The Apostle Paul's Warning to Christians about Israel
We are now 46 days into Israel’s war with the terrorist group Hamas. When the horrific attacks on innocent Israelis took place on October 7, I already had a low expectation of how the world at large would respond. I have personally seen how much hatred of Israel there is globally over the last few years.
But the past 46 days have shocked me.
There have been marches all over the world against the Jewish State. Many advocates for “Palestinian rights” are even chanting the murderous slogan of Hamas: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free (free of Jews is what they mean, by the way)!”
Yet, the most painful responses have been from those who identify as Christian.
Responses have ranged from the docile “Jesus loves both groups and doesn’t choose a side” to the near all-out antisemitism of “Modern Jews are enemies of Christ.”
I’ve begun to realize that much of the Christian Church still has an offended heart with their elder brother, the Jewish people. Let me explain…
In Romans 9, 10, & 11, the Apostle Paul writes what many have called his “Magnum Opus” on Israel & the Jewish people. Many Christian scholars have completely misunderstood the theme of these three chapters. This is because they have been erroneously steeped in a Replacement Theology worldview in which the Church replaces Israel as God’s covenantal partner on earth.
If that is your view, then very little of what Paul states here will make sense. Thus, Romans 9, 10, & 11 get twisted into theologies about an individual’s personal “election” to being saved. This is not at all what Paul was communicating to the Roman Gentile church at the time.
In Romans 9:3, Paul opens by pulling back the curtain to reveal his bleeding heart for his people – the Jewish people. Over the next 75 verses, he frames out God’s ongoing plans for national Israel while presenting the merging of individual representatives of the nations (Gentiles) into God’s plan for one redeemed family.
After saying – thrice! – that God has not rejected Israel (Romans 11:1, 11:2, 11:11), Paul winds down his teaching in Romans 11:25-27:
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”
Paul is directly warning the Gentile Christians against two things: ignorance and arrogance.
One is a head issue, the other is a heart issue. Since October 7, we have witnessed both of these on display in the Church. Many churches are simply unaware or uninformed of God’s unending covenant with the Jewish people. Or they just don’t care all that much.
Others, however, are arrogant. They do not have space in their theology for the Jewish people to still be in an honored, covenantal position with God – even if they have not yet accepted Jesus as their Messiah. It offends them and often leads to contempt for the Jewish people AND for any follower of Jesus who upholds an honored love for the Jewish people as well.
It’s no coincidence that Paul’s theology on Israel starts with the heart and ends with the heart. A proper theology on Israel is most certainly important. But having a heart that is tender and honoring of the Jewish people is even MORE important.
Having a love for the Jewish people demonstrates that we can actually love what God loves, even when it doesn’t make logical sense to us. This is why Paul warned the Roman church numerous times that what makes sense to God does not have to make sense to them. He is sovereign. He chose the descendants of Jacob as His “special possession.” Whether we like it or not, we do not get a vote in the matter.
And in the end, it’s amazing how much more secure you feel in God’s unconditional love when you learn to accept His choices. That includes accepting His election of Israel and the Jewish people. If our hearts are offended by this, all we need to do is repent and ask God to heal us.
With this in mind, keep praying for Israel & the Jewish people. And yes, keep praying for the Palestinians as well. God loves both, even though He has chosen one especially for Himself.
Let’s keep working towards the day when “all Israel will be redeemed” and the “Deliverer will come from Zion!”