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Israel & Christians Today
Biblical understanding about Israel
By Andrew Tucker.. Editorial April edition (*) of the International Version of the Israel & Christians Today Newspaper (Soon to be published!). In May 2015, hundreds of Christians will go up to Jerusalem to participate in the Global Prayer Call (GPC) conference. This conference closes the 100 days of prayer, which commenced with the GPC conference in Krakau in late January. This prayer initiative marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Second World War.
This event highlights a major shift in Christian/Jewish relations in the last few decades. Seventy years after six million Jews were murdered in Christian Europe, Jewish leaders in Israel and worldwide are realizing that many Christians repent of the past, support the restoration of the Jewish homeland, and wish to bless them. Sadly, however, growing anti-Semitism around the globe shows that what happened in the 1930’s in Europe threatens to occur on a global scale today. Much remains to be done to build bridges with the Jewish people, and to intercede on their behalf.
That intercession – “standing in the gap” for the Jewish people - can happen at different levels. The Purim story, found in the Book of Esther provides us with some guidelines. On 5th March the Jews celebrated Purim – perhaps the most festive holiday on the Jewish calendar. The Purim story recalls the deliverance of the Jewish people from their enemies who threatened to wipe them out. Although the story of Esther dates back 2,400 years, it is still very relevant for Jews and Christians today.
King Xerxes of Persia chose a beautiful young woman, Esther, as his queen, not knowing that she was Jewish. The King had entrusted the fate of the Jews in his empire to Haman, his top advisor, Haman, who - provoked by the fact that Mordechai, Esther’s uncle, refused to worship him - hated the Jews, and persuaded the king to issue a decree to destroy all the Jews in his vast empire. Mordechai found out about this decree, and persuaded Esther to intercede before the King on behalf of the Jewish people. This was extremely dangerous, as anyone who came into the king’s presence without being summoned was liable to be put to death.
Mordechai warned Esther that her fate was bound up with that of her people. If she was not courageous enough to stand up, then help for the Jewish people would come from another quarter, and she with all the other Jews in the King’s palace could be condemned. “And who knows”, concluded Mordechai, “whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther told Mordechai to gather the Jews of the city to fast for three days and nights, as she herself did with her friends. Risking her life, Esther then appeared before the king, who allowed her to and ordered Haman to be hanged. He then reversed the earlier decree ordering the Jews to be killed, and elevated Mordechai to a position of high authority.
Two and a half millennia later, the Jewish people have not only survived, they now have their own homeland. But equally the anti-Semitic spirit of Haman is alive and well. ISIS and other extremist movements such as Hamas that are driven by the jihadic theology of radical Islam are openly determined “to destroy, to kill and to cause to perish” the Jewish nation of Israel. They have found an ally in the BDS movement, the goal of which is ultimately the destruction of Israel as an expression of Jewish self-determination.
Who is prepared to intercede on behalf of the Jewish people today, as Esther did in her time? As Christians living in free countries, we have a “royal position” because we have the freedom to speak out into the political sphere on behalf of those in need. As long as free speech is still tolerated, we have the possibility to plead the case for the Jewish people before our political leaders. We do not have to approve all that Israel does. But we must encourage our national leaders to ensure that the Jewish people – both in Israel and worldwide - are able to live in peace and security, free from threats of annihilation and destruction.
Perhaps more importantly, we can lift up the Jewish people before our King and Mediator, Jesus Christ. In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to remember God’s eternal covenants with the Jewish people, and that His promises towards Israel are “irrevocable”. Isaiah 62 speaks of “watchmen” who call on the Lord and “give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth”.
Who knows whether we have been given our royal position “for such a time as this”?
Andrew Tucker trained as a lawyer at the universities of Melbourne and Oxford. He has worked for over twenty years in various areas of international and transnational law in Australia, UK and Netherlands. He currently serves as Executive Director of Christians for Israel International (bases in the Netherlands) and Legal Counsel to the European Coalition for Israel. He writes and speaks regularly about the relationship between (international) law and the Bible.
(*) The April edition of the International Version of the Israel & Christians Today Newspaper will be published in the first week of April.
Go to http://www.c4israel.org/c4i/newspaper if you want to read it online or if you want to receive a printed version.