Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 145 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Romans 9 today and our focus is on: How Should Christians Feel About Israel – Should They Universally Support Israel? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Tricky question today, and a controversial one for sure. I’m not asking the question because of the current troubles in Israel and Palestine, but rather because our text raises the issue and many Christians have strong opinions here. In my lifetime, it seems that the times of peace in Israel are generally outnumbered by the times of trouble in Israel. Why might this be – why is the Middle East so often a hotbed of conflict and trouble? Of the many reasons I could name, one stands out: In the Middle East, you have one small nation of Jewish people surrounded by many small and large nations of Islamic people. From the very beginning, it was prophesied in the Bible that there would be conflict between the sons of Abraham through Isaac and the sons of Abraham through Ishmael, the forebear of many of the Islamic peoples:
11 The angel of the Lord said to her, “You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction. 12 This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will settle near all his relatives.” Genesis 16:11
As Christians – who’s side should we be on in these conflicts? Most Christians would assume that we should ALWAYS be on the side of Israel, but the last couple of years of reading the Old Testament more than any other period in my life has convinced me that supporting Israel in every decision and situation might not be the best approach to take. Before you tune out, let me try and explain myself by asking three questions.
Should we always support Christians? We should always love each other – no doubt about it. But sometimes a Christian is wrong, and doing something ungodly. How do we handle that? Consider Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go tell him his fault, between you and him alone. We shouldn’t support each other when we are wrong – we should lovingly, humbly and persistently call each other to righteousness. So many times I have had faithful brothers turn me from the error of my ways, or various sins and pride issues. They did so lovingly, and I am so grateful that they didn’t blindly support me in my folly. We need accountability! Not everything Christians do is good and godly.
Should we always support preachers? I’m a pastor and a preacher, and I suggest the clear answer to this question is: NO! When Southern Baptist preachers in the south preached that slavery was God’s will, church members should not have supported that, but have opposed it from the Word of God! When church leaders sweep the sexual abuse of women and children under the rug and shame the victims instead of removing the perpetrators, this should not be supported but vigorously opposed. Not everything preachers and pastors do is godly – we all know this.
Should we always support Americans? Absolutely not! Christians are not called to a blind, nationalistic devotion. We are first and foremost citizens of Heaven. The U.S. has done much good in this world, defended many nations, and opposed many tyrants. Unfortunately, we have also done much evil, such as the Tuskegee experiment, the toppling of a democratically elected leadership in Iran in 1953, the Trail of Tears, and much, much less seriously Operation Big Buzz and Operation Big Itch in which our military dropped hundreds of thousands of fleas and mosquitos on U.S. soil to test and see if they could be weaponized and used to spread disease. (The fleas and mosquitos dropped were NOT infected) and when American leadership is leading the country in an ungodly direction, this must be appropriately opposed. Not every governmental or military policy decision the U.S. makes is good or just.
Likewise with Israel: Not every policy or military decision that the country of Israel makes is godly or morally correct. I know this because of common sense, but even more from the Word of God. Israel and Judah had a total of 43 kings listed during the Old Testament period. How many of those kings were reckoned as righteous and good by God ? According to the Bible, only 7 or 8 (if you count Solomon as righteous) of the 43 kings of Israel and Judah were good kings. 4-5 were a mixed bag, and the rest were reckoned as evil by God’s Word and were mostly opposed by godly figures in the Bible like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micaiah, Elijah, Elisha and others. Should those wicked kings have been supported when they were in power? I don’t think so. So, I conclude that we should NOT universally support those who call themselves Christians, or preachers or the United States, or Israel. What, then should our attitude be towards Israel? One that goes FAR BEYOND mere support, and the apostle Paul, a Jewish man himself, tells us exactly the posture and attitude that Christians should have towards Israel:
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience testifies to me through the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the benefit of my brothers and sisters, my own flesh and blood. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen. Romans 9:1-5
When I read that, I hear incredibly love, willingness to sacrifice all, and the utmost respect. Friends, that should be our attitude towards Israel. We don’t support every decision they make, but we love them sacrificially, we pray for them passionately, and we desire them to follow God’s ways and come to Jesus, a Jewish man Himself, and their Messiah, Lord and Savior.
Here’s Spurgeon on this topic:
The apostle is evidently about to make an extraordinary statement—a statement which would probably not be believed, and, therefore, he gives as a preface the most solemn asseverations that are permitted to Christian men declaring that he is speaking the truth, and also that the Holy Ghost is bearing witness with his conscience that it is so—that he so loves the souls of his fellow-countrymen that, though the thing could never be, yet in a sort of ecstacy of love he could devote himself to anything so long as his countrymen might but be saved. “My kinsmen according to the flesh.” Paul did not write as he did because he hated the nation to which he belonged. Far from it. He would have sacrificed everything for their good; and he felt almost ready to be cast away himself, if by such a fate he could have rescued the Jewish people. Passionate love speaks a language which must not be weighed in the balances of cold reasoning. View the words as the outburst of a loving heart, and they are clear enough. O that all Christians had a like love for perishing sinners.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 41.
Bible Memory verses for the month of May: Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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