CUFI’s Replacement Theology (Replacing Jesus)


For several years now I’ve been receiving email updates from CUFI (Christians United for Israel), not because I’m a fan but simply to remain aware of what is coming out of this organization. Yesterday’s email was a head-scratcher.

CUFI was founded in 2006 by John Hagee, the well-known mega-church pastor in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee and his Executive Director, David Brog, are fond of attaching the “replacement theology” label to those who fail to give unconditional support to the nation of Israel. Hagee defines “replacement theology” as believing that “the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel.” Accurate or not, he adds that adherents believe “God has replaced Israel with the church” (Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, 2006, pp. 72, 165).

Check out the email/infomercial CUFI sent out yesterday and see if you don’t observe a different “replacement theology,” one that assigns the role of “light unto the nations” solely to the nation of Israel and not rightfully to Jesus:

God Commanded the Children of Israel to Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Show everyone who enters  your home that you Stand with Israel! Receive this beautiful custom made in Israel CUFI Mezuzah and special CUFI Mezuzah scroll for a gift of $36 or more.
Dear Friend, Isaiah 49:6 tells us that the Jewish people will be a light unto the nations and a brief look at Israel’s humanitarian actions around the world prove the truth of this prophecy!Israel is a light unto the nations… Israel is the world’s first responder to natural catastrophes and humanitarian crises. Over the last few years, Israel has sent humanitarian, medical, recovery, and security teams to Haiti, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, India, the Philippines, and even to the USA after Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy, the floods in Colorado and tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Israel a light unto the nations… Israeli innovation is saving and improving lives around the world. The list of Israel’s technological advances is endless, but among the many: An Israeli bandage that stops intense bleeding has saved the lives of American troops in Iraq as well as Congresswoman Giffords. An Israeli baby breathing monitor has protected over 600,000 babies from SIDS. And a new Israeli medical device can detect an oncoming heart attack

Israel a light unto the nations… While Christians are being attacked and murdered throughout the Middle East, Israel is the only country where the Christian population is safe and flourishing. Israel’s Christian population has increased from 34,000 in 1948 to 140,000 today. The truth is that the safest and freest Christians in the Middle East are the Christian citizens of the Jewish state.

In order to constantly remind us that Israel is a light unto the nations, we have designed a second mezuzah to add to our CUFI collection. A “mezuzah” is a small box that Jewish families affix on their doors reminding them of the Lord’s presence in their lives.

The new CUFI mezuzah is not only a daily reminder that Israel is still a light unto the nations, but it is also a public declaration that your home stands with Israel and the Jewish people. We encourage you to mount a CUFI mezuzah on the entry and interior doors of your home as well as selected rooms within your home. We also have a special blessing for children if you choose to place them on the doorposts of your children’s rooms.

Every symbol on this custom-made mezuzah has special significance. The seven branch menorah is the official emblem of the State of Israel. The torch illustrates that Israel is a light unto the nations. The American and Israeli flags symbolize the importance of the US-Israel relationship.

May God Bless You and The Ones that You Love,

Pastor John Hagee
National Chairman
Christians United for Israel
David Brog
Executive Director
Christians United for Israel
For an additional $14 gift, you can become a “Watchman” member of CUFI. Watchman membership benefits include a personalized CUFI membership card, a CUFI membership pin, a personalized membership certificate, Because I am a Christian I stand with Israel Luggage tag, a CUFI car magnet, a 10% discount on registration for all CUFI events and a subscription to The Torch- CUFI’s quarterly magazine.

CUFI’s letter references Isaiah 49:6 as Biblical evidence that “the Jewish people” and Israel are “a light unto the nations.” (In CUFI’s language, “the Jewish people” and Israel seem to be used interchangeably, as if there are no non-Jews living in Israel.) Seven times in this letter, CUFI’s followers are told that Israel is the world’s light:

“Isaiah 49:6 tells us that the Jewish people will be a light unto the nations and a brief look at Israel’s humanitarian actions around the world prove the truth of this prophecy!” (1x); “Israel is a light unto the nations” (3x); “In order to constantly remind us that Israel is a light unto the nations…” (1x); “The new CUFI mezuzah is not only a daily reminder that Israel is still a light unto the nations…” (1x); “The torch illustrates that Israel is a light unto the nations” (1x).

I won’t deny that Israel has done some humanitarian deeds in its history. However, the role of “light to the nations” belongs to Jesus, and there was zero acknowledgement of this in CUFI’s letter. Jesus spoke this very thing concerning Himself and His disciples:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12; see also John 9:5).

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14).

Isaiah 49:6 was likewise a prophecy about Jesus, His role in bringing Jacob back to His Father, and the light of His salvation for the whole world:

And He said to me, ‘You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord, and my work with my God.’ And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength), indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:3-6).

If this was about national Israel, how could Israel bring Jacob (itself) back to God? How could Israel “raise up the tribes of Jacob” and “restore the preserved ones of Israel” (itself)? This would be God’s doing, not Israel’s own doing. As I wrote in a March 2014 post (“Why I Stand With Israel“), 

Albert Barnes (1834), Adam Clarke (1831), John Gill (1746), The Geneva Study Bible (1599), Jamieson/Faussett/Brown (1882), Matthew Henry (1708), The Pulpit Commentary (1880′s), and John Wesley (1754) all stand in agreement that Isaiah was speaking here of Jesus, and that Isaiah referred to Jesus as “Israel.” See their commentaries on verse 3verse 4verse 5, and verse 6.

CUFI’s exaltation of modern, political Israel amounts to blatant idolatry and pushing Jesus to the side, even replacing Him. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament bear witness that Jesus is the light that the world needs.

Related post: “Why I Abandoned Replacement Theology

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Wade Burleson: Four Blood Moons – It’s Called Lunacy for a Reason


Lunacy – Def. “originally referring to temporary insanity attributed to changes of the moon.” Cf. Old English “lunatic,” literally moon-sick.”    -Wade Burleson

I’ve read a couple of articles, but no books, on one of the latest fads to invade the world of Evangelical Christianity – the “four blood moons” of 2014-2015. My understanding is that this phenomenon was first highlighted by Mark Biltz, a Hebrew roots proponent and pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Tacoma, Washington. He wrote a book in 2008 called “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs.” More recently, in 2013, John Hagee published his book on the topic, “Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change.”

Wade Burleson, a pastor and author in Enid, Oklahoma, wrote a review in March 2014 of Hagee’s book. I appreciate a lot of his thoughts (not 100%, but close), and believe that his article is informative and thought-provoking, so I’d like to share it here:

…Mr. Hagee’s newest book Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change makes a case that the author may be suffering from a form of temporary insanity.  Christians who believe what John Hagee is proposing without thinking for themselves, could find themselves afflicted with the same disease.

Mr. Hagee believes that something terrible, but ultimately triumphant, is about to happen to the nation of Israel due to the four total lunar eclipses that will occur in the northern hemisphere during 2014 and 2015.  These four eclipses, called by astronomers a tetrad, occur on April 15, 2014, which is Jewish Passover; on October 8, 2014, which is the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles; on April 4, 2015, which is (again) Jewish Passover; and on September 28, 2015 which is (again) the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles. 

Contrary to what Hagee would have the reader believe, lunar eclipses aren’t that special. There are at least two to five lunar eclipses every year. Likewise, lunar tetrads (total lunar eclipses that occur six months apart, with no partial lunar eclipses in between) also occur frequently. There have been 62 tetrads since Christ. The last one was in 2003 and 2004, and there will be a total of 8 lunar tetrads in this century (2001 to 2100). 

Hagee writes that what is rare is that this lunar tetrad is occurring on Jewish holy days. Well, maybe. Since the times of Christ, there have been eight tetrads that have occurred on Jewish Passover and the Festival of TabernaclesThink about this for a moment, though. If the first total lunar eclipse of a tetrad happens to occur on Passover (15 Nissan on the Hebrew calendar), it is guaranteed that the second total lunar eclipse will occur the Festival of Tabernacles (15 Tishri on the Hebrew calendar) because the Hebrew calendar is lunar, and the Festival of Tabernacles is exactly six lunar months after the Festival of Passover.  So it is also guaranteed that the third and fourth lunar eclipses of a tetrad will occur on those same Hebrew festival daysthe following year.  Again, the lunar tetrad falling on Hebrew holidays is not as rare as Hagee would like you to believe. Here are the eight that have occurred since Christ. 

1. AD 162-163 
2. AD 795-796 
3. AD 842-843 
4. AD 860-861 
5. AD 1493-1494 
6. AD 1949-1950 
7. AD 1967-1968 
8. AD 2014-2015 

Hagee writes that every time a tetrad occurs on Jewish feast days something traumatic  and ‘world-changing’ happens to Israel. He gives three examples. First, in 1492 Spain expelled the Jews and Christopher Columbus discovered America, giving the Jews a place to go. Second, in 1948 Israel became a nation again. And third, in 1967 Israel won the Six Day War and captured Jerusalem. In a moment I will absolutely destroy Hagee’s conclusion about “traumatic things” happening to the Jews and the nation of Israel every time a lunar tetrad occurs on Hebrew holy days. For now, just think about this: Israel wasn’t even a nation the first six times a lunar tetrad occurred. 

Yet, Hagee concludes that something traumatic, but ultimately triumphant, is going to happen to Israel during 2014 and 2015, an event that ‘will change the course of world history.’ More to the point, Hagee believes the “rapture” will occur, Israel will go to war in a great battle called Armageddon, and Jesus Christ will return to earth because the prophet Joel said,

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31).

Now, while being kind to Mr. Hagee as a brother in Christ, and writing as one who also believes in the full inspiration of Scripture, I would like to show you why the premise of Hagee’s book is speculative at best, and pure lunacy at worst.

7 Reasons Why the Premise of John Hagee’s Four Blood Moons  Is Potential Lunacy

(1). Anytime Jewish literature describes the fall of a government or nation, apocalyptic language is used. This highly symbolic manner of writing, with language like, “the sun was darkened, the moon would not give her light, and the stars shall fall,” is the way the Hebrew prophets described how God would come in judgment upon a nation. The Old Testament refers to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC (Isaiah 13:10-13) in this manner. Likewise, Egypt’s collapse in 590 BC (Ezekiel 32:7-8) and Judah’s fall in 586 BC (Zephaniah 1:14-16) are described with this stellar apocalyptic language. The sun going dark and the moon turning to blood is biblical symbolic language describing the fall of a nation by the judgment of God, not literal astronomy. 

(2). John Hagee falsely calls the lunar tetrad occurring in 2014 and 2015 four blood moons. These four lunar eclipses are not blood moons at all! They are simply full moons that are eclipsed! Hagee wrongly calls them “blood moons” in order to bring Joel 2:31 into play and act as if Jesus is coming as Messiah over Israel after “the moon turns to blood.” Astronomers who hear Christians call the next four lunar eclipses “Blood Moons” will rightly think we are ignorant of astronomy. Truth be told, we are mostly ignorant of the Bible.

(3). When the prophet Joel wrote “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31), he was describing the judgment of God upon the nation of Israel for their rejection of His Son. National judgment on any people in rebellion to God is often described as “the dreadful day of the Lord.” Joel’s prophecy, referred to by Luke in Acts 2:20, was a prediction of the “great day of the Lord” against Israel, the day when God judged the nation by destroying Jerusalem, the Jewish Temple and scattered the people (AD 70). God brought to an end the Old Covenant, formally ushered in the New Covenant (agreement) where people of every nation, race, family and language group find peace with God through faith in the person and work of His Son. Listen to the great Hebrew linguist and Baptist theologian John Gill commentary on Acts 2:20 and Joel’s prophecy:

“The sun shall be turned into darkness”… as at the death of Christ, by a total eclipse of it: “and the moon into blood,” as at the opening of the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12) “before that great and notable day of the Lord come”: when he shall come in power and great glory, as God did a few years after this (AD 70), to take vengeance on the Jews, and destroy their nation, city, and temple; in which there was a display of his greatness, and power, and which was awful and terrible to them, as in Joel it is called “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (see Gill’s note on Matthew 24:29 also).

(4). Hagee attempts to prove that every time a tetrad occurs on Jewish holy days, something happens to the Jews and Israel. That’s simply not true for a couple of reasons. First, the Jews were scattered for nineteen centuries and Israel did not exist as a nation. NOTHING happened to the Jews or the nation of Israel during the years of the first six tetrads. Hagee tries to suggest that Spain “expelled the Jews” in 1492 and that was this was a ‘traumatic and terrible’ event. However, astronomers tell us that the actual tetrad occurred on Passover and Tabernacles in 1493 and 1494, not 1492. The Jews were expelled from Spain a full eighteen months before the first lunar eclipse of 1493/1494 tetrad even began. Second, there are only two tetrads that fall on Jewish holy days during Israel’s time as a nation (since 1948). Interestingly, Hagee makes the same dating mistake when he speaks of Israel’s “traumatic” war for independence. Israel was declared a nation and went to war in 1948, not during the lunar tetrad of 1949/1950. Hagee’s error of misstating the actual date of astronomical tetrads seems intentional. He must misstate the dates of previous tetrads in order to convince readers that his prophecies in Four Blood Moons are reliable. However, fudging facts to prove an argument is not scientific or ethical. 


(5). One of my favorite Bible series at Emmanuel was “Portraits of Christ: The Feasts and the Festivals of Israel.” I know enough about Jewish calendaring and the holy days of Old Covenant Israel to know that the priests watched the moon from the mountains of Israel to declare new moons (months), holy days, and other events by blowing the shofars. In other words, the moon was eyeballed by the priests of Israel! Interestingly, the lunar eclipse tetrad of 2014/2015 will not be visible from Israel! We Americans seem to think the world truly revolves around us. Smile. One would think if a special occurrence in the lunar cycle (a tetrad) were important to Israel, they could at least see it!

(6). Hagee’s use of the term “blood moons” for the upcoming lunar eclipse tetrad is utter deception. A tetrad is four successive total lunar eclipses with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months. Hagee’s book is about a tetrad, but he’s calling it four blood moons. There are NOT four blood moons occurring in 2014 and 2015. A blood moon can only occur in the fall. The twisting of science to conform to one’s alleged presuppositions of Joel 2:13 (the rapture, Armageddon, the return of Christ as Messiah of the nation of Israel, etc…) is pure deceit. Of course, this is done in order to convince people that “the moon turning to blood” before the “day of the Lord” (Jesus’ return), and that Jesus return is going to happen in 2014/2015. We’ve heard these same kinds of predictions on the return of Jesus in times past (88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988), and there will be additional false prophecies regarding the “return of Christ” in the future. What’s unfortunate is Christians never take the time to think through these silly predictions for themselves.

(7).  The great theologian John Brown once wrote: 

“A person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the  Christian economy, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens.” (John Brown, vol. 1, p. 170).  

Amen, John Brown. I stand with you in promoting Christ, His mercy and grace, and the incredible blessing of living in a world built on the principles He taught–the Christian economy as you call it.  Love your enemy. Do good to those who abuse you. Be merciful and kind, seek justice for the sake of others, forgive those who have wronged you, and remember the poor, the fatherless, and the widows. What kind of world would we live in if we all took seriously the establishment of the Christian economy in our spheres of influence?

I love the nation of Israel. It is a democracy in the middle of Islamic totalitarianism. [Adam’s note: I have reservations about this statement.] However, the only hope for Israel and this world is for individuals in these various nations to become followers of the true and eternal King, to learn to live at peace with all men, and to love others the same way Jesus has loved us. YetJohn Hagee, has declared

“When all is said and done, the flag of Israel will be flying over the walls of the city of Jerusalem when Messiah comes, and it’s going to be forever. And every nation that rises up in judgment against Israel God will punish and punish severely.”

Mr. Hagee, our time as followers of Jesus might be better spent telling others about the love of God in Christ, and not blindly supporting the nation of Israel. It seems that the New Covenant Scriptures attributes the judgment of God in terms of our treatment of His beloved Son. Do I trust Him, or do I despise Him? Do I love Him, or do I hate Him? It is far better to make a sinful soul at peace with God through a faith relationship in Jesus Christ than it is to muster support for the nation of Israel. Nations come and go. Kingdoms rise and fall. Christ’s Kingdom is the only eternal one. God calls those who love and trust His Son “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His special possession, so that we might declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light” (I Peter 2:9). 

We live in a changing world. Something catastrophic may happen to Israel and/or America during 2014/2015, but it’s not the result of blood moons or God’s judgment. God judges individuals on the basis of whether or not they trust in His Son. The only favored nation now is “the holy nation” of people from every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue who have received Christ as Lord and Savior. Our praises of Jesus to a people living in darkness are never enhanced by the proclamation of false prophecies. My hope is that this little blog might save just one person from the lunacy of Four Blood Moons

Why I Embrace Christian Zionism


There was a time when I was a stranger to Christian Zionism. I was on the outside, I was in the darkness, and I was very much missing out on the blessings found in Christian Zionism. Then God, in His mercy, added me to the family, and to the number of those who have embraced Christian Zionism for the last 2000 years. I haven’t been the same since!

The author of Hebrews described this great transformation about 1950 years ago to his audience at the time, members of the early church:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

I am a Christian Zionist because I am a Christian who has been brought to the heavenly Mount Zion, the one that is connected to the heavenly Jerusalem, to Jesus as our Mediator, to the body of Christ, and to the new covenant. This Zionism is glorious, and it’s all about the blessings and promises found in Jesus.

At the same time, I’m not a Christian Zionist. It all depends upon the definition, and one’s covenant perspective. I’m not a Christian Zionist if one goes by the following definitions:

[1] Zionists seek to support, facilitate and advance the return of the Jewish people and sovereignty to their native homeland–the land of Israel. Christians who see the regathering of the Jewish people in their land, as well as the establishment of the sovereign nation of Israel in 1948, as the literal fulfillment of biblical prophecy are known as “Christian Zionists”. Christian Zionists see the Jewish people as the “apple of God’s eye”–His Chosen people, and hold firm that God’s promises, established in the Abrahamic Covenant, remain in effect today.

Christian Zionists are “Biblical advocates” for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Furthermore, they stand in firm, diametrical opposition to land concessions of any sort which involve the forfeiture of the holy land of Israel as it is a sacred manifestation of the promises of God to the people He calls the “apple of His eye”. Christian Zionists also seek to stand with Israel, showing her unconditional support, solidarity and love whilst praying for her spiritual return to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who “foreknew” her.

Mikael Knighton, Christians Standing With Israel, 2007 (Source)

[2] “Zionism [is] the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel… Jews of all persuasions, left and right, religious and secular, joined to form the Zionist movement and worked together toward these goals. Disagreements led to rifts, but ultimately, the common goal of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland was attained. The term “Zionism” was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum.” (Jewish Virtual Library).

If Zionism is the belief in the Jewish people’s right to return to their homeland, then a Christian Zionist should simply be defined as a Christian who supports the Jewish people’s right to return to their homeland… The actual theology of Christian Zionism, also known as Biblical Zionism, supports the right of the Jewish people to return to their homeland on scriptural grounds… Christian Zionism is confirmed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures… Christian Zionism differs with Replacement Theology which teaches that the special relationship that Israel had with her God in terms of her national destiny and her national homeland has been lost because of her rejection of Jesus as Messiah, and therefore the Church has become the new Israel.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Vice-chairman of the Board, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, “Christian Zionism 101 – Giving Definition to the Movement.” (Source)

[3] “Christian Zionism is a belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy.”

Wikipedia, March 2014 (Source)

John Hagee, the founder of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), is recognized as a well-known leader in this movement known as Christian Zionism. CUFI’s theme verse is Isaiah 62:1. “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, til her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” (Source) It doesn’t take much digging around to understand how Hagee interprets this verse and applies it to the present day. Shhh – don’t tell him that righteousness and salvation have been shining out from Jesus and His church like a blazing torch for the last 2000 years!

Earthly or Heavenly Zion?

You may have already noticed how incredibly preoccupied the Christian Zionist movement is with earthly Zion (Israel). This movement is heavily invested in political/earthly Israel, political/earthly Jerusalem, and the old covenant. This is essentially where this movement goes off track.

Did you notice the very first word in the passage from Hebrews early in this post? It’s a mere conjunction, but it’s very important. It’s the word “but.”

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”

Through a basic language rule, we know that the author of Hebrews is contrasting something he said earlier. Let’s take a look at the previous few verses:

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling” (Hebrews 12:18-21).

What did he describe here? He described the scene at Mount Sinai where the law code and the old covenant was given to the people of Israel through Moses. The following contrast is shown:

Mount Sinai = physical (able to be touched), earthly, old covenant… Mount Zion = spiritual (not able to be touched), heavenly, new covenant…

In light of this passage, how does the Christian Zionist movement align itself? Where does it stand in light of what Paul says in Galatians 4:21-31?

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

The Christian Zionist movement has hijacked both terms that it carries, “Christian” and “Zionism.” For decades it has tried to tell the world that Christians are obsessed with a certain land, a certain country, a certain city, a certain race of people, and a Zion that is of this world. It has suppressed new covenant truths, such as God not showing favoritism to one race over others (e.g. Romans 10:12), and has promoted and financially supported injustice and ethnic cleansing, all in the name of Christianity and before the eyes of a watching world.

Biblical Zionism, according to Galatians 4 and Hebrews 12, is aligned with heavenly Jerusalem, Jesus as our Mediator, His church, His shed blood, transformed hearts, freedom, God’s promises, and the new covenant.

This is the Christian Zionism that I embrace.

Why I Abandoned Replacement Theology


I once believed in and taught “replacement theology,” but no one ever accused me of it at the time. Since turning away from replacement theology, however, I’ve faced this accusation numerous times.

What is replacement theology? Matt Slick, the president and founder of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM), says this on the subject:

Replacement theology is the teaching that the Christian church has replaced national Israel regarding the plan, purpose, and promises of God… [In] replacement theology the church has replaced Israel as the primary means by which the world is blessed by God’s work… Replacement theology is also known as supersessionism, which means that the Christian church has superseded Israel in God’s plan.

John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), said this in his 2006 book, “Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World”:

“Adherents of replacement theology believe that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel” (page 72)… “Replacement theology means that Israel failed, and God has replaced Israel with the church” (page165).

Ironically, when I formerly taught replacement theology, my thinking was very much in line with Slick and Hagee. I wasn’t replacing Israel with the church, but I sure was replacing Jesus with the modern nation of Israel. I would have agreed with graphics like this one I saw posted on Facebook by a fellow Christian a few weeks ago:

false interpretation of Genesis 12-3

SOURCE

This illustration epitomizes the replacement theology I’ve left behind. It takes the role belonging to Jesus and assigns it to a political nation whose population generally has nothing to do with Him. The New Testament is especially clear in showing that it’s through salvation in Jesus that the nations are blessed.

Consider the progression of Biblical revelation regarding the promise recorded in Genesis 12:3:

[1] It was first made by God to Abraham alone: “It will be through you [Abraham], that all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

[2] It was repeated again in Genesis 22:18, and this time expanded to include his offspring: “And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me.”

[3] In Acts 3:25-26, the apostle Peter, speaking to a Jewish crowd in Jerusalem, is clear in identifying Abraham’s offspring and the means of blessing for the nations:

And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up His servant, He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

It’s Jesus who is Abraham’s offspring, and He blesses the nations, beginning with the proclamation of the gospel to Jews in the first century.

[4] The apostle Paul, in Galatians 3:7-8, declared that Jesus’ followers are Abraham’s offspring too:

Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’”

According to the terms laid out by Matt Slick and John Hagee, the apostles Peter and Paul were guilty of teaching replacement theology. Yet according to Peter and Paul, when it comes to God’s plans, purpose, and promises, Slick and Hagee are seeking to replace Jesus and His church with a geopolitical nation located in the Middle East. It’s highly ironic that there are Christians who are comfortable with the idea of replacing Christ (their Savior) with a mere political nation, but are up in arms with those who allegedly replace Israel with the church.

Galatians 3, incidentally, goes on to make the point even more strongly that all of God’s promises are wrapped up first in Jesus and second in His followers. Paul says this in verse 16:

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”

Jesus is singularly the recipient of all of God’s promises, and He extends those promises to His followers (verse 29), who are all one in Him regardless of ethnicity, societal status, or gender (verse 28):

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Does Paul leave any room for those who are outside of Christ to be heirs of the promises? No, he doesn’t, not even for Jews who are outside of Christ. Neither did Peter (Acts 3:23), and neither did Jesus (e.g. Matthew 8:10-12Matthew 21:43John 8:31-47). As Paul says in II Corinthians 1:20, all of God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus. What are they outside of Jesus? Meaningless and void.

One of my questions for Slick and Hagee is this: If God’s plan, purpose, and promises are waiting for the nation of Israel to carry them out, then did God utterly abandon the world between 70 AD and 1948 when there was no nation of Israel? Or is it not possible that God’s plan, purpose, and promises continued to be carried out by true Israel, i.e., Jesus and His church?

Consider also what Paul said to the Roman church: “A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit…” (Romans 2:28-29). “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring… This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of Godbut the children of the promise are counted as offspring” (Romans 9:6-8).

The church is Israel, that is, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). This is only true because Jesus is true Israel, and we who belong to Christ are made one with Him. One more example of each of these points will suffice. First we will look at how Matthew takes what was once said about the nation of Israel, and applies it to Jesus. Then, finally, we will look at how Peter takes what was once said of the nation of Israel, and applies it to the church.

[1] In Exodus 4:22, God instructs Moses to say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is My firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let My son go that he may serve Me.”’” Then in Hosea 11:1-2 we read, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.” Who is Israel in these Old Testament texts? Clearly it’s that ancient nation, known as Israel, which was finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Yet look at how Matthew treats this same statement. To set the background, an angel has warned Joseph, the father of Jesus, to flee to Egypt with his family, because Herod would seek to destroy Jesus: “And he [Joseph] rose and took the child [Jesus] and His mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called My son’” (Matthew 2:14-15).

Only 40 verses into the New Testament, Matthew declares, by strong implication, that Jesus is true Israel.

[2] Compare what Moses spoke to “the people of Israel” (Exodus 19:3) to what Peter said was true of the church. It’s impossible to miss the parallel language, and I have letter-coded the parallels (A, B, and C):

To ancient national Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be [A] MY TREASURED POSSESSION among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to Me [B] A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and a [C] HOLY NATION…” (Exodus 19:5-6).

To the church: “But you are a chosen race[B] A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a [C] HOLY NATION, a people [A] FOR HIS OWN POSSESSIONthat you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Peter leaves no doubt that Christ’s followers are chosen for the same purpose for which the nation of Israel was once chosen.

I abandoned replacement theology because Jesus is irreplaceable, and I love His church.

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I first published this article on Hubpages on February 10, 2013.

Stephen Sizer Q & A at Taylor University


Early this morning, while preparing and eating breakfast before leaving for work, I was able to listen to Stephen Sizer field questions from students at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana regarding the 2010 film, “With God On Our Side.” As far as I can tell, this event took place on March 2, 2011. It was posted yesterday, however, on Sizer’s blog.

Taylor University is an interdenominational, evangelical Christian university founded in 1846, and presently has an enrollment of approximately 2600 students, according to its official website. A 2012 US News & World Report survey shows that Taylor has been the top college among 109 Midwest Regional Colleges for the last five years.

This video is 33 minutes long, and features questions from students regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Christian Zionism, Dispensationalism, John Hagee’s eschatology, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 37, the Samaritan woman that Jesus encountered, and more. I thought Stephen Sizer did a great job responding to these questions, and I believe that everyone can learn from this session.

I wrote a review of the film “With God On Our Side” which can be seen here.

John Hagee and Benny Hinn: Warmongering for the Wrong Kingdom


For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Those who follow Christ are citizens of God’s kingdom. One of its characteristics, says Paul, is peace. This truth and others concerning God’s kingdom seem to be completely lost on some of today’s most popular teachers, as we will see shortly. According to Jesus, His kingdom is also not earthly or political, not even observable by the human eye:

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst [or ‘in you’]” (Luke 17:20-21).

John the Baptist and Jesus both preached the nearness of God’s kingdom during their time, repeatedly saying that this kingdom was “at hand” (e.g. Matthew 3:2, 4:17). In Mark 1:15, Jesus even prefaced His statement by saying “The time is fulfilled.” Did His assurance on this point reflect any time statements in the Old Testament regarding the kingdom? The writings of the prophet Daniel are most helpful in this regard. Daniel 7:13-14 pictures Jesus ascending to His Father and receiving an everlasting kingdom that would never be destroyed (“…behold with the clouds of heaven there came One like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom…”).

At this point, Daniel looks to a subsequent time when the saints would soon possess this kingdom forever (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27). This would occur following a time when “the fourth beast” would make war with the saints “until the Ancient of Days came” (verses 21-22). Many say that this has not yet happened. We know, however, that Jesus promised to come [1] in His kingdom [2] in the glory of His Father [3] with His angels [4] and in judgment while some of His disciples (Matthew 16:27-28) and some people among His larger audience (Mark 8:34-9:1) were still alive, i.e. in the first century AD. This timing is further substantiated when we see that Jesus, in the Parable of the Tenants, told the religious leaders of Israel that the kingdom of God would be taken away from them and “given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43-45), i.e. the Church, or in Daniel’s words, “the saints of the Most High.” This was to take place in their generation, as Jesus outlined in great detail in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).

Yet another indication of this timing can be seen clearly earlier in the book of Daniel, when he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: “And in the days of those kings* the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people” (Daniel 2:44). [*Biblical scholars hold a virtual consensus that the four kingdoms in Daniel’s vision were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Since Rome was destroyed in 476 AD, we know that, for this prophecy to be true, the kingdom was set up before that time.] A first century fulfillment fits; a 21st century fulfillment doesn’t.

So the meaning of all this is that God’s kingdom is now fully present (and has been for many centuries), it is spiritual and not physical, and one of its characteristics is peace. Similarly, God’s people now belong to Jerusalem, not the earthly one, but rather the heavenly one. Observe what the author of Hebrews wrote to his first century audience:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” (Hebrews 12:22). This truth does not await a future fulfillment, but again has been a present reality for the body of Christ for many centuries. An overview of Hebrews 12:18-28 equates the heavenly Jerusalem with [1] the new covenant (verse 24) and [2] a kingdom that cannot be shaken (verse 28), and contrasts it with the old covenant given through Moses at Mount Sinai (verses 18-21), represented by things that were about to be shaken and removed at that time (verses 26-27). This was accomplished during Israel’s great tribulation (67-70 AD), at which time God’s kingdom was also fully established and set up. This same comparing/contrasting of the two covenants (new and old), and the two Jerusalems (earthly and heavenly) can be seen in Paul’s great allegory of two women (Galatians 4:21-31). Most interestingly, two women are also pictured in the book of Revelation, [1] the adulterous harlot known as “Babylon the Great” and [2] the bride of Christ. One is thrown out, the other is chosen forever. The striking similarities between Galatians 4, Hebrews 12, and Revelation regarding the covenants, Jerusalem (above and below), and God’s kingdom are no coincidence.

The blessings of God belong to those who are His by faith in His Son Jesus, and not according to ethnicity, another truth lost on some of today’s most popular teachers who insist that ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people. Paul couldn’t have been more clear about this (e.g. Galatians 3:16-29).

Enter two of America’s most influential teachers and televangelists, John Hagee and Benny Hinn. In this incredibly sad and disgusting video clip, John Hagee, hosted by Benny Hinn, openly prays (see the 1:05 mark) for God to lead the United States into war against “the enemies of righteousness” (apparently Iran), for the alleged benefit of Israel:

Keeping in mind that peace is one of the traits of God’s kingdom, recall Jesus’ famous and powerful words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). PJ Miller well points out the excellent commentary on this verse by Albert Barnes (in 1834):

Those who strive to prevent contention, strife, and war; who use their influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent lawsuits and hostilities in families and neighborhoods. Every man may do something of this; and no man is more like God than he who does it. There ought not to be unlawful and officious interference in that which is none of our business; but without any danger of acquiring this character, every man has many opportunities of reconciling opposing parties. Friends, neighbors, people of influence, lawyers, physicians, ministers of the gospel, may do much to promote peace. And it should be taken in hand in the beginning. “The beginning of strife,” says Solomon, “is like the letting out of water.”

I’m not sure if it’s possible to more blatantly contradict Jesus’ teaching on being peacemakers than what we see in this video. Furthermore, Iran should not be considered the enemy of God’s people who live in America or Britain. Yet, even if we could (hypothetically) say that Iran fills this role, we come face to face with these very powerful words of Jesus, also found in the Sermon on the Mount:

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Unless I’ve missed something in the news, how is Hagee so confident that the United States WILL go to war? He says this twice, at the 1:33 mark and again at the 1:55 mark in this video. The way he prayed this “prayer,” one would think he was a close presidential advisor equipped with key inside information that most don’t yet have. His use of the phrase “against the enemies of righteousness” implies that the whole of the United States is righteous and outsiders are not. The angels of heaven even allegedly go before the US army, and Britain’s army as well (2:00 mark).

Just as John Hagee seems to care nothing about the Christian Palestinian population (instead “favoring” mostly unbelieving Jews**), he also implicates the Christians in Iran with his warmongering schemes that would result in their demise, if he could have his way. According to some, Iran is quietly experiencing its greatest revival ever in terms of people coming to Christ:

John Hagee is warmongering instead of seeking peace, and he’s doing so for the wrong kingdom, one that is earthly instead of heavenly, visible instead of spiritual. The Christian Zionist movement he so openly represents is also deeply concerned with (in a distorted way) the wrong Jerusalem, again the earthly one instead of the heavenly one. My hope is that blatant displays of disobedience to God’s word like this will cause even more people to question and turn away from Christian Zionist theology.

John Hagee and others who hold to futurist, dispensationalist teachings tend to believe and proclaim that this generation is ripe for worldwide judgment, that we’re on the precipice of great doom and destruction and decline, that we’ll soon see the end of world history, etc. I believe this generation is pivotal for reasons that are quite the opposite. Many are awakening to the truth that God’s kingdom is already fully established, and that His people are called to advance it in peaceful and spiritually powerful ways. If this generation of God’s people turns away from the doomsday message of teachers like John Hagee, and instead embraces the truth of the New Testament and walks in the realities of the New Covenant established by Christ, great things can happen in the near future and in generations ahead of us. May it be.

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**John Hagee, who many might think deeply cares for Jews, raises millions of dollars to bring them to Israel, where, according to his teaching, two (2) out of every three (3) Jews will one day soon be slaughtered in a tribulation that is greater than anything the Jews experienced in 67-70 AD or during the Holocaust of the last century.

The Synagogue of Satan Revealed (Good Teaching)


The Synagogue of Satan Revealed (Good Teaching)

By Adam Maarschalk (October 16, 2010)

Earlier today I came across some excellent teaching at Cathy’s Peacemakers Blog (http://giannina.wordpress.com/) which I’d like to share here. It’s in the form of a 14-minute video put together by Bill White, her husband, whose own website (http://soulrefuge.org/) I have found to be most excellent. Here’s the source for the teaching I’d like to point to. Following this video, I’d like to highlight some of Bill’s excellent points:

0:10 mark – The term “synagogue of Satan” is used twice in the book of Revelation (2:9 and 3:9), both times spoken by Jesus Himself “to describe a group of people who claim to be Jews but they were not.” [If interested, we covered both of these passages in our study of Revelation, here and here, expressing the opinion that these were references to unbelieving Jews who were the chief persecutors of the Church prior to 70 AD.]

2:45 – Today the Lord is also very well aware of who in any church congregation are genuine believers and who are fake.

3:00 – Jesus came to His own (the Jewish people), but they did not receive Him (John 1:11). Yet all who receive Him and believe on His name are given the power to become the sons of God (John 1:12). Most Jews, like most Gentiles, reject Christ.

3:52 – The modern and popular teaching that the Church is God’s second choice, that the Kingdom is postponed, and that the Church is a mere parenthesis in God’s plan is hogwash and dispensational heresy. The majority of the Jewish people who claim to know God have no blood atonement. There’s no temple, no tabernacle, no blood sacrifices, and therefore they are missing the blood atonement which is necessary for sins to be forgiven. The exception, of course, are those Jews who do believe in Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

4:32 – Don’t buy the teaching that ethnic Israel is God’s chosen people. “The term ‘chosen’ is never used to describe the Jewish people outside of Christ in the New Covenant… The term is only used in relation to those who believe in Jesus Christ.”

5:10 – John the Baptist told the Jews of his day that they could not automatically make any claim that Abraham was their father (Matthew 3:9), for God could even raise up children for Abraham from stones. The Abrahamic covenant is indeed everlasting, but it’s only everlasting in Jesus Christ. No one, not even Jews, can say they are a part of the Abrahamic covenant in any way if they reject Christ. To reject Christ is to reject “the whole package.”

6:05 – The “synagogue of Satan” was Jewish by nature, but God’s Word was not abiding in them. John was not impressed with their Jewish heritage, as many are today in the Church world.

7:15 – The Old Testament Scriptures testify of Jesus (e.g. John 5:39-40), but the majority of the Jewish people, according to Jesus, would not come to Him in order to have life.

9:15 – Jesus told the unbelieving Jews of His day that they were of their father the devil (John 8:44). Elsewhere, He referred to them as vipers/snakes, just as John the Baptist had done.

10:08 – The apostle Paul declared that Jews are not those who are Jews outwardly, or through circumcision, but those who are Jews inwardly through the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28-29).

11:02 – Abraham was promised to be the heir of the world. This was not limited to physical Israel (Romans 4:13). Christ is the promised Seed of Abraham, and “only true believers in Jesus Christ [are] counted as the true seed (descendants) of Abraham (Galatians 3:29).” In contradiction to these truths, John Hagee has taught that “Jewish people have a relationship with God through the Law of God…as given through Moses.” In other words, says Hagee, as long as they live in light of the Torah, they are in covenant with God. Yet the Bible makes it clear that all unbelievers, Jew or Gentile, have a covenant with death and the wrath of God abides on them (e.g. Mark 16:15-16, John 3:18, John 3:36, John 8:24).

13:00 – By extension, the synagogue of Satan today is “a humongous ‘spiritual unseen synagogue’ …made up of people who claim to know God, but they do not know Him… Beware the synagogue of Satan.”

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.

My Desire for Ethnic Cleansing is More Righteous Than Yours


My Desire for Ethnic Cleansing is More Righteous than Yours

By Adam Maarschalk (June 11, 2010)

What does former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee have in common with White House reporter Helen Thomas? Not much in terms of their political leanings. As we will see momentarily, though, both have left their mark on history by calling for the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of people. Huckabee targeted the Palestinian people with his remarks, while Thomas took aim at the Jewish people. Their remarks, less than two years apart, are quite similar. Yet, remarkably, one had the nerve last weekend to lash out at the other.

Is there a difference between being anti-Palestinian and being anti-Semitic? Is one more righteous than the other? Is the ethnic cleansing of one group of people justifiable, while the ethnic cleansing of another group of people is not? First, let’s consider Mike Huckabee’s analysis of the remarks made by Helen Thomas, which he rightfully saw as inappropriate, and then we’ll take a look at similar remarks made by Huckabee himself in 2008:

VIDEO SOURCE

Here’s a quick summary of what we see in this video:

[1] Mike Huckabee, hosting a segment on Fox News, cuts away to a video clip of Senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas being asked for her comments on Israel. She utters the now famous words, “Tell them [the Jews] to get the hell out of Palestine.” She states that the Jews have occupied the land of Palestine, and they should therefore “go home [to] Poland, Germany, and America and everywhere else [they came from].”

[2] Huckabee compares Helen’s words to Mexicans living in America being asked to go back to Mexico, to a KKK member suggesting that all African Americans go back to Africa, and to Native Americans asking that all white people go back to where they came from.

PHOTO SOURCE (Primary source unknown)

[3] Huckabee then acknowledges that Helen Thomas has since apologized for her remarks, but calls her apology “pretty lame.” This, by the way, is the apology she posted on her website:

“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”

[4] Huckabee calls her original comments “outrageous, anti-semitic, racist, indefensible…”

[5] Huckabee declares that the Jews living in Israel “are home.” To emphasize his point, he adds, “Read Genesis 15, Exodus 23, Numbers 34. That’s why they are where they are. Helen, I’ve got a suggestion. Maybe it’s time for you to go home.”

[6] Huckabee says that Thomas, because of her comments, can no longer be an objective journalist, and she ought to be soundly rebuked by “her pals in the press corps.”

However, as Raw Story author Stephen C. Webster points out, Huckabee has his own “outrageous” comments to answer for:

There’s a saying about how people who live in glass houses should take care to avoid throwing stones. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee appears to be ignoring that age-old advice, taking several moments…to attack veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas over her opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict — in spite of his own remarkably similar comments on Palestinians.

Webster points out that Huckabee shared the following thoughts in August 2008 with World Net Daily:

Because of the limited footprint of real estate they have, it’s not practical for Israel to give up any land. The two-state solution is no solution, but will cause only problems… It’s unimaginable. The city [of Jerusalem] must remain under Jewish sovereignty… There is only one place on earth where the Jewish people could have a homeland that is consistent with their roots, whereas the Palestinians can create their homeland in many other places in the Middle East, outside Israel.

Huckabee also expressed strong support for moving Jews into Arab-majority neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Huckabee made these statements while on tour with Jerusalem Reclamation Project, “a pro-settler group seeking to bolster the Jewish presence in traditionally Arab east Jerusalem,” according to AP News journalist Steven Gutkin. On that same tour, Huckabee added this opinion:

The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic.

In other words, says Huckabee, the non-Jewish population currently living in Israel ought to be removed from that land. If carried out, this would be known as “ethnic cleansing,” defined this way by the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

The expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity

A good case can be made that this is precisely what has been taking place in the present Israel-Palestinian conflict. One of the talking points of the Zionist cause, also taken up by Christian Zionism (Huckabee belongs to this camp), is that Palestine was largely uninhabited prior to the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948. This reflects the controversial statement of Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl, made at a landmark conference in Switzerland in 1897:

[Palestine is] a land without a people, waiting for a people without a land.

Many Zionists today also spin the propaganda that the vast majority of Palestinians today are recent arrivals to the land now known as Israel. This is simply not true. The land has been inhabited for many centuries. Many Palestinians today can legitimately attest that their grandparents, great-grandparents, and earlier ancestors were born in the region known as Palestine. Documented sources on Wikipedia, for example, state the following:

According to Ottoman [empire] statistics studied by Justin McCarthy, the population of Palestine in the early 19th century was 350,000, in 1860 it was 411,000 and in 1900 about 600,000, of which 94% were Arabs. In 1914 Palestine had a population of 657,000 Muslim Arabs, 81,000 Christian Arabs, and 59,000 Jews. McCarthy estimates the non-Jewish population of Palestine at 452,789 in 1882, 737,389 in 1914, 725,507 in 1922, 880,746 in 1931 and 1,339,763 in 1946.

If these numbers are true, using the given variables, we can construct a chart which looks like this:

YEAR ARABS % JEWS % TOTAL
Early 1800’s 329,000 94% 21,000 6% 350,000
1860 386,000 94% 25,000 6% 411,000
1882 452,000 94% 29,000 6% 481,000
1900 564,000 94% 36,000 6% 600,000
1914 737,389 ** 93% 59,000 7% 796,000
1922 725,507 N/A N/A N/A N/A
1931 880,746 N/A N/A N/A N/A
1946 1,339,763 N/A N/A N/A N/A

**89% Muslim, 11% Christian

According to official census reports for the British Mandate for Palestine, the following chart reflects the religious demographics of Palestine in 1922, 1931, and 1942 (the figures from 1942 being only estimates because of “Arab and Jewish illegal immigration” at the time):

YEAR MUSLIMS % JEWS % CHRISTIANS % TOTAL
1922 589,177 78.3% 83,790 11.1% 71,464 9.5% 752,048
1931 759,700 73.5% 174,606 16.9% 88,907 8.6% 1,033,314
1942 995,292 61.4% 484,408 29.9% 127,184 7.9% 1,620,005

Is a Palestinian homeland, then, “virtually unrealistic,” as Mike Huckabee says? Was it unrealistic in centuries past? On the contrary, there is evidence that a scandalous plan has been hatched during the last 120 years or so to replace the Palestinian homeland with a Jewish one by means of ethnic cleansing. For example, in 1921, the active chairman of the Zionist Commission, Dr. Eder, said the following to British government officials:

There can only be one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Arabs, but a Jewish predominance as soon as the numbers of that race are sufficiently increased.

It’s disheartening, tragic actually, that Christian Zionists have aligned themselves with Zionists who have been advocating ethnic cleansing since the beginning of their movement. Ironically, Christian Zionists have stood in complete solidarity with non-Christian Jews who have been responsible for making homeless, or even killing, Palestinian Christians (along with Palestinian Muslims).

One very important thing to remember is that not all Jews are Zionists. Many, in fact, strongly oppose Zionism.

One Palestinian Christian whose family was hunted, tricked, made homeless, and temporarily split up (and whose entire village was destroyed) is Elias Chacour, the author of “Blood Brothers.” Elias was 9 years old when Israel became a nation in 1948, at which time these things and much more took place. In his personal experience, prior to this turn of events, his family and their fellow villagers had lived peacefully with their Jewish neighbors, all of whom were disgusted when these things took place. Following the Zionist invasion, everything changed. Naturally speaking, Elias has every reason to be bitter, as many more not-yet-mentioned injustices took place against him, his family, and many of the Palestinian people he knew. But Elias’ heart has been transformed by Christ, and today, despite having been educated in the West, he voluntarily lives among his people, ministering and seeking for ways to see Jews and Palestinians reconciled to each other. His story and his message is one that desperately needs to be heard, especially by anyone who is enamored with Christian Zionism. His powerful book, “Blood Brothers,” is available on Amazon.com for as little as $3.50 (used), or $4.85 (new). I highly, highly recommend it:

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Brothers-Elias-Chacour/dp/0800793218/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276242746&sr=8-1

Many were deeply shocked and/or angered last week at the statements made by Helen Thomas regarding the Jewish people living in Israel, and Thomas has since stepped down from her position. Let there be no misunderstanding—I’m not defending what she said. Yet it’s revealing, at least in the US, that when similar statements are made regarding the Palestinian people (whether as harsh-sounding as Helen’s or not), there seems to be much less of an outcry. It’s even more shameful when Christian pastors and leaders articulate such things and hundreds of thousands in the evangelical Christian community shout “Amen!” Mike Huckabee is not alone in the sentiments that he holds.

In May 2002, House Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey (Texas) said on MSNBC’s highly-rated Hardball program that he was “not content to give up any part of Israel for the purpose of a Palestinian state.” He added that “there are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land, soil, and property and opportunity to create a Palestinian state…I happen to believe that the Palestinians should leave… I believe that Israel is the state for the Jewish people.” Armey, in this interview, was given numerous chances to clarify his stance, and to back down from his hard-line rhetoric, but he stuck to his guns. His belief was that the West Bank should have no Palestinian presence whatsoever. The transcript of this entire conversation can be seen here.

Megachurch Pastor John Hagee, the founder of the organization Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has been even more extreme. As a political lobbyist on behalf of Zionism, Hagee utilizes his followers to push the American government to consistently side with Israel, even if it means supporting unjust and inhumane policies toward the minorities within her borders. This brief video clip from the documentary film, “With God On Our Side,” illustrates just how extreme John Hagee is when it comes to disparaging the Palestinian people in favor of Zionist ambitions:

Video Source: “The Rebranding of Christians United for Israel (Christian Zionism)” by Porter Speakman, Jr.

In this video clip, we hear John Hagee say these words:

God, in the book of Genesis, takes Abraham out and says, “I’m going to give you this land, to your seed forever.” All of that land around Israel, that we’re now saying the international nations have control of, have no more control of it than you control the moon. That property was given to them by a mandate from God Himself, and it belongs to them. The Palestinians have absolutely no claim to it, not ever. It is the greatest historical fraud in the history of humanity.

These are strong words, but they are devoid of compassion. The implications of saying that the Palestinian people have never had a claim to this land are huge. Among other things, it says to many Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians alike that their forced removal from their homes was justifiable. They deserved such brutal treatment, including being made refugees and witnessing the murder of friends and family, because they dared to squat illegally on the land once occupied by ancient Israel prior to the destruction of that nation in 70 AD. It’s not a travesty that 700,000 or so Palestinians were made refugees in 1948, or that 4 million or so have been made refugees since that time. No, this was their due for standing in the way of the rightful occupation of this land by the Jewish people.

Hagee’s comments go even deeper than this, though. He mentioned “all of that land around Israel,” saying that it also belongs to the Jewish people forever. It seems that he would justify further ethnic cleansing, and perhaps even genocide, if that’s what it would take to get this land into the hands of Zionists. Stephen Webster addresses this same question with regard to the statements made by Mike Huckabee, but it applies just as well to what Hagee is saying here:

Liberal watchdog blog Think Progress added: “Moreover, Huckabee’s suggestion that the Bible be used to justify international boundaries and dictate foreign policy seems to be both a violation of the separation of church and state, and dangerously out of touch with reality. Would Huckabee endorse expanding Israel to cover the entire area God promised to Abraham — which would stretch from ‘the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates,’ including much of modern-day Egypt, Jordan, and Syria — and kick out the local populations along the way?”

In future posts we will look more deeply into the theological side of things as it regards Zionism, and the land promises in particular. In order to not leave the claims of Huckabee and Hagee unaddressed, though, I’ll say a few things for now on this subject. God did indeed promise a great deal of land (Genesis 15:18-21) to Abraham and his offspring “forever”:

And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

Let us take note that the covenant of fleshly circumcision was also said to be forever/eternal/perpetual [see, for example, Genesis 17:9-14, and note the language used]. The same was said regarding numerous temple-based rituals [Exodus 28:43, 29:28, 31:16-17, 40:15; Leviticus 3:17, 6:18, 22, 7:34, 36]. How does the New Testament deal with the non-land covenants/statutes which were said to be eternal? Should the “eternal” land promises be dealt with in a different manner? If so, why? Were they ever said to be conditional? Are we not heirs of a better “land” under the New Covenant? The land promise was first articulated to Abraham, but what city did he look forward to possessing? The answer can be found here:

For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God… These [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.] all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland… But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:10-16; cf. Hebrews 12:22-24 and Galatians 4:21-31).

Furthermore, all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ, and this is true in particular of the promises made to Abraham:

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ… And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:16, 29).

This fits what the apostle Paul says elsewhere (parenthetical notes added):

For not all who are descended from [natural] Israel belong to [spiritual] Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his [natural] offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring (Romans 9:6-8; cf. Romans 2:28-29).

CONCLUSION

If the remarks made by Helen Thomas cause us indignation, but the remarks made by Mike Huckabee, Dick Armey, and John Hagee only make us shrug our shoulders (or, even worse, bring out agreement in us), we have some questions to ask ourselves. Some searching of our hearts is in order, not to mention the cleaning up of our theology. Do we (those of us who claim to be God’s people) love the Palestinian people just as much as we love the Jewish people? Do we see that neither group ought to be subjected to ethnic cleansing in any form? Let us have the heart of God, and the mind of Christ, in these things.

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.

A post on the teachings and agenda of John Hagee is still forthcoming. It’s quite a project, so I allowed this post to “jump the queue” in the meantime.

A Night to Honor Israel – And to Dishonor Jesus and His Church


A Night to Honor Israel – And to Dishonor Jesus and His Church

by Adam Maarschalk (May 23, 2010)

Last Tuesday night (May 18th) a friend and I headed out for what I thought was one of CUFI’s “A Night to Honor Israel” events. On the way there we imagined ourselves in the midst of several thousand fans waving Israeli and American flags. The crowd would be bleeding with unquestioning support for the nation of Israel and all her political policies. It turns out that the flags weren’t there, and neither were the thousands, but the unquestioning support certainly was. And the political nation of Israel was most definitely honored above all else, including Jesus, who didn’t receive one single mention the entire evening. What my friend and I ended up attending was more like a regional information meeting led by John T. Somerville, the Central Regional Coordinator for CUFI (Christians United for Israel). CUFI is a large organization which was founded in 2006 by San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John Hagee.

The event was held at Living Word Christian Center, the premier “health and wealth” (prosperity gospel) church in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. LWCC is pastored by Mac Hammond, who is also on the Executive Board of CUFI and is their Region 8 Director (for Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin). The church draws speakers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar (yes, that’s his real last name), and Jesse Duplantis, as evidenced by this poster near the entrance to the massive lobby:

The Ahmadinejad bashing began almost right away, my first clue that this evening’s focus would be as much political as anything else. The speaker, John Somerville, listed off the evils of Iran, giving special attention to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s various meetings with foreign diplomats. We were told that each and every time he meets with national leaders he tries to sell them his “let’s wipe Israel off the map” agenda (I certainly acknowledge this agenda as evil). Somerville then predictably invoked Zechariah 2:8, which reads: “…for he who touches you [Jerusalem] touches the apple of His [God’s] eye.” Somerville declared, his voice rising, that the nation of Israel always has been and always will be the apple of God’s eye, His most precious possession. Those who would oppose Israel in any way will incur God’s wrath. As proof of this transgression on the part of national leaders, Somerville put up this ingenious slide picture of different leaders putting a finger up in the air:

Political leaders allegedly “sticking their fingers in God’s eye”

Never mind how easy it was to locate a picture of John Hagee with his own finger extended upward…

If Somerville is correct in his interpretation of Zech. 2:8 (and Hagee as well, for he teaches the same thing), who was the apple of God’s eye from 70 AD until 1948 when there was no nation of Israel? Did nearly 19 centuries pass without God having a special possession to call His own? This time period covers much of the present church age, so what is the Church in God’s eyes? Chopped liver? On the other hand, this is the testimony of the New Testament regarding the Church, which is made up of believing Jews and Gentiles alike: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

Somerville, on Tuesday night, voiced his disagreement with the apostle Peter, by announcing numerous times that the Jews are God’s chosen people. He never did clarify what they are presently chosen for, but one curious thing to note was that whenever this phrase appeared in one of his slides it was always capitalized (“Chosen People”). This made me wonder something. If he were to acknowledge that the body of Christ is God’s chosen people (he did not), would capital letters again be used? Somehow I doubt it. His main proof text for his assertion that the Jews are God’s chosen people was Isaiah 65:9. This verse reads, “I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and from Judah possessors of My mountains; My chosen shall possess it, and My servants shall dwell there.”

Ah, this verse appears to speak of the land. So is this a clue as to why Somerville believes the Jewish people are presently chosen? “Israel is the only piece of real estate that God calls His own,” Somerville thundered next. And God has given the land of modern Israel (and more) to the Jewish people forever, we were repeatedly told, so woe to anyone who would get in the way of them possessing it. This apparently includes the Palestinian people who happened to be born there, and whose ancestors had lived there and cultivated the land for a long time. Apparently we can chalk it up to mere collateral damage that around 70,000 Palestinian men, women, and children were slaughtered in 1948; around 700,000 made homeless that same year; and 4 million or so have been dispossessed of their land ever since. The land in red on the map below, we were told, rightfully belongs to the Jewish people. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was “the high-water mark of the British Empire,” Somerville added. Transjordan made up 77% of the (partially) resulting British Mandate, but the British “gave it away in violation of Genesis 12:3 [see below] and Joel 3:2.” The British soon lost their vast empire, according to Somerville, as a direct result of leaving most of “the Promised Land” in the hands of the Arabs:

Somerville emphasized that when God said the land belonged to Israel forever, He meant it. We will address this question in depth in future posts. For now, let us take note that the covenant of fleshly circumcision was also said to be forever/eternal/perpetual [see, for example, Genesis 17:9-14, and note the language used]. The same was said regarding numerous temple-based rituals [Exodus 28:43, 29:28, 31:16-17, 40:15; Leviticus 3:17, 6:18, 22, 7:34, 36]. How does the New Testament deal with the non-land covenants/statutes which were said to be eternal? Should the “eternal” land promises be dealt with in a different manner? If so, why? Were they ever said to be conditional? Are we not heirs of a better “land” under the New Covenant? The land promise was first articulated to Abraham, but what city did he look forward to possessing (hint –> Hebrews 11:10-16)? All of this and more we will deal with later, Lord willing.

Somerville made it very clear that two big “no nos” are [1] attempting to divide the land of Israel and/or Jerusalem, and [2] preventing the Jewish people from coming back to the land God promised them (for which Britain was especially guilty, he said). We were taken to Joel 3:1-2, “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of My people and My heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up My land.”[1] This text, we were told, is proof positive that America is in deep danger because of President Obama’s lack of pro-Israel policies and his non-red carpet treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu in recent months.

Apologies for the blurry photo. It says: “… …” (Zech. 2:8). Is the US sticking its finger in God’s eye? Is the US being brought under the judgment of God? Is there still time and any hope for our nation?

All night long, the only verses referenced or quoted were from the Old Testament. This was no surprise to me, for the New Testament has much to say in direct response to the many false doctrines of Christian Zionism. Those who belong to Christ today are in the New Covenant, but one wouldn’t have known it from being present at this event. Somerville almost broke from this pattern, though, by going to Matthew 25:40. This verse flashed briefly on the screen in front of us before he decided to skip it, but I took note of what was highlighted in that verse. It’s from the famous Sheep and the Goats passage: “And the King will answer them, Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” I’m all too familiar with how John Hagee treats this passage, so I will go ahead and assume that Somerville (as a key representative of his organization) would have treated it the same. In addition to seeing this as a future judgement, they see Christ’s brothers in this passage as the Jewish people, simply because Jesus was an ethnic Jew. Therefore, God will one day judge all people based on how they related to the Jewish people. What is John Hagee’s creepy application of this passage (Matthew 25:31-46)?

It is important to be right on the Israel question when you consider that being wrong brings you under the curse of God and headed for eternal, everlasting fire with the devil and his angels. Israel is not a “take it or leave it” subject. It is a life and death matter-eternal life!

However, Jesus didn’t consider His true brothers to be those who happened to share His same ethnicity, nor even those who happened to be born of His mother:

Then His mother and His brothers came to Him, but they could not reach Him because of the crowd. And He was told, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He answered them, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).

Somerville apparently believes that all nations are in some sort of a covenant with God today, saying that they are all duty-bound to honor the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:3– “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Somerville’s immediate application of this verse was to instruct us to all “go find a Jew tonight and bless him,” and God would then be obligated to bless us in return. I’m not sure if he expected us to go out knocking on doors, asking people if they were Jewish, but it was 9:30 pm by the time we got out of there and…well, I guess I failed to receive my guaranteed blessing that night. On a related note, CUFI’s purpose was expressed on another slide: “to fulfill God’s Biblical Mandate to bless Abraham’s descendants.” Clearly we were meant to understand that it’s Abraham’s physical descendants who we are to go out of our way to bless. How does this idea stand up, though, to the scrutiny of the New Testament?

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10).

The apostle Paul actually cites Genesis 12:3 in Galatians 3:8. Let’s see what he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had to say on the matter. First, he said that by this promise “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham” (this also agrees with Peter’s interpretation in Acts 3:25-26). Then Paul goes on to state something which John Hagee and others in this movement very badly need to embrace as truth: “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to One, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). Going on a little bit further, we come to even more truth regarding those who are counted as Abraham’s offspring today: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:28-29).

In Christ, there are no benefits that God grants to males which He will not also grant to females, and there are no benefits or promises that He grants to ethnic Jews which He will not also grant to ethnic non-Jews who trust in Christ. All of God’s promises are accessible only through faith (Romans 4:13-18). “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him” (Romans 10:12). “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15; see also Gal. 5:6 and John 8:39-47).

The saddest part of the evening occurred when Somerville turned the microphone over to a Jewish community leader (a Rabbi?) who was clearly not a follower of Christ. This man, who didn’t hear a trace of the gospel that evening, emphasized the common ground between Jewish Zionists and Christian Zionists, much to the delight of the crowd. It only got worse when he proceeded to define what a “righteous Christian” is: one who [1] does what is right regarding the nation of Israel and the Jewish people [2] rejects “replacement theology,” and [3] believes that all the promises God gave to Abraham apply today to his physical descendants, the Jewish race. Unbelievably, this definition of a “righteous Christian” received applause from the crowd, even though it was implied that all Christians who fail to meet these three criteria are unrighteous. The Biblical definition of righteousness has everything to do with Jesus and His work on the cross. It’s impossible to be a genuine follower of Christ without being made righteous, and to be without righteousness is to be without Christ. The deceived supporters of CUFI fell for the lies spoken by a man who has no hope of ever being found righteous unless God draws him to Himself and he places his trust in Christ for salvation. Tragically, that hope was kept hidden from him that night.

We were pushed hard to join more than 175,000 other Christians in signing “The Israel Pledge.” In fact, the crowd was asked to repeat this pledge out loud together (my friend and I remained silent, although we could certainly agree with point #2):

The Israel Pledge We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right. We maintain that there is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks.

We pledge to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary until the attacks stop and they are finally living in peace and security with their neighbors.

A few days ago, Jews for Jesus’ founder Moishe Rosen passed away. He left behind a heartfelt letter in which he expressed his concerns regarding certain trends today:

As I go, one of the things that concerns me deeply is how much misunderstanding there is among believers. I never thought I would live to see the day when those who know the Lord and are born again were supporting the efforts of rabbis who, frankly, not only don’t know Christ, but don’t want to know Him.

To be an honest ministry, it can only come from the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit can only indwell those who have the new birth and are born again. Therefore, I would urge you to think very seriously before you support any “ministry” that involves Jewish people and doesn’t actually bring the gospel to the Jews… Within Judaism today, there is no salvation because Christ has no place within Judaism.

Source: http://jewsforjesus.org/(HT: PJ Miller)

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.


[1] In a future post I hope to interact with Joel 3:1-2, which is often used today by Christian Zionists to say that God will judge all nations in the future based on how much or how little favor they granted to the nation of Israel which was founded in 1948. Briefly, though, it may be of interest to note that both John Wesley and Matthew Henry saw in this passage a two-fold application: [1] to the time period following Judah’s defeat at the hand of the Babylonians in 586 BC, and [2] to the Church in this present age, in terms of God ultimately vindicating His people who experience persecution and martyrdom for their faith.

“With God On Our Side”: A Documentary on Christian Zionism


FILM REVIEW: “With God On Our Side” (includes video previews)

by Adam Maarschalk: April 29, 2010

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him” (Romans 10:12).

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:4-6).

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, ‘It is through Isaac that your children will be reckoned.’ In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (Romans 9:6-8).

These three passages are only a sampling of New Testament passages demonstrating that “the playing field” is leveled because of Christ’s work on the cross, and that in the kingdom of God ethnic descent counts for absolutely nothing. Saving faith in Christ is required to have any stake whatsoever in the promises of God (see especially Galatians 3:7-9, 16, 29; Romans  4:13-16, 22-25; Galatians 5:6, 6:15-16). How does this New Covenant truth play out, though, in 21st century American Christianity? Do we believe it? Do we teach it? Do we practice it? Or do we teach instead that God favors one ethnic group over all others, and that He holds out promises for that one ethnic group which He withholds from others? The sad fact is that there is a popular movement which indeed strongly advocates this type of partiality and favoritism. This movement is known as Christian Zionism, an offshoot of Dispensationalism, the school of thought invented by John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s and popularized by the 1909 publishing of the Scofield Reference Bible.

Are there significant implications for supporting Christian Zionism? Porter Speakman Jr. believes so. Speakman is the director of a brand new documentary titled “With God On Our Side” (not to be confused with a 2004 documentary by the same name highlighting “the rise of the religious right in America”). It was released by Rooftop Productions on April 8, 2010. The following is the film’s synopsis:

With God On Our Side takes a look at the theology of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God’s chosen people, they have a divine right to the land of Israel. Aspects of this belief system lead some Christians in the West to give uncritical support to Israeli government policies, even those that privilege Jews at the expense of Palestinians, leading to great suffering among Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike and threatening Israel’s security as a whole.

This film demonstrates that there is a biblical alternative for Christians who want to love and support the people of Israel, a theology that doesn’t favor one people group over another but instead promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jews and Palestinians.

I watched this documentary last weekend, and highly recommend it for anyone who has any interest at all in the present Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and especially for those who have theological convictions regarding modern day Israel and/or the Jewish people. My brief review of this film will follow shortly, but first I’d like to highlight the five official (short) video clips posted on Vimeo to promote the film. They don’t do justice to the excellent content of the film itself, but they are a good introduction:

[1]

This first video is the official trailer of “With God On Our Side.” It includes brief testimony from Salim Munayer, a Palestinian Christian who lived in the region when Israel became a nation in 1948. Salim helped to found Musalaha, a non-profit organization “that works toward reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians based on the Biblical principles of peace, justice, and love.”  This trailer also includes footage from certain Palestinian areas, and speaks briefly of the more than 3 million Palestinian refugees who today make up the largest refugee population in the world. The viewer is also given a couple of brief glances at a “Christians United for Israel” (CUFI) rally led by pastor John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas.

[2]

In this second video clip, Gary Burge (Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, and a student living in Beirut when the Lebanon civil war broke out in the 1970’s) speaks on Biblical justice and kingdom values. Examples would be the truths Jesus articulated in the Sermon on the Mount, and His actions toward the people who were marginalized in the Israel of His day. Gary asks whether or not evangelical Christians today are promoting and applying these values equally toward all peoples in the Middle East, regardless of their background.

[3]

In this third video clip, Salim Munayer, who is also a leader on faculty at Bethlehem Bible College in Palestine, tells of a popular US Christian radio anchor interviewed some time ago on Israeli TV. This Christian leader cited the book of Joshua in making his case that the Jews should destroy the population of Lebanon. The point of this Palestinian believer is that many American Christian leaders are being perceived in the Middle East as warmongers, as desiring to be rich but not caring for the poor, as standing for power and not peace/justice, as hating Muslims, as being one-sided regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, etc. He points out that certain Christian spokespersons in America (especially from the Christian Zionist camp) are heard loudly in the Middle East, and their statements are immediately translated into Arabic on a regular basis. Their teachings and political opinions are hindering the ministry of believers in that region.

[4]

In this fourth video clip, a Christian British journalist speaks of the unjust accusation of anti-semitism which is often leveled at those who attempt to tell the “Palestinian narrative,” or who advocate equality between the Jewish and Palestinian communities. I might add that I’ve also personally heard this charge applied unfairly to those who simply question or reject the teachings of dispensationalism and/or Christian Zionism, which happen to be fairly new doctrines in Church history. Another term which is hastily applied to those who don’t believe that the Jewish people hold a special status in New Covenant Christianity is “replacement theology.”

Photo Credits: All photos in this post are sourced from the “We Love Israel” page on Facebook.

[5]

In this fifth video clip, Stephen Sizer (a pastor at Christ Church in Surrey, England; also an author, theologian, and an international speaker specializing in topics relating to the land of Israel) speaks of the danger of simplistic answers regarding the Israeli/Palestinian situation. These dangers include making one group or the other “the bad guys,” or demonizing a whole group of people, leading to a justification of the abuse of civilians in order to advance a certain cause. He compares some of the arguments which are being advanced today to the arguments which allowed for the ethnic cleansing of North America’s indigenous people in generations past.

A Brief Review of “With God On Our Side”

One of the features of this film which I greatly appreciated was the space given to Palestinian Christians to share their stories and their perspectives. They are often a forgotten voice in the present conflict. The same is unfortunately true in the world of Christian Zionism, where even Jewish unbelievers are among the favored ones, but our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters are too often sidelined. One man shared what he saw firsthand in 1948 when Israel became a nation, when his own family members were made homeless along with nearly 700,000 other people. He doesn’t share these details with bitterness. Instead, he expresses how he loved the Jewish people prior to 1948, and by the grace of God continues to love them post-1948. Upon watching the film, one gets the sense that there are so many similar stories which could and should be told.

Another helpful feature of the film is an informative section devoted to the history of the land/region of Palestine during the last several centuries. The film’s very informative official site provides some of these same details, minus the attractive graphics presented in the film. One learns about the Ottoman Empire, its fall around the time of World War I, the famous Balfour Declaration of 1917, and British-controlled Palestine during the “British Mandate,” all prior to 1948. As the film site states,

The status of the populations between Arabs and Jews living in the land of Palestine before 1948 is one that is continuing to be debated. While researching for this film, we came across various population numbers and statistics. We have tried to take numbers that most accurately indicated the realities on the ground at that time. The two main things that can be said with little doubt, no matter what numbers you use is that, one, the land of Palestine was not empty when Jews began immigrating back in the late 19th century. Two, there was a majority Arab population and minority Jewish communities living in the land of Palestine before 1948.

Jewish immigration to Palestine grew, especially during and after WW2 and the Holocaust, which saw the systematic murder of over 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. As Jewish immigration grew, tensions between the two communities mounted. However, before that, Arabs and Jews lived together peacefully. It is true that there was Arab migration into the area as Jewish immigration and opportunities arose; however, the idea that Arabs only started to populate the area when Jews made it prosperous is a myth.

Speaking of myths, some of the theology characteristic of Christian Zionism is discussed throughout the film, but especially during the last half hour (the film is 82 minutes long). The film is not one-sided in this regard, though. Christian Zionists, John Hagee being one of them, are given numerous opportunities to express their views without interruption. In some cases, their views are then refuted by featured speakers in this documentary. In other cases, their specific points are not so thoroughly addressed, though I found myself wishing that they would have been.

The video footage alone makes this film worth viewing. It was fascinating to see the way of life of both Jews and Palestinians in villages, cities, and marketplaces. To be sure, there were heartbreaking moments as well. The suffering and injustices are incredible, and too many are needlessly being made victims, and much more could be said on this. The viewer learns of some disturbing details behind the push to locate settlers in disputed areas, including massive financial support from Christian organizations in America which is enabling certain aggressive activities to continue and increase. Is God on one side of the present conflict, but not on the other? Christian Zionists say “yes,” but does the Bible agree? Emphatically, I must say “no.”

It’s my conviction that it’s impossible to make a responsible case from within the pages of the New Testament that God maintains any promises for the Jewish people which are not available for all who trust in Christ, not even promises regarding the land of Israel. In fact, unbelieving Jews (and Gentiles) are entirely outside of God’s covenant and promises, for these promises are only accessible through faith. Nor do I believe that any promises await any future fulfillment exclusively or primarily for the Jewish people, for there really is no Jew or Gentile in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). I realize that the statements I’ve just made are a huge can of worms for a lot of people. Good! Let us all dig deep on these things for ourselves, and not just blindly follow popular teachers and teachings.

When time allows, I hope to write much more extensively on this very subject, for there are so many things to consider. In the meantime, for anyone who is interested, one excellent resource is  a series of presentations based on Stephen Sizer’s book, “Zion’s Christian Soldiers? The Bible, Israel, and the Church.” Sizer has kindly made this series available online for free (the book is available for purchase here). I have read portions of this series and what I’ve read so far is thorough, well-thought-out, and simply an excellent study. I plan to do a lot of interaction with Sizer’s writings once I do write  further on this subject here at this blog. The following are some of the questions I wish to tackle at that time (feel free, though, to discuss them even now):

-According to the New Testament, who are God’s chosen people today? Does God have one chosen people, or two?

-Are all Jews part of God’s chosen people, as is taught in many Christian circles, or only those Jews who have put their faith in Christ (alongside of all non-Jews who have done the same)?

-Do Jewish Christians (known as “Messianic Jews”) have a higher place in the kingdom of God than non-Jewish followers of Christ? Does Scripture say that this will ever be the case?

-Does Genesis 12:3 mandate that Christians show favoritism toward the modern nation of Israel, the policies of that nation, and/or toward the Jewish people as a whole? Does Genesis 12:3 have anything at all to do with the modern, geopolitical nation of Israel? How about Zechariah 2:8, where Jerusalem is said to be “the apple of God’s eye”?

-Do the Jewish people have a divine right to the land of Israel? Is this idea affirmed anywhere in the New Testament? If yes, where? If no, why not?

-How do the inspired authors of the New Testament apply Old Testament passages which were originally addressed to “the house of Israel”? Are they applied in the NT to the Jewish people as a race, or to the Church (which is made up of believing Jews and Gentiles, with no distinction)? Are they ever spiritualized in any way by the authors of the NT?

-Were the promises given to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament conditional or unconditional? Do they apply to the modern, political nation of Israel? If so, to whom were they applied from 70 AD to 1948 when there was no established nation known as Israel?

-The land promises in the OT were said to be eternal/everlasting/perpetual, as was the covenant of fleshly circumcision, and as were also numerous temple-based rituals. How does the NT deal with the non-land covenants/statutes which were said to be eternal? Should the eternal land promises be dealt with in a different manner? If so, why?

-How does the New Testament speak of earthly Jerusalem in comparison to heavenly Jerusalem, and what are the implications of this contrast?

-Has the New Covenant (promised, for example, in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36) fully arrived yet? Or is its full arrival awaiting the future salvation of the entire nation of Israel (or all  surviving Jews) at the Second Coming of Christ? This is what dispensationalism teaches.

-Are you sure that what you have been taught regarding the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, and other related issues resembles what has been taught throughout Church history, especially prior to the advent of dispensationalism (the school of thought developed by John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s)?

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With God On Our Side” is available for purchase on Amazon.com, where several helpful reviews of the film can also be seen.

All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.