The Battle over Jerusalem


This was the press release of an organisation calling itself “True torah Jews” in response to the screening of a three-part documentary on CNN entitled “God’s Warriors” dealing with the religious and political power struggle between Jews, Muslims and Christian Zionists.

It reads as follows:

“Brooklyn, NY, August 21, 2007.
Recent claims by Evangelical Christians that the State of Israel is the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy and the upcoming series on Christian Zionists scheduled for airing on CNN beginning this week has caused great alarm among many in the traditional Jewish community.

Even in a practical context, Torah-true Jews find it hard to believe that these Christians have the Jews’ best interest at heart. They are sending them off to the battlefield called the West Bank, where every successful Zionist settlement is an obstacle to peace, a victory in the war of these extremists to dominate the land and subdue its inhabitants. The true goal of these Christians is not to be “those who bless Jews” but to prepare the ground for the final battle at the end of the world, when they believe their messiah will return and all who did not believe in him (i.e. Jews and Muslims) will perish and burn in hell.

Historically, those gentiles who welcomed Jews into their country and allowed them freedom to practice the Torah and full rights were considered friends of the Jews. Anti-Semites were those who expelled Jews from their country and wanted them elsewhere. “These millions of Christians have, by means of the pragmatic Zionist money-takers, managed to sell themselves as friends of the Jews when in reality they are putting all their resources into settling Jews far away, in the most dangerous part of the world.” said a spokesperson for True Torah Jews.

Additional information concerning the position of the Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews may be found at


True Torah Jews is dedicated to informing the world and in particular the American public and politicians that all Jews do not support the ideology of the Zionist state called “Israel” which is diametrically opposite to the teachings of traditional Judaism. We are concerned that the widespread misconception that all Jews support the Zionist state and its actions endangers Jews worldwide.”

We would like to add that not all Christians are Zionists either. The article below challenges the popular misconceptions that underpin the role of Christians in this global powerplay.


We live in turbulent times. The world is becoming increasingly polarised between East and West, and Christians, who belong to a Kingdom that is not of this world, are finding themselves drawn into this global conflict. Christians are not immune to the barrage of propaganda that shapes our worldview, but we must be careful that we are not being co-opted into the agendas of the world rather than that of Christ. The bitter contention over the city of Jerusalem, with all it represents for Jews, Christians and Muslims, embodies this struggle between competing ideologies.

Jerusalem has been a source of conflict since ancient times. Due to its situation it was inevitably caught in the crossfire as empires clashed. Many Christians are now being drawn into the conflict over Jerusalem in support of Zionism, an issue that is threatening to polarise Christians. In their zeal for Israel, the plight of fellow Christians who find themselves in the middle of the warring factions is often ignored. It is time for Christians to carefully and prayerfully consider their role in this conflict and what it truly means to be given the ministry of reconciliation as his ambassadors.

Underpinning Christian support for Zionism is a particular view of prophecy that has been popularised in the last century through the publication of many best selling books on the end-times by authors such as Hal Lindsey and Tim La Haye. So successfully has this premillennial dispensational view of prophecy been propagated that many ordinary Christians are not even aware that this is not the only interpretation held by mainline evangelical Christians – the others being amillennial or postmillennial as well as historic premillennialism which differs substantially from dispensational premillennialism – and nor is it the historical position of the Church, having emerged only in the 19th century.

All Christians agree that the majority of Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled historically. The difference of opinion arises over what remains to be fulfilled and whether some prophecies, which have already been fulfilled, will have a dual fulfilment. A preterist or partial preterist  considers most biblical prophecy to have been fulfilled historically, while the response of many modern Christians to events as they unfold in the Middle East is conditioned largely upon a futuristic interpretation of prophecy. Without those assumptions one wonders whether many who profess such a love for Israel or the Jewish people would be drawn into the conflict in the same way. This interpretation of Scripture leads many Christians to adopt a far more hard-line political stance on issues concerning Israel than that of many Israelis or Jews.

One of these assumptions is that the present return of Jews to Israel is a fulfilment of prophecy and a necessary precursor to, as well as an indication of the nearness of, the second coming of Christ. Thus many Christian organisations are actively involved with Jewish agencies in assisting Jews to make Aliyah (immigrate), the condition being that they make no attempt to proselytize Jews. Huge amounts of Church funds are being channelled into this effort. These organisations encourage Jews to return to Israel on the basis that God is fulfilling his promise to bring them back to the land. What they do not tell them is that according to their understanding of prophecy two-thirds of them will be slaughtered in a final holocaust. This is derived from a futuristic interpretation of Zechariah 13. But the same passage also prophesied the betrayal and death of the Messiah which was followed by the desolation of Jerusalem in 70AD in which it is estimated that two-thirds of its population did indeed perish.

Ironically it is estimated that up to 900 000 Israelis are living abroad, while a Market Watch poll commissioned by the newspaper Maariv in January 2002, found 20 percent of adult Israelis had recently considered living in a different country and that 12 percent of Israeli parents “would like their children to grow up outside Israel.”1

Another issue of great sensitivity that is used to harness Christian sympathy for Zionism is that of anti-Semitism – in particular the historical role of the Western Church in persecutions against Jews. The guilt of the West over the holocaust was the primary motivation for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. The perception among many Arabs is that Europe assuaged its guilt by foisting the Jewish refugee problem onto them. Unfortunately, the issue of collective guilt for the sins of those in earlier generations is often used, very effectively, to stifle the preaching of the gospel – the only means that anyone can find atonement for the guilt of sin.

The apostle Paul did not allow his own guilt or the guilt of his forefathers to silence the gospel. Though he was clearly complicit in the murder of Stephen and acknowledged having been a violent man and a persecutor of the church he was able to proclaim without guilt or shame, “Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God” (Acts 20:26). Equally unfortunate is the misuse of the label of anti-Semitism by Christian Zionists against fellow believers to silence differing viewpoints.

What is the Christian relationship to Jerusalem and how should we respond to this very complex conflict without exacerbating the problem?

The association of Jerusalem as the city of the great King stretches right back to Abraham’s mysterious encounter with Melchizedek, King of Salem and King of Righteousness. From ancient times there existed the notion that the earthly city of Jerusalem was a mirror of the glorious city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. We are told that Abraham was looking ahead to “the city whose architect and builder is God,” and that all the great men of faith did not receive their inheritance in this life, “but God has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:10,16). The apostle Paul picks up on the ancient belief in the heavenly Jerusalem saying, “But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother” (Gal. 4:26). He compares the earthly Jerusalem to Hagar, representing the hostility of Ishmael towards Isaac, while the apostle John says that the earthly Jerusalem symbolizes Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11:8).

The Hebrew word Aliyah, which has now come to mean a return of unbelieving Jews to the land of their forefathers, literally means “to ascend” and was used in the context of going up to Jerusalem to worship. However, Jesus said that the time had now come when true worshipers will no longer go up to the earthly city of Jerusalem to worship because they will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Astonishingly, the New Testament does not even hint at a return of exiles to the land in this age. On the contrary, it teaches that God’s redeemed people are now being gathered to the heavenly Jerusalem of which the earthly city was only a shadow and type: But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…(Hebrews 12:22-24).

The fight over the earthly Jerusalem is futile because the inheritance cannot be secured by hostility or connivance (typified by Jacob before he was called Israel), and will only be received by the faithful together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the new heaven and the new earth through the resurrection of the dead. The Apostle wrote: I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (1 Cor. 15:50). Many who thought that they belonged to the Kingdom of God will find themselves exiled for eternity (cf. Matt. 8:10-12).

When the Israelites first entered the Promised Land they were told to drive out the inhabitants of the land so that they would not be defiled by the idolatrous practices of the pagans. However, the Kingdom of God no longer advances by means of military power but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. (2 Cor. 10:3). The confrontation between Israel and the surrounding nations typified the conflict that was destined to arise between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives,” (John 14:27), but as far as worldly peace is concerned he also said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). The kingdom of God, is not of this world, but is established in the midst of the kingdoms of the earth (Dan. 2:44). When Joshua was confronted by the Commander of the army of the LORD, he asked him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” He replied, “Neither” (Joshua 5:14). God is not on our side unless we submit to Him – rather he commands all men everywhere to repent (cf. Acts 17:30).

Jerusalem literally means “City of Peace,” but until sinners are reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ there is no real peace either with God or with each other. “There is no peace for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). Jesus said, “…all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” When Jews and Arabs die fighting over a piece of land in this temporal world they have gained nothing if they were not reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. If Jesus said, “…now it (the way of peace) is hidden from your eyes,” we can be certain that peace will not be found by returning to the earthly city of Jerusalem. The “Jewish state” is a de facto reality but it will never be the safe haven for the Jewish people. The Bible teaches us that war will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed (Daniel 9:26). Jesus is the only refuge for the Jewish people. The peace that we proclaim is the peace that comes only when Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God and to each other as one new man through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Christians have one clear mandate as ambassadors of the true King of Salem and that is to proclaim the gospel of peace to Jew and Gentile alike teaching all men to obey everything Christ has commanded.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved (Romans 10:1).


1. Recent Trends in Emigration from Israel: The Impact of Palestinian Violence – Ian S. Lustick