Is Israel Israel?
Updated: Aug 16, 2019
As a young adult age 40 something, I was of the conviction that a Christian Zionist was a Jesus freak with a taste for bagels and lox, hummus and falafel on pita, corned beef sandwiches on rye -- That would be me.
In my later encounters with the Torah ( or the Old Testament as some would call it), I came to rethink my paradigm, concluding that a Christian Zionist was someone who actually believed the Bible, followed Jesus (a Jewish guy who ate kosher), loved the same Israel that God and Jesus loved and was convinced that God was doing today what He promised to do for all those years (that is, bringing the Jews back to the "promised" land). I vote for that!
Paradigm shifting : it's a topic that takes some getting used to. Somewhat like developing a taste for lox, I think.
It was the Reverend Stephen Sizer who tried to topple my lox and bagels paradigm. He produced several popular books, many articles and even a film on the subject. The right Reverend insists that all "Christian Zionists" follow a false theology called Dispensationalism and as such are "Christian heretics." Stephen Sizer seems to be a major force against all Christian bagel lovers.
Shocked I tell you, I am shocked!
According to the Reverend Sizer and some of his "anti-kosher" friends, the "eternal covenant" that God made with Abraham Isaac and Jacob (Israel) is obsolete. In other words, the Jews "have no claims to the land" because God changed the deal when Jesus entered the scene in the New Testament.
God's old "eternal promises" are currently null and void according to this thesis. Christians are now the "new Israel." So the very Israel I thought I knew and loved, the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the land of hummus and pita, of olive oil and prize wines-- the land of milk and honey, was actually "replaced" by Christianity. Go figure. God, in his miraculous way, changed his mind about his "eternal promises" to Israel because Jews were naughty, and he stamped his new seal of approval, devotion and promises now onto Christians, who according to Sizer, are not naughty.
THEY ARE GANGNG UP!
The Reverend Stephen Sizer, an Anglican Priest from Britain, has a growing multitude of like-minded Christian friends. John Stott ( of blessed memory) is one. He is that famous theologian of bygone years who is not only a friend of Rev. Sizer but also his mentor of sorts. In this sermon planted on Sizer's web site, Stott writes an entire treatise on why Israel is NOT really Israel any more.
"Now who, according to the New Testament perspective, is Israel today? And the answer we are going to see from the Bible is this extraordinary event – that true Israel today is neither Jews nor Israelis, but believers in the Messiah, even if they are gentiles. Now this seed began even in the "Old Testament ".
The Rev. Sizer , incidentally, has a very convoluted teaching on the same subject which covers the same points as (sounds a lot like) the Stott teaching which also sounds a lot like the Gary Burge lecture which, with some preterist variations, sounds a lot like the Hank Hannegraaff lecture.
If you have a taste for theological fiction, listen to the Hanegraaff video lecture. His view and that of those many Christian friends is that the very land that God deeded to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Bible was now "universalized" by that very same God. Jerusalem is really a "spiritual" Jerusalem. Physical Jerusalem is just another city and open to all who may make their claims. Come one, come all!
( picture caption) Just in case you need clarity, the picture above demonstrates how difficult it is to tell whether Israel is or is not Israel. For example, David ( left) is sitting and waiting for a bus at a real bus stop in physical Jerusalem, Israel but the guy sitting next to him is really a figment of the imagination who lives in "spiritual Israel". Likewise, the camel on the (right) is standing in a desert waiting for a spiritual bus at a spiritual bus stop somewhere in the Negev. While the picture in the center is the Shrine of the Book which is in Jerusalem, Israel.... the real Israel. The "true story" is probably in this museum under glass. Got that?
Stott's idea leaves lots of room for Christians, Palestinians, curbstone setters, homeless cats and their friends to lay claim to the land which is not really the land that God described as proverbial Jewish homeland deeded to Abraham. NO! Jerusalem ( the biblical Jerusalem) is a city in the sky and the physical Jerusalem is simply a random Mediterranean sandbox.
CHRISTIAN PALESTINIANISM One of the more vocal groups standing in line to claim "the land" are the "Palestinian Christians". Every two years, these folks get together at Bethlehem Bible College entertaining like-minded speakers, famous names from around the world, at an event called Christ at the Checkpoint. Here they spend several very serious days, listening to "expert theologians" deny Israel's right to the land, enumerating Israel's endless misdeeds and their own victimhood at the hands of the Jewish evil empire, and asserting their own Christian "Biblical" claims to it .
These "Palestinian Christians" are actually trying to start an international movement, bringing their uniquely skewed brand of Christianity to the United States to see if they can convince Christian "heretical" Zionists of the validity of their revisionist anti-Jewish Israel claims. And now some former Christian Zionists are trading in their bagels and lox for ham sandwiches.
Other Christians have hooked up with Naim Ateek an Anglican priest from Jerusalem. His Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem is a front group for curbstone setters demanding peace and justice in ( the physical) land, lifting their leg on Israel as if it were their own private fire hydrant.
Most recently the Presbyterian USA denomination has linked arms with Sabeel and Christian Palestinianism wanting to join the throng poised to poison Israel's matzoh ball soup.
Susan Warner For Ezekiel's Junction June 2019