8 items tagged "israel"
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King David was one of those larger-than-life personalities that simply would not be squeezed into our evangelical view of what a "Bible hero" should be. Joseph was. Daniel was. The Virgin Mary surely was. Not David. The problem is we want a "Christian" David, and he just was not a Christian. He was a Jewish warlord living in the cusp between the Bronze and Iron Age.
We cannot impose on David a contemporary Judeo-Christian ethos. We want the oh-so-cute and curly headed child with a slingshot who fit so nicely on VBS felt boards. The problem is the real David won't fit on felt boards or in the modern world. He was a sometimes an outlaw who ran what could legitimately be called a protection racket. He sold his sword to become a mercenary for an enemy of his own people. He was despised by his own father-in-law and ridiculed by one of his wives, one of his many wives, by the way. He also had a vast harem of concubines. He was feared by his enemies, envied by some, admired to the point of idolatry by a desperately dangerous private army, desired by women and hated by one of his own sons.
David committed adultery and conspired to have a faithful follower murdered to cover it up. He was rebuked publicly by a prophet, caused untold suffering among his people with an ill-advised act of hubris and on his death bed, like a mafia don, he ordered the execution of enemies.
David was also a Spirit-led poet with prophetic and Messianic insights that reached beyond the millennia. He was a consummate musician whose melodies soothed the demonic, a man of unwavering loyalty and the founder of Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem. The problem with David is actually the problem with the Bible. It's just so darned complicated. There are parts of it that don't even seem Christian. That is because they aren't, but all together it is.
If we try to make David into a New Testament saint we will miss one of the truly magnificent complexities of Bible, the REAL Bible, that is. If we dismiss him as a legend like some kind of Jewish King Arthur, we deny the authority of the Bible. How can we reconcile this complicated and often conflicted genius with the we what we know to be true of God?
Three years before he died, Martin Luther wrote what may very well be among the most virulently anti-Semitic books ever produced, The Jews and Their Lies (Von den Juden und Irhen Lugen). In this scurrilous work, which, by the way, was venerated by the Nazis, Luther spent 65,000 words denouncing the Jewish people as demoniacal filth "wallowing in the feces of the devil." In no uncertain terms, the man known as the founder of the Protestant movement, called for a wave of persecution against Jews, including razing their homes, burning their schools and synagogues and forbidding their rabbis to preach. He went so far as to call for driving them out of Germany and even skated perilously close to calling for their mass murder.
Roland Bainton, Luther's most famous biographer, claimed Luther's anti-Semitism was "theological" and not "racial," whatever that means. Presumably, in Bainton's mind, this difference without a distinction somehow makes Luther's a better kind of anti-Semitism. Certainly Martin Luther did not create the Nazis, but that they drew aid and comfort from his writings is absolutely undeniable.
Modern Israelis are probably more painfully aware of Luther's anti-Semitic writings than are modern Protestants. Knowledgeable Israelis likewise are aware of the rising tide of anti-Semtism in the American academy. Draping itself in the language of social justice, this new wave of campus hatred claims to be nationally anti-Israel without being "racially"
I am writing tonight from Israel. Here with a group of friends to host a tour of this country which I love so deeply, it seemed only appropriate to write on--- Why am I pro-Israel?
Let me just give two reasons.
1) Strategically: Some say Israel is our best friend in the Middle East. This is seriously wrong. Israel is not our best friend is the region; Israel is our ONLY friend in the Middle East. For whatever reason Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia may, even for a brief season, claim to be the friend of the United States, we must remember that their "friendship" is temporary, self-serving and duplicitous. They may buy our jets, and sell us their oil but we dare not indulge ourselves in the fantasy that they are true allies. If America's back is ever against the wall, they would turn their backs in the blink of an eye. Saudi Arabia may very well have had a hand in 9/11. We may never know the truth of that. Be that as it may, no Islamic state is or ever could be ultimately devoted to the same values as the United States. Israel is our ONLY friend in the Middle East.
For the background on this post you may want to view the following.
This scene at The University of California at Davis was disturbing on several levels. The bullying and intimidation tactics in a debate scenario are troubling enough. Is there no civil discourse left on the left? The student association at UC Davis was debating whether to support the anti-Israel movement known as DBS, or Divest, Boycott and Sanction. The pro-Palestinian college students in the video did not want a rational debate followed by a vote. They wanted to taunt, jeer, mock and intimidate the Jewish students who spoke in opposition.
The cries of “Allahu Akbar” as the Jewish students fled the room are proof that this was about Muslim activism blatantly informed by anti-Semitism. This was not some well-considered and balanced topic being thoughtfully debated. Nothing was voted on after serious-minded consideration. Make no mistake. This was not about social justice. It was Muslim and pro-Palestinian fascism in action. “Allahu Akbar” is the Muslim prayer call; not a social justice statement. This was a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel statement hurled in the face of Jewish students with taunting, jeering mockery.
Here are three leadership truths in which I fundamentally believe.
I. Who (what) you fight reveals your courage.
II. How you fight reveals your character.
III. For whom (what) you stand reveals your commitment.
If those three statements are true, and I submit to you they are absolutely true, choosing your battles well, fighting "right," and standing up for your friends become keys to leading well in a struggle. Therefore, in the face of a looming fight, leaders must always ask themselves three questions.
I believe in Israel. It's not just that I'm pro-Israel, which I am. I believe in Israel as a modern historical miracle of the first order. For two thousand years the entire world had written Israel off as a once and never again ancient kingdom. Israel, they thought, had been swallowed up forever by bigger and better nations and had been left on the cutting room floor of history. Persia, Egypt, Rome and Turkey as well as every other ancient empire devoured the biblical homeland of the Jewish people like bread. The Crusaders tried to make Jerusalem into a European capital with a Christian king. Saladin made it a Muslim city, and the Ottoman Empire claimed Judea as a conquered possession.
Every great conqueror from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan to Napoleon Bonaparte and even General Allenby felt some unexplainable lust to conquer Jerusalem and what had once been Israel. Why? What is the irresistible attraction that compels mighty nations and empires to ache to plant their flag in tiny Israel, especially in Jerusalem?
Ever heard the proverbial statement that there are two sides to everything? I'm sure you have. The only problem is that is not always true. In fact, it is frequently not true. Instead the old saying is often used as camouflage by the person or persons in the wrong.
The wife beater tells the arresting officer, “There's two sides to everything.”
No there is not. Not in that case anyway.
When a mutinous associate pastor walks off with half the church and plants a new church down the block, there are not two sides to that. An inescapable ethical reality presides over that story. Any claim of "justification" is silenced.
The old saw about two sides is just plain not always right. In my childhood in Texas I grew up hearing another proverb, a better one. It goes like this: “Right is right and wrong ain't nothing.”
I invite you to go back and read my column, A Parable of Presbyterians and Palestinians dated June 25, 2014 here. It was written before Hamas started its most recent rocket bombardment of the civilian population of Israel. Since 2001,
Imagine that your next door neighbor, without asking your permission, cut down all the trees in your back yard. In response, you built a privacy fence between your house and his and replanted the trees. Now imagine that he organized others in your subdivision to protest against your fence. The HOA charged you with being "un-neighborly" and demanded that you take down the fence. When you mention the trees, you are told, "Well, that was unfortunate but you provoked it. In theory we are opposed to that regrettable tree-cutting episode but that was then. This is now, and now we demand the fence be taken down."
"What if he does it again?" you demand. "He is still throwing beer cans and garbage over the fence into my yard. Nearly every day. My children are afraid to play in the back yard. If I remove the fence he will just come back in and do worse. What do you say about that?"
"What do we say to that? We say you should move. We cannot condone what he does to damage your yard or endanger your children, but on the other hand, you have a better car than he does, your yard is landscaped much more