From Bill Sutter’s Desk Mar/Apr 2010
Many Jewish people these days are increasingly inquisitive about the unique phenomenon of Christian support for Israel in the face of growing anti-Israel sentiment worldwide. They want to know what really motivates evangelicals who stand with the Jewish state and genuinely love the Jewish people.
Their curiosity is drawing them to a host of Friends of Israel ministries, including our “Thank God for Israel” programs. And it has also led to a flow of invitations from Jewish communities and agencies, asking us to come and explain ourselves. The topics we’re being asked to address bear such themes as “Understanding Christian support for Israel,” “Who are Israel’s Christian friends?” and “Examining Christian love for the Jewish people.” Underlying these requests is a desire to better understand who we are and what we’re about. Perhaps you, too, have been asked similar questions.
Given the history of the Jewish people and the “Christian” anti-Semitism that has ravaged them over the centuries, they have every reason for skepticism. Some believe Israel’s Christian supporters are, at best, a fleeting phenomenon. Or, worst-case scenario, “It is the Inquisition with a smiley face”—a Jewish fear that David Brog explains in his book (which we highly recommend) Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State.
I sensed the concern that the friendship of evangelicals may only be temporary when a rabbi asked me, “What happens when evangelical Christians find out we are not the wonderful people they seem to think we are?” After all, early in his ministry, 16th-century Christian reformer Martin Luther professed love for the Jewish people and sympathy with their resistance to the Roman Catholic Church, only to reverse himself later and unleash some of the most vicious tirades of anti-Semitism ever known. In his little publication, On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther told Christians to expel the Jews from their communities and burn down their homes and synagogues. No small wonder Adolf Hitler quoted Martin Luther to bolster his designs to exterminate the Jewish people.
We at The Friends of Israel now have the privilege of answering questions about messages of a different type that are cropping up in evangelical circles. What are the core beliefs of churches that are displaying signs like “Happy Hanukkah to Our Jewish Friends” and “Happy Birthday Israel”?
Why would a church in Tucson, Arizona, for example, place an “Israel bucket” in its vestibule and receive funds for the relief of the residents of the missile-battered Israeli town of Sderot in the southern region of the Jewish state? What motivates the pastor of a congregation in rural Virginia, an area with a sparse Jewish population, to display a huge flag of Israel on a wall of the church sanctuary?
To properly explain this wave of supportive Christian messages about Israel, we at The Friends of Israel point to the Bible as the true basis of evangelical support for the Jewish state. Christians who stand with Israel believe the Bible is God’s revealed Word, not to be negated by unbelief or stripped of its truth by allegory. God’s promises to Abraham (the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12 that was repeated to Isaac in chapter 17 and confirmed to Jacob in chapter 28) are the unshakable basis of Christian belief and support for Israel as God’s promised homeland for the Jewish people. Thus it is God’s “everlasting covenant” that makes us committed friends of the Jewish state forever.
He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant (Ps. 105:8–10).