Living in an Arab context, it is frankly shocking for me to see the naivete with which so many Latin American evangelical churches have identified with different aspects of Zionism (such as the prominent use of the Israeli flag), and the ease with which, in the name of a supposed "fulfillment of prophecy," practically any act committed by some individual from among the chosen people is justified. I wonder if at some time we have ever sat down to think how far this is from the universal message of all the biblical prophets and apostles, who did not shrink back from proclaiming the judgment of God on all human sin, without showing partiality (Deuteronomy 10.17, 2 Chronicles 19.7, Galatians 2.6, Romans 2.11).
It is essential for us today, just like it was for the disciples of yesteryear, to leave the fulfillment of prophecies and the details of eschatology in the hands of the sovereign Lord of history, and dedicate ourselves to the task He commended to us: to live and announce among all peoples (including the Jews) the only Gospel of salvation, that is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ unto everyone that believes (John 3.16, Romans 1.16).
It seems to me that more or less related to this topic of evangelical Zionism is the tendency that I perceive in many evangelical circles to mix together the Kingdom of God and the national interests of countries where believers are numerous or influential. Apparently, we believe that with the political, economic, or military power of this world we can bring about the advance of the kingdom that is "not of this world." When in the national press of many Muslim countries articles regularly appear attributing the bellicose foreign policy of the current President of the United States to his evangelical faith and the influence of evangelicals in North American politics, all that is left for me to do is to worry about the credibility of the gospel message we are communicating to these peoples. In the same way, when I hear recognized Christian leaders publicly support, as supposed spokesmen of all the evangelical churches, undertakings such as the invasion of Iraq, or the bombing of Lebanon, I can only wonder when and how the gospel of peace through Jesus Christ will come to be understood by the Iraqis, Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, etc.
We would do well, as individuals and as churches, to decide clearly, just as Joshua and Elijah long ago (Joshua 24.15, 1 Kings 18.21), which kingdom do we want to represent—that of Jesus or of someone else?—remembering that no man can serve two masters. On the mission field, we need workers dedicated exclusively to Jesus, to His values, and His kingdom, men and women who show no partiality towards people or towards people groups, and who leave the future in the hands of the Master.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Evangelical Zionism and World Missions
Antonio Peralta (not his real name) has been a missionary in North Africa for 20 years. His plenary message this week to the audience gathered at the COMIBAM conference in Granada was a "spiritual bombshell." He was not afraid to speak clearly on several issues of great practical relevance for evangelical missions in today’s world. Although his message was directed more towards the Latin American church, I believe that what he had to say contains some very convicting food for thought for us as North Americans as well. What follows is an excerpt I have translated from the text of his message in Spanish…