Why Christians Should Be Zionists
One of my favorite toys as a child was my bicycle. It was a purple, five-speed, automatic-shift beauty with a comfortable banana seat (it was the 1960s!). Often I would be riding it when I should have been doing something else—like homework. My parents encouraged me to study, but when encouragement didn’t work, they resorted to strong, loud lectures and threatened to take away my bike.
I don’t remember if they ever made good on that promise, but I do know that even if they had, the bike would still have been mine. They would have denied me access to it temporarily, but it would have belonged to no one other than me.
Possession and ownership are not the same. Many people own things they do not possess. So why would it be wrong for the Jewish people to own the land God gave them even after He took it away temporarily as a punishment for disobedience? If there is one theme in Scripture that recurs time and again, it is God’s promise to restore Israel to its “own” land. Zionism is the movement that accompanies that restoration.
Today Zionism has become a dirty word. Israel’s enemies are convincing the world Zionism is racism. Contrary to all logic, they claim it is racist for the Jewish people to possess a single, miniscule country the size of the state of New Jersey but not racist for Muslims to possess the 22 surrounding nations totaling 640 times Israel’s land mass. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter joined the chorus when he claimed Israel practices apartheid even though its Arab citizens have the same rights as Jewish citizens, but he said nothing about Muslim countries that overtly discriminate against Jews. Saudi Arabia, in fact, bans Jewish people from entering its borders even as tourists.
Sadly, many Christians are being pulled into the vortex. Yet, if any people should be Zionists, it should be Bible-believing Christians because, if we cannot trust God to keep the promises He made to the Jewish people, how can we trust Him for anything?
A Little Background
The word Zionism comes from Mount Zion, an ancient designation for Jerusalem and the Jewish homeland (Ps. 137:1–6). Modern Zionism began as a movement to restore the Jewish people to their land and now involves supporting the development and protection of the State of Israel.
When God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans, He promised him the land (Gen. 12:1–3; 15:18–21). God then passed the promise to Abraham’s physical seed through his son Isaac (not Ishmael, 26:1–4) and through Isaac’s son Jacob (not Esau, 28:10, 13–14). The Lord also delineated the land’s boundaries (15:18–21). This promise was unconditional. Neither Abraham nor his descendants had to do anything to inherit the land. God gave it as an outright gift and “everlasting possession” (17:8; 48:4).
Hundreds of years later, when the Israelites returned to the Promised Land from Egypt under Moses’ and Joshua’s leadership, God gave them the Mosaic Covenant that linked pos-session of the land (not ownership) to obedience (Dt. 28:15–19; Josh. 23:16). For Israel to fully enjoy its inheritance, God required compliance with His Law.
The theology here is simple. The covenant that gave the Jewish people ownership of the land is a totally different covenant from the one that gave them possession. The Abrahamic Covenant says the land is theirs forever, no matter what; the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) says they will only live in it and be blessed if they obey God.
An Impossible Stretch
Ironically, many of the people today who stress (almost to the exclusion of everything else) God’s mercy and His willingness to restore sinners also reject the literalness of the overwhelming number of biblical passages where God promises mercy and restoration to the Jewish people. The book of Ezekiel, for example, is filled with such verses:
For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. Thus says the Lord Gᴏᴅ: “Behold, O My people, I will…bring you into the land of Israel. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lᴏʀᴅ, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lᴏʀᴅ. “Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever….Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them. The nations also will know that I, the Lᴏʀᴅ, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore” (Ezek. 36:24, 28; 37:12, 14, 25–26, 28).
Through Jeremiah God promised,
For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lᴏʀᴅ; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart (Jer. 24:6–7).
There is no way these promises could belong to anyone but the Jewish people. It is an impossible stretch to apply them to the church.
- The church has never had a land. So God cannot bring the church back into its own land.
- The church did not descend from Jacob. Christians descend from every nation and tribe (Rev. 7:9).
- The church is already sanctified by Christ’s blood. It has no need to become sanctified (1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:10).
These passages clearly show God has reserved national Israel to become a future trophy of His mercy, grace, and love. He promises to place His sanctuary in Israel’s midst forever as a testimony to the “nations” (Hebrew, goyim; meaning “Gentiles”). This promise comes from the same God who says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3), who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16), and who “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
If you truly believe God’s Word, how can you be anything other than a Zionist?