As Christians, must we support Israel?
I’ve been wondering about this lately. Does it still apply today? As Christians, must we support Israel, no matter what its government does? I’m not asking about your opinion on recent events. It’s more of a general question about theology and Scripture.
First let’s distinguish “Israel” in the sense of the Jewish people as a whole, all over the world, from “Israel” in the sense of the nation-state which was established as a homeland for Jews after World War II, when the Nazis had slaughtered Jews by the millions.
Exactly what God has in mind for the Jewish people as a whole is unknown to us, but we can say several things. The Jewish people deserve undying honor as the nation God cherished and set apart to be His first witness to the gentiles, and to be the people from whom Messiah would one day be born. Moreover, God has not forgotten the Jewish people. In the Old Testament he made numerous promises to them, many of them unconditional, and God always fulfills His promises in time.
In the meantime, Christians should do all they can to be in good fellowship with their Jewish neighbors. In a sense, they are the older brothers of us Christians, and we should feel for them all the things it is right to feel for older brothers. We should condemn even the shadow of anti-Semitism.
Now as to Israel the contemporary nation-state. Even the God-ordained government of ancient Israel did not always do right, and we should not assume that the government of modern Israel will always do right either — just as we should not assume that our own government will always deal justly. But in view of the special place of the Jewish people in salvation history, and in view of the terrible things that have been done to Jews through the ages — sometimes by sinful Christians — I think Christians everywhere should make the well-being of the state of Israel a deep concern of their hearts.
Israel struggles for her very survival against enemies who hate her with a demonic hatred. This is not a mere “cycle of violence,” and the two sides are not morally equivalent; it is not Israel who sends her children as suicide bombers into the territory of her neighbors. We should certainly criticize the government of any country when it needs criticism, Israel and America included. But it would be an unspeakable loss — and, I believe, an unutterable sin — if we were ever to allow Israel to perish.
International politics is a great and grave mess. I hope my letter helps you to sort things out.
Grace and peace,
Copyright 2002 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Professor J. Budziszewski is the author of more than a dozen books, including How to Stay Christian in College, Ask Me Anything, Ask Me Anything 2, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, and The Line Through the Heart. He teaches government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin.