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The Best Way To Understand Zionism Is Through A Biblical Lens

Olivier Melnick

There are many different ways to look at Zionism. It can be cultural, political, historical, and even Christian. Yet, the safest way to define Zionism is biblically if, of course, it can be done. If Zionism could be defined biblically, it would supersede all other definitions as long as those looking at that definition would believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God. So, can we truly define Zionism in the Tanach?

Let’s first look at the words themselves. The terms “Zionism” and “Zionist” were coined in 1890 by Jewish activist Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937), who also played an important part in the first Zionist Congress held in 1897 (renamed the World Zionist Organization in 1960) alongside its first president, Theodore Herzl. The word Zion comes from the Hebrew tzion, a reference to Jerusalem and often, by extension, to the Land of Israel itself (first mentioned in II Samuel 5:7.)“Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David.” According to scholar Mitchell Bard, Zionism is: “The national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.”

Many followers of Yeshua look at the Bible and clearly see that God is NOT done with Israel. They see a glorious future for the people and the Land. They understand that the promises of Genesis 12:3 still stand, and they want to be in the center of God’s will by blessing the people that He calls “the apple of [His] eye” (Zechariah 2:8). Believers in Yeshua who recognize Israel’s biblical and historical right to the Land and the Jewish people’s right to return to the Land are often called Christian Zionists. God Himself declared this plan in His Word; thus, Christian Zionism is a noble cause and is part of what every Bible-believing Christian should promote.

Unfortunately for those of us who are Bible-believing, modern-day disciples of Yeshua of Nazareth, the term Christian doesn’t help our cause. It has been overused and abused by friends and foes, and its etymology is now quite different from the simple definition it once carried. Not all people called Christians have truly placed their trust in the finished work of Yeshua of Nazareth on their behalf. Additionally, among those who are Christian, not all of them espouse a positive, biblical view of Israel, its land and its people. So, let us forget the term Christian for a moment and move toward a definition of Biblical Zionism.

There is a lot of scriptural evidence validating the claims of Zionism, beginning with the fact that God Himself said that only HE owned the Land in Leviticus 25:23: “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.” So, even though it would appear that God gave the title deed for Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people, He still is the original owner. The following points are all taken from the Jewish Scriptures and they will help us to define biblical Zionism as we start to understand how God sees the whole thing. Since one of the main themes of God’s word is Israel, it sheds some light for us, as we can see first from the Torah:

 The land belongs to God first and foremost: Leviticus 25:23 
 God made a covenant with Abraham promising a land, a seed and a blessing: Genesis 12:1-3
 The land has specific boundaries yet to be fulfilled: Genesis 15:18-21
• God’s covenant was reconfirmed through Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons: Genesis 26:2-4, 28:13, 50:24
 God cares about the land and will bless/discipline Israel for obedience/disobedience: Deuteronomy 11:8-17
 The land is promised based on God’s character and not Israel’s performance: Deuteronomy 7:7-9
 God told Israel to conquer the land: Deuteronomy 9:3
 Israel’s exact boundaries are controlled by God: Deuteronomy 2:3-5, 16:19
 The Babylonian captivity didn’t annul the oath made by God: Leviticus 26:41

Additionally, the Prophets also tell us of the glorious future of Israel:

• Israel will never be destroyed because of God’s promise of eternal protection: Jeremiah 31:35-37
 God promised Israel a New Covenant when He will remember their sins no more: Jeremiah 31:31-34
 Israel’s glorious future includes a final restoration to the land: Ezekiel 39:25-29
 Israel’s glorious future is secure because of God’s character: Ezekiel 36:22-28

I think that the best way to understand Zionism is through a biblical lens. It will be helpful to remember that anytime we study the word of God, we must have a consistent method of interpretation. My preferred hermeneutical method is the literal grammatical/historical approach to the biblical record, making sure we always read a text within its original context. We should never read a biblical text through the eyes of our current culture, but rather, try to navigate through our current culture using a biblical lens.

From the biblical record, starting in Genesis, it can easily be argued that God Himself was the first Zionist. It hasn’t changed and never will. Those who fight or reject Zionism are fighting and/or rejecting God. Incidentally, He doesn’t want anybody to perish, and He certainly has the same love and compassion for both Jews and Arabs and so should we. Being a Zionist doesn’t mean that one is a racist or a colonizer. Not historically, and certainly not biblically. Being a Zionist doesn’t mean that one is anti-Palestinian, but sadly, the opposite is seldom true!


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