Israel and the Promised Land (I)

December 11, 2010

Sometimes, when you go back and read things you wrote years ago, it is a bit of a strange feeling.  That certainly was the case for me with the chapter that I posted here day before yesterday.  Allow me to share with you the circumstances under which I wrote “Israel and the Nations in God’s Redemptive Plan” and you will see what I mean.              

In 1997, I was contacted at the last minute by Dr. Wayne House about filling in for Dr. Paul Feinberg in writing an assigned paper for a Christian meeting in Jerusalem commemorating the 50th anniversary of the modern Jewish state.  Paul Feinberg had become very sick before he was able to write his contribution.  So, I picked up the ball and ran with it.

Sadly, I did not get to go to Jerualem to read the paper, as did the other contributors.  However, it was a priviliege to take part to the extent that I did and have something to say on a very important topic, biblically and theologically, which still has major ramifications for our world today. 

Up front, I want to make it clear that, even though the conference in Jerusalem was sponsored by Jews for Jesus, I was not in any way told what to say in my paper/chapter.  Nor were any of the more distinctive points I made in “Israel and the Nations in God’s Redemptive Plan” edited out, or even softened, by Dr. House in his editing.  While I cannot vouch for the experience of my fellow contributors, I can say that my nuanced position (see my chapter and the following posts on this blog) was not tampered with.  And, since my view is anything but a “Christian Zionist” perspective, I I find it “painting with a broad brushstroke” to the max for Israel: The Land and the People to be viewed through that lens.

And, yet, that is exactly what Gary Burge does in his 2010 book, Jesus and the Land.  In his ‘For Further Reading’ section at the end of the book (p. 142), Burge describes Israel: The Land and the People in these words: “An evangelical defense of the land promises for modern Israel often used by Christian Zionists to buttress modern political theologies.”  

Fairly obviously, even though Burge does not say in so many words that everyone who holds to that the biblical land promises for Israel  are still valid are Christian Zionists.  But, the implication is there, which is a concern for me.

Burge’s definition of a Christian Zionist is, simply put, one who thinks the modern state of Israel can do no wrong because they are God’s “chosen people.”  Certainly, I know more than a few Christians who fit that bill.  But, I also know more and more who do not, even though they still think that Israel is back in “the promised land” in keeping with God’s covenant.

This series of posts will probe this issue from a biblical standpoint, beginning all the way back in Genesis and working through the relevant data all the way through Revelation.  I am not sure of everything I will find.  However, I predict that it will be quite eye-opening.  Please feel free to come along for the ride and give me your feedback every step of the way!

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