Zionism is a term which is emotionally charged and poorly understood. At the simplest level, it describes the return of the Jews back to their promised land after centuries of exile, to form a new nation. That nation, and the concept of Zionism, are vilified by many. One would think after sixty-plus years the legitimacy of Israel would not be in question, but sadly that is not the case. Yet even among those who would not have the audacity to openly question Israel's legitimacy, a great deal of hostility exists.
Much of that hostility originates in the Muslim world, where the concept of Zionism is almost universally regarded as repugnant. They detest the existence of a Jewish state on what they consider Arab and Muslim land. Zionism is regarded as an affront to their religion and their "god". It is not an exaggeration to state the elimination of the nation of Israel is a dominant theme among Muslims.
The Islamic anger at Israel is accentuated by the defeats they have suffered whenever they have tried to destroy Israel. Immediately after the founding of Israel in 1948, several Muslim armies attacked, and failed. Over the years, those attempts have changed in tactics, but still have not ceased, as we all know too well. The emergence of violent, extremist, jihadist Islamism in both Shia and Sunni Islam has become a driving force behind the efforts to destroy Israel.
No one expresses the Islamist hatred of Zionism more forcefully than the Iranian maniac Mahmoud Ahmedenejad. Here are some of the droppings from his mouth: "The Zionist regime is counterfeit and illegitimate and cannot survive." "The Zionists and their protectors are the most detested people in all of humanity, and the hatred is increasing every day." "The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat. Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm." "Israel must be wiped off the map. The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world ."
And while Zion-hatred persists and intensifies through ever more radical Islamist ideologies, Zion-hatred originating in the non-Muslim world intensifies as well. It appears the collective guilt over the Holocaust which had restrained antisemitism has now run its course. The haters who poorly masquerade as "peace activists" do all they can to demonize Israel, yet loudly protest they are not anti-Jew, only anti-Zionist. For them, it is only Jews who dare step outside of their designated boundaries of behavior who are the object of scorn. How dare they think they could have their own uniquely-Jewish nation!
Indeed, those who conform to the world's circumscription, those Jews who are embarrassed about the existence of Israel and the Biblical pronouncements regarding its reestablishment, are more than welcome among the anti-Zionists. However, those "impudent" Jews who have the audacity to insist on and defend their own homeland, they are the ones who are scorned by the academics and power brokers and intelligentsia.
To justify their enmity, the pugnacious pro-Palestine pundits use terms like "colonialist", "oppressor", "occupier" to describe those Jews who until recently could do little but play the victim. But now that Jews can take a stand on their own land to defend their own people, their former tormentors foam at the mouth in rage against the "insolent" Zionists.
To a great extent, the sympathy for the Palestinians which some invoke to hurl their spite towards Israel, is only a pretext for that spite. It's much more acceptable in some circles to express extreme anti-Zionist disgust when speaking on behalf of a supposed victim. But pro-Palestine sentiments are largely a ruse to disguise the real issue - that Israel exists, and cannot be allowed to stand.
Yes, Israel has become a nation once again, and stand it will. Does that mean Zionism is complete? No, it is not, for two reasons. First, all of the land designated for the Jews is not yet in their possession. Second, there are spiritual aspects of Zionism yet to be fulfilled. Those two reasons are intertwined, for according to the Biblical prophets, God's ultimate spiritual regeneration of Israel would only happen when they are completely restored to their complete geographic inheritance.
A complete vision of Zionism would incorporate the prophetic spiritual aspects of the Biblical mandate. This was summarized by the Psalmist: "You, O LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come. For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity. The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the LORD will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory." (Psalms 102:12-16 NIV)
The early Zionists were pragmatic people. They were concerned primarily about the immediate daunting political obstacles, and, once in the land, the exhausting physical tasks they faced daily. But a few people saw a broader vision, most notably, David Ben Gurion. Perhaps one of the reasons he rose to prominence was his ability to articulate a mode of Zionism which encompassed the lofty spiritual aspects.
Ben Gurion was not a religious man, of course, but he was an avid reader of the Scriptures. He was not at all hesitant to refer to the Bible when attempting to inspire and strengthen his fellow Jews in their Zionist endeavors. And his citations of the Holy Scriptures were not wielded in an insincere manner as merely a political tool, but in sincere, heartfelt belief.
Since that time, Zionism has sorely lacked this kind of prominent clarion voice echoing the prophets of the Almighty. Perhaps this is a reason why the Zionism of today has lost much of its clout. Assailed relentlessly for decades by the intellectual left, Zionism has only weakly defended itself. A key reason for that weakness: the leaders have largely ignored its true, noble, prophetic basis.
Ben Gurion seemed to have understood the Hebrew prophets did not just write quaint aphorisms, but were in a very real sense seeing what would happen in modern times to the Jewish people. Their lofty, passionate declarations often sound like they could have been written last week rather than dozens of centuries ago.
Yet contemporary Zionism often seems almost ashamed of the prophetic pronouncements. Many Jews today seem to prefer to make their case for the rights to the land on any basis but the Biblical one. This is presumably for two reasons, one, a concern of how this would be received by the world audience, and two, many still do not put much genuine credence in the sayings of the prophets.
'"In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten. My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place."'(Jeremiah 50:4-6 NIV)
The "resting place" they forgot was not their land, but their God. The Biblical prophets were repeatedly very clear about the cause of the extended exile from the land. And the way back to the land is the way back to their God. Will this new kind of Zionism, this asking of "the way", be reserved for those in Israel who are regarded as religious? No, not at all. In fact, it is very probable it will take root more quickly among those who do not consider themselves as religious.
In the same manner that Ben Gurion could clearly see the wisdom of the prophets without fitting into the category of the "religious," so too a new generation of Israelis will awaken to the new kind of Biblical Zionism. They will look outside their traditional religious systems, eschewing them as not helpful in their pursuit of the Almighty. Casting their eyes upward, they will look to their Maker anew for answers, answers their own rabbis, the "shepherds who led them astray", could not provide.
"The people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 34:27-31 NIV)
This is not dissimilar what He did for Israel at the time of Moses, when He redeemed them from a terrible plight in response to their calls to Him. As King David recalls,
"And who is like your people Israel--the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God." (1 Chronicles 17:21-22 NIV)
We all know God selected our father Abraham to make a great nation of him, to bring the knowledge of the true God to all nations. In the Bible, it says the primary reason God has returned Israel to the land after these many days is to bring renown to Himself, to show the world that the God of Israel is still actively working on their behalf, even during this time of trouble.
This is why a new kind of Biblical Zionism is a necessity, and an inevitability in Israel. It is a necessity because there is no other solution for Israel's increasingly dire, unsolvable situation. It is an inevitability because the prophets foresaw it. They foresaw a new spiritual awakening of the Jewish people in the end times. This awakening is spoken of in the same breath as the predictions of the return to the land, in conjunction with the return. The old Zionism served its purpose, but its purpose is now complete. The time for the new Zionism has arrived.
This Zionism will be a movement of passionate and genuine seeking of God, the kind of mindset that characterized the life of David as he become the preeminent ruler of Israel. It will not be a movement of ritual form or external practice, but a movement of the heart.
God Himself is passionate for Zion, and His personal passion will be the compelling force behind the new Zionism. He is "very jealous for Zion, is consumed with jealousy for her," according to Zechariah. That passion will work against all of the haters of Zion, who are violently determined to stop His purposes.
"They have greatly oppressed me from my youth-- let Israel say-- they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. But the LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked. May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame." (Psalms 129:1-5 NIV)