Are American pastors dismissive of Arab Christians in Israel? Should Christians treat the Israeli-Palestinian dispute differently than other conflicts? As pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, John Piper has been addressing these contentious questions for years. After he began informally discussing them with David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, we invited them to share some of their discussion with our readers. We continue today with Piper's response to Brickner's question, "Do Jews have a divine right to the Promised Land?" and will continue tomorrow with Brickner's response.
Thank you for taking this happy initiative. I am eager to discuss Israel and the Promised Land with you. I love Jews for Jesus. Your leadership, and Moishe Rosen's before you, have been for me a cause for continual thanksgiving. "To the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16) has never ceased to carry weight with me. I pray we will never lose Paul's passion in Romans 10:1: "My heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved."
We both agree that the way God chose to bring all the nations under the sway of King Jesus is astonishing. After sketching it, Paul praised God, "How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Rom. 11:33).
- First, God chose Israel. "The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deut. 7:6).
- Then, for 2,000 years, he focused his saving work mainly on Israel, "allowing all the nations to walk in their own ways" (Acts 14:16).
- Then he sent Jesus, the Messiah, to Israel, knowing they would crucify him, so that the Gentiles might "receive mercy because of their [Israel's] disobedience" (Rom. 11:30).