The question of the land
A Biblical Stand on Zionism ll
Two Sides, One Coin
The biblical doctrine of the land is a twofold one, with each principle representing one side of the same coin. The two principles are:
a) The land belongs to the Jewish people without a doubt. God expresses this throughout the scripture through many promises, confirmed through a covenant.
b) The right of domicile on the land and the right to enjoy the blessings of that land are based on Israel’s spiritual condition.
We have to look at both sides in order to keep us from taking an unbalanced and extremist view. If we neglect the first principle and focus purely on the required righteousness (which is not yet achieved by large parts of Israel) we are in danger of slipping on the path of replacement theology, and possibly anti-Semitism.
If on the other hand we neglect the second principle and focus solely on the land issue, we are tempted to embrace a right-wing nationalist agenda and our cause of Zionism is not biblical but political.
These two principles are verified within the whole course of Israel’s history. Whenever Israel followed their God and had God-fearing kings, the borders of Israel enlarged quickly and with ease, as the writer of Chronicles puts it: “… and the LORD brought the fear of him [David] upon all nations.” The neighbouring people subdued themselves under the rulership of Israel and paid tributes.
Yet as soon as Israel and its kings left their God, it was God himself who raised the neighbouring countries against them stirring up resistance from within and even adjusting the borders of Israel’s territory. “In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel; and Hazael conquered them in all the territory of Israel.” Often the adversaries of Israel were rendered powerless as soon as Israel humbled herself under the hand of God. But as their tragic history tells us, the enemies of Israel were allowed to uproot the chosen people from the Holy Land twice.
In short: Israel in her entire history never had a conflict over borders or land issues, but Israel found herself in a constant conflict with her God! Out of that, political and military troubles arose which threatened the security and very existence of the nation. But as soon as Israel sought the Lord, He himself became a fiery wall around his people.
The modern restoration of the state of Israel is without doubt the greatest miracle of modern history. Be it the return of the Jews from more than 100 nations, the replanting of the land or the reconstruction of the cities of Israel, they all carry the clear watermark of fulfilled biblical promises.
However Israel returns today to their land largely as a secular people, which barely differs hardly from any other nation. It is only a small minority in Israel which sees the hand of God in its restoration. It is mostly the pioneering spirit of the founding fathers, the supremacy of the IDF or other human achievements which are named as the creating source of modern Israel. High abortion rates, entanglement in eastern religions and open moral decline characterize the Israel of today.
God will therefore use corrective measures in order to gain the attention of His chosen people. Like a loving father disciplines his children, so also God will judge His people in order to correct them and draw them finally to Himself. This can mean that for a limited time God might adjust the borders of the land and that the pressure on God’s people will even increase.
One thing, however, is for sure: God is not going to uproot his people. God did not restore Israel in order to exile her again, but rather to reconcile her to Himself. All biblical accounts on the end-time restoration of Israel end with a picture painted by Paul: “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
Consequently the question of the boundaries of the land of Israel cannot be understood outside the context of Israel’s spiritual condition. As the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem we therefore take the following position:
- We wish to affirm that the land of Canaan is the everlasting possession of the Jewish people. No other people have a biblical right to this land. It belongs to the Jewish people by divine covenant. Nevertheless Israel’s right of domicile is dependent on her reconciled relationship with her God. According to Ezekiel 36:24-28, only a nation anointed by the spirit of God affords her the right to dwell in the land. This day is coming, albeit through a process of affliction.
- Given that the Jewish people have returned to Israel a secular people, correction and judgment are to be expected. Remember, domicile is conditional upon Israel’s reconciled relationship with her God. It is naïve for Christians to stand on God’s Word concerning all the land bequeathed to her when she remains largely unfaithful to God. Land shrinkage is God’s doing since He is determined to correct and save her.
- However, since God in His Word has only promised two exiles and two returns and since these have already taken place, He is now determined to save her through affliction. She will not be exiled again!
- If Israel is therefore going to lose land, do not be amazed at this. Rather embrace your responsibility to pray for her righteousness and salvation, knowing these alone will secure her domicile upon all of the land bequeathed to her. God has promised to save her.
- God’s process of dealing with Israel does not legitimize those like the PLO, Hamas, etc. who are actively working for Israel’s destruction. We speak out against this evil and we must stand against all forms of anti-Semitism. We must warn our nations not to be part of any scheme to divide the land!
- Judgment and correction are a divine prerogative. We must stand with Zion, help her, defend her and speak out on her behalf.
- If God should allow that further parts of the land of Israel be relinquished, we fully understand the sorrow it will bring for many settlers who will be uprooted. We pray for them and do our utmost to comfort, support them and give them hope.
- We must recognize that a great visitation of God is also coming to the Arab world. The Word of God promises a great revival among the neighbouring countries of Israel.
Rev. Malcolm Hedding
Executive Director, Emeritus
Dr. Jürgen Bühler