(Note to Jewish readers: This is written by a Christian Zionist specifically for our Christian readership, using references that will resonate with them but not—necessarily—with you. Please bear with me.)
Bible-centred Believers should not be overly diverted by Covid-19. Our attention should stay fixed on Israel, and on what God is doing there.
Here’s a direct and, I grant, rather provocative question. What is more important to you right now, today; and what has been more important to you since March 2020?
Covid-19, or Israel?
How suddenly it has changed: the world we knew until just 18 months ago.
It feels as if we have entered that period marked by the “distress of nations, with perplexity…men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luke 21:25-26)
Globally there is the inexorable rise of China; Russia’s blatant belligerency; the sudden floundering of the United States. There is a great deal that concerns us.
But topping it all is Covid-19.
Nothing has impacted our personal and national lives more immediately.
And no other subject, by far, has so fixated Christians who post on the social media platforms I use.
Clearly there exists within the Church a fear of being misled; an understandable wariness against being caught in a web of deception. We should surely take a prayerful stand against this.
But an overriding preoccupation with Covid is indicative of the kind of distraction we are exhorted not to fall prey to.
We must not let God’s Word be choked by “the cares of this world”. (Matthew 13:22); nor set our minds “on things on the earth”. (Colossians 3:2-3)
Jesus, foretelling the “distress of nations” exhorts us to not be fearful but to “…look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Look up to where—to the sky? No, not to the sky, but to the Land where redemption is already underway. Not to the sky, but to the place where His feet will touch down—to Jerusalem!
We are not Biblically commissioned—when God’s curse comes upon our nations in response to their abuse of Israel—to try and withstand those judgments. This is the time to move closer to Israel, to stand fearlessly alongside her against the raging antisemitism from the nations, to stand on the mountains of Judah and cry out, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9)
This is the time to move closer to Israel, to stand fearlessly alongside her against the raging antisemitism
Those standing with Israel—really standing, in a way that matters—are few. Following the swearing in of the new government this past June 13, we have dwindled.
And our preoccupation with Covid is taking us further away when we really need to be drawing near.
The “Bennett administration” is an incomprehensible amalgamate of purportedly God-fearing lovers of Israel’s heartland who have clambered into bed with those who wish Israel would jettison her Biblical calling, and with others who would see her destroyed.
For many Israeli Jews and Israel-aware Christians, the formation of this coalition brought uncertainty, confusion, alarm. Even rage.
A few Jewish groups—like the ‘Women for Israel’s Tomorrow’ (www.womeningreen.org) and ‘Regavim’ (www.regavim.org) kept focus: recognising that the road towards redemption has entered a difficult phase, and girding their loins accordingly.
Girding for another phase in the fight, that is. The fight over the Land.
It is here, I believe, that we Christians should be gathering: buckling on our armour, drawing the Sword and heading for the front.
To do battle for Zion; to stand with the God of Israel against the alliance of nations (our nations) that have put their hands to reversing what He has accomplished by trying to rob the Jews of half of their homeland and scatter His people from there.
Much of what renders us maladroit in this conflict stems from centuries of Bible teaching with a “Church”-centred standpoint instead of its clear, Israel-centred one.
As a result, our understanding of events around us (including the significance of Covid-19 and our approach to it) and our End Times expectations are skewed.
The Book we hold to be the unalterable Word of God centres almost exclusively on the People of Israel and their geographical homeland. Its high point is the regathering of the Jews, their irreversible replanting in the land, and their national restoration to their God.
Today, as we see a de-facto leaderless Israel milling about like shepherd-less sheep surrounded by wolves; observe its secularisation and its pursuit of the immoral ways of the Gentiles—we must not lose focus.
We do not need to be confused. And we must not be distracted.
God’s Word speaks clearly to present-day Israel’s reality, and foretells the outcome:
“For I will take you from among the gentiles, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of 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 keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:24-28, my emphasis).
This is Israel’s future. And it is their often struggling journey towards it that should fuel our efforts and keep us on the ramparts.
We are not called to the walls of Canberra or Cape Town or Washington DC, but “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen who shall never hold their peace, day or night. All you that make mention of the LORD, give yourselves no rest…” (Isaiah 62:6)
Imagine if all the hours being spent by tens of thousands of Christians researching, writing, sharing, campaigning and warning about Covid-19 would instead be spent researching, writing, sharing, campaigning and warning for Israel? How much we could do!
We have our King’s commission, and it is a full-time one.
It is to comfort this hated nation (Isaiah 40:1-2), to take hold of her, cling to her and go with her into her destiny (Zechariah 8:23). Our directive is to declare to our nations that the Jews are forever home—that God has gathered them and will never scatter them again (Jeremiah 31:10). And as watchmen we are to warn our governments and our countrymen of the dire consequences our nations will face if they do not remove their hands from the effort to divvy up God’s Land (Joel 3).
God says on more than one occasion that He looked in vain for someone to help, to uphold His people. (Isaiah 63:4-5)
May we not be so distracted that, when He looks for someone to stand night and day with this nation, He finds we have been lured away.