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A True Prophet of God and Lover of Israel.
Recently I saw a dedication to the late Christian Zionist evangelical, Derek Prince, on the front pages of a book by a Mega-Church evangelical leader in the U.S. The dedication named Derek Prince as “a lover of Israel”. Prince died in Jerusalem in 2003.
Many hundreds of years earlier, another man, the prophet Jeremiah, would die and leave a legacy of what a “true man of God and lover of Israel” really looks like. It suffices to say that apart from two legs, two arms and a head (and other genetically transmitted features of the human species), the similarities between the two men (particularly with regard to their theology, understanding of Jewishness and the land of Israel) are virtually non-existent.
Christian Zionists, like the late Derek Prince, would never dare to criticise the Zionist State of Israel (unless the Zionists decide to allow the creation of a Palestinian state), while Jeremiah castigated the leadership of Israel more than any of the prophets of old. Yet few would doubt that no prophet of the Old Testament ever loved the Jewish people more passionately than Jeremiah. Jeremiah was in a state of constant turmoil over his fellow Jews lack of desire to fulfill the covenantal responsibilities that they must uphold in the land or be sent in to exile. Christian Zionists could care less. I have never once heard a Christian Zionist speak of the danger of a Secular Zionist State being cast into exile because of its lack of desire to place the Torah at the centre of Jewish life in Israel. The Zionists can ignore the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah (particularly with respect to the treatment of non-Jews living in Israel) with impunity, according to Christan Zionism. Jeremiah would have run out of garments to tare from his body in anguish and dust and ashes to throw upon himself and into the air in grief had he been alive to see his beloved people living in a Zionist State.
Jeremiah spoke the truth of God to the people of Israel regardless of the popularity of his message among the leaders of Israel. The truth has authority regardless of who speaks it. At the time of the First Temple in Israel, Jeremiah pleaded with the now infamous Jews of his time, (later to become heroes in the eyes of the Zionists), who, Jewish tradition tells us, refused to surrender to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in the face of certain defeat, to lay down their arms thereby ensuring the safety of countless Jewish lives even though the city of Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed. Jeremiah was labeled a traitor and his word rejected, resulting in not only the destruction of the Temple, but almost the entire Jewish population of Israel as well, according to the punishment from God for not surrendering that scripture reveals.
The traditions of the military forces of Zionist Israel, the I.D.F., who celebrate the Jewish rebellion at Masada, would no doubt regard the attitudes of Jeremiah as treasonous. For Jeremiah, obedience to God trumped occupation of the land. Disobedience to God in the land of Israel by the Jewish people could never be condoned or ignored by any of the prophets God sent to Israel in the Old Testament. Prophets were not sent because only they had the right to criticise Israel, but were sent because the Jewish leaders and citizens of Israel had failed to hear the prophetic word of God as revealed in the law already available to them in the Torah.
A popular habit of evangelical Christians is to reflect on “What would Jesus do?” when confronted with difficult ethical situations. I hardly think Jesus attitude would be greatly divergent from that of Jeremiah in the case of Zionist Israel. The privilege of being God’s people can not be separated from the heightened responsibilities that are at the very core of the covenant of the land that God made with the Jewish people to remain in the land of Israel. Orthodox religious Jews remind us that Zionism’s rejection of those responsibilities will mean exile as God’s character demands if the type of repentance that Jeremiah called for from his people in his time is not forthcoming from Israel today.
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