewish
people, apart from as members of the Church. Jesus Christ is the 'chosen' one.
In Romans 11:5 Paul does refer to a 'remnant' of Jews, who like himself are
'chosen by grace' and included in Christ. In the New Testament the term is
always used to refer to the Church, the Body of Christ.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of
him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. (Ephesians
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people
belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of
darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are
the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received
mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
It is therefore no longer appropriate to designate the Jews as God's 'chosen
people' since the term has been invested with new meaning to refer to all who
trust in Jesus Christ.
2.3 The Restoration to and Occupation of Eretz Israel
Since Christian Zionists argue that the Jews remain God's chosen people, the
promises concerning the land still apply unconditionally and in perpetuity.
Therefore Christian Zionists are active in encouraging Jews to 'return'
to Zion. The contemporary State of Israel is seen by Christian Zionists as
evidence of God's continuing protection and favour toward the Jews.
I believe the modern day state of Israel is a miracle of God and a fulfillment
of Bible prophecy. Jesus clearly said that "Jerusalem would be trodden down
of the Gentiles until the time of the nations is fulfilled" (Luke 21:24).
It has been 50 years since the founding of that state, but only 30 years since
Jerusalem came under the control of Jews for the first time since Jesus made
that prediction. Could it be that "this generation shall not pass until all
these things are fulfilled?"3
That is why CMJ's resource pack includes a section entitled, 'The State of
Israel: Why should we support it?'
... in the biblical worldview one cannot actually separate theology and
spirituality... one cannot divorce the issue of the people of Israel's
relationship with God from their relationship to their delegated sovereignty in
the land of Israel... God.. has made it possible for Jewish people everywhere to
come and live in a restored Jewish homeland ...it seems to us that God is
undoubtedly behind the re-creation of the Jewish State in the modern world. We
are called to a support for the State of Israel...31
To Christian Zionists, however, the present borders of Israel are only a
fraction of those God intended for the Jews. The geographical extent of 'Eretz
Israel', as Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains, is nonnegotiable and covers
everything from Egypt to Iraq.
So, then, according to the Scriptures, three promises are made with regard to
the land: first, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all promised the possession of
the land; second, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were promised the
possession of the land; and third, the boundaries of the promised land extended
from the Euphrates River in the north to the River of Egypt in the south. ...At
no point in Jewish history have the Jews ever possessed all of the land from the
Euphrates in the north to the River of Egypt in the south. Since God cannot lie,
these things must yet come to pass. Somehow or other, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
must possess all the land, and second, the descendants of Abraham must settle in
all of the promised land.32
At the Third International Christian Zionist Congress held in Jerusalem in
February 1996 under the auspices of ICEJ, some 1,500 delegates from over 40
countries unanimously affirmed a proclamation and affirmation of Christian
Zionism including the following beliefs,
The Lord in His zealous love for Israel and the Jewish People blesses and
curses peoples and judges nations based upon their treatment of the Chosen
People of Israel.... According to God's distribution of nations, the Land of
Israel has been given to the Jewish People by God as an everlasting possession
by an eternal covenant. The Jewish People have the absolute right to possess and
dwell in the Land, including Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan.33
Anne Dexter explains why present or future negotiations involving a land for
peace deal involving the creation of a Palestinian State in Gaza and the West
Bank will never appease Zionists.
The question of the ancient boundaries cannot be ignored. It underlies the
policies of many Israeli statesmen. It explains why Sinai is always negotiable -
it has twice been captured by Israel and returned to Egypt. It is the reason why
Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Golan Heights is not just a matter of
secure and defensible borders. It is the guiding principles in Israel's
interpretation of West Bank autonomy, which insists that whatever the degree of
self-determination allowed the people, the land itself belongs to Israel.34
In her view, Palestinian Christians must accept Zionism, and learn to live with
it. "Arab Christians are squarely faced with the biblical election of
the Jews, and their role throughout history, particularly in the present."35
Christian Zionists therefore invariably oppose the dismantling of the Jewish
settlements in the Palestinian Territories. Theodore Beckett, Chairman of the
Christian Friends of Israel Community Development Foundation, for example, has
initiated an 'adopt-a-settlement' program among evangelical churches. The
Jewish town of Ariel, for example, has been adopted by Faith Bible Chapel in
nearby Denver. Seventy other Jewish settlements have also apparently been
adopted in this way,
...with larger churches adopting larger settlements and smaller churches
adopting smaller settlements and giving all a morale boost to show them they are
not alone and are loved by many.36
Jews for Jesus go as far as to compare Israel's continued occupation of the
Palestinian Territories with the United States claim to Texas.
Many might wish that the Israeli government could feel secure enough to withdraw
the settlements on the West Bank. But on the same basis, the United States
should seriously consider giving Texas back to Mexico and, indeed, should never
have settled it in the first place.37
They also justify the military occupation of the Palestinian Territories on the
basis of biblical precedent as well as divine command.
So far as force of arms is concerned, the choice for Israel has been to fight
or to be annihilated. It must be remembered that every defensive position
entails some violence... We must also remember that war has not always been
"wrong." In Moses' time the sons of Jacob did not traipse into the
land of Canaan and find a welcoming committee eager to greet them and
congratulate them upon their arrival. God commanded that they take Canaan by
force. At that point it would have been wrong for them not to do it. There may
be some who think that God has learned some new lessons since ancient times, but
to our knowledge, God does not change. It is entirely possible that once again
he might move Israel to resort to force.38
Christian Zionists fail to recognise that 'meekness' rather than 'chosenness'
was always a precondition of remaining in the land, whereas arrogance or
oppression were reasons for exile. It is also significant to note the way that
Jesus universalises the land promise made in Psalm 37.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. (Psalm 37:11)
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Zionists must also inevitably downplay the repeated warnings of the Hebrew
Prophets who insist the land belongs to God and residence there is always
conditional. For example,
The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are
but aliens and my tenants. (Leviticus 25:23)
Because the Land belongs to God, it cannot be permanently bought or sold. It
cannot be permanently given away, let alone stolen or confiscated as has
occurred in the Occupied Territories since 1967. The Land is never at the
disposal of Israel for its national purposes. Instead it is Israel who are at
the disposal of God's purposes. The Jews remain tenants in God's Land. The
ethical requirements for occupancy of Canaan were clearly outlined in Leviticus.
Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the
nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land
was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its
inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the
aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all
these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the
land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it
vomited out the nations that were before you. (Leviticus 18:24-28) The
prophet Ezekiel amplifies the same warning to those tenants.
Thus says the Lord God of Israel: You shed blood, yet you would keep
possession on the land? You rely on your sword, you do abominable things... yet
you would keep possession of the land?... I will make the land a desolate
waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel
will become desolate so that no one will cross them. Then they will know that I
am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the
detestable things they have done.' (Ezekiel 33:25-29)
On the basis of such sober warnings is it not more likely that Israel will
experience an imminent exile rather than restoration? The tension between
evangelicals who seek the implementation of international law and Christian
Zionists is no where more clearly polarized than on the issue of the status of
2.4 Jerusalem, The Eternal and Exclusive Jewish Capital
In 1992, the ICEJ sponsored various receptions marking the 25th anniversary of
what they referred to as the "Reunification of Jerusalem."39
In 1996 this position was reiterated.
Because of the sovereign purposes of God for the City, Jerusalem must remain
undivided, under Israeli sovereignty, open to all peoples, the capitol of Israel
only, and all nations should so concur and place their embassies here.40
In 1997 the ICEJ gave support to a full page advert placed in the New York Times
entitled, "Christians Call for a United Jerusalem" signed by 10
evangelical leaders including Pat Robertson, chairman of Christian Broadcasting
Network and president of the Christian Coalition; Oral Roberts, founder and
chancellor of Oral Roberts University; Jerry Falwell, founder of Moral Majority;
Ed McAteer, President of the Religious Roundtable; and David Allen Lewis,
President of Christians United for Israel.
We, the undersigned Christian spiritual leaders, communicating weekly to more
than 100 million Christian Americans, are proud to join together in supporting
the continued sovereignty of the State of Israel over the holy city of
Jerusalem. We support Israel's efforts to reach reconciliation with its Arab
neighbors, but we believe that Jerusalem or any portion of it shall not be
negotiable in the peace process. Jerusalem must remain undivided as the eternal
capital of the Jewish people.41
Readers were invited to:
Join us in our holy mission to ensure that Jerusalem will remain the undivided,
eternal capital of Israel. The battle for Jerusalem has begun, and it is time
for believers in Christ to support our Jewish brethren and the State of Israel.
The time for unity with the Jewish people is now.42
The New Testament, however, knows nothing of this preoccupation with a
nationalistic and materialistic earthly Jerusalem. Instead through faith in
Christ we already inhabit the heavenly Jerusalem and look forward to its
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the
living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful
assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother (Galatians
In Galatians 4 Paul is criticizing the 'Jerusalem-dependency'43
of the legalists who were infecting the Church in Galatia. Galatians 4:27 is a
quotation from Isaiah 54:1 which referred to the earthly Jerusalem. Paul now
interprets the passage to refer to the home of all who believe in Jesus Christ.44
J.C. De Young writes,
Gal. 4:21 ff represents, perhaps, the sharpest polemic against Jerusalem in
the New Testament... Far from being pre-occupied with hopes for a glorification
of the earthly Jerusalem, Paul's thought represents a most emphatic repudiation
of any eschatological hopes concerning the earthly city.45
Access to heaven no longer has anything to do with the earthly Jerusalem. Jesus
had already made this clear to the woman of Samaria.
Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither
on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not
know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time
is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in
spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
At his trial Jesus explained why.
My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to
prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place. (John
The turning point for the Disciples comes with the resurrection encounters and
Pentecost. Until this point they seemed to share the same understanding of the
land as other 1st Century Jews. They had looked forward to God's decisive
intervention in history which would at last restore political sovereignty to the
Jews in Israel. This is reflected in the words of the disciples on the road to
Emmaus, who confessed, 'we had hoped that he was
the one who was going to redeem Israel.' (Luke 24:21) This
idea was clearly still in the minds of the disciples as Jesus
when, just before his ascension, they ask, 'Lord, are you at this time
going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).
John Calvin comments, 'There are as many mistakes in this question as
there are words.'46 Jesus'
reply indicates that he has another agenda for his disciples.
It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own
authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you
will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends
of the earth. (Acts 1:7-8)
Jesus redefines the boundaries of the kingdom of God and thereby the
meaning of chosenness. The expansion of the kingdom of God throughout the world
requires the exile of the Apostles from the land. They must turn their backs on
Jerusalem and their hopes of a materialistic kingdom. They are sent out into the
world but never told to return. Subsequent to Pentecost, under the illumination
of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles begin to use Old Covenant language concerning
the Land in new ways.
So for example, Peter speaks of an inheritance which unlike the Land, '...can
never perish, spoil or fade.' (1 Peter 1:4). Paul similarly asserts, 'Now
I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and
give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.' (Acts 20:32)
There is no evidence that the Apostles believed that the Jewish people
still had a divine right to the Land, or that the Jewish possession of the Land
would be an important, let alone central aspect of God's future purposes for the
world. In the Christological logic of Paul, the Land, like the Law, have now
been superseded and are irrelevant to God's redemptive purposes.
The contradiction between the flow of biblical revelation in the New Testament
and the Zionist agenda is no where more clearly seen than in the question of the
Jewish Temple. This is also the most controversial issue uniting Christian
Zionists with the more extreme Jewish Zionists.
2.5 The Rebuilding of the Jewish Temple
Just 500 metres by 300 metres it is according to Hal Lindsey, the
most disputed 35 acres on the Planet.'47
I believe the fate of the world will be determined by an ancient feud over 35
acres of land.48
Yisrael Meida explains the significance of the Temple Mount to Jewish
It is all a matter of sovereignty. He who controls the Temple Mount, controls
Jerusalem. And he who controls Jerusalem, controls the land of Israel.49
Lindsey is representative of many Christian Zionists who are convinced that the
Jewish Temple will be rebuilt very soon.
Obstacle or no obstacle, it is certain that the Temple will be rebuilt.
Prophecy demands it... With the Jewish nation reborn in the land of Palestine,
ancient Jerusalem once again under total Jewish control for the first time in
2600 years, and talk of rebuilding the great Temple, the most important sign of
Jesus Christ's soon coming is before us... It is like the key piece of a jigsaw
puzzle being found... For all those who trust in Jesus Christ, it is a time of
David Brickner basis his belief on a futurist reading of Daniel 9.
Obviously the Temple has been rebuilt because Daniel tells us this ruler puts
an end to sacrifice and sets up some kind of abomination (a loathsome horror
that would be anathema to Jewish worship) right inside the Temple in Jerusalem.
Ultimately this ruler is destroyed in a final conflagration of enormous
While Jews for Jesus insist that they do not endorse the activities of Jewish
groups committed to rebuilding the Jewish Temple, they nevertheless provide
information on, and direct Internet links to, eight extreme Jewish organisations
involved in attempts to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, rebuild
the Jewish Temple and re-institute Temple worship, priesthood and sacrifices.
These include the Temple Institute and Temple Mount Faithful.52
Indeed, Zhava Glaser of Jews for Jesus, praises Gershon Salomon, founder of 'The
Very few Jews have the courage to talk about the most important subject in
the Jewish religion: that is, the question of the Temple, the high priest, the
altar and the place of sacrifice. Gershon Salomon is a man of such courage. This
53-year-old scholar is the founder and head of a group called, "The Temple
Faithful." His credentials as an Israeli patriot are impeccable, beginning
at age eleven when he was arrested by the British authorities for putting up
Zionist posters during their occupation of Israel. He has stood up for what he
believes to be true ever since... One must take Salomon seriously. Nine thousand
people are on his "Temple Mount Faithful" membership list.53
Speaking at the Jerusalem Christian Zionist Congress in 1998, Salomon insisted,
The mission of the present generation is to liberate the Temple Mount and to
remove - I repeat, to remove - the defiling abomination there ... The Jewish
people will not be stopped at the gates leading to the Temple Mount ... We will
fly our Israeli flag over the Temple Mount, which will be minus its Dome of the
Rock and its mosques and will have only our Israeli flag and our Temple. This is
what our generation must accomplish.54
Sam Kiley writing in the London Times gives another perspective. He
claims Salomon represents the '...almost acceptable face of millennial cults.'
In an interview with Kiley, Salomon insisted that the Islamic shrine must be
The Israeli Government must do it. We must have a war. There will be many
nations against us but God will be our general. I am sure this is a test, that
God is expecting us to move the Dome with no fear from other nations. The
Messiah will not come by himself, we should bring Him by fighting.55
Such sentiments are shared by many Christian Zionists including James DeLoach,
Terry Risenhoover and Doug Kreiger. Organisations such as the International
Christian Embassy and Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California,
have been influential in gathering significant financial and political support
for extreme Jewish organisations such as Gush Emunim and the Temple Mount
Foundation.56 Pat Robertson's
Christian Broadcasting Network has also raised funds for Gershon Salomon's
Temple Mount Faithful.57
One book, in particular, has galvanized Christian Zionists on this issue,
namely, Ready to Rebuild: The Imminent Plan to Rebuild the Last Days
Temple, by Thomas Ice and Randall Price.58
John Walvoord offers this endorsement.
A masterpiece presenting all the various views with substantiating
evidence... A mine of information for those concerned about prophecy... A solid
basis for faith and what can actually be expected in regard to the rebuilding of
the Temple... (it) is highly recommended59
The conviction that the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt is, ironically, the
Achilles' heel of Christian Zionism for it is inevitably also associated with
the reintroduction of the Mosaic sacrificial system. Based on his reading of
Daniel 12:11 John Walvoord claims,
Judging by Scriptures, this is precisely what they will do as it would be
impossible to cause sacrifices to cease if they were not already in operation.
The usual method of dismissing this as something which occurred in A.D. 70 does
not provide a reasonable explanation of the text nor account for the fact that
the second coming of Christ occurs immediately thereafter.60Scofield
in his Reference Bible claimed that the sacrifices mentioned in Ezekiel 43:19,
would, however, be only 'memorial' offerings.
The reference to sacrifices is not to be taken
literally, in view of the putting away of such offerings, but is rather to be
regarded as a presentation of the worship of redeemed Israel, in her own land
and in the millennial Temple, using the terms with which the Jews were familiar
in Ezekiel's day.62
If this particular reference to sacrifice in Ezekiel 43 need not be taken
literally then the ultra-literalist distinction between Israel and the Church
collapses, flawed by its own internal inconsistency.63
A literalist hermeneutic precludes the possibility that the sacrifice of a young
bullock can be synonymous with a memorial offering consisting of grain and
However, even if he could do so in some future millennial kingdom, it would be
incongruous for Jesus to offer animal sacrifices when he had replaced them, once
for all, by the shedding his own blood.
Such an interpretation undermines the New Testament insistence that the work of
Christ is sufficient, final and complete67
Nevertheless, Zahava Glaser claims 'when God instituted the sacrificial
system, it was instituted for all time.'
What flour is to bread, the sacrificial system is to the religion revealed in
the Jewish Scriptures. It is not a garnish. It is not a flavoring. It is the
very substance out of which the Jewish religion was constructed. We can forever
design our own substitutes, but they cannot satisfy our yearnings the way God's
own provision can. Though some rabbis might minimize the revealed system of
worship and its requirements, can the individual Jew neglect what God says? Can
there be a "proper" Judaism without a priesthood, an altar, a
sacrifice and a place on earth where God meets the individual?68
Such logic seems at variance with the way in which the New Testament speaks of
the place of Temple and sacrifice. In the New Testament the word Temple is
mentioned 112 times. Of 66 verses where the word occurs in the Gospels, 58 refer
to Herod's Temple. In the other eight verses Jesus compares himself to the
Temple, its destruction and his own resurrection.69
The word is also used 25 times in Acts and always of Herod's Temple or a pagan
shrine. In the Epistles the word occurs in nine verses. In three it refers to
the existing Jewish Temple and once to a pagan shrine.70
In the Book of Revelation the word occurs a further 12 times and in every case
refers specifically to the heavenly Temple or to the Lord God Himself71.
On the six other occasions where the word appears in the Epistles it describes
the individual Christian and corporately the Church as the Body of Christ and
dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.72
This is precisely what Jesus predicted in John 4. Worship would soon no longer
be confined to the Temple in Jerusalem but become universal 'in spirit and
truth'.73 While Jesus warned
of the destruction of the Temple, and was known to have done so by his critics,
he never promised that it would ever be rebuilt.74
In Hebrews, the author describes the offering of sacrifices between the death of
Christ and the destruction of the Temple as an 'illustration' of, and 'copies'
of, heavenly realities, a 'reminder of sins' but unable, unlike the
finished work of Christ, to take sin away.75
Peter uses the same terminology to describe the way Christians are being made
into the new house of God,76
in which Jesus is the 'precious cornerstone'.77
Peter quotes directly from Exodus 19 using the promise made to the Jews but now
applies it to the Church.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people
belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of
darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
There is in fact not a single verse in the New Testament which promises that a
Jewish Temple would be rebuilt, that a 2000 year 'parenthesis' should be
placed between references to its desecration and destruction, or indeed that the
Temple in Jerusalem would play any part in God's purposes after the cross.
Christian Zionists must therefore ignore the way in which the Temple is invested
with new meaning in the New Testament and becomes instead an image of the
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens
with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the
apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In
him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in
the Lord. (Ephesians 2:19-21)
The movement in the progressive revelation of Scripture is always from the
lesser to the greater. It is never reversed. The New Testament repeatedly sees
such Old Testament concepts as the Temple, High Priest and sacrifice as 'types'
pointing to and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.78
Typology in Scripture never typifies itself, nor is it ever greater than that
which it typifies.79
Christians who therefore advocate the rebuilding of the Temple are regressing
into a pre-Christian sacrificial system, superseded, made redundant and annulled
by the finished work of Jesus Christ. The Temple was only a temporary edifice, a
shadow and type anticipating the day when God would dwell with people of all
nations through the atoning work of the true Temple, Jesus Christ.80
By insisting on such an arbitrary and dualistic separation between God's
purposes for the Jews and those of the Church, Christian Zionists are promoting
Old Testament 'shadows' alongside their New Testament 'substance'.81
In doing so they are seeking to revive what is now obsolete. Turning the clock
back in redemptive history82
they are Judaizing the Christian faith.83
If religious Jews do indeed rebuild their Temple and re-institute sacrifices it
will only confirm their rejection of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. For
Christians to support them in the belief that future sacrifices may atone for
sin is surely apostasy.84
Several commentators including E.J. Young associate the 'abomination of
desolation' and the reference to 'the blood of swine' in Isaiah 66 to
the continuation of Temple sacrifices after the death of Christ.85
It is not surprising perhaps that Christian support for Jewish sovereignty over
the Temple Mount, exacerbated by several well publicised attempts to destroy the
Dome of the Rock as well as fund Temple Mount organisations, inflames tensions
between Jews and Arabs, Christian and Moslem.
2.6 Antipathy Toward Arabs and Palestinians
Christian Zionists, while lovers of Israel, rarely show the same feelings toward
Arabs and Palestinians. Anti-Arab prejudices and Orientalist stereotypes are
common in their writings.86
Comparisons between Hitler and the Arabs are common.87
Hal Lindsey, the most prolific Christian Zionist writer, insists,
Long ago the psalmist predicted the final mad attempt of the confederated
Arab armies to destroy the nation of Israel... The Palestinians are determined
to trouble the world until they repossess what they feel is their land. The Arab
nations consider it a matter of racial honour to destroy the State of Israel.
Islam considers it a sacred mission of religious honour to recapture Old
Basilea Schlink, also berates the Palestinian Intifada as 'terrorism... aimed
solely at destroying Israel.'89
Franklin Graham, President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,
regrettably made similar unguarded remarks in a recent newspaper interview.
The Arabs will not be happy until every Jew is dead. They hate the State of
Israel. They all hate the Jews. God gave the land to the Jews. The Arabs will
never accept that.90
Some Christian Zionists are reluctant even to acknowledge the existence of
Palestinians as a distinct people. Dave Hunt is typical of those who equate
Palestinians with the ancient Philistines, and use the term Palestinian
in an entirely pejorative sense.
Central to the Middle East conflict today is the issue of the so-called
Palestinian people... Palestinians? There never was a Palestinian people,
nation, language, culture, or religion. The claim of descent from a Palestinian
people who lived for thousands of years in a land called Palestine is a hoax!
That land was Canaan, inhabited by Canaanites, whom God destroyed because of
their wickedness. Canaan became the land of Israel given by God to His people.
Those who today call themselves Palestinians are Arabs by birth, language,
and culture, and are close relatives to Arabs in surrounding countries from
whence most of them came, attracted by Israel's prosperity..91
Based on Hunt's logic presumably the same arguments could be used against the
right to self determination of citizens of the United States or indeed of
several dozen nations founded in the 20th Century. Rob Richards justifies
Israel's apartheid regime on the grounds that Palestinians are the biblical
equivalent of the 'alien' residents in Eretz Israel, to be respected but
not entitled to the same status or equal rights, as the Jews.
Palestinians and Arabs who have made Israel their home come under that biblical
Richards ignores the fact that most Palestinians did not 'make their home
in Israel'. Those over the age of 50 were living in their own land of
Palestine long before the State of Israel was unilaterally imposed upon them in
1948. Brickner similarly uses the term 'sojourner' to describe the status
of Palestinians in Eretz Israel 93
while Jews for Jesus defend Israel's denial of Palestinian human rights on the
grounds of national security.
For example, although Israel is a signatory of various international human
rights documents, it has signed with reservations; namely, it has reserved the
right to derogate certain rights in times where national security is threatened.94
While the United Nations is invariably viewed with mistrust, the two nations of
America and Israel, like Siamese twins, are perceived to be pitted against an
evil world dominated by Islam,95
in which people like Yasser Arafat or Saddam Hussein is seen as contenders for
the role of Anti-Christ.96 It
is therefore not hard to see why Christian Zionists are pessimistic of, or even
oppose, the current peace process. Walter Riggans, for instance, believes the
Oslo Peace Accord threatens to legitimise Palestinian claims to Jerusalem and
the West Bank.
...many Jewish people are quite devastated, and feel they have been betrayed
into the hands of cunning and ruthless Palestinians who are exploiting the
accords as a first step towards the elimination of Israel.97
Neil Cohen, vicar of Christ Church, Jerusalem, is equally pessimistic.
Partnership of Jew and Arab is untenable in Israel... we live in an age of
political correctness which claims we live in a world where all people have
equal rights. I don't agree with that because I don't think it squares with the
biblical record... the search for peace in the Middle East, laudable though it
is, is a wild goose chase.98
Regrettably such instances of racism which demonise Arabs, regard Palestinians
as 'aliens' and denies them the basic right to self determination is
difficult to square with the a New Testament ethic. The followers of Jesus
Christ are called to be peace makers99,
to love their enemies100 and
to no longer regard others from a worldly point of view but instead reach out to
the widow and orphan, the poor the sick and the stranger, through a ministry of
Tragically, many Christian Zionists, it seems, are more concerned with fighting
wars than building peace.
2.7 Anxious for Armageddon
The 1967 'Six Day War' marked a significant watershed for Christian interest in
Israel and Zionism. For example, Jerry Falwell did not begin to speak about
modern-day Israel until after Israel's 1967 military victory.
Falwell changed completely. He entered into politics and became an avid
supporter of the Zionist State... the stunning Israeli victory made a big impact
not only on Falwell, but on a lot of Americans... Remember that in 1967, the
United States was mired in the Vietnam war. Many felt a sense of defeat,
helplessness and discouragement... Many Americans, including Falwell, turned
worshipful glances toward Israel, which they viewed as militarily strong and
invincible. They gave their unstinting approval to the Israeli take-over of Arab
lands because they perceived this conquest as power and righteousness...102
Most Christian Zionists hold to a pessimistic and deterministic
premillennial view of the future. Hal Lindsey is no exception. Without any
hesitation or doubt he insists,
'And look what's happening in the Middle East - ground zero in the endtimes
events.... This phoney peace deal in the Middle East thus only ensures that
eventually there will be a thermonuclear holocaust in the Middle East... This
seems to parallel predictions in Revelation and else where almost to a T. Mark
my words. It will happen.'103
Let's talk about World War III... We can almost see the handwriting on the
wall... Does this sound like a scenario that could happen in the very near
future? Perhaps at almost any minute? You bet it does.104
The titles of Lindsey's books are typical of many other Christian Zionist
writers in showing an increasingly exaggerated and almost pathological emphasis
on the apocalyptic, on death and suffering, especially as the year 2000
We are the generation the prophets were talking about. We have witnessed
biblical prophecies come true. The birth of Israel. The decline in American
power and morality. The rise of Russian and Chinese might. The threat of war in
the Middle East. The increase of earthquakes, volcanoes, famine and drought. The
Bible foretells the signs that precede Armageddon... We are the generation that
will see the end times ...and the return of Jesus.106
Lindsey's last but one book, The Final Battle, includes the following,
Never before, in one book, has there been such a complete and detailed look
at the events leading up to 'The Battle of Armageddon.'107
At times Lindsey's description of the suffering inherent in this most terrible
scenario of a nuclear holocaust is tasteless if not repulsive.
Man has pretty much exhausted his arsenal. There are few popguns left, but
not very much left to pop them. At least four billion people have perished in
the first 14 Judgments alone. Now its God's turn.108
I always get a comical mental image when I read this next verse. In my mind's
eye, I see this confused, cancer ridden, dull eyed, war-weary soldier. He smokes
a giant joint and says, "Let the weak say, I am a mighty man"109
Lindsey, along with people like Jack Van Impe offer graphic maps showing
future military movements of American, Russian, Chinese and African armies and
naval convoys which they claim will contend with one another in the battle of
Armageddon.110 This is
perhaps why Jerry Falwell's 'Friendship Tours' to Israel include not only
meetings with top Israeli government and military officials but also,
.....On-site tour of modern Israeli battlefields... Official visit to an
Israeli defence installation... strategic military positions, plus experience
first hand the battle Israel faces as a nation.111
While Christians respectfully disagree in their eschatological
interpretation of Scripture, Christian Zionists such as Lindsey, Jeffries and
Hunt appear to be more interested in being on the organising committee than the
welcoming committee of the Second Coming of Christ. They also have a tendency to
intimidate or threaten their critics with divine retribution. As we have already
seen Lindsey accuses those who refuse to accept a distinction between God's
purposes for the Church and Israel of perpetuating,
...the same error that founded the legacy of contempt for the Jews and
ultimately led to the Holocaust of Nazi Germany.112
Brickner also warns those who do not share his particular Zionist perspective
that they are fighting against God.
Peril awaits those who presume to say that God is finished with His chosen
people: "And in that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all
peoples. All who lift it shall be slashed, and all the nations of the earth will
be gathered against it" (Zechariah 12:3). Woe to anyone who joins those
nations to gather against the Jewish people who are now back in the city of
David. Just as God judged the nation of Egypt for her ill treatment of His
people, so will He judge nations today. Evangelicals who would understand the
Middle East must pay close attention to the teaching of Scripture, and take note
of the cosmic forces that now do battle in the heavens but will soon do battle
on earth. They must choose carefully which side to uphold.113
Brickner specifically singles out EMEU (Evangelicals for Middle East
Understanding), founded by John Stott and directed by Don Wagner, for
challenging Israel's failure to respect human rights.
There are, however, others who describe themselves as evangelicals who want
"middle east understanding"-- when in fact they are merely mouthpieces
for anti-Israel propaganda. They allow their politically correct, over-wrought
sense of moral outrage over the suffering of Palestinians to dictate their view
Basilea Schlink pronounces similar anathemas on those who question Israel's
Anyone who disputes Israel's right to the land of Canaan is actually opposing
God and his holy covenant with the Patriarchs. He is striving against sacred,
inviolable words and promises of God, which He has sworn to keep.115
Such literalist assumptions preclude any possibility of an alternative reading
of the Bible, history or a just and lasting outcome to the search for peace in
the Middle East. In this brief composite survey we have explored seven basic
tenets of Christian Zionism. An ultra-literalist hermeneutic, the belief that
the Jews remain God's chosen people, the restoration of Jews to Eretz Israel
will continue, Jerusalem will be the eternal and exclusive capital of the Jews,
the Temple will be rebuilt, the priesthood consecrated and sacrifices
reinstituted. Arabs and Palestinians are seen as the enemies of Israel in what
is about to become the battle of Armageddon.
3. Conclusions : A Critique of Christian Zionists
Christian Zionism as a movement was born within British evangelicalism in the
19th Century and has become institutionalised through Dispensationalism into
mainstream American evangelicalism in the 20th Century. This paper has sought to
demonstrate that while evangelicalism may have given birth to Christian Zionism,
it is time to look again at its genetics and re-evaluate whether we are indeed
While there is a commitment by organisations such as Jews for Jesus and CMJ to
evangelise Jewish people, their solidarity with politicised and non-evangelistic
agencies such as Bridges for Peace and the International Christian Embassy has
led many evangelicals to equate their faith with Zionism, becoming apologists
for the State of Israel itself and thereby, whether intentionally or otherwise
complicit in apartheid practices and human rights abuses in the name of God.116
Satirically, Kenneth Cragg summarises the implications of Christian Zionism's
It is so; God chose the Jews; the land is theirs by divine gift. These dicta
cannot be questioned or resisted. They are final. Such verdicts come infallibly
from Christian biblicists for whom Israel can do no wrong-thus fortified. But
can such positivism, this unquestioning finality, be compatible with the
integrity of the Prophets themselves? It certainly cannot square with the open
peoplehood under God which is the crux of New Testament faith. Nor can it well
be reconciled with the ethical demands central to law and election alike.117
Many Christians in the Middle East similarly regard Christian Zionism as a
deviant heresy which is subservient to the political agenda of the State of
Israel. They claim it represents a tendency to
...force the Zionist model of theocratic and ethnocentric nationalism on the
Middle East... The Christian Zionist programme, with its elevation of modern
political Zionism, provides the Christian with a world view where the gospel is
identified with the ideology of success and militarism. It places its emphasis
on events leading up to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and
Christian Zionism only thrives on a futurist and literal hermeneutic when Old
Testament promises made to the ancient Jewish people are transposed on to the
contemporary State of Israel. To do so it is necessary to ignore, marginalise or
bi-pass the New Testament which reinterprets, annuls and fulfils those promises
in and through Jesus Christ and his followers. This is no where more evident
than in Galatians 4 where we are taught that we should no longer regard
unbelieving Jews as descendants of Sarah and Isaac but of Hagar and Ishmael.
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law
says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and
the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary
way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These
things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One
covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is
Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present
city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the
Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother... Now you, brothers,
like Isaac, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:21-28)
The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are therefore now to be
understood as fulfilled only through those who follow Jesus Christ, for they
alone are designated the true children of Abraham and Sarah. Jews who reject
Jesus Christ are outside the covenant of grace and are to be regarded as
children of Hagar. Paul takes Sarah's words of Genesis 21:10 and applies them to
the Judaizers who were corrupting the faith of the church in Galatia.
Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never
share in the inheritance with the free woman's son. (Galatians 4:30)
This paper has attempted to show why this injunction should be applied today
toward those who demonstrate the same legalizing tendencies within Christian
Zionism. This is no excuse for arrogance or anti-Semitisim which we all abhor.
With sensitivity and compassion we are mandated to share our faith in Jesus
praying that our Jewish friends find their Messiah and complete their faith.
However, any suggestion that the Jewish people continue to have a special status
before God, a separate and continuing covenant or exclusive rights to the lands
of the Middle East is, in the words of John Stott, 'biblical anathema.'119
Stott gives three reasons why Christian Zionism should be regarded as beyond the
boundaries of evangelicalism
1. The Old Testament promises about the Jews' return to the land are
comforted by promises of the Jews' return to the Lord. It is hard to see how
that secular, unbelieving State of Israel can possibly be a fulfillment of those
2. The Old Testament promises about the land are nowhere repeated in the New
Testament. The prophecy of Romans 11 is a prophecy that many Jews will turn to
Christ, but the land is not mentioned nor is Israel mentioned as a political
3. The Old Testament promises according to the apostles are fulfilled in Christ
and the international community of Christ. The New Testament authors apply the
promise of Abraham's seed to Jesus Christ. And they apply to Jesus Christ the
promise of the land and all the land which is inherited, the land flowing with
milk and honey, because it is in him that our hunger is satisfied and out thirst
quenched. A return to Jewish nationalism would seem incompatible with this New
Testament perspective of the international community of Jesus.120
The fundamental question Christian Zionists must therefore answer is this: What
difference did the coming of Jesus Christ make to the traditional Jewish hopes
and expectations about the land? Christians may not interpret the Old Covenant
as if the coming of Jesus made little or no difference to the nationalistic and
territorial aspirations of first century Judaism. Christian Zionists seem to
read the Old Testament with the spectacles that the first disciples wore before
their resurrection encounters with the risen Christ and before Pentecost. They
seem to believe the coming of the kingdom of Jesus meant a postponement of
Jewish hopes for restoration rather than the fulfilment of those hopes in the
Messiah and new, inclusive, Messianic community.
In the process of redemptive history a dramatic movement has been made from type
to reality, from shadow to substance. The land that once was the specific locale
of God's redemptive plan served temporarily under the Old Covenant forms as a
picture of paradise lost and promised but fulfilled and redeemed by a New
Covenant in which the land becomes enlarged to encompass the entire cosmos. The
exalted Christ rules from the heavenly Jerusalem demonstrating His sovereignty
over the entire world. A regression to the limited forms of the Old Covenant
shadow is therefore apostasy.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted
the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the
goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away,
to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the
Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews
The reality cannot give way again to shadow, for in the will and purposes of God
the shadows no longer exist. The light has come in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 8:13
provides us not only with a hermeneutical key to unravelling the Christian
Zionist case, but also explains Paul's vehemence at the Judaizing tendencies
corrupting the church in Galatia.
By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete;
and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)
The destruction of the temple and sacrificial system in 70 AD fulfilled that
prediction. The choice since then has been between two theologies. One based
primarily on the shadows of the Old Covenant and one based on the reality of the
New Covenant. Christian Zionism is an exclusive theology that focuses on the
Jews in the land rather than an inclusive theology that centres on Jesus Christ,
the Saviour of the world. Christian Zionism provides a theological endorsement
for apartheid and ethnic cleansing, rather than a theology of justice, peace and
reconciliation which lie at the heart of the New Covenant.
Israel is a materialistic and apartheid State practising repressive and
dehumanising measures against the indigenous Palestinians in flagrant disregard
of universally recognised standards of human behaviour. Christian Zionists who
believe the promises of the Old Covenant still await future fulfilment or
endorse the behaviour of Israel would do well to heed Joshua's final words,
Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart
and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has
failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as every
good promise of the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you
all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land
he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he
commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord's
anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he
has given you. (Joshua 23:14-18).
Like Isaac's children Jacob and Esau, it is time
to stop fighting over the birthright and start sharing the blessings.121
Garth Hewitt is a friend who has written many songs about the plight of the
Christian community in Israel and Palestine. One of them, based on some verses
from the Jewish Talmud, is called 'Ten measures of beauty God gave to the
world'. I would like to close by using it as a prayer.
May the justice of God fall down like fire and bring a home for the
May the mercy of God pour down like rain and protect the Jewish people.
And may the beautiful eyes of a Holy God who weeps for His children
Bring the healing hope for His wounded ones For the Jew and the Palestinian.
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