The Prophet Zechariah makes some arresting statements about the Feast of Tabernacles when he predicts regarding the end times,
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16-19).
Because of prophecies like this, gentile followers of Christ (as seen in this Jerusalem parade) make up a good number of the celebrants of this week’s Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles).
At this point, however, I believe we need to think carefully about our relationship to and support of Israel. On one hand, the New Testament makes it so clear that followers of Christ have many reasons to love the Jewish people. Israel gives us our spiritual roots, our Scriptures, the prophets, our Messiah, and Savior (Romans 9:1-10). It is just as true that hating Israel and seeking her destruction has been a historic mark of opposition to the one true God (Num 22:11-12;Zeph 2:8-10).
There are reasons, therefore, for us to love Jewish people, without turning our back on all other people for whom the Messiah died. In many ways followers of Jesus have reasons to be peacemakers, rising above political and nationalistic alignments.
It’s important that we not give a watching world reason to misunderstand our friendship with either Jewish or Arab people. Just as Israel of the past was warned about relying on Egypt rather than the God of Israel, current Zionist interests would do well to avoid an equal mistake by relying on the United States or any other false trust.
The present political state of Israel, while being–in my opinion– an astounding indication of God’s predicted plan for the future is not to be confused with the true Israel of God (Romans 2:28-29;9:6). As a result, when followers of Christ press their political leaders to provide one-sided, unconditional support of a spiritually unrepentant Israel (rather than lovingly and thoughtfully acting as true peacemakers), we are enabling Israel to put their trust in the West in the same way that ancient Israel made the occasional mistake of looking for the security of Egypt.
In the future, the God of the Bible will reveal himself as the sole protector and provider of a repentant and spiritually restored nation of Israel (and of all in every nation who rely on him). In that day, the bankruptcy of all false trusts will be exposed.
This is one reason why I’m convinced that we need to recognize our spiritual roots, and be peacemakers in the Middle East by our love for those on both side of the conflict, while not providing false comfort to anyone who remains opposed to the true Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world.