Inside View Nov/Dec 2017
Earlier this year, as I was looking back at the beginning of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, I turned to the first issue of Israel My Glory, published in December 1942—only four years after the ministry began.
Those were interesting days. The war in Europe was raging, and the outcome was anything but certain. The first issue opened a window to the times and thinking of the men who founded this work in 1938 and led it in its formative years.
Initially, we were The Friends of Israel Refugee Relief Committee because the tremendous need at the time was to help Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and making their way to America. You might recognize some of the men on our Committee in 1942: Lewis Sperry Chafer, theologian and founding president of Dallas Theological Seminary, and Harry A. Ironside, well-known Bible teacher, author, and pastor.
As I read the first issue, it struck me that our founders felt compelled to do more than merely support the Jewish people with words. If they were to follow God’s instruction to bless the Jewish people (Gen. 12:3), they had to take action. They had to become involved in aiding God’s chosen ones.
Their decision to make the words Friends of Israel part of the ministry’s name, at a time when Israel did not exist, reveals their fervent belief that God would keep His promise to return the Jewish people to their land and fashion them again into a nation. Little did our founders know they would live to see Israel’s rebirth 10 years later. In 1938 that prospect seemed remote.
Their confidence in Israel’s future also influenced their choice of a name for the ministry’s new magazine. The inaugural issue explained why they picked Israel My Glory, from Isaiah 46:13––a name still emblazoned across each issue today:
We are naming the periodical “Israel My Glory” to call attention to the fact that God is not through with the Jewish People. He has promised that one day He will endow Israel with spiritual power and zeal and use this nation as powerful preachers when Christ comes to earth to establish His Kingdom. For 1900 years the Jews have, as a nation, rejected Christ as their Messiah. One day they will accept Him. It is difficult, therefore, for us remembering their past history, to believe that God should ever call them His “glory.” But this He has done and in naming our quarterly “Israel My Glory,” we desire to remind ourselves of God’s irrevocable promises to Israel and of His benevolent purpose in choosing them to be the human Channel through which Christ should come and the Channel also of future blessing to the world.
In 1942, The Friends of Israel’s leaders understood Israel’s centrality in God’s ultimate blessing of the earth. Their action demonstrated their faith, even though Jewish people were being killed en masse. They knew Hitler’s manic obsession was to exterminate every Jew in Europe. “Each day,” they wrote in the magazine, “brings us a new message of the unspeakable horrors, which have become their [the Jewish people’s] terrible lot. Hitler is trying hard to destroy them altogether.”
Yet The Friends of Israel leadership also knew God would not permit their annihilation. In the first issue, our founders shared how they were already making plans for a tremendous season of ministry when the war ended. They understood the needs in Europe would be great and the opportunities for ministry even greater.
All of these events occurred because a group of godly men believed God’s promises and His instruction to bless His Chosen People. Seventy-five years later, we continue what these men began, as Israel My Glory unswervingly communicates biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah.
I look back on the founders and realize if they had not acted, we would all be doing something different today. By founding The Friends of Israel, they took a stand against anti-Semitism and the hate-filled actions of Nazi Germany and began a ministry that God is still using in mighty ways.