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June 17, 2016 2:56 am

Christian Zionists Are Among Our Best Supporters

avatar by Pini Dunner

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The Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Shortly after moving to the United States, I was introduced to Evangelical Christian supporters of Israel for the first time. I found them confounding and intriguing. Over the years I had read many articles about Christian Zionism, but nothing prepared me for the depth of their support for Israel and the sincerity of their love for Jews. My early education was filled with stories of Christian persecution of the Jews: the Crusades, Inquisition, pogroms in Eastern Europe, and even the wartime Pope’s indifference to the Holocaust. When I grew older, however, I discovered that this narrative was somewhat one-dimensional.

Beginning in the 17th century, many Christians, and particularly Protestants, started to feel very differently towards Jews — no longer seeing them as pariahs, but instead as the elevated “people of the book.” They even prayed for the return of Jews to the Promised Land. But this newfound love for Jews was overshadowed by strenuous efforts to convert Jews to Christianity, which resulted in most Jews rejecting Christian overtures.

After the establishment of the state of Israel, and particularly after the Six Day War, Christian Zionism became very popular among Evangelical Christians. In the United States, leaders like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were unequivocal in their support for Israel, and in 1981, Falwell declared that “to stand against Israel is to stand against God.” While many Jewish supporters of Israel welcomed such statements, they remained wary of Evangelical motives, and the concern about missionary activity always hovered in the background. After all, Christian scripture demands that one believe in the divinity of Jesus or be condemned to Hell, and no amount of love and common interest can negate the fact that Jews do not and cannot believe in the divinity of Jesus.

It was against this backdrop that I first encountered Evangelical Christian Zionists. I discovered that they do not see the State of Israel as a political entity, nor do they see Jews as just another nation. For an Evangelical Christian, the Jewish State is the embodiment of biblical prophecies, and every Jew is living proof that the foundations of their faith are not whimsical fantasy, rather it is, as they might put it, “gospel truth.” I also discovered that Evangelicals have no real interest in converting Jews to Christianity. This is because they believe that if things unfold as predicted by scripture, Jews will automatically become believers, without any missionizing effort. At this stage of the eschatological process, all that matters is that Israel remains strong, and that the return of Jews to Zion is supported with every resource at their disposal.

Frankly, I don’t see any problem with this outlook. After all, when the Messiah arrives it will be obvious to both Jews and Christians that he is the Messiah. Doctrinal differences and eschatological expectations will become completely irrelevant. That being the case, why would any Jew reject the friendship of people whose boundless love for us and whose support for our right to live in the country given to us by God are unconditional. Nevertheless, many Jews remain wary of Christian Zionists. Until this week, I assumed this was because Jews retain an instinctive suspicion concerning their true agenda.

My assumption was corrected on Tuesday evening, when I spoke at a banquet held in aid of the Israel Christian Nexus at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. I had been asked to give a Jewish response to Christian enthusiasm for Israel. Here is a quote from my address:

The prophet Isaiah said, “For Zion and Jerusalem’s sake I will not be silent, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.” For 2,000 years Jerusalem lay desolate, desecrated by its seemingly irreversible destruction, relegated to the margins by Romans, Christians, and Muslims, all intent on claiming it as their own, excluding the Jews, whose gift from God it was and remains. But the incredible reality is that miracles are not confined to the Bible, and not limited to the deeds of prophets. Miracles have unfolded in our own days. We need only to open our eyes to see them. Prophecies that gathered dust for millennia can no longer be dismissed as the predictions of ancient fools. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah – they predicted it, and we have lived to see it. We have witnessed the miracle of Israel, and the miracle of Jerusalem. Right before our eyes the Bible has come alive.

The audience at the banquet erupted in enthusiastic applause, but as I watched them clap and cheer, I noticed that the Christians were far more enthusiastic than the Jews. It suddenly dawned on me that we Jews have a challenge when it comes to Evangelicals that surpasses any wariness we may have of those Christians. Jews at the banquet — whose presence demonstrated that they had put aside any reservations about Christian friendship — and Jews generally, are just not as connected to Biblical prophecy as our Christian friends; and, to put it bluntly, their enthusiasm for these prophecies makes us uncomfortable.

While we all appreciate and embrace Evangelical Christian support for Israel, many of us seem to be doing it for pragmatic reasons. If that is the case, we are missing an incredible opportunity. We need to internalize what for them is as real as the air they breathe, namely that we live in unparalleled times, an era predicted in detail by our prophets as the period that will precede Messianic redemption. God did not send us prophets to fill up our bookshelves. He sent them to bring us back to Him, and particularly when we see their prophecies come alive. Israel is not just our historic homeland, nor is it simply a haven from persecution. It is the land promised to our forefathers by God, and our return there, as predicted by the prophets, is living testimony to the fact that the Messianic era is just around the corner.

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  • Trust me when I say this:

    What many Jewish people do not understand, is that among the various Christian groups that support Israel, their are such staunch supporters of Israel and their right to the Land, that if it ever came down to Israel’s last straw (God forbid) or before then, if they would ever accept us, we would consider it an honor to fight alongside them. Many have joined the IDF in support of Israel, but they would have a huge amount of people backing them, if they ever need us or are willing. Am Israel Chai!

  • Lorne

    I am a follower of Yeshua. I hesitate to say “Christian” because that label is so loaded with all kinds of baggage with which I do not identify. I do not seek to convert anyone, Jew or gentile, to “Christianity” but do pray that all people would come to recognize Yeshua as Moschiach.

    I am also wary of the label “Christian Zionist” for myself. I have come to believe in the everlasting covenants of G-d with the “Israelites” because of reading the Bible on my own and sensing the conviction of the Holy Spirit concerning their present day reality. No human Zionist persuaded me.

    For a few years I participated in a Jewish online discussion forum no longer in existence, in order to deepen my understanding of the roots of my own faith. At first the reception I received was skeptical, even hostile. That mostly faded as it became clear I was not seeking to missionize anyone. My observation was that that I was closest in outlook to those who most fervently believed in God and the truth of the Bible. In some sense, I was more at one with them than with many so-called Christians who do not believe the Bible and the prophets, and it seems some Bible-believing Jews are now seeing that my sort is both spiritually and practically closer to them than some other Jews.

    • Yes! You stated it perfectly. There are more and more followers of Yashua that are running from Christianity and finding their roots again. I agree with you wholeheartedly!

  • Don’t forget the true Christians in the UK, who also support Israel as Gods’ chosen people.

  • The Torah is an inspiration for many

    The Torah is an inspiration for many

  • John

    A word of caution: belief that the “end-times” are near can lead people to behave irrationally, sacrificing what is sensible and necessary for the foreseeable future to the hope that redemption is near. God will send the Messiah according to His time-table, not ours, and we should not behave as if we can force Him to speed things up — that is the error that motivates the Iranian Revolution.

  • Jacobite

    This article is an amazing testament to what the Holy Scriptures says would happen.
    Jewish people must wonder how that none Jewish people would be looking with strong conviction to many of the same outcomes as they.
    As the writer of this article states, a time will come when Jewish people will not fear none Jewish people of faith, but understand the handy work and spirit of thier G-D, who also is our G-D.
    The time is near at hand when the conflict of Zion will be revealed and all lies exposed.
    We await the Messia on this we can agree.
    Real and lasting peace will come for both Israel and the world, the covenant made to Abraham will be complete.

  • Ilbert Phillips

    I attended the AIPAC conference in 2015 and 2016. One of most interesting sessions was with Zionist Christians who rejected “Replace Theology” (meaning that Christians are the new Jews) and who embraced Israel without reservation. Fervent Christians are a challenge to the average Jew as is Orthodox Judaism, the belief in God and his plan is absolute. This dedication to a religious belief has been tampered in Judaism over the centuries. Christians can lead the way back for us Jews.

  • Mike

    I know evangelical Christians among my personal friends, and I can assure the readership that they are absolutely WITHOUT A DOUBT the best friends that Israel has.

    Forget American Jews. American Evangelicals are the best supporters, hands down.

    I can only say good things about these people.

    Think about it: millions of non-Jews, for whom it is an article of faith that Israel is to be protected, who feel as strongly about it as religious Jewish Zionists.

    That such people exist *is* a miracle. One which we often fail to notice.

    • Don’t forget us in the U; we also support Israel; those of us who are true Christians see the Jewish people as Gods’ chosen ones.

  • Lia

    Thank you, Mr Dunner. I am an evangelical Christian who supports Israel and I am so tired of Jewish people on websites, when we spell out our support for Israel, telling us to get out, go away, etc. because they do not want to be converted.