Does the Church Have a Responsibility toward Israel? - Part 2

Johannes Pflaum

Paul declares in Romans 11:28 that, although the people of Israel are enemies for our (the Gentiles’) sake, referring to the gospel, they are beloved for the fathers’ (the Patriarchs’) sake.

Whenever Paul mentions the “fathers,” he is thinking of the covenant God made with Abraham and which He reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob. With this covenant, the Lord firmly established the sum of His promises to Israel. The Apostle makes it very clear in the next verse, where he says that God’s merciful gifts and calling are irrevocable. All disobedience, all failings of Israel, and all of God’s corresponding judgments will not prevent His plan for Israel from coming to fruition. And when the Lord states that for a time Israel is not His nation (Hosea 1:9; 2:1-2), this in no way means its election is in question. The problem is a disrupted relationship with God and a breach of the Mosaic covenant (the Law), not a rupture of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis chapter 15)!

One of the most well-known verses in the Bible emphasizes the great love God has for the lost and rebellious world (John 3:16). Therefore, we too want to love all of mankind and take the gospel to them in word and deed. However, there are also special subjects of God’s love; among these are the land and people of Israel (Isaiah 62:4). And even in  the context of His particular love for the land of Israel, His Word emphasizes the importance of the city of Jerusalem: “The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Psalm 87:2). The Church is another special focus of God’s love (Ephesians 5:25).

For this reason, we, the Church of Jesus, also have the mission to love the Jews and Israel (see Romans 9:1-5). This is not meant to be blind love, that downplays or simply overlooks sin. The Lord does not do that in our life either. It is a matter of understanding how deeply God loves His people, how much He has already accomplished through Israel, and what promises He has made to this people and her land.

Currently, when hatred of Jews is widespread in the world, this kind of love is key. But particularly in this love, Christians have failed greatly throughout Church history! Prompted by the rejection which Christians themselves experienced from many Jews, they responded with anti-Semitism and hate. By and by, they thus became blind to Israel’s important role in God’s plan of salvation.

Between 2001 and 2005, when the terrorism against Israel was particularly violent, I was repeatedly asked about the reason for my frequent trips to Israel. Once it was an Israeli flight attendant who posed the question. It was important at those times not to be evasively polite, but to openly declare that I am a Christian and a pastor. I would add that I believe the Bible and that Israel is still God’s country, that the Jews are His people, and therefore I love them. Almost never did I receive an indifferent or negative response; usually, rather gratitude and amazement—especially among secular Jews. When circumstances allowed, I then would also talk about my faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as God’s Lamb who died for my sins.

It is the responsibility of the Church to love Israel in this world of rampant anti-Semitism. When challenged, the Church should take a clear stance in opposition to the mainstream and in support of Israel and the Jews.

News from Israel - 09/2019

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