Piper on Israel/Palestine

John Piper’s sermon titled “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East” speaks to theological footings of the Israel/Palestine issue from a series on Romans. Click Here to read or listen to the whole thing… At the risk of opening an eschatological debate, here are his main points and a couple excerpts that are worth pondering:

  1. God chose Israel from all the peoples of the word to be his own possession.
  2. The land was part of the inheritance he promised to Abraham and his descendants forever.
  3. The promises made to Abraham, including the promise of the land, will be inherited as an everlasting gift only by true, spiritual Israel, not disobedient, unbelieving Israel.
  4. Jesus Christ has come into the world as the Jewish Messiah, and his own people rejected him and broke covenant with their God.
  5. Therefore, the secular State of Israel today may not claim a present divine right to the land, but they are we should seek a peaceful settlement not based on present divine rights, but on international principles of justice, mercy, and practical feasibility.
  6. By faith in Jesus Christ, the Jewish messiah, gentiles become heirs of the promise of Abraham, including the promise of the land.
  7. Finally, this inheritance of Christ’s people will happen at the second coming of Christ to establish his kingdom, not before; and till then we Christians must not take up arms to claim our inheritance; but rather lay down our lives to share our inheritance with as many as we can.
Israeli Flag - Creative Commons
Israeli Flag – Creative Commons

“Israel has broken covenant with her God and is living today in disobedience and unbelief in his Son and her Messiah. That is why Paul says in Romans 11:28, “As regards the gospel [the good news of the Messiah] they are enemies of God.”

“This follows from all we have said so far, and the implication it has for those of us who believe the Bible and trust Christ as our Savior and as the Lord of history, is that . We should approve or denounce according to Biblical standards of justice and mercy among peoples. We should encourage our representatives to seek a just settlement that takes the historical and social claims of both peoples into account.”

“Neither (Palestinians or Israelis) should be allowed to sway the judgments of justice by a present divine claim to the land. If you believe this, it would be helpful for your representatives to know it. We are not whitewashing terrorism and we are not whitewashing Jewish force. Nor is there any attempt on my part to assess measures of blame or moral equivalence. That’s not my aim. My aim is to put the debate on a balanced footing in this sense: neither side should preempt the claims of international justice by the claim of present divine rights. Working out what that justice will look like is still a huge and daunting task. I have not solved that problem. But I think we will make better progress if we do not yield to the claim of either side to be ethnically or nationally sanctioned by God in their present conflict.” (emphasis mine)

Regardless of your opinion of Piper’s theology and eschatology, he brings up an oft-neglected point. Christians rarely distinguish the modern day political State of Israel from “Spiritual Israel.”  This is a key distinction that should affect the Christian’s posture towards the current conflict.

Praying for peace in the Middle East.

About Scott Gustafson

Scott Gustafson has extensive experience in ministry and business in the Middle East, having lived or worked in the region for 20 years. He is a PhD candidate at Vrije Universiteit working with the Extreme Beliefs Project. He is a guest lecturer and is also the Managing Partner of Purpose Global Strategies, an International Business and non-profit consulting firm. He advises large funding agencies as well as indigenous businesses and ministries in Sudan, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. He has an MA in Intercultural Communication from Moody Graduate School, and a BA in Nursing and Biology from Western Michigan University. Scott and his wife have 2 children and they live in Grand Rapids, MI.