By Jack Hayford
What Does the Bible Say about Standing with Israel?
We live in a sobering moment in history. It calls us, as believers in Jesus Christ, to take a stand with Israel. In Jerusalem, the hustling crowds and rush-hour traffic are as common as in any international metropolis. Yet, the city astounds most of its tourists with how peaceful it is. While the global media assaults readers with reports of dangerous Jewish-Palestinian borders, those living in Israel’s capital know a different reality. Theirs is one of surprising peace. Why surprising, you may ask? Let’s take a look. What does the Bible say about standing with Israel?
Standing with Israel at a Glance
Israel’s very existence symbolizes the dichotomy of “possessing the land” amid jaundiced neighbors. Because although the West heralded the Arab Spring as the dawning of democracy in nations ruled by tyrannous dictators, the fruit of these ongoing political uprisings has been anything but freedom and stability.
For Israel, it simply increased the shared nightmare most Jews live with each day. That they are staring down the barrel of a gun, no matter which direction they turn.
Israel, Iran and the Middle East
In Iran, anti-Semitic rhetoric flows from the mouths of its top leaders. Whether it’s the current “moderate” President Hasan Rouhani, ousted madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, they openly say of Israel: “cancerous tumor in the heart of the Islamic world” that “must be cleansed.”
Egypt and Iraq
In Egypt and Iraq, the ongoing instability and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood have propelled Salafist jihadist military campaigns. Yes, even after former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s ousting. They are also bent on Israel’s total destruction like never before.
Meanwhile, the rise of other extremist Islamic forces in Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen merely strengthens the resounding cry to wipe Israel off the map. And among the few neighboring countries that have peace treaties with Israel — namely, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey — these relations have been frayed to a thread.
Why Standing with Israel Matters So Much
As Christians, we have a different script to follow. One in which we know who will return to reign physically over this global focal point. Even though it has been dominated with strife and violence since the days of Abraham. Why, then, should believers be so concerned over such a tiny speck of land? What does it really matter? What does the Bible say about standing with Israel?
I am convinced one of Satan’s greatest tools is to minimize or negate the role Israel plays today. It keeps the Western church in the dark concerning God’s end-time plan for our world.
Arguing about Standing with Israel Today
Tragically, we’d prefer to argue over the differences between supporting Israel as a state versus supporting the Jewish people. Rather than stand up for those whom God has called His people (Joel 2:18; 3:2; Jer. 50:6-7).
Some within the church disregard Israel’s crisis in favor of the Palestinian plight (whom they argue have equal rights as “sons of Abraham”). Meanwhile, others have gone so far as to adopt a replacement theology perspective. It believes that the church, through Jesus Christ, has replaced Israel when it comes God’s purpose, plan and promises.They disregard much of what the Bible says about standing with Israel.
So, Why Stand with Israel Today?
All of these viewpoints are not only misguided. They also come at the expense of Israel at a time when the church is called to be her strongest ally amid an emergence of nations possessing a demonically driven desire to see the Jewish people eradicated.
Given this, let’s get a few foundational things straight. Let’s look at what the Bible says about standing with Israel. Israel is a land about which God says uniquely, prophetically and repeatedly in the Bible, “This is Mine” (Joel 1:6; Zech. 2:5-7; Gen. 35:10-15). Also, God refers to Israel as He does to no other land on earth – He raises Israel to be a light to the Gentiles.
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In the Words of Jesus
What does the Bible say about standing with Israel in the New Testament? Perhaps the most pointed statement regarding the importance of the Jews is from the lips of our Lord and Savior Himself. In His conversation with the Samaritan woman, recorded in John 4:1-26, Jesus is very definitive: “Salvation is of the Jews” (v. 22).
With these words He categorically points to the pathway which brings to earth the entirety of God’s program of redemption. His Person’s presence becomes this ultimate path.
Further, the church at its inception was virtually entirely Jewish. And it remained so until the gospel began to spread. Ultimately the gospel spread to Antioch, where the first Gentile congregation began. From there, the gospel spread into all the world.
Israel, Gentiles, and the Church
In Romans 9-11, the apostle Paul deals specifically with the question of the Jews’ role in God’s providence and purpose. Within the whole of the Bible, these three chapters virtually stand alone as an elaboration of the theology of God’s dealing with Jews.
The Jews were the first fruit—the first people (through Abraham) to understand a covenant God. Then, they relayed the riches of that truth to the world, and through their agency the Messiah came into the world.
The Root and the Branches
The Word of God calls Jews the “root” and Gentiles the “branches” (Rom. 11:16-27). We’re reminded that while “because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith,” we are not to become haughty but to fear: “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either” (vv. 20-21).
When the fullness of the Gentiles is completed, “all Israel will be saved” (v. 26)—that is, the present Church Age.
Yet, we are not to be passive in the face of prophecy. Our calling is to pray with passion, to intercede and to minister according to the words of the Savior. Who also said it is not our task to speculate when the end will be. It is our responsibility to do “kingdom business” until He comes (Luke 19:13).
Eight Biblical Reasons to Stand With Israel
This is not about politics; this is about the Word of God. This is what the Bible says about standing with Israel. But the political ramifications are extremely dramatic. Accordingly, it is critical that believers understand the specific reasons for why we should stand with Israel today.
1) Divine Order
Understanding the basis of the attention we give to the Jews has to do with understanding God’s divine order and things He has said. This involves both a people and a land (the latter of which we will cover shortly in another reason).
Abraham and the Beginning
Remember, the Lord first selected a people. He began by selecting a man named Abraham. The Lord said that through Abraham’s seed (in relationship with his wife, Sarah, giving birth to the promised child, Isaac), all the nations would be blessed. Through this people, every human being would have access to the divine blessing of Almighty God (Genesis 12:3).
Upon Jesus’ return to earth, the Lord will judge nations and deal with them for their decisions, just as He does individuals. Yet He makes a specific promise of judgment—of being either blessed or cursed—related to Abraham’s seed. It’s vital that we see this relates not only to a people (Jews), but also to a land (Israel).
What the Bible Says about Standing with Israel
God chose the Israelites to be the vessels for four overarching things:
i. The Adoption
God’s divine choice of the seed of Abraham as a people (Romans 9:4-5).
ii. The Glory
The manifest presence of God revealing Himself.
iii. The Covenants
The commitments that God makes. These are evident in three forms through Scripture:
- The Abrahamic Covenant. In this foundational covenant, God essentially told Abraham, “I will give you a people and a land, and through this seed the nations of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 17:2-8).
- The Mosaic Covenant. Through Moses, God offered the revelation of the Law, given as a teaching means to lead us to Christ: redemption through the blood of the Lamb (Gal. 3:19-29).
- The New Covenant. In Jeremiah and Ezekiel, God says in words almost parallel: “For the time will come that I will take My Law and I will make a new covenant with you, and I will put My Spirit within you” (Jer. 31:31-33; Ezek. 36:27).
iv. The Greatest Gift
The wonder of the gift of Jesus to mankind. John 3:16 explains that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” He gave Him through the Jews, and He came as a Jew. Jesus Himself, speaking to the woman of Samaria, said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
So Scripture speaks to us very clearly: We’re dealing with the root of everything that has to do with the revelation of God to humankind. Today’s proof exists today in the Jews as a people and in the fact of their national recovery (Ezek. 37).
2) Spiritual Link
Our place in God’s present order inextricably links us with the Jews as a people. And thereby also to the land of Israel, according to God’s Word. When we put our faith in the Redeemer who came through the Jews, we enter into a line of those who have trusted God according to His revealed grace and purpose.
Scripture declares that, spiritually speaking, when you receive the Lord, you inherit the Jewish legacy (Rom. 2:28-29, Gal. 3:26-29). If you are a believer, you cannot be consistent with the whole of Scripture and take a passive position toward the Jews and Israel.
As Christians, we stand with Israel, because they are forever linked with the spiritual promises of God. We have been grafted in and our Messiah brought us closer to Israel, for His name sake.
3) God’s Promises Over the Land
When we talk about Israel, we are dealing with two aspects of it. It is a piece of property that God has made pronouncements about. This is God’s people, and He gave the land to them.
God has made unique declarations regarding the land of Israel:
- Leviticus 25:23—The land is the Lord’s land, and it is His to assign and dispose of.
- Deuteronomy 32:43—“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people … He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”
- 2 Chronicles 7:20—God says, “[If the people violate Me], I will uproot them from My land which I have given them.”
- Psalm 85:1-2— The Psalmist says the Lord has been favorable to Israel’s land, He has forgiven the iniquity of the people and covered all their sin.
- Isaiah 8:8—This land belongs to Father God, and it is the land of His Messiah.
- Jeremiah 2:7—The Lord tells the people there will come the loss—the destruction—of Jerusalem, because the people defiled the land and made God’s heritage an abomination.
- Ezekiel 38:16—God is speaking to people in the end times who rise up against Israel, and He is speaking of a confrontation that will take place in His land.
- Joel 1:6; 2:18; 3:2—Three times in this book, the land is referred to as belonging to the Lord.
- Hosea 9:3—The prophet speaks of the scattering of Israel.
- Zechariah 9:16—God promises to “save them [Israel] in that day.”
Not only does this land belong to God, but also, He has committed it to Abraham and his offspring via Isaac forever (Gen. 17:7-8). Additionally, Isaiah 54:8-10 reaffirms this. The loss of governance by Israel through sin and dispersion has not altered God’s announced commitment to make it theirs forever. If you doubt this, read Ezekiel 37.
4) Media Misrepresentation
Virtually every news report on the conflict involving Israel today presents Israel as the aggressor. Notwithstanding the fact that Palestinian or Hamas rocket fire provoked the hostilities . Yet the media reports consistently assign responsibility to Israel as the initiator of aggression.
For example, Israel gave Gaza back as an effort to establish grounds for advancing the peace process. Within months the same area became a staging ground by the Palestinians for new unprovoked attacks on Israel. This represents the futile efforts Israel has faced at every turn when attempting to negotiate peace.
The general attitude of the world today regards the Palestinians as the underdog and the victim. But Israel defends the land covenanted to her in 1917 and that the United Nations Assembly established in 1948. Consequently, Israel’s does not initiate or perpetuate the present conflict is neither. There is no expansionism or racism on its part.
The Palestinian goal is not to secure a homeland but to drive Israel out altogether. For the sake of mounting public opinion against Israel, surrounding, well-resourced Arab nations have never offered refuge to the Palestinians.
5) Arab Rights
Standing for Israel does not require an anti-Arab stance and doesn’t require us to be loveless toward other people. We do not to oppose the Arab people as an entity. Nor to oppose the rights of Arabs living in Israel to a peaceful, politically secure and prosperous life.
Remember, this is not about politics, yet the ramifications of this struggle inevitably involve governments. They governments should represent people groups. And among Christians, this is where we often confuse the matter—which is why it’s crucial that we understand the full picture.
Ishmael and Abraham
God has no disposition against any human being. Certainly not Arabs, who are the offspring of Ishmael, the other son of His chosen leader, Abraham. Though the world may not understand this stance, we can defy their logic through Christ.
As Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
6) Spiritual Warfare
The relentless animosities of sectors of the Arab world are not merely political causes. Spiritual powers drive these causes. They will not be satisfied until Israel ceases to exist.
Even unbelievers recognize the uncanny patterns of vehement anti-Semitic rhetoric. The likes of Adolf Hitler and modern-day Arab leaders such as Ahmadinejad, Khamenei and their successors share this. The forces opposed to Israel are not simply those of people who don’t like Jews.
We are caught in the stream of spiritual forces greater than humanity. In other words, forces that cannot be overthrown politically or by the power of persuasion. These forces break down only by intercessory prayer, casting down principalities and powers.
7) Shared Persecution
If we think Israelis are the only ones in the line of fire in this conflict, we’re deceived. The same spirit driving these animosities equally opposes Christians and Jews, and in time will eventually bring persecution to both.
The Scripture describes two witnesses that will be put to death in Jerusalem at the very end of time (Rev. 11). Generally the “two witnesses” that have stood for the living God throughout history have been the Jews and the Christians.
The presence of the entire Judeo-Christian ethic, values and testimony is the most assailed spiritual testimony in today’s world. And it is allowed to be persecuted with impunity. Too often we hear incidents where such “witness” exists where violated rights or outright brutality finds only a silent response from the U.N. or the world press.
The hostilities and animosities are just as leveled at believers as they are at Israel. Because there is a spirit of the world that is against “all that is called God” (2 Thess. 2:4) and all things testifying to His existence, love, worth and glory.
8) God’s Summoning to Stand with Israel
A biblical assignment and a divine promise summon our stand in faith, our intercession with expectancy and our support with promise (Eph. 6:10-20).
Scripture declares there will come a time when all the nations of the world will turn against Israel (Zech. 12:1-14). Ongoing developments in the Middle East inescapably demonstrate the present moment and make it highly conceivable that this could happen in our time. What the Bible says about standing with Israel is not always simple.
Our calling is to stand with Israel today because we could be people of the last hour. The Lord has called us to be people with moral and biblical conviction, walking wisely and knowing His Word. He honors those who make an abiding commitment to stand with the land He calls uniquely His.
Standing with Israel in the 20th and 21st Century
This miraculous era that has seen the Jewish people regain political control of their own land. Which they were without for more than 2,300 years, but once again they became an official nation. Meanwhile, we could be people of the last hour, as they once again face global hostility.
The modern-day struggle is over Jerusalem, over Israel and over the presence of Jews and their right to have a land. Almost every nation refuses to make an abiding commitment to stand by the Jews and Israel. Only a few remain, but the Bible says God will honor those who do.
Every believer is charged to make the Jews a priority in his or her value system. Why? Because God has. As a result, we are to render thanksgiving for God’s work via them as a people.
Watch as pastor Jack Hayford explains the importance of Israel at hayfordonIsrael.charismamag.com