Recently a Christian minister, whose blog I read sometimes, made a trip to “Israel”/Palestine as part of a Christian tour. I was afraid that he would succumb to Zionist propaganda while there, and come back spouting nonsense about the Jewish “right” to the “holy land” and the evil of Palestinian resistance. I am quite pleased to report that I was wrong. On the contrary, the tour enabled him to have his eyes opened to the Palestinian plight and the justice of their cause; and he wrote about it in a couple of blog articles (here and here).
He still says that he seeks not to “take sides” on the issue, because there are certainly wrongs which have been committed by the Palestinians as well as the “Israelis”. But some Christians think he most certainly did “take sides” in favor of the Palestinian cause, and would reprimand him because he doesn’t seem to realize that the Bible declares that the Jews are “God’s chosen people” and the land belongs to them by “Divine right”.
My contention is that for Christians the “New Testament” portion of the Bible is supposed to be their primary authority; whatever authority may be attributed to the “Old Testament” is secondary and it must be interpreted “in the light of” the “New Testament”. The foremost question for the Christian, then, should be: what do the “New Testament” writers have to say about “Israel” and “the land”? As a matter of fact, the “New Testament” either flatly repudiates the “Old Testament” assertions, says they are “no longer” valid, or reinterprets them in a ‘spiritual’ and symbolical manner. So let’s look at some of the “New Testament” teaching about “Israel” and “the promised land”.
No doubt most readers will be familiar with the story in Acts 10 about the apostle Peter and the household of the Roman centurion Cornelius. Peter had a vision (shown to him three times) in which he was presented with all kinds of animals considered ‘unclean’ by the law of Moses (and therefore supposedly by the law of God). He was told to kill and eat those animals; but being a good Jew, he refused saying he had never in his life eaten anything ‘unclean’. In response, he heard a voice telling him: “What God has made clean, do not call common.” When Peter told Cornelius about this vision, he said: “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” (Verse 28). Again in verses 34 and 35 Peter said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Notice that Peter did not say that God “no longer” shows partiality; it was just a flat statement that God doesn’t show partiality. When the voice told him that he should not call “common” (or “unclean”) what God has “made clean”, this was in fact an explicit repudiation of the “law of Moses”. It was not that God had purified what was previously impure, so that Peter should not now pollute it; it was that Peter should not say things were unclean when God says they’re clean. When did God say those animals were clean? Well, Biblically speaking, it was “in the beginning” when God created everything. After each act of creation, God is said to have proclaimed that His creation was “good”. When he had finished all of creation, He proclaimed that it was all “very good” (Genesis 1:31). So the “law of Moses” contradicted the express declaration of God.
This was precisely the same as when Jesus (PBUH) said that divorce was contrary to God’s law (except in the case of sexual immorality). When it was pointed out that Moses’ law allowed for divorce, Jesus acknowledged that fact but then said that “it was not so in the beginning”; Moses’ permission was in violation of God’s law! (Mark 10:1-9). In the story in Acts about Peter’s vision of the sheet filled with ‘unclean’ animals, the statement about God calling those animals ‘clean’ was another repudiation of the “law of Moses”; it was the “false pen of the scribes” (Jeremiah 8:8) which had changed God’s original law into an untruth. Just as Jesus said about marriage, “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder”; so the vision said. “what God calls clean [good], you must not call defiled [common/unclean]”.
Peter realized that the meaning of the vision was not just about animals, but actually meant that the arrogant Jewish claim of being “God’s chosen” while the “Gentiles” were “unclean” was also a falsehood. God never said any such thing; the scribes had falsely inserted that notion into “the law”. God does not show partiality, but treats all humans the same way.
How I wish that the “New Testament” writers had consistently followed through on statements like this, that the “law of Moses” was deeply flawed due to scribal lies – or as Jesus is reported to have said concerning marriage and divorce, because Moses gave in to the ‘hardness of heart’ of the Jews and permitted what God had forbidden. Unfortunately the apostle Paul, who was in fact the chief ‘architect’ of the Christian church, was not able to completely abandon his Pharisaic attachment to the “Old Testament”. Instead, he worked out a ‘compromise’ whereby he taught that the Jews formerly were God’s chosen people, with special covenants from which ‘Gentiles’ were excluded; but now that is no longer the case.
For instance, in Ephesians 2 Paul wrote: Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ... Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
That is, God used to show partiality; but He has changed His mind and decided not to any longer! 🙄 Wow! How gracious of God! We lowly Gentiles should be overcome with gratitude! (Sarcasm intended). However, at least – now that the “middle wall of division” (Ephesians 2:14) which separated Jew and Gentile has been demolished – Paul never envisioned a future time when God would rebuild that demolished wall. There is (now) no difference between Jew and Gentile; and there will never again be one so far as Paul’s theology is concerned.
Paul does seem to indicate, in Romans 11, that there will be a ‘golden age’ when there will be a ‘fullness of blessing’ for both Gentiles and Jews. Postmillennialist Christians in particular like to refer to this passage. However it should be pointed out that there is no indication at all that when that ‘fullness’ arrives the Jews will have a more elevated position than the Gentiles. Jew and Gentile together will still be “branches” on the same “good olive tree” – the “good olive tree” representing the covenant blessings promised to “the fathers”. In the meantime, according to Paul, only the “elect” (believers) from both Jews and Gentiles inherit God’s blessings. Being a Jew “according to the flesh” never made anyone an ‘heir’ of God’s promises. There was an “election” from among the Jews who were the promised heirs; “the rest” are rejected and “hardened”. The failure of “the rest” to obtain the blessings did not invalidate God’s promises, because they were never intended as the heirs of those promises.
What, then, are the covenant promises made to “the fathers”? Jews, and “Christian Zionists”, will no doubt claim that the covenants to Israel involved an earthly parcel of land to call their own, from which the Jews will rule the world. Paul nullified that idea by proclaiming that the Gentiles are now fellow heirs of the covenants and promises which formerly belonged only to the Jews. So if there is an earthly land involved in those covenants and promises, then according to Paul the Gentiles have equal claim on that land. Do you suppose our “Christian Zionists” who are so infatuated with “Israel” according-to-the-flesh will be willing to acknowledge that the Gentile Christian believers have equal claim to “the land of Israel”? I don’t think so!!! That land, according to them, belongs by Divine grant to the Jews alone. The Christian apostle Paul disagrees with them – all the covenants are equally shared by Gentile and Jewish believers, because all belong to the same Godly household; but they blindly and blithely keep spouting their nonsense about the Jews as God’s chosen ‘earthly’ people with their own special covenants and blessings as if it were “Christian” teaching. I wish that the eyes of Christians would be opened to the teachings of the very ‘Scriptures’ they claim to honor. Then they would repudiate all ideas of Jewish privilege.
I, of course, simply reject the notion that ‘God’ has ever showed partiality in his dealings with humanity; there has never been a ‘chosen nation’ having the right to murder those who weren’t so ‘blessed’ as to belong to that ‘chosen nation’, and steal their land; and there never will be in the future. The “Old Testament” statements to the contrary are arrogant lies of the Jews, and their “Torah” (Law) is “the commandments of men” coming from “the false pen of the scribes”. I hope that Zionist “Christians” will one day see this truth, and acknowledge that Paul was mistaken when he compromised by unwillingness to go all the way with the truth (maintaining that God used to show partiality but now he doesn’t).
I also believe that all souls are equally ‘part of’ – and equally loved by – the Universal Consciousness/Source of All; and all souls will at some point consciously realize their oneness with the Source through the evolutionary process of reincarnation. May that time arrive soon!