Written by Paul R. Wilkerson
Commentary provided by James Fire
We now will continue in our review of UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN ZIONISM!
Something that must be understood is that Christian Zionism does not stand upon the sentiment and affinities of Christians towards the Jewish people and the land of Israel; rather it stands upon the extraordinarily clear teaching and prophecies of Scripture (and Scripture alone!).
There are many that accuse 'Christian Zionists' – I prefer the term 'Bible-believing Christians' myself – of endorsing and promoting war (against Muslims, etc.) by Israel and a hatred towards those who hate Israel. Speaking for myself, and those that share my views, we hate no one (with the exception of Satan and his kingdom of darkness), but we do hate the deeds, practices and religion of Muslim people insomuch as these are the means by which an unjustified hatred and persecution of Israel persists.
I have never once observed Israel's actions to “drive the Muslims into the sea” or declare: “No negotiations with Muslims, no peace with Muslims, no Muslims!” whereas I have seen both of these things being repeatedly and feverishly declared without apology by Muslims who feign some misbegotten 'right' to the land that had always belonged to Israel since long before the time of the Anitquities.
I think its rather obvious to any one who thinks this through, that its most difficult for one to establish peace with any people who have sworn the annihilation of that one, regardless of any well intentioned overtures and extensions of harmonious peace. We who understand God's Word and plan for Israel, stand with the Jewish nation because of God's love for them, His faithful promises made to them, and His valiant protection and blessing upon them.
And so, without further ado, let us continue . . .
CHRISTIAN ZIONISM - It was 4:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, May 14th 1948 when Israel was officially declared a nation by majority vote of the U.N. Members. Regardless of the fact that such a Socialist, anti-Bible organization as the United Nations was the vehicle used to bring political recognition and sanction to the State of Israel, this was a partial fulfillment of prophecy (IS. 11:11) and an unprecedented event.
No where else in the pages of history was there ever a people who were disbanded from their homeland for well over 18 centuries that managed to retain their cultural and social identity, to say nothing of their religious faith only to regain that land as well as their national language and self-governing political entity!
Up until that time, many Christian expositors relented of ever seeing Israel return, though there were a few that held on to the prophecies and expected the Jews to return to the land of their fathers, and these stalwart saints rejoiced to see the day arrive, further proving God's faithfulness to His Word! These became the valiant Zionists that favored Israel because of God's grace and promises granted to her and has been rightly termed, Christian Zionism.
Paul Wilkinson lists nine key elements of Christian Zionism:
- A clear, biblical distinction between Israel and the Church.
- The 'any moment', pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church.
- The return of the Jews to the Land.
- The rebuilding of the Temple.
- The rise of anti-Christ.
- A seven year period known as 'The Great Tribulation'*
- The national salvation of the Jews.
- The return of Christ to Jerusalem.
- The thousand year reign of Christ on Earth (Millennial Period).
*The term Great Tribulation specifically refers to the latter half of the seven year period known as the Seventieth Week of Daniel, however the entirety of those seven years has been colloquially referred to as 'The Great Tribulation Period'.
Paul Wilkinson explains the reason for this definition:
“In presenting this working definition I have no wish to alienate any Christian friend of Israel. However such a definition is necessary in order to dispel confusion, correct misunderstanding, and provide a sound, biblical foundation on which to base that 'friendship' and support. Consequently, I will on occasion quote from those who would not subscribe to my definition, but whose contributions I consider to be of value.”
He later elaborates on Christian Zionism as being a movement long held by believers who hold to a literal view of eschatology, but that there is a newer movement from the 'Christian left' whose liberals are frequently supporting and working for any cause that promotes social justice and defends the oppressed (which would include Jews who were long persecuted by Muslims, and (eastern) Europeans) but that these are not to be equated with those whose reasons for supporting Israel are based upon Scripture and God's promises made to that distinct nation.
Christian Zionism clarifies the two different entities known as Israel, and the church; the following are quotes as found in Understanding Christian Zionism:
“Israel has never been the church, is not the church now, nor will she ever be the church.”
~ Lewis Sperry Chafer
“When we speal of Israel's God or the God of Israel, we speak of the God of the physical nation of Israel.” ~ Ramon Bennett
“Israel is Israel is Israel.” ~ Rob Richards
“Christian Zionists believe that God is working out uniquely separate, albeit interrelated purposes with Israel and the church. This distinction is rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant, which has been described as 'the basis of the entire covenant program, the foundation of Bible prophecy and absolutely pivotal in the entire structure of prophetic truth.”
While the church is certainly included in “Abraham's seed” (per GAL. 3:29), the church is not a part of Israel nor a recipient of promises made specifically and exclusively to her; but rather a partaker of salvation by faith in the Messiah as that group of Gentiles, chosen from among the nations of the world to inherit eternal life and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. ROM. 11:26 addresses the salvation of Jews, both individually but also nationally when the LORD Jesus Christ returns the second time to defend Israel and to rule her as the indisputable King of Israel.
This flies in the face of expositors that adhere to Replacement Theology (such as Charles Provon and his landmark work that changed the minds of many among professing Christians regarding the church and Israel, The Church is Now Israel.
It is a strange manipulation among Replacement theologians who will claim the spiritual blessings of Israel as the church's own, while insisting that the nation of the Jews retain the spiritual curses and chastisements as listed in DEUT. 28.
“To paraphrase Michael Brown, one could no more convince the Jews in exile that God 's promises of restoration was figurative than one could convince them that the captivity was to be understood figuratively also. Consistency in interpretation demands that the literality of the promised restoration would have to be just as real as the literality of the threatened judgment.” Just as it's stated in Jeremiah:
40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
42 For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.
THE LAND OF ISRAEL – It's amazing that for centuries, the Jewish people have been scattered (diaspora) over all Europe, the Middle East, America and elsewhere, and despite this, they've maintained integrity in their blood lines*, keeping their family lineage, and have had a 'Holy-land' centered faith, looking for the day that they will return to the land of Israel. For these Jews, as well as Christian Zionists believe that here is a three fold aspect to Zionism: the Jewish people, the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
“God promised Abraham more than a nation of descendents. He promised a land.” ~ Mosihe Rosen
“The interrelationship between the people and the Land is said to be the key which unlocks the prophetic secrets. As the body is adapted and destined for the soul, and the soul for the body; so is Israel for that country and that country for Israel.” ~ Johan Kurtz, History of the Old Covenant (pub. 1859).
“Palestine will never belong, by any real right of possession, to any people but the Jews . . . When the Jews repent and accept the LORD Jesus they will be given bot only Palestine but also all the rest of the great Land of Promise, and it will be a blessing in the midst of the whole Earth.” ~ Carment Urquhart, 1945.
Israel has been back in the land now for over sixty-five years now, but she doesn't enjoy the full inheritance of the land as God had promised to Abraham in Genesis:
18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
This was confirmed to Moses and Joshua:
3 Then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward:
4 And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon:
5 And the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.
6 And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border.
8 From mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad:
9 And the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazarenan: this shall be your north border.
11 And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward:
12 And the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about.
12 And the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about.
3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
Both Israel and the city of Jerusalem is 'ground zero' for God's dealings with the people of Earth; they are the veritable stage upon which God is unfolding His plan for humanity, and an integral part of this plan is establishing His kingdom where the Messiah will reign over His people Israel as well as all the world, and nothing could (or should) stand in the way of this plan!
Paul Wilkenson states:
“Christian Zionists cite the Abrahamic Covenant as the basis of Israel's right to possess the Land, claiming that God's promises to Abraham was 'quite specific and unambiguous' having been sealed by an unconditional and everlasting covenant (GEN. 12:7; 15:18-21; 17:6-8; 26:3; 28:13-15; HEB. 6:13-17). Murray Dixon notes that 'God was the sole signatory to this covenant, since only He passed through the animal pieces (GEN. 15:12-21). The inference drawn from Ancient Near Eastern custom is that in so doing, God invoked a curse upon Himself, should He ever break His promise. Tatford adds that “No provision was made for its revocation and it was not subject to amendment or annulment.
“Christian Zionists insist that this unconditional covenant, unlike the 'conditional contract' of Sinai has not been abrogated or superseded by the New Covenant. Whereas occupation of the Land was conditional upon obedience to the Law of Moses, ownership was eternally guaranteed on the basis of God's unilateral oath. Therefore in spite of periods of protracted exile, the relationship between the Jewish people and the Land was only 'interrupted' and not 'severed', the return from exile, being dependent entirely on God's faithfulness to His covenant with Abraham.”
55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. (see also Luke 1:30-33; also Gal. 3:17-18; Ezek. 36:22-23).
If as supersessionists believe, the Abrahamic Covenant was conditional, then according to George Peters, “everything is conditional; then the foundations of Christian hope crumble away beneath us, and nothing stable remains.” (emphasis in original). One could argue the fact that if Israel was rejected because of her failure, and replaced by the church, what prevents God from rejecting the church because of her failures as well?
CAN THESE BONES LIVE? -
When over 40,000 Jewish exiles returned to their land from Babylon (EZRA 2:64) there were some that saw this as the restoration in fulfillment of prophecy but according to JER 16:14-15; and 23:7-8 there would come an exodus “from the north and from all the lands where [God] had driven them” which would prove far greater than even the exodus from Egypt during the days of Moses. And since the re-establishment of the nation in 1948 a steady and even dramatic increase in Jewish immigration back into the land has been observed (particularly the mass exodus from Russia in '91m, bringing three quarters of a million Jews to Israel). Russia is the nation typically associated by biblical scholars as “the land of the north” (JER. 16:15; 23:8 and EZEK. 38th and 39th Chapters) and its rather obvious that the tremendous immigration of Jews came from all over the world, in addition to the USSR.
Regarding the prophecy as found in EZEKIEL 37, Paul Wilkinson comments:
“Described as the 'Magna Carta of Zionism and of Jewish history' Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones has been interpreted by Christian Zionists as prefiguring the literal re-establishment of the 'seemingly dead nation' of Israel, which occurs in two distinct stages. First, the Jews are restored to the land in unbelief (representing the joining together of the dry bones) and are then spiritually restored by the breath or the Spirit of God, signifying their acceptance of the Messiah. As Charles Spurgeon declared in a sermon in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1864:
“The meaning of our text, as opened up by the context is more evidently, if words mean anything, first, that there shall be a political restoration of the Jews to their own land and in their own nationality, and then, secondly, there is in the text, and in the context, a most plain declaration that there shall be a spiritual restoration, a conversion in fact, of the tribes of Israel . . . There will be a native government again; there will again be the form of a body of politics; a state shall be incorporated and a king shall reign . . . I wish never to learn the art of tearing God's meaning out of His own words . . . Let this be settled . . . that if there be meaning in words, Israel is yet to be restored.”
Observe the progress of immigration into the land, as foretold by Ezekiel's prophecy:
May 1839 – approximately 9,690 Jews in the land.
By the end of WW II – 66,000
By the year 2006 – 5.24 million Jews living in the land.
Along with the increased population, it should also be noted that the land itself has been revived remarkably, and some would even say miraculously, so that much of Europe is readily supplied with food imports from Israel. This is incredible when one considers that for the better part of two thousand years the land was a waste land of deserts and swamps and in only a couple of generations, the land has blossomed, been transformed in fact into the lush and productive nation that we see today.
8 But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:
11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
20 That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
Here ends the second installment of our detailed review of UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN ZIONISM by Paul Wilkinson. Next time we will look at the revival of the Hebrew language, the Magna Carta of Christian Zionism, the Prophetic clock of World History, anti-Christ and the Third Temple, among many other pertinent things. Until then, the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob keep you in His grace and truth!