This is the text of a speech Daniel Tomberlin offered on the floor of the General Council of the Church of God in response to a resolution in support of the State of Israel. The attempt here is not to make a political statement, but a theological statement.
“The Apostle Paul referred to himself as a “Hebrews of Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5). He insisted that Israel is not the children of Abraham by the flesh (Romans 9:6); but the children of Abraham by faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:7). Not those who are circumcised in the flesh; but those whose hearts are circumcised by the Holy Spirit (Romans 2:28-29). The promises of God to Abraham are not fulfilled in the nation state of Israel; but in the revelation of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). God loves the world (John 3:16) and God’s promise is not limited to the land of Palestine, but that the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Paul said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Jew and Gentile included (Romans 3:23). Further, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord you will be saved; there is no distinction between Jew and Greek” (Romans 10:9-12). The gospel is that sinful Jews and sinful Gentiles will be grafted in to the true vine who is Jesus Christ (John 15:1), and it is those who are in Christ who are the Israel of God (Romans 11:17-24; Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12).
The ultimate promise of God to Abraham was that “in you all the families of the Earth would be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). In the temple at Jesus’ dedication, Simeon declared Jesus to be the “light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:31-32) affirming that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. God’s covenant with Abraham was never meant to be limited to Israel, but extended to “all the families of the earth.” That’s why Joel prophesied that the Spirit would be poured out on all humanity (Joel 2:28ff). That’s why Jesus commanded his disciples to go make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). That’s why the Jerusalem Council determined circumcision wasn’t necessary for salvation (Acts 15:1ff). Believing Jews and Gentiles are not baptized into Moses, Abraham, or Israel; we are baptized into Christ and when that happens there is no Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:27-29). God has fulfilled the promise to Abraham so that all humanity may be saved – Jew and Gentile. The gospel of Christ is not concerned with who inherits Palestine; but “for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
Yes, we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem. But we should also pray for the peace of Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq. Presently, Christians in Iraq are being systematically persecuted, dislocated, and martyred. They are the people of God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9). When John saw the Israel of God in Heaven he saw people “from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes” (Revelation 7:9). We should cry out, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on the earth as it is in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10)”
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