3 Reasons Why I Support Israel
When I was a freshman in college, I learned a valuable lesson. My professor, Dr. Herb Hirt, told us never to read the New Testament back into the Old Testament. Instead, he said, read God’s progressive revelation from Genesis to Revelation.
Herb is with the Lord now, and he probably would be pleased to know I have followed his instructions for the past 20 years and will continue to do so. But I’m going to abandon his rule temporarily for a reason I’m confident he would appreciate.
I want to explain biblically why I, a Gentile believer in Jesus Christ, support Israel and the Jewish people; and I want to use the small but significant New Testament text of Romans 11:28–29. This passage was penned for the church, which means it applies to Christians today and conveys to us God’s feelings for His Chosen People.
The apostle Paul, who wrote the epistle to the Gentile church in Rome, imparted God’s tender heart for Israel, despite the nation’s spiritual disobedience and “partial hardening” (Rom. 11:25, ESV).
Unfortunately, some theologians claim Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension invalidate God’s covenantal relationship with Israel. Renowned theologian N. T. Wright argues that Israel’s covenant with God was fulfilled in Christ, whom he calls Israel’s representative, thus concluding Israel’s divine purpose. If this theory were true, there would be no biblical reason to support Israel’s rebirth as a nation in its ancient homeland today.
But this concept never entered Paul’s mind. Paul taught that Israel not only matters to God, but that the nation has a bright prophetic future. Romans 9—11, three chapters dedicated to God’s faithfulness to Israel, are capsulized in Romans 11:28–29:
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
This passage doesn’t mince words. Paul identified his Jewish brethren as “enemies” of the gospel because they rejected their Messiah and turned down the kingdom offered to them. But simultaneously, in juxtaposition to “enemies,” he called them “beloved” of God. Tucked into these two verses are three biblical reasons to support Israel.
Reason #1: Israel Still Matters to God.
Concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers (v. 28).
Israel’s election remains valid because it is grounded in the oath God swore to the “fathers,” Israel’s patriarchs. In other words, Israel’s election has nothing to do with the Jewish people and everything to do with God. The language in verse 28 resembles that of Moses speaking to the Israelites about their divine election:
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers (Dt. 7:7–8).
Neither Moses nor Paul thought God chose Israel because of its merit. God elected it solely on the basis of His grace—as He does with us today. When Paul called the nation “beloved for the sake of the fathers,” he was reaching back approximately 2,000 years to the promise God made to Abraham. Paul pulled the promise forward so the church could gain a deeper appreciation and love for Israel and the Jewish people. God told Abraham,
Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen. 12:1–3).
Based on that promise, God cut a covenant with Abraham (15:12–21) and made it eternal by pledging the oath to Himself to ensure its fulfillment. This is why the writer of Hebrews said, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself” (Heb. 6:13).
Paul’s conviction that God will never abandon Israel or the covenant relationship He established with Abraham and his progeny through Jacob puts the onus on Christians to value every aspect of that promise (land, descendants, blessing)—not merely the aspects that suit them.
Reason #2: Israel’s Gifts Are Irrevocable.
The gifts . . . of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
God bestowed unique gifts on Israel designed to set Israel apart. Each gift bears witness to the nation’s divine election. Paul listed these privileges in Romans 9:4–5. To the Israelites, he said,
pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God.
Earlier, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (1:16). The phrase for the Jew first could be interpreted “for the Jew especially” because the Jews are the ones to whom God gave these gifts. If anyone should understand the coming of the Messiah and the power of God to salvation, it is the Jewish people. Israel in the past maintained a unique place in God’s economy; and, Paul argued, it still does.
Israel and the Jewish people remain a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Considering the horrendous persecution and genocide they have suffered over the centuries, they should have vanished from Earth, like most people groups from the biblical era. Yet God preserved them through everything. As Paul said, Israel remains to this day the bearer of God’s gifts—and nobody can take that from them.
To them were given the covenants; promises; law; patriarchs; worship; and Messiah Jesus, who would become the Savior of the world. These gifts are bound to them by a promise that cannot be broken.
Reason #3: Israel’s Calling Is Irrevocable.
The calling of God [is] irrevocable (11:29).
Israel’s calling also is irrevocable. It cannot be changed, altered, or reversed. Some see Israel’s calling and election as synonymous, but I believe God’s calling refers to the task He gave Israel to fulfill as His elect people. He described that task in Genesis 12:3 when He told Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God called Israel to be a blessing to all humankind by being the conduit through which He would reveal Himself and bring the Messiah, through whom salvation would be effected. Later, at Mount Sinai, God’s calling became even clearer to His elect when He called Israel a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6). One day Israel will be brought into full obedience and will fulfill this calling in the Millennial Kingdom.
Jesus told a Samaritan woman how these gifts work when He proclaimed, “Salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4:22). Christians of all backgrounds cannot escape the reality that our faith is grounded in the calling and promises given to Israel. The salvation that comes to us through the Jewish people cannot be proclaimed apart from them.
The Greek word for “irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29) is used in a legal sense and means God will never regret the promise He made to Israel through Abraham. This word alone cancels any notion that God is finished with Israel. It also implies there is no place in the church for antisemitism or anti-Zionism. If God has not abandoned His Chosen People, even in their disobedience, neither should the church.
Romans 11:28–29 assures Christians God’s promise to Israel and the Jewish people remains firmly intact, and it gives us a solid biblical foundation for supporting Israel.