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DO JEWS HAVE A DIVINE RIGHT TO THE LAND?

Guest —  June 26, 2012 — 14 Comments

By John Piper. How should Bible-believing Christians align themselves in the Jewish-Palestinian conflict? There are Biblical reasons for treating both sides with compassionate public justice in the same way that disputes should be settled between nations generally. In other words, the Bible does not teach us to be partial to Israel or to the Palestinians because either has a special divine status.

I do not deny that Israel was chosen by God from all the peoples of the world to be the focus of special blessing in the history of redemption which climaxed in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. “The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

Nor do I deny that God promised to Israel the presently disputed land from the time of Abraham onward. God said to Moses, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring’” (Deuteronomy 34:4).

But neither of these Biblical facts leads necessarily to the endorsement of present-day Israel as the rightful possessor of all the disputed land. Israel may have such a right. And she may not. But that decision is not based on divine privilege. Why?

First, a non-covenant-keeping people does not have a divine right to hold the land of promise. Both the blessed status of the people and the privileged right to the land are conditional on Israel’s keeping the covenant God made with her. Thus God said to Israel, “If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples” (Exodus 19:5). Israel has no warrant to a present experience of divine privilege when she is not keeping covenant with God.

More than once Israel was denied the experience of her divine right to the land when she broke covenant with God. For example, when Israel languished in captivity in Babylon, Daniel prayed, “O Lord . . .we have sinned and done wrong . . . To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame . . . to all Israel . . . in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you” (Daniel 9:4-7; see Psalm 78:54-61). Israel has no divine right to be in the land of promise when she is breaking the covenant of promise.

This does not mean that other nations have the right to molest her. She still has human rights among nations when she has no divine right. Nations that gloated over her divine discipline were punished by God (Isaiah 10:5-13).

Secondly, Israel as a whole today rejects her Messiah, Jesus Christ, God’s Son. This is the ultimate act of covenant-breaking with God. God promised that to Israel “a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7). But with tears this Prince of Peace looked out over Jerusalem and said, “Would that you . . . had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. . . . You did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:42-44).

When the builders rejected the beautiful Cornerstone, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43). He explained, “Many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness” (Matthew 8:11-12)

 

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14 responses to DO JEWS HAVE A DIVINE RIGHT TO THE LAND?

  1. “God has saving purposes for ethnic Israel (Romans 11:25-26).” This quote is after the jump. I would like to know how Dr. Gentry handles Romans 11.

  2. Dr. Gentry,
    I enjoy reading your writings as they are challenging & well-written, but this time I am in disagreement with you. If the promises of God were based upon OUR not breaking Covenant, then not a one of us would be able to claim a walk with our Lord! Each of us daily grieves our God’s heart as individuals as well as nations. But, as you well know, God doesn’t break HIS covenant even though we do. We must daily strive for our salvation, remembering on our knees that if it weren’t for the Blood of Christ, we’d be lost. God’s Covenant & Promises are based upon HIS Truth & HIS reliability not on us.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 26, 2012 at 6:30

      Gizmo:

      Don’t worry about disagreeing with me. Even I do that sometime!

      But be aware of such passages as: Deut 28:15 “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: (Deut 28:45) “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 “They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever.”

    • Christ kept the terms of the covenant for us and in our place. His obedience is imputed to us. Also we are “in Christ” therefore His obedience is also our obedience.

      • Why would Paul say in Eph 6:13 ” Wherefore take unto “you” the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” If a believer will not put on the armor of God (“do all to stand”), you can bet money that he or she will lose precious ground to the devil. By precious ground I donʻt mean eternal salvation, but freedom and living in a free country. No amount of jewish blood blood can give you advantage over the devil, no more than jewish blood can give any right to the land. It is by faith alone that believers are chosen. Paul said the ʻnatural branchesʻ are ʻcut offʻ because they have no faith. I see No other way to cut this! But the natural branches who obey Christ, whoʻs hearts are circumcised etc., these continue to carry with them the promises “given to our fathers.” All such promises are still contingent on faith, not the rapture which somehow automatically conveys belief (obedience) to the Jews! Having done all to stand -oops except you jews out there who have jewish blood! You donʻt need to do anything because you are already going to heaven!

  3. I would like to point out, even IF (big if) God did not mean/to honor his commitment if Israel did not fulfill their obligations, the Palestinians/Muslims have skewed all the facts in their favor in an attempt to ANNIHILATE the Jewish Race. e.g. Mohammed’s midnight ride from the furthest temple. There was no temple in Jerusalem at that time. They also have demonstrated hatred and steadfastly denied Israel’s very right to exist. The reason that there are so many refugees in Palestine is because the Arabs insisted they ‘stay put’ to invoke world sympathy for them and world hatred for the Jews.

    As a Christian, I cannot abandon the “apple of God’s eye”

  4. The Epistle To The Hebrews
    Hebrews 3, verses 1-19

    1 Now he showeth how far inferior Moses is to Christ, 5, 6 even so much as the servant to the Master: and so he bringeth in certain exhortations and threatenings taken out of David, 8 against such as either stubbornly resist, 12 or else are very slow to obey.

    01Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly vocation, consider the Apostle and high Priest of our profession Christ Jesus: 02Who was faithful to him that hath appointed him, even as Moses was in all his house. 03For this man is counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he which hath builded the house, hath more honor than the house. 04For every house is builded of some man, and he that hath built all things, is God. 05Now Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a witness of the things which should be spoken after. 06But Christ is as the Son, over his own house, whose house we are, if we hold fast that confidence and that rejoicing of that hope unto the end. 07Wherefore, as the holy Ghost saith, Today if ye shall hear his voice, 08Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, according to the day of the temptation in the wilderness, 09Where your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years long. 10Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They err ever in their heart, neither have they known my ways. 11Therefore I swear in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest. 12Take heed brethren, lest at any time there be in any of you an evil heart, and unfaithful, to depart away from the living God. 13But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we are made partakers of Christ, if we keep sure unto the end that beginning, wherewith we are upholden, 15So long as it is said, Today if ye hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16For some when they heard, provoked him to anger: howbeit, not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17But with whom was he displeased forty years? Was he not displeased with them that sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom swear he that they should not enter into his rest, but unto them that obeyed not? 19So we see that they could not enter in, because of unbelief.

  5. Ted R. Weiland June 27, 2012 at 6:30

    Even if the eschatology regarding today’s Jews returning to the land of Israel were correct, it’s first dependent upon the Zionists being genetic descendants of the Biblical Israelites, which their own Encyclopedias, Almanacs, and historians admit they are not. For example, consider the first sentence of the first chapter (entitled “Identity Crisis”) of the 1980 “Jewish Almanac”:

    “Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to call an ancient Israelite a ‘Jew’ or to call a contemporary Jew an ‘Israelite’ or a ‘Hebrew.’” (Richard Siegel and Carl Rheins, eds., “Identity Crisis,” The Jewish Almanac, (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1980) p. 3.)

    The reason for this is because today’s Jews are known as “Jews,” not because they are descendants of the Biblical Judahites, but instead because between the 7th and 9th centuries A.D., their Khazarian ancestors adopted the religion of Judaism. This is also acknowledged in
    “The Jewish Encyclopedia,” the “Encyclopedia Judaica,” “The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia,” “The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia,” and by many of their own historians, such Arthur Koestler who wrote a 1976 best-seller “The Thirteenth Tribe.”

    With this mind and because Hebrews 8:8-9 (among others) declare that the New Covenant was made with a Christian remnant of physical descendants from both the house of Judah and the house of Israel, it remains important to correctly identify who those descendants are today. Because they have not been correctly identified (for the most part), numerous Old Testament prophecies regarding the New Covenant are either ignored altogether or the stated recipients of those prophecies are declared, under the New Covenant, to be someone other than whom the Prophets delineated. For example, Hosea 1 and 2, quoted in Romans 9 and 1 Peter 2. We are not at liberty to change the intended recipients to someone else without making Yahweh a liar. Part of the problem lies in that neither postmillennialists nor premilliennalists have correctly identified the New Covenant Jews and gentiles Once these people are correctly identified, everything falls into place. Most importantly, it keeps us from presumptuously overruling Yahweh as to whom He declares the prophecies pertain.

    • According to Galatians 3, all Christians are of the house of Judah and the house of Israel since we are all in Christ. Christ is the seed of Abraham, therefore, if we are in Christ, we are also descendants of Abraham.

    • Exactly. Israel is spiritual, not ethnic or national. The Church is the continuation of Israel, Jew and Gentile grafted into one covenant community.

    • Christ is a physical descendant of Abraham. If I am in Christ, and I’m adopted into His family and since I am a physical being as well as a spiritual being (as is Christ) doesn’t that also make me a recipient of any earthly blessings to wich Christ is entitled to because of Him being a physical descendant of Abraham? Shouldn’t I then be considered as being physically a Jew since I was adopted into the family of a descendant of Abraham? Paul states that we Christians are true descendants of Abraham. He doesn’t state that we are only spiritual descendants of Abraham does he? Why can’t I claim the supposed promises made to the physical descendants of Abraham?

  6. That’s right Ted , I like the way you think.

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