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We are often told we must love Israel – which is true – we are to love all peoples.
We are often told we should “stand with Israel”. Now that’s not so easy.
It seems to mean always take Israel’s side in any conflict or disagreement Israel has – or God will be angry and we will suffer for it. “Stand WITH them” – whatever they are doing. Don’t complain about any evil Israel does – it will make God angry with us.
That is dangerously false, and obviously so!
We dare not assume God feels happy and indulgent toward Israel just because it’s Israel. That thinking is not safe toward any human or human institution. That is never what the LORD or the Bible ask of us.
I wonder how, in fact, God DOES feel about Israel?
There are some very strong clues in Isaiah,
clear statements of how the God of the Bible has, in the past, often felt about Israel.
“Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.
– Isaiah 1
God calls them very bad, but true, names (“sinful nation,” “brood of evildoers,” “given to corruption”),
and warns them of deadly serious trouble coming to them (“Woe to the sinful nation!”).
Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD!”
– Isaiah 1
Wow. It’s so bad God tells them their prayers will not be heard. “Just STOP IT!”
1. Do we (wrongly) suppose God has changed His attitude about such things?
Does God no longer get angry about hate, greed, oppression, bloodshed? No; God still has high, holy standards. That should not surprise us.
2. Do we (wrongly) imagine that this prophet – Isaiah – does not love his people?
– that he is “anti-Semitic” or something? Is it not possible to love someone and yet complain about their evil behavior? Is it not possible to love someone WHILE warning them about consequences their evil behavior might bring?
Of course God, Jesus, the Prophets, the Apostles, they all
all at the same time when appropriate. With Israel today, it’s definitely appropriate.
The pro-Israel agitation and lobbying in the USA have a great deal to do with politics and practically nothing to do with Biblical priorities. So let’s be careful here.
Shouldn’t we be careful not to align ourselves stubbornly with activities and people that God is beginning to move AGAINST?
And another question: Does American-style conservative Christianity share any of the behaviors or characteristics of Israel that Isaiah so vigorously protested in his day?
If so, we are – like Israel was and probably is again – in a dangerous place, a place of promised “woe”.