Saturday, September 22, 2012

Israel Slogans

Christians tend to take their understanding of the status of Israel from a few simple verses that are often used as slogans.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you (Gen 12:2-3).
Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye (Zech 2:8).
These verses are important, because the express God’s long term attitude to Israel. His love for his chosen people will never end. He has a long-term purpose to bless his people and bless the world through them.

However, these verses do not tell us much about what is going on with Israel in a particular season. To understand that, we have to go to the covenants, because the destiny of Israel is determined by the covenant that God made with it, not by slogans. Because the people of Israel have mostly rejected Jesus, they are still living under the old covenant. It is a good covenant, with wonderful blessings, but it sets a very high standard, that is almost impossible to fulfil, without the fullness of the Spirit. This means that Israel is usually stuck on the wrong side of its covenant under its curses.

The slogan verses do not proscribe God’s attitude to any particular government of Israel. In the Old Testament, God pronounced judgement against many of the political and religious leaders of Israel, because of his promise to bless his people. The fact that Israel is the apple of his eye does not mean that he approves every action of every government of Israel. When the governments of Israel does not fulfil their covenant, they will experience judgment, but that does not change God’s intention to bless his people.

Israel had a wonderful covenant, but they have mostly rejected the one sent the Spirit who would enable them to fulfil it. Without a covenant with Jesus, the covenant with Moses is valid, but deficient, because it is almost impossible to fulfil. When Israel believes in Jesus, they will be able to fulfil their covenant by faith and receive all its promised blessings. This is why the whole world should be looking for the event that Paul called the “Fullness of Israel”. When Israel enters into both the fullness of both covenants, enormous blessings will flow to the world, as the promise to Abraham is fullfilled. I explain how this will happen in my book Times and Seasons.

The slogan verses quoted above explain why we can be confident that the fullness of Israel will eventually come. They are not a guarantee about what will happen in the seasons before that time comes.

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