The recent blockade of ships bringing aid to Gaza has brought Zionist Christians to the predictable defence of Israel. I don’t want to talk about the blockade itself but rather about why Zionist Christians hold the view that the modern State of Israel (“Zionist state” – a term they don’t like) is here to stay, because it is willed by God. Yes, it is willed by God, as it is biblically true about anything that happens. But in what sense it is willed by God? Is it’s God’s will that 1948 was the final return spoken of by the prophets. I want to argue that this is not so.
In “a silent grave in the middle of the north woods” of Minnesota (An article on Art Katz by Julia Duin) lies the physical remains of Art Katz. He is execrated by most Jews and by Zionist Christians. Why is this so. For at least two reasons. He said that the Jewish holocaust was the result of Jewish rejection of the Messiah and that modern Israel is an abomination, is under the wrath of God, and that it is due for destruction. When I study the scriptures carefully, I find it hard to argue against Art Katz’s view. Here are a few pertinent scriptures.
“On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. And the desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passed by. And they will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited” (Ezekiel 36:33-35).
“Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:38).
These verses must point to the future – after Jacob’s trouble – because modern Israel, in large part, either despises or is indifferent to the Holy One of Israel. And no living Jew (who the rabbis define as a Jew) believes in Yeshua, the Holy one of Israel (Chollile, God forbid!, they exclaim). And surely, Israel can only be cleansed from its iniquities after it (the remnant that survive Jacob’s trouble) will know that “I – Yeshua – am the Lord.
“Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid” (Jeremiah 46:27).
Zionist Christians – many of whom are “charismatic” Christians – believe that the present State of Israel consists of Jews who have been saved out of a distant place. However, it is clear that the modern “Jacob” (Israel) has no peace and security. The Bible is clear that only after they have been saved from a distant place will they no longer be afraid. The State of Israel is not only very unsafe, it is the unsafest place on the planet..
After God has restored the remnant to Israel, “they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king whom I will raise up for them” (Jer. 30:9). . “And My servant David will be King over them, and they will all have one shepherd;” (Ezekiel 37:24a). Art Katz and Zionist Christians both believe that “David the King” is YHWH the Son of God.
What bothers me about Julia Duin’s article (referred to above) is that she refers to Art Katz as a “patriarch in the charismatic movement.”This is not correct. In the beginning of his ministry he was involved with “charismatics” like Katheryn Kulman, but it wasn’t long before he distanced himself from the “charismatic movement.” But I digress.
Art Katz believed that Jacob’s trouble has hardly begun. There first has to be death (yes one more time) – and then a resurrection – a unique event. Peace and restoration will come not only after the remnant have looked on Him whom they have pierced and mourned and grieved bitterly for Him as a firstborn son, but after what comes next; namely, after they have died, and their lives are henceforth hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).
God is sovereign and nothing happens unless he wills it. So, God must have willed 1948. But he also willed the building of Solomon’s temple and its destruction (by the Babylonians), the return to the land and the rebuilding of the temple and its second destruction (by the Romans). Of course, the nature of God’s will is impossible to grasp because, on the one hand, he wills judgment in the form of calamity and at the same time brings retribution on the Pharoahs, Shalmanesers (Assyria), Nebuchadnezzars (Babylon) whom he has used to bring about Israel’s calamity. Go figure.
Let me return to the US. Art Katz has written that the Jews in the US will suffer the same fate as the Jews in Nazi Germany – which causes much of a laugh (or fury) among Jews as well as Zionist Christians; if not on the same scale as the laughter of the German Jews in the late 1930s when they were warned that their Wagner-and-Nietzsche-enlightened compatriots were planning their demise.
There is also Ernst Zundel who one would hardly put into the same Kampf as Art Katz; for one, Zundel – for whom the holocaust is a hoax – scoffs at the very idea of the existence of Nazi death camps for Jews. What do Zundel and Katz have in common? Zundel believes, like Katz, that the days of the Jews in America are numbered, that they will be hounded and their power will be destroyed. “Jacob” in the Bible, of course, doesn’t merely refer to the people inhabiting the State of Israel, but to Jews everywhere. And so, Jacob’s trouble will be global. Unlike Zundel, Katz believes with the Apostle Paul, that in the end “All Israel will be saved”, that is, all those – the remnant, mentioned so often in the Bible – who God will save from the fire. He will save this remnant not because they have obeyed the law while the others have not. Not al all. God will save them because – this sticks in the craw of humanity – he will have mercy on whom he wants to have mercy Romans 9:15). This is also how I understand the future of Israel. How I wish, with Paul, that it could be different.
“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen d according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong f the adoption, the glory, h the covenants, i the giving of the law,the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all,blessed forever. So be it” (Romans 9:1-5).
“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew [foreloved]. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:1-6).
David Harwood also uses Romans 9:1-5 to argue that God has not abandoned “Israel” – he means the State of Israel. He comments on verse 5, which says, To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. “If left to my own reasoning I might think Paul misspoke. Surely he should have said, “belonged,” yet the text says, “belongs.” Harwood later asks his nation, the US to consider Psalm 122:6 – “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!“ Harwood concludes that In the light of this last verse a question begs to be asked, “If they don’t love Jerusalem, how secure will they be?” Harwood asks his nation to “pray for the overthrow of longstanding policy in our State Department. Let us pray for the thwarting of the current administration’s antipathy towards Israel. Let us pray for our nation and our leaders. Let us pray that our government would honor God’s purposes.”(My emphasis)
For Harwood and the many millions of Christian Zionists of America, and around the world, it’s clear to me from scripture – as it is clear to the ultra-orthodox Jew (“orthodox” won’t do anymore, alas) – that it is the Messiah who will establish the new Israel, and not a secular government, which now occupies the throne in Jerusalem. The new Israel, as is again clear from scripture, will belong to only a minority of Jews in the “land”, in America, and across the world, in other words, a remnant of Jacob, who have not bent the knee to Baal – salvation by works.
Why did the remnant not bend the knee to Baal? Because God ripped out their stony heart and gave them a heart of flesh. Didn’t they do anything to deserve this “violent” love? Nope, nothing. If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.