A Christian Zionist Looks At Israel

by Joseph Hunting

Just as there are Jews who practise Judaism but are not necessarily espoused to the ideals of Zionism, so there are practising Christians who do not see the relevance of Israel fulfilling God's plan and purposes in the Word of God.

On the other hand, there is an increasing number of Gentiles who, whilst embracing the Christian faith, have aligned themselves with all the hopes and aspirations of Zionism. It is granted that their motivation is diverse from that of their Jewish counterparts, yet their love of Zion and zeal for the well-being and building up of modern-day Israel cannot be disputed. They are known as Christian Zionists.

Dr Michael Pragai in his excellent book, FAITH AND FULFILMENT documents the lives of Gentiles who have vigorously supported the aims and objectives of Zionism, some from a political standpoint and some from a Biblical basis. I personally recommend this book which in the words of Teddy Kollek, " ... is the story of heart-warming testimony and a stirring expression of brotherhood that joins Jews and Christians in perhaps the most significant event of this century, the rebirth of Israel. It is a story of faith which culminates here in Jerusalem where, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent, day or night' (62:6)."

Whilst as a Gentile believer I had a theoretical belief in God's promises regarding Israel it was the rebirth of the State of Israel on May 14th 1948 that was the catalyst that transformed a theoretical belief in God's promises to that of substance and living reality.

"What Nation is There so Great ..."

A Christian Zionist, by definition, is one who sees a living link between the Jews of the twentieth century and their ancestors. The very survival of the Jewish people dating from the programme of genocide implemented by the Pharaoh in Egypt, the similar diabolical schemes of Haman and Hitler, not to mention the persecutions perpetrated in the name of Christianity during the Crusades, the Inquisition and the pogroms in Russia, is an ongoing miracle of survival that has no parallel in history.

Divine intervention on Israel's behalf is nothing new. Three thousand five hundred years ago Moses declared, "What nation is there so great, who has God so near unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?"

Witness the battle against the Amorites. Five armies under the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Lachish, the king of Jarmuth and the king of Eglon were fleeing before the army of Israel under Joshua. As the day was drawing to a close Joshua prayed to the Lord, then commanded the sun to stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Ajalon. The Bible records, "So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that either before or after it" (Joshua 10:12-14).

Again, witness God's miraculous intervention when Elijah confronted the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Elijah had thrown down the gauntlet to the priests of Baal. "Call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answers by fire, let him be God" (1 Kings 18:24). Two altars were prepared, one for Baal and one for the God of Israel. Wood and slain bullocks were placed on the altars, but Elijah dug a trench round his altar and submerged the whole with water.

Then the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal called upon their god from morning till noon. During the afternoon Elijah mocked them as they gashed themselves with knives and screamed to their god. Finally Elijah called upon the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, "Let it be known this day that you are God in Israel" and the fire fell, consuming the offering, altar and the water.

Finally Elijah prayed that the three year drought would be broken and soon there was the sound of an abundance of rain. Truly space doesn't permit to document the hundreds of miracles wrought by prayer. Truly, WHAT NATIONS IS THERE SO GREAT, WHO HAS GOD SO NEAR UNTO THEM, AS THE LORD OUR GOD IS IN ALL THINGS THAT WE CALL UPON HIM FOR? (Deuteronomy 4:7)

Christian Zionism and the Reborn State of Israel

Not all Christians believe that the Church has replaced Israel, or that God has annulled His covenants and promises to Israel. The rebirth of Israel on the soil of its ancient homeland has awakened many Christians to the relevance of modern-day Israel and the Word of God, and in particular the prophecies of Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37.

Chapter 36 graphically describes the rebirth of the Land itself. "Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and a derision to the nations that are round about.

"But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to My people Israel; for they are at hand to come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded.

"And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings ..." (36:4,8-11).

Chapter 37 is the "Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones" in which Ezekiel describes the rebirth of the People on the Land. One needs to read and ponder the miracle that unfolds before Ezekiel. A valley full of dry and scattered human bones come together "bone to his bone". Then sinews and flesh cover the bones. So that we may capture the tremendous significance of the nation reborn I shall quote Ezekiel's words. "And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then He said unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say unto the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army." (37:8-10).

That too is exactly what took place when Israel came to the birth forty years ago. The nation lived, and stood up upon its feet, an exceeding great army! All the world witnessed the miracle of Israel's rebirth. The world witnessed Israel standing up upon its feet -- indeed, standing tall and erect. And for good measure, the world witnessed Israel as an exceeding great army as this infant state, though hopelessly outnumbered and alone, flung the invading enemy armies back over its borders and has continued to do so ever since. How truly Ezekiel's words have come true!

Israel 's Messianic Mission

Although Israel's greatness has been amply demonstrated by God's Word, this nation's greatest contribution to mankind at large has been its ministry in providing the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour and hope of all mankind.

Israel 's prophets have provided all the necessary clues concerning great David's greater Son. Micah identified Bethlehem in Judah as His birthplace. (5:2 A.V.). Isaiah described the manner of His birth (7:4), and Daniel predicted the very day He would be acclaimed as the One who fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass" (9:9).

It was none other than the angel Gabriel who gave Daniel the details of his amazing prophecy. He told Daniel that 483 years would elapse from the going forth of a decree to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince. It is interesting to note that two decrees were issued; the first one was given by Cyrus and concerns the building of the Temple (Ezra 1:1-4). The second was given by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls (Nehemiah 2). It is the latter decree that marked the starting point for the 483 years unto Messiah the Prince. That decree was issued in the 20th year of the king's reign in the month Nisan, 445 B.C.E.

483 years in the lunar calendar totalled 173,880 days which coincided with the very day in the month Nisan in Jerusalem when the multitudes hailed the Messiah saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 21:9). How poignant were His words as He wept over Jerusalem on that day : " If you had only known, even you, at least in THIS YOUR DAY, the things which belong unto your peace!" (Luke 19:41-42).

Thus far Israel has fulfilled all that its prophets have foretold. There is no reason to believe that God will not fulfil His final plan and purpose for this truly great nation when, finally redeemed, they shall be His people, and He shall be their God. The world has waited close on six thousand years for that blessed day. Let us fervently pray that it won't have to wait much longer.