Last week I stood over the Valley of Armageddon, with Israeli warjets flying overhead and the sound of the Muslim call to prayer humming all around from the loudspeakers attached to the mosques below. It was a sobering moment, more sobering even than the images of explosions in Gaza seen on television round the clock.
Israel is, as always it seems, at war. So should Christians pray especially for Israel, for the Jewish people?
Dispensationalists have served the church by pointing us to our responsibility to support the Jewish people and the nation of Israel through a century that has seen the most horrific anti-Semitic violence imaginable.
We need not hold to a dispensationalist view of the future restoration of Israel (and I don’t) to agree that such support is a necessary part of a Christian eschatology (and I do).
Novelist Walker Percy pointed to the continuing existence of Jewish people as a sign of God’s presence in the world. There are no Hittites walking about on the streets of New York, he remarked.
There does appear to be a promise of a future conversion of Jewish people to Christ (Rom 9-11). The current secular state of Israel is not the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham; Jesus is.
Nonetheless, the state of Israel is important, indeed critically important. The nation is the guardian of post-Holocaust world Judaism. This does not necessitate that we support every political decision of the Israeli government (and I don’t). It does mean that we stand with Israel against every form of anti-Semitic violence.
We know that these are the kinsmen according to the flesh of our Messiah. There’s a reason, therefore, the Powers rage against them so. A Christian anti-Semite is a contradiction in terms.