In today’s program, Tom wraps up his series of discussions with Paul Wilkinson, conference speaker and author of Understanding Christian Zionism and Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest for this series is Paul Wilkinson, the author of Understanding Christian Zionism, and the DVD titled Christian Palestinianism. If you’ve just joined us in this series, this is program #5 in which we’ve been evaluating an interview between Hank Hanegraaff and Gary Burge, the author of Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians. Burge is also featured in the DVD documentary With God on Our Side. Since Hanegraaff’s program is titled the Bible Answer Man, and what he says implies that he’s teaching what the Bible teaches and influencing multitudes of listeners in the process, we felt what he and Burge have presented does indeed need to be challenged to see if they are speaking according to the Scriptures. We pick up with Hank Hanegraaff speaking.
Hank: Of course, Dr. Gary Burge, my prologue begs the question: What about your book Jesus and the Land? How are we to view that tiny strip of land on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea?
Gary Burge: Right, thanks, Hank. Well, you know, the first book I attempted to write was Whose Land? Whose Promise?, and there I’m trying to address the historical and political issues which I think Christians need to be aware of. This book is a theological book, and what I’m asking is if I am thinking Christianly, how should I think about the land? Too often in my conversations with Christians about this subject, they are actually doing Jewish theology. They are working out of Genesis or Ezekiel, and they’re working out a theological view of the Middle East which is very much embedded in a Jewish worldview.
And yet I am asking the next question: I’m asking, “Well, yes, but did not the arrival of Christ, did not the teaching of Paul, change any of this?” So the New Testament makes a couple of astonishing moves, I discovered, and the moves are these: In the first century, there was an enormous debate about the defense of the Holy Land, because the Roman Empire had conquered it and withholding it, and what you have is an amazing silence in the New Testament about any interest in defending the Holy Land.
The next thing the New Testament does is it broadens the umbrella, and it says, “Who are the people who were the great recipients of the blessings of Abraham?” And what they say in the New Testament is Gentiles are included under the umbrella of Abraham alongside of the Jews. So in Romans 4, Paul is happy to say, “Abraham is the father of many nations,” and by saying that he’s drawing Gentiles under the umbrella of blessing.
And then the last thing the New Testament does, which I was really surprised to see, is that the New Testament turns a sort of…the Jewish worldview inside out: instead of making Jerusalem the center of the world and all interest pouring toward Jerusalem, now instead the New Testament says the interests and energies of God’s people should now go elsewhere, move away from Jerusalem, and bless the entire world.
So what you have is the mission of the New Testament is really an enactment of that understanding that God’s work now is in the entire world and not simply in one little piece of land.
You can see this in just a really practical and almost silly way: When I’ve got a group of American Christians with me and we drive by the Jordan River and they say, “Oh, I want to get out and get re-baptized in the Jordan, or collect some sand, because this water and this sand is different than any other place in the entire world.”
And I’ll acknowledge, “Yes, there were some wonderful biblical things that happened here that do not turn this land into a magical place. The entire world belongs to God, and therefore we are called to bring blessing to the world, and not just to the State of Israel.”
Hank: And I think something else needs to be underscored: In the 8th century before Christ, the Assyrians deposed the northern kingdom. In the 6th century, the Babylonians deposed the southern kingdom. In other words, we saw the exile of Israel and the Bible uses graphic terms to depict what happened. Israel is called a prostitute, and the language and description that is used is such that you hardly dare read it in front of a small child.
Gary Burge: Yeah, exactly.
Tom: So, Paul, Hank Hanegraaff is asking Dr. Burge: Based on the Babylonian captivity, based on the northern kingdom of Israel, God’s judgment against them, is Israel going to be brought back to the land? Well, you know, you have to start with - wait a minute, the Babylonian captivity was for how long? What’s the Book of Nehemiah about? What’s the rebuilding of the temple, and rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem? What was that about if they weren’t coming back? I mean, well, maybe Dr. Burge will answer that question, but I’d like to hear your response.
Paul: Again, as we’re trying to do in this program, as we try and do as a small fellowship, the ministry of The Berean Call, for many, many years it is, “To the law and the testimony,” to the Word of God, not what we think.
Gary Burge is a theologian of Paul – that’s how he states his reputation - and Hank Hanegraaff is plugging his book Jesus and the Land. What did the Apostle Paul say? We’re familiar with Romans 9, 10, and 11. This is what Paul says in Romans 15…
Let’s just, as well, remember Gary Burge was dismissing Christians for interpreting the Bible through a Jewish hermeneutic; you know, “These Christians like to go back to Genesis, and…” Didn’t Paul say all Scripture is God-breathed? That it’s inspired by God for instruction and doctrine so the man of God is fully equipped? So every word of God’s Word is important.
Romans:15:8, Paul says: “Now, I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision,” that’s referring to Israel, “for the truth of God to confirm the promises made to the fathers [that means to establish them, to make sure that they are absolutely fulfilled as they were given] that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.”
Well, we can say that Gary Burge, Hank Hanegraaff, they are not glorifying God for His mercy to Israel. They’re trying to give every reason why Israel today cannot be connected with biblical Israel, and why Israel as a nation is not going to be restored as a nation.
Right, what did the Lord say to the fathers through the prophets? He says, Zechariah 8 – and listen to God’s tone here: “Again, the Word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her.”’” Other translations have, “I am burning with jealousy for Zion.”
“‘Thus says the Lord: “I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.”’” When did God ever dwell in the midst of Jerusalem? You know, this is a prophecy long after the temple was built in the days of Solomon, the Shekinah glory filled the Most Holy Place. The Lord’s saying, “I will return to Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to Jerusalem when He wept, “You will not see Me again, Jerusalem, until you say [Baruch haba b’shem Adonai in Hebrew], ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” In other words, “You will see Me again, Jerusalem, but not until you bless me. Until you acknowledge I have come in the name of the Lord, in the name of My Father.”
Now, Zechariah:12:10, Hank Hanegraaff is saying because Israel was a harlot and behaved the way that she did, is God going to restore Israel in unbelief? Absolutely! Scripture is clear about this. Zechariah:12:10 says, “And I [the Lord God] will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication.” Pause there: Where are they? Jerusalem, land of Israel. “I will pour on these inhabitants the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him [ultimately the Lord Jesus] as one mourns for an only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” So they’ve got to be back in the land, back in Jerusalem, to be calling out to the Lord for Him then to respond to their cries. So that places the Jewish people back in the land when they call out to their Messiah. And we just read from chapter 8, the Lord saying, “I will return to reign in Jerusalem.”
Amos:9:14 - and this is what we’re appealing to our listeners to do, just to be enthralled and captivated by what God has declared in His Word. This is the Book of books. We don’t need Jesus and the Land by Gary Burge and Apocalypse Code by Hank Hanegraaff, especially because they are not true to the Word of God. They’ve already rejected, theologically, Israel in their own understanding, but God has declared, “‘I will bring back the captives of my people Israel. They shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them. They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them,’” which they’ve been doing since 1948 especially, “‘and I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.” God is making it very, very clear.
Now one final scripture, and it’s got to be scripture that speaks to Hanegraaff and Burge and the distortions and the misrepresentation that they are a part of. Ezekiel 36, it’s one of the new covenant passages. We know from Jeremiah:31:31 the new covenant was promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. We as Gentiles, we’ve been grafted in. We are partakers of the spiritual blessings. But the new covenant is promised to Israel.
Now, the Lord says in [Ezekiel:36:17], “Son of man,” and this is now answering specifically Hank Hanegraaff talking about Israel’s harlotry, “when the house of Israel dwell in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds. To me, their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. Therefore, I poured out my fury on them.” God is saying, “They were unclean. They were unfaithful. They were a harlot, and I disciplined them.”
Then the Lord says, v. 21, “But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. Therefore, say to the house of Israel…” we need to say this to maybe brothers and sisters that have thought that the ministry of Hank Hanegraaff and Bible Answer Man and this was good and this was biblical: No, it’s not. It’s not good at all. “Say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel,”’” talking about regathering, “‘“but for My holy name’s sake which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. I will sanctify My great name which has been profaned amongst the nations which you have profaned in their midst, and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,’ says the Lord God, ‘when I am hallowed in you before their eyes, for I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries,’” not Babylon, not Assyria, “‘all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers. You shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it and bring no famine upon you. I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. Not for your sake do I do this,’ says the Lord God. ‘Let it be known to you, be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.’”
How many times do we read the Lord saying, “I will, I will, I will”? He never says, “If you, if you, if you.” This is God’s answer to the harlotry, the unfaithfulness of Israel. For His own name’s sake, for His own integrity, He will and He is doing exactly what He said He would do. He’s bringing them back, and through the Tribulation to come, He will purify them so that when they are in their own land, they will, at the end of that Tribulation period when all hope seems lost, they will call on the One they have pierced, and He will answer them.
Gary Burge: Yeah, exactly, I mean, because even if somebody holds the view that we are living in the last times and that Israel has been gathered back again in the Holy Land, then what you have to do is ask, “All right, then what is Israel’s relationship to the covenant?” Because throughout the Old Testament and the prophets, receiving the benefits of the covenant (namely, the land) is predicated on your living faithfully with the covenant, and what you have today is a modern State of Israel which is highly secular and sharply disinterested in any of the covenant obligations that you have in the Old Testament.
So you really – you have Christian Zionists presenting a paradox: you hear them saying, “This land belongs to the modern State of Israel,” but the strings attached to the land, which go all the way back to Abraham, that is, covenant faithfulness, those strings no longer pertain. I don’t know how a Christian Zionist can actually sustain that argument; I really don’t know.
Hank: Talk about the language that the Apostle Peter uses that was once reserved for national Israel and then applies it to spiritual Israel when he says, for example, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation of people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” And then he says, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.” So the very language that was used for Old Testament Israel seems to be applied to you and I today!
Gary Burge: Yeah, exactly. You have the very same – Peter does this. You have the very same thing in Ephesians 2; Paul does the same thing: “Those who were far off have been brought near,” so that this new community, this living body of Christ, consists of both Jews and Gentiles, and the dividing wall that once separated them is now gone. So what you have in the New Testament is the announcement that the kingdom of God is celebrating the construction of a people that – to which Jews and Gentiles equally may come together in the name of Christ to celebrate. Yeah, that’s exactly it.
By the way, Hank, the other interesting thing about Peter and James and the New Testament writers is this: They use the language of Old Testament exile to describe their life. In other words, these Christians, who were living around the Roman Empire, they asked themselves, “Who are we? What are we like?” They describe each other as exiles in their own dispersion. They have their own diaspora. So as they are thinking about who they are, they are men and women who understand they are living throughout the world, and yet the Holy Land to which they aspire is actually in heaven, and that’s the interesting thing you have in the New Testament. That is the ultimate place of affection, because it is the place where Jesus dwells.
Paul: Ezekiel 36, which we’ve just read, is absolutely definitive, it’s conclusive, it’s decisive: God will do this! And what Gary Burge is doing, he’s putting the focus on Israel and Israel’s response. The whole point of the new covenant is that Israel could not keep covenant, so God said, “I will make a new covenant, and I, through My Spirit, giving you a new heart, a new flesh, I will enable you to obey Me.” This is all about God, not Israel. It’s about His faithfulness, His integrity, not Israel. And this is where Gary Burge, Hank Hanegraaff, and many, many others, they’re going completely skewed to the Word of God. They’re coming at it from a human Israel perspective and not from God’s perspective. God has spoken, and He will do these things.
Tom: You’ve been listening to a critique of a Bible Answer Man program, in which host Hank Hanegraaff has been interviewing Gary Burge, an author and professor at Wheaton College. And joining me in evaluating the Hanegraaff/Burge interview has been my guest Paul Wilkinson, the author of Understanding Christian Zionism, and a DVD titled Christian Palestinianism, which would be a label that fits both Hanegraaff and Burge. Personally, I am appalled at the obvious distortion of Scripture presented by two men who profess to be correctly exegeting the Bible, especially under the arrogant title the Bible Answer Man.
But I let you, our listeners, come to your own conclusion about what has been said either by me, or Paul Wilkinson, or Burge, or Hanegraaff, and you should only do that by being a Berean just as the Jews in the synagogue of the Greek city of Berea did when they heard the Apostle Paul preach to them, no doubt claiming that Jesus of Nazareth had fulfilled all that the prophets had foretold regarding the Messiah of Israel. Those Jews were commended by Luke in Acts:17:10-11 for listening to what Paul had taught, and then “they searched the scriptures daily to see if what he said was true to the Word of God.” No matter who is teaching or preaching, that’s what every believer needs to do. Isaiah declared, “To the law and the testimony,” that is, the Scriptures, “if they speak not according to God’s Word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Being a Berean is a critical means for discernment for knowing biblical truth in our day where confusion and deception are running rampant, especially in Christendom. Jesus in Matthew:24:4 indicated that the days just prior to His coming again would be characterized by religious deception when he gave this prophetic warning: “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Our encouragement and exhortation to you is to make it a habit to daily, diligently study the Scriptures. That is the antidote, the best prevention program there is for staying steadfast in the faith and having a fruitful life in Christ.
In closing, let’s hear again some thoughts from Paul Wilkinson.
Paul: For His own name’s sake, for His own integrity, He will and He is doing exactly what He said He would do: He’s bringing them back and through the Tribulation to come, He will purify them so that when they are in their own land, they will, at the end of that Tribulation period, when all hope seems lost, they will call on the One they have pierced, and He will answer them.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7, with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. Paul Wilkinson’s books are available through The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, OR, 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.