This subject has been on my mind for some time, and in regards to the current situation in Israel [which will affect the entire world], an understanding of who and what Zion is needs to be clarified. Whenever I write about my Biblical view of Israel and my interpretation of their role in these End Times, I am often called a "Zionist Christian" and I am often typecast with labels like "your pro-Feast, Jewish flair" .... whatever that means. So I believe it is crucial for readers to know where I stand on Israel and how I view her.
For just a moment, let us table the horrendous news coming out of the Middle East, and focus on the subject of Zion. First of all, when I speak about Israel, most times I am referring to the land according to my Biblical worldview. I see the nation of Israel as that land promised to God's Chosen People in the Bible. And I recognize that there is a distinction between the future prophetic restoration of that land, and the existence of the current state of Israel. I know that Jesus will not return again until God turns the focus of His saving mercies on Israel again, and Israel responds to God through Jesus Christ. That hasn't yet happened in a national sense.
In fact, there is not much about the modern state of Israel that coincides with the Biblical Israel. And that's where the confusion over "Zionism" comes in. Let me explain this term from my Biblical perspective first. From an initial understanding of the word "Zion" in the Bible, it is synonymous with "City of God", and it is a place that God loves. (Psalm 87:2-3). Zion is Jerusalem. Mount Zion is the high hill on which David built a citadel. After King David's conquest of the ancient city, he built his royal palace there, and Zion/Jerusalem became the seat of power in Israel’s ancient kingdom. When his son, Solomon, built the Lord's temple in Jerusalem, the word Zion expanded to include the temple area, what we call the Temple Mount today.
As Biblical time marched on, Zion grew figuratively to mean Israel as the people of God in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Zion refers to God’s spiritual kingdom. I admit it is confusing and covers a wide scope of understanding.
And to make matters even more complicated, in this modern century, the word Zion and Zionist have taken on negative connotations among a wide variety of people. As we've witnessed this last week, there are those who see the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland as illegitimate, and desire to "drive them into the sea" or destroy them completely. And there are obviously those who do not know the history of the Bible, or what it says about the Jews and their ancestral land, and why it is so important to them. For centuries the Jews had been exiled around the world from the land that God promised them, and there was a collective desire to return and resettle their ancestral lands and to revitalize and cultivate their native Hebrew culture. They longed to return to the Biblical Zion.
But after the atrocities of the Holocaust and with the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, this love of Zion became a nationalistic and political movement, rather than a religious or cultural identity. Zionism, today, continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the nation Israel and address threats to its continued existence and security. It has little to do with God's view of Zion.
Let me be clear in explaining my sensitive position, and please read the next couple of paragraphs before you pass judgment ... the state of Israel, as it exists today in the Middle East, does not represent the Israel that will say, "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord." They are largely a secular and political state, with no religious connection to Yeshua, their Messiah at all. They are true political Zionists. However, the population also includes a sizable number of religious Orthodox Jews who remain blinded to their future, and most probably view themselves as Zionists from a historical, Old Testament perspective. But I also want to point out that there is a growing population of Messianic Jews, who know and believe in Yeshua as the Biblical Messiah, and are evangelizing "in the Name of the Lord". And I praise God for this remnant that is returning to the true identity of Zion in the land.
But the nation of Israel, as a whole, has a long way to go to return to their Scriptural identity. They are still in rebellion and refuse to recognize their Creator and Messiah. Tel Aviv has declared itself the "gay capital of the world", as proclaimed by one Israeli citizen: "Israel isn’t a regressive Taliban state based on ancient scriptures. It is a modern, democratic and progressive society built on democratic values. The people of Israel have chosen to have a free, secular, democratic and pluralistic society where gays are not only tolerated, but where gay culture is celebrated." Does this sound like the Biblical Zion?
So, having said all this, when I look at modern Israel, I choose to focus my prayers on the small, but growing numbers of Messianic Jews who see the real reason they are "back in the land", and who recognize their calling and purpose. When I say I love and support Israel, I am looking beyond the nationalistic, political reality of the current state of Israel and seeing them as God sees them... His beloved Zion; I see the devoted Jews who have surrendered their lives to their Savior Messiah and are faithfully working to bring about His return.
So, for any Christians who believe in Replacement Theology and accuse me of supporting a Zionist state, you need to understand that I do not share your doctrine. I do not believe that the Church (and especially not the Western Church!) has replaced Israel as God's chosen people. I read Romans 11 and do not try to corrupt it. I accept it word for word ... Gods gifts and His call are irrevocable [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] ... And so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob. And this will be My covenant (My agreement) with them when I shall take away their sins.
And for the secularists and atheists who discount the Word of God, I will agree with you that the Zionist State of Israel is not perfect. I do not blindly uphold it as the Israel of the Bible. But you need to understand that it is not yet that Biblical nation of Israel with whom God established a covenant .... but one day it will be. And it is the future Israel that I pray for and long to see come out of its rebellion and recognize its Messiah. I have close friends who are the beginning of that true Biblical remnant in Israel, and they allow me to see the hope and the promise of Israel's restoration.
I do not expect this post to change anyone's mind, and it probably won't even help those who disagree with me to understand my position better. I already see people's minds and narratives changing regarding the slaughter of Israeli's this last week... from expressions of horror to voices that are already condemning Israel's divided government and its policies. But if we say we love Israel and we stand with her, we must love Israel through a Biblical lens; we must support her and pray for her to come out of her rebellion and reclaim the covenant of her ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and we must long to see her restored to the fullness of her power in God; restored to her true character and purpose in leading the world to Yeshua. For all this, I make no apologies.
And, finally, I pray that the land and people of Israel be returned to the holiness YHWH bestowed on Zion. May the God of Israel comfort them in the midst of this sorrow and tribulation, physically and spiritually living out Psalm 137:1... By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. As we watch this conflagration unfold, let us keep God's view of His land and people in perspective. Let us pray that all Israel will come to know and see His Truth!
Isaiah 60:14 The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.