The subject of Israel is not only a controversial subject in the news, it is also controversial in the church. Because this controversy is not going away, pastors and leaders must prepare their people to approach the subject of Israel biblically. Part of preparing people is avoiding some of the most common errors related to approaching the subject of Israel. Here are a few common errors we want to avoid:
Not Staying Jesus-centered – Sometimes we can unintentionally put Israel at the center of the Biblical narrative. However, Jesus is the center of the Bible. We must see Israel’s calling and her future through a Jesus-centered perspective and approach Israel in a way that keeps Jesus the main focus.
Putting Politics Before the Bible – The Bible must be the starting place related to the subject of Israel. Politics are an important part of our world, but not the starting place for believers. We must start with what the Bible says and then allow it to inform our political views. Too many believers adopt a political position for or against Israel and then use the Bible to support it. This is backwards.
Confusion about the Old Testament – There is very little systematic teaching of the Old Testament and most believers do not understand that the Old Testament was not simply replaced by the New Testament. We need teaching to help believers understand what was replaced, what was not replaced, and how Jesus fulfills both. The Old Testament was the Bible the apostles used and they were far more familiar with it than we are.
Not Prioritizing Evangelism – Our burden for Israel must move us to evangelism both in our relationships with Jewish people and through support of the body of Jesus in Israel. If we affirm Israel’s place in God’s story, but do not deliver the gospel to Israel we are being irresponsible because the gospel is the only thing that will bring Israel into her calling. Paul was in unceasing anguish over Israel’s salvation and we should be as well (Romans 9:2). Millions of Christians tour Israel every year, but statistically it is remains an unreached nation. This should grieve us.
Not Connecting with the Body of Jesus in Israel – There is a vibrant, growing church in Israel, but sadly most believers think of Israel only in political terms and never make a substantial connection with what God is doing in the nation. The church in Israel needs the global church and the global church needs connection with our family in Israel.
Creating a Zero–Sum Game – Because our view of Israel has been mostly shaped by politics we tend the choose whether we support the Jewish people or the Palestinians. The gospel does not ask us to make that choice. The gospel is God’s means of bringing all people into their calling and in the gospel, we can love God’s purposes for Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, and every other people. Recognizing what the Bible says about God’s call on the Jewish people does not mean rejecting other people groups.