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Replacement Theology

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Recently, I became more keenly aware of the spiritual conflict that rages over Israel. This conflict settles on the battleground of Replacement theology. While we reject this theological concept, it is worth noting that it is a 'new' that has strengthened itself over many centuries within churches of all traditions. It is therefore not easily removed and yet we are called to do so with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

To some degree, Replacement theology is so deceptive because it rests on half-truths. For instance, the Church is the “Israel of God” but not in a replacement sense (Galatians 6:14-16).

In essence, Replacement theology removes from Israel a national destiny in the land of Canaan because of her rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials. All the biblical statements of Israel enjoying future blessings in the land of Canaan are said to be descriptions of the spiritual blessings that now accrue to the Church. The expectation of a physical kingdom has been spiritualized and taken from Israel and given to the Gentiles (Matthew 21:43), even though Jesus never denied that the physical kingdom would be restored to Israel (Acts 1:6-7).

That this way of expounding Scripture completely violates the principles of biblical exposition is of little importance to them. We should interpret Scripture by the nature of the text. If it is literal, then we should interpret it literally, but if it is spiritual or figurative, then we should respond accordingly. For instance, Jesus said, “I am the door!” Does this mean He actually is a door? Of course not! The context is clearly figurative and needs to be interpreted as such.

We are therefore not committed to any singular form of biblical exposition - literal or figurative - but rather to the context. This will determine our style of exposition and therefore we uphold the integrity of Scripture and its authority.

The Essentials of Replacement Theology

Replacement theology rests chiefly on the idea that the whole or part of the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished, for it is this Covenant that promises to Israel eternal ownership of the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:7-8).

Once this 'promise' has been removed, the present-day restoration of Israel means nothing and her only hope is in the Church. Now it must be made clear that we believe that only in Christ Jesus can there be salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike (Romans 1:16-17). However, we do not believe that the promise of God in the Abrahamic Covenant bequeathing the land of Canaan to Israel has been removed, and therefore Israel’s modern restoration to the land of Canaan is indeed fulfillment of that promise and constitutes a milestone on her ‘way home’ to her Messiah (Ezekiel 36:24-28).

Two Points of View

The Replacement camp is divided into two opinions concerning the Abrahamic Covenant:

1. The Abolitionists

This camp sees the Covenant with Abraham as being entirely abolished. However they have serious difficulties because Paul writing to the Galatians states that Jesus died in order to bring to our lives the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant and if we belong to Jesus, we are Abraham’s children according to the promise (Galatians 3:13-14, 29).

If the Covenant has been abolished, then what Paul says is wrong! Moreover the writer of the Book of Hebrews states that we can trust God to be faithful to the New Covenant because He has always been faithful to the Abrahamic Covenant (Hebrews 6:13-20). This constitutes a serious problem for the Abolitionists because, if the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished, then God is a liar and indeed is not faithful, though the writer of Hebrews affirms that He is!

Many Abolitionists have perceived this problem and have consequently moved to the...

2. Reconstructionist Camp

This theory states that the Abrahamic Covenant has indeed not been abolished but it has been reconstructed. That is, the part that promises land to Israel now means spiritual promises and not literal ones. The problem with this theory is:

(a) It is a total presupposition and the Scriptures nowhere affirm it. That all nations would be blessed in Christ was actually the intention of the Abrahamic Covenant from the very beginning, but this does not remove from the Jewish people a national destiny in the Holy Land.

Reconstructionists lay emphasis on Paul’s teaching in the Book of Galatians concerning God’s promise in Abraham being made not to his “seed”, plural, that is the people of Israel, but to his “seed” singular, meaning Jesus (Galatians 3:15-18). Therefore they conclude that since the “seed” Christ has come, the promise to the “seed” of Abraham as in plural - meaning the people - has been removed! They have forfeited the land!

The truth is that Paul also uses the term “Abraham’s seed” in the plural in the New Testament (Romans 9:6-7). In other words both interpretations of the term “seed” are true! Abraham’s seed is singular and plural. The blessing God promised in Abraham is only in Christ Jesus because He died for the whole world, but the mediation or means by which this blessed “seed” comes into the world is through the “seed” plural - the people of Israel. The one truth does not contradict the other. Both truths are in fact interdependent (Romans 9:1-5), hence the extensive genealogy of Jesus given in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38).

The Bible nowhere states that the promises of God in Abraham concerning Israel’s everlasting possession of the Land of Canaan are removed. In fact, everywhere it affirms the opposite! That is, that a day is coming when Israel will be restored to the land and to her Messiah (Ezekiel 36:24-32). This passage from Ezekiel teaches the very opposite of Replacement theology, in that Israel’s rebellion and sin has not led to land forfeiture but to judgment and correction, yet in the end God will, for His Name’s sake, restore Israel to her ancient land and to Himself! He does this in spite of her history of rebellion and sin. The truth is that Replacement theology reflects the heart of man and not that of God!

(b) The Scriptures refute it. Jesus came to confirm the promises to the Fathers, not to reconstruct them (Romans 15:7-9). Confirm means CONFIRM! He takes away nothing but reinforces every promise that God made to the fathers (Acts 3:22-26). Peter affirms that there must be a time of “restoration of all things” before Messiah returns. This “restoration of all things” is spoken about by all the prophets - meaning a final regathering to the Land of Canaan and repentance leading to salvation in Jesus (Amos 9:11-15; Jeremiah 36:26-28).

Purpose

Israel has always been God’s vehicle of world redemption (Romans 9:1-5). In a way, she is God’s microphone, the means by which He speaks to a lost world. Moreover, she has birthed all God’s covenants into the world and has now come back to her ancient homeland, by the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant, to birth the final great covenant of history, the Davidic Covenant. Herein lies the ultimate purpose of her modern-day restoration. Jesus will return to Zion as the root and offspring of David (Revelation 22:1-6; Psalm 2:1-12; Psalm 72:5-11).

No wonder the conflict over Zion is so great. Our ministry, partnered with you, is removing the stumbling blocks from Zion and thereby preparing her for the arrival of her great and most blessed King (Isaiah 62:10).

Replacement theology is thus an instrument of the powers of darkness to frustrate the purpose of God, by disconnecting the Church from this final great redemptive initiative in history. We reject it and stand fully on the promises of God concerning Israel and the Church.


Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

The Question of Justice

The passing of each Christmas season gives the small but highly symbolic Palestinian Christian community a brief moment in the sun to highlight the difficult yoke of life in modern Bethlehem. Some use it to decry the lawless acts of radical Islamic neighbours, others the restrictive shadow of the Israeli security wall.

At a recent holiday reception for the Christian communities of the Holy Land hosted by Israel's Minister of Tourism, Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem Munib Younan used his moment at the podium to plead this Christmas for "peace and justice, for without justice there cannot be peace."

For decades now, such appeals for "justice" have been a familiar refrain from Palestinian voices Muslim and Christian. For their part, Palestinian Christian clerics often construct their calls for "justice" in biblical terms, with a particular attachment to the words of the Hebrew prophet Micah.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

This very passage headlined a statement released this past summer by Younan and three other Arab bishops of Jerusalem that sharply denounced evangelical Christian supporters of Israel. That declaration, in turn, was taken verbatim from the proclamation of an April 2004 conference of the Sabeel Center for Palestinian Liberation Theology, convened specifically to "challenge" the "heretical teaching" of Christian Zionism.

The founder and director of Sabeel, an Arab Anglican priest named Rev. Naim Ateek, has even written a book on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict entitled Justice, and Only Justice.

But what exactly do they mean by "justice"?

For the bulk of the Palestinian people, 98% of whom happen to be Muslim, it means Israel taking responsibility for and completely reversing the Arab al-Nakba ("Disaster") suffered in the 1948 War of Independence. From that conflict emerged a Jewish state on 'sacred' Palestinian land, as well as a festering Palestinian refugee problem that now numbers in the millions. Though it was a war launched by the Arabs, they now want Israel to 'unscramble their eggs.'

In one camp, the 'radical' Hamas is unwilling to compromise on the refugee issue, nor on the armed struggle to recover all the waqf of Palestine, which they would Islamicize.

The more 'moderate' Fatah could accept a reversal in stages a Palestinian mini-state for now but also insisting on a significant return of refugees to the Jewish state. In time, they envision the two states merging into one Arab state between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea due to their higher birth rate.

Sometimes they can be coy about these goals. Speaking at a recent international conference on Palestinian refugees, prominent Palestinian spokesman Nabil Shaath said in a conciliatory manner, "Any settlement has to have relative justice and not absolute justice."

But what does the tiny Palestinian Christian minority mean by "justice"?

To some, it may be defined as narrowly as lifting the IDF closures and checkpoints to allow freedom of movement, or recovering their own homes lost in the fighting of 1948, such as the seven Christian villages evacuated by Jewish forces along the frontier with Lebanon. Several Jewish communities have since been built in this border area, no doubt presenting Israel with a difficult moral dilemma.

Most, however, have in mind a one-state solution, whereby the land between "the River and the Sea" becomes one bi-national, democratic state in which everyone Jew or Arab gets one vote. In short, "one state for two peoples and three religions."

Many Palestinian Christians have trouble accepting a sovereign Jewish state for theological reasons, but they also do not want to live in an authoritarian or strictly Islamic state. Thus their preferred option is one democratic nation with a slight Arab majority but enough Jews to ensure the protection of minority rights.

As a means to that end, Palestinian Christian leaders and their allies abroad have led the pursuit of the Durban strategy of drawing apartheid comparisons to de-legitimize Israel and its policies. This has spawned the twin campaigns of divestment from Israel and dismantlement of the "apartheid wall." Former US president Jimmy Carter has earnestly joined this effort in his new book Israel: Peace not Apartheid, while South Africa's celebrated Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu hopes to do his part with an upcoming visit to Gaza under the auspices of the new UN Human Rights Committee.

A Righteous Judge

Still, at the heart of the Palestinian Christian cry for "justice" is a struggle over their very concept of God from a New Testament perspective. Some liken the Palestinian situation today to the ancient Canaanite people in the land when it was conquered under Joshua, and do not consider that to be the handiwork of the same God of mercy revealed in Jesus Christ. Is God just, they ask, to bring the Jewish people back into the land in our day in a manner that has resulted in such loss and dispossession for fellow humans equally loved in His sight?

In approaching this question on biblical terms, it is first worth noting a distinction between moral uprightness as an individual duty versus its obligation on a collective or national scale. The former addresses one's conduct as it relates to eternal salvation or damnation, while the latter invokes the sovereignty and purposes of God over the nations in the course of human history.

Micah 6:8, for instance, speaks primarily of the individual charge placed upon every man to act justly with their fellow human, and the Bible has much to say in this regard more than we have room for here. Suffice to say that, ultimately, there is no person that has been just enough in God's sight to stand before Him (Psalm 130:3-4; Romans 3:10); but we were given Christ not only as the means to our justification by faith (Romans 4:5), but also as our example of someone who suffered unjustly in silence, "entrust[ing] himself to Him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:21-23)

Now as for "justice" on the national level, the Bible clearly teaches, first, that God is sovereign over the nations and indeed deals with them as He wills based on questions of righteous and justice as He defines them not in human terms (Jeremiah 18:5-10; Isaiah 40:12-24).

Secondly, God has given Israel as a "light to the nations" to show us what it means to walk uprightly before Him and know His blessing or in disobedience and know His loving correction. The blessing of obedience was the right to live in the land bequeathed to Abraham's descendants as an "everlasting possession" (Genesis 17:8), while the curse of disobedience was exile among the nations (see Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).

How poetically the prophet Isaiah describes Israel as a "vineyard" carefully planted by God that He then had to uproot, because "He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help." Isaiah 5:1-7

Thus did a righteous God deal severely with His own people Israel down through the centuries. In fact, He actually made them pay “double” for all their sins (Isaiah 40:1-3; Jeremiah 16:18). This means that if anyone has a legitimate cry for "justice," it is the Jews, who have suffered far more than any other peoples in history.

Yet the Apostle Paul, with regard to these very sufferings inflicted by God upon His elect, asks in Romans 3:1-8 essentially the same tough questions being posed by pro-Palestinian Christians today, namely:

“But if our [Israel’s] unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise how will God judge the world?”

In other words, if God ever did anything to the Israelites that they did not deserve, then He has no right to judge the rest of the world.

This same God also promised a time of favor upon Israel (Psalm 102:13), in which "He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock." Jeremiah 31:10

God scattered them as a corrective measure, but also with a redemptive purpose, in that with their dispersion the Gospel went out to all the world (Romans 11:11-12, 15). It is His prerogative to now gather them within that same redemptive purpose.

Though this modern-day ingathering may make some Christians uncomfortable from a humanistic perspective, it is actually the ultimate justice of God that He should recover this people who have suffered for the sake of the nations and redeem them back in the land.

This does not mean, however, that everything Israel does today is right or that her moral shortcomings can be overlooked. She does need to act justly but in His sight and not necessarily at the bar of nations that have always treated her unfairly, if not cruelly.

In the end, we are assured that this process will bring God's correction and justice to Israel and to the nations. For as Jeremiah says of this present Ingathering: "Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished." (Jeremiah 30:10-11)

Indeed, "Zion shall be redeemed with justice and her penitents with righteousness." (Isaiah 1:27)

David Parsons

Media Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Bible Teachings

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Siding with the Truth

 

This is a transcript of a speech by Susan Michael, US Director, to the 9th Annual Solidarity Event at the Embassy of Israel, Washington DC, May 7th, 2010. Learn more about ICEJ efforts to combat the campaign of discrimination through the Israel Defense Network.


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A worldwide campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State is sounding in the halls of governments, global institutions, universities and in streets around the world. This mounting campaign against Israel is unprecedented and it is undermining her ability to deal with the other serious threats she faces. The goal of this campaign is not only to tie Israel’s hands, but actually to bring about the end of the Jewish state.

A Campaign of Delegitimization

We just endured the Sixth Annual Israeli Apartheid Week that took place on college campuses in over 40 cities around the world. They are calling Israel an ‘apartheid state’: a country in which the Arab minority is allowed to vote, attend universities next to Jewish students, serve in the IDF, serve as ambassadors, as Supreme Court judges and even represent the nation as Miss Israel. Former US President, Jimmy Carter even turned this accusation into a bestselling book. To us this is ludicrous. But do not be fooled. This is a very dangerous global campaign because it implies that if Israel is a nation like apartheid South Africa then she can be sanctioned and dismantled in the same way as the apartheid regime of South Africa.

Hitler understood the role propaganda played in preparing the way for the extermination of the Jewish people. The steps were first discrimination, second delegitimization and lastly, extermination. We need to understand the role of the global disinformation and propaganda campaign taking place against Israel today and take it seriously.

This current campaign of delegitimization focuses on Israel as though she is the source of all evil in the world. She is not only the obstacle to Palestinian statehood but to world peace. But I want to know this: while orchestrated demonstrations were held around the world against Israel when she moved into Gaza to end the rocket attacks, and while global institutions such as the UN are accusing her of war crimes, and while our academics and mainline churches are calling for divestment - where are the demonstrations against the Iranian government for the incitement to genocide, or for threatening another member-state in the United Nations, or for beating and imprisoning innocent citizens for protesting against a rigged election?

Where are the demonstrations against Hamas who fired 8,000 rockets at innocent Israeli civilians, or for persecuting and murdering Christians in Gaza, or for kidnapping and holding Gilad Shalit for four years! Where are the demonstrations against the Palestinian Authority for glorifying suicide bombers and brainwashing little children to want to become one?

The list goes on and on and if I get started on Sudan, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia we will be here past dinner.

It is really maddening. And to think that while an almost-nuclear Iran is threatening to wipe Israel off the map, the world asks Israel to commit to a nuclear free Middle East! Or get this one: Iran was just elected to a four-year seat on the UN Women’s Rights Commission. Iran does not recognize the basic human rights of women! These are the same institutions condemning Israel for a war of self defense. Israel suffered over 8,000 rocket attacks from a group that ignores the laws of war and not only targets Israeli civilians but uses their own civilians for cover, and then Israel is the one accused of war crimes!

I am telling you that the global campaign against Israel is unprecedented. Its influence is being felt everywhere. While we have been immune to a lot of this in the US I can detect its growing influence here not only in our government, but even in Christian universities, and in the wider Evangelical world.

A Battle over Values

So what is behind all of this? First, the enemies of Israel have found a politically correct manner in which to defeat Israel and see the state dismantled. Parts of this campaign are absolutely planned and deliberate with this goal in mind.

Secondly, they have found lots of bedfellows because it is nothing but a new form of antisemitism. While classic antisemitism blames the Jews for the world’s ills, the new antisemitism, anti-Zionism, blames the Jewish nation for the worlds ills. Antisemites have simply found a politically correct way to be antisemitic.

Thirdly, it goes beyond that because Israel is in direct confrontation with the value systems of the world today. We are living in a world that now believes in moral relativism – the belief that there is no right or wrong, good or evil, truth or falsehood – it is all a question of competing narratives. The Jewish nation, which gave the world the Ten Commandments, flies in the face of moral relativism. Israel is also a Jewish state in an age when both religion and nationalism are under assault, therefore her ‘Jewishness’ is being called racism. The world is also becoming increasingly pacifist. Israel, a nation that relies on military force for her very survival, flies in the face of pacifism, hence they call her “Nazi.”

I can’t help but think of two scriptures at this point. Isaiah 5:20 says “woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” And II Thess. 2:11 “Therefore God will send them a great delusion because they did not love the truth.” This is why I am very concerned for our world and the direction in which it is heading.

A Challenge to Speak the Truth

So what can we do in the face of such gigantic challenges. There is a saying that comes to my mind that sums it up well: pray as though it is all up to God, and work as though it is all up to you.

Isaiah 62:6-7 says this:
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Jerusalem will no longer be ridiculed, instead she will be praised by all the earth, and it is “He” who will do this. We know that the battle is the Lord’s. And we will pray as though it is all up to Him.

But we also need to roll up our sleeves, see this for the battle that it is and go on the “information offensive.” How do we fight disinformation, but with information. You and I need to tell Israel’s story, over and over, and louder and louder.

We need to tell the world how they are indebted to the Jewish people. The Jewish contribution to religion, science, literature, music, medicine, finance, philosophy, technology etc., is staggering. They are making our world a better place.

We need to tell the Christian world how indebted we are to the Jewish people for everything we hold dear as Christians comes from the Jewish people.

We need to tell our country how indebted we are to Israel. Her intelligence and military technology are helping us and are saving lives of our servicemen and women. Her high tech industry and innovation is fueling Silicon Valley and our economy. She is the only democratic ally we have in the volatile Middle East. A strong US-Israel relationship is not only good for Israel, it is good for America!

The Bible is clear that those who curse Israel and seek to destroy her will suffer the consequences of the very hatred and destruction they foment. As Yehuda Avner, an Israeli author, said just last week in The Jerusalem Post, “our history is that our enemies try to destroy us in every generation, and every time it is they who are destroyed.”

We need to tell Israel’s story not just because it will help Israel, but because it will help our own nation and everyone in the world who will side with truth.

Susan Michael
USA Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Why We Support Israel

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Christian support for the restoration of the Jews to their ancient homeland has been around for as long as Christians have been able to read the Bible for themselves.  For there they read about God’s covenant with Abraham in which He bequeathed to him and his descendants the land of Canaan.  And they read in the Hebrew prophets that although the children of Israel may be exiled from the land for a time, that one day God would regather them to the land one final time, and draw them and then the world unto Himself. 

History

Since much of Christian history is stained with the sin of antisemitism the modern movement of Christian support of Israel at first glance looks like a new movement, or aberration that will surely soon correct itself.  However, something happened over 500 years ago that changed the course of Christianity and prepared the way for this significant shift in attitude towards the Jewish people.  This event was the translation of the Bible into the vernacular language.

As soon as Christians could read the Bible for themselves they attempted to change the state church and make it more like the early church in the New Testament.  This in turn brought about great persecution and many had to flee their homes and countries.

They also became aware of the Hebraic roots of Christianity and began studying Hebrew, and the Jewish Feasts, and they identified with the persecuted people of Israel. They also read that God had promised to one day regather the Jewish people to their ancient homeland and they began praying for this to happen.  This means that for four hundred years before the state of Israel was established that whole movements of Christians were praying for that day.

As the number of Bible-believing Christians grew so did their influence and their involvement in the re-establishming of Israel.  It was Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, who first used the term Christian Zionist in recognizing Christian participants in the First Zionist Congress in 1897.

Christian Zionism

The Bible is very clear that the Jewish people were given the land of Canaan by God Himself. He gave the land to Abraham and to his descendents through Isaac as an everlasting possession (Genesis 12:1-3) because God was forming and fashioning a people through whom He would reach the world.

Crucial to God’s redemptive purpose was the land of Canaan as a national homeland for His people. And through this nation He revealed to a lost world the Word of God, the prophets, the covenants, and the Messiah (Romans 9:4-5).

We also read in the Bible that though God said the people of Israel would be exiled from that land due to disobedience, that He promised to bring them back - and not just once, but a second time as well (Isaiah 11:11).

God is not finished with the nation of Israel for she will one day become the chief of the nations. From Jerusalem the word of the Lord will go forth to the nations and the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Israel’s Messiah will reign in righteousness; He will rule the nations with a rod of iron and nations will not learn war anymore (Jeremiah 31:36; Isaiah 2:2-4).

Therefore, Christian Zionists support the Jewish people’s return to the land and the rebuilding of their nation. Now as throughout history, Israel’s enemies seek to destroy the Jewish state and wipe it off the face of the earth but we will stand with Israel and will not be silent (Isaiah 62:6).

We as Christians must comfort Israel (Isaiah 40:1), bless her (Genesis 12:3), pray for her (Psalm 122:6) and encourage her with God’s precious eternal Word.

The Time for A New Relationship

Christian Zionists recognize the immense spiritual debt that Christianity owes the Jewish people for from them came all that we hold dear. And as one author titled her book: Christianity is Jewish. We are indebted to the Jewish people and owe them honor, respect and support.

As Christians, we also recognize with sorrow and repentance the role that many Christians have played in the persecution of the Jewish people throughout history. And we aspire to correct this and build a new relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

The Facts Are On Israel’s Side

In addition to our reading of the Bible, we also support Israel because we have studied the history of the modern State of Israel and we know that the facts are on her side. She is a legal nation, on legally acquired territory and she has the right to exist and to exist in secure borders. Though Israel is a nation like all nations - she may not be perfect, nor all of her policies the best - yet she is legal and morally right in her establishment and existence. While she is surrounded by countries and organizations committed to her destruction, we stand for her right to exist in secure borders.


Susan Michael is the US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

Still Fighting Apartheid

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A Noble Lineage

As a young ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, South African native Malcolm Hedding confronted the apartheid system from the pulpit and was forced to flee his homeland. Today, he is a prominent Christian Zionist leader based in Jerusalem who is challenging the incessant branding of Israel with the "apartheid" label.

Hedding was born in 1952 into a family of British descent that had settled in the Eastern Cape region. His father, Guy Usher Hedding, managed a gold mine and learned to speak the "click" language of the local Xhosa peoples, eventually mastering many other African dialects.

"My father was greatly loved by all the black African mine workers under his supervision, because he always treated them with respect," says Hedding. "They even twice crowned him as an African king."

"In the 1960s, there was a major land dispute between the government and the African people in one of the provinces," he recalls. "The government wanted to take away some land with huge platinum deposits, and the Africans asked my father to come represent their cause. Thousands of Africans had come to protest, and I will never forget when we arrived there was a shout of joy that 'the king' had come. He confronted the government and was very successful.

"My father instilled within us values that let us know we should not just accept the system; that we should never rob the black people of their dignity or dehumanize them."

The system was apartheid, which had taken root when the Nationalist Party swept into power in 1948 and consolidated its political grip on the country.

A False Foundation

According to Hedding, in many respects apartheid was a theological system. The architect of its Calvinist form was a Dutch Reformed minister, Daniel Detoitas, while the first apartheid prime minister was also a Dutch Reformed minister, Daniel Francois Malan.

"The Dutch Calvinists' platform was a false notion, another deviant form of replacement theology based on the biblical injunction that believers ought to keep themselves 'separate' from the heathens. You can see who the heathens were - they were the blacks. And of course the righteous people of God were the whites. So they built this system, vindicating it on false theological grounds," explains Hedding.

At one time, he notes, the prime minister of the country was Balthazar Johannes Vorster and the moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church was his brother, Koot Vorster. So the Vorster brothers tied up the country politically and ideologically.

"In a sense, it was a limited democracy for the whites only. An estimated 170,000 Afrikaners effectively held power over 40 million blacks because of the undemocratic nature of the system," he says.

Preaching Equality

Hedding entered the ministry in the early 1970s as a member of the Assemblies of God of Southern Africa. This was primarily a black movement founded in part by a black preacher, Nicholas Bhengu. For this reason, the racial tensions within the Assemblies of God were never the same as in the rest of the country.

"As the years passed, my emotional and cultural resistance to the apartheid system was fortified by my theological education," Hedding notes. "I didn't need to be convinced because of my father's example. But the word of God brought further understanding - passages like Ephesians, which speaks of 'one new man' in Christ who is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female. This means that in the Christian life, there are to be no prejudices or hatred, nor any sense of discrimination between people groups or gender groups. We are all equal in the sight of God."

Once he had his own pulpit, Hedding began to attack apartheid in public. "I always tried to show my congregation why it was wrong and unacceptable, and that if they couldn't change the political system, they should at least treat people of color with absolute dignity and respect and love and courtesy."

Hedding was also interested in Israel and his understanding of the dangers of theologies that "replace" Israel was accentuated by apartheid. "I came to realize just how deviant the various replacement theologies can be, and the evil they birth. I was living in an environment that said: 'We are the people of God, the new Israel. We, the Christians, are living among pagans, these dirty people, and we have to keep ourselves separate.' Many scriptures were taken out of context and applied in this way."

The 'Plant' Uprooted

Pastoring churches in the Transvaal, where he had grown up, and later in Durban, Hedding continued preaching against apartheid and by the early 1980s had developed a nationwide ministry, traveling widely in response to frequent speaking invitations. He insists he never politicized his message, but attacked the issue from a biblical perspective.

"If my message contradicted some political party's platform, then so be it," he says. "I was living out my conscience. And more and more, for various reasons, I was invited to preach all over the country."

Before long he was holding seminars on this issue, even for business groups. Strangely enough, even some Dutch Reformed churches invited him to preach on the subject. "That's when things got hot," Hedding notes with a smile.

Over time his activities caught the attention of the Bureau of State Security, which began following and harassing him. In 1986, the BSS even planted a top security agent in his congregation to monitor his sermons and compile a dossier against him.

"Trevor" infiltrated the church posing as a longhaired hippie, wearing sandals, dirty jeans and T-shirts. One sympathetic church leader even opened his home to this apparently poor man. "Then one night Trevor got wonderfully saved," recalls Hedding. "He got converted under my preaching and came forward calling on God for forgiveness. Afterwards, he said he wanted to come and see me."

Hedding thought Trevor wanted to talk about his new lease on life, but instead he walked in later that week with a thick file, laid it on the desk and confessed to spying. He warned Hedding that he would likely be detained without trial and urged him to take his family and flee the country.

Coincidentally, around this same time he had been contacted by Jim Cantelon, a pastor who was starting a church in Jerusalem and suggested that Hedding join the ministry team at what is today King of Kings Community, the largest evangelical fellowship in the city. With the agreement of his church elders, he left South Africa for Israel. While living in Israel, Hedding also was invited to serve as chaplain for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, a global Christian Zionist ministry that he now heads.

Unique Credentials

By 1989, apartheid was slowly crumbling and the Hedding family determined it was safe to return to South Africa. They arrived home in Durban the very week hard-liner president P. W. Botha was ousted by F.W. de Klerk, a reformist who released Nelson Mandela from prison shortly thereafter.

The security apparatus let Hedding know he was now "on the good side," and over the next 10 years he founded churches in South Africa and traveled for the ICEJ, preaching in support of Zionism. Then in 2000, he was invited back to Jerusalem by the Christian Embassy's board of trustees to take over leadership of the ministry.

His struggle against apartheid in South Africa and his close involvement with Israel have given Hedding unique credentials to address today's Israel-apartheid analogies. In fact, the UN Conference on Racism in 2001 that spawned the current campaign to brand Israel an apartheid state was held just two blocks away from Hedding's home church in Durban.

"Calling Israel an 'apartheid state' is absolute nonsense," he insists. "You might have structures that look like apartheid, but they're not. The barrier fence has nothing to do with apartheid and everything to do with Israel's self-defense. There was no such barrier until the second intifada, when people were being murdered on the highways. And the country does not dehumanize its minority in the sense of apartheid. The issues are totally different."

Hedding believes Israel has more than proven its desire to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians, while granting political rights to its own Arab citizens within a liberal democratic system. Nevertheless, the Palestinians remain committed to Israel's destruction.

By contrast, he says, it was a tiny minority in South Africa that held power and once democracy came, the Nationalist Party that had dominated the masses disappeared.

"Israel is not trying to dominate the Arab minority or dehumanize it; she's trying to facilitate sovereignty in one way or another while protecting her own citizens from a program of destruction. In no way is it an apartheid system."

He believes the security barrier gave fuel to that idea because it separates people, but it is incorrect fuel. Still, he says people like Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu seize upon it as a physical symbol to further their misguided political agenda.

"When I hear 'apartheid' used in regards to Israel, I think it trivializes the word. In fact, the harsh reality was that 40 million black people were dehumanized, robbed of their dignity and treated like absolute dirt. To trivialize apartheid in that way is an insult to the black peoples of South Africa.

"Of course, it's a very convenient and very emotive word. You have to give them credit - it is a brilliant PR stroke, but it's disingenuous. When people like Desmond Tutu continue to feed this, it is an insult to the very people they tried to liberate."

Attacking the Root

Hedding has concluded that if there is any analogy between the two situations, it is the link between Christian replacement theology that undergirded apartheid and an Islamic version of replacement theology that stands at the heart of the Middle East conflict today.

"Radical Islamic theology and its desire to return the region to Dar al-Islam [House of Islam] is the one core issue that very few people acknowledge. Even though you have groups like Hamas riding on very clear Islamic theological principles, the world makes the constant error of avoiding the theological nature of this conflict. Instead, they are trying to deal with it in a secular, humanistic, political context. They can never solve it because they won't own up to the truth that we are dealing with a conflict with Islam.

"If you don't start from the theological foundation, like we did in South Africa, then you can never address this thing honestly. You can't do it by pointing to symbols like the wall and equating them with apartheid. That is a very false and superficial analysis. The source of the conflict is a radical Islamic need to verify their revelation by the dismantling of the Jewish state."

If he could talk to Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu, he would tell them they are being fundamentally dishonest.

"I admire Desmond Tutu in many ways. I heard him preach in South Africa during the apartheid years, and I'll never forget how wonderfully he preached one night in a conference I attended. He preached on the lordship of Jesus and blessed my heart with his message. Today I would say to him: 'Desmond, of all people, you who unearthed the very foundations of the apartheid system, why are you ignoring totally the radical Islamic desire to dismantle the Jewish state? Why do you not have the honesty to get up and say it?'"

By Lela Gilbert

Jerusalem Post Christian Edition

Lela Gilbert is an award-winning author and journalist. Among her 60 published books is Their Blood Cries Out, co-authored with Paul Marshall. This article was first published in The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition, January 2007.

The Root of Anti-Semitism

As Israel honored her Holocaust martyrs and heroes on Yom HaShoah in April, the media reported that there is an upsurge in violence against Jews all over the world. Indeed Jews in Norway and France have been advised not to walk on the streets wearing symbols that may identify them as Jewish. Anti-Semitism is not a new arrival on the world scene. It has a history that goes back thousands of years. Many people appear to simply hate Jews and they will latch onto anything to justify this hatred. Even the attack on the Twin Towers in New York is still blamed on the Jews, despite the fact that bin Laden and his gang of thugs have laughingly confessed to the crime!

So what lies at the bottom of anti-Semitism? Or to put it another way, what are its root? To be sure this question has occupied the minds of scholars for centuries and I would not be so arrogant as to presume that I could fully answer it in this short space. However, having said that, the following are some thoughts on the subject that arise from the Bible.

  1. The reality of evil: We live in a world today that generally seeks to discount and ignore evil. Past generations, being more impacted by the Judeo/Christian ethic, had no such problem. Evil was a reality and was defined as that which contradicts the demands of a holy, loving and righteous God. The more one contradicts the 'values of God' as revealed in Scripture, the more evil one becomes. It was this challenge that was put to the newly created man and woman in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-17).
  2. The fall of humankind: The third chapter of Genesis records man’s rebellion against God and with this rebellion the entry of evil into the hearts of all men and women, and thus by implication into the world. Thus it is no surprise that thereafter murder, lying, cheating and conflict became the norm in terms of the human experience. It remains so today, as the tragic events at Virginia Tech University have just demonstrated. Evil is everywhere and clutches at every heart. God warned Cain about this and exhorted him to deal with it (Genesis 4:4-7). Paul the Apostle referred to its reality by stating that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory (character) of God.” (Romans 3:23)
  3. The demonic realm: Though for some it is hard to understand, the Bible acknowledges the existence of the devil and his dark hoards throughout both testaments. The devil was himself in the Garden, inducing Adam and Eve to rebel against God and embrace evil. The decision was wholly theirs; the devil merely provided the opportunity for choice. In the end, Adam chose evil over good and, as a consequence, made himself a willing ally of Satan meaning "the adversary." In some ways, the same drama is being played out from generation to generation. Not all that is perceived as evil originates with mankind. There are unseen powers seeking by every means possible to gather converts from the human race.
    Once these converts have been gleaned, they are ready to further the deeds of evil and thereby to resist the purposes of God. Crucial to this purpose of God is the nation of Israel. To therefore discount the existence of the devil is to make a devilish mistake! If you don’t believe that he exists, you will never be able to fully identify the horrors of evil and of anti-Semitism. Herein lays the message of that amazing Book of the Bible called Job! (Job 1:6-12)
  4. The redemptive initiative: In Genesis 12, we have recorded God’s move towards this fallen world. We did not look for Him, He came looking for us! He did this by approaching a Sumerian called Abram, who later 'crossed over' into Canaan and thus became the first Hebrew, today's Jews. This is the 'dawn of world redemption' and Israel is at the heart of it. Redemption is that process whereby God buys back humanity from all that is wicked and evil. Israel is the 'vehicle' of world redemption or the 'delivery mechanism.' She is the means by which God will make Himself known to an evil world and reach out to it. For this reason Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews,” (John 4:22) and Paul maintained that Israel’s uniqueness lies in two things: One, she is the custodian of the oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2), and two, the 'house' out of which the great redemptive acts of God for the sake of the world have arisen (Romans 9:1-5).
    This reality, that no other nation lives in, has made the Jewish people the target of all that is evil and wicked kill the Jew and you will kill God and His purpose in the world! This is the dark sinister plan that lurks in the heart of men and that drives the powers of darkness. It has manifested throughout history, finding its most diabolical expression in the Holocaust.
    John saw this phenomenon on the isle of Patmos when he received The Revelation. In chapter twelve of this “unveiling,” he sees a woman clothed with the sun, moon and 12 stars. She is pregnant but challenged. That is, opposing her is a red dragon who seeks by all means possible to destroy her. The dragon is identified as the devil!
    The imagery here is taken from Genesis 37, where Joseph had a dream in which his father, mother and eleven brothers are presented as the sun, moon and twelve stars (including himself). So, the message is clear; the woman is Israel! She is pregnant because she births God’s redeeming purpose into the world. In fulfilling this role, she has to endure the wrath of all that is evil. This is the root of anti-Semitism.
  5. The human factor: The fact that the Scriptures acknowledge a demonic reality in no way gives humankind an excuse for the role that it plays in the manifestation of anti-Semitism. The human heart is a citadel of decision making and thinking. It therefore is entirely responsible for its actions. This means that it willingly entertains evil, embraces it and pursues its goals. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism. Haman, of Esther’s time, was held accountable by God and paid the price, and so have all the other anti-Semites of history. This will also be true of the future. Again I say, there is no excuse!

Today anti-Semitism has become anti-Israelism. In much of the Middle East, Hitler and the Third Reich remain admired, and Mein Kampf and the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion are still freely available. Cartoons depict Jews in much the same way as the Nazis did and the Holocaust is denied. Aspects of the liberal left are now also embracing these ideas, demonstrating yet again that education or intellectual ability is no defense against this evil. The Nazi elite who planned the extermination of the Jews of Europe at the Villa Wannsee near Berlin in January 1942 were all highly educated people. Some of them were doctors of law and theologians!

Truth that is the liberating truth of God’s Word is the only real weapon against this evil, for it leads to repentance and redemption.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism

It is with concern that we note the negative opinions about Christian Zionism voiced by certain church clerics in Jerusalem in a recent statement entitled, “The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism” (view entire statement below). Using inflammatory language they have expressed views that are far from the truth.

The truth is:

1. Christian Zionism is a theological position that sees a future destiny for Israel in the land of her forefathers. A Christian Zionist believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and rejects replacement theology that definitely played a pivotal role in the persecution of Jews through the centuries, and under girded the Holocaust. Christian Zionism is not heretical; in fact, Christians from all traditional backgrounds have held such a view for two thousand years. Simply put, a Christian Zionist is one who believes that God, by a sovereign choice, gave the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people, for His kingdom purposes. (Genesis 17:7-8).

2. Christian Zionists believe that while God loves all people equally, He has chosen the Jewish people to bring redemption to mankind. Our Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, was born of Jewish parents, into a Jewish society, thus making the Jewish people our 'royal family', to be honored because the King was born to them. Christian Zionists reject hatred of any people group.

3. Christian Zionists do not base their theological position on end-time prophecy, but on the faithful covenant promises of God given to Abraham some four thousand years ago. They do not have a “thirst for Armageddon,” and do not claim to know the sequence of events that will lead to it.

4. Christian Zionists recognize that Israel has a right to exist in peace and security. Moreover, there are biblical considerations that regulate Israel’s national existence and these have to do with the issues of justice and righteousness and her treatment of the stranger within her midst. Christian Zionists fully recognize this and stand for these.

5. Christian Zionism is not a threat to anybody, but instead seeks to be a blessing. The Christian Zionist organizations in Israel have given millions of dollars of aid and care to all the population groups in the land, including Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, Druse and others.

We pray for peace. But we note with sadness that the present Palestinian Government is totally dedicated to the destruction of Israel and its charter declares it. So, the problem in the region is not as simple as the Jerusalem Declaration makes out!

6. Sadly there have been no meetings between the Jerusalem clerics and their Christian Zionist counterparts. We invite such a dialogue and consider it a biblical prerequisite. We are distressed that a public denunciation has occurred first. We feel that we have been treated with disrespect and disdain, and attacked by the issuing of these public declarations. They present themselves as lovers of justice, mercy, truth and peace! This public attack seems lacking in these qualities.

We find the paper unbalanced and notably one-sided. It totally ignores the jihadist goals of the Hamas government and turns a blind eye to terrorism perpetrated by this regime. Everything is attributed to “occupation and militarism”, meaning Israel is the only problem. We think not! This one-sided unbalanced view of the conflict is in fact unhelpful to the peace process and contributing to its failure!

So, in closing, we Christian Zionists call upon Christians and Churches everywhere not to remain silent, but to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to affirm Israel’s right to live in peace and security, free from the threat of liquidation by Islamic Jihadists who definitely seek to 'colonize' the Jewish State by bringing it into the Empire of Islam. We reject all forms of discrimination.

Signatures

Rebecca Brimmer
International President, Bridges For Peace

Ray Sanders
Executive Director, Christian Friends of Israel

Malcolm Hedding
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem


 

"THE JERUSALEM DECLARATION ON CHRISTIAN ZIONISM"

Statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9)

Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today.

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably

leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to

the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!

We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the

construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state as well as peace and security in the entire region.

We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to the following principles as an alternative way:

We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.

We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.

We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.

We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.

We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building.

God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.

"What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

This is where we take our stand. We stand for justice. We can do no other. Justice alone guarantees a peace that will lead to reconciliation with a life of security and prosperity for all the

peoples of our Land. By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace - and working for peace makes us children of God.

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:19)

 

His Beattitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem

Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Israel: Vehicle of World Redemption

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Vehicle of World Redemption

This teaching is taken from the first part of Rev. Maclolm Hedding’s series on Biblical Zionism. It explains the unique role that God has designated for the Jewish people in terms of delivering His gift of salvation to the world. Go to our online store to purchase the entire series.

Listen Israel - Vehicle of World redemption

 

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