The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: G

Previous Index Next

Gospel and its social implications

Through the years we have all spent considerable time studying Bible prophecy and the events surrounding Jesus' Second Coming. But we may have been less interested or concerned with the social and ethical consequences of our prophetic faith. The obvious danger of this deficiency is that we may be tempted to draw simplistic political conclusions from our study of prophetic details.

Many of us believe that, according to Bible prophecy, a Last Days Arab confederacy will attempt to annihilate Israel (Psa 83:1-8; Zec 14). Many of us also believe that the leader of such a confederacy will be a Middle East political figure, probably an Islamic Arab. Some others think the leader will be a Russian political figure. Either way, it is also believed, with good reason, that such an anti-Israel force will be destroyed by divine power.

What political conclusions do we draw from this? We might conclude that God is siding with the modern state of Israel and against the "evil" Arabs and/or the "evil" Russians. This in turn might lead us to endorse any and all of Israel's actions, no matter how immoral or unjust. The irony is: we could end up favoring completely unbelieving Jews against Palestinian or Russian Christians.

The apostle Peter told Cornelius and his family:
"God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right" (Acts 10:34,35).
And the apostle Paul wrote:
"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek... "
-- he could as easily have written, "neither Jew nor Arab, neither American nor Russian nor Iraqi nor Palestinian" --
"... slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:26-28).
So, even if the final enemy of God (according to prophecy) will be an Arab (or a Russian) leading an Arab and/or Muslim coalition, this does not mean that all present-day Arabs (or Russians) are enemies of God. Nor will it mean that every Arab will prove to be evil when that time does come. During the holocaust, not every German was a Nazi. Some German Christians protested Hitler's actions. Some even risked their own lives to save Jews.

Similarly, not every Jew or Israeli is a child of God. When some of the Jewish elite questioned Jesus' teaching, and protested that "Abraham is our father" (John 8:39), Jesus disagreed:
"If you were Abraham's children... then you would do the things Abraham did... You belong to your father, the devil... "
-- a charge equivalent to "seed of the serpent" or "brood of vipers" (Mat 3:7; 23:33) --
"... He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God" (John 8:39,47).
God is not on the side of modern Israel as opposed to the Arabs. He is rather on the side of His children, those from all nations who have called on the name of the Lord (Rom 10:11-13).

But, having said this, we should not conclude either that God has rejected natural Israel:
"Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew" (Rom 11:1,2).
And so there is a very real tension in our prophetic studies... because Last Days prophecies do indicate that God will save Israel from the hostile Arab forces that opppose it. Can we resolve this tension?

Yes, by understanding that God will save Israel (really, a remnant of Israel) not because they are natural sons of Abraham, but because they (the remnant) will have become true believers in the God of Abraham and the Son of that God:
"If they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again... Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all [true] Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins' " (Rom 11:23,25-27).
The phrase "when I take away their sins" indicates a cleansing for Israel (true Israel, the "remnant"), brought about through their repentance and faith (see, for example, Zec 12:10 -- 13:3, which is the prelude to Zec 14).

But we do well to remember, in the meantime, that God is not truly on the side of unbelievers (no matter what their ethnicity), and that we must be careful not to champion nationalistic states when their actions are ungodly. In the conflicts yet to come, we must favor neither nationalistic Israel nor nationalistic Arab, but Christ!
"If you belong to Christ, then [and then only] you are [truly] Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29).

Acknowledgment: Some of the above is drawn from an article by Mark Mattison in The Restitution Herald, Oct-Nov 1994.

Previous Index Next