Ben Irwin – Why Evangelicals Should Think Twice about Equating Modern Israel with Israel of the Bible

The other day, I raised a question for evangelicals who think standing with Israel means supporting them no matter what. How do you reconcile a “never criticize Israel” mentality with the overwhelming witness of the biblical prophets?

If you’ve been told that unconditional support for Israel is the only “biblical” position, that the modern-day state enjoys the same kind of “most favored nation” status with God as ancient Israel did, then here’s another question. If Israel today is entitled to the covenant blessings spoken by the Old Testament, what about their covenant obligations?

The Bible never spoke of Israel’s covenant blessings apart from their obligations. It’s no use trying to have one without the other. And at least one of these obligations poses a bit of a problem for the modern state of Israel, if it is indeed the same nation as the one in the Bible.

Ancient Israel was not supposed to have a standing army. They weren’t supposed to stockpile weapons. There were no taxes to fund a permanent military. Israel’s rulers were forbidden from amassing large numbers of horses (Deuteronomy 17:16-17)—which was about as close as you could get to an arms race in the ancient Near East. Israel’s king was not supposed to make foreign military alliances. God stipulated that Israel should remain militarily weak so they would learn to trust him for protection.

Israel wasn’t allowed to conscript anyone into military service. If you didn’t want to fight, you didn’t have to fight. Note this remarkable command from Deuteronomy 20:

When you go to war against your enemies… the officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”

Read HERE the rest of this text.

Ben Irwin

Ben Irwin is a young ‘confessional progressive’ Episcopalian writer and blogger that I have just discovered; and I like him. A lot.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

5 thoughts on “Ben Irwin – Why Evangelicals Should Think Twice about Equating Modern Israel with Israel of the Bible”

  1. ..Manastireanu …nu confunda armata lui Israel cu ISIS…NU MAI POZA IN FACATOR DE PACE SCRISNINID DIN DINTI LA ADRESA LUI ISRAEL…

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    1. Mon cher, daca m-ai cunoaste, ai realiza ca nu pozez in mimic. Sunt eu insumi in toate astea, si platesc un pret pentru opiniile mele, care nu sunt, ca in cazul multor evanghelici, de la noi sau de aiurea, rodul spalarii creierului de catre propaganda sionista, ci convingeri capatate in timp, si cu greu, cu framintari serioase de constiinta, de informare si de reflectie teologica.
      Daca concluziile mele nu te satisfac, esti liber/libara sa nu adastezi pe aii. Nu e nimani obligat. Dara daca treci pe aici, ai bunul simt de a respecta opiine altora, orice parere ai avea despre ele. Adio!

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  2. ‘Any “pre-existing condition” of a hardened heart, a predisposition to judgment, a fear of God, any need to win or prove yourself right will corrupt and distort the most inspired and inspiring of Scriptures–just as they pollute every human conversation and relationship. Hateful people will find hateful verses to confirm their love of death. Loving people will find loving verses to call them into an even greater love of life. And both kinds of verses are in the Bible! (Richard Rohr)

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