How do we define Zionism? It depends on our eschatology (study of the end times). For this post, we suggest three views of Zionism leaving the reader to choose which you find to be more in harmony with the Bible. Initially, Zion identified with the City of David, presumed to be the once Canaanitish city as it existed at the time of its capture by David in 1003 B.C.

After Solomon had expanded Jerusalem northward to include Mt. Moriah, the latter king, at his dedication of the Temple on this new site in 958 B.C., is said to have brought up the Ark of the covenant “out of the City of David, which is Zion” (1 Kings 8:1; 2 Chron 5:2). Only in post-Biblical times die the name Zion become erroneously transferred to the south western hill of Jerusalem.

Zion later came to signify the city of God, the city of the great King (Pss. 46:4; 48:2): a holy hill (Ps. 2:6; Joel 2:1; Zech 8:3 (the chosen place of God’s abode. With the transfer of the Ark to Moriah, the Temple mount too came to be called Zion 78:68, 69), or more specifically, “Mt. Zion on the far North” 48:2) The Temple and Zion had entered into association (Jer 50:28; 51:10).

It was only a short step until Zion was employed for the whole multi-hilled metropolis, in simple synonymous parallelism with the name Jerusalem (Isa 40:9; Mic 3:12(; Psa. 133:3. Finally, in exile, the whole Israelite nation came to be called “Zion…who dwell with the daughter of Babylon (Zech. 2:7). Zondervan Vol. 5.

Judaic Zionism

Zionism Originated with Old Covenant Judaism. From this perspective Judaic Zionism refers to the religious Jews who seek to follow the Torah, i.e. the Old Covenant Laws passed down from God through Moses. They do not align themselves with the aggressive conflict in Israel. In fact, they consider themselves under judgment of God for sin since 70 A.D. when Rome destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple to the ground.

They believe in the complete sovereignty of the Palestinian people and their right to live in their own land which they have owned for centuries. They believe it is up to the Palestinians to decide if they choose to allow others to peacefully live among them. They believe that to set up a Jewish state in Palestine violates Jewish law.

They believe their role in exile is to be an example to the world as peaceful followers of God and models for others in righteousness.  They vigorously opposed a Jewish state in Palestine.  They believe their return to the Holy Land will be ushered in by the Messiah in his own time, with spiritual blessings and brotherhood for all.

Political Zionism

Zionism founded by Theodore Herzl, is political and advances not through revelations from Sinai, but through military aggression.  It seeks to dispossess the Palestinians from their land. This currently continues a struggle that has lasted for over 50 years and five wars.  Closely aligned with political Zionism is Christian Zionism born and bred of the Dispensationalists movement.

Dispensationalists believes that God gave the Zionists the land of Palestine unconditionally. They believe it is God’s will for the Palestinian people to be dispossessed of their land even if they are both Jewish and Christian! The irony of this is that they also believe and teach that two thirds of all Jews will be destroyed. Their logic implies that any, including Christians who do not support the Israeli conquest of Palestine are apostates.

According to the Bible, the land belonged to God, (Ex. 19:5; Lev. 25:23). Old Covenant Israel received it at Sinai under the condition of faithful obedience to Torah. God however warned that through disobedience Israel would be removed from the land, dispersed among the nations and become a hiss and a byword.

“And it shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which you nor your fathers have knwn–wood and stone.” (Deut. 28:63-64).

The message to Israel concerning the land was obey and stay, or rebel and be expelled. Israel chose the latter but a remnant would be blessed.

Christ-Centered Zionism

Christ-centered Zionism, to be distinguished from Dispensationalist’s use of “Christian Zionism” does not seek a political Jewish state. Christ, under oath before Pontus Pilate, testified that his kingdom was spiritual and neither materialistic nor militaristic. It was not earthly in origin conceived in the minds of colonialist and imperialistic aspirations but of divine and heavenly origin. “My kingdom is not of this world for if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews.

The political Zionists of Jesus’ day were called Zealots. They wanted an earthly kingdom and a king who could protect and deliver them from subjugation to Rome. They thought Jesus would be he who would redeem them. However, when they came to take him by force to make him a king, he refused. (John 6:15) At that point, they rejected his claims to be the Messiah because he would not support their desire for a political kingdom.

Jesus taught that the time was coming and in fact had arrived that God’s holy place no longer resided in Jerusalem. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem ins the place where one ought to worship. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Jesus therefore redefined or clarified God’s true holy place. It is located not in Mt. Gerizim or in Jerusalem. Rather, it is in the Father himself! The land, temple and holy place now reside in God who is Spirit. God and Christ are the temple of the holy city Zion, (Rev. 21:22).

As God said, heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. What house will you build for me says the Lord, Or what is the place of my rest. The Most High does not dwell in temples made with man’s hands. (Acts 7:48-50).

In Galatians, Paul contrasts the Jerusalem on earth with the heavenly Jerusalem which was above. The former he called a covenant of bondage, the heavenly Jerusalem however is free and the home of faithful believers. (Gal. 4:21-31).

Thus, true Zionism is spiritual. It is not associated with physical land or man made temples. As Jesus taught, men,  Jews and Gentiles entered came to the heavenly Zion. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn where are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Heb. 12:22-24).

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