Just days after Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7, torturing and killing more than 1,400 innocent civilians and taking roughly 240 hostages to Gaza, the Ethics and Religion Liberty Commission issued an evangelical statement in support of Israel. In it 2,000 Evangelical leaders said they “fully support Israel’s right and duty to defend itself against further attack”— and though theological perspectives on Israel and the church among those leaders vary, the signatories were unified in their stance.
The support Israel has received from the Christian community since the war began, in large part through organizations like the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), is evidence of not just a shift in Christian support for Israel but in an understanding of why it is so important to love and bless the people God set apart to bring glory to His name.
A somber history of Jewish-Christian relations
This support of Israel has not always been so. Since the inception of the church, Christians have not only participated in persecuting the Jewish people but, at times, had a hand in forced conversions. During the Holocaust, Christians were not unaware of the atrocities happening to the Jewish people. Yet most were silent, an embarrassing mark on the church. Christians are filled with the Spirit of Israel’s God — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and, according to Paul, were supposed to “provoke them (the Jewish people) to jealousy” (Romans 11:11). Instead, how the church historically treated Jews caused a rift in Jewish-Christian relations.
Considering this, it makes sense why Jews have been leery of believing, much less understanding, the increasing professed love and support from Christians over the past 75 years since the State of Israel was reborn in 1948. Many have thought there must be an underlying agenda, such as the desire to convert Jews to Christianity.
But times have changed. Many Jews today see the Evangelical Christian community as not only a support to Israel but her only true friend — and even more so now with Israel’s war with Hamas.
No longer silent
Since 1948 the Spirit has been progressively revealing through God’s Word the critical role of Israel in God’s plan of redemption, which has slowly shifted Christians’ understanding of why Israel matters from a biblical perspective. Coinciding with the work of the Spirit, God has raised up organizations like the ICEJ that have tirelessly worked to help mend that relationship and build trust by ministering to the Jewish people’s needs in the Holy Land and worldwide. The ICEJ — established in 1980 in recognition of the biblical significance of all Jerusalem and its unique connection to the Jewish people — today represents millions of Christians, churches and denominations to the nation and people of Israel.
Since 1948 the Jewish people have fought for their right to exist in the land promised to them by God through Abraham more than 3,500 years ago and legally repossessed through several defensive wars. The atrocities Hamas militants perpetrated on innocent Israeli citizens opened deep wounds that never fully healed from the Holocaust and left the nation grieving. Most Israelis either know someone killed in the massacre or one of the hostages. However, this time, Christians around the world are not turning a blind eye or being silent.
When the ICEJ learned about what had happened in Southern Israel on October 7, the largest massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust, their branches worldwide, including the US branch, immediately sprang into action. With financial gifts from more than 50 nations, the ICEJ has helped raise almost $4 million since October 7, demonstrating worldwide Christian support for Israel. Since the war began the ICEJ has:
- Assisted evacuated Israeli families with housing, emergency aid, educational needs, emotional support and toys and activities for children;
- Organized urgent food distribution and efforts to assist the elderly, new immigrants and other needy families nationwide;
- Provided protective gear and other safety equipment to volunteer emergency first responders;
- Placed more portable bomb shelters in the north and south of the country and is renovating more underground shelters in vulnerable border towns;
- Donated ambulances and other emergency medical equipment;
- Provided warm clothing, tents and other outdoor equipment for those on the front lines;
- Funded trauma counseling and care for families shaken by the conflict;
- And more.
Christian support for Israel is more crucial than ever and must focus on our common biblical foundation and shared democratic values to continue strengthening that relationship and building trust. Through organizations like the ICEJ, Christians are not only being a voice of comfort to the Jewish people as God commanded through the prophet Isaiah, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” (Isaiah 40:1), but they are coming alongside them to let them know they are not alone and that millions of Christians around the world love them, are persistently praying for them, and are speaking up on their behalf. Through the ICEJ, Christians are slowly shifting Jewish-Christian relations as they not only stand beside but love the Jewish people in practical ways, making their voice heard: “Never again is now.”
To learn more, visit icejusa.org
For more on groups helping Israel, visit https://www.goodnewsfl.org/rising-antisemitism-in-america-and-the-need-to-stand-against-it/