(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Today Christian Zionism is an ever expanding movement with new adherents being
found in all corners of the globe. This will be in evidence over coming days as
thousands of Christians ascend to Jerusalem for the annual Christian celebration
of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Among our Feast pilgrims this year there
will be evangelical Christians not only from Western countries but also from
such far off places as Bolivia, Botswana and Cambodia, and even several Arab
states will be represented. In fact, the majority of Feast pilgrims will not
come from North America or Europe, as you might expect, but from Latin America,
Africa and Asia. And no matter their origins, they all will come with a shared
love for Israel and a common concern for the safety and preservation of the
Now some are quick to dismiss Christian support for Israel
as being driven by ulterior motives.
We are accused of wanting to hasten
the Apocalypse or to convert Jews. Others say we are acting out of a guilt
complex over the Holocaust or the long, tragic history of Christian
anti-Semitism. Yet most of these detractors have their own hidden agenda in
denouncing pro-Israel Evangelicals and they often rely on rather shoddy
scholarship and reasoning to back up their charges.
instance, that most of our larger national delegations this year will come from
countries like China, Brazil and Thailand. Many of these Christians come here
having never met a Jew in person before and thus they have no record of trying
to convert Jews to Christianity. They have not read the latest best-sellers on
the “End of Days” and they have received very little education on the
persecution of Jews in Christian Europe.
But what they do have in common
is the Bible, and from this incredible book they have gained a basic
understanding that the election and calling over ancient Israel endures to this
day in the restored Jewish state. They simply identify modern Israel with
biblical Israel, and thus root for this nation amid all her
There is nothing sinister or dishonest about their support,
and everything to commend it.
Still, it seems that those who hate Israel
also detest anyone who stands with Israel, and so Christians are assigned all
manner of ill motives for the simple act of befriending the Jews at long last.
We are wrongly blamed for blocking the path to peace in the Middle East or for
being callous to Palestinian suffering. The list of supposed misdeeds goes
Each of these spurious charges can be easily answered, but perhaps it
is best to simply spell out what truly motivates us into caring so deeply about
LET ME begin by assuring that we are not indifferent to
Palestinian suffering. We just don’t blame all their troubles on Israel. Yet if
suffering is the main measuring stick for determining who deserves our sympathy,
what about the Jews? Have they not suffered far more down through history than
any other people on earth? According to the Bible, it is not just the depth of
Jewish suffering that should move our hearts.
Rather, it is the
redemptive purpose behind that affliction which distinguishes the Jewish
people’s pain from all others. What truly sets Jewish suffering apart is that it
was largely inflicted by God for the sake of all other peoples.
teaches that Israel was called to be a suffering servant for the sake of the
Through much tribulation, God has used the Jews to deliver to us
Gentiles all the means necessary for salvation, including the written word of
God, the laws of God, the service and worship of God, and ultimately the Messiah
But because the ancient Israelites were not always faithful, God
also corrected them through painful uprootings and exiles. The Hebrew prophets
even decree that Israel would receive from the Lord’s hand “double” for all her
sins (Isaiah 40:1-3; Jeremiah 16:18).
This all resulted in a wound in the
Jewish people that Jeremiah describes as “incurable” (Jeremiah 30:12-17). That
is, no human hand can truly heal it, only God can. But He indeed promises to
heal it, including through “Gentile mercy” shown back to Israel.
end, God promises to restore to Israel “double” for all their loss and
dispossession, and to bring upon them “double honor... Therefore in their land
they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs” (Isaiah 61:7; see
also Zechariah 9:12).
Christian Zionists are thus grateful for the rich
spiritual blessings we have received through Israel. And we long to see this
people, who suffered so much for our sake, healed from the wounds of exile and
restored fully to their God-given inheritance.
That is the very powerful
motivating factor behind our biblical Zionism. And quite frankly, anyone who
questions it simply does not know our hearts! The writer is Media Director for
the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem;