From Bill Sutter’s Desk Jan/Feb 2011
“I’ve rarely felt such fellowship and trust among Christians and Jews.” That’s how Jewish author Dr. Stephen Spector reflected on a remarkable event held recently at Ohev Shalom in Richboro, Pennsylvania. Cosponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) of Philadelphia/ Southern New Jersey and the Bucks County (PA) Christian Coalition (BCCC), the program “Evangelicals, Jews, and Israel: Separating Fact From Fiction” packed the synagogue. Hundreds of Jews and Christians participated in almost equal numbers.
The event represented a giant step forward following years of meetings between members of two organizations that would not ordinarily be connected. The groundbreaking, even historic, work of the AJC under the leadership of Executive Director Ilana Wilensik and the BCCC under Gail Pedrick and Terry Noble yielded an extraordinary evening that touched the hearts of everyone who attended.
Many Jewish guests heard for the first time what makes Christians of biblical faith substantively different from “Christians” who historically persecuted the Jewish people through threats, intimidation, segregation, pogroms, violence, and murder.
As a speaker, I was privileged to explain the debt Bible-believing Christians owe to the Jewish people. We are grateful to them for our Bible, God’s revelation, provided through Jewish writers; for our Savior, Jesus, who was born of a Jewish mother and who worshiped in the synagogue; and for a host of physical, material blessings in many fields of human endeavor that benefit people everywhere. The audience heard about the millions of Christians who reject Replacement Theology and embrace God’s promises to the children of Jacob.
Dr. Spector, a professor of English at Stony Brook University (NY), shared content and conclusions from his prize-winning book, Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism. He explained how Christians of biblical faith believe Israel is both God’s prophetic clock and irrefutable proof that prophecy is true and coming to pass in our lifetime. Spector also discussed other vital reasons for evangelical support for Israel, including God’s promises to the Jewish people, God’s blessings through the Jewish people, and Christian appreciation to Jews for establishing the great foundations of Christianity. He noted that the real reasons Christian Zionists support Israel are often surprisingly different from those attributed to them.
Special guest Daniel Kutner, consul general of Israel for the American Mid-Atlantic region, explained why he treasures Israel’s Christian supporters. His comments, obviously from the heart, were truly touching. Here are excerpts:
I love our Christian friends of Israel because Christians do not only speak about their love for Israel, they show their love in both word and deed. I love our Christian supporters of Israel because you stand with us in our times of need. For example, after 9/11, when the world was afraid to travel, especially to Israel, Christians continued to visit the Holy Land. I love our Christian friends because your support is not contingent on political developments, calls of delegitimization, and questions of our basic right to exist. You stand with us when everyone else abandons us. I love you because you show the Israeli people that we are not alone in this world. Evangelical Christians have taken up the cause of preserving Israel with a passion. We speak and act with one voice. You have done so much, and I humbly ask you to continue to carry the torch. Thank you, and may God bless you.
An hour after the program ended, people were still mingling, discussing, and fellowshiping with one another in a way that surely pleased the Lord. I believe an event like this one, having such eternal implications, could never have been orchestrated apart from the Lord’s design and blessing. What started as a handful of Christians and Jews meeting together has expanded to hundreds who have moved beyond simply fleeting curiosity. Jewish people and Christians alike are ready for the Lord’s next opportunities.