Does the Bible Obligate Christians to Support Israel?

Ever since our president made a speech on May 19 in which he suggested a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine with pre-1967 borders, I’ve seen a ton of posts on Facebook and in the news media in which Christians claim to support Israel over Obama. Now, I understand that the politics involved with economic and military allegiances are complex, and that there will be disagreement over any foreign policy. I don’t want to get into various opinions on whether or not Obama’s foreign policy best advances American interests in the region… that’s a conversation for another day.

What I question, though, is the attitude among many Christians (which has been around far longer than the last two weeks) that the nation of Israel can do no wrong, and that any criticism of Israeli policy (or borders, in this case) is tantamount to an attack on God himself. Evangelicals commonly claim a Scriptural mandate to support the political nation-state of Israel, no matter what. But is that mandate really there? Does the Bible obligate Christians to support Israel?

Rather than try to answer this myself, let me direct you to a recent article by Michael Horton which addresses this very question. His answer and reasoning is excellent; I hope you’ll read it! (“Biblical Foreign Policy?”)

Again, while acknowledging that there may be many political reasons to support the nation of Israel, I do not believe that there is necessarily any theological reason to do so. I’m sure many will disagree, which is fine. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know. I’m still working through this question myself, and would welcome some dialogue as I develop my own thoughts.

Update: Douglas Wilson, a pastor and thinker I admire, addressed this same issue this morning. Though he agrees that Scripture does not obligate Christians to support Israel, and that Zionism (which resulted in carving up Palestine to create a nation for ethnic Jews) was a bad idea to begin with, he proposes reasons why we should support Israel politically. As he says, the Middle East is a mess, but one must “play the hand you hold” rather than speak theoretically about what should be. Check it out.

5 comments on “Does the Bible Obligate Christians to Support Israel?

  1. DG Holloway says:

    I read Doug Wilson’s article and have some questions as it fails to address that this hand that was and is dealt is by God’s design and even though we or he may not think it was the best decision of the century, in Revelations Israel is where it is and that is by God’s design.

    • John Gardner says:

      Non-dispensational theologians (such as Doug Wilson and Michael Horton) do not believe that anything written in the Bible refers to a political nation-state of Israel located in the Middle East. That was the point of Horton’s article. Every promise made to the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant was fulfilled in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). The New Testament speaks of “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16) and a “spiritual Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22), but these are referring to God’s people, the Church.

      Dispensational theologians disagree, believing that God still has unfinished business with Israel as a nation (as opposed to ethnic Jews; Horton and Wilson both agree that there will still be an end-times outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Jewish people during which a great many of them will become Christians). Those who do believe that the current existence of the nation of Israel is an event prophesied in the Bible generally point to several passages, but none in Revelation. Unless I am mistaken, the book of Revelation makes no mention of a nation of Israel.

  2. [...] Christians that the Bible obligates Christians to support the nation-state of Israel, which I have previously addressed. Those who believe this way are not likely to be satisfied by a foreign policy that does not [...]

  3. [...] interested to read this recent interview with Ron Paul about his stance toward Israel, something I’ve also written about previously. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

  4. [...] notion that Scripture compels us to ally ourselves with the nation of Israel, to a fault. As I have written previously, I reject this idea, while remaining open to the fact that there may be many other reasons to [...]

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