Crisis in Israel – political or spiritual?

13 January 2023

Israel’s new government, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, has hit the ground running. Last week, it announced reforms that will alter the existing relationship between the executive, legislature and judiciary.

The planned reforms announced by Minister of Justice Yariv Levin include measures that will significantly limit the power of the Israeli High Court. This reflects the view of many in Israel that the court – an unelected body of jurists – has, over recent decades, assumed too much power.

Key aspects of the proposals will –

  • allow the governing coalition to “override” Supreme Court rulings by a simple majority of 61 votes in the 120-member Knesset; the overriding legislation could only be struck down by unanimous ruling of all 15 justices;
  • end the Supreme Court’s ability to revoke administrative decisions by the government on the grounds of “reasonability”;
  • require a “special majority” in an expanded bench of justices to strike down laws and/or decisions deemed to contradict Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws;
  • enable government ministers to install political appointees as legal advisers in their ministries; and
  • give the government a greater say in the appointment of judges.

It is important to note that Israel does not have a written constitution. It only has one house of Parliament (Knesset); there is no upper chamber. The coalition of parties that forms the majority in the Knesset also forms the government (executive). The president has very limited powers. Thus, there are (compared with some other democracies) relatively few inherent checks and balances on the power of the Knesset and government. Many feel that the judiciary’s wide powers promote democracy by providing an essential rein on the risk of abuse of power by the executive. Others feel the court has infringed democracy by enabling a college of unelected judges, on the basis of subjective views, to strike down laws and measures passed by the elected legislature and government.

The government thus says the reforms will “restore” Israel’s democracy, while its critics assert that the proposed reforms will destroy democracy in Israel, paving the way for a “democratic dictatorship”.

These proposals have led to a political crisis. There have been violent demonstrations. Opposition leaders have accused the government of treason. Opposition Leader Yair Lapid vowed to wage “a war over our home,” while Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister until two weeks ago, warned that the judicial overhaul could lead to “civil war” and urged the public to lawfully take to the streets, declaring: “It’s time to go out en masse and demonstrate; it’s time to make the country tremble.”

These are disturbing scenes. One suspects they will be only too happily misused by those who are already intent on destroying Israel’s credibility and international standing.

There is something paradoxical about Israel, that perhaps many in the land do not appreciate. God is restoring His people to the land for a specific purpose: in order to live in unity, in accordance with His law, under His authority – as a witness to the nations of God’s sovereignty and love for the whole world.

Seen from a spiritual perspective, the essential question is thus not how wide the judiciary’s powers are, or whether the government has too much power. No institution, person or system will ever be perfect. The core issue is one of the heart. It is whether the people – as a whole, together – Jews and non-Jews – are genuinely seeking to live in unity, serving the God who is bringing the Jewish people home. This is the spiritual crisis facing the people of Israel.

Therefore, let us, as non-Jewish Christians outside the land of Israel, refrain from becoming embroiled in Israel’s political crisis. Instead, let us hope and pray that, in the coming days and weeks, Israel’s people and political leaders will put aside personal and even political differences, and seek the common good of the nation, living in accordance with God’s laws.

As crisis after crisis engulfs the earth, the other nations of the world desperately need Israel to play the leadership role for which it was established, and to which it is called.

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today


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People are at the center of the narrative. But whoever reads with open eyes and understands the overall Biblical context as background, sees the living God from the first to the last word of the scroll of Ruth.


Ezekiel 36:13-38

13 “‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because some say to you, “You devour people and deprive your nation of its children,” 14 therefore you will no longer devour people or make your nation childless, declares the Sovereign LORD. 15 No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”

 16 Again the word of the LORD came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. 18 So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. 20 And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’ 21 I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.

 22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

 24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign LORD. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!

 33 “‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lordhave spoken, and I will do it.’

 37 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Once again I will yield to Israel’s plea and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep,38 as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed festivals. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”