Walking a line that is not so fine on Israel

A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by ...

A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by Hamas supporters Proportions: 9:16Citation needed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As one who has no problem going controversial, I find that this topic is something I stress about with finding the correct words. I strongly condemn the attacks by Hamas and Israel. I mean, Israel lives with people in their house who have a sworn blood oath to eradicate them. People like to really focus on the current situation with Israel and Hamas without taking into consideration the centuries predating the last 50-60 years. Yet, I’m not sure Israel has the best footing in their attacks on Hamas either. A pinpoint operation should be a pinpoint operation. Further, there should not be a ceasefire until Hamas is gone from Gaza.

Instead of arguing for one side or the other without actually knowing each side, I have stayed out of it. I do not believe an American can rightly suggest to either side the route to take and find it sad when some of my fellow bloggers attempt to craft carefully designed methods for the path to world peace.

I also look around at what is going on in Europe with the increase of anti-Semitic protests and a general feeling that it is now okay to say Jews are the the devil. And I cannot help but to connect it to American sentimentalarians who take the side of Hamas. I have to wonder if there isn’t something ingrained in automatically taking Hamas’s side? Does that tell us anything? But, that would be stepping into something I don’t really know much about.

So, there is tumblr post a Rabbi (who supports Israel) posted this morning. I think it is profound enough to share.

This Is Not Jewish (How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic).

Joseph Farah on what makes one a Christian @JosephFarah

United States Senate candidate Rand Paul at a ...

United States Senate candidate Rand Paul at a rally in Erlanger, Kentucky, along with Texas Congressman Ron Paul and his son, Will Paul. Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere. Unauthorized use by any candidate or candidate’s committee is strictly prohibited without approval. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had many, many problems with Ron Paul. I do believe that Ron Paul is hardly a friend to Israel and I don’t think that he is a Christian; I don’t think he has a Christian worldview. ….

I got to grill him pretty intensively. I can sincerely say that I believe he thinks Israel is at least one of our best friends in the world if not our best friend. That’s a big, big difference from his father. He understands the threat that the Muslim world holds not only against Israel but against us. That’s a big difference from what his father said and understood. (here)

In other words, the guy who established World Net Daily  believes Christianity is summed up not in profession, or confession, but in the political stance to Israel. It is not the life of the believer, the loyalty to Christ, but how one is willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the government of Israel.

You know who doesn’t have a Christian worldview, Joe? Idol worships. God abusers. Liars. You.

And then… then he goes on in the same conversation to misappropriate one of Israel’s Scriptures, 2 Chronicles 7.14 — as many Americans do.

How ironic…

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#Israel calls out the #NRA for lying

Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry told the NY Daily News that NRA head Wayne LaPierre was lying when he claimed the country “had a whole lot of school shootings” and “put armed security in every school” during an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press.

Palmor told the paper, “We didn’t have a series of school shootings, and they had nothing to do with the issue at hand in the United States.” He continued, “What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years.”

via Israel: NRA Is Lying About Our Gun Laws | National Confidential.

I posted earlier about the gun laws in Israel and the difference between here and there… Not that facts matter to an awfully lot of people.

Anyway, the Right Wing has a habit of calling Israel to its side when they need moral support. Looks like Israel is just about tired of it.

When will we be?

I would not look to Israel as an example during this time of crisis

Saw this on Facebook

20121215-104602.jpg

Funny thing… First, Israel live in a constant state of war.

Second, Israel is pretty darn socialist. They have universal healthcare that helps with mental illness and require a 2 year conscription for all citizens. You know, gun training.

Third, Sweden an Iceland – socialist countries – do not have this violence.

Come to think of yet, maybe we can learn from Israel just a bit.

1st Maccabees – The Stand – Repost 2012

Mina of Antiochus IV.
Image via Wikipedia

This is a repost, as are the other ones from Hanukkah. This one has been amended, however, to reflect my stances now. I’ve noticed a lot of changes that I had to redo – and no biggie. More than anything, I’ve come to be okay with my acceptance of First Maccabees. I was born this way.

While reading Thomas Cahills’s Desire of the Everlasting Hills, I took great thought from his section on the oppression of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes. Too many times, more conservative believers simply take the canon handed to them and accept it, forgetting that if it was up to Luther, we would have discarded Hebrews, James, and Revelation as well. I have attempted to give the books a fair shake and along with Wisdom and Sirach, I thoroughly enjoy the Maccabees. To me, they were a wealth of historical value (while Wisdom is theological), but upon reading Cahill’s use and treatment, it seems that Maccabees might do well to serve some eschatological needs as well, among something else.

In 1st Maccabees, we read,

After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him. After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying. So he summoned his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. And after Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died. Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their sons after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth. (1Ma 1:1-9 RSVA)

We know the story of Antiochus, whom Daniel prophesied concerning and we also know that some 200 years later, it was still in the mind of the Jews whom the Lord spoke, saying,

“So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (Mat 24:15 RSV)

In referring to the Prophet Daniel, who said,

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (Dan 9:27 ESV)

(The Septuagint reads ‘βδέλυγμα τῶν ἐρημώσεων’.)

I do not intend on getting into eschatology and the Gospels, but I will note that in general, when you are studying Daniel and the Gospels, a first connect is made through 1st Maccabees, as well as other books, of course. Moving on, when Antoichus established his kingdom, like a good Greek king, he went about trying to ensure a populace that was united, right down to the religion. He sought to have one people with one culture. Thus he built the ancient gymnasium on request of some of the Jews.

And some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil. (1Ma 1:13-15 RSVA)

Once Antiochus had begun to subdue the Jews with Greek hedonism, he left to invade Egpyt. Once that war was won, he returned to complete his task against Jerusalem,

After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures which he found. Taking them all, he departed to his own land. He committed deeds of murder, and spoke with great arrogance.
(1Ma 1:20-24 RSVA)

Some the Jews, wishing to fit in, trusted in the flesh, and thus sold the birthright of Israel. Of course, it is interesting that in later chapters and the sequel, even these Jews would be treated as part of the Covenant. The Greeks, and later Romans, desired a very public and diluted religious worship. For them, it was a civil religion. They cared very little who you worshiped because all was the same. Zeus, Jupiter, Baal. The same god of gods for the Greeks. When the Jews stood against Antiochus, it was because of their God. When the Christians stood, it was because of their God. Had they succumbed to the idea that each can have his own god, because they are all the same, then Judaism and Christianity would have ceased to exist. We see that Israel suffered because of the attempt to melt Judaism into Greek Paganism.

Israel mourned deeply in every community, rulers and elders groaned, maidens and young men became faint, the beauty of women faded. Every bridegroom took up the lament; she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning. Even the land shook for its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame. (1Ma 1:25-28 RSV)

What other cultures had experienced had now been bestowed up the Jews and the land of Israel. Israel, whom the promise of the return of an eternal Davidic King had been given was now faced with destruction of everything that had kept it separate. They hadn’t had a king in so very long, at least a Jewish one, and now, their identify was eroding away. Sometimes, we fear that it is happening around us, although, I believe that there are times that our need for persecution overwhelms us and creates monsters under our bed. Look at the reactions against the globalization of money or markets, but the globalization of culture – music, dress, literature, media – and religion. These things are what people fear as taking away our individualism, our freedom, and turns the minds of some to looking for the end of all things.

Refer back to verse 9 where the evils were multiplied upon the face the earth. In each generation where society is facing a calamity or impending doom, rather, what some might call a paradigm shift, people begin to look for the apocalyptic. Evils abound everywhere, and sometimes, these evils are very real. This is why we find this imagery so frequently used in the ‘Revelations’ and Apocalypses of the times. It is why we read 1st Maccabees in the light of Daniel and Revelation in the light of both of these books.

John writes,

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, (Rev 13:5-7 RSV)

Like Antiochus, the False Prophet of John’s vision will raise his voice against God and all those that dwell heaven. He will, again like the ancient ruler, make war with the saints and beyond the little root, he will begin to overcome the saints. The False Prophet will not prevail against the Church Triumphant, and will not win on the eternal scene, thus we are constantly cautioned not to place our faith or hope in the things of this world, but always keep looking up. The power and wickedness of this False Prophet is not limited to the Saints, but also over the entire earth, just as Antiochus sought.

Returning to Maccabees, we read that when Antiochus invaded Jerusalem,

Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. And they took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle. Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. And they stationed there a sinful people, lawless men. These strengthened their position; they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great snare.

It became an ambush against the sanctuary, an evil adversary of Israel continually. On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood; they even defiled the sanctuary. Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled; she became a dwelling of strangers; she became strange to her offspring, and her children forsook her. Her sanctuary became desolate as a desert; her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into a reproach, her honor into contempt. Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory; her exaltation was turned into mourning. (1Ma 1:30-40 RSV)

What a graphic picture this writer has detailed for us. We can see Jerusalem lain waste, with nothing of her former glory to be seen, so much so that people fled her (for more of this, see the Psalms of Solomon). The same can be said for Alexander’s march to the ends of the earth where he destroyed city and city in his own name and the name of his kingdom. Antiochus was ruthless and brutal against those that opposed him. The Jews had sought to ally themselves with the little emperor, but in the end, it became apparent that no amount of half measures would soft him to their position; he wanted Judaism to cease.

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that each should give up his customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. (1Ma 1:41-49 RSV)

What a terrible thought to have so many of Israel turn and consent to his religion, and yet it did nothing to stop the onslaught against the Jewish people.

“And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.” In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city. Many of the people, every one who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.

Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned him to death. They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities. And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering. According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks. But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. And very great wrath came upon Israel. (1Ma 1:50-64 RSV)

The striking picture of this is that what had so long strangled the world, from the time of Alexander, that is the forced culturalization and the wars the followed, had finally hit Jerusalem. While other cultures were allowed to mesh into the paganism of ancient Greece, Judaism could not. The God of Judaism had long ago leveled the charge against paganism and multiculturalism when He had declared that He was alone God and that He would have no other god before Him. Further as Philo others of the time noted, the Law was about separation. It wasn’t about superiority, but about marking themselves out to worship only one God and because of this, their was a response to that God which was needed. He had demanded that the place where He would place His name would not be shared with any others and that the sanctuary must be kept holy. If the Jews were to remain Jews, they could not give up their God, not even under duress and grief. They would have to withstand what the world have caved into so many times. They had become aware only recently of what monotheism actually required, and it seems, they were taking a stand for it.

This was a terrible time for Israel, one in which the very Temple had been made unholy. Traditions, myths and beliefs were thrown into disarray. Nothing was sacred and everything profane. Even their fellow kinsmen had started to become Greek. Yet, in the end, God had a miracle in the oil for those who remained faithful.And this is why the miracle of Hanukkah is so very important. Because it is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The wrath of God was abated for a season, the Temple cleansed, and the Covenant saved. The People of God became the People of God which we know of in the New Testament.We miss this when we throw out these books so easily.

We are facing a time of anxiety and confusion. Everywhere we look we are met with forced retirement of our standards and doctrines. In what quarters is the Gospel lifted up, not as a weapon, but as the Good News? The Church is not a heritage or a tradition, but a divine institution given by God to humanity for a very particular mission. It is a Trust, and yet, like many before and after us, we treat our Trust as something to be placed on the back corner when confronted with resistance.

We are not immune from these very things which others have faced before us, so, let us read our books which others discard. Let us stand and gain from Mattathias, father of Judas Maccabeus, who said,

“Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers. Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.” (1Ma 2:19-22 RSV)

Or his son, the great general Judah the Hammer (Maccabeus), who said,

But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, “How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.”

Judas replied, “It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. They come against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; but we fight for our lives and our laws. He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.” (1Ma 3:17-22 RSV)

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Mitt Romney and “cultural superiority”

Jim is much too kind when he reads this quote by Mitt Romney:

Citing the book “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” Romney detailed his interpretation of author David Landes’ thesis. “He says if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it’s this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,” Romney said.

David Landes’ book puts forth the idea that European cultural is superior to all other cultures. That’s why their economic system has prevailed. I don’t want to get into the subjectivity of Landes’ measurements here, but I would urge you to do just that.

However, I want you to think about Mitt’s words.

If he were standing in same place in 70 CE, he would have said that Roman culture is superior. If he was standing in Jerusalem during the Middle Ages, he would have said that Islamic culture was superior. If we was standing in Jerusalem in the 1930’s, he would have said that German culture was superior.

I am not an anthropologist, but I do follow the works of some. I would have to agree that some cultures are indeed superior than others. For instance, those cultures who practice child or ritual sacrifice are simply not superior or equal to those who have long ago banned it. Or, cultures who practice slavery and women’s subjugation are not superior or equal to those who have abandoned the practices. However, we have to understand that their are subjective markers – usually the economic indicators of Landes – and their are objective markers – think R. Girard, such as religion and the way in which the oppressed are treated. With that said, however, focus on what Mitt has said, to the Jews. If they accept this language, they are hypocrites.

A bigger gun does not make you superior.

But… what does Mitt mean by “and a few other things…”

Culture and what?

replacement theology or something..

So, recently in NZ a well known (supposedly) replacement theologian, Stephen Sizer came and spoke at Laidlaw College (http://www.laidlaw.ac.nz). The video of the event is available here:

http://www.laidlaw.ac.nz/latest-news/israel-and-the-last-days-what-does-the-bible-say-video-now-available

 

Now, I havent seen the videos nor do I know (or really care) what Sizer actually says, but what I do care about is the response that people have to it. Some people have an immediate and panicy response to whether Israel is destined to inherit certain thing they believe the bible says they are meant to, such as the land they currently inhabit.

Couple of things, one is, these “promises” to Israel are promises to ALL believers, and they were meant to be revealed to us through the nation of Israel. Well, I have got bad news for you, the bible says that Israel did NOT fulfil their part of the bargin, to be a light to the world, for example, Acts 13:

13:46 Both Paul andBarnabas replied courageously, “It was necessary to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consideryourselves worthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. 13:47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have appointed  you to be a light  for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” 

Israel was NEVER meant to be the sole inheritor of the promises of God, all humanity is. Israel is the method in history by whom God reveals his nature and his requirements, and now, it is Christians who are responsible to be a “light to the gentiles” – gentiles meaning those whom are not in the family of God – believers. Therefore the whole premise for “the bible says the land is Israel’s therefore they must have it for the end times prophecies to be fulfilled” is totally and utterly incorrect.

Whether Israel is entitled to live in the land they were given in the 40’s is a totally political, legal thing, and not a theological/escatalogical one. EVEN IF… they were given the land because of a faulty theological premise, it is still a political thing, and people should not be upset at all about the fact that the nation of Israel is “replaced” with ‘those whom believe”. The promises of God are, and have only ever been for those who believe.

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Oh come on, Israel… really?

Jim posted something to do that I thought was a little odd, but then I found this story:

Tel Aviv University put a stop to a planned concert of music by German composer Richard Wagner.wagner

In a letter denying the request to hold the concert in a campus auditorium, the university said that Yonatan Livni, founder of the Israel Wagner Society, concealed the organization’s name and its desire to play Wagner when he requested last week to rent the auditorium, Haaretz reported Monday.

Wagner’s music traditionally has been boycotted in Israel. The forerunner to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra stopped performing his music in 1938 following Kristallnacht.

Wagner, who reportedly held anti-Semitic views, was Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer.

via jta.org

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Israel set to decide U.S. Presidential Election

What? How is that possible… well…

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling early elections so that he and his government will be free to deal with Iran’s nuclear program this September-October, one of Israel’s best-informed political commentators said on Friday night.

Netanyahu is set on Sunday to announce that he is dissolving parliament and calling elections for September 4 — a year ahead of schedule. In the weeks immediately after that vote, said well-connected commentator Amnon Abramovich on the top-rated Channel 2 news, Netanyahu will head a transition government at home and have no need to worry about voter sentiment, and he knows that President Barack Obama will be paralyzed by the US presidential campaign.

via TV report: Netanyahu holding elections so he is free to deal with Iran in September-October | The Times of Israel.

This has been expected, actually, and has been ‘prophesied’ by American pundits for a while. By that, I mean that Israel has suggested that it was getting close to declare war, at which it was returned that they should do soon.

Ain’t this fun…

Yeah… about Israel and Christians in its borders

The Israeli government has long tried to suggest that the emigration of Christian Palestinians is the result of a “jihad” being waged by “terrorists” or “fundamentalists”. There are obvious advantages to this strategy, particularly its dependence on pre-existing prejudices and stereotypes in the West. But it also seeks to neutralise a potentially damaging threat: that people around the world will see Christian Palestinians leaving their historic homeland due to Israeli colonisation and occupation.

via Christians of the Holy Land – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

Wow… who’s more messianic? Iran or…. Israel?

A former Israeli spymaster has branded the country’s leaders unfit to tackle the Iranian nuclear program because of what he called the “messianic feelings” behind their threats to launch a pre-emptive war on Iran…..

…”I really don’t have faith in a leadership that makes decisions out of messianic feelings.”

via World News – Israel ex-spy warns against ‘messianic’ Iran war.

That’s not coming from Iran or even the U.S., but from a high profile Israeli.

All of this on the heels of the news that the U.S. may… may…. agree to some limited uranium enrichment by Iran.

 In what would be a significant concession, Obama administration officials say they could support allowing Iran to maintain a crucial element of its disputed nuclear program if Tehran took other major steps to curb its ability to develop a nuclear bomb.