May 2008 -Israel's 60th birthday
Accident of history, botched political process or ..... the outworking of the prophetic word of God?
Scan the travel sections of most high street bookstores, and you will find very few shelves that stock books about Israel. Is it because no one is interested in the country? Or perhaps booksellers consider the nation too much of a hot potato?
Israel - a tiny country the size of Wales - is seldom out of the news. Controversy surrounded the birth of the nation in 1948; immediately wars broke out and these have continued to this present day.
No other nation on the earth is subjected to such intense scrutiny. If it were a tiny Arab country surrounded by huge hostile nations and heavily-armed terrorist groupings the world would be 100% on its side. Yet present day Israel is most often reported as a harsh oppressor.
When Kofi Annan was Secretary-General of the UN he said: “On one side, supporters of Israel feel that it is harshly judged by standards that are not applied to its enemies. “And too often this is true, particularly in some UN bodies.”
From 1967 to 1989 in the UN General Assembly, 429 resolutions against Israel were passed, and Israel was condemned 321 times.
Even within the Christian church there is divided opinion.
A recent book by Rev. Stephen Sizer (and endorsed by no less a figure than John Stott) decries support for Israel and what is termed 'Christian Zionism'. [Even that term is ill-defined, and Sizer does himself no service by adopting the age-old 'straw man' tactic of erecting a caricature and then demolishing it. - Ed.]
Sizer's view is commonly referred to as Replacement Theology which believes that the Christian church has replaced Israel in God's purposes. An alternative term is Supercessionism.
However highly-respected international Bible teachers like the late Derek Prince and David Pawson have also - and for years - published books, and video productions outlining God's word and purposes for Israel. In one of this books, The Destiny of Israel and the Church, Prince lists seventy-nine occurrences of the word Israel or Israelite in the New Testament, concluding that Israel is never used as a synonym for the church.
At the Church of Scotland's General Assembly of May 2007, a report was presented to the Assembly which produced a response from one of the Church's senior ministers Rev. David Torrance. Torrance has now published a book Israel God's Servant in which he writes “God continues to use the Jewish people and the tiny State of Israel, as his servant to witness to himself before the nations”.
And an article about Holocaust Rembrance Day (2008) lists some relevent Bible verses as a summary of that view.
You can listen to short interviews with David Torrance and/or Rev. David Andrew (a Scot and Scottish-based editor of Sword magazine).
Look and listen to an evocative collection of photographs set to music produced by Steve Taylor
Local (Highland area) Meetings
Meanwhile anyone interested in joining with others who are already praying for Israel can contact local groupings - Christian Friends of Israel or Prayer for Israel or for fellowship and teaching meetings contact: Esther 414
In January 2007 a group of national church leaders coming from different ministries across the whole church in Scotland formed up under the name Yachad (Hebrew for 'together').
In February 2008 a national meeting was held in Stirling which drew together ministers, pastors and leaders to discuss and pray over the issue of Israel in God's purposes.
An information mailing list has now been established for disseminating news and prayer items; and futher meetings are under consideration. For futher information <click here>.
A vital key in understanding the above is to examine God's covenants with a view to distinguish between those that are conditional and others that are unconditional - particulary comparing the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants.
Christians Together, 08/05/2008