Friday, August 04, 2006

These Folks Need to Get a Grip

John Hagee and his fellow travelers in the Christian Zionist movement portray themselves as great supporters of Israel. But, of course, it's all because they want to push Israel into war with Iran, the destruction of Israel, and the return of Jesus.

It's too bad these folks don't read their Bibles. Jesus says:
...about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:35-37)
That means that nobody, not even John Hagee, knows the hour of Jesus' return.

Bottom line: Jesus calls us to faithfully follow Him and leave the moment of His return to God. We cannot force the hand of God. Those who think they can force God to do anything demonstrate more faith in themselves than they do in the God we meet in Jesus Christ. They fail to respect the sovereignty of God and think that they can manipulate His actions by manipulating events on earth. Wrong!

Beyond all that, the equation of the modern Israeli state with historic Israel--which they make--is absurd.

Speaking for myself, I'm praying for an early, rapid end to the war in Lebanon.

(Hat Tip to Andrew Jackson at SmartChristian.com for linking to the article cited above.)

(Ruminating Pilgrim has an outstanding post on this subject.)

4 comments:

Mark Congdon said...

Mark,

I'm hesitant to write this comment, because I don't want to in any way come across as if I agree with Mr. Hagee. I adamantly agree with you that we should not attempt to "speed up" the second coming by fomenting war... what a totally anti-biblical concept.

But, I also have a question about your comment regarding the Israelies. You wrote: "the equation of the modern Israeli state with historic Israel ... is absurd".

I read through the link you provided, but I saw no evidence there that the claim is "absurd". That link provides, as far as I can tell, a description of the biblical concept of the church as the new Israel... but it does not necessarily follow that the modern Israel is utterly disconnected from historical Israel in God's plan. It is, at least, certainly not "absurd", from what I can tell.

I'm curious what your thoughts are on Romans 11. It seems to me that up to that point in Romans, Paul has gone to great lengths to show that the Church (inclusive of Jews and Gentiles) are the descendants of Abraham by faith, the new Israel, the recipients of God's promises. Then, it seems, in anticipation of people completely disconnecting the genealogical Israel from the past, he goes back in chapter 11 to remind us who are "grafted on" that we are still just grafted... and at the end he seems to speak pretty forcefully that genealogical Israel still has some sort of place in God's plans.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks,
Mark

Mark Daniels said...

Mark:
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I'm writing this on the fly and may have to do a more extensive separate post on this subject.

That entire section of Romans, from chapter 9 through 11, is a bit baffling to me. It seems as though Paul is wrestling with this subject and in the end, sort of throws up his hands.

But in places like Galatians, Ephesians, and Second Corinthians, for example, we're told about a new creation that supplants old categories. Jews and Gentiles become part of this new creation in the same way, through faith in Christ. Old rites, from food laws to circumcision, marks of the old covenant are no longer relevant.

Historic Israel played its role when Christ was born. Now, all are called to follow Him. Jesus is the focus of promise for all peoples, including the Jews.

The modern state of Israel's legitimacy is unquestioned in my mind. So is its right to defend its citizens. It is an ethnically-based nation and even, to some extent, a religiously-based nation. But I don't regard it as being continuous with Biblical Israel.

Its first premier, David Ben-Gurion, was a great man, but an atheist. This fact would have surfaced precisely the problem with which Paul, himself a practicing Jew his entire life, wrestled: Jewishness defined ethnically, rather than in terms of a relationship with God. He loved his fellow Jews, felt they would always have a place in God's plans, yearned for them to know Christ, and seems not to have given a first, let alone a second, thought to the possibility of the establishment of a renewed Jewish state. He himself was a Roman citizen and had he been at all inclined to see the re-establishment of Biblical Israel, he would have become a zealot. Even more significantlly, Jesus Himself never seems to have thought of such a possibility.

Again, I support modern Israel's right to exist. But I don't see it as being the renewal of Biblical Israel.

As I say, I've written this on the fly and I know that some day, I'll want to go back and work on this a bit more seriously.

As to Hagee and his ilk, their Christian Zionism seems born of, not any love for the Jewish people. Rather, they seem to view the Jews as mere props in their version of what is to happen when Jesus returns. This is an objectification of human beings which is the antithesis of the Gospel!

Rather than trying to prompt modern Israel and our country to a worldwide conflagration, hardly an appropriate stance for the Church of Christ to take, it would be better for them--and us--to be about the business of Christ's Kingdom: loving God, loving neighbor, growing in faith, serving in Christ's Name, and sharing the Good News of new life that comes to all with faith in Christ.

Thanks for reading and for leaving your comments, Mark.

Mark

Kevin said...

Mark,

I am not familiar with Hagee et al., but if the portrayal is accurate that they view Israel as a pawn and raise their eschatological beliefs above morality in their fomenting of war, I certainly agree with you.

Indeed, such a perspective is backwards. Eschatological interpretations should never cause us to believe certain actions are moral. But isn't the opposite causal relationship feasible -- i.e. that our truly moral decisions could reasonably create a situation that coincides with our eschatological interpretation?

This is clearly a precarious position and we must question our motives, but it seems to be an inherent dilemma in believing in a prophesy, and, in a larger sense, believing in both predestination and free will.

e.g. Are we forcing the hand of God when we follow Him and the fruit of His promises are thereby realized? While we cannot "force" God to do anything, it seems to me that most of God's promises are contingent upon our choices and, by extension, our actions.

While I join in your prayer for an early, rapid end to the current war in Lebanon, more than that, I pray for a just and lasting end to the war.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mark.

Kevin

Mark Daniels said...

Kevin:
Thanks for a truly thoughtful comment. You've identified some very important things here, both in terms of the theology of Christian Zionism and of the needs of the people of modern Israel and Lebanon in whatever peace emerges from the current conflict.

God bless!

Mark