If the Lord your God Enlarges your Territory
Dr Daniel Juster, Director
We have lived in a time of marvellous prophetic fulfilment. Our people have returned to the land of their ancestors. Jewish people are embracing the Good News at steady and continuous rate in Israel. We have seen hundreds of congregations planted in North America and in only the last decade scores on the nations of the former Soviet Union. Truly the days of the Messiah's return draw near, for as we read in Romans 11:15, "What will their acceptance be but life from the dead."
In this article, I want to speak to my Christian Zionist friends. Christian Zionists are Christians who stand by Israel and believe in the present re-gathering to Land of Israel. I am a Zionist as well. I believe that the return to the Land is a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. The existence of Israel is also an important matter of simple justice. The Jewish people, who have suffered so much, have a right to return to their ancient Land and to practice self determination in that Land. The Jewish people purchased most of the land from Arab landowners and received control of government owned land when the British relinquished their role as trustees. In addition, it was Jewish sweat, blood and even sacrifice unto death that drained the swamps, reclaimed the deserts, planted forests where there was barrenness and so much more. It was Jewish effort that built the great cities of Israel: West Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Beersheva, Tiberias, Ashkelon, Ashdod and more. Only Jewish effort made the land such that it could support even the Arab population that is there today. So we stand firmly with Israel.
Yet I am sometimes troubled by some of the responses of my Christian Zionist friends. While in Israel, I watched a program where a noted Evangelist who spoke of the grave judgment that would fall upon George Bush and the United States because of the Road Map peace plan which would divide up the Land. Joel 3 was quoted concerning the judgment of the nations that divide up the Land. I responded to these friends that it is not George Bush who is dividing up the land, but Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister. I asked a question. What should Sharon do? One response was that the Palestinians should be killed. Then I asked what about the ones who are Christians. "Well, if they support Israel and will live in submission to Jewish government, they can live." So Israel should kill 2 million Palestinians? "Well, not really," came the answer. "They should be transferred out." Well, I asked, how will Israel do this? They would first have to invade the nation or nations to which they are to be transferred. This would be either Egypt, Jordan, or Lebanon. Then the border would have to be guarded to they would not return. Though many Christian Zionists are not so severe in their judgments and advice, they yet call on Israel to not give up any part of the Land. They support the vision of greater Israel and believe Jewish people should settle in the whole of it. Indeed, in the Torah God gave Israel a good hunk of Jordan too, for it was given to the half tribe of Manassah, Reuven and Gad.
The Two State Solution
Yet, Ariel Sharon, who was for many years a proponent of the greater Israel idea has come to the idea of a two state solution. Why? Because no other alternative seems viable. The impossibility of ruling over two million Arabs on the West Bank is too much to bear. Furthermore, the idea of them having full political rights in an expanded Israel is a ticking population time bomb, for their population combined with the Israeli Arabs will eventually become a majority in the State. In addition, the Western World requires any state to give full political rights to all its citizens and to not create an apartheid system. So Sharon's goal is separation and he now builds a security wall. If the Palestinians make real peace, the route of the wall will be changed and even rebuilt. If they do not, the route of the fence will become a border, and it will divide the land. Will it produce peace? Not if militants send rockets over the wall. Israel will periodically have to go to war against the new neighbouring country. My conclusions on Sharon are from months of reading the Israeli press while we were in Israel. I am not saying that I agree with the solution. What I am saying is that we have no special wisdom to tell Israel what to do in this situation.
The Larger Picture
Sometimes in their enthusiasm for Israel, Christian Zionists forget the fullness of Biblical truth. What is that larger picture? It is that Israel has been brought back to the Land, but not now primarily to attain its Biblical borders. Rather it is to come under a special pressure and witness to bring them to the Messiah. The unconditional love of the Christian Zionist who stands with Israel is an essential piece of that witness. The witness of the Messianic Jewish community is the other crucial piece. Indeed, Christian Zionists should have a special link and love for the Jewish believers in the Land.
However, it is important that Christian Zionists not adopt a greater Israel commitment and criticize the leadership of Israel when they do not agree. It is also not wise to vilify our political leaders when they suggest a two state solution especially when this is Israel's policy, both on the left and the right. Why indeed? Because it is not a Scriptural stand. Deuteronomy 19:8 ff. says,
If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he promised on oath to your forefathers, and gives you the whole land he promised them, because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today ... to love the LORD your God and to walk always in his ways ...
Here is the great condition for attaining the full extent of the land. Israel as a nation simply is not a people who come near to fulfil this condition. Our people in the Land are a lawless people, with rampant abortion, homosexuality, occultism, and atheism. Some who have experienced the reality have concluded that Israel must be expelled from the Land once more. However, this can not be true. Rather the Scriptures show us that the Jewish people first return to the Land in unbelief. It is a period of the dry bones. (Ezek. 37) Yet God is at work and will bring Israel to himself. Israel's unbelief is at least in part borne out of the great tragedy of the Holocaust. The hoped for rest in our Land has not materialized. We experience economic pressures that are crushing; violence that is demoralizing. The biblical word for this period is, "Comfort ye my people." This comfort is not in a strident militarist stand where we advice to take the whole Land. This would be false advice and could lead to disaster. We must recognize that Israel does not now fulfil the conditions to occupy their whole land. Then we must stand with Israel for their right of being a nation in this land. Then we must comfort and witness. This comfort with the pressures of life in the Land has its effect.
This is God's ordered context, for in it an unprecedented number of Israelis are finding their Messiah. This is the most important fact and the foundation of our hope that all of God's promises to Israel and the nations will be fulfilled. Patty, Simcha, and I have gone that we might identify with the sufferings of our people and to be a witness. Israel will embrace the Messiah, and then will be fulfilled the prophetic hope for the full blessing of Israel and the nations.