A banner celebrating Trump's announcement on Jerusalem posted across the city by Christian Zionist leader Mike Evans.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If all goes as planned, on Monday, the United States will relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This historic move is packed with both political and spiritual significance.
What motivated US President Donald Trump to go against decades of American policy at a time when the peace process is frozen, amid warnings of Arab outrage and a looming nuclear threat from Iran? When neither mainstream American Jews or Israeli leaders were pushing for this? The answer is evangelical Christians, which represents a major shift in American-Israeli policy.
Forever, American-Israeli policy has been commanded by American Jews, mainly by the those involved in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the World Zionist Organization and Zionist Organization of America. Of course, under President Barack Obama, J Street Jews served a more prominent role, as well.
However, on Monday, when Israelis and Jews around the world rejoice at this formal declaration by America of Jerusalem as Israel’s historic and eternal capital, Jews will not be able to take credit. The credit for the embassy’s move goes to Christian Zionists.
Forever – and for good reason – Jews have shied away from deepening ties with their Christian brethren. However, when we wake up on Tuesday morning, there will be a new reality on the ground.
As such, the Israeli establishment and the Jewish community in the Diaspora must begin to make serious efforts to better understand this new power broker at the pro-Israel table and start building relationships with our Christian friends. The rapid move by Trump of the embassy should be enough to make this a top priority.
How do we understand why Christians care so much about where the American embassy sits? This week, Israel365 is hosting a group of Christians from around the world on a tour from Poland to Israel to celebrate Jerusalem Day and the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
I asked participants why this move was so important to them. The answer they gave is that it is foretold in the Bible.
A similar story to the one we are witnessing today took place 2,500 years ago. We read about it in the Book of Nehemiah.
At the time of Nehemiah, the Jews had started returning to the Land of Israel from Babylonian captivity and rebuilding Jerusalem. However, Nehemiah was burdened by the fact that the city walls were still in shambles. Though still living away from Jerusalem, he communicated with those who were living there. He fasted, mourned and prayed for the rebuilding of the walls of his beloved city. He called upon the mercy of God to help them rebuild the walls of Jerusalem as the people returned to the city of God.
Nehemiah worked as the cupbearer to the Persian King Cyrus. The king noticed that Nehemiah was in grief and asked his servant about his troubles. Nehemiah responded that his beloved city was destroyed and in ruins. He asked permission to go and help build the city.
Not only did the king give him permission, the king gave him the resources he would need to accomplish the task. The king granted military troops, horsemen, letters of passage and even building materials for Nehemiah to use.
So, while Nehemiah and the Jews ultimately had to carry out the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the Persian king provided the cover and funds for Nehemiah to achieve his goal.
Parallelly, today, it is Trump and his faithful evangelical advisers who have paved the way for Jerusalem.
In his book Eim Habanim Semeichah, Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal’s presents classical sources in support of the settlement of Eretz Yisrael and the unity of the Jewish people as necessary preconditions for the Messianic redemption.
That book was written in 1943, before the founding of the modern Jewish state.
I would agree with Rabbi Teichtal and take his argument one step further. To achieve redemption, it is not just Jewish unity, but unity among Jews and Christians and all those who believe in one God and the truth of the Bible as the word of God.
It can be argued that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considered the importance of reaching out to the evangelical Christian electorate of Trump when he decided to reveal the intelligence on the Iranian nuclear archive in a speech in English.
While you are rejoicing tomorrow for the diplomatic and religious achievements that the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem represents, while you are thanking Trump for keeping his word, thank the Christian Zionists, too.
It is evangelical Christians who are standing with Israel today in ways that Nehemiah never could have dreamed about.The author is the founder of Israel365.
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