The Unsolvable Conflict

Posted: August 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

“A flicker of hope” is how CNN pitches the renewed Middle East peace talks arranged by the United States between Israel and Palestine. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been urging the two parties to come back to the negotiating table after previous efforts stalled three years ago. Kerry said the goal is to seek “reasonable compromises” on “tough, complicated, emotional” and symbolic issues. The initial talks have been arranged for this week.

Other terms describing the effort include “difficult process,” “hard work,” and “tough, but necessary.” But after such a long hostility measured not in decades but millenniums, perhaps “unsolvable conflict” would better capture the reality. Why such a passionate interest in this ancient dissension? While many are captured by the drama of savvy politicians trying once more to unite oil and water or are desirous of the social benefits such peace might bring, some peer through religious spectacles at this dispute.

A growing number of Christians believe that the literal nation of Israel will play a primary role in apocalyptic events leading up to a rapture of the saints and the second coming of Christ. Popular preaches have aimed telescopes at the Middle East and claim that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. We certainly see signs of the times indicating that we are living in the last days, but does Scripture actually teach us that the actual city of Jerusalem will be central to the final events?

When it comes to solid principles for properly interpreting prophecy, some people bend the rules. It “sounds” so biblical to focus on the literal nation of Israel, but after Jesus came and fulfilled the purpose of the Jewish nation in His own life, the message of Scripture now guides us to spiritual Israel. God’s people are no longer defined by a particular country.

While literal Israel played an important role in bringing the message of God’s salvation to the world, Jesus’ death on the cross changed everything. The apostle Paul labors over this point, being a Jew himself, he carefully states, “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham” (Romans 9:6, 7). Even Jesus chastised Jews who claimed salvation through lineage to Abraham, stating, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39).

So while there is a literal Israel, God defines His true people as spiritual Israel. They are not measured by blood or ancestry. They are counted by faith in following Jesus. This is also true of two types of Jews. Paul says, “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).

While it is honorable to encourage peace among nations, Christians who are captured by headlines in the Middle East are prone to wander from the biblical message that God is looking for a people who are not seeking to build a physical temple in Jerusalem, but a spiritual temple in their own hearts. Only through the indwelling of God’s Spirit will we ever truly find peace.

Learn more: Read Spiritual Israel from Pastor Doug Batchelor.

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