By Daniel C. Juster, Director

The Bethlehem Bible College Conference on the Land

Recently a conference was held at Bethlehem Bible College that could be characterized as generally against Christian Zionism. Citizens of Israel are not legally permitted to travel to some Palestinian areas, including Bethlehem, therefore Arab Christians and their Evangelical supporters provided the predominant viewpoint. I have had several discussions on the conference; with an Arab Christian leader who was invited to the conference, with a group of attendees at a subsequent lunch meeting and with several others that were present at that time.

Those who are anti-Zionists generally hold to replacement theology, although they prefer to call it fulfillment theology. This is the view that the Church is the fulfillment of the meaning of Israel and is the ongoing reality of Israel. In that view, ethnic Israel has no great significance. I think it is significant that Romans 11 is amazingly absent in the books and papers of these writers. While Christian Zionism opens Jewish hearts to the Gospel, our Arab Christian friends tell us that Christian Zionism closes Arab hearts to the Gospel. The conference presenters generally referred only to the most right-wing Christian Zionists and seem to be unaware of more moderate versions of Christian Zionism. Moderate Christian Zionists support the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and see that return as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

Arab Christians

I believe that Arab Christians are very important in the plan of God. They could be a key to the salvation of Israel. However if they become anti-Israel they could miss this purpose. Furthermore, they could find themselves under a persecuting Moslem regime that is a danger to their very existence. I should also note that there are vibrant Arab Christian evangelists and leaders who do believe in the return of the Jewish people to the land as part of God's purpose of redemption.

It is crucially important to deal with the large picture issues. Many people are only prepared to focus on the significant but personal issues of micro justice and what the Jews have done to the Arabs and visa versa. This will not help us.

The Sovereignty of God

There are many Scriptures that predict the Jewish people's return to this Land and the attendant promise to never be uprooted again. (see, for one example, Amos 9:9-15) There are also Scriptures that indicate that this return will at least in part precede our people turning to Yeshua. (Zech. 12:10, Zech. 14:1, Ezek. 36:24 ff, Ezek. 37). The attendees and presenters at the Bethlehem Conference believe in the sovereignty of God. The Calvinist attendees believe that history is predestined. Those with a non-Calvinist view hold that God rules in the affairs of men and that the events on earth only take place with God's providential oversight or permission. Yet some of them seem blind to the implications of their own theology. Even if one holds to a replacement theology, the shared belief of all Christians in a personal and sovereign God, would still confirm God's return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.

The 20th century has seen two events that are unparalleled and we must interpret them in light of our belief in God's sovereignty. The first event was the Holocaust wherein six million Jews were intentionally murdered by the Nazis and their supporters. This was at least allowed in God's sovereignty. Such an enormous event must have some meaning. Some would say that this event shows God's wrath for those He rejects. It could also be interpreted to show the intensity of the forces of evil against God's plan and something that God allowed in order to show the depth of evil in human beings. However, this event has to be interpreted in the light of the other unparalleled event that followed it - the creation of the State of Israel.

In all probability, the State of Israel would not exist were it not for the Holocaust. Before Nazism, despite the 1920 San Remo Resolution incorporating the Balfour Declaration, later confirmed in international law by all the voting members of the League of Nations, Jewish immigration to the Land was a limited movement. Orthodox and Reform Jews opposed it for various reasons. During the Nazi era leading up to the Holocaust, immigration increased. After the Holocaust there was massive immigration. In addition, in a rare moment of sympathy for the Jewish people, the world - through the United Nations - voted into being a sovereign Jewish State. This state survived several wars started by others to annihilate her. Before these wars, all the land was acquired by purchase. The outcome of these wars however, greatly increased the territory controlled by Israel. For the most part, world political opinion sided with Israel; the Arab nations' loss of territory was a just result because they had been the aggressors in the conflict. One could say that the death of European Jewry led to the resurrection of Jewry in the Land of Israel.

If God is sovereign, then these profound occurrences must have meaning. Can any Christian truly believe that such immense and unprecedented happenings, that point so dramatically as symbols of death and resurrection were just the hand of man completely apart from the plan and purposes of God? If the State of Israel's reemergence had no spiritual purpose wouldn't the sovereign King of the Universe be allowing momentous events to occur that would be grossly and almost certainly misinterpreted as being decisive and significant? If the significance of the Jewish people is now at an end, then what a blunder on God's part to allow the Holocaust and the founding of State of Israel! He has allowed the most unparalleled events in all of modern history to be Jewish events! Only the resurrection of Yeshua or the Exodus could be seen as greater. What could this mean? The answer cannot be that the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel have no meaning. They must have great meaning; as great as the unparalleled nature of the events themselves.

My view is that the meaning of these events is primarily about the sovereignty of Yeshua over Israel and the nations and only secondarily about the fulfillment of prophecy. This Land belongs to Yeshua, and He has the right to allocate it and all other lands to the peoples as He chooses. He has begun by declaring His will for this Land as the primary but not exclusive residence for the Jewish people. This Land belongs to Yeshua, not Mohammed. Those who fight for Arab rule may be fighting to restore this land to Mohammed spiritually. This would be a disaster for Arab Christians. However, the Jewish people and the nations in general have not acknowledged Yeshua and His sovereignty. This results in continued conflict over the Land of Israel. Herein lies the real meaning. These events are set up to lead to an ultimate confrontation where all will come to acknowledge the sovereignty of Yeshua, first over this Land and then over the whole world.

If we miss this picture of what God is doing in these days, then we will be fighting against God's purposes. In light of these great purposes, Jewish and Arab evangelism is central to the present hour. May we invest our prayers and resources to these ends.

By Daniel Juster

Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International. Donate to Tikkun International.

Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.
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11:41 31May10 Old Crustacean -
I don't understand all of this. How can a Christian be an anti-Zionist? How can any supposed Christian say they accept Y'Shua as Messiah and be against the Jew returning to their land. Y'Shua was and is a Jew. The promise is for all Jews to return. That contract was signed by God several thousand years ago. Genesis 12:1-3 has never been repealed and it doesn't look like it ever will be.

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is hard to understand for anyone who reads the Bible straightforwardly, but people who are anti-Zionist usually embrace the idea of re-interpretation so that the texts are twisted to mean something different than they say. For example, the gathering of Jews to the Land is interpreted to mean the gathering of Christians (the true spiritual Jews) to the heavenly Zion when Yeshua comes back.

12:14 31May10 Lawrence -
During this Church age, all can come to Christ. This is the only restoration the prophets talk about. The temple with its laws and sacrifices if rebuilt by Jews will be an abomination unto the Lord. Restoration of Jewish nation is a sign post pointing to the end times. Romans shows the Jews coming to Christ when they will be grafted into the true vine. All who accept Christ are "ONE" for in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. The Mosaic covenant will not be restored. The Palestinian covenant was a conditional covenant which they rejected. Jews will be restored to God through Christ and the new covenant. There is a period at close of Church age when many natural Jews will see and accept Jesus as Savior. Unfortunately, the Jews as well as Gentiles who reject Christ will worship the anitchrist.

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is much truth in this. However, I do believe that the land covenant (Palestinian covenant is quite a misnomer) is an unconditional covenant which will be fulfilled by a contingent of faithful Jews who embrace Yeshua.

12:32 31May10 Tim Vink -
After my visit 18 months ago to Israel, my passion for this land and people groups has risen substantially. Beyond the biblical significance for Christians in Israel's historical sites of the Old and New Testaments, the contemporary situation is gripping as well. This article helps me as a pastor in the United States to handle the Word of God well, seeing the sovereingty of God over all nations as central in these events. I agree with the closing comment, that both Jewish and Arab evangelism is central to this present hour. In all that God is doing in the world, this Gospel-centered response is certain to be integral to the affairs of all nations.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Amen. The issue is the evangelism and discipleship as central.

12:34 31May10 Susan Leslie -
Amen! It is so true that most people have tunnel vision most of the time. We are unable in many cases, and just flat out unwilling in others, to see the big picture of what the Lord is doing. And, because of our lack of sight and understanding, we remain blind to the truth of God's Word. We end up aligning ourselves against the will of God, not even knowing that is what we are doing.
The Lord is still separating the sheep from the goats. This is not a time to bury our heads in the sand while holding on to a false sense of trust and faith in God to make it all work out. Of course the Lord is working all things out and He is completely trustworthy and faithful in all of His ways. But humanity only knows in part. To think that one group and one group only has 'all' the truth is grossly misguided faith at best and utter arrogance at worst. God is no respecter of persons. He made us all and He loves us all, regardless of whether or not we love Him. His plans and purposes for all of creation are for the best of all concerned. I thank God for people like Dr. Juster who declare the truth.

12:42 31May10 Kim Wardenburg -
Thank you so much for writing this article. It has been on my mind and heart in the past week, especially with the recent conflict over the Gaza aid flotilla. I also recently read Mosab Houssan Yousef's book, Son of Hamas which opened my eyes to how much manipulation occurs in the media around this conflict. I sometimes feel conflicted because I know that the government of Israel does not always make right decisions, and the same goes for Israeli soldiers, but I think this article really points to the truth. The roots of this conflict go all the way back to Isaac and Ishmael, and it is truly about God's sovereignty and the fact that He keeps His covenant and His word, even when Jews, Israelites, Christians and every human being fails to keep their end. This issue is really on my heart. I will be praying for this ministry and for Arabs and Arab believers, that Yeshua will open their eyes and give them His heart. Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all offenses.

12:46 31May10 Carol Wiseman -
It grieves me that any part of the Christian Church still believes this heresy. I was raised to believe this and that the Old Testament was for then and the New Testament was for now. That's like saying G-d then is NOT G-d now. That somehow He has changed. He changeth not. Israel according to Jeremiah was the bride of G-d. SHe will always be the bride of G-d. Regardless of those who believe differently, He will return His people to the land He gave them. As a Watchman on the Wall (unofficially) I appreciate being kept informed so that I might pray more strategically for G-d's beloved. If anyone would just look at how this tiny nation has survived the many attempts throughout history to destroy her, they would know it is by His power and His alone that she has and will survive. Israel remains His beloved.

13:01 31May10 LaVerne Foster -
My view is that every earthly event points to the sovereignty of God over all his creation ... "for the world is mine and all that is in it" Psalm 50:12. It is his love that surpasses knowledge. I love Paul's prayer to the Ephesians (Chapter 3:14-20). Our LORD be blessed!

13:17 31May10 anonymous -
Thank you! This is excellent. We need this in this time in order to help our neighbors who are ignorant of the purposes of the Lord and Israel.

15:47 31May10 Martha Kinsler -
It is impossible to visit Israel and not sense the fullness of the times. It is impossible to visit Israel and not come away with the LAND AND ALL ITS PEOPLES deep on the inside of you!! How is it possible to believe anything other than what you have shared and taught here, when you have Romans 11. As for me, I will continue to pray ... as the Lord is not willing that any should perish. I AM NOT WILLING TO PRAY ANYTHING OTHER THAN HIS HEART and I leave the results in the hands of a loving sovereign covenant keeping God!

18:52 31May10 Orlin -
After God supernaturally preserved current Israel from 1948 till now, can there be ANY doubt about His will? And Arab Christians had BETTER support Israel, as She is the ONLY friend they have in the region. According to Paul's writings to the Romans, when anyone accepts Yeshua they become Jewish Proselytes; ie the wild branch grafted into the tame root, so they should be taught to NOT consider themselves Arabs anymore. This is what I am sharing with my gentile Christian friends in the U.S.

19:49 31May10 J -
This article sheds much light and wisdom on such enormous events as the holocaust and the recreation of the Nation Israel, which can only be a resurrection from the dead. An impossible feat, a gift from the God of last resorts. It is so refreshing to see included the enormous Muslim story of our time here in the midst of God's enormity. I can not help wonder how refreshing it must have been for the Christian believers of the third century (after all their persecutions) to see the unmistaking hand of God evangelize the world's most dangerously evil empire ... Rome!

21:37 31May10 Ken -
Clearly many, it would seem most, who believe in an a-millennial Kingdom Theology believe in Replacement Theology. This is logical as without a millennium Kingdom Theology can be made to appear much more plausible.

  -- Dr Juster replies: It is true that a-millennial views tend to be more replacement than pre-millennial. However, there are many exceptions in both. For example, Richard Lovelace the noted Church historian said that Israel would inherit the Land in the New Heavens and New Earth; there are others with this view. Then you have Pre-Millennials who hold that it is spiritual Israel that inherits in the Millennial Age. Denver Seminary has folks with this view. So you are correct about the strong percentages, but there are exceptions.

04:10 01Jun10 Kaye C -
God gave promises concerning both Isaac and Ishmael. Oh that both would live up to their calling and destiny. Bethlehem Bible College is surrounded by anti-Semitism and may very well have to be careful what is said for the sake of its existence. Please pray for a mighty testimony to the grace of God to continue in a place of much hostility towards not only the Jews and Christian Arabs but also towards the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is at work to reveal Himself to Jews and Arabs. His will is that none should perish, but all come to repentance. May His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

08:50 01Jun10 RK -
The point about the sovereignty of God is the thing I always come back to and is comforting and settling. After all the conversations and all the things that Israel does wrong, Israel would not exist and could not exist apart from God. To fight against her very existence is to find against the Lord Himself. To be a part of her healing and to reach out our hands to the Palestinians and Israelis is, in my opinion, the only solution.

  -- Dr Juster replies: A wise comment!

10:31 01Jun10 Champion -
I think a lot of antisemitism among gentile Christians is rooted in the insecurity of the Father's love for the gentiles. It is almost as if some Gentile Christians are competing for God's affections as if He can't extravagantly love the Jewish people in their calling while extravagantly loving the Gentiles in theirs.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes, this is sometimes true.

11:02 01Jun10 Shaliah Amani -
The story of faith is hidden in the holy scriptures. This is the story of Sarah and Hagar. Abram was married to Sarah and not to Hagar, same as YeSHuaH was first sent by his Father Spirit to Israel and not to we the gentiles (Matthew 10:5. As Sarai could not bear a child to Abram she turned her husband to take her handmaid Hagar to bear a child for the joy of Sarai first because Hagar belonged to Sarai (Genesis 16:1-2), same as Israel could not bear spirit of YeSHuaH in him the time he spent with them, so YeSHuaH turned his Father to the Gentiles (Matthew 28:19). What then happened with Sarah and Hagar? The last bearing a child to Abraham became proud and Sarah were suffering. If Hagar knew that finally Sarah would bear Isaac, she would consolidate her boss to inherit the house of Abraham than to be thrown out by the will of Sarah. If now Gentiles will know that Israel will be having faith in YeSHuaH and bearing His Spirit, this is the very time to stick together with Israel because Israel has the same authority as Sarah.

11:36 01Jun10 Esther Miller -
I agree with everything Kim Wadenberg said, it all goes back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: we are in such spiritual warefare, because the enemy satan knows his time is near and he is doing everything he can to create trouble in the last days especially with our people.

15:05 01Jun10 anonymous -
I find it odd that many resent and deny Yisrael with an obvious heart filled with envy, but no one envies the many Holocausts suffered by Yisrael. Only G_D's Promises to her. So how many Arabic or American "Christians" envy the displacement of the Assyrians, the Romans' desecration of The Land, the Soviet persecutions, the executions on crosses by the king and queen of Spain during the 1400's, or how many envy the fact that they were not sent to Hitler's ovens instead of the Jewish people? The want the Land. Not the price it takes. I'm sure there have been many slaughtered Jews who may have gladly handed over their "ID cards" as The Chosen, but the choice was G_D's ... not the Arabs, nor the Jews, or anyone else. HE makes His Own Choices...

08:06 02Jun10 John E Leech III -
When people are blinded by their own desires or uninformed by the Holy Spirit's presence then they create the Creator in their own image. They fail to understand the Creator's greatness, holiness, faithfulness and committment of His oath. God's covenant with Abraham, the Palestinian Land covenant, the Davidic covenant & the New Covenant will be fulfilled in God's timing and for His Glory.

14:45 03Jun10 KJ -
The land of Israel (also WestBank) belongs completely to Yeshua, not to Mohammed. The solution for all crises will be: "Baruh haba be shem Adonai".

00:25 13Jun10 Robert Hampton -
What part of "grafted in" is hard for folks to understand? While we are at it, what part of "those who curse you, I will curse and those who bless you, I will bless" escapes so many teachers? Y'shua has only one Chosen People, only one Bride, and they are made up of those who have trusted G-d in faith (Hab. 2:4 & Heb 11). I am eager for the Jewish people to say, "Baruch haba b'shem Adonai," Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

16:20 21Jun10 Ed Allen -
The greatest evidence that we have that Yahweh is still hard at work through His son Yahshua, is the return of 'Jacob' to the "land." But, that does not mean that he has given His "seal of approval" to Zionism, nor any other political movement of today.

07:21 05Jul10 Elizabeth W Nassiuma -
This is really an eye opener, indeed I will pray for the peace of Jeruselem and the nation of Israel and that the purposes of God for the nation of Israel will be established.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Marty Shoub: Destined To Return
Eitan Shishkoff: Graduation Ceremony
Asher Intrater: Keeping The Sabbath