As the Genesis maxim relates that those who exalt Israel will be exalted, blessings were in abundance at this year’s International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) conference in Jerusalem, themed “The Commonwealth of Israel – Becoming a Blessing to the Nations.”
Chock full of plenary sessions, workshops, panels, seminar breakouts and business matchmaking in collaboration with Israeli partners, the conference from November 3-7 aimed to “inspire, equip, serve and challenge each other to take the calling of God seriously.”
It brought people together from all over the world whose businesses and working lives have become a manifestation of an inward walk of faith. Timo Plutschinski of the WEA Business Coalition, spoke about business as a way to express God’s characteristics and Biblical principles such as accountability, trust, forgiveness for mistakes, excellence, responsibility, goodness and love.
Business, he posed, can act to expand the covenant between God and the Jewish people, but as business is all about relationships, this aim cannot be reached alone.
Knesset Member Robert Ilatov similarly commented on the intertwined destiny of the Jewish and Christian peoples, maintaining that when the world attempts to rewrite history, declare facts that never existed, promote the racist labeling of products made in Judea and Samaria and claim that the Jewish people have no connection to their holy sites, so too are they undermining the Christian faith – and all foundations of monotheistic religions for that matter.
Jan Sturesson, Chairman of International Board of the ICCC, told Breaking Israel News, “God chose Israel and the Jewish people and the ensuing question for all Christians is ‘What is my country’s contribution to support Israel?’” He declared, “Being blessed by blessing Israel is a spiritual reality impacting businesses, government relations and people groups.” In order to be blessed, voiced Sturesson, the Christian community “needs to come and support this nation and get the countries around the globe in connection with Israel.”
Sturesson further explained that Jews and Christians “have a common history and dialogue, and most importantly, a common future.” He thus called on Christians to stand up for their Jewish roots and Judeo-Christian values by “promoting business between Christians and Jews” and “standing together” in strategic partnerships.
One of the conference participants doing just that, Kerstin Ekholm from Finland, has been to Israel more than 50 times in the past 30 years. After becoming inspired by the ICCC conference in previous years, she started her import company, Tabita Products, to support Israel and “spread Israel’s light.” The company imports cosmetics, shampoos and anointing oil from Israel to Finland. Dedicating her life to this cause, Ekholm previously raised money in her Swedish-speaking Pentecostal church called “Sion” to bring a whole flight of immigrants from Russia to Israel. She and her husband began to bring others from their church with them to Israel as well, and Ekholm continues to participate in the ICCC conference, calling it a “prophetic organization,” and looking forward every year to meeting like-minded business people who stand with Israel.
“We know that we need to stand with Israel,” she told Breaking Israel News. “When I read the Bible, I know for sure that God has called Israel to be a light to the nations.”
So too was this one of the conclusions related by Rabbi Tuly Weisz, Director of Israel365 and publisher of The Israel Bible and Breaking Israel News, in his address to the conference. Weisz associated three lessons from the story of Abraham to Abraham’s great descendants, the people of Israel as manifested through the state of Israel.
Similar to Ekholm’s takeaway of Israel as a light unto the nations, Weisz expressed that as is true with Abraham’s wealth, the Jewish people’s wealth is not measured by dollars, but by impact. “We are a tiny nation whose GDP is smaller than some American states. Our blessings are not measured in dollars and shekels but in the fact that we are now back in our homeland after 2,000 years and we are the only democracy in this tough neighborhood.”
He continued, “We provide equal rights to all our citizens, Jewish, Christian or Muslim and we are creating technology not to improve our lives, but to be used all over the world and to increase the quality of life in developing nations so that we don’t become the richest nation, but a light unto the nations.”
Second, he said, as all of Abraham’s riches came from God, so too, Weisz explained, Israel’s blessings come from God. “All of Israel’s success and innovation in high tech and agriculture – everything is a miracle,” he said. “The return of the people of Israel to the land of Israel over the last 100 years and the incredible economic success that occurred and is occurring here is a miracle, promised and outlined in the bible, and comes not from our economic or trade partners, nor our own smarts, but from God.”
Finally, relating God’s promise that those who bless the descendants of Abraham will be blessed, Weisz maintained, “the countries that stand with Israel will be protected, nations that stand against Israel will be cursed. And that goes for individuals as well. Investors who want to bless the Jewish people will see great blessing from those investments and I pray that each of you here today will be abundantly blessed by your blessings upon Israel.”