Inside View Sep/Oct 2014
This issue of Israel My Glory examines the growing anti-Zionist movement within evangelical Christianity, especially among the Millennial generation—those born between 1980 and 1996. Recent anti-Zionist events, such as the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in Bethlehem, have been drawing growing numbers of Millennials.
According to its website, the conference wants “to challenge evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel-Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.”
God’s expectation for every Christian is to become a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ (Mt. 28:19–20). What could be more central to being a Christian than doing all Christ commanded concerning the Kingdom of God?
But wait a minute. Exactly what did Jesus teach about the Kingdom of God? The anti-Zionist leaders are telling us it is the church’s responsibility to address injustice and bring about peace on Earth. That is indeed a noble cause, but is it biblical?
When Jesus met with His disciples in Jerusalem after His resurrection, they immediately asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They were eagerly looking to Him to restore the Kingdom, as foretold by the prophets.
Jesus quickly replied, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (vv. 7–8). Their mission—and ours—is to testify about Jesus at home and around the world.
Jesus’ response also teaches us an important lesson about the Kingdom. He never denied He would restore it; He merely said it was not their business to know when that restoration would occur. Their job was to preach Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and make disciples.
Jesus, not the church, will reestablish God’s Kingdom on Earth; and Israel is central to the restoration, which is part of God’s marvelous plan of redemption.
After Adam and Eve sinned, God announced that a male child born of a woman would crush Satan (Gen. 3:15). He further defined this male child as the Redeemer who will be qualified to restore the Kingdom.
The apostle Paul referred to Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:45 as the “last Adam,” meaning that, like the first Adam, Jesus is qualified to administer or rule God’s restored Kingdom on Earth. The first Adam was a living being, giving physical life to all; the last Adam, Jesus, became a life-giving spirit. Jesus is called the “last” Adam because once He ascends to His throne in Jerusalem to rule the earth, He will forever be qualified to do so. There will be no need for another Adam.
Peter also taught that the times of refreshing and restoration of all things, which God spoke of through His prophets, awaits Christ’s return from heaven (Acts 3:19–21). It is Christ’s return that will lead to the restoration of God’s Kingdom on Earth.
In Matthew 19:28, Jesus referred to this future time as the “regeneration.” In New Testament Greek, “regeneration” is palin genesia, meaning “genesis again.” Jesus was communicating the idea of reverting to a previous time. He was teaching there will again be a time when the earth will return to the way it was in Genesis, before the fall. This is the time the apostle Paul said all of creation groans for and eagerly awaits (Rom. 8:19–22).
The church is not the agent God will use to usher in His Kingdom of righteousness and justice. That position belongs solely to God’s Son, the Messiah. To say otherwise is to deny Jesus the glory ascribed to Him alone.
Believers who think taking up the Palestinian cause and opposing Israel is Kingdom work are sadly mistaken. The church’s mission is to make disciples for Jesus Christ. We do the most to improve this sin-cursed world when we become witnesses for Jesus and make disciples for our Savior.