By Wes Bergen
Friends and neighbors, it is time to rethink our national position toward the nation of Israel.
I write this as a Christian pastor and Bible scholar. Since many of us support Israel because of our commitment to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as recorded in the Bible, we need to have an understanding of Israel that is supported by this Bible, rather than just by one or two verses.
Many people know that the people of Israel were called by God to be a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:1-3). Within this call was the promise by God to bless those nations that blessed (supported) Israel and to curse those nations that cursed Israel. This is the story we read, but is not the whole story.
Israel was founded on the idea of covenant. God gave instructions to the people of Israel concerning how they were to live. If they followed these laws they would be blessed. If they did not, they would be cursed.
Further, if they chose to not follow these laws, God would bring destruction on Israel and give them into the hands of foreign leaders (see all of Deuteronomy 28) .
This was not an idle threat. The Bible records that God did just that to the 10 northern tribes with the invasion of the Assyrians (2 Kings 17), and later to the tribe of Judah with the invasion of the Babylonians (2 Kings 25). In the centuries that followed, the land of Israel was ruled by many other peoples.
If we believe that the promise still holds, then the whole promise holds. If some other nation blesses Israel, then it will be blessed. But if this nation supports Israel when Israel disobeys God’s laws, then it can receive no blessing.
Israel is not exempt from the laws that bind other nations. It must hold itself to an even higher standard if it is to continue to be a light to the world.
A true supporter of Israel, then, is one who supports Israel when it meets and exceeds the standards of righteousness that God set up, but withholds support when Israel chooses another path.
None of this should affect how we treat the Jewish people living among us. After all, Christians are called to love (actively care for) our neighbors and even our enemies. The actions of the governments of their homelands does not change this. We, too, must hold ourselves to this higher standard.
Some day, Israel will be judged by how it treated the Palestinian people (just as America will be judged by the treatment of its native peoples).
God will not bless those that support the ongoing persecution of the people in Gaza and the West Bank, just as God will not bless those who oppress the native peoples in our nation. We need to support Israel (and other nations) when they are doing good, but should never support a nation when it chooses the other path.
Wes Bergen is a member of The Dominion Post’s Community Advisory Board.