Why I Am a Friend of Israel
Let me say first of all that my friendship for Israel is not primarily concerned with the political problems which have been troubling the young nation of Israel and its neighbors in recent times. My interest is in the souls of those individuals who are descendants of Abraham, whether they are in the land given them by God or scattered abroad.
I praise God for the fact that though a Gentile, I can now claim kinship with Abraham on the authority of Galatians 3:29, “and if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed.”
By the grace of God, some 25 years ago I came to see and know the Messiah of Israel as the One who had shed His blood for the cleansing of my sin, and I now rejoice in the certainty that I am Christ’s and therefore “Abraham’s seed.” Since I have been saved, I have come to see that God’s plan and program for the salvation of sinners through all ages has always centered in the coming of the Son of God as the Christ to “bare our sins in His own body on the tree”—I Peter 2:24.
My assurance of salvation and such knowledge as I have of the program of God is based, of course, on the Word of God, and even a casual reading of the Scriptures discloses the fact that God has given us this revelation of His purpose through the human agency of Israel, and that unto the Jews were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:2).
Since, therefore, the Word of God revealing His purposes was given to the world through Israel; and since the Son of God took on the seed of Abraham when He entered into His own creation; and since the good news that He died for my sins and rose again “according to the Scriptures” is in literal and detailed fulfillment of the promises and prophecies through Israel; and since therefore my present relationship with God is the result of their human agency; I would be ungrateful indeed if I were not a friend of Israel.
I now have a natural desire – or perhaps I should say a supernatural desire – to share this good news of salvation with others, regardless of their racial background. However, I have a special concern for the children of Israel, and I am indeed happy to have the opportunity of joining with others of like mind in the leadership of The Friends of Israel Missionary and Relief Society. Together we seek to persuade individual children of Abraham to share the blessing which came to him when according to the Scriptures, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9
YEAR END REFLECTIONS
From time to time some readers ask what we think about this or that current event. As a rule we feel reluctant to voice opinions concerning affairs or issues which are outside the field of our ministry.
If we now presume to express ourselves on some of the problems which beset us today, we do so with diffidence, and without claiming any special expertise or wisdom, but just as a personal opinion on various aspects of our contemporary life, as we see it.
As the hazy sun sets upon the murky horizons of 1969, we believe this is a good time to pause for a while and take our bearings before we move into the year of grace 1970 A.D.
The frail fabric of human relationship is showing the strain and stress of much wear and tear. Ancient truths and values, sanctioned by the Word of God and tested by many generations, are rejected in favor of a so-called new morality.
The more man becomes estranged from God, the more alienated he becomes from his fellowmen.
We shall consider some of the widening rifts and deepening gaps in our society.
The Gap Between Science and Man’s Moral Fiber
July 20, 1969, a large part of humanity watched with bated breath the landing of two Americans on the moon. That was a fantastic scientific and technological achievement, not only for the United States, but for all mankind.
Yet this breathtaking feat of science pointed up most dramatically man’s moral failure. We have learned to reach and to walk on the surface of the moon, but have not learned yet how to live and walk peacefully and in friendship with one another here on earth. We may have become technological supermen, but morally we are still dwarfs, and sometimes even monsters.
We are learning to conquer space, to penetrate the depths of the oceans, and to wrest from nature its mysteries. We have split the atom, and released immense nuclear energy, only to create a Frankenstein, who threatens to destroy us. We have forced the good earth to yield better and more abundant crops, but through a combination of ignorance, greed and hate we condemn millions of people, including little children and their mothers to perish of hunger.
By now it must be obvious even to the most obtuse that science is incapable of solving our problems, and that the religion of “scientism” is a cruel snare and a delusion to all those who trust in it.
More than one third of all humanity lives today under the Hammer and Sickle, and more men are added to it all the time by deceitful propaganda, political intrigue, or by outright terror and bloodletting. Until recent years communism appeared to be a solid block with its nerve center in Moscow. But today, this is no longer so. The two communist giants, Russia and China are mortal enemies, on the brink of total war. Each denounces the other as traitors to the true faith of Marx and Lenin.
Other dangerous cracks and fissures have appeared in the once supposedly monolithic communist structure. Occupied and ravaged Czecho-slovakia is seething with resentment against her Russian oppressors, and all of Eastern Europe is held down only by the presence of Soviet divisions. Those who are able to “vote with their feet,” escape to the West.
History teaches us that no empire built on brute force and terror can survive indefinitely.
Whatever our views on our involvement in Vietnam may be, one thing is clear to the unprejudiced observer, that the tragedy of that unhappy and sorely tried country is largely due to the communist determination to impose its ideology upon it and its neighbors.
Whether we were wise or otherwise in becoming entangled in the affairs of a distant people, and to step into a quagmire left behind by a defunct French colonialism, may be debatable. However this much we know, that we went into Vietnam out of pure motives, seeking to protect a small country from communist aggression and its ruthless terror. We sought no territorial gain nor conquest. In any event, we are grateful to our president and our government for their earnest efforts to extricate our nation from an unwanted and unpopular war. It is obvious that in Vietnam and everywhere else the communists seek to inflame national emotions, and to exploit the legitimate as well as the impossible demands or expectations among the peoples of the world for their own purposes.
The Middle East
Like the baby in the story of Solomon and the two mothers who claimed the same baby, so the Holy Land is the cause of a bloody contest between Arab and Jew. Humanly speaking, there does not seem to be a solution. Yet some day He who is wiser and greater than Solomon, will return the baby to its rightful mother, which is Israel.
Here also Soviet Russia is making sure to keep the pot boiling, by adding fuel to the fire. The irony of it is that the very country which has in recent years annexed and incorporated into its immense empire Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Finland, half of Poland, and has invaded Czechoslovakia, is now posing as the champion of the Arabs against Israel. How they can do it with a straight face is astounding.
When the United Nations created the State of Israel in 1948, Soviet Russia was among the first to recognize it. Now she has set her face against Israel and vociferously supports the Arabs, supplying them with enormous quantities of arms. Neither in the past, nor today, have the Soviets acted out of friendship for the Jews or for the Arabs. She despises both. Russia is interested only in gaining a strategic foothold in the Middle East, posing as a friend of the Arabs in order to interdict the flow of oil to the West.
The racial troubles in the world today are due, in a large measure, to past and current injustices and indignities which the white man has inflicted upon the colored peoples. Here in the United States a time bomb is ticking off, which some of our colonial British ancestors unwittingly planted when they forcibly brought black people from Africa to America as slaves and cheap labor. We are now reaping a bitter harvest for the sins of the past. If our ancestors could have foreseen the consequences of their folly and their sin, they would no doubt have left the Africans alone. But man is seldom blessed with foresight. He may, however, try and learn a lesson from hindsight, by correcting the sins and the errors of the past.
Today we can only alleviate a dangerously inflamed racial situation by securing justice and equality of opportunity to every citizen of this much favored land.
Let “The Pledge of Allegiance,” so oft repeated among us, become not merely something to recite solemnly, but also a creed to live by and act upon:
“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Every child in this land, regardless of race or color, deserves an opportunity to receive the best education of which he or she is capable. Every human being is entitled to the same respectful treatment which he would like to be given to him. However, justice can never be secured by injustice and equality by acts of violence or terror.
Tom Skinner, the well known black evangelist, when asked: “What is your position regarding the race crisis?” answered:
“I’m convinced that hate begets hate, blood begets blood, violence begets violence. Jesus Christ, the innocent Son of God, was subjected to indignity and atrocity heaped upon Him by men whom He had created. I hear Him as He is nailed to the cross saying: ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ ”
It does not seem to us to make sense, the preposterous demands for “reparations” from people who, in the majority of cases, are not aware of having done any personal wrong to anybody. It should be remembered that a large proportion of the present day population of this country are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, who have had nothing to do with any of the past wrongs which created the present racial conditions.
Common sense, mutual goodwill and forbearance are essential if we are to find a solution to the tense racial problem. This land is our common home in which black and white must learn to live at peace and in friendship with each other, for the good of all.
The Generation Gap
In the 5th century B.C. the Greek philosopher Socrates was keenly aware of the generation gap, and lamented over the lack of respect of the younger generation for their elders. Today many of our young people, revolting against what they call “the establishment” or “the system,” have become alienated from society and their elders. They are painfully conscious of the ills of society, and blame it on them, but have no remedy to offer themselves. Two or three decades ago their elders were then “the younger generation” who blamed the evils of their time on their elders.
In a few years the young people of today will become a part of “the system” and their children will rebel against them, and so on ad infinitum.
What we all need, young and old alike, is a new birth from on high, which only Christ can give. Otherwise we will remain in the vicious grip of sin and its destructive consequences.
Many of our young people express their discontent in bizarre ways, by growing long hair and beards, wearing outlandish garb, avoiding carefully the use of soap and water, rioting and becoming destructive, or drifting along without aim or purpose.
Some of them, observing their pleasure loving, God-forsaking and money mad elders, become so desperate and despondent, that they seek escape in dope or in sex, or in strange cults and isms. These young people are, at heart, decent, and their outlandish behavior is a cry of the drowning for help. The trouble is that few, very few of us, know how to answer their call for help. One can almost hear the bleating of the lost sheep echoed in the words of the song:
We little sheep have lost our way—
We little black sheep have gone astray—
Out in the darkness of the night are we,
Far from the light where we cannot see—
Lord, have mercy on such as we
Our lost generation needs desperately to be found by the Good Shepherd!
Quite often, even Christian parents seem helpless. They have tried to give their children a good Christian upbringing, to teach them right from wrong and truth from falsehood. Part of the problem is that our children have to live not only at home, but in a corrupt environment. They breathe in the air which is not only physically polluted, but morally tainted with vice and sin. We draw water from wells which are not only literally polluted, but also morally and spiritually.
A few years ago the late pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council with the avowed purpose of Church renewal. The council was supposed to open the windows of the musty edifice of the church of Rome to admit a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately the well-meaning pope John did not live long enough to see his intended reforms through.
John’s successor, Paul VI, fearing that the momentum of popular expectations might carry his church too far, hastened to close the ecclesiastical windows. However, freedom once tasted is hard to stop, whether inside or outside the church. A serious rift is fast developing between Catholic laity and some of the more conservative and traditional clergy; also between the more forward looking priests and bishops and the pope himself.
The conflict is centered chiefly around two main issues: birth control and celibacy, in addition to doctrinal differences (papal supremacy, etc.)
The Great Fallible One
In his “Humanae Vitae” the pope expressed himself strongly against birth control and the so-called “pill,” thus raising a universal storm of protests and defiance. In a world threatened by a population explosion, second only in its potential for hunger and misery to a nuclear explosion, nothing points up papal fallibility more than pope Paul’s decree. Among the clergy there is a growing disenchantment and disaffection. More and more priests, and even some bishops are marrying, and others are leaving the church of Rome altogether.
The once monolithic church of Rome is showing serious rifts and fissures. A true renewal is only possible by a return to the fountainhead of the Church, which is Christ Himself, who long ago told His disciples: “Without Me, ye can do nothing.”
The church of the Reformation, born out of a deep need to turn from man-made traditions to Christ—the Living Word, is today, after more than four centuries, dangerously ill with the virus of apostasy, heresy and outright atheism.
There are still left today in this land and abroad, many sound Bible believing Christians and churches, faithful to Christ and His Gospel. We need to thank God for them and to encourage them and pray for them.
However, apostasy and contempt for the biblical faith and heritage is rampant, sometimes in the most unexpected places.
We are all acquainted with the so-called “God is dead” theology, (atheism would be a better word). Quite recently the Anglican bishop John Robinson of “Honest to God” notoriety, meeting with an English group of atheists, found common ground with them on these three points, that God is:
Emotionally confusing, and
What is truly unbearable is that this man still parades as “a bishop of the Church of Christ.” At least the late bishop Pike was more honest and left the church.
The growing apostasy within the Protestant churches was bound to affect the missionary vision and outreach of protestantism. Instead of preaching the Gospel of salvation through faith in Christ as the Son of God, a new “gospel” of “social action” is increasingly replacing the former. Ministers and missionaries, instead of being teachers and preachers of the Word of God, are now supposed to address themselves chiefly to the ills of society, racial problems, slum conditions, to the problem of poverty and helping underdeveloped nations abroad. From a teacher of the Word of God, the new minister is being transformed into a second rate social worker, and a third rate politician, with disastrous results for all concerned.
Unquestionably every Christian has an obligation and responsibility to promote justice and righteousness in every sphere of life. He must act as a Christian and child of God in every area of human relations. The prophets of the Old and the apostles of the New Testament, and above all, our Lord Himself, demanded justice and compassion from all who believe in Him and would follow Him.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, the despised Samaritan is upheld by our Lord as an example of a good neighbor, while the pious priest and Levite are condemned as religious frauds.
Faith without justice and compassion are, according to St. James and the apostle Paul and Peter, a fraud. Faith and service must go together. We must not only preach Christ but also live Him.
To many of our contemporaries our Lord would say, as He once said to the Pharisees concerning tithing: “These things ought ye to have done, without forsaking the other.” Whatever else a minister or a missionary may do, if he does not preach Christ and His Gospel, he is a sham and a failure.
The lack of missionary motivation and vision is nowhere more apparent than in the field of Jewish Evangelism.
Some fifty years ago most of the major protestant denominations had an active Jewish missionary program. Today most of them have completely abandoned it as unnecessary or irrelevant. Many leading protestant theologians claim that the Jews do not need Christ, either because they stand in a special covenant relationship to God, or because they do not consider the Gospel relevant to modern life.
Since they themselves are without Christ, why should they bother the Jews about Him, or anybody else, for that matter? The lack of interest in a Gospel witness to the Jews is by no means confined to the liberal wing of protestantism. It is often clearly discernible among conservative, and sometimes even among fundamental Christians. At the recent U.S. Congress on Evangelism in Minneapolis, Israel and the Jews were not mentioned from the platform even with a single word. It is really amazing that with the official “freeze” on Jewish evangelism, there are still so many Christians who still love Israel and pray for the Jews and take an active interest in giving the Gospel to them.
Last August, in Canterbury, England, the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, famous champion of ecumenism, declared that the establishment of the State of Israel was “an injustice to the Arabs,” and that the Church was involved in this injustice. The committee further recommended that the Bible should be studied so as to avoid partisan political interpretations (that is, that it should not be interpreted to mean that God promised Palestine to the Jews).
Some time ago this writer was invited to speak in a suburban Philadelphia church on the subject of “The Holy Land, to whom does it belong?”
A representative of a major denomination, who shared the platform with him, rebuked him for applying the term “Israel” to the Jews. “Don’t you know,” he demanded, “that the Church is now the true Israel?”
It is not surprising that under such leadership many church people are becoming alarmed that their churches or denominations are drifting away completely from the Biblical foundations and are disturbed that their often sacrificial missionary contributions are not being used as intended by them. As a result of this, some denominations have had to cut back severely some programs.
In the final analysis every Christian is responsible to God for his stewardship, and not the denominational functionaries in the big city headquarters. We cannot hide our personal responsibilities behind our church, our denomination, or for that matter, behind any human structure. This is one of the main cornerstones of the Reformation: Personal responsibility before God.
The Jews have a wise saying:
“As it goes with the Christians,
So goes it with the Jews.”
Consciously or otherwise Jewish life is deeply affected by the atmosphere and environment in which the Jews live.
The decline of faith among Christians has had a pernicious effect also upon the Jews. When certain “Christian theologians” pronounced that “the Bible is a myth” and that “God is dead,” some Reform rabbis quickly jumped on the theological bandwagon with similar pronouncements. In our times, the Christ denying liberal wing of Christendom, and the God rejecting liberal wing of Judaism go hand in hand. Indeed there is little to distinguish one from the other. They exchange pulpits and deliver similar sermonettes or engage in so called dialogues or in the promotion of social or community activities. There is no offense of the Cross to embarrass anyone, and no “Thus saith the Lord,” to challenge the conscience.
These are some of the pernicious aspects of the world in which we live. For lack of space and other considerations, we have not touched upon many other vital areas of contemporary life. However, enough has been said to realize that mankind in spite of all outward appearances, is not “on the upward trail.” Neither does the future, as far as the naked eye can see, look any brighter. The indications are that we are entering into “the end of times” period, when our Lord shall come again to establish His kingdom of Righteousness and Truth, of Justice and Mercy.
In this connection we were interested to read in the Jerusalem daily “Maariv” the Hebrew banner headline of an editorial:
“WE ARE STANDING ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE DAYS OF MESSIAH”
The only hope left for our stricken world is not in any of the major “religions” of our time, not in scientism, not in communism, nor in Catholicism, in Protestantism or in Judaism, but in our turning to God wholeheartedly, and to Christ the Incarnate Word of God, “The Word which became flesh and dwelt among us.”
As Christmas approaches, the Star of Bethlehem, the bright star of hope, illumines our path and shines into our hearts. He who came nineteen centuries ago as the Lamb of God, is coming again as King. The great hallelujah chorus keeps ringing in our ears and in our hearts with the undying hymn of hope:
“For He shall reign for ever and ever . . . Hallelujah!” VB