President Reuven Rivlin (L) at the Christian Media Summit, October 16, 2018.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
More than 180 Christian broadcasters, cell phones poised and camera apps ready, eagerly waited for President Reuven Rivlin to enter the great hall of the President’s Residence.
In Israel for the Christian Broadcaster’s Summit under the auspices of the Israel Government Press Office, they had just sung a medley of Hebrew songs at the instigation of GPO Director Nitzan Chen. They knew all the words by heart and their pronunciation was remarkably good. Then one of the Israelis accompanying them got up and said “To all our Christian friends, find a song from Christianity so that we can join you.” Their spontaneous choice was a full-throated ‘Amazing Grace’ which was sung with just a little more fervor than’ Jerusalem of Gold’.
Once Rivlin was seated, Chen told him: “The Christian community around the world is indispensable to our nation.”
Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (of America), whose membership comprises Christian media leaders, said that NRB has 1,000 members but some of them control multiple broadcasting outlets. He cited Salem, where one member has more than 100 stations “speaking up for Israel.”
Explaining the nature of Christian broadcasting, Johnson said: “All of us are proclaiming the Christian message, but also the friendship message to Israel.”
As proof of that friendship, he read out an NRB resolution taken on February 27 in celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary, but with particular emphasis on Jerusalem. The resolution recognized “the providential hand of God and His commitment to fulfilling His promise as stated in the Bible.”
The resolution takes note of the United Nations history of targeting Israel, and urges the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem in line with the Jerusalem Embassy Law which acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Johnson made the point that the resolution was passed before US President Donald Trump acted on the legislation
that had been voted on 20 years earlier.
Johnson also said that in celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary, the NRB had called on members to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Rivlin elaborated on the verse taken from Psalm 122, saying “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May all those who love thee prosper.”
Emphasizing that all Jewish, Christian and Muslim believers know there is only one God, and all pray to the one God regardless of their differences, Rivlin said that he welcomed the Christian broadcasters both as President of Israel and as a multi-generational Jerusalemite. Referring also to one of his former roles – that of Communications Minister – he told his guests that “talking to God from Jerusalem is a local call.”
Rivlin, who likes to tell the story of how and why his ancestors came to Jerusalem, said that Hillel Rivlin, from whom he is directly descended, was a cousin to Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (1729-1797), known as the Vilna Gaon, who had urged his disciples to ascend to Jerusalem. Rivlin also noted that in the pre-Holocaust period, Vilna was known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania.
Without directly attacking UNESCO, which has denied Israel’s historic and spiritual connection to Jerusalem, Rivlin offered a further proof that there is a connection by relating to a 2,100 year old column found in excavations last week, with the word Jerusalem clearly chiseled in Hebrew.
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