The topic of Israel was always controversial, but especially in the last days it causes a lot of debate. The correspondent of the “Church Covenant” was asked some tough questions about the state of the Jewish people, and also the relations of the Church and Israel, Bishop Vitaly Maksimyuk.
Q. – Vitaly Vladimirovich, some say that Israel was and remains the chosen people, others defend the theory of substitution, claiming that it has lost its purpose and its place today is the Church. What do you think today is Israel in God’s plan?
V. M. – the Sixth Chapter of the book of Hebrews says, willing abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His will, note the word “immutability”, which, in my opinion, means that you can neither take away nor add. It is something completed. Further States that He used by an oath, to show people that it is His decision that will invariably. Immutable. He speaks of the Covenant, the chosenness of the people.
We acknowledge it, or believe that they lost the election, God continues to deal with them. Whatever our point of view, it does not affect the point of view of God. It is obvious that He has chosen the Jews and promised to bless them and blessing them, and God changes his mind.
Q. – However, many tend to argue that in the context of the New Testament everything has changed, including the attitude of God to Israel.
V. M. – If God changed His point of view, my question is: what then, is based on our belief that He will not change His attitude to the New Testament?
All Scripture tells us that God is faithful even when we are completely unable to fulfill his part of the Covenant. He is faithful even if we are not faithful.
Q. – You want to say that Israel continues to play a key role in God’s plan?
V. M. — God needed some kind of “platform” that could come His Son. This land was inhabited by 7 ethnic groups. God banished them and brought the children of Abraham because he believed God. The Creator tested him many times and promised to bless him and to give the land. This promise to Abraham is still in force. You will not find a place in the Bible where God said that He changed his mind.
Jesus came as the son of David. He calls Abraham His father, that promised to Abraham appeared in It. He’s not crossed it, but opened, has fulfilled the law. So today we can safely say that God needed not only a large area – Israel, but also the little stage – Jerusalem.
It is here that the events took place, where were tested Abraham. This is mount Moriah where he was to offer Isaac, where Jesus was crucified, where the Holy Spirit descended upon this little upper room on mount Zion. It is a small mountain near mount Moriah – only 5-10 minutes walk. Mount of olives where Jesus will return. All in one geographic location.
“In no nation of the world are there so many contradictions as people, they are stiffnecked. The Bible describes them as people with uncircumcised ears and hearts. They always resisted the Holy Spirit, murdered the prophets. God did not choose the best.”
Q. – Why did God chose Israel? Something stands out from among other Nations?
V. M. — in Any nation of the world are there so many contradictions as people, they are stiffnecked. The Bible describes them as people with uncircumcised ears and hearts. They always resisted the Holy Spirit, murdered the prophets. God did not choose the best.
He probably chose the most difficult in human context, if we talk about the people of the world to show them His glory.
This is a very small nation. Jews are only 0.2% of the population. While 22% of Nobel prize winners – the representatives of the people. It is the minds of people who have influence on humanity. I’m sure this is impossible without God’s favor.
Q. – Meanwhile, in the Russian churches the question of Israel often takes extreme forms. There are churches where this topic goes up very high, let’s bless Israel, let’s go to the Holy places, let’s sacrifice and so on. Other churches are demonstrating indifference to the issue, and sometimes quite cold.
What is your position as Bishop? You take a neutral or leaning towards a particular point of view?
V. M. – of Course, distortions enough – not only in the Russian Church, but also upon all the face of the earth.
For some reason people, when you see in Scripture that God has a special relationship with this nation, are trying to become Jews, to join him. Many Christians say that we’re Jews in Christ Jesus. I want to say that if I was born a Jew, was born, I didn’t choose, that’s a given.
Whoever you was born, you stay who you are. Because God loves all peoples, He is no respecter of persons. The Apostle Peter said that in every nation he who fears Him is acceptable to Him. The Church of God is a peculiar people, composed of many nationalities from all over the world. But together they constitute a single people of God, which includes Jews and Gentiles. So when we become Christians, there is no difference what nationality we are.
Jesus said He has sheep not of this fold, whom He must lead and, note, there shall be one flock and one Shepherd.
Regardless of what one is born, in Christ Jesus he becomes a new creation. But in Christ there is neither Jew nor non-Jew, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, but all in all is Christ. And in this sense it is impossible not to agree with the Apostle Paul.
Q. – The recent events on earth according to the Scripture will unfold around Israel. At least geographically. What should be the position of the Church in these events?
V. M. – the Scripture says that in the last times persecutions and blessings will go parallel together and changing each other. Would be an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy spirit. Everything that is described in revelation, will occur in the latter days: and you will be saved a huge number of people.
Israel in those days would threaten total destruction, because, as written, against him will rise all the Nations and declare war on him. The Bible describes this battle with all the Nations of the world as Armageddon.
And it is written that they really will look Lord, him Whom they have pierced. He will come and stand on the mount of olives to save His people. They will bitterly weep and cry about It, but even before these events one of the questions that will rise among the Nations – how do you feel about Jews?
The position of the Church should be the same as the position of God, because the Church must be United with the Holy Spirit. And the position of God in the Bible is defined quite clearly – we must stand for Israel and speak out on our position. This does not mean that we endorse all decisions made in Israel. But God has not abandoned them and rejected them. We have one God, one eternal and one, the Messiah, whom the Jews have not yet learned. The Church has become a real friend of Israel in the coming persecution and suffering.
“My grandmother, who raised me, passed through Auschwitz. When I was a pastor, a Bishop, and came to her, she briefly told me about what she went through in the death camp.”
Q. But many may argue that the Bishop Vitaly Maksimyuk has Jewish roots, he was a Jew, and therefore propagates the idea that we need to support Israel. What would you say to that?
V. M. – I’m a Christian. Was born, grew up and was raised in the Church. My parents were Christians and hid their Jewish roots. Concealed so that to the army, they never talked to me and admitted that we were Jews. Although at school I was called a Jew. And I was sure that I had something to eat in the blood of this nation. Only when I turned 20, I learned the true history of our family. My grandmother, who raised me, passed through Auschwitz.
When I was a pastor, a Bishop, and came to her, she briefly told me about what she went through in the death camp.
I speak from a position of my Christian faith, my Church theological education. So I’m not following some of Jewish interest. But I want to show people that we are living in the last time. I believe we are at the beginning of this season before the coming of our Lord. Perhaps in our days or in the days of our children the book of Revelation will be fulfilled, and there will rise a question about Judaism, whether we like it or not.
Q. Interesting political developments are now taking place around Israel and Jerusalem. USA, and followed by several more States are moving their Embassy from tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And all this in the anniversary – 70 years since the founding of Israel. What is it? Coincidence or a sign of God’s intervention?
V. M. – of Course, of great importance that this takes place exactly on the 70th anniversary of the restoration of Israel. Numbers play a special role in Scripture.
Is of great importance to the restoration of indivisible Jerusalem. Although this is much debated, because the Palestinians and the Arab world does not recognize the decision of the President of the trump.
But the Scripture never promised it would be easy. Wherever God was working, was raised by the opposition. The stronger the opposition, it is clear that there is a God.
“In their Charter says that their goal is the complete destruction of Israel. How to live in this small area, when just a few miles from your house there live people, whose main goal to destroy you?”
Q. – Is it possible, in your opinion, the resolution of the conflict around Jerusalem?
V. M. – From the three religions consider Jerusalem their Holy city. Initially, however, Jerusalem is the city of David. David defeated the Jebusites and called it the city of Jerusalem.
When it comes to talking about the basis on which the Jews occupied, and annexed that land, it would be desirable to pay attention to the Bible. The Scripture tells of how David bought the land from a certain Ornan. He bought a huge piece of land the place where now is Jerusalem. Jews – the children of David, so it belongs to them by inheritance.
But when may 14, 1948, a resolution was adopted, the UN assigned to the Jews the land, the next day the war began. Because where God works, there is opposition.
Just 11 kilometers from the residence of the Prime Minister of Israel is Ramala – the residence of Mahmoud Abbas. Is Palestine. In their Charter says that their goal is the complete destruction of Israel. How to live in this small area, when just a few miles from your house there live people, that hate thee, whose main goal – to destroy you? Who can resolve such a conflict?
Q. – What, in your opinion, should us Christians today, regarding this whole complicated history with Israel?
V. M. – I would emphasize three important points.
The first of them – examine your own heart on the subject of anti-Semitism. A lot of anti-Semitism in the churches, and Russian churches too.
In many Soviet families, parents did not like the Jews. And put it in their children. If we find this hostility or ill will, we should repent. Otherwise we have a conflict with someone Who called the Jews His chosen people.
Second – I was praying for the salvation of the Jews. The Apostle Paul in Romans says that he prays for the salvation of the Jews that God will open to them and they will see the Messiah.
And third, there will be times at the household level, even at the level of meetings with some people, conversations, when the question is, how do you feel about the Jews will be put bluntly.
If today this question is asleep and no one raises, it does not mean that it will be so in the future. One day we will stand before this question, and each of us needs to answer. Decide now that you will stand up for Israel in these future persecution and a wave of anti-Semitism.
Q. In Evangelical churches there is a confrontation against the Jews? It is known that Martin Luther, who is considered almost an icon of Protestantism, wrote works against the Jews, which was later used by the Nazis. What about Evangelical churches?
V. M. – We do not meet with open opposition. Due to the fact that over the past 25 years, since the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Spirit of God has sent many of Its sons and daughters, who had opened his eyes, spoke of the relation of God to this people and the Church. But special cases do occur.
Israel can be called the clock of world history, and Jerusalem its center. It’s a small area, chosen by God, so strong opposition. Jerusalem belongs to the world. This is in fact the city of the Messiah, a special city.
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