Last spring I was invited to preview a movie detailing attempts to criminalize the political actions of Israel and the Jewish people. The graphic film updated me on world-wide efforts to undermine the objectives of Israel and poison international perspectives on current decisions in the country. I found the documentary enlightening but disturbing. In a recent blog, I noted some of the facts I discovered.
In my most recent blog, I noted the error made by the American Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in siding with the Palestinians in a dispute the Presbyterians don’t yet grasp. This is not a new situation in America’s more liberal churches because the avant- garde popular trend has shifted to opposition to Israel. Churches don’t help their own cause with this sort of politicizing of their own agendas.
Now, let’s turn the page and look at the other side of the coin. What about the people who support a balanced view of Israel? Where are they?
One of the most prominent group of supporters are Christian Zionists. Thousands of these believers crowded into Israel during the October Sukkot celebrations, marching down the streets of Jerusalem in affirmation of the country. This ancient Jewish remembrance of harvest time has become an annual Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. Over 3,000 years old, Sukkot may pre-date Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The holiday remains a Jewish Thanksgiving celebration when an outdoor tabernacle is built to remind the ancient times of harvest outdoors as well as the 40 year exodus journey from Egypt.
This year multitudes of Christians flew in from China, Brazil, and Thailand as well as from the United States and Europe. In fact, the majority of believers were from the Southern hemisphere. Accused by some of trying to convert Jews or believing the Jews are the key to “end-time” prophecies, neither is the case with these pilgrims. A high percent have never met a Jew in person nor were they any part of the Holocaust happening in Christianized Europe. They have in common a belief in the Bible and a conviction that the ancient calling and blessing over ancient Israel continues to this day. They believe the present nation of Israel is an extension of that election and calling.
These Christian Zionists insist that they are not indifferent to the struggles of the Palestinians. However, they refuse to blame all Palestinian problems on Israel. When one listens to their views, many of these supporters are more balanced than might be expected.
Christian Zionists often believe that God is restoring Israel double for all of her loss and suffering. They continue to stand with the nation because they believe God will continue to heal the deep wounds in the Jewish psyche and will finally bring back their inheritance.
Because these people come from around the world and cross all denominational boundaries, they represent an extraordinary support for Israel. Their presence during this year’s Sukkot Festival certainly gave Israel a boost.