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Martin Luther once said, “If I knew that the world were to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” Luther’s attitude to end times prophecy sums up the proper response to the reality of God’s final plan for creation in both the Christian and Jewish traditions. In these traditions human responsibility toward others is not to be abrogated by falling in to the trap of fatalistic indifference. Unambiguous portents of the imminent judgement of God, if indeed they exist, are not meant to be greeted by the faithful with cries of self righteous, pitiless joy over the fate of those deemed to be on the “wrong” side. Scripture tells us that we must not rejoice in the destruction of our foes no matter how much we feel they deserve it.

I would rephrase Luther’s statement to become: “Even if I knew that the current Zionist state of Israel was an unambiguous portent of Christ’s return, I would still fight for the rights of Palestinians to live in Israel-Palestine with full equality and seek justice for the wrongs done to them by the Zionist state. I would still resist the apartheid policies of the Zionist state and pray for the end of Zionist rule in Israel.”

Christian responsibility is always about trying to make today’s world a better place than it was yesterday. We are to work to make the world better, not just try an save some out of the world while we sit and wait for the end to come. Christian Zionist doctrines that teach that the world must necessarily come to a hideous end before Christ’s final return have inspired many to fatalism, indifference and even outright war mongering. If the world must come to a divinely ordained cataclysm, why should we care about doing anything to help the environment or ending the arms race? The most we can expect from the advocates of such doomsday prophecies is endless threats of judgment intended to win us over to their fatalistic ideologies in order for us to be saved out of this world as it goes into oblivion.

Three thousand years of Jewish religious tradition reveal that Jewish identity is centered on ones acceptance of the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah. Traditions that demand equal treatment between Jew and gentile. Traditions that transcend the place of ones birth. Judaism’s essential nature is God centered, not nation centered. A Jew can be faithful to the revelation of Torah regardless of whether one was born or lives in Israel or not. The end game is about what is in one’s heart, not about what nation you live in.

The nature of prophecy in the Bible has always been far more about God’s desire to see justice prevail in today’s world rather than some type of soothsaying concerning future events. Jewish tradition is replete with stories of conflict between those who think that being Jewish is about nationalism and those who think Jewishness is about living with God’s law in your heart. The Jewish quest for nationhood outside of God’s commandments is a sure way to disaster for the Jewish people. Just as God resists salvation by works in the Christian tradition, so in the Jewish tradition does God resist the Jewish people in the land of Israel outside the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah.

God’s plan for the current Zionist state of Israel is His business. Our responsibility is to live up to the divinely ordained mandate for us to do justice for all peoples and walk humbly with our God. In this venture I have come across numerous secular activists that have been far more in line with God’s heart for the oppressed in Israel-Palestine than any number of devout Christian Zionists.


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.

Craig Nielsen

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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May 2023