Recently the teaching series and articles by John Piper about how Christians should respond to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was brought to my attention. I listened, and read, nearly in tears, as he expounded upon this issue with classic replacement theology arguments, as well as an unfortunate humanist perspective. I value so many of Piper's thoughts and have always considered him to be a sound and safe theologian, so this was quite a disappointment to me personally. Not to mention that I have grave concerns for the amount of sway he has on the evangelical church.
In short, Piper believes that the Jewish people do not have divine right to the land of Israel. He bases his argument off of the conditional nature of the covenant God established with Israel - often sending them into exile for disobedience to his word. Piper explains that the Jewish people at present are in this state of disobedience for lack of belief in Jesus. For this reason, we should not believe they have divine right to the land, but we should support them as far as justice and humanitarian issues are concerned.
I am so thankful that I have a heart to study God's word on my own, because the holes in his argument jumped out with clarity. Piper is mistaken in that the divine right to the land is based merely on Israel's disposition, and he makes an extremely dangerous leap to suggest that their rejection of salvation in Messiah Yeshua is the greatest evidence so support that they do not have divine right to the land. I personally believe that the mere existence of Israel today challenges this very notion. If this were true, in God's sovereignty, would why would He have permitted this nation to form after 2000 years in the diaspora. More importantly, no where does scripture state that Israel has land rights based on their salvation. Rather, the Abrahamic Covenant guarantees the land as an ever lasting inheritance, and ultimately one based on His covenant keeping nature, rather than Israel's works.
I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Gen 17:6-8
I think Ezekiel 36 alone truly shows the lack of biblical wholeness in Piper's argument. Let's walk through it:
Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them. Eze 36: 16-19
So far, this passage seems in line with Pipers perspective that God sends Israel into exile for disobedience. This is true and it is something He did do through out the OT. In this case, the disobedience of Israel even continued in the nations:
When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord; yet they have come out of His land.’ But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. v. 20-21
But God has a plan that is not dependent on Israel, but rather on His own holiness:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of
Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. v. 22-23
And what does he do:
For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. v. 24
In their state of disobedience, God brings the people of Israel back to the Land of Israel! He has not made this choice based on their condition, but on His own condition of holiness. This demonstrates a fulfillment of the "blood path covenant" of Genesis 15. After the Lord promises Abraham land and descendents, Abraham asks about the land:
He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” v. 8
The Lord does something amazing here. He instructs Abraham to perform a ritual sacrifice, to which they should both walk through, according to the tradition of the time. Instead, the Lord appears on his own, fulfilling both ends of the agreement:
It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants I have given this land,From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. v. 17-18
He is promising Abraham that He can trust that His descendents will possess the land based on HIS goodness, not on works of the flesh. In Eze 36, the Lord affirms this same promise and even prophesies of its fulfillment. He sates that it is not for Israel's sake, or goodness, that He is about it act, but for His own namesake, His holiness. Ultimately that Genesis 15 passage is one that foreshadows salvation in Messiah Yeshua. Let's see how this relates to the Lord bringing Israel back into the land:
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. v. 25-27
God will first bring the people of Israel back into the Land of Israel in disobedience, and then He will cleanse them. Many scholars (and I hold this understanding) believe that this is a prophet text speaking of the spiritual salvation of the Jewish people, after they have been brought into the land. It is His kindness that lead to repentance:
You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!” v.28-32
And in it is in the Land that a great revelation of Messiah Yeshua will be given the Jewish people:
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zech 12:10
Piper also makes a few brief nods to Romans 11 in these various teachings. He is truthful that Israel will be grafted in to salvation, but he neglects a few critical points. We need to also remember that this extended season in which the Jewish people have not recognized Yeshua as their Messiah is not something to hold against them. Instead, is is part of God's sovereign plan.
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! Romans 11:11-12
For some divine purpose that I do not fully understand, it was necessary for them to become hardend inorder for the Gentile nations to become saved. But their salvation will be as life to dead, a testimony of God's resurrection power that will bless the nations.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. v. 17-18 This is something we such accept in humility and in knowledge.
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
“This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
When I take away their sins.”
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. V. 25-28
I recommend reading the whole of Romans 11.
By Pipers own logic, the nation of Israel should not exist today, but it does! The mere fact that Israel exists as a thriving nation, with a strong army, economy, and fruitful land proves these words as living.
We are walking in bible days, friends.
The enemy knows that the formation of Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people are one of the greatest testimonies of the Living and Holy God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and soon coming of His beloved Son. He will do all he can to keep you from seeing this revelation as it unfolds, even using a normally sound and respectable bible teacher, if that's what it takes.
Please study for yourself, and know God's word. And please stand with Israel during these perilous days.