Zionism is defined as “the Jewish national movement of self-determination in the land of Israel — the historical birthplace and biblical homeland of the Jewish people.” This national movement is very important for Christians to be familiar with and be knowledgeable about. Zionism is growing today, and it is expected to grow in the coming years.
What Is Zionism?
Zionism is a national movement to get Jews back to their homeland of Zion (Israel) while maintaining and exercising governmental, political, and authoritarian power over the nation. Supporters of Zionism are known as Zionists and they strive to redevelop a national Jewish presence in the land of Zion.
The roots of Zionism include religious beliefs as well as political matters. Throughout the past and even stretching into the modern-day, strong anti-Semitism exists in the hearts of many people. Anti-Semitism means a person has strong hatred and hostility toward the Jewish people.
The truth of anti-Semitism can be seen in individuals holding a negative view of Jews as well as it can stretch to other inhabitants overtaking the Jews’ land. In the modern-day, many biblical sites and landmarks have been overtaken by Muslims and the Islamic followers prevent anyone from going to these holy sites.
Muslims have even been known to destroy sacred Jewish artifacts, buildings, and burial grounds. Despite the growing anti-Semitism across different people groups, it is vital for Christians to remember that God did choose Israel as His chosen people (Deuteronomy 14:2) and He does promise to bless the Jews in the future (Romans 11:25-32).
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins (Romans 11:25-27).
What Is Political Zionism?
There are two strong components to Zionism, the religious movement, and the political movement. The political movement is what first started Zionism and then it later developed into a religious movement. Theodor Herzl was the man who first established Zionism as a political movement in 1897 (Ibid.).
Herzl himself was an Austro-Hungarian Jew, who had the strong desire to restore the Jewish people to their rightful homeland of Zion. He wrote a detailed pamphlet in 1896 explaining the necessity of Zionism, which he titled Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) (“Theodor Herzl,” My Jewish Learning, 2021).
Herzl advocated in Der Judenstaat that the Jewish nation would not be able to survive unless they had a nation of their own. At the time of Herzl’s writing in 1896, the land of Palestine was where he believed the true home of the Jewish nation belonged and that according to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Jewish people rightfully owned this area of land (Ibid.).
Herzl never saw the achievement of his goal as he died in 1904, which was a great number of years before Israel was truly recognized as its own state by the United Nations.
The Balfour Declaration was crafted in 1917 by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, who wrote to Baron Rothschild and Balfour poured out his heart to Rothschild and told him that the British government firmly supported the notion of the Jews establishing their homeland in Palestine.
This letter, later coined as “The Balfour Declaration,” grew to be included within the 1923 Mandate for Palestine, which allowed the United Kingdom to have the responsibility to establish a national homeland for the Jews as Palestine was under British rule in the 1920s (Ibid.). However, the Jewish national homeland was not established right away in the 1920s.
Zionism and World War II
World War II came on the scene in September 1939 and lasted until September 1945. During the Second World War, the Jews were intensively persecuted by the German Nazis. Adolf Hitler hated the Jews and desired for all of them to be killed, which he massively did through concentration camps and death camps spread across Europe.
Jews during this time were widely persecuted and murdered because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. There were 75 million people killed during World War II and out of the 75 million, six million European Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
After the end of the Holocaust in 1945, national Zionists were dedicated and passionate about restoring a Jewish homeland that would be safe for the Jews. Zionists were finally granted their long-awaited request in 1948, in which Israel was declared its own state. Shortly after Israel was declared its own nation, Jews from all over the world flocked to their national homeland.
In the year 1949, nearly 250,000 Jews immigrated to Israel, which is now recognized as the largest number of inhabitants to immigrate to a land in a single year in modern history (Ibid.). As of 2021, 74.8% of all inhabitants of Israel are Jews. It is without a doubt to conclude that Zionism has impacted Jews and the world.
What Is Religious Zionism?
Within the current state of Zionism, there are “left” and “right” Zionists, somewhat reflecting liberal and non-liberal views of Judaism.
Zionists who lean toward the “left” are more liberal and are willing to forfeit some of the Israel-controlled land in order to obtain peace with the surrounding Arab nation. The “left” Zionists are not passionate about the beliefs found in the sacred Jewish texts.
Zionists who lean toward the “right” are more religious in their Judaism and stress the importance of an Israeli government based upon the Jewish customs, traditions, and beliefs as found in the Jewish sacred texts (Ibid.).
Even though there is disagreement with the Zionists in the modern-day, the end goal of the political side of Zionism has been completed. Israel has been erected once again as the national homeland of the Jews; however, in the future, God will ultimately restore Israel with all of the spiritual blessings as promised in the Old Testament.
What Are Christian Zionists?
As believers, we need to follow the truth of the Bible and adhere to its teachings. A person may have strong prejudices towards the Jews for their part in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus, but Jesus does not want Christians to hate Jews.
All people have sinned (Romans 3:23), which means we are all equally responsible for Jesus’ death. The Lord wants us to extend love, mercy, and forgiveness to all people including the Jews.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22-24).
Within the study of theology, there are dispensationalists who agree with the Zionistic teaching of Israel being the rightful home of the Jews. Dispensationalism teaches that God will once again restore the Jews to their promised homeland with all the future blessings promised in the past (Jeremiah 32; Ezekiel 34).