What do you all think of the current conflict in Israel and Palestine?
- Do you believe Israel stands on just ground, launching their current offensive?
- Do you believe Hamas stands on just ground, launching missiles indiscriminately into Israel?
- As a Christian, do you believe, theologically, that Israel has authority that is sanctioned by God?
- If you support the nation of Israel, theologically, what of your brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Palestine?
This is a complex problem, and we knew it would be (given the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac) from the beginning of time. We certainly know that Israel was chosen by Yahweh as the mediator of salvation to the world; not through their own national identity (i.e. that the nation itself was/is Yahweh’s salvation to the nations), but instead through the Messiah whom they mediated to the nations (including Palestine). What this says to me, theologically, is that while the nation of Israel has, and always will have, a special role in Yahweh’s unfolding salvation history; that they are not the goal or point of that history. Instead, the goal of Israel’s history was to mediate the Savior of the world to all the nations (cf. Gen. 12:1-3); thus being superseded (but not forgotten cf. Rom. 9–11) by the Person of God’s life, disclosed in Jesus. Here is how Torrance says this:
Since all through that progressive movement of revelation the Word of God was pressing for fuller realisation and obedient expression within the life and mind and literature of Israel, the role of Israel as the servant of the Lord in mediating that revelation inevitably pointed ahead of itself to a fulfilment in the Incarnation. When that took place in the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary and Son of God, the whole prehistory of that mediation was gathered up and brought to its consummation in Christ in such a way that while transient, time-conditioned elements fell away, basic, permanent ingredients in God’s revelation to Israel were critically and creatively taken up and built into the intelligible framework of God’s full and final self-revelation to mankind. Incarnate as the Jew from Bethlehem and Nazareth Jesus Christ stood forth, not only as the controlling centre of the mediation of divine revelation in and through Israel, but as himself the personal self-revelation of God to man, the eternal Word of God made flesh once for all within the objective and subjective structures of human existence. Thus Jesus Christ, not Israel the servant of the Lord is nevertheless included by God for ever within his elected way of mediating knowledge of himself to the world. Since Israel as a whole is given a permanent place in God’s revelation of himself, the Old Testament mediation of revelation must be appreciated and understood from the perspective of its fulfilment in Christ. On the other hand, Jesus Christ is to be recognised and known as Son of God and Saviour of the world, in accordance with his own claims, from the normative framework of basic preconceptions divinely prepared and provided in the Old Testament Scriptures. Thus to detach Jesus from Israel or the Incarnation from its deep roots in the covenant partnership of God with Israel would be a fatal mistake. (T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 31-2)
The fact that Israel is ‘special’ does not necessarily serve as the basis of her national sovereignty, politically; that is, anymore than the United State’s political legitmacy is founded upon Christian principles. When we try to establish theocratic states, apart from Christ’s direct rulership, we end up taking the LORD’s name in vain. Whether premil or amil, we all know that the only One who will bring peace, and create borders (so to speak) is Jesus Christ.
I think sometimes, what makes it hard for me, to not root for Israel (even indiscriminately) is her special role as Yahweh’s covenant people; and in particular, her mediation of Jesus to the nations. But that is what is important to keep in mind, while Yahweh has a special spot for the nation of Israel, likewise, He has one for Palestine. Maybe the problem comes in when we try to mix geopolitics with the Gospel; when we support one nation over another, simply because we think that one nation has ‘special nation status’ with Yahweh — but of course we know that this is wrong!