Stephen Sizer is in NZ. He preached this past Sunday at our church, and is doing a seminar called “7 Biblical Responses to Popular Zionist Assumptions” tomorrow night. It’s been good revisiting the whole Zionism issue again, and refreshing my understanding of the issue.
The Zionists are concerned to demonstrate that God will not ‘forget his people Israel’, and that we should not either. For them, God’s faithfulness to Israel (including his modern day restoration of them back to their ancestral land) should be accompanied by our support of Israel – theologically, financially & politically. My understanding, however, is that the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus exceeds and eclipses all (not some) aspects of the Old Covenant. The types and shadows of Israelite religion (prophet, priest and king, law, land/’inheritance’ and temple) reach their climax and fulfillment in Jesus, who is the final Prophet, the High Priest, the King of kings; and in the Law of Christ (‘love’), the Inheritance of the entire Earth, and in Christ the new Temple. In short: God keeps God’s promises in God’s way, and he has chosen to keep them in and through Christ. God has been faithful to his own purposes for humanity (including Israel) and creation in and through his self-giving, self-donating, loving act in and through Christ. Nothing more is needed for God to demonstrate his faithfulness. Christ is enough. As Paul says (2 Corinthians 1:20), “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes.”
There is one response I want to address, and it is the complaint of ‘over-spiritualising’ God’s promises. These people are unhappy with an understanding in which all of the tangible, here-and-now promises of God are ‘spiritualised away’. Here, I’d want to point out that it is Christ and his people, the Church which fulfill the promises. It’s just that the aspects (prophet, priest, etc.) are lower-case, post-Christ versions of their ultimate fulfillment in and through Him. There are prophets in the Church, and we still have a priestly calling to the world, to bring his kingdom. We are the ‘living stones’ of the new Temple. And the law of Love is quite literally the most down-to-earth thing you could imagine, to be lived out in the entire earth. Only in a radical dualistic framework would ‘spiritualising’ something make it less relevant for physical, ‘earthy’ things.