Inside View Jan/Feb 2013
Love is a tremendous motivator. I was reflecting on that thought recently as I considered the founding of The Friends of Israel. In 1938 Jewish people lived in tremendous peril in Europe. Anti-Semitic riots were breaking out, persecution was rampant, Jewish people were marked by a Star of David on their clothing, and the Nazis were formulating plans to exterminate the entire race.
Four thousand miles from the seat of Nazi power in Berlin, Germany, love and compassion abounded as a group of godly men met in the Witherspoon Building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the Lord’s guidance, they founded The Friends of Israel to be an instrument of Christian blessing and assistance to the Jewish people.
In its early years, The Friends of Israel ministered to thousands who faced the ravages of Hitler’s cruelty, providing material aid and comfort to Jewish people who suddenly found themselves cast out and homeless. We helped many flee Europe and resettle in safe countries and helped others in their lands of refuge.
The ministry was established on God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel (Gen. 12:3). His promise implies He expects and desires that Gentiles bless His Chosen People. He put no time limitation on His promise. It is His desire forever that Gentiles bless Abraham’s children who descended from Isaac and Jacob.
But establishing The Friends of Israel was so much more than an obligation to God. It was an act of genuine love for God’s Chosen People, to whom we are eternally indebted. The Jewish people gave us the Scriptures. Godly Jewish men, using their individual styles, “breathed out” God’s Holy Word as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).
Yet our debt goes still deeper—all the way to our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was born to Jewish parents and attended synagogue. With sinless perfection, He practiced the Law God gave in the Torah. He is the Redeemer, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). And it is through His death, burial, and resurrection that He provides life eternal with God to anyone who places faith in Him (Rom. 6:23).
Were it not for the Jewish people, there would be no Christianity.
The years since 1938 have provided The Friends of Israel with many opportunities to share God’s message of love. God taught in the Law, “It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). The great prophet Isaiah declared, “Our Redeemer, the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 47:4). God, in His great love, gave His only begotten Son to shed His blood for our sins, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
Those of us who believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord’s promised Messiah, are forever indebted to the Jewish people. Our love for Israel and for them flows from our appreciation for all they have done for us.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. We are extraordinarily grateful for God’s abundant grace and blessing as we celebrate His faithfulness to our ministry. What a joy to reflect on the wonderful works of love and grace He has accomplished through the efforts of The Friends of Israel.
Our steadfast faith in God and in His faithfulness to keep His Word is reflected in the name given our organization 75 years ago. In 1938 there was no State of Israel. Hitler was growing in power and threatening the Jewish people’s very existence. Yet our founders chose to call this work The Friends of Israel Relief Committee. They believed the God who pledged to bring Israel’s dry bones back to life would keep His promise (Ezek. 37). So certain were they that they named the organization The Friends of “Israel” 10 years before there was an Israel.
Today we know the rest of the story. Israel was resurrected in 1948 and this year will celebrate its 65th anniversary as a modern nation.
I am confident God will continue to bless and prosper The Friends of Israel in the years to come because He has proven time and again that He alone is the one true God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and He keeps His covenants and does all He promises. What a faithful God we serve!