Why Christians support Israel

Why do many Christians support Israel?

The simple answer is that they believe Jesus is the King of the Jews. But not all Christians support Israel. There are several issues.

Just as Paul said 'He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, ... but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, ..., in the Spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from God' (Romans 2:28-29) so not every one who is called a Christian, or says they are a Christian, is recognised by God as a Christian. 'The Lord knows those who are His' (2 Timothy 2:19). The term Christian was first coined at Antioch and applied to 'the disciples' (Acts 11:26). These were Greek speaking disciples of 'the Lord Jesus' (Acts 11:20). A disciple was a person who studied and put into practice the teaching of his master. They recognised that Jesus was 'the Christ' and evidently talked so much about this that they were called 'Christians'. Well Christ (Christos) is a Greek word which translates the Hebrew word Messiah. Both mean 'the anointed one'. Anointing was the ancient ritual by which a person was designated King. In particular it was used for King Saul (1 Samuel 10:1), David (1 Samuel 16:13) and Solomon (1 Kings 1:39). The Jews since the time of David have been looking forward to the coming of their Messiah in fulfilment of many OT prophesies, not least to David when he was refused permission to build the first temple (2 Samuel 7:12-16). David was promised a son (descendent) who would reign forever. This Messiah, a king of the house of David, would restore Israel to its previous glorious position. The early disciples of Jesus of Nazareth believed Jesus was this long expected King, even though Jesus had been rejected by the Jews and crucified by the Romans. Why?

The New Testament (Matthew's gospel) begins with the genealogy which accredits Jesus as heir to the throne of David. The point is made that while Jesus was conceived supernaturally (Joseph was not his natural father), Joseph accepted Jesus as his legal heir. Luke gives another genealogy, that of Jesus' mother Mary, who was also of the house of David. In this way God circumvented the curse in 2Kings . At His birth, magi from the East (Babylon) came to worship 'Him who has been born King of the Jews'. As Jesus came up to the Passover at which He was killed, he presented himself to the nation as its King by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey in the midst of a throng proclaiming 'Hosanna to the Son of David' (Matthew 21:1-5 cf Zechariah 9:9). The charge against Jesus when He was crucified was 'Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews'.

Over 500 of Jesus disciples, those who knew Him before the crucifixion, saw Him after He rose from the dead. They understood Jesus would go away (to heaven) until the nation of Israel was ready to acknowledge Jesus was their Messiah. Albeit, a large number of Jews including priests recognised Jesus was their Messiah. So the message the early Christians preached emphasised the belief that Jesus was the King of the Jews (Acts 17:7) and indeed of the whole world (Revelation 17:14, 19:16), hence the name 'Christians'.

So the debate is 'Has God finished with the Jew'. Some have argued that indeed God has. They take all the unfulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the reign of Messiah as being spiritually fulfilled in the church. This teaching arose in the 4th Century but is not in the New Testament. Rather it teaches at some point in the near future, Jesus will call ALL true Christians (He knows those who are His) to heaven. Then will follow a period of seven years of great trouble on earth during which time the Jews will declare Jesus and acknowledge He is their Messiah. But a false prophet and false messiah will challenge them. The outcome will be huge battle at Armageddon (Plain of Megiddo) and Jesus will return with the armies of heaven to win the day, to judge wickedness in the earth and to establish David as King again over Israel, He Himself being King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The Old Testament has many examples which show this pattern. Joseph was rejected (symbolically killed) by his brothers and acclaimed in Egypt before ruling over them. Moses was rejected by the Jews and spent 40 years tending sheep before delivering them from Egypt. David was driven out by Saul and gathered an outlaw army before returning to reign.

So Christians who recognise that pattern, see that Israel is still 'the apple of His eye' and love Israel for Jesus sake.

Arthur Gilmour, 2008

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