On a very regular basis I hear people speak of the need to support the modern nation of Israel because they are "God's People". Whenever a nation threatens Israel there are many Christians who advocate doing whatever we can to help Israel react to an attack. The current war Israel is waging against Gaza is such an example. I have heard several prominent American Evangelical bible teachers speak in such terms effectively suggesting we (the U.S.) should do our best to always be on the side of Israel, because ultimately God is on Israel's side with some kind of future national redemption inevitable. All of this of course is based on a particular interpretation of Scripture known as Dispensationalism. While there are a plethora of variances in this kind of bible interpretation, the usual thinking is this- Israel (the nation) was specially chosen in Genesis 12. God promised Israel land and eventually a king. Since, according to this view, neither have been fully fulfilled in their history, God will work events to bring Israel in to her land (the full borders of Palestine described in the Penteteuch) and Christ will be the promised King taking His place on the throne in Jerusalem (known as the "Millennial Kingdom" period). This will not happen until a necessary series of events unfold (see the "Left Behind" series, or not...), which have not yet occurred. So, in line with such thinking, the modern nation of Israel has the special hand of God upon it and nations ought to leave her alone and if need be, come to her aid when in conflict with other nations. Such theology has clearly influenced American policy with Israel in recent years.
Is such an understanding of modern Israel biblical? I do not believe so. Don't get me wrong, I fully support Israel's sovereign right to defend itself against threats. I am careful to judge what they believe is necessary for defense because I live in a place that is relatively geographically isolated from the constant clear and present dangers Israel deals with. The distances are so short in the Middle East and the proliferation of longer range weaponry makes it possible for neighboring countries (and militia/terrorist groups operating in those countries) to strike Israel easily and often. This fact coupled with repeated statements about the desire to annihilate Israel (the latest such threats from Iran) would make me pretty nervous and probably quite proactive too. I lack the overall expertise to make a clear judgment on how the modern nation of Israel should react to it's threats- perceived or real. I just don't know for sure.
The question I think worth asking and answering is how modern Israel relates to the bible. Is there some kind of lasting promise of God to Israel that requires us to judge their actions in a different way than other nations? Is the modern nation of Israel truly still God's chosen people?
I say NO WAY. Such a view that holds modern Israel in some kind of favored status with God fails to understand a basic fact about the fulfillment of the national part of the Abrahamic Covenant- God fulfilled all His promises to Israel (the nation) under Joshua (see Josh. 21:43-45 and 23:16)through Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:21). God even sent their King, the Lord Jesus. Bottom line- the nation of Israel rejected Messiah then and still does today. They are no longer God's people. Period.
As I have read and re-read the covenant God made with Abraham (contained in Genesis 12-17) it seems clear that God is calling a "people" to Himself. He begins to call those people (in history) by forming a nation called Israel. It was not His intent to have this nation be the "end all" of redemption, in fact, a key component of the Abrahamic Covenant is blessing the nations. Using a nation like Israel was just the start of God's redemptive outworking, not the end goal. The Messiah would come forth from Israel to be the Savior of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. It was never primarily meant to be an ethnic thing. It was about having a right relationship with God through the promised Redeemer, not because a person was Jewish. When Jesus came, national Israel rejected Him, and so they were rejected as the vehicle to bring forth God's Elect. The way was opened to the Gentiles and the Church became the new Israel. The Church is God's People, not the modern nation of Israel. Those who profess the name of Christ are God's People, not those who reject Christ.
What does modern Israel have to do with the bible? Israel, while rich in biblical heritage and God's chosen means to bring forth Messiah is predominantly a land of unbelievers that needs to turn to Christ, just like so many other nations. Let us remember who the true sons and daughters of Abraham are, according to Scripture:
Galatians 3: 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
I recommend the following links for good, biblical teaching on this important matter: