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Stephen Sizer is the author of Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon; In the Footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles (Eagle); and Zion’s Christian Soldiers. He is the pastor of Christ Church, Virginia Water, England.
Sizer has served with Campus Crusade for Christ as an evangelist and is a founder member of the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism, and trustee of the Amos Trust. He is a frequent speaker in the United States and Middle East and is the author of many articles and audio resources as well as several books, mostly on subjects relating to Zionism and the land of Israel.
He opposes both Christian Zionism and any forms of Antisemitism as he holds a Covenantal overview and hermeneutic for the Bible.
Sizer co-founded www.christianzionism.org/ a group of Christians offering an alternative to the biblical and political distortions of Christian Zionism
by this author:
Whose Promised Land: Israel and Biblical Prophecy
Christian Zionist influence retracting
Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour
Defending Israel to the `End Times`
A miscarriage of understanding
Invisible Strings Are Still Strings
Evangelical group, adopts Ashkelon Hospital
Terrorism’s Christian Godfather
The Name Of The Constitution: Military Dad Fights Religious Right
When We Let John Hagee Speak for Us
Huckabee’s radical religious friends
The Real Mike Huckabee: Israel and the Apocalypse
Israel`s false friends
AIPAC Cheers an Anti-Semitic Holocaust Revisionist (and Abe Foxman Approves)
Christians to sit on Jewish Agency board
White House told to detail Christian leader visits
‘Friendship’ evangelists eschew street, cozy up to prospective converts
CNN Alert: Theo-political Climate Change
Did Tim LaHaye Just Call Israelis "Not-To-Be-Trusted Yids?"
Missionary Activity in Sderot
Christian Zionism as a movement was born within British evangelicalism in the 19th Century and has become institutionalised through Dispensationalism into mainstream American evangelicalism in the 20th Century. This paper has sought to demonstrate that while evangelicalism may have given birth to Christian Zionism, it is time to look again at its genetics and re-evaluate whether we are indeed related.
While there is a commitment by organisations such as Jews for Jesus and CMJ to evangelise Jewish people, their solidarity with politicised and non-evangelistic agencies such as Bridges for Peace and the International Christian Embassy has led many evangelicals to equate their faith with Zionism, becoming apologists for the State of Israel itself and thereby, whether intentionally or otherwise complicit in apartheid practices and human rights abuses in the name of God.116 Satirically, Kenneth Cragg summarises the implications of Christian Zionism’s ethnic exclusivity.
It is so; God chose the Jews; the land is theirs by divine gift. These dicta cannot be questioned or resisted. They are final. Such verdicts come infallibly from Christian biblicists for whom Israel can do no wrong-thus fortified. But can such positivism, this unquestioning finality, be compatible with the integrity of the Prophets themselves? It certainly cannot square with the open peoplehood under God which is the crux of New Testament faith. Nor can it well be reconciled with the ethical demands central to law and election alike.117
Many Christians in the Middle East similarly regard Christian Zionism as a deviant heresy which is subservient to the political agenda of the State of Israel. They claim it represents a tendency to
…force the Zionist model of theocratic and ethnocentric nationalism on the Middle East… The Christian Zionist programme, with its elevation of modern political Zionism, provides the Christian with a world view where the gospel is identified with the ideology of success and militarism. It places its emphasis on events leading up to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.118
Christian Zionism only thrives on a futurist and literal hermeneutic when Old Testament promises made to the ancient Jewish people are transposed on to the contemporary State of Israel. To do so it is necessary to ignore, marginalise or bi-pass the New Testament which reinterprets, annuls and fulfils those promises in and through Jesus Christ and his followers. This is no where more evident than in Galatians 4 where we are taught that we should no longer regard unbelieving Jews as descendants of Sarah and Isaac but of Hagar and Ishmael.
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother… Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:21-28)
The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are therefore now to be understood as fulfilled only through those who follow Jesus Christ, for they alone are designated the true children of Abraham and Sarah. Jews who reject Jesus Christ are outside the covenant of grace and are to be regarded as children of Hagar. Paul takes Sarah’s words of Genesis 21:10 and applies them to the Judaizers who were corrupting the faith of the church in Galatia.
Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son. (Galatians 4:30)
This paper has attempted to show why this injunction should be applied today toward those who demonstrate the same legalizing tendencies within Christian Zionism. This is no excuse for arrogance or anti-Semitisim which we all abhor. With sensitivity and compassion we are mandated to share our faith in Jesus praying that our Jewish friends find their Messiah and complete their faith. However, any suggestion that the Jewish people continue to have a special status before God, a separate and continuing covenant or exclusive rights to the lands of the Middle East is, in the words of John Stott, ‘biblical anathema.’119 Stott gives three reasons why Christian Zionism should be regarded as beyond the boundaries of evangelicalism
The fundamental question Christian Zionists must therefore answer is this: What difference did the coming of Jesus Christ make to the traditional Jewish hopes and expectations about the land? Christians may not interpret the Old Covenant as if the coming of Jesus made little or no difference to the nationalistic and territorial aspirations of first century Judaism. Christian Zionists seem to read the Old Testament with the spectacles that the first disciples wore before their resurrection encounters with the risen Christ and before Pentecost.
They seem to believe the coming of the kingdom of Jesus meant a postponement of Jewish hopes for restoration rather than the fulfilment of those hopes in the Messiah and new, inclusive, Messianic community.
In the process of redemptive history a dramatic movement has been made from type to reality, from shadow to substance. The land that once was the specific locale of God’s redemptive plan served temporarily under the Old Covenant forms as a picture of paradise lost and promised but fulfilled and redeemed by a New Covenant in which the land becomes enlarged to encompass the entire cosmos. The exalted Christ rules from the heavenly Jerusalem demonstrating His sovereignty over the entire world. A regression to the limited forms of the Old Covenant shadow is therefore apostasy.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:4-6)
The reality cannot give way again to shadow, for in the will and purposes of God the shadows no longer exist. The light has come in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 8:13 provides us not only with a hermeneutical key to unravelling the Christian Zionist case, but also explains Paul’s vehemence at the Judaizing tendencies corrupting the church in Galatia.
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)
The destruction of the temple and sacrificial system in 70 AD fulfilled that prediction. The choice since then has been between two theologies. One based primarily on the shadows of the Old Covenant and one based on the reality of the New Covenant. Christian Zionism is an exclusive theology that focuses on the Jews in the land rather than an inclusive theology that centres on Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Christian Zionism provides a theological endorsement for apartheid and ethnic cleansing, rather than a theology of justice, peace and reconciliation which lie at the heart of the New Covenant.
Israel is a materialistic and apartheid State practising repressive and dehumanising measures against the indigenous Palestinians in flagrant disregard of universally recognised standards of human behaviour. Christian Zionists who believe the promises of the Old Covenant still await future fulfilment or endorse the behaviour of Israel would do well to heed Joshua’s final words,
Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as every good promise of the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you. (Joshua 23:14-18).
Like Isaac’s children Jacob and Esau, it is time to stop fighting over the birthright and start sharing the blessings.121
Garth Hewitt is a friend who has written many songs about the plight of the Christian community in Israel and Palestine. One of them, based on some verses from the Jewish Talmud, is called ‘Ten measures of beauty God gave to the world’. I would like to close by using it as a prayer.
May the justice of God fall down like fire and bring a home for the Palestinian.
May the mercy of God pour down like rain and protect the Jewish people.
And may the beautiful eyes of a Holy God who weeps for His children
Bring the healing hope for His wounded ones For the Jew and the Palestinian.
The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News.
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