At some point everyone has to “get off the fence” and choose a side. There’s going to be a huge battle in a valley north of Jerusalem called “Har Megiddo” (translated “Armageddon”). Why is the battle there?
Israel will continue to refuse to be reconciled with the nations to the point that “all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:3) including the United States, and I believe with the intent to bring an end to Israel and her conflicts with her neighbors once and for all. In that day, the question raised to Adam is brought home to us all. Not choosing a side is a choice for a side; and undoubtedly the wrong side. “Adam, where are you?” is not a geographical question. God knew the exact physical location of where Adam stood. Christian, where do you stand?
The question raised by the title would have a quick and simple answer if all who call themselves “Christian” knew the bible. Most rely on their priest, pastor, or minister to communicate to them and other congregation members’ biblical messages. You may be saying, ‘What’s wrong with that? The bible is huge! It would be a monumental undertaking to read it and I often don’t understand it when I have tried to read it.’ There’s a reason you didn’t understand it. Much of what the bible has to say is contrary to what is often taught in pulpits, leading to confusion. Most give up and just trust that “nice person” up front. My father had a Doctorate in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He told me that while he was there he studied Theology (Christian philosophy – see Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8), Public Speaking, Greek, Hebrew, Psychology, Family Counseling, and had one (one-semester) course in the bible. It was more of a “how to break it down” class than a “what the bible says” class. Whatever bible study he accomplished he did on his own. He came to a genuine revelation experience in the Lord twenty six years after he had graduated from seminary, and had been preaching and ministering all that time without it. That revelation experience is required for being able to perceive the Kingdom of God (John 3:3) and so Dad’s ministry changed radically and for the better when that revelation occurred. Note that such a revelation experience was not required for seminary attendance and professing atheists are also rewarded with theological degrees if they complete the course of study. Do you really know what your pastor believes? I’ve met a few that are actually atheists or agnostics and their congregation members have no idea.
As believers, our understanding must not be molded by the philosophies of seemingly learned people, but as it is clearly described to us in the scriptures. Having studied through the scriptures “cover-to-cover” three times, and now repeatedly teaching others through the scriptures in like manner, I find it very clear. God understands that we are all not nearly as intelligent as He. What He considers to be important for us to understand He repeats frequently. So let’s look at what the apostle Paul had to say concerning this subject. “What?” you may ask, “Paul spoke about Middle Eastern conflicts?” The political scene of his time was different from today, but yes, in that setting he did speak on the topic. Here’s what he said.
“For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,’ THEREFORE, I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME.'” Romans 15:8-9 (Paul is quoting Psalm 18:49, also Psalm 117:1)
We believe Paul wrote this letter about thirty five years after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, so for Christ to have become something implies Jesus’ manifestation through His Church. Paul is giving clear definition to the churches as to what their function has become, as had been revealed to Paul though Jesus’ functioning in the congregations that had been established under Paul’s apostleship. First, to serve Israel (the circumcision) and confirm to the people of Israel the promises made to the fathers (the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and, secondly, for the gentiles to glorify God. The second directive (the gentiles to glorify God) the church has seemingly fulfilled, but with regard to the first directive (serving and encouraging Israel) the church has failed miserably.
In another place the Apostle Paul tells us,
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God (the Father) prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘uncircumcision,’ by the so-called ‘circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:10-12
In this letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul knows that from their former experiences in paganism they will very likely spiritualize the identity of the state of Israel (which Christianity has continued to do for nearly two millennia in spite of Paul’s exhortation) so he went out of his way to use the word “commonwealth;” i. e. physically here on the earth, the state or country of Israel. Note that Paul equates being separated from Jesus, being strangers to God’s covenants and hopeless with not having identity with the State of Israel.
For a third witness we look again to the letter (epistle) to the Roman church; now throughout all of chapter 11. Here Paul warns the church not to see its identity as separated from the “rich root of the olive tree” (11:24) meaning Israel. Since Rome was the center of the known world of their time (the ruling empire) Paul knew that the congregation in Rome would be highly tempted to see themselves as the ruling, decision-making body for all of Christianity. Those who received this letter from Paul’s hand surely listened to his words, but subsequent generations freely gave themselves over to Roman domination. This was laid in concrete by the Roman Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. (see “Were You Waiting for the Anti-Christ? You Missed Him!”).
In light of these statements made in Paul’s letters I can confidently say that I am not a Roman. I am an Israeli. Do the Jewish people see me in this way? Not for a second. Does Jesus see me in this way? Yes; it is through the King of Israel that I have been grafted into the State of Israel (Romans 11). It won’t work at immigration, but how can we be married to the King of Israel and not become Israelis?
Promises to Israel
So (from a few paragraphs back) you may be asking, “So what were these promises that God made to the patriarchs that we as Christians are supposed to be confirming?” I’m glad you asked! The Lord said to Abraham:
“Now the Lord said to Abram (Abraham), go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you;” Genesis 12:1
“Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan (today Israel). Genesis 12:5
“The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land’ Genesis 12:7a
“for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and your descendants forever.” Genesis 13:15
“On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt (including Gaza) as far as the great river, the river Euphrates” (yes, that means up to Iraq). Genesis 15:18
To Isaac the Lord said:
“Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands, and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” Genesis 26:3-5
And now to Jacob,
“And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; you shall no longer be called Jacob (one who supplants or undermines), but Israel (Prince of God) shall be your name.’ Thus He called him Israel. God also said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and I will give it to your descendants after you.'” Genesis 35:10-12
So the promises are for the land of Israel to belong to the children of Abraham, Isaac and Israel forever. Paul’s challenge to the church was not to convert all the Jews to Christianity, but to confirm to them that the land of Israel is their land, and that God will keep His promises. Notice that the promises are not to Abraham, Ishmael and Esau. If there is question concerning that we need only identify who was buried in the cave of the fathers, the cave of Machpelah. Abraham purchased the field and cave of Machpelah for a place to bury his wife, Sarah, when she died. All those who were buried there ended up being those who received these promises from God; Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Israel and Leah (Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin and was buried near the place where she died).
Even after all the unfaithfulness demonstrated by the sons of Israel during the times of the judges and kings, and as the people of Israel were about to be dispersed into the nations, the prophet Jeremiah tells us,
“Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the LORD of Hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before Me’ declares the Lord, ‘then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus says the LORD, ‘if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth be searched out below, then I will also cast off all the off spring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 31:35-37
What He said there was that the order of the universe would have to be destroyed before God would even consider rejecting His people Israel. A fact that scientists just can’t wrap their heads around is the reality of the people of Israel having not assimilated into other nations, but remaining a people who can trace their heritage to Abraham even to this day. No other race of people can make that claim. If God were now to say these promises are void; replaced by “Christian Dispesationalism” (implying that God first dispensed grace to Israel, but following Jesus’ life on earth He now is dispensing grace on the Church), how could we Christians trust Him to remain faithful to us? In what would we be able to trust for our salvation? Our God keeps His promises; all of them. Our God is God.
In addition to all of these quotes our bible also records three specific property deeds. The first is the field and cave of Machpelah (previously mentioned – today that includes the cities of Hevron [Hebron] and Kiryat Arba) sold to Abraham for an exorbitant price (Genesis 23: 17-20). The second being the bones of Joseph brought up from Egypt were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem (Joshua 24:32). Third, King David purchased the Temple Mount (Mount Moriah and Mount Zion) from Ornan the Jebusite to make an offering and stop the pestilence that was coming on the people for his sin (1 Chronicles 21:18-26). Not much later, and directly as a result of the revelation David had received there, Solomon (David’s son and heir to the Throne) built the first stone temple. The Temple Mount belongs to Israel. The “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria) belongs to Israel. Israel belongs to Israel, because the God of the bible says so.
It was said of King David that he had a heart like God (1 Samuel 13:14 – actually “a heart like God’s heart”). It was also said of David: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). In our “western” thinking these two statements don’t appear to go together, but God is not a humanist (Greek philosophy). We, in the west (western hemisphere and Europe), think that everyone should just sit down, talk and work out our differences. It’s not that simple. If Israel should come to the peace table with willingness to compromise it is simply seen by their enemies as weakness. In 1967 God delivered Israel from certain death as Egypt, Syria and Jordan supported by Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Tunisia were posturing an overthrow on Israel’s borders. Israel surprisingly attacked first and overthrew them all in six days taking back Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the so called “West Bank” including east Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount) from Jordan. As a peace gesture, Israeli General Moshe Dayan almost immediately granted the Islamic “Palestinians” access to the Temple Mount, which was seen as a victory for Allah and weakness on the part of Israelis. Time after time Israelis have come to the table making concession after concession, giving up land (Gaza, Hebron, Jericho, etc.) for peace while the “Palestinians” either make no concessions or never intend to fulfill their promises.
The Battle against Amalek
There is a difference in function between the nation of Israel and the elect in Jesus (Yeshua). The picture is prophetically granted to us in the battle with Amalek as Israel was crossing through the wilderness. Joshua took the army into physical battle while Moses, together with Aaron and Hur, went up on the mountain and interceded (Exodus 17:8-16). Notice when Moses tired and his arms dropped the army of Israel began to lose. When Aaron and Hur propped up Moses’ arms Israel prevailed until they won the battle. Joshua and the army represent the nation of Israel today. Moses together with Aaron and Hur represent the true church. Israel is called to fight against Amalek (Satan’s work in the earth) physically. Through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord says, “(Israel) You are my war-club, my weapon of war; and with you I shatter nations, and with you I destroy kingdoms” (Jeremiah 51:20).
Paul’s admonition to the church is quite different.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:11-13
“with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18
The church, like Moses, is to be interceding on behalf of the army and confronting “powers and principalities of darkness.” Being in prayer and petitioning at all times in the Spirit means to be in intercession continually. The elect (the church) are called to be the anointed vessel in the midst of Israel, as was Moses (also king David) and be the manifestation of Jesus (Yeshua) in the earth and with regard to Israel interceding on behalf of those engaging in the physical battle.
Revelation Chapter 12 grants us interesting insight. We must connect it to Joseph’s dream (Genesis 37:9-10) to understand that the woman represents Israel and the twelve stars on her crown represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Therefore, the son she bore represents Jesus.
“And when the dragon (Satan) saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman (Israel) who gave birth to the male child (Jesus). But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place (Israel’s dispersion into the nations), where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood (severe persecutions – Christian crusades, Holocaust, etc.). But the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children (the church), who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 12:13-18
It is easy to see in that last statement how God sees the church – grafted into Israel. It is also easy to see that persecution against believers is not over.
Since around 1900 there has been a steady flow of the children of Israel returning to the land of Israel as was prophesied by many of the prophets. Of all the calamities that humans ascribe to being evidence that we are in end-times, the apostle Paul tells us, “For if their (Israel’s) rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15). Paul equates Israel’s return to the land with, or at least a precursor to the coming of Jesus.
Moses never said, ‘Who wants peace?’ or ‘Why can’t we be friends?’ He said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me” (Exodus 32:26). Together with those who stood with him (the Levites) they executed those who had engaged in worshiping the golden calf.
“Do not think I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36).
Why? For taking a stand for righteousness; God’s righteousness.
So why Should I Care about Middle Eastern Conflicts? When the United States falls into anarchy (they said “that couldn’t happen” in ancient Greece and Rome too) and Islam takes over, will you convert? Islam “recognizes” Jesus (as a prophet, not as the Son of God). They even celebrate Christmas! For most it may not really be that different. You will be given a choice to convert, pay an exorbitant tax or die. What will you do? What about your children? What about your grand children? Christian, where do you stand?
This article was written by James F. Wingerter, Minister of Music at Fellowship Church in Winter Springs, Florida