Monday, August 20, 2007

Dinner With An Israeli

Last night I had the opportunity to have dinner with an Israeli gentleman, Orthodox by upbringing and faith, named Eliyahu (Eli for short) at my SO's house. The conversation was incredible! He's very intelligent and well-educated, and we ranged from history to evolution vs. creation to the nature of faith to politics.

The latter was particularly thought-provoking. At one point, he was talking about watching the preachers on TBN and said of Jack Van Impe in particular, "You know he's crazy." Did I mention that I love the man's bluntness?

"But he supports Israel," my SO's mother said, not so in love with the bluntness.

"Oh I know. And I tell you, anyone who is for Israel, no matter what their reasons, G-d bless them! I will happily accept their support. But Jack Van Impe, you know, he only supports Israel because he thinks we fit into his prophetic expectations. He's looking forward to all of the Christians getting Raptured up and leaving us to face the Russian tanks." (Referring to Van Impe's view of the Magog invasion of Ezk. 38-19.)

He went on to explain that he would much rather have people support Israel on the basis that it is the only democracy and pro-Western state in the Middle-east, because that's a fact that isn't going to change, while he sees support withering and dying when the popular belief in Dispensationalism dries up.

Frankly, just on a practical level, he's right. Leaving aside the issue of whether Premillennialism and/or Dispensationalism are correct (I think Premill is, though I have major differences of opinion with my Dispensationalist brethren, especially about the timing of the Rapture), the fact is that should the L-RD Yeshua tarry His Coming, it is entirely possible that popular support for the view--and the corresponding popular support for Israel--will fade away. Certainly it is true that various forms of amillennialism are on the ascent again.

But rather than base our support for Israel purely on an equally vapid political situation--after all, that makes it all too easy for support for Israel to dry up if they don't do everything Politically Correct in our eyes--let me suggest a better reason for American Christians to support Israel: The Jews there are our brothers and sisters.

Messianic Judaism arose because of a realization that Yeshua and His Apostles never wanted to create a new and distinctly Gentile religion called Christianity, but that they were all Jews through-and-through. We therefore see their struggles with "the Jews" in Scripture not as two competing religions, but as an argument within a family, much as a Baptist and a Presbyterian might argue about theology while recognizing each other as brother Christians. That means, by extension, that we who are the inheritors of the legacy of a Jewish Messiah and Jewish Apostles must view the Jews likewise--not as "them," but as "us."

I pray that the increasing appreciation for the Hebrew Root will continue to spread throughout the Body of Messiah, because then our support for Israel will not be based on a prophetic fad, but on solid history and kinship--and you don't let someone mess with your family.


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