Thank God for Israel
Can Christians and Jewish people come together for a joint program supporting Israel without fear, suspicion, or ulterior motives? At The Friends of Israel we have seen this very thing happen at our Thank God for Israel events. We have held them from coast to coast in churches, schools, synagogues, and hotels; and the results are always the same. All who attend leave rejoicing.
When we began holding these events many years ago, we discovered that, in addition to encouraging our Jewish friends, they also have a surprisingly positive impact on Christians. Following an event in Detroit, Michigan, I received a telephone call from a woman who told me through her tears, “God broke my heart for Israel yesterday! I am praying more for Israel and the Jewish people now than ever before.”
When I lived in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, our church hosted a Thank God for Israel event. We ran it for two weeks, and our pastor urged us to invite our Jewish friends. After the first week, a man wrote Pastor, “I was skeptical of this idea at first. But after seeing the service today, I am inviting my Jewish friend for next Sunday.”
All three divisions of the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) show how we as evangelical Christians ought to conduct ourselves toward the Jewish people. In the Torah (Pentateuch), we are told to bless them, not curse them (Gen. 12:3). In the Prophets we are told not to harm them: “For he who touches you [Israel] touches the apple of His [God’s] eye” (Zech. 2:8).
There it is also written, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lᴏʀᴅ, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:6–7).
Finally, the Writings admonish us, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you” (Ps. 122:6). The Writings are Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.
As Bible believers, we strongly believe these passages. We also believe that holding a Thank God for Israel day complements Scripture’s directives to us, as it touches and changes lives.
A Thank God for Israel event allows a church to encourage its local Jewish community and take a public stand for Israel. Not long ago, a church in suburban Detroit held a Thank God for Israel day for its nearby Russian-Jewish community. During the service a woman approached the platform. “We came from Russia and anti-Semitism,” she told the pastor. “I think you are our very best friends, and I think our relationship will only get closer and closer.”
As she spoke, a murmur went through the crowd because people wanted to hear what she was saying. When she told them she believed the people in that church were her people’s best friends, the entire audience burst into applause.
When a Bible institute held a Thank God for Israel day, a rabbi told the director, “It was amazing, really, how much love was shown to us.” Later, when Bible institute students attended the rabbi’s synagogue for a Sabbath service, he introduced them and told his congregants the school is a true friend of the Jewish community.
In 2004 we held a Thank God for Israel day in South Bend, Indiana. We had a wonderful time as 10 churches and two synagogues participated. Two years later, following the 2006 Second Lebanon War in Israel, one of the rabbis requested another Thank God for Israel day to bring hope and encouragement to the community. As a result, either a Thank God for Israel day or a Standing With Israel night occurs annually in South Bend.
Those who attend these events quickly make their opinions known. Here are some comments:
“What I saw last night wasn’t about politics or economics but something much deeper. It was from the heart, something that won’t be shaken.” (Honolulu, Hawaii)
“This is the greatest day in my Jewish life.” (South Bend, Indiana)
“This was spectacular!” (Detroit, Michigan)
“I am eager to hear more after what I have heard here tonight.” (Cincinnati, Ohio)
These comments reflect only a small portion of the thoughts and feelings of those who attend a Thank God for Israel event, but they show the impact this outreach has had.
At first, people may be skeptical. But afterward, both Christians and Jewish people feel a sincere appreciation for one another that, Lord willing, will last a lifetime. Thank God for Israel forges an alliance and strengthens ties between the Jewish and Christian communities; it builds bridges, increases understanding, and touches hearts. And that is a result we can all live with.