We Answer to a Higher Authority
In 1965 Hebrew National, a leading producer of kosher meat products, coined a slogan that has sold a lot of kosher meat: “We answer to a higher authority.” Its claim assures customers Hebrew National adheres to the strictest specifications known: God’s.
“Answering to a higher authority” could also serve as a slogan for many evangelicals, not because they keep kosher but because they strongly desire to be accountable before God.
The very word evangelical means “gospel” or “good news.” The gospel is the life-changing good news that Christ died for our sins. Because He took the punishment we deserve, we can stand by faith in God’s presence and dwell in His house forever.
In essence, evangelicals believe that, since “God so loved the world” (Jn. 3:16), they should too. Proclaiming the gospel message of salvation is imbedded in the “DNA” of most evangelical Christians. And answering to a higher Authority compels them to proclaim the message of Jesus to everyone, including Jewish people.
In the past several years, Christian Zionism has become a highly visible movement. Evangelicals who believe God has irrevocably given the Promised Land to the Jewish people have planned and hosted many events to generate support for Israel. Yet many Jewish people remain suspicious. Scarred from a long history of anti-Semitism and forced conversions, the good news often seems like bad news to them. And Christian Zionism, coupled with the “gospel DNA,” merely seems like a devious attempt at conversion. However, unbeknownst to most Jewish people, it is doctrine that makes Christian Zionists so pro-Israel.
Not All Christians Think Alike
Although most evangelicals agree on the essence of the gospel, they disagree in the area of theology known as eschatology: the study of last things. A huge segment of Christianity holds to a doctrine known as Replacement Theology, which teaches that God has removed the Jewish people as His special people bound by a special land and replaced them with the church. This group believes God’s physical people have been replaced by God’s “spiritual people” and that God is finished with physical Israel.
Jews know this theology all too well. It has been the underlying cause of most of the evilest, cruelest, and bloodiest assaults against them for two thousand years. They call this theology Supersessionism. Supersessionists see themselves as the “new Israel.” Consequently, when they read in Scripture of God’s wonderful promises to Israel, they take the word Israel to mean the church.
Christian Zionists, on the other hand, are appalled at Replacement Theology. Theirs is a long history of taking literally the promises given by their higher Authority. They interpret Scripture using the literal-grammatical (also called plain, or normal) method and see a glorious future awaiting the Jewish people and their country of Israel.
Since Scripture calls the Jewish people “the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8), these evangelicals believe the Jewish people will one day live in their Promised Land forever. On the throne of David will be King Jesus who, when He returns to His country, will destroy His and Israel’s enemies and bring world-wide shalom (peace). This peace will be preceded by great Tribulation on Earth that will befall Jews and Gentiles alike.
Standing With Israel
Though disputes have long raged between these two evangelical groups over the meaning of the word Israel, most Jewish people paid little attention. There seemed to be scant reason for them to care because both still believed “only Jesus saves.” Over the past few years, however, Christian Zionism has become highly visible, noticed even by prominent leaders in Israel and Washington, DC.
One of the reasons is statistics. There are an estimated 20 million to 60 million Christian Zionists in the United States. They donate millions of dollars to organizations dedicated to supporting and advocating love for Israel. They read and listen to information about Israel published and broadcast by Christian Zionists, as well as by Jewish Zionists. They fund programs that help Jewish people make aliya (move to Israel), and they organize rallies to stand with Israel.
Numerous churches host “Honor Israel” days, inviting local rabbis and other key leaders from the Jewish community to demonstrate public support and love for Israel and the Jewish people. They travel to Israel in droves, seldom regarding travel alerts or personal safety. They volunteer to serve for weeks at a time on military bases in Israel, doing whatever they are asked. They participate in joint Christian-Jewish trips to Israel to promote solidarity.
Such activity has caused mixed but strong reactions among the Jewish people. After an “Honor Israel” day last year in the Midwest, several Jewish people made such comments as, “This is the greatest day of my Jewish life.” “Thank you for having a day like this for us.” “I am so full, and I know it is because of God.” “I felt that those people really love Israel.”
So What’s the Problem?
The problem is that suspicion still exists because of the gospel. “This is just a Trojan horse,” said one person. “It’s a ploy to turn Jews into Christians.” “This is really an Inquisition with a smiley face.” The most often-voiced fear is this one: “They want the Jews [to be] in Israel so the Messiah will come, and all Jews will be killed.”
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, wrote an article titled “Christian Zionism and the End of Judaism” in which he said, “Christian Zionists are looking to the day in which Israel will disappear in a nuclear Holocaust, and the Jewish faith will vanish from the earth.”1
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said, “This is not support without strings. They would like to see us at the end of the day be Christians, so what good is it to have a strong Jewish state if at the end of whatever millennia we are to disappear as a people?”2
David Brog provides a different Jewish view. In his book, Standing With Israel, Brog wrote,
There is a wonderful irony in secular critics of Christian Zionism, typically Jewish, complaining about the great disasters that will befall them upon Christ’s Second Coming. These critics, of course, don’t actually believe there will be a Second Coming of Christ. If there will be no Second Coming, then there will be no mass conversion or death. So what exactly are these critics worried about?3
What are they worried about? Proselytizing. To the average Christian Zionist, proselytizing means sharing one’s faith. No deviousness is seen in the command to preach the gospel to all creatures and love Israel unconditionally.
To the average Jewish person, however, proselytizing brings to mind forced conversions, anti-Semitism, and hate. Jews assume, “If you can’t wipe us out physically, as in the Holocaust, you’ll wipe us out by conversion.”
When a Jewish person asks an evangelical if he proselytizes, the evangelical thinks, I don’t try to force anyone to believe as I do. I just share my faith in Christ and let the Lord take it from there.
Because Christian Zionists answer to a higher Authority, they will continue to love Jewish people unconditionally. Their biblical worldview is that of a pessimistic optimist: pessimism about man’s future apart from God, optimism about the day when God will finally usher in a wonderful time of refreshing on the earth with Israel as His centerpiece.
Christian Zionists know that, despite the great and terrible days ahead, Israel has a glorious future in the land. And because they answer to a higher Authority, Christian Zionists will stand with Israel knowing full well they may be the only Christians standing. They know any “help” they might provide does nothing to change God’s plans. He will come when He is ready. After all, He is the highest Authority.
- Dan Cohn-Sherbok, “Christian Zionism and the End of Judaism,” Tikkun magazine <tikkun.org/article. php/Cohn-Sherbok-ChristianZionism>.
- David Brog, Standing With Israel (Lake Mary, FL: Strang, 2006), 183.
- Ibid., 184.