The New York Times reported yesterday that Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire,. With all that is going on in the news concerning Israel, and all the “Christian” and “biblical” commentary being offered, it would be helpful to see what the Bible actually has to say about all this.
In 2004, John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, delivered a sermon from Romans 11:25-32 titled “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.” In it, he offers seven principles concerning the ever-contentious issue of “the Land” and I think that these principles are not only biblical, but extremely helpful in understanding and processing the situation in the middle east.
1. God chose Israel from all the peoples of the world to be his own possession.
2. The Land was part of the inheritance he promised to Abraham and his descendants forever.
3. The promises made to Abraham, including the promise of the Land, will be inherited as an everlasting gift only by true, spiritual Israel, not disobedient, unbelieving Israel.
4. Jesus Christ has come into the world as the Jewish Messiah, and his own people rejected him and broke covenant with their God.
5. Therefore, the secular state of Israel today may not claim a present divine right to the Land, but they and we should seek a peaceful settlement not based on present divine rights, but on international principles of justice, mercy, and practical feasibility.
6. By faith in Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, Gentiles become heirs of the promise of Abraham, including the promise of the Land.
7. Finally, this inheritance of Christ’s people will happen at the Second Coming of Christ to establish his kingdom, not before; and till then, we Christians must not take up arms to claim our inheritance; but rather lay down our lives to share our inheritance with as many as we can.
The bottom line here is this: Israel certainly WAS God’s people, but they are by no means his people now. We are living in a NEW Covenant on this side of the cross. God has rejected Israel as a nation (though he has chosen to keep some Israelites; see Romans 11:1-10, 25-32).
Our treatment of the nation of Israel really has no bearing on God’s treatment of us as a nation or any other nation. God made a covenant with Israel in the OT and that was fulfilled and completed in Christ. Israel has been “broken off” that gentiles might be in covenant with God. There is coming a time when SOME Jews who are elect will come to faith, but Israel as a nation is no longer under God’s favor. The only way Israel could be in God’s favor would be through Christ; the same way you and I are.