What is Zionism? Is it wrong?

Straight Talk

The Question:

Is Zionism wrong? Why are so many Orthodox Jews against this movement?

– DS from Northern Ireland

The Answer
Part 1: Israel becomes a nation once again

Israel becomes a nation once again (Part 1)

My goodness, what a can of worms I opened when I started to investigate your question. That should tell you that I didn’t know too much about it before your query came in. I’ll say up front that Zionism is a very big subject and I am only going to cover it at the most superficial level. Interested parties will find a wealth of additional information without difficulty.

This question is of interest to the Christian world because it revolves around the fact that Israel became a State in 1948 and that plays into an understanding of End Time events and God’s timetable for the Second Coming of Christ.

You ask if Zionism is wrong. Let’s first define it. Zionism is the political movement that envisioned and pushed for the reestablishment of the State of Israel. Historically, its beginning is attributed to a man named Theodor Herzl, an Austro-Hungarian journalist who published a book called Der Judenstaat in the late 19th century. His ideas gained momentum until finally, after the Holocaust in World War II, there was enough global support to make it happen. Since that time there has been a push to encourage Jews from around the world to return to Israel and today perhaps 40% of Jews do live there.

Is it wrong? Well, it is certainly wrong to the Jews who oppose it. They oppose it because they consider it a secular, political system—not a religious one that God approves. They believe that there is a promise to reestablish Israel but that it will only come about as a sovereign miraculous act of God ushering in the Messianic Era. In fact, they believe the Torah forbids them from having their own State until that day.

I was interested to read the scriptures they use to forbid Israel from becoming a State but I was stymied. The anti-Zionists proclaim vehemently over and over that it is strictly forbidden but I could not find one instance where they give the Torah references which forbid it. On that basis it’s hard to evaluate their position. It is not true that all Orthodox Jews oppose the State of Israel but those who do are true die-hard believers.

The Evangelical Christian perspective sees the reborn State of Israel as a miracle in itself and feels that it was God who was behind the events to bring it into being. From the Bible’s perspective, many End Times happenings key off Israel becoming a nation once again and so there is much anticipation that we are very, very close to the End. We can read the book of Daniel and Revelation with fresh eyes in light of May 14, 1948.

We too look forward to Messiah being revealed. It’s just that we already know who he is. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)