Biblical Zionism and its Foundations
by Malcolm Hedding
For many in our movement, which by the way is not a new phenomenon or theological position in the church, the biblical credentials undergirding the return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land are found within that body of Scripture that we refer to as prophetic by nature. That is, the assertion is made that the major and minor prophets foretold these events.
While much of this is true, it is also nevertheless true that these prophetic passages do not constitute the biblical foundations upon which Biblical Christian Zionism stands. In addition, it must also be stated that the movement is also not "driven" by some bizarre longing for Armageddon and therefore sees the restoration of Israel as a vital step to this end.
In actual fact the biblical credentials of Biblical Zionism are found in a unique promise of covenant that God made with Abraham some 4,000 years ago. This covenant that God made with Abraham was the dawn of the redemptive initiative that has culminated with the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Essentially, it amounts to a promise to save the world through the Jewish people. "In you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-3). Jesus and Paul echoed this reality when they said, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22) and "we share in their spiritual things" (Romans 15:27).
In actual fact, the Abrahamic Covenant bequeathed to the Jewish people a role in history as custodians of the word of God (Romans 3:1-2) that has never been removed from them (Romans 11:29). This role can be summed up as to serve the world with "redemptive products." It can also be argued from scripture that the Abrahamic Covenant alone could not deliver the salvation of the world as God promised in it. It was therefore given authority, power, and ability by the additions (Galatians 3:19) of the Mosaic and New Covenants to it.
So, scripture affirms that John the Baptist and Jesus came in order to fulfill the promises that God made in the Covenant with Abraham (Luke 1:54-55; Luke 1:72-75). Paul makes the same conclusion when he says in Romans 15:8-9 that Jesus came to make good the promises that God made to the founding fathers (patriarchs) of Israel.
It is this covenant, or promise, that God made with Abraham that also bequeathed to Israel the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:8-9). Without land, the nation of Israel could never be formed, and because of the land, God's redemptive initiative on behalf of the world could be and has been executed. Israel has the land as an everlasting possession for the blessing of the world.
For instance, her total destruction in 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar conquered the region would have frustrated the redemptive purpose of God. This has always been the intention of the powers of darkness. Thankfully, as is the case now, a remnant returned 70 years later to their ancient homeland and as a consequence the Messiah Jesus came. This, as we have seen according to Luke, is fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.
The Messiah will come again in the future because of the Abrahamic Covenant. Of this we can be sure! God does not undertake "half jobs!" The conclusion of His redemptive promise and initiative that began with Abraham will be the resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:1-3).
Israel's return to Canaan in our time is because of God"s promises to Abraham. She is on a journey that will witness the dealings of God with her in matters relating to justice, truth, mercy, righteousness and redemption. All these issues regulate her possession of the Holy Land and how much of it she will live on. Not until she reaches the point of redemption will all of the land promised to her, be hers (Ezekiel 36:24-28).
Until that day dawns, we must place our spiritual feet upon the foundation outlined above, and we must embrace our calling to pray for Israel, comfort Israel and declare God's word to her.
Our love must equally "fall upon" all the peoples of the region and, as a colleague recently put it, "If we don't have a heart for the Arab peoples of the region, we don't really have heart for Israel, and we don't reflect God's heart!"