Why Israel Needs Christians
Living in Israel carries with it very intense feelings and emotions.
Living in the land that God promised to the Jewish people makes life meaningful even if you do nothing at all. A friend of mine once said that even if he would just sit on the couch for the rest of his life, his life would have meaning. I deeply understand the sentiment. Living in the land, breathing her air, eating her fruits gives you a sense of belonging and spiritual connection---even if it means just sitting on the couch.
Since the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the Jewish people have longed for and dreamt of the return. The long and winding road of the exile did not extinguish the passion in our hearts for our homeland. Nothing that the world could do to us could interrupt our singular focus of return.
So here we are as the Bible prophesied against all odds and in contradiction to what would be expected of the natural course of events. I guess even mother nature has a mother and father to whom she must listen.
The story of the modern State of Israel is only a little more than 70 years old. With proper context, we can tell the story of the initial love affair between the Jewish people and the land beginning approximately 3500 years ago when Joshua leads the Israelites in to the Promised Land. We could go back even further to Abraham but 3500 years ago will suffice!
For many of those years the Jewish people have stood alone. As the Bible says, “…it is a nation that dwells alone, not considered among the nations.” (Numbers 23:9) The rise of modern Zionism and the founding of the State of Israel gave birth to an exceptional period in Jewish history where we did not stand alone and we were counted among the nations.
Perhaps most notably is when on November 29, 1947 a 2/3 majority of the UN, 33 nations voted to create a State of Israel. We were finally counted among the nations. This is on a national level.
Regarding individuals, there were many Christians (and other non-Jews) who played significant roles in the pre-State efforts to establish the Jewish State and many who have assisted in the building of the State.
In the last 40 years, the extraordinary, public and even miraculous rise in the global Christian community’s support of Israel has not gone unnoticed. Trailblazers like Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) who passed away suddenly last week, Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) are two notable names amongst many others who bridged the significant distance between the State of Israel/Jews and the global Evangelical Christian community.
Recent events in Israel have highlighted for me the importance of this relationship. The global Jewish community is very small and we need our friends to share in our pain and triumphs as any real friend would.
Last week a sweet 19-year-old girl Ori Ansbacher was brutally murdered by an Arab terrorist in Jerusalem. Ori was a gentle soul who was a volunteer working with the disadvantaged of all faiths. While walking alone in Jerusalem, she was attacked and murdered.
By contrast, her murderer who was captured within 48 hours was a terrorist from Hebron named Arafat Irfayia. He will, in all likelihood, receive a monthly stipend for the grisly murder. This is what is referred to as ‘pay to slay.’ He told Israeli authorities that he wanted ‘to be a martyr or be incarcerated.’
If you do a Google search using the name of the victim, the first three pages will be all reports from Jewish media outlets. Practically complete silence from the main stream media.
Why? How could this story not be reported? If an Israeli murdered an Arab 19-year-old girl it would without question be front and center of every major news outlet on the planet.
This is a painful yet dramatic example of why we need our Christian friends. Friends will be there for you when you are in pain. Other than the Jewish media, I am only seeing our Christian friends sharing and spreading the horrific story of the murder. The millions of global Christians who stand with Israel are a powerful voice for justice and help us reach corners of the world that Israel just doesn’t have access to.
When it comes to spreading the truth about what is happening in Israel and what Israel is really about, the Christian community has become a reliable friend. Whether it is debunking the myth of Israel as an apartheid State, defending he morality of the IDF, supporting Israelis charities, visiting Israel in mass numbers we know that we are no longer alone.
We must continue to invest in this relationship and water the seeds that were planted by great visionaries such as Rabbi Eckstein and Pastor Hagee. Despite the theological divide that exists between our faith communities, there is plenty of space and common ground for working together. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we must repair and build for a brighter future.