In recent weeks, since the end of hostilities in Iraq by American forces, the changed face of the political arena has generated some happiness, as well as much consternation, in observing the varied responses of world Jewry to the upsurge of American Evangelical Christian support for the nation of Israel. The responses to that, from Israeli Jews to the Diaspora in America, has been varied and somewhat positive, yet sometimes bordering on suspicion and apprehension.
Suspicious is Daniel Levitas, writing for Reform Judaism Online, who comments in an article "A Marriage Made For Heaven," "...While the number of Christians that self-identify as supporters of the "religious right" is considerably smaller, the movement still constitutes a potent political force that stands in opposition to most American Jews on critical social issues such as church-state separation, reproductive rights, gay rights, anti-discrimination laws, equality for women, and gun control...." and, "...Yet, on his (Pat Robertson) Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) -- which reaches some 59 million homes -- Robertson preaches that world Jewry will either be destroyed or converted in the End Times." He then takes to task the more high-profile leaders of "Evangelical Christendom" in America in varied quotes of questionable context.
Calev Ben-David, writing for the Jerusalem Post, in "Some of our best friends are...?" comments, "...Despite all this, on the whole I've viewed the growing evangelical embrace of Israel as a positive phenomenon. True, I'm not thrilled by a vision of the future that sees the Nation of Israel reduced one day to a decimated remnant that accepts Jesus but I'll worry about that when it happens."
More receptive is Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for The Boston Globe, who comments in an article "Israel's Unshakeable Allies" that "American evangelicals and fundamentalists -- the so-called "religious right" -- are among the most tolerant and respectful friends the Jewish people have. And when it comes to support and sympathy for Israel, America's beleaguered democratic ally in the Middle East, Christian conservatives are, if anything, even more ardent and unshakable than American Jews."
As one of many Evangelical Christians who follow the trials of the nation of Israel very closely, I can say that most of the politically related positioning is nonsense. I understand the impact of cultural differences as well as past history overshadowing the discussion. But this goes a whole lot deeper than secular politics, the high profile and much maligned conduct of flamboyant Evangelical Christian "leaders" in America who certainly don't represent me and mine notwithstanding.
On behalf of the vast field of Evangelical Christianity in America, I would like to refute a few of the charges being leveled against those who support Israel and clarify some things.
No, we don't "pray for the destruction of Israel" in a surreptitious bid to somehow "force" G-d's Hand and end times prophecy. Logically, if that was so, we would be making every effort to support the enemies of Israel to advance their destruction. The overt U.S. political and financial support of Israel, as well as the burgeoning Evangelical Christian support groups and organizations and their stated views, fly in the face of that absurd accusation, the fringe minority aside. We support Israel because The Lord supports Israel.
Personally, I have a friend in Israel. A father, a family man like me, a little daughter who is a living doll and whose face haunts my mind every time Israel is convulsed by yet another high profile terrorist attack; unarmed civilians blown to shreds by homicide bombers on city buses. To think that I or mine would seek the "destruction of Israel" and harm to her and her family is truly offensive.
No, we don't have a covert political agenda. The truths genuine Christianity and Judaism hold to are eternal, not ever vacillating like the political and social arenas of worldly Republics and democracies.
No, we don't have a covert campaign engaged to "convert" the Jews. A law enforcement professional I know who volunteers with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) recently shared with me how when in Israel, discussing one's faith is taboo unless queried first. Dealing with the chosen people of G-d is not something we hold lightly, or carelessly, as in the case of much of visible "Christendom" in America. The Holy One of Israel knows those who are His.
Further, a writer at FreeRepublic.com who goes by the screen name, "American in Israel," writes this, in answering one such contention, "....Where you are tripping up is in the meaning of the word conversion. That is a major stumbling block to the Jews as they do not understand the Christian Biblical perspective, (nor do some Christians for that matter). Jews see conversion as abandoning Judaism and becoming a Christian. Conversion in Christianity is Gentiles becoming part of the family of G-d because of the sacrifice of Christ. Conversion is not offered to the Jews by G-d, they ALREADY ARE the family! It is the Christians who convert, Jews cannot."
In fact, the writer goes further, to the heart of the matter, "... If you want to understand the core of the scriptural mandate between the Christians and the Jews by the what the scriptures say, read them. Try Romans chapter 10 and 11. That is where the rubber meets the road between the Christians and the Jews. ... And I highly recommend any Christian who is not sure what to think to read them too. If you think being Christian gives you the upper hand over a Jew, you need to read them. ... Hint, the Jew is the elder brother, not the younger. To trade Judaism in for Christianity is like the eldest son trading his heritage for a bowl of beans. It is the Christian who is the adopted son, not the Jew."
The elder brother. Christianity, the younger. Blood brothers -- and family.
Little brothers, for them who have had them, are irritating sometimes. They're messy, noisy, "get into our stuff," and can be downright exasperating. But any older brother knows, deep down, that little brother looks up to them; loves them deeply; just wants to be a part of their life.
Moreover, when this family is attacked by a common enemy, sworn to destroy us, brother joined with brother will certainly fight together to defend against any murderous assault. And the older brother knows, at least now, the younger knows how to fight very well.
Corporately we have been instructed thus, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live...." We have chosen life. Our enemies have not, rather, they have chosen death and destruction. So, together, we defend life, our common cultures and shared values.
Still, that little brother stands off to the side and cringes while our Father deals harshly with the elder, as He seeks, through much trial and after almost two millennia, to bring him back into his rightful position in the family and world. This in the midst of our corrupt, high-tech, rationalist, post-Modernist, secular world, where G-d has become anachronistic, irrelevant, a chapter in a mythological tale to be shelved on the dusty shelves of history and viewed as relic from the "ignorance and naiveté‚ of the past." That exchange is between the House of Israel, and Him. Those who interfere carelessly do so at their own peril.
In closing, I have no doubts the motives of Evangelical Christians will continue to be questioned and disputed. So be it. But know this, the little brother of Judaism will continue to be faithful to our Father and the House of Israel, our "elder brother."
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"Blood Brothers" copyright © 2003 Michael A. Baker.
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