At the gates:
Israel and the Church
by Lee Harding
Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children (Isaiah 66:8).
Recently, three events had Reginians thinking of the Holy Land. Gwynn Dyer talked about it in an U of R address September 29. On October 2 the Palestinian ambassador came to visit the university. And on October 3, Regina Christians joined in the day of prayer for Jerusalem. They joined 50 million others in the call of Psalm 122:6: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure.’"
Unfortunately, security is hard to find in Palestine. Since the creation of the Jewish state, the area has been rife with bloodshed and conflict. Five wars have erupted there since then, and at no time since has there ever truly been peace.
Christians are generally sympathetic to Israel because of the special place of Jews in God’s purposes and because their return to Palestine was predicted in various places in the Scriptures. The Scripture that opens this column was fulfilled May 14, 1948 when Israel became an independent state through the declaration of the United Nations. Harassed and persecuted since 70 A.D., Jews received their homeland back for the first time in almost 1900 years.
Though Christians praise God for this miracle, it does not mean we support the actions of the state of Israel without condition or that we disregard the concerns of Arabs in the area. We believe that all people are created in God’s image (not just the Jews). Moreover, many blessings that God had for the Jewish people have now extended to the Church. The many Palestinian Arabs who are Christians share in these blessings. We want peace for everyone in the region because God loves them all.
Last week, Gwynn Dyer told an U of R audience how insulted Arabs feel because they can no longer travel freely across their lands without Israeli security checks. But the Bible predicts this wound will be healed: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria [Iran]. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance" (Isaiah 19:23-25).
Yes, Christians do believe God brought the Jews to live in Israel. But we also believe that He will fulfill another promise—to bring peace between them and Arabs. Man alone can’t do this, but God can, “For nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).