Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

No, The Bible Doesn’t Command We “Stand With Israel”

When reporting or lamenting over the gross human rights violations and genocide by the modern state of Israel against the Palestinian people, many Christians immediately freak the heck out.

In fact, I am often told that I am “not a Christian” because I dare criticize the state of Israel’s behavior, as if blind support of a modern nation state were an obligation of being a True Christian.

Upon being stripped of my membership card in Christianity, many of these “internet Bible scholars” quickly remind me: God commands us to stand with Israel! But is that even true? I mean, for those of us who grow up in EvangelFundamentalism we’re taught that from day one– but just because our childhood pastor taught us this, and just because Grandma believed it, doesn’t make it true.

I’ve long written on this topic both on a theological and geopolitical standpoint, but wanted to quickly and concisely lay out a few points in response to the whole, “you’re not a true Christian if you don’t stand with Israel” nonsense.

As your Bible Explainer in Chief, let me quickly break it down for you– because no, the Bible doesn’t command we stand with Israel.

1. The entire “stand with Israel” theology is based on one verse, and the verse had nothing to do with any modern nation state born a few thousand years later.

Preachers will claim God commands we stand with Israel in order to be blessed, but that’s not what the Bible says. In Genesis 12:3 God is reported to have told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” This was a promise to Abraham- neither biblical Israel nor modern Israel existed when this was written. It was a promise to Abraham as part of God’s covenant with him.

2. The Bible teaches that the true descendants of Abraham are spiritual, not ethnic.

The same preachers say, “Yes! It was a promise to Abraham and that extends to his descendants- Israel” but that’s not the whole story, either. The Bible actually teaches that “not all that descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans 9:6) and that a true descendant of Abraham is not ethnic but a matter of the heart (Romans 2:29).

Israel as a nation state is not what the Bible talks about when it talks about Israel. The New Testament Israel is comprised of all those who accept the King of Israel: Jesus.

3. Not even the prophets in the Bible blindly stood with Israel– including Jesus.

The biblical prophets are the last people who would seem “pro-Israel” because they were constantly rebuking Israel for bad behavior. And they didn’t hold back forceful language, either– some wrote that God utterly hated every expression of their religion because they were ignoring justice for the poor and marginalized.

On top of the prophets, remember that Jesus was executed as a traitor and a threat to Israel.

4. The Bible doesn’t command we blindly support people who are committing evil acts.

This is a concept we seem to understand in day-t0-day life, but all logic goes out the window when it comes to standing with Israel. For example, yes– God wants one to be faithful to their family, but does that mean you stand by and support them if they want to drive drunk? Do you support them if they want to shoot their neighbor and steal their car? Of course not- that’s nonsense.

Blindly supporting Israel would be like supporting a friend or family member regardless of their behavior, and I see nothing in the Bible or the teachings of Jesus that suggests we are supposed to support those who do evil, as they do evil.

Israel is an apartheid state where the indigenous people are oppressed and victims of untold daily discrimination and violence; it is a state that offers government subsidized abortions regardless of the reason, a place where Christians have had to petition the government so that they can walk down the street without being spat upon, a place where Christian places of worship are routinely attacked, where Palestinian children are mercilessly oppressed and even slaughtered, and a nation that is consistently rebuked by the international community for human rights violations that would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world.

Any theology that tells you to support all that is garbage, and you can figure it out without even having to dig deep into the theology. Like they say, you don’t have to stick your head in a trashcan to know that garbage smells.

The bottom line: What the world calls Israel is NOT what the Bible calls Israel. The world is referring to a nation state that was created just a generation ago– the Bible is talking about the people of Abraham, which are a spiritual people who have accepted their king: Jesus. It’s not a people group one is born into, but a people group you join by pledging your allegiance to Jesus.

So is standing with Israel a biblical concept? No. In fact, the stronger biblical case would be standing in opposition to Israel’s ungodly behavior.

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Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

BLC

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

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What you think

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  • liberalinlove says:

    I love Israel enough to not allow her continued ungodly actions and behavior against their neighbors. Standing with Israel, means holding them accountable. Today we are seeing efforts to make it illegal to even criticize Israel’s actions. Fortunately there are Rabbis and Jews, who have joined the voice for peace and righteous behavior. May the Prince of Peace, who loves us all, reign supreme in our hearts this Holy Season.

  • I always wonder: is what we know as Israel today what God intended? It seems no different from the Israel/Judah, condemned by God centuries ago. Somehow I think that what was prophesied would look/act differently from what is present. I’m especially puzzled by the non-religious Israelites. How can this be? I have nothing against the people of Israel, whether they are atheists, agnostics or practicing Jews; I’m just confused about the state of the state. And you are correct: their violence towards the Palestinians is a horrible thing, and the Evangelical Trump Christians are way off the mark, Benjamin.

  • Bones says:

    Are we allowing holocaust denial and antisemitism on this thread?

  • Bones says:

    Those who stand with Israel today would stand with Israel under King Ahab and kill the prophets.

  • Bones says:

    So according to the Holocaust denier on here, aside from eyewitness accounts of survivors and allied soldiers, journals of Nazis, confessions and transcripts from trials, there’s really no evidence of a holocaust.
    All those people were in on a Jewish conspiracy. (In fact ww2 was a Jewish conspiracy)

    As much as I support my Palestinian brothers and sisters, liars and Nazi sympathisers have no place and damage their cause.

    We need to let them know that and call out evil and bs for what it is.

  • Bafoofkit says:

    This article is nothing but antisemitic trash and is full of lies
    does “progressive Christian” imply hatred of Jews in a genteel fashion ?

  • Shlomo Phillips says:

    What an ignorant anti-Semite. Sad.

  • Dudley Gilmer says:

    Guess who wrote the Bible? Jews. TADA……Taking every sentence of those ancient manuscripts as if they were written by God and were talking about the “state of Israel” today is absolutely absurd. Those who use such ignorance to condone persecuting other people are devious and cruel. They try to justify hideous behavior by lying that “God” said to do this. What kind of “God” do they follow?

  • Pratchettgaiman says:

    “The Bible teaches that the true descendants of Abraham are spiritual, not ethnic” is supersessionism, and is definitionally antisemitic. It is, in fact, the justification for essentially everything a Christian church has done or preached that is antisemitic since the establishment of Christianity as a thing. You cannot be a “progressive” Christian and believe that.

  • Rod says:

    The Bible says other people will be grafted onto the root of Abraham, which provides for the promises made to Abraham to be bestowed also on Christian peoples, but don’t for even a minute think God is through with the Jewish people. Modern Israel was created by God, despite the semantics of this writer. I can’t take away his “Christian” card, nor can anyone else, save God. But if he continues cursing the Jewish people, I do not want to be standing with him when lightening strikes!

  • Brien says:

    Since the Bable is only a historical novel, we immediately discount all from that book of fables!!
    Looks like whoever has the bigger right has the right!!!
    and of course – that is Israel – they are a nation ….
    When Palestine decides to act like a nation……!……

  • Joshua Alvarez says:

    First two points:
    1. Genesis 12:3 IS doctrinally for the nation of Israel, not just Abraham the person. This is because the promise is REPEATED to the nation of Israel later on in the Bible, “GOD BROUGHT HIM FORTH OUT OF EGYPT; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? BLESSED IS HE THAT BLESSETH THEE, AND CURSED IS HE THAT CURSETH THEE.” (Numbers 24:8-9).

    2. The physical Jews ARE God’s “seed”, “O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.” (Psalm 105:6). “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.” (John 8:37).

    • Edomites are not the real Hebrews! Sorry I’m both! The Hebrews [Jacob] are coming to take back from Esau both propgecied ,
      The Church is not Religion , that the other jesus 2 Corth 11:4 , they all are 13-15 . The Church [ Remnant ] is coming back!, Big ,Big way , regions are Satan’s way! Mybe you to?
      No-one can prove me wrong! I will Challenge anyone! Your god is BAAL! If I’m wrong I’ll blow my brains out if your wrong just pay me 20k . That’s it! Also price there Edomites, but the way we are going to heaven too! I know I have see it!
      Also DNA if Christ, two witnesses, no male Chormison

  • hoogityboo says:

    Thanks for you clarity of thought and depth of understanding. You are correct sir.
    But please get a more readable font.
    Thank you

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