Last week at Prophets Street we considered the speech given at the UN by the prime minister of Israel, and in subsequent comments Ryan from our community in Jerusalem suggested giving equal consideration to the speech of the leader of the PLO/Palestinian Authority.
That transcript contains a prominent refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state:
In addition, we now face the imposition of new conditions not previously raised, conditions that will transform the raging conflict in our inflamed region into a religious conflict and a threat to the future of a million and a half Christian and Muslim Palestinians, citizens of Israel, a matter which we reject and which is impossible for us to accept being dragged into.
My oft-stated belief is that the core of the conflict already is religious, and that this explains the disbelief that the dispossessed Jews should regain sovereignty on lands once ruled by Islam, a religion which claims its followers have replaced the Jews as the people of God.
But rather than critiquing the Muslim position, I see in this statement an opportunity for those of us who are Christians to instead reflect on our own position:
Do we recognize the Jewish state?
By that I mean: do we recognize that the reemergence of the Jewish people in their ancient homeland is the legitimate and authentic fulfillment of the promises given through Moses and the prophets, from Deuteronomy to Jeremiah to Ezekiel?
Or as Melissa put it in comments on last week’s blog:
Are the Jews still God's chosen people? Do they have a right to exist? Is there an historic homeland?...Is it right that there should be an Israel? If so, most other things become evident.
For many of us these are not easy questions. A “yes” answer seems to affirm that the promises of the “Old Testament” are part of a still valid and ongoing covenant between God and his people. How do we reconcile that with the centrality and necessity of the new covenant made by Messiah, and the revelation that all peoples can enter into this covenant freely? Should we believe--like our Muslim neighbors--that the new community of believers has replaced Israel as the people of God?
This is a vital core issue for Shevet Achim. We’re right at the frontier of the relationship of the people of Israel with their neighbors and with the nations. Would you pray for us as we discuss this issue in Jerusalem this week? And would you join in the discussion through the comments section below?