Firing Up the Nations- What REALLY Motivates Christians to Support Israel?

October 11, 2013

3 min read

Tuly Weisz

As an Orthodox rabbi originally from the American midwest, I didn’t always get to meet too many bible-belt Christian fundamentalists. However, I ran into an elderly Christian woman in Atlanta exactly two years ago whose words still ring loudly in my head. The frail but feisty lady had a bulky cast on her arm, so I told her I hoped she feels better soon and that God should bless her.  Without missing a beat, “I’m already blessed,” she replied, “God blesses me because I bless Israel.”

The church where I met her, on a busy Atlanta street, not only proudly displayed eight enormous Israeli flags on their front lawn, but a banner broadcasting to the thousands of cars whizzing by each day: “Go from your land, your father’s home and your birthplace to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:3)  Many Evangelical Christian Zionists consider Genesis 12:3 their main mantra, and for many Jews, it is known as the beginning of this week’s Torah portion.

God’s famous first words to Abraham command him to seek out the Promised Land and continues by offering a Divine guarantee that, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”

Millions of Christians take those words seriously and literally, doing everything they can to “bless” the State of Israel and the Jewish people in order to reap Divine reward and benefit from His blessing.  In his book, “In Defense of Israel”, Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel has a chapter called “Our debt to the Jews.” Hagee points to Genesis 12:3 as the secret to Jewish success and prosperity. “Based on the population of the Jews in proportion to the rest of the world, it’s surprising that we hear about them at all beyond a brief mention in a high-school geography class.”

Hagee continues with a reference that has even more meaning with this week’s Nobel Prize announcements that four out of the six recipients are Jewish . He writes, “Yet throughout history, Jews have been at the center of the world’s creative, scientific, and cultural achievements. They are disproportionately high as Nobel Prize recipients, they are over represented in the field of medicine, and their contributions in the area of scientific research are staggering.”

Throughout history, Genesis 12:3 has been one of those Divine laws of nature.  Jews have always understood this, but now Christian ministers are preaching about how countries that have welcomed Jews have been blessed with material wealth and success.  Yet as soon as those very same countries turn their backs on the Jews and embrace discrimination and persecution, their days are numbered.  God’s blessings invariably turn into curses, and those nations are shoved off the world stage in one way or another, becoming just another footnote in history.

 Some Jews don’t know what to make of Christian support for Israel, and often respond with profound suspicion, if not outright hostility.  “What really is their agenda?” they ask. “What is really motivating them?” they want to know.  My brief conversation with that little old lady demonstrated to me that their agenda is simply trying to earn God’s blessings. Sure, it’s hard for many Jews to believe that after centuries of church-instigated “curses” directed towards our people, millions of Christians are suddenly so interested in becoming a source of blessing.

The promise to Abraham concludes, “and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves through you.”  We’ve been waiting so long for these times.  Now that millions of Christians worldwide are looking to actualize Genesis 12:3 and bless the Jewish people, our response should not be one of cynicism, but of awe and appreciation.

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