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If Joshua Had Given Them Rest

Christian Zionists, zealous they may be for Israel, only read half the Bible. They are stuck, unable to see the full narrative of the promise God made with Abraham. In fact, they distort the promise of Genesis 12:1-3 by failing to acknowledge all God said about it.

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According to the Septuagint, (Greek translation of the OT), God said he would give the land to Abraham's seed, v. 7. The word seed is spermati (dative singular). Yet, the text has rendered the word in the plural as descendants, showing the bias of the translators in the NKJV.

The seed promise, renewed through Isaac, Gen. 21:12; 22:18, is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Gal. 3:16, 26-29.

This writing is not to take issue with Canaan, the land Israel received under the leadership of Moses and Joshua which terminated the first exodus. The question here is whether that land was the end or merely a type and shadow (Col. 3:17; Heb. 10:1) of the true land God promised to Abraham?

Christian Zionists argue for the former. They believe geography and real estate was foremost in the mind of God. However, the biblical text does not support such a view.

God Spoke Of Another Day and Another Rest

After about 500 years in the land, God spoke through David of another rest of which the land was but a type. Paul quotes David in Hebrews 3:7-11 saying the following:

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested me, tried me, and saw my works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways,' So I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.' (Compare Psa. 95:7-11).

They Shall Not Enter My Rest

To understand Paul and David's words, we must appreciate where David was at the time the Spirit spoke these words. David was settled in the land of Canaan, the land that had been promised to the Patriarchs and for which they endured the 40 years wandering.

In short, they are in the land. They possessed it. David is it's king.

In Hebrews chapter 4, Paul interprets David's words, "They shall not enter my rest" to mean they had not yet achieved the true rest of God. "Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience".

While many did not enter the Canaan rest, the next verse demonstrates that Paul had more than that rest in mind.

"Again he designates a certain day, saying in David, 'Today,' after such a long time, as it has been said: 'Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'. For is Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day? (Heb. 4:7-8)

Thus, Paul said, Joshua did not give Israel the true rest, even though God gave them the land of Canaan. His proof? He said, had God given them rest, David would not have spoken of a future rest while then living in the land. He concludes, "There remains therefore a rest to the people of God." (v. 9)

Types and Shadows

This of necessity means that the land of Israel was but a type and shadow of the true promised rest. Types and shadows pass away in preference to reality. Abraham and the patriarchs were well aware of this typological nature of the land confessing themselves to be "pilgrims and strangers" in it. They did not see Palestine as a permanent home. Rather, they looked for and saw a "land" afar off, a city whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. 11:13).

As such, they sought a very different homeland. Hence Paul writes, "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it...For we who have believed do enter that rest..." (Heb. 4:1-3).

In other words, Paul and his fellow Jewish Christians were at that very time of the writing of Hebrews, fleeing the land of Israel. The value of its real estate had dropped considerably. Many Christians in Jerusalem had already sold their property. Why? The city was doomed to destruction by the Romans who sacked it, and burned the temple to the ground.

Paul said to believers who fled Jerusalem, "For here we have no continuing city, but seek the one about to come" (Heb. 13:14).

Hypocrisy Versus Integrity

Christian Zionists are guilty of preaching a gospel of dirt. They advocate a kingdom of "this world" which is immoral, violent, murderous and guilty of international crimes and land theft. It is a land that arrests young school girls for eating cherries, oppressing the poor and widows contrary to very Bible on which Christian Zionists base their dysfunctional love for Israeli occupation, (Ex. 23:11; Deut. 23:24-25). That law says even beasts of the field could eat of the vineyard and olive groves.

Thus, in the eyes of Christian Zionists, Palestinians do not exist and are lower than "beasts of the field". On the other hand the United Methodist Church has opted for higher moral ground.

"In a landmark decision, The United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant church in the United States, will be pulling all its investment from G4S, a British company highly complicit in Israel’s military occupation of Palestine profiting from gross human rights violations against Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners."

This follows the Gates foundation who also divested after public pressure.

Perhaps Christian Zionists should take a fresh look at Kairos Palestine.

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