I believe that we need to begin all over again. Too many sincere Christians are viewing the Israel-Palestinian struggle through the wrong lenses. We need to re-frame and get back to the framework of Jesus, Paul and the other apostles. Below are the four sides of a Gospel-shaped frame that I believe enable us to correctly approach what the issue.
- All the Promises of God are fulfilled in Christ Jesus. All that was anticipated and promised in the Old Testament converged and finds fulfillment in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. No promises of the Old Testament can claim fulfillment outside of a explicit faith based relationship with Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:16: “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘and to offsprings’, referring to many, but referring to one, ‘and to your offspring’, who is Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him”. Acts 3:22: “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people’”.
- The New Creation has dawned! What has dawned in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the beginnings of a new and eternal order of God. This new order, this 'new creation', is qualitatively superior to the old order. Race, gender, social status, human achievement, religious identity markers and the like have all been outdated and diminished in glory in the dazzling light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With the sun out, you can put the candle out. Going back to the Old Testament forms is anachronistic and out of step with God. Galatians 6:15-16: “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision but a new creation. And as for all those who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God”. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things have passed away; see, the new things have come!” Matthew 12:6: “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here”
- The heart of God is for people. If any teaching engenders a prejudice for one racial group over another, the heart of God is lost. The Gospel makes not distinction between people. God desires for all to be incorporated in the New Covenant in Christ. Apocalyptic fever over the Middle East blinds to the needs of the people on the ground. We dare not be indifferent to the need for personal salvation and also to the humanitarian sufferings of people on ground zero. Moral issues are foremost to God and there is a cause-effect relationship between morality and judgment. Apocalyptic and pessimistic fatalism hollows out the heart. Galatians 5:14-15: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another”. Matthew 12:3-4: “He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for priests?’. Luke 10:30-33: “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down the road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, he passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion”.
- The Mission of the church effects the return of Christ. The timing of the second coming of Christ is relative. Our focus should now be on getting on with our mandate from Jesus to 'disciple the nations' (Matthew 28:19-20). Only once a full harvest of the Gospel from all people groups comes in will the end come. It is not the political state of Israel that sets the clock for the end. The church does. Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”. 2 Peter 3:11-12: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for an hastening the coming of the day of God”. Romans 11:25-27: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles have come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.”