[box]One of my friends asked me what I thought about the conflict between the current government of Israel and other Arab nations. She was frustrated with an almost blind acceptance among some Christians friends of Israel’s current government, being made to feel like a person could not really be a Christian if he or she questioned that government’s approach to things. Here are some of my thoughts on that[/box]
Some American Christians seem to try to use Israel as a talisman. Based on God’s declaration that He will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse that nation, there appears to be an effort on the part of many Christians to make sure that the United States government is always an advocate for the government of Israel, partly in an attempt to assure “blessing” on the USA. There are also overtones of wanting to protect Israel to “make sure” certain prophecies can come to pass in a timely manner. I suggest that there are three basic flaws with this perspective. (See Genesis 12:3, Numbers 24, and Romans 11:25-29)
One flaw is based on an understanding of the word “nation” as it is used in the Bible. In our age, we tend to equate nations more strictly with the governments ruling over the people living in the land. However, in the Bible, the word in the original language that is translated “nation” is also able to be translated “peoples,” “tongues,” or “tribes.” Before the faster travel and communication we enjoy today, governments tended to be more isolated and distinctly associated with certain ethnic groups. The original word, goy in the Old Testament, is based on the idea that a people group have common ancestry, culture, and religion almost before they have common government. The common government is more the result than a definitive requirement of the people living together as a “nation.”
This way of looking at it is bolstered by the fact that the people known as Hebrews, Israelites, jews, and Israelis at varying times down through history, have already lived under several types of government. These governmental systems ranged from endorsed to tolerated by God, but the identity of the “nation” remains the same. From the times of the judges, when Israel was supposed to look to God as their king, to the approved subjugation and captivity by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the “nation” of Israel was referred to. None of this is hindering God from making prophecies bear out. Oddly enough, He seems to know what is going to happen before it does…
All of which begs the question: “what does it mean to bless Israel?” The second flaw is assuming that blessing them means supporting any given government. Blessing has a general meaning in this context of “to make prosper.” Supporting a given government that claims to represent or control a land does not mean the people are being “blessed.” Once this differentiation is made, it is easier to feel free about wanting the best for Israel (or anyone) while still openly disagreeing with political moves and war tactics that a government is involved in. The libertarian perspective of government, where government is recognized to be the will of some of the people forced on all of the people, makes this a more understandable.
The last major flaw in the typical “pro-Israeli” propaganda I see is that to believe that “our” government’s actions really represent us. Besides the fact that those in power in (any) government are frequently secretive and deceptive about their dealings, mainly trying to shore up their own positions, their “blessing” or “cursing” of Israel is their own responsibility. Our individual blessing or cursing anyone is our responsibility. From this distance, many people may be misguided in what really even helps Israel, much like foreign aid to African tends to bring poverty to those countries.
The United States government’s actions about Israel may or may not affect us as individuals in the long run, simply the way any government decisions affect any people, but God does not hold us responsible for their choices. We may speak up about our preferences of how things should be done, but I would be very surprised if the people in power in the United States government are not already aware of the Christian concern for the people of Israel. And I would be equally surprised if very many of them really care beyond how it affects their own power base. As with any governmental policy or “law,” we always have the choice to disregard it and help other people based on our own conscience and opportunity.
One day, God will set up His perfect “government,” probably so unlike anything that we have experienced that we have a hard time imagining how peaceful and happy society will be under His new order. Until then, no government represents Him, but He is patiently working out things in spite of the flaws and arrogance of men. There are people in and controlling other “nations” that hate Israel, but the current government in Israel is also known to be tyrannical to its own people in the name of security. I, for one, will not put the current Israeli government on a pedestal in the name of Christianity.