Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pray for Israel

Hey I don't know what the end times stuff is going to look like (I just read Revelation as an encouragement that Christ will come and wipe every tear away and He will be our God and we shall be His people forever) but what I do think is clear is that right now Israel needs prayer as the current situation has potential to get ugly really fast. I am not on some raging premillinial Zionist kick just saying that God did choose to reveal Himself exclusively to the Jews and bring the Messiah Jesus through the descendants of Abraham, therefore Gentile Christians are kinda Johnny come lately's. Anyway I think God still has a plan of redemption for the Jewish people, again I am not dogmatic about endtime stuff at all just saying...lets pray.


MelissaJacob said...

The question may be, though, what does it mean to be Jewish now? Israel is a secular state. Most of the people there consider themselves non-religious. Then you run into genealogical problems. Judaism used to be passed through the father. Somewhere around the first century it started being matrilineal. So are you a Jew if one parent is Jewish? Both? Just your mother?

Jesus tells us that those who do the will the Father are the chosen people. The citizens and army of Israel, who refuse to put down weapons, respond to historic violence with violence and exercise power instead of patience and dialogue are in serious need of the witness of Christ and the early church. Jesus was offensive to Jews then. Laying down your life for your neighbor, refusing the sword is just as offensive to Jews (and non-Jews) today as it was then.

Bob said...

Interesting, however I do not think Jesus made any blanket pacifistic statements, rather His kingdom (the kingdom of God) would not be advanced by the sword. In Romans we see that civil leaders are to bear the sword to rule over people (Rom 13). Because it is expected the governing authorities would bear the sword I do not think that there is any strict command against governments using military force (espescially in retaliation for being attacked).

As for what you said about being Jewish today, I actually agree...I once was all Zionistic in my thinking about the Israeli state but that has kind of waned as I realized oh wait Israelis are by in large secular humanists...are we honoring the "people of God" by honoring Israel? I don't think so. However, I also think that there is a plan God has in store for the redemption of the Jewish people this seems to be the case in romans 11. What this will look like I do not know, but it sure seems like there is a plan of God for the descendants of Abraham (patri & matri-lineal alike).

I try not to be dogmatic about the end times stuff, frankly because I don't have a clue, all I know is Christ is returning for His own and I long for the day when faith turns to sight and prayer to praise.

jacobandmelissa said...

But Jesus did LIVE a blanket pacifism. This is why the Mennonite church has always lived according to the principle of replication of the life of Christ (which is also why it has experienced more martyrdom than any contemporary Western church movement, mostly at the hands of other Christians).

Rom 13 doesn't say anything about statecraft or warfare. The illusion to "picking up the sword" is an equivalent metaphor to "keeping the peace" today: stopping murderers from murdering and returning stolen property. i'm all for police.

To make things more difficult, Christians were breaking the law all over the place by proclaiming the Gospel in public and suffering under the sword. "the government serving God for your benefit" as Rom 13.4? "Just behave and you won't get in trouble" as Rom 13 3 says? May need closer interpretation.

Plus we have the "kingdom rules," where, unlike the state, Jews and Greeks, women and men are all free under the banner of the church. Jesus tells us that everything has changed, that he is doing something new! The crux of that newness was laying down one's life for an enemy. That's not a spirtiualized way of thinking about your next-door-neighbor. That's the truth! To be lived in every avenue of life!

You might want to check out John Howard Yoder's The Politics of Jesus. He's a well respected Mennonite theologian who offers up a brilliant exposition of the politics of the kingdom.

Bob said...

Good reply, in light of "picking up the sword" as you have equated that to be with the goals of maintaining peace I think there we find grounds for a just war. I think a good case would be seeking out and capturing terrorist leaders (Hizbollah) who are attacking a countries citizens. How much Christians should be involved in warfare, I think I would leave that to conscience. I don't think there are explicit pacifistic teachings in the bible let alone the NT.

On the contrary, I don't think Jesus lived a total life of pacifism. As I recall in John 2 He made a whip and drove out those who sold sheep oxen and doves and poured out the money changers money. I don't think the whip was for show only. This was out of zeal for the house of God, therefore when we talk of imitating Jesus we must make sure were not cutting off parts that don't fit our philosophy.

I do want to say though that I whole heartedly agree that we need to exemplify the laying down of our lives for others. This is not just in giving our bodies to be burned (1 Cor 13) or to be killed but to lay down our will and preferences for that of another.

But oh, as for Christians breaking the law the demarcation line between being a good citizen and a rebellious one would be where the state makes proclamations calling us to be disobediant to God. (ex: laws against evangelism, church meeting, bible possesion)Here we have biblical precedent: "But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

But hey I really appreciate any challanges to my views I can get...I am serious.

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MelissaJacob said...

As for Jesus: I would be careful not to confuse passive and pacifism. Lots of pacifists are angry, intentional, zealous and righteous (check out a SOA protest for some good examples).

I came late to pacifism. I never knew any pacifists. For me, it was just a utopian politics, like anarchy or communism. Then I read Yoder in graduate school who is an evangelical and a pacifist. I couldn't get away from this haunting question: can we love our enemies and pick up the sword against them? The question came back to me, how far will you really go for my Gospel, the Gospel that is summed up in "lay down for life for your enemy."? That's where it began for me.

And Mennonites believed that picking up the sword was not the way to end a world conflict. They were tortured to death for this belief during world war 1 in the prisons at Levenworth. But as a result, the pacifism of the early labor unions was born. Without that witness the struggle for worker rights would have been marked by blood (of course, like the church, it strayed from its non-violent moorings after a decade).

Again, I would challenge you to give Yoder a good thorough read. He's an important voice.