Daily Devotional – Monday, May 17, 2021
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’” (Romans 10:9-13, NLT)
The events of the past week in Israel and Gaza remind me how lost we as humanity are without God. Without God, we as the human race cannot experience forgiveness. Without forgiveness, we will remain hell-bent on retaliating and having our revenge. As the current conflict between the Israelis and Hamas has once again escalated, I have heard many within the Church calling for increased prayers for the ‘peace of Jerusalem.’ I hear these calls and I am bothered, not by the call for prayer, but by an error in our theology which I believe has lead to the deification of the nation of Israel. This morning, I have been reluctant to tackle this topic but find myself being ‘pushed’ to speak up.
Our view of ‘Israel’ in the Church stems from our understanding of how the whole of Scripture and God’s overall plan should be understood. The Church, however, is not unified in this respect. The predominant evangelical religious interpretive system known as ‘dispensationalism’ began two hundred years ago with J.N. Darby who is also responsible for the creation of the Exclusive Brethren movement. In dispensationalism, the way to God is Jesus, but the Church and the Jewish nation remain separate. In this view, the history of the world should be understood as being divided into distinct ‘ages.’ The current ‘Church Age’ is just a parenthesis, dropped into the middle of God’s overall plan for his specially chosen people, Israel. The children of Israel, as direct descendants of Abraham, continue to hold a distinct place in God’s plan for the world in the ‘age’ to come, the ‘Millennial Kingdom.’
The older I get and the more I study, however, the further I find myself aligning with this interpretive system known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism was in part introduced as a refutation of the Covenantal interpretive system, which dispensationalists accused of rejecting the Jewish nation at the time of the New Covenant in favour of the Church. This would be problematic if this were the case. But as I’ve studied, I have concluded that it is not a fair assessment of Covenantal theology. I am in agreement with covenant theologians, that God has not abandoned his promises to Israel, but has fulfilled his promises of the Old Covenant through the person and work of the Messiah; Jesus did not establish the Church as separate from Israel, but as a continuation and expansion of God’s chosen people. Paul explains that non-Jewish believers have been grafted into the existing family tree of God (Romans 11:17-24); the Jewish people are not rejected to make room for others, but will continue to flourish as part of an enlarged tree through faith in Jesus.
Why does this matter so much to me? Because I believe that some in the Church have deified current day Israel. And in this deification, we have lost sight of their humanity, in much the same way that some in the Christian Catholic tradition have deified Mary. We have bent over backwards to excuse abuses perpetrated by the nation of Israel against non-Jews. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-Semitic. I believe we are called on to love everyone and there is much evil-inspired hatred that the Israelis have had to learn to protect themselves against. However, the pedestal upon which many in the Christian community have placed ‘all things Jewish’ needs to seriously be dismantled. “What about the instruction to pray for Jerusalem?” found in the traditional song for pilgrims ascending into Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), you might ask. I would humbly suggest that this call to prayer be extended to all those places around our globe in which the Christian family is found—all the Nations, including the nation of Israel.
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!