Today, 23 September, 2011, is the day that Palestine will ask the United Nations to vote on its statehood. I have no idea whether this request will be passed or vetoed; and whether its aftermath will be peaceful or violent. However, 63 years after the establishment of modern Israel, its existence continues to be a hot issue in both the secular and religious worlds.

From a secular standpoint

Modern Israel was established in 1948 by the United Nations as a safe home for the Jewish people post WWII. Since then, conflict and demographic changes have meant a return to 1967 boundaries is like trying to unscramble an egg. The right of return principle is arbitrary. Why not return the Holy Land to the Italians (Romans) or Greeks or the Jews again, or the Canaanites? There is archaeological evidence that all those people groups occupied the same land before each other.

Historically, the West has politically supported Israel out of sympathy for the Holocaust and out of support for its democratic stability and economic growth in the Middle East region. Countering that, the West has been wary of Palestinian association with terrorism. Yet we cannot help but be moved by the suffering of the Palestinians. However, both of these secular position are changing. Western power and influence is fast declining in a post GFC world. Academia is leading a BDS (boycott, divest, and sanction) movement against Israel. Reports of regular skirmishes such as the flotilla raid or response to rocket attacks are resulting in Generation Y largely declaring themselves ‘pro-Palestinian.’

But the ripples of allegiances spread around the globe. Political commentators have blamed the Democrats’ loss of the Ny-9 seat on Obama’s policies toward Israel. While GOP Presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann, has linked future US prosperity to its support of Israel. Even more broadly, much of Al Qaeda’s aggression is claimed to be justified on the basis of the West’s support for Israel. The Arab Spring uprisings are uncovering an anger towards Israel that was masked by corrupt dictators.

If the secular world could find a silver bullet to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then it seems much of the world’s ails would be solved. Many leaders have tried and so far all have failed. Yet, all of the above seem like only surface issues compared to the religious passions that surround the Holy Land.

From a religious standpoint there are different angles on Israel

The Islamic fundamentalist standpoint: The Islamic caliphate once included the Holy Land. Given a Jewish state has taken back part of the caliphate, Israel’s very existence is an affront to the validity of the Islamic faith. That is partly why Hamas and Iran are committed to Israel’s eradication. Many Muslims are waiting for the twelfth imam (Mahdi) to finally usher in the peaceful rule they seek.

The Jewish orthodox standpoint: The Jewish people are God’s chosen people who were given the Holy Land as a sign of their promised inheritance. The Jewish glory days of David and Solomon were centred on Jerusalem and the temple. The Jews connection to Jehovah and future redemption is linked to traditional practices surrounding the temple.

The Christian fundamentalist standpoint: One Christian view is replacement theology (which sees New Testament references to Israel as being replaced by the Christian church). An alternative understanding is dispensational theology (which sees a revived Israel as a focus of God’s attention in the end times). There are shades of interpretation in-between these two positions. The many Christian interpretations of Israel alone have resulted in anger and division.

While the above summary of secular and religious views is simplistic, they demonstrate why a peaceful resolution seems elusive.

Personally, Romans 9-11 convinces me that even in this church age, God is not finished with the Jewish people. However, I choose not to be dogmatic as to how this will unfold. Even if modern Israel is pushed into the sea, my faith in Jesus will not be shaken. Ultimately, peace in the Middle East—and the world in general—will only come once the Prince of Peace returns. Since Jesus is our focus, let’s seek Christ more than the anti-christ. Let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let us preach the salvation gospel to the Jews, Muslims, and gentiles living in the Middle East and the world at large.

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About Jeremy Crooks

Jeremy grew up in Sydney Australia. He has tertiary qualifications in business, training, and Bible. With experience in both church ministry and corporate human resources, Jeremy has a strong interest in how faith is demonstrated in our homes and workplaces. You can contact Jeremy at


  1. Steve 23 September, 2011 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    It is all about having a consistent hermeneutic. Dispensational theology has a consistently literal understanding of the Bible, including the promises to Israel, past and future. I have not read any thing by Covenant theologians that consistently interprets prophecy regarding Israel literally. They must resort to allegory or spiritualizing the text, i.e. replacing Israel with the church.
    Therefore Israel is still in God’s plan for the future, particularly the Millennium. Even though Christians should avoid political activism and focus on the gospel, this doesn’t mean we can’t pray for peace in Jerusalem.

    I also believe that the promises to Abraham are still in operation (Genesis 12:3), so our government ought to be supportive of Israel. This reflects who I vote for.

  2. Craig 23 September, 2011 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    I always thought that replacement theology was a straw man put forward by Dispensationals.I’ve never read a Covenant Theologian who professed this.I think the correct term is Expansion theology,God initially worked primarily through Israel ,but now has included people from all Tribes,Tongues,People and Nations such that anyone who is trusting in Christ are offspring of Abraham heirs according to the promise.

  3. Jeremy 25 September, 2011 at 8:10 am - Reply

    What do you see as the difference between Expansive theology and Progressive dispensationalism?

  4. Jason Harris 26 September, 2011 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post Jeremy. It was a helpful overview for me.

  5. Craig 27 September, 2011 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks Jeremy, first sorry for my delay in getting back (I don’t get to the computer very often).Secondly I agree with the sentiment you expressed in your post.I probably would have had some detailed response to your question a couple of years ago when I was looking into all this.I’ve heard plenty of Covenental people speak of the similarity between themselves and Progressive dispensationalists.Both sides have such diverse views on so many aspects of the end times,one of major differences between the two would be how ,and to whom the new covenant promise is applied.
    Thanks once again for the time, spirit and effort you put into all your posts.

  6. Steve 27 September, 2011 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Replacement Theology, Supersessionism, Expansion Theology and Covenant theology are all essentially the same thing. Expansion theology is the politically correct term for Replacement, due to criticism from Jewish believers who hold to a Reformed perspective, which is fair enough I reckon.

    Progressive Dispensationalism is very much a move towards a Reformed perspective, albeit in a subtle way.

  7. Jeremy 28 September, 2011 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Thanks Craig:

    I am not sure if I could classify my theological understanding as purely progressive or expansion. Having said that, my understanding of some of the key elements of end times theology are:

    1. The millenium is a literal and future. It is described in the same context (Revelation 20) as the Lake of Fire. If we were to understand the millenium as figurative, then consistency would demand that we view eternal punishment as figurative as well.

    2. God is clearly working in this world through his church. Something supernatural is also happening at the same time with the revival of the modern state of Israel. (No other culture has survived for nearly 2000 years without a homeland. We could call this evidence of the fig tree sprouting.) The circumstantial evidence that God is directing the movements of both the church and Israel provide weight to expansive/progressive understandings. I believe God has launched the church age without leaving Israel behind. Prophecy such as Zech 12-14 are still to be fulfilled with Israel.

    3. The rapture of the church will definitely happen. A pre-tribulational rapture is a possibility (hinted at in Rev 4:1 and 1 Thess 4:16-17), but it is not enough for me to be dogmatic about, let alone build a doctrinal system around.

    4. Salvation is through Christ alone. While the Jews may be God’s chosen people, they do not have a separate redemptive path. While most dispensationalist would agree with this, the focus on Israel can often overshadow the gospel.

    5. I believe in dispensations (which sometimes overlap). Clearly there are dispensations (times in which God engages the world in different ways). Pre-fall is one example of a dispensation that most Chrisitans agree upon. In addition, I see other dispensations in Scripture. OT & NT at a high level, but also pre-flood, and church age, and a future millenium.

    6. Some of the most glaring signs of the end times are the breakdown of society, greed, truce breaking, disrespect for authority, etc.

    7. Romans 11 should keep the church humble. God is the husbandman who grafts his chosen into redemption. His redemptive plan is bigger than the church age.

    With all the above thoughts, there may not be an end times theological label for me. I am comfortable with that.

  8. Sasha 28 September, 2011 at 9:18 am - Reply

    US warned and will veto the vote. Part of the reason (probably the main reason) Obama’s administration doesn’t want to upset the Jewish vote for the upcoming elections.

  9. Jason Harris 28 September, 2011 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    @Sasha, And the Evangelical vote. Being perceived as anti-Israel is a political death sentence in the USA, no matter what side of politics you’re on.

    @Jeremy, Very interesting points so far. I’m very interested in Craig’s response as I’m pretty sure he’d view Replacement Theology as a straw man.

  10. Jeremy Crooks 28 September, 2011 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    I too am looking forward to Craig’s contribution.

  11. Craig 29 September, 2011 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond, if it gets too far off topic let me know. Firstly theology must be accompanied by doxology, so I praise the Lord that by His grace we are able to discuss these subjects with much love and affection. I intend to respond to each point you have made Jeremy. Of course each response will not be exhaustive but should give you an idea of where I am coming from.

    1: The Millennial age is this current period between the two advents of Christ. This is drawn from the teachings of Jesus and Paul who repeatedly speak of “this age and the age to come” {two age model}, referring to temporal and eternal things. There doesn’t appear to be any reference to a golden 1000 year period. Also the disciples report back to Jesus {Luke 10:17} saying even the demons are subject to them. Jesus replies He saw Satan fall from heaven, and in other places declare that you cannot plunder the strong mans house unless you first bind the strong man. John tells us in Rev 20:2-3 that Satan is bound that he can deceive the nations no more. This allows the gospel to be proclaimed and received with joy by people of every nation. I would read Rev 19 & 20 as both describing the same event from different angles.

    2: Yes the elephant in the room is the existence of Israel. However when the OT talks of the restoration of Israel the reform believe they were pointing ahead to the church. This is because the NT represented this promise as being fulfilled in the church, which Paul called “the Israel of God” Gal 6:16. NT authors also speak of the church in terms which the OT could only apply to national Israel, 1 Peter 2:9, Gal 3:28-29, Heb 12:22-24.

    3: I see the believers being caught up at the same time as the wicked are judged. Matt 13:36-43 and Matt 25: 31-46. This is the Blessed Hope our Lords return.

    4: Agree completely.

    5: Probably more a hermeneutical issue. When the bible is read in a historical redemptive method with covenants of work and grace culminating in their ultimate fulfilment in Christ {His passive and active obedience}. Showing His role as Prophet , Priest and King fulfilling all the OT types and shadows ; Sacrifice, Temple, Manna, Living Water, True Israel the only faithful Son.

    6: I tend to agree with you, although there are probably more Christians in the world today than ever before.

    7: Yes Yes Yes.

    There you have it, a response from an amillenarian position. I guess there is much more that could be said.

  12. Jeremy Crooks 30 September, 2011 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Thanks Craig for your contribution and the spirit in which you have presented it.

  13. Jason Harris 5 October, 2011 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Yes, thanks. Very interesting to see it laid out. Lots of thinking to do now…

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