[ by Charles Cameron — on prophetic stances towards Israel: both blessings and rebukes ]
It seems to be fairly common in some Christian circles to view the Israeli Prime Minister’s position on war with Iran as somehow sacrosanct.
Thus the end times fiction and non-fiction author Joel Rosenberg, for instance, recently blogged a “sermon” in two posts [Rediscovering the power and purpose of Bible Prophecy: 1 and 2] about the importance of prophecy to an understanding of Middle Eastern affairs, noting:
Israel is the epicenter of God’s plan and purpose in the last days. Other countries mentioned in Bible prophecy are Russia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Libya, Sudan, the revived Roman empire, and several others. The United States, however, is never mentioned directly or specifically in the Bible. In my recent book, Implosion, I go into this in greater detail. But the bottom line is that even though America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth in the history of mankind, the Bible does not describe a specific role for us in the last days. Something, therefore, apparently happens to neutralize us or paralyze from played a key role in the events that lead to the return of Christ.
Despite this lack of emphasis on the Unites States, he followed these two posts up with a post titled Troubling development: rift between White House & Israel growing as threat of war rises:
In recent days, anyone watching U.S.-Israel relations has seen a very troubling development: the already serious rift between the current White House and Israel is growing. The relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has been strained for nearly four years. But as the threat of war between Israel and Iran this fall continues to rise, the Obama administration seems to be intentionally signaling a growing distance from the Netanyahu government.
He doesn’t draw a direct link to prophecy in this particular post, but he does close with this prayer:
Please pray for the Lord to change the heart of President Obama and his advisors, and that they would change course and truly and publicly stand firmly with Israel, our most faithful ally in all of the epicenter. As we read in Genesis 12:1-3, God promises to bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse Israel. With America facing a growing risk of economic and moral implosion, now is certainly not the time to turn our backs on Israel.
As usual, my interest is in nuance — so I’d just like to say that from a purely Biblical point of view, it is by no means out of the question for believers to disagree with the kings and rulers of Israel. Indeed, Rav Moshe Taragin, writing in the Virtual Beit Midrash of Yeshivat Har Etzion, hardly a bastion of anti-Israeli sentiment, goes so far as to say:
In general, the function of the prophet is to rebuke the nation, to expose its negative traits and to help the people improve their behavior. As the Rambam teaches (Hilkhot Teshuva 4:2): “Thus, all the prophets rebuked Israel so that they would repent.”
Just because someone rebukes Israel doesn’t mean they don’t bless her…
I addressed a question to my Christian friends on Twitter the other day, using the Iraq war as my example — but it applies to the current face-off between Israel and Iran, too:
If you and I disagree on, say, the Iraq war now, will one of us have to change his or her mind in heaven?
I added that my question was not about the Iraq war as such, but about our certainties when so many of our certainties differ.
My friend Mike Sellers responded with this admirable quote — which as he pointed out is often attributed to St Augustine (for more on its origins, try Wikipedia):
In things necessary, unity, in things doubtful, liberty, in all things, charity.