Inside View Mar/Apr 2020

Is the church becoming ignorant or arrogant when it comes to Israel?

A LifeWay Research survey of evangelical Christians found that 76 percent of those 65 and older viewed Israel favorably, but only 58 percent of those 18 to 34 years old favored Israel.1 That’s a drop of 18 percent. Clearly, younger Christians are not nearly as supportive or appreciative of Israel as their elders are; and this younger cohort will produce the next generation of church leaders.

It’s not difficult to see that evangelical support for Israel is likely to diminish, raising the question, “Why are younger believers less supportive of Israel?” Perhaps the church is not teaching Christians the unique role Israel plays in God’s redemptive plan—past, present, and future. In other words, the answer could be ignorance.

The LifeWay Research Study, conducted in 2017, found that 72 percent of evangelicals wish they knew more about what the Bible teaches concerning Israel’s future.2 This is a hunger statement, indicating believers are not being properly taught. There is a real danger that the church is losing its understanding of Israel and the vital role it plays in God’s plan to restore His Kingdom on Earth.

Knowledge of biblical truth keeps us balanced, but ignorance can lead to arrogance. Indeed, that was the apostle Paul’s concern when he wrote to the Roman believers.

Romans 9—11 is a lesson about Israel’s past, present, and future in relation to God’s plan for the ages. God raised up the nation to be the people through whom He would reveal His Word, send His only begotten Son, and bless the world. The founders of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry understood this concept when they published the first issue of Israel My Glory in 1942:

We are naming this periodical Israel My Glory to call attention to the fact that God is not through with the Jewish people. He has promised that one day He will endow Israel with spiritual power and zeal and use this nation as powerful preachers when Christ comes to Earth to establish His Kingdom. For 1,900 years the Jews have, as a nation, rejected Christ as their Messiah. One day they will accept Him. . . . In naming our quarterly Israel My Glory, we desire to remind ourselves of God’s irrevocable promises to Israel and of His benevolent purpose in choosing them to be the human channel through which Christ should come and the channel also of future blessing to the world.

Where did the founders obtain this understanding of Israel? From the Bible. Paul said in Romans 11:25 that he did not want us to be ignorant concerning Israel and become wise in our “own opinion.” Wisdom in our own opinions constitutes the essence of arrogance and conceit. Paul revealed that God has allowed Israel to reside in unbelief so that salvation could come to the Gentiles. Yet, it’s not that Gentiles are more special than Israel or that God has rejected Israel (vv. 1–2).

Paul warned Gentiles not to be “haughty” because of their salvation while Israel remains in unbelief (v. 20). Rather, it is because of God’s covenantal promise to bless all the nations through Abraham’s Seed that He permitted this situation. Paul reminded us that our salvation comes through the covenant promises He made to Israel, and not through promises He made to Gentiles. The Jewish covenants support Gentile salvation.

Someday “all Israel will be saved” (v. 26). Why? “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (v. 29). Paul said it is by God’s wisdom and knowledge that He chose this path (vv. 32–36).

You see, biblical knowledge breeds appreciation for Israel, but ignorance of God’s Word produces arrogance. I’m convinced the church would benefit greatly by giving more attention to teaching biblical truth about Israel.

ENDNOTES
    1. Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel Research Study, lifewayresearch.com, December 2017 (tinyurl.com/LIFEWAYisrael), 3.
    2. Ibid., 4.

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