Several things prompt me to write a post on the controversial topic of Israel and Palestine. I was spurned on by the intriguing post of Ben Witherington Pray for Peace of Jerusalem and Madeleine Albright's book The Mighty and the Almighty which you can read about at CT that (apparently) makes some reflection on God, America, and Politics post-9/11.
Let me say that I am convinced of two basic premises: (a) Israel has the inalienable right to exist in peace, free from terrorism and violence. Suffice to say, I am not a big fan of the President of Iran. (b) The Palestinians need a homeland and one free from walls, check-points, tanks, and rocket attacks. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is completely illegal.
I am not a fan of the mainline American denominations that want to divest funds from Israel and fail to censure acts of terrorism against the small Israeli state. (In fact some of these denominations love to complain about the human rights abuses perpetrated in Israel, Iraq and Guantanamo bay, but curiously never get round to mentioning absuses perpetrated in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, China or North Korea). I am even less of a fan of ultra-conservatives in American Churches that support Israeli policies uncritically on the grounds that the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Acts 13.32-33: 'And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.'
2 Corinthians 1.20: 'For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.'
(Those who are familiar with Graeme Goldsworthy's work will know that these verses form the rubric of his approach to biblical theology).
As I see it, God's promises to Israel were complete and fulfilled in the handing over and raising up of Jesus by God the Father. There is of course still the hope that national Israel will respond to the message of Christ (either as individuals or en masse) but the establishment of Israel in 1948 was not something forecast in the Book of Revelation which we must uphold despite the cost it brings upon the Palestinians.
Let me also be clear that I do not think the Church completely replaces Israel (contra Covenant Theology); nor do I think that a hard and fast distinction can be made between the Church and Israel (contra Dispensationalism). Instead, the church is the representative of Israel in the Messianic age and by virtue of their faith in Jesus Christ they are constituted as the people of God in the era of the New Covenant. I think this comports with the more or less "Reformed" view, but I've had people tell me that I sound like a progressive dispensationalist too.
For sound and sober reflections on the topic from a progressive dispensational perspective I recommend the article by Darrell Bock Some Christians See a 'Road Map' to End Times from the LA Times.
I recommend also the following resources:
Colin Chapman, ‘God’s Covenant – God’s Land,’ in The God of Covenant, eds. Jamie A. Grant & Alistair I. Wilson (IVP, 2005), 221-56.
Gary M. Burge, Who Are God’s People in the Middle East? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians (Zondervan, 1993).
Gary M. Burge, Whose Land? Whose Promise?: What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians (Pilgrim, 2003).