In the evangelical world, I have often observed that the average evangelical looks at Israel like some sort of mystical people. Every time some political thing happens in Israel, we have some end-time prognosticator telling us how this relates to the coming tribulation and thousand year reign. It is weird to say the least.
Here are some funny examples that I have heard:
1. Israel is looking for a perfect red heifer to start temple construction.
2. The entire temple has been rebuilt and is hid somewhere in Israel. They are just waiting for the Dome of the Rock to get blown up to assemble it.
3. If Saddam Hussein puts on a purple turban we will know for certain that he is the anti-christ.
Okay, so number three is not exactly related to Israel, but I heard something similar once and I thought it was funny.
I am all for a mature Christian faith, and I am also all for the average gentile not feeling like a step-child in God's kingdom. That is, I get the feeling sometimes that deep down, the average evangelical believes that if he had been born Jewish he'd now be an uber-Christian with special gifts and insights into Scripture and be owed 50 acres in Palestine.
My other pet peeve about this, and hang on to your evangelical wigs and scarfs, is that we always side with Israel over Palestinians. *Gasp!* No, I am not talking about the Jihadists in Palestines, I am talking about the Christian Palestinians who catch it from both the Jews and the Muslims. There are a good number of Christians in Palestine, my brothers and sisters, who have a better claim on Messiah through faith than the unbelieving descendants of Israel have. You can quote me on that.
So why does Paul say that the gospel, "Is to the Jew first"? (Rom. 1:16). I do not deny that Israel was specifically chosen by God to bring about the times of the Messiah. However, I also believe that it was always in God's plan to include us Gentiles as well. The Old Testament itself is filled with examples of believing Gentiles. Remember Jonah in Nineveh?
I will offer just a couple of reasons here why Paul went first to the Jew:
1. They already had the Scriptures and should have been anticipating Messiah.
2. Paul was Jewish.
3. Since the Jews were supposed to waiting for the Messiah, Paul should have found anxious people in the local synagogues, which was sometimes the case. These Jewish believers were Biblically grounded, mature, and would be able to help evangelize the Gentiles. This also was their God-given privilege.
When a Jewish person refuses Jesus Christ as Messiah of Israel, he is as guilty, or more guilty, than a rank pagan who clings to his idol. He will receive no favor in the coming judgment if he does not repent. As for modern day political Israel, may God open their eyes to the truth about Jesus Christ through the long-suffering of Palestinian Christians.
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