The decision of the president of the USA, Mr. Donald Trump, to recognise Israel as capital of Israel, has gotten mixed reactions, as was to be expected.
For many centuries, Jerusalem has been a divided city. Jews, Muslims and Christians have been claiming this city as an important place for them. Jews, Muslims and Christians have been living in Jerusalem during that time as well.
In a way this decision is a reversal of the policy of the USA. However, practically, it doesn’t make a big difference. It is a symbolic decision. It indicates a strong support from the USA for the state of Israel. This is indeed a remarkable difference, because in the past decades the support for Israel has been waning a bit. Remarkable, because Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East. We as Western countries have always been keen on exporting democracy to other parts of the world, and have pushed it with money and military means. Not always successful. More often unsuccessful.
Now we have a working democracy in the Middle East, amid a slew of dictatorial countries, and many in the ‘democratic’ world start criticizing this country. Some even boycott Israel and its products.
What about supporting Israel for other reasons? Many Christians support Israel because they believe that Israel still has a special status in God’s plan. Is that true?
The Bible does speak about Israel. But not the little strip of land in the Middle East. The Bible speaks about the heavenly Canaan. Philippians 3:20 speaks about our citizenship, which is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. All believers belong to Israel. All those who believe the promise, are children of Abraham (Romans 9:6-8) and belong to Israel. When we talk about the state Israel in the Middle East, we talk about something different. ‘For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter.’ (Romans 2:28-29). We expect the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven. Not a restoration of the earthly city. The earthly Jerusalem is even called Sodom and Egypt, in Revelation 11:8. There is no reason for Christians to support Israel, other than that it is a democratic country.
It is sad to say that for Christians even Israel is not so democratic. Voice of the Martyrs reports:
Tension exists between differing religious and ethnic groups, though most persecution against Christians comes from radical Muslims. Societal attitudes toward missionary activity (especially aimed at Jews) is mainly negative, and Jewish activists have been known to spray anti-Christian slogans and graffiti on churches. Government policy supports the free practice of religion, but legal discrimination occurs against religious minorities. Christians in Gaza are often coerced to convert to Islam. Christian converts from Islam in the West Bank and Gaza are threatened by government authorities and extremist groups, while those in Israel often face persecution from family members.