“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,” defied the Psalmist. This is a plea that has been echoed through the centuries and culminated in the return of the Jews - the indigenous people of Biblical Zion - to the Land of Israel. After 2000 years of exile Jewish people are finally free to dwell in the home that God promised them as a sign of His eternal covenant.
It is upon this Psalmist defiance that I find myself, a Greek Orthodox priest, leading the Aramean community. For the most Arameans are an urban and highly educated community that Israel has always demonstrated a considerate attitude towards, for which I am thankful.
We yearn to integrate fully into society. However we experience much opposition. “Wolves in sheep’s clothing,” are intent on ravaging my flock and sabotaging all our efforts to prevent our integration from happening. For years these people have tried to impose upon us a culture that is not ours, an ethnicity that is not ours, a language that is not ours and a Palestinian nationalism that is not ours. They have done all that they can to discriminate against us and sell the blood-libel, that we are not Israeli Christians but rather Palestinian Arabs - nothing but victims “suffering under a Jewish occupation.”
The time has come to rebuke this lie and declare from the roof tops, “For Zion’s sake we will not keep silent.”
As a man who is guided by the Word of God, I see my commission to do all that I can to change our response to this intimidation. To do this we must know where we have come from and where we are going to. Then, and only then will we understand why we must never keep silent.
Aramean origins, culture, customs and language are rooted in the Holy Land since the time of Jesus our Lord. As Christians we know that everything we have, we have inherited from the Jewish people. Although every Christian is bound to the Hebrew Scriptures, (the only Bible Jesus ever read), some Christians claim that these very Scriptures - the words of Moses, the Writings and the Prophets - are now passé. True followers of Jesus know that the ancient Jewish Testament is only “old” in the sense that it is “senior.” The New Testament affirms that the Old Testament is God-breathed Scripture.
The Old Testament has been preserved for centuries by the Jews, tragically at the cost of millions who faced forced conversion, expulsion and death. These acts perpetrated by those who chillingly called themselves “Christians” were possible because they had theologically deemed the “Old” Testament as irrelevant and even hostile to Jesus Himself. “Where they burn books they will surely burn people too,” are Heine’s sobering words that are forever etched on the canvas of history.
Defying Christian attempts to debunk the Old Testament has been the unyielding resolve of the Jew to hold to his faith and the ethics of Moses. Thankfully, it is this very piety of Jewish devotion and faithfulness that has preserved the foundation for true Christianity and for civilised society itself.
We live in time where there is a very real threat to destroy God’s people. Just a few miles to the East is a tyrannical regime that does not even hide it’s evil intentions to destroy Israel. These are times for the Church to take a stand and lobby their own people and the governments of the free West to contest any rhetoric, social action or political deals that pave the way for the destruction of Israel. To do as such is to embrace the gravest of commissions; to do as such is to not keep silent, for Zion’s sake.
“For Zion’s Sake…” is the eternal commission that we take upon ourselves, an oath to be guardians of our nation, the Jewish people and God’s Word. Anyone with a heart and a small knowledge of history is obliged to not only support the right of the Jews to settle in their historic homeland, but to ensure that they dwell here in safety. We join the ranks of brave Christians who have selflessly protected Jews at the risk, and sometimes the cost, of their own lives. Christians such as Corrie Ten Boom who hid them in the Holocaust. Christians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer who spoke of the evils of tyrannical regimes. Christians such as the influential, yet unknown, Anglican priest, William Hechler who prayed for Theodore Herzl, strengthened him with his friendship and urged him to never surrender to seeking the rightful national homeland for Herzl’s people.
From this land came forth the teachings of our Lord Jesus, a Jew and a man who loved His people, His language, His law and His land. As followers of Jesus we stand upon the indigenous rights of the Jews to dwell here in safety because it is both the right thing to do and because God has promised it in His holy covenant.
We live in changing and turbulent times. Muslim wars rage in the Middle East and Western civilisation stands frail and uneasy under the insurgence of radical Islamists who commit their heinous acts of terrorism and rapes on European streets. However, history is also being made here in the East. Never before have there been so many Christians enlisting into the Israeli army. Never before has Israeli society witnessed such a movement where Arameans are openly and fearlessly shaking off their Arabist culture by declaring that they are not Palestinians, but rather proud citizens who are faithful to the State of Israel. Never before has there been such a time where Jews, Christians and even a fledging pro-Israel Muslim community are finally standing together as one, to defend our nation - the only democracy in the Middle East.
The commission is ours. It is not an option. Together we must oppose the tyranny of those who seek to destroy us: also from within.
For Zion’s sake, we cannot, must not and will not, ever keep silent.