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Feast of Tabernacles and the Support of Israel

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.

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17 Responses to “Feast of Tabernacles and the Support of Israel”

  1. BruceC says:

    I agree with your stand of “balance” Mart. At this time Iran appears to be the biggest threat in the region; but many in the church fail to realize that there could be as many as one million Christians there. The Church there is growing despite government persecution. Before these people came to Christ they were Muslims. They were given the Gospel of our Lord and learned of His LOVE for them. As Christians we can ill afford to show even the slightest hint of hatred; but yet at the same time be ready to stand up for what is right and defend against aggression and those who seek others lives.
    What a beautiful day that will be when nations come to Jerusalem to worship the King!

  2. Ted M. Gossard says:

    Excellent thoughts, Mart, and I complete agree.

    Your slant on Israel putting their trust in the wrong source and our possible unwitting compliance to that is a new one to me, so thanks!

  3. SFDBWV says:

    When I read the mornings topic, I had to back off from commenting too quickly as the subject matter was several layers thick.
    I guess I am guilty of agression on the issue of muslims.I have met a few and I admit people are people no matter what their relious background is. The few I have known are polite,curtious and more genuine than many people I have met in church. However a person can be quite different than a people. In the same way a mob behaves differently than a single individual.
    I can’t deny that Christians all over the world are being killed and persecuted by Muslim authorities. Or by what is called extreamists, even if the governments aren’t activly involved. There doesn’t have to be much time go by before I read of muslim mobs killing Hindu and Christian alike in India.
    I guess what I am saying is it is hard for me not to have a negitive opinion of such people.
    Though I have read and fully understand that we as Christians have been adopted into the family and inheritence of Abraham. I also know the scriptures speak very clearly on thoes who are for or against Israel. God states that he will bless them that bless Israel and curse them that curse Israel.
    I have always seen myself as a supporter of the nation of Israel. As an ally to the Nation. I remember during the Desert Storm war. While Israel was being bombed by scud missles from Iraq, there was a Israeli woman on the news. She was huddled in her home with gas masks to the ready, as she looked into the camera she said, ” Don’t worry America, Israel is with you.” I still get tears in my eyes when I think of that brave woman and her faith that God would protect us during an attack on her.
    Life here for me doesn’t allow too much time here at the computer. So I will have to speak further about this as the day will allow me to. I am not finished.

  4. SFDBWV says:

    God has also declared there is an apointed time when he will lift the veil and finaly Israel as a Nation will be able to see their Messiah is Jesus. An apointed time.
    I know as a follower of Jesus it is my duty to make deciples of all the nations of the world. I know I am to love even my enemies, and pray for them. I do what I can in thoes areas.It is a far better matter for my enemy to be subdued by the hand of God or by their own hearts being changed by the influence of the Holy Spirit’s work. Perhaps even as a result of my own example of tolerance. Than to wage war on them.
    However I am saddened to say I could not stand by while my family is threatened with torture and being beheaded, by a cowardly buch of evil men. I also remember seeing cheering throngs of Palistinian’s all over the news when New York City was bombed by such evil men.
    I will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I will pray that the enemies of Israel and Christianity, change their hearts and become saved. But I will also continue to be on the side of the Nation of Israel and pray that my country continue to be her ally.
    I know though there is a coming time when Israel will stand alone against the world, God himself will defend her and all the world will know.

  5. Mart De Haan says:

    SFDBWV, I appreciate your comments and agree that the people of Christ need to stand against injustice wherever it exists.

  6. theresa.aiello says:

    Are we trying to be peacemakers or be like the Swedish government during World War II, neutral? In any relationship there cannot be peace as long as one person is actively seeking to destroy the other. Although, the New Testament, to my knowledge, does not tell Americans to take care of Israel, the years our country looked out for Israel’s safety we experienced prosperity. I realize not all Americans enjoyed the prosperity our country experienced. However, as a whole America enjoyed bountiful crops and advances in technology. As I write this, our country is coping with the results of hurricanes and wide fires. As well as, America’s economy is a mess.

    There is no denying that America has made enemies by protecting Israel, and by man’s standards it would be in America’s best interests to make friends with Israel’s enemies. Let us not forget only by doing what is in God’s interest do we receive God’s blessings. If the Bible is true we must not ask Israel to trust a country that has taken a vow to destroy it. Most American’s do not understand the importance other cultures place on individuals keeping their vows. Until the people who have taken a vow to destroy Israel stop actively seeking ways to fulfill their promise to their God, there will be war. Also, innocent individuals will be needlessly hurt and killed.

    However, not all Muslims have taken a vow to destroy Israel, and it would be wrong to stereotype every person from a Muslims background as our enemy. As Christians we are to give humanitarian aid to everyone, even our enemies. We need to be bold for the things of God and let God take care of the rest. Christians are not called to discriminate or judge others. We are called to love others. Yes we need balance and we need to show compassion to all humans as Christ commanded. However, we must be careful not to turn our backs on Israel because Israel is God’s chosen people.

  7. Robert says:

    Another good topic Mart but a delicate one.

    At first, I was going to lay a contextual foundation drawing on the historical implication of Isaac and Ishamel on the relationship between the Jewish people and the Muslims reinforced by the Jewish Diaspora and how we arrived where we are now buuuuuut in retrospect, it all would have been a round-about way of coming to the same conclusion.

    When I say delicate topic, I mean just that because the relationship between the Middle East and that of the Western world has many, many layers. If we approach it from purely the mindset of Christ, then yes, our role is and always should be that of peacemakers brokering a peace for both sides, Muslim and Israeli that they may live in peace for the good of all mankind.

    But there are other layers that come into play that are not as solemn or lofty because political and monetary desires dictate a great deal of what happens in this area of the world. This is not as much an observation as it is a fact. There are many who create policy in this part of the world who are not concerned with being peacemakers and these people exist on both sides.

    There is how we want the world to be and there is the reality of how it is. We can only hope to help shape it with our deeds.

  8. Mart De Haan says:

    theresa.aiello, thanks for your comments. Appreciate your point in calling attention to the difference between being peacemakers who have an interest in justice and mercy issues for both sides and neutrality which is probably more self-protective than anything else. Only those who have an honest concern for truth and justice, and a respect for both sides in a conflict can be peacemakers.

  9. Mart De Haan says:

    Your comments stir up so many thoughts about how delicate this is. There are so many almost unmentionable issues that come to bear on our relationship to Israel: the inexpressibly terrible fact of the Holocaust (to whatever extent it is true), the Israel lobby, the political/military alliance of Israel and the US, Radical terrorism and counter-terrorism, US presence in the Middle East, oil, the economy,evangelical support of atheistic zionism, prophecies about the end of the age. Maybe, altogether these factors are an indication that, whether by scattering or restoration, a chosen people bears the burden of being a living object lesson of the blessing and judgment of our Creator.

  10. SFDBWV says:

    Mart,when I read your comments to Robert that included the statement;”the inexpressibly terrible fact of the Holocaust( to whatever extent it is true)”
    I am somewhat confused. Are you suggesting the historical facts concerning the Holocaust are not entirely acurate?

  11. Mart De Haan says:

    SFDBWV, As only one of many examples of how delicate the Israel issue is, I was alluding not only to the inexpressibly real and emotionally disturbing fact of the Holocaust, but also to the equally emotional, debate that is being waged in certain quarters about the exact nature of the numbers and conditions of the Holocaust. Both sides accuse the other of rewriting history to make a self-serving point.

  12. SFDBWV says:

    Thank you Mart for answering, I know it is a touchy subject, for both the Jew and the Muslim. I know the President of Iran ( I would never attempt tp spell his name. ) denies that the Holocaust even happened.I also know there are still Nazi’s in both Europe and America who deny it as well.
    Then General Eisenhower, ordered that the death camps be photographed and documented because he knew that future generations would deny this could ever have happened. Most all of us either have heard first hand from soldiers who helped liberate them. Or from survivors of them. However that generation is disapearing fast. The issue of acuracy being left to trusting history as it is written.
    Why would Arabs or any other Musilims want to argue this issue? Is it just because it is a Jewish event? It was not the Arab nor the Musilm who conducted or has ever been accused of carrying out the attempted extinction of the Jew during the period known as the Holocaust. It was the Germans,and they have aknowledged and appologized for the terrible history they must bear.
    I know there are many many touchy issues about Israel with reguards to the Muslim world. I realize the Holocaust is only one. Don’t the Muslim believe that the Jew recorded history through the “Book” with a slanted view to make the Jew the favored people of God? Do they now believe that the Jew or Jewish sympathizers are rewriting history?

  13. daisymarygoldr says:

    “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).”- MDH

    It was God’s eternal purpose to dwell (tabernacle) among His people. The Sukkoth celebrations in the OT served to foreshadow the future celebrations that will usher in the establishment of God’s universal Kingdom by Jesus Christ. One notable event of that age will be the annual gathering of all the surviving nations “to keep the feast of booths” (Zech 14:16).

    In her blindness to see the true Messiah, Israel still observes this feast till this day. However, to those of us who “know” that God tabernacled among men (John 1:14), all blessings of the feast have become a reality in Jesus Christ. God’s plan of Redemption through Jesus the perfect tabernacle (Heb 9:11) is for all mankind. Therefore, we must love and pray for the salvation of both Israel and her enemies.

  14. Mart De Haan says:

    daisymarygoldr, well said!

  15. Robert says:

    Mans inhumanity to man is what it boils down to.

    Take a look at history. Much of the Middle East and Africa came under European influence if not control for centuries up until the end of WWII. That whole Middle East was a hotbed of unrest. Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon were granted independance in 1946 and 1943 after years of being under British and French influence. Palestine was not granted independance but rather their mandated territory was liquidated by the League of Nations (now UN) to make way for the Jewish Homeland in 1948 and the price paid was over 6 decades of violence in which the Arab states fought Israel to no avail in 1948, 1967 and 1973 and they still skirmish today.

    Christians and Jews say, let’s not forget the Holocaust and we should’nt but as a Christian, I also say, let’s not forget the Crusades either. Muslims really suffered there at the hands of the Christians and so after so many centuries of oppression and religious persecution from the west, we sit back now, scratch our heads and wonder why it’s such a hot bed of radicalism????

    And lets not forget WHY the Crusades were ever launched in the first place. They were launched by Christian Europe in an effort largely to take back the Holy Lands from Muslim rule. Some Crusaders used it as an excuse to ride around the world being generally unpleasant to everyone but for the most part, the Holy Land was the objective.

    So, Mart when you say “Maybe, altogether these factors are an indication that, whether by scattering or restoration, a chosen people bears the burden of being a living object lesson of the blessing and judgment of our Creator”, I look at that as a terrible cross to bear for the state of Israel and great cause for reflection.

    For followers of Christ, however, to be true PeaceMakers, if we do not understand and appreciate the context of the conflict as it has shaped and affected both sides through history, there can never be true and lasting peace. And as Christians, I suspect we have a lot to repent for as well where the Middle East is concerned.

    How much more blood will be shed under the pretense of it being in the name of God?

  16. SFDBWV says:

    As I reflected on the discussion overnight, and read this mornings comments. Which I found to be excellent.
    I must say that a person’s religious beliefs are very personaly emotional. Also a person’s political beliefs can be very emotional as well.
    When combined it would appear they become unstable.
    I must pray to be more tolerant of others.
    “Religious” men have always been guilty of attempting to force God’s hand. It never works, only makes a bigger mess.
    As a follower of Jesus the rule of true Love must be foremost in my thoughts and deeds. So that his light might shine through, not mine.
    I thank all of you here on this blog for sharing and showing me Christ’s light, through you all.

  17. Mart De Haan says:

    Robert, SFDBWV, and all, thank you so much for participating in and following this discussion. You’ve added so much…

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