|A374 : by Tony Garland |
1. How should Christians who believe in God's promise to the Jewish people confront or respond to anti-Israel sentiment from their non-believers friends and acquaintances?
One challenge here is that those who reject the Bible are ignorant of the bias against all things Biblical instilled within the global culture by the God of this age, who has blinded their eyes (2Cor. 4:4). They erroneously believe that they (and the media) are inherently neutral and able to form their opinions independently of outside influence. Of course, Scripture says otherwise. Not only are they not neutral—enemies of God in their current position within the kingdom of darkness (Rom. 5:1)—but the sources that inform their view of the world are extremely biased: actively engaged in promoting a world-view opposed to the purposes of God. We know from a Biblical worldview there is no neutral ground.
I see our response on two levels.
2. How should Christians respond in case if the opposition to the support towards Israel came from professing believers within the church?
- First, we can point out the bias of various news sources which are, unwittingly or otherwise, allied with Satan in an attempt to opposed God's promises to the chosen nation (Romans 11:28-29). We can make these observations without appealing to Scriptures or the specifics of the dark spiritual realm. We can ask questions such as "Which party attacked first?" or "Which party recognizes the other as a geopolitical entity?" and "Which party allows the other to vote within their political system?" So we can point out the innate bias against the only democratic force in the region (Israel).
- Second, we can bring share what the Bible reveals, both about the age-old persecution of the Jews, and the prediction of future times of difficulty for Israel (Deu. 4:30; Dan. 12:1,7; Jer. 30:7,24; Hos. 5:15; Mat. 24:21; Mark 13:19; Rev. 3:10; 7:14; 12:4-6,13-17)—and our belief that the nations of the world are being groomed—leading to a global alliance which will abandon and oppose the Jews at their time of greatest need. Just because these folks dismiss the Bible is no reason to avoid giving God's truth from every source, including the Scriptures: whether received or not. (God may use our willingness to point out truths in the Bible as seed eventually watered to draw some to faith.)
I see our stance on what the Bible reveals about God's promises and work with Israel and the Jews akin to upholding creation. We routinely encounter believers who minor on Scripture and major on the media for their "daily [spiritual] bread." Many of these believe that evolution is entirely compatible with God's revelation and poses no contradiction with an imagined devotion to Christ. In these situations, our job is to be salt and light—to speak God's truth, in love and with wisdom.
The seemingly strange situation we find ourselves in is when fellow-believers react to on these issues in a way which is almost identical to the way in which unbelievers respond: with hostility and disbelief. I've had numerous discussions with believers who truly believe they are devoted to the cause of Christ and serving God, yet uphold views that are opposed to God's revelation (regarding creation, gender identity, abortion, capital punishment, and more). These believers seem to overlook the possibility of being a saved, born-again believer, yet promoting views which are opposed to God and align with his enemies.
Our job, once again, is to speak the truth in love, and not take the heated response personally. These brothers and sisters are obviously not enemies, yet we must respond to them in a similar way that we would unbelievers: exhibiting great patience, but not budging when it comes to explaining why we hold the views we do, views which do not derive from a given political party or the nightly news, but from Scriptural revelation concerning the issue in question (e.g., Rom. 11:28-29).
What we experience makes perfect sense: in a world which the Bible predicts will increase in hostility toward God and Israel, we should expect that less Scripturally-informed parts of the Church will abandon the clear teaching of Scripture and adopt a compromised position that "fits in" with the world and the god of this age. We've seen it already on numerous issues: Israel is just another in the list—although we know that it will likely be one of the hottest issues as we approach the second coming (responses to Jewish believers being a dividing factor between the sheep and goats among the nations in Matthew 25).
3. If the dissenting believer tries to shut the believer down and make them to not publicly support Israel, should the believer oblige for the bond of peace among believers within the local church? Or should Christians break fellowships and move to a more dispensational-friendly circle?
We shouldn’t misconstrue the "unity of the Spirit" as denoting superficial peace brought about through muzzling Biblical truth. Our primary task on this earth is to represent God's truth in love. If we believe the loving thing to do is to suppress truth in order to gain a hearing or preserve fellowship, then our understanding of the "unity of the Spirit" is flawed. (This unity is brought about by the Spirit, Who is the "Spirit of Truth" [John 14:17]. Suppressing the truth to maintain unity is not something the Spirit does.)
As God's mouthpiece in His absence, we must uphold the truth. (If we don’t, then who else will?) It doesn't matter whether it is unbelievers or uninformed believers that oppose us. We must stand and continue to give forth the truth, but do so in ways that guarantee that any animosity in response is because of the truth content, and not because we are being obnoxious, unloving, or unwise in our response.
If we ultimately find ourselves in a Christian fellowship which attempts to prevent us from expressing what we believe Scripture to teach (and our views are within the pale of orthodoxy) and we've maintained a humble and gentle attitude in our communication, then it could be time to seek a different fellowship — an indicator that the fellowship we're in now is headed for further departures from God's truth.
Ultimately, Satan has two strategies of attack against God's word:
We've seen the second approach to undermining God’s truth in regard to creation vs. evolution, complementary roles of men and women, human sexuality, the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, and so on.
- First, he attempts to persuade people it is untrue. This is primarily about keeping unbelievers from trusting God's Word.
- Next, when people come to faith and begin to give priority to God's Word, he shifts his strategy into keeping them ignorant of what Scripture teaches and immersing them in his culture so that—although professing believers, perhaps even truly saved—they promote views at odds with God's revelation.
God's work with Israel is another of those issues, although one that I believe will become an eventual flash-point within the Body of Christ. Those fellowships which refuse to teach on the larger topic of God's role for Israel are unwittingly putting themselves in a position of vulnerability when it eventually manifests that many within the congregation are more on board with the anti-godly media on issues related to Israel than with Biblical revelation.
Don't be surprised when more and more fellowships are torn over the issue of one's stance toward Israel and the Jews. If the Bible is correct, we can expect this "problem" to grow with time rather than diminish.
Ultimately, our job is simple: speak the truth into every situation, with humility and love. If we do that, then we are not responsible for how the truth is received—that's God's job. But we do have a divinely-given responsibility to be like Balaam's donkey: to say what needs to be said and bring to light what others don't know or don't want to hear (Num. 22:28-30).
May God grant us the boldness and faithfulness of Balaam's donkey!