Romans 11:26 and the Fighting in Lebanon

My Puritan forebears had a great love for the Jewish people. Many of them, like Oliver Cromwell and Henry Jessey, cherished the great hope that Romans 11:26 was to be understood literally, and that there would be a great outpouring of the Spirit upon Israel in the last days. I personally share this hope and would read Romans 11:26 as speaking of literal Israel, that is, the Jewish people. But, and this point is vital, “Israel” in Romans 11:26 is not to be identified with the actual land of current Israel nor with the Zionist state of current Israel. Yes, Christians ought to love God’s Ancient people, as Paul did (see Romans 9:1-3; 10:1). Paul’s revelation of his heart’s desire—that Israel might be saved—is God’s desire. God desires the salvation of the Jews in Israel—that, they like the Jewish rabbi Paul would come to living faith in Jesus Christ, God’s final Word, the radiance of His glory and the only Saviour (Hebrews 1:1-3).

But the text of Romans 11:26 is speaking of the Jewish people not the land. The land has ceased to have any theological significance since the coming of Messiah. Like Abraham, we now look for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). Our future is not tied to a physical spot of land, but to the new heavens and new earth.

What this means is that we are free, as Christians, to be critical of the policies of Zionist Israel. We love the Jewish people and seek their salvation, but this does not mean a carte-blanche endorsement of all current Israeli foreign policy. Israel, to be sure, has a right to protect her borders as a nation. But does the systematic destruction of the infrastructure of south Lebanon fall within that right? Yes, the Hezbollah has done wicked things—the use of the sort of random terrorism that they have done in the past condemns them as being wicked. Clearly many of those in this organization are men—and women—whose minds are shaped by hate. Since the coming of the Prince of Peace—our Lord Jesus—the idea that killing innocent human beings can be in the service of the living God is utterly repulsive! Oh that God would enlighten them as He did to Saul the man of hate on the Damascus Road and save them through faith in Jesus Christ.

But does Hezbollah violence justify the sort of destruction of life and society that we are seeing in south Lebanon? Without wanting to appear as a supporter in any way, shape or form of any sort of Muslim terrorist organization, I do wish to register a concern that Christians not blindly assume that right is only on the side of Israel.

Abraham Lincoln was very wise when he said in the American Civil War that the claim by both sides that God was on their side cannot be right, though both might be wrong. In the present struggle, the Hezbollah and Zionist Israel both cannot be right, though both might be wrong.