Christ at the Checkpoint, 2016

By Matt Ward


Roughly 600 Christian pastors and leaders from a variety of nations recently met in Bethlehem for the Christ at the Checkpoint 2016 conference, a biannual gathering increasingly aimed at delegitimizing Israel. The theme of this 2016 conference was, “The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism.”

When they talk at this conference of “extremism,” the participants aren’t talking about the Islamic extremism running rampant across the Middle East, extremism that even John Kerry recently said was guilty of genocide. When they use the word “extremism” in this conference, it is in reference to Judaism and the State of Israel. In the eyes of many who attend this conference just by the mere fact of its existence, the Jewish State is an “extreme” one.

Bethlehem Bible College are the hosts, an institution caught up in the pro-Palestinian narrative, and the thoroughly unbiblical Replacement Theology belief system. This theology has been used for two thousand years to defame the Jews and most recently, the State of Israel.

The conference schedule reveals whole segments focused on topics such as, “The Challenge of Christian Zionism.” It seems odd that a conference addressing issues of “extremism” would also be addressing issues of “Christian Zionism,” unless of course the aim is to undermine Christian support for Israel and in so doing, subtly (or not so subtly), label it as an extremist belief in itself. Including a segment such as this in a conference like this, is akin to not only demonizing Israel, but also the Christians who support her.

Amongst other speakers, Munther Isaac, an organizer of the conference presented a paper titled, “Christian Zionism as Imperial Theology.” Hank Hanegraaf, the famous “Bible Answer Man,” will also presented a paper titled, “A Gospel Response to Christian Zionism.”

Christ at the Checkpoint’s constant contention that Christian Zionism is wrong and that Christians who love and support Israel are misguided at best and nefarious apostates at worst, needs to be challenged. Many of the statements hidden deep down within the core theology of CATC 2016 disturb me. Theology and beliefs found in its Manifesto like;

  • “Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture”
  • “Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abraham Covenant.”
  • “For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.”
  • “The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.”

I support Israel because God supports Israel. I love Israel because God loves Israel, and directly tells me too as well, (Genesis 12:3). Despite their best efforts at CATC 2016, Israel is going nowhere. It is the Bible itself that is clear on this point.

Multiple Old and New Testament prophecies in the Bible refer to the modern State of Israel. One of the most consistent prophetic themes in the Bible itself is that at the end of days Israel will once again be back in its land, re-gathered from the nations of the earth. This will be a unique experience, highly distinguishable from other previous returns of Israel to its historical land.

This return will occur in the “latter days.” We are in these “latter days” today, though none at CATC 2016 would acknowledge that. The Bible is also clear that when Israel is brought back into the land for the final time, they will remain in that land forever.

Jeremiah 31:38-40 states:

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”

…the city will never again be uprooted or demolished… This fulfilled prophecy can only refer to the modern State of Israel. It cannot refer to the first Jewish return at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah as this return resulted in Diaspora in 70 A.D.

After Ezra and Nehemiah, the city was once again uprooted and demolished. In 70A.D., the Tenth Legion of Titus smashed Israel, scattering the Jewish people to the four corners of the world, uprooting and demolishing them. This means that the modern State of Israel can only be the direct fulfillment of this key Old Testament prophecy.

Jeremiah also quite plainly tells us that once Israel returns in fulfillment of this prophecy, they are there forever. Iran or ISIS will not change this. Christ at the Checkpoint certainly will not change this. Israel is going nowhere.

Isaiah 11:11-12 tells us:

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

Again, as with Jeremiah, this reference can only refer to the modern State of Israel, not to the return under Ezra and Nehemiah because Isaiah tells us the Lord will recover his remnant a second time. The first time Israel was re-gathered was under Ezra and Nehemiah. This can only be in reference to May 14th 1948, when Israel became a nation again after the Diaspora, for the second time.

Isaiah also tells us here another important piece of information. He tells us that this re-gathering will be from “…the islands of the sea…” and “…from the four corners of the earth.” The first re-gathering under Ezra and Nehemiah was from captivity in Babylon, not from the all the nations of the earth.

The only time Israel has been re-gathered from the “…the islands of the sea,” and from, “…the four corners of the earth,” was in 1948, when the Jewish people returned from a worldwide Diaspora.

So why then does Christ at the Checkpoint preach that the modern State of Israel is not legitimate? Their teaching is directly contradicted by the word of God itself which states that the re-gathering of Israel is a deliberate, purposeful act by God.

Do the speakers at Christ at the Checkpoint know this, or am I mistaken somehow?

The famous nativity story of Luke, so overlooked by students of prophecy, assures us of Israel’s future. After the angel greets Mary with the famous lines, “…Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” (Luke 1:28), he continues by explaining how Mary will “…conceive and give birth to a son.” (Luke 1:30).

What is often overlooked is that the angel went onto tell Mary in v.32-33 that, “…he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

At Jesus’ first coming this did not happen. In fact, the opposite happened. Jesus did not take the throne of his father David and He never physically reigned over Israel, yet this prophecy tells us that His reign will, “…never end.” Jesus’ reign is yet future, which means that Israel’s current existence can be no fluke.

Yet according to Christ at the Checkpoint 2016, when the King does return, he will have to be content with ruling from a nation that is not legitimate. Not much of an inheritance for a King then, is it?

Ezekiel

Ezekiel gives us further clues indicating that modern Israel will never be uprooted again. In Ezekiel, the prophet makes reference to the re-gathering of Israel at a time when, “…David My servant will be their prince forever.”

Ezekiel says:

“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel… I will bring you into the land of Israel… I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD…

Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land and I will make them one nation in the land… They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.” (Ezek. 37:11-12, 14, 21-22, 25)

Ezekiel here discusses prophecy related to Israel that is also yet future. David is not yet their Prince again. This must mean that God intends Israel to be back in their land again, meaning that God is not finished in His dealings with the Jewish people.

Israel is not a fluke of history, nor have they stolen the land from others, nor are they an apartheid state. Israel are exactly where they are today because God intends it to be so. For this prophecy to come about the modern State of Israel clearly needs to exist in the future so that David can reign once again.

Hosea

Israel’s return to the land and God’s provision for them is also clearly defined in Old Testament metaphor. It is simply not possible for God to allow Israel to be uprooted or destroyed again after their final re-gathering, and here is why.

The prophet Hosea in his book presents a picture of God dealing with Israel in their rebellion. Hosea tells us that God means to restore Israel to their ancient land. Hosea is commanded by God to marry Gomer and together they have children, but Gomer, his wife, is an adulteress and sleeps with many other men. Hosea therefore abandons Gomer. In chapter 3, Hosea is commanded to re-take Gomer as his wife, despite her infidelities and obvious failings.

This is a picture of God’s faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness. God chooses Israel and marries her but she commits spiritual adultery with the religions of the nation’s surrounding her, so God casts her out, but only for a time. Afterwards God re-claims Israel as his wife, not because she deserves this by her own merit or faithfulness, but because God is compassionate and because God loves her.

Hosea 3:5 explains how at the time of the end the Israelites will return to Israel and will seek God politically and religiously as their King,

Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days” (Hosea 3:5).

These days in which we live are the last days spoken of by Hosea, and just as he prophesied, the nation of Israel has been brought back to their land again. God is once again, out of his love for Israel, turning his face back towards her, first by bringing Israel back into the land and next by making Israel seek him politically and religiously. He will accomplish this soon through the Ezekiel 38/39 War and ultimately in the Tribulation period itself. The stage for both these events is being set right now.

All Israel will eventually be saved (Romans 9). That the beginnings of this process is clearly occurring in Israel today, with the rapid rise in the number of Jews choosing Yeshua as Lord and Savior, is clear. This also indicates that the rapture of the church is close at hand as this gentile age draws to a close.

To accept the point of view of the speakers at Christ at the Checkpoint 2016, and believe that Israel lacks legitimacy, is to question the integrity of scripture and prophecy itself.

Yet many speakers at, Christ at the Checkpoint, do openly denigrate and refuse to teach Bible prophecy. They do so because prophecy completely contradicts their world view and their message. The Bible taken as a complete whole contradicts their message and world view.

Ultimately, it is a question of who you chose to believe. Will you believe the words of man or the word of God Himself?

For myself, I will reply as the great Israelite leader Joshua did before me,

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Amen. May God abundantly bless His holy inheritance, Israel.

wardmatt1977@gmail