The question of whether an evangelical Christian should support the modern state of Israel is certainly a current issue and a debatable one, for sure.
According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of white evangelicals think God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish state.
But what exactly are the biblical reasons to support the modern state of Israel?
Here are three.
1. The Covenant God Made with Israel
For no other reason than his very character, God chose to love and make Israel a light to the nations, a channel of blessing through the Messiah, and a repository of the truth of divine revelation.
That God has made unconditional and eternal covenants to the nation of Israel is foundational to any support for what God is doing with his chosen people.
“‘I will restore the captivity of My people Israel. . . . I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:14–15 NASB).
Israel’s right to the land includes the promise that Israel’s sin and eventual captivity did not abrogate God’s promise of the land, since God’s loyal covenant love and his plans for Israel’s future are as certain as the sustained existence and function of the universe itself (Jer. 31:35–37).
2. The Example of Christ
In choosing Israel, God was forming and fashioning a people through whom he would reach the world though the seed of Abraham.
In John 4, when Jesus addresses the Samaritan woman, it is interesting that he is supportive of the Jews in contrast to the Samaritans. Even with the failures of Israel’s leaders, upon whom Jesus pronounces severe woes, and the hypocrisy of some of the nation’s key spokesmen, who were ultimately complicit in his arrest, trial, and death, Jesus reaffirms the essential role of the Jewish people: “You [Samaritans] worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22 NASB).
When faced with a contrast between the Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus and a spurious Middle Eastern faith based on human writings that the Samaritans held as sacred, Jesus sided with his own people Israel for revealing the truth about worship.
Likewise, Christians who support the modern state of Israel want to show support for a country where the Hebrew Scriptures are still held in honor.
3. The Pursuit of Christian Values
To raise the question of support for Israel seems to force a bifurcating choice between Israelis and Palestinians. If limited to the question of the rightful possession of the land, that is one issue. But if the choice is how one values and treats people of differing ethnicities or economic status, then that is another matter.
The biblical commandment, from Moses to Jesus, is to love others as we love ourselves, and it is binding across all political and geographical lines. This includes Israelis, Arabs, and all peoples.
Having said that, Gentile Christians should have a deep concern for Israel and especially for the Messianic Jewish saints living in the Holy Land. They are part of the “one another” (others of the same kind) community Jesus commanded that we love in the same way He loves (John 13:34–35).
Today, both Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus who recognize support for the reestablishment of the nation of Israel, in the land of Israel, do so because they believe it is in keeping with God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants long ago, as well as the prophetic expectation of a future in which the Jewish people as God’s chosen people are entitled to possess the land of Israel in God’s time and for all time.
It is imperative, as Christians, to maintain a proper biblical perspective that will engender a genuine love for Palestinians, Arabs, Israelis, and Jews alike as people created in the image of God, the object of his love, and all viable candidates to receive the love of Christ through our proclamation of the gospel message.
Content adapted from the chapter “Should Christians Support the Modern State of Israel?” written by Mark L. Bailey, in the book Israel, the Church, and the Middle East: A Biblical Response to the Current Conflict.