Below is an article written by an Iranian televangelist and the subsequent letter I wrote to him. Since I doubt I'll get a response, I figured I could post it for my readers. Have at it guys. This should promote a lively discussion.
I have just returned from a very blessed trip to the Holy Land, Israel. I conducted four Islam Awareness Seminars in four different churches in the cities of Tiberias, Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. I also spoke at the CFI (Christian Friends of Israel) conference in Jerusalem. I taped many Farsi programs, in Jerusalem, for TBN Nejat TV, interviewing Messianic Jews concerning the covenant of God with Israel, the peace of Jerusalem, Zionism, etc. I was also interviewed by various magazines such as Jerusalem Post, Israel Today, Christian Embassy, and also CBN News. Special thanks to Eric and Terri Morey for organizing this trip. I believe that this trip was ordained by God. Even though I have been to Israel many times, on this trip I received much insight into the physical and spiritual condition of the Land. Here are some of my observations:
The church in Israel is young and needs our prayers.
There is a rift between the Arab and Jewish churches mainly as a result of Christian Zionism coming out of America.
Israel is not in the best financial situation at this time with so many immigrants coming to Israel in such a short amount of time. As a result the churches (both Arabs and Jews) need financial support.
Christian Zionism in America, due to its lack of knowledge of Arab Israeli relations, is increasing the rift between the Jewish and Arab believers and churches.
Arab churches are, for the most part, ignored by the church in America. This matter does not help their sense of being “second rate” citizens in Israel.
A major reconciliation process between the Arab churches and Messianic churches needs to be put into effect, if we are to see a major change in Israel.
I feel like a double agent. On one side I plead the cause of Israel with millions of Farsi speaking Muslims throughout Iran and around the world. And then, on the other hand, I bring the cause of Muslims before the people of God. How could peace come to Israel when the church is not at peace with itself in the land? How can we have peace in Israel?
As far back as Israel was formed as a nation, Israel has faced oppositions. That is partly because of her calling by God and the weight of that call. And today is no different. After becoming a nation again in 1948, Israel has already faced several major wars. Now facing the looming threat of a nuclear Iran and predictions of a coming war with Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, Israel is being challenged again for her very survival.
In a time of crisis, there are always various voices being raised, some for edification and restoration, and others unto confusion and ignorance. The question is what voice do we follow in such a time? When Israel was in the process of being taken captive by Babylonians, there were many “prophets” and “prophecies” concerning Israel proclaiming peace and comfort to the people of God. Yet there was one man by the name of Jeremiah who proclaimed the true word of God. There are many popular and comforting words in support of Israel today, but are they from God? Just because they say that they are pro Israel, do they have a legitimate voice to create a new path for the people of Israel? The Bible commands us to judge all prophecies or spiritual declarations (1 Cor. 14:29). James gives us a scale by which we can judge these voices and revelations that are being spoken these days:
James 3:17 (NKJV) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Note the words “peaceable” and “full of mercy.” When Jesus was refused by Samaritans in Luke chapter 9, James and John were ready to call fire from heaven to consume these “dirty gentiles!” There are many Christian political voices, mainly from the U.S., which today in the name of “Zionism” advocate war and contentions with such countries as Iran, Syria, Iraq, etc. What did Jesus do when they rejected him in Samaria?
Luke 9:54-55 “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
In our efforts in supporting Israel as a nation and also as a people, we must be careful that we do not discriminate against others for whom Christ gave His life. I was told by several leaders in Israel that some of the preachers in America who are considered “Zionists” are causing dissensions among the body of Christ in Israel. Zeal without knowledge is a harmful force. The wall that separates the Jews from the gentiles was broken down through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. To raise that wall again is nullifying the redemptive work of Christ. That is a dangerous thing to do. Please read Ephesians 2:11-18.
How can we then support Israel and at the same time love Arabs and Muslims? Here are some suggestions:
A) Proclaim the truth in love. I have been doing that in our broadcasts. Muslims will understand God’s covenant with Israel, if we teach it in the spirit of the New Covenant.
B) Pray for the spiritual and physical leaderships of both Israel and the Arab nations and Iran.
C) Support both the Messianic and Arab congregations in Israel. You can obtain a list of these congregations through our office.
D) Build a bridge of hope and love among the people in Israel.
E) Pray for the evil nature of Islam to be exposed in the eyes of the Muslim people.
F) Help to spread the Gospel both among the Jews and the Arabs. There are those who believe that the Jews do not need to come to God through the sacrifice of Jesus and therefore they refuse to pay the price and preach the Gospel to them. Remember what Paul said in Romans 1:16.
G) When you visit the land of Israel, please make an effort to visit both a Messianic and an Arab congregation.
God has called us to reconcile, not to be politically motivated and tear apart and divide. Israel became a nation before most of these so called “pro Israel” Christians were on the scene. That is not to say that we shouldn’t stand for Israel and support her. That we do, but not in a spirit of the world and the political system of the world. God never contradicts Himself. He will not have us stand for Israel while we are turning away millions of Muslims for whom Christ gave His life. That is not the nature of the Gospel. Jesus died for the Jews as well as the Muslims. And they both will be judged if they reject Him. So there is no difference. Jesus took that division on His body on the cross. Christian Zionism in America is recreating that division and that is dangerous. Yes, God has rebirthed the nation of Israel, and He will fulfill His calling upon them. Yes, we will bless Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. But let us not run ahead of Him. Let God do His business and let us do ours. Remember these words of the great Jewish Apostle:
2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NKJV)
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (bold letters are added for emphasis
More options Jun 18 (2 days ago)
Dear Pastor Reza,
I appreciate the spirit of the letter you have written regarding the
situation in Israel today. It seems to me that you are struggling
between your faith and your conscience-a struggle I can very well
identify with because I was raised in a Christian Zionist environment
and also attended Christ for the Nations, a Bible school heavily
influenced by Christian Zionism. I have been a missionary for years
(including working among Muslims) and I have a burning desire to reach
people with the gospel. I never really thought about the moral
implications of Christian Zionism until I read Brother Andrew's book
"Light Force." Reading Brother Andrew's book forced me to ask the
question of whether it was God's will for Arabs to be driven out of
their homes by the tens of thousands in 1948 or whether it continues
to be God's will for Palestinians to be facing near starvation because
many living in rural villages can not leave their villages because the
roads are blocked by huge concrete blocks put there by the IDF. Or
furthermore, is it God's will that people's lands be seized by Jewish
settlers who don't seem to care that the Palestinians living outside
their settlements are starving?
What I think I hear you saying, Pastor Reza, is that we need to have a
change of heart towards Arab (and I presume Palestinian) Christians. I
agree. The question I am asking though is: Is it possible to have a
change of heart without a change in theology? As you and I both know,
the only hope for Jews and Arabs is Jesus. Once Arabs (including Arabs
living in the Gaza strip and the West Bank) turn to the prince of
peace for salvation, things will all be fine....or will it?
If we ask the hypothetical question: What would happen if through a
moral revival or a mass conversion to Jesus, Palestinians living in
the West Bank and the Gaza strip all of the sudden decided they wanted
to live at peace with Jews? What would be the Christian Zionist's
response? Would it be to annex the territories to Israel (if indeed
Scripture commands believers to suport the reclaiming of the Biblical
promised land)? This is something the Israeli government doesn't want
simply because the Jewish state would no longer be Jewish. Would a
two-state solution be possible? This is something the Christian
Zionists do not want because it would invalidate God's covenant with
the Jews to restore the former Promised Land.
I find it interesting that in Ezekiel's vision of the restored
promised land, foreigners are treated as equal citizens (Ezekiel
47:1-22). Is this what is happening today? Furthermore, I find it
interesting that when the Apostles asked Jesus when he was going to
restore the kingdom to Israel, He replied "It is not for you to know
the times and the seasons of which God has put in His own authority,
but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samarian, and the
uttermost parts of the earth."
Jesus put the priority on preaching the gospel, not on building an
earthly kingdom in the Middle East. It seems to me that fulfilling
the land covenant with Jews is God's perogative, not the Church's. It
also seems reasonable to me that Jesus is perfectly capable of
settling land disputes when He comes back to earth. I also have to
wonder why so many Zionists are so adamant about Jewish possession of
Jerusalem when Jerusalem is going to be the seat of the Antichrist
during the second half of the 7-year tribulation (if indeed the
dispensational interpretation is correct)? Furthermore, those who
finance Jewish immigration to Israel are sending Jews to their deaths
since 2/3rds of the Jewish population is going to be slaughtered at
the end of the tribulation according to the prophet Zechariah.
I wonder if dispensationalism can be reformed in such a way to uphold
the land covenant and at the same time not give way to Christian
Zionism, which puts a greater priority on land conquest than the
preaching of the gospel. Since you seem to be struggling with this
issue (as have I), I think this is a question worth devoting some
I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.
Blessings in Christ,