• interview Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer, president of Christians for Israel International, for the Dutch EO radio and tv magazine, “Visie”, 2013 – nr. 40.

Israel is the greatest sign of hope

editor - 31 October 2013

This interview was held with Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer, president of Christians for Israel International, for the Dutch EO radio and tv magazine, “Visie”, 2013 – nr. 40.

He was an ardent atheist, but an intense experience of God turned his life upside down. Today Rev Willem J. J. Glashouwer (68) flies literally all over the world on behalf of Christians for Israel to point out the “mystery of Israel” to churches and fellow pastors. Like stringing beads on a thread Rev Willem Glashouwer – since 1999 full time President of Christians for Israel International – sums up the places where he recently delivered teachings on Israel. From Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth to Birmingham, London, Gillingham and Ashford. “My wife and I returned yesterday from a tour in England and Scotland,” he tells in his living room in Amersfoort. “Tomorrow morning I’m going to fly to Far East Russia, beyond Siberia, for a new series of teachings.”

This frequent flying sounds pretty back-breaking.
“It is back-breaking. But I get so much blessings and energy in return when I see that people gain new insights into God’s plan with Israel. The Lord gives me the strength to do this; He called me to do this work and I do it joyfully. There are few places I haven’t been yet. Fortunately my wife supports me for 120 percent!”

You are 68 years old, and in November you will be 69. Still not having a mind for slowing down a bit? Smiling: “When I became 65 I said: “Dear Lord, it has been enough.” But in my entire life I have never been busier. He had other plans.”

As a minister’s son Rev Willem J. J. Glashouwer (“the black sheep of the family”) fervently undermined the faith of Christians. “Although I grew up in the vicarage, since my infancy faith just slipped off of me like raindrops on a raincoat. It just didn’t mean anything to me. I also challenged people with their faith, fellow students at the Gymnasium for example. Faith? A form of wishful thinking; if you can’t cope with your own problems why not create a god and hang upon him your problems as hats on a hallstand? God as a projection of the human mind. The theory of evolution for me was a perfect explanation for everything. And for the rest: hurray for the good times.”

That must have hurt your parents
“Certainly. My mother could get very angry about what I did and said. But my father used to say: ‘Leave him alone. Let him be.’ Maybe he anticipated that everything was going to be alright with me in the end.”

Around the age of twenty he was converted radically. “I woke up in the middle of the night and there is no other way I can describe it than this: ‘I found myself praising the Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit’; an indescribable feeling of ecstasy, happiness and bliss. The following night I had the same experience. And again the third night, but then it was so intense that I said: ‘No, please Lord!, please stop! my heart is about to burst –now I do know that You really exist!”

A long process of ‘re-thinking’, of transforming his mind started. Willem was seized by the message of the Bible. He decided to study theology at one of the Universities in Holland and – like his father – ultimately became a minister in the national Church of the Netherlands, the Dutch Reformed Church.

This sudden change from atheist to convicted Christian was not the only U-turn in Willem’s path of life. “When I was a minister of a big congregation in Katwijk, businessman Karel van Oordt – never met him before or even heard of him – asked me whether I would be willing to succeed him as chairman of ‘Christians for Israel’. I had never heard of that organization either!“

Why did you say yes after all?
“What he said, among other things, was this. Who is willing to stand in the gap for Israel and who will fight the sin of the replacement theory in Christianity? My personal involvement with Israel began when this elderly brother said to me, “You know, there are many Christians who love ‘dead’ Jews.” I said: “I beg your pardon?” Then he said, “Yes, the Jews of the past – Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, Paul, Peter, John, and all the others. The Jews of the Bible. Jews that are long gone. And there are Christians who love Jews who are not yet born – the Jewish generation that will live in the prophetic future when Israel will be the centre of the earth, and Jerusalem will be the city from which peace will flow out and fill the earth.” Then he continued with passion in his voice: “But who will stand with the Jewish people today? Who will love them in the name of Jesus? Who will stand at their side in their lonely battles with the whole world against them? Who will speak to the church to tell her to repent of her terrible past? Who will try to start reading the Scriptures anew to find out what the real relationship is between Israel and the church? What about the church’s Jewish roots? What about our prophetic future together? The church and Israel may have very different views about who Jesus really is, but this difference doesn’t mean much to the powers of darkness. Those powers hate us both, the two peoples of God who believe in the same God, and they will persecute Bible-believing Christians just as much as they will the Jews and Israel. History makes this quite clear.”

That really hit me right between the eyes and got me thinking. I started asking questions, “What has God to do with Israel? Even today? Even while the vast majority of the Jewish people does not believe that Jesus is their Messiah and the Son of God?” These questions drove me to re-read the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testament – God’s totally trustworthy Word that He revealed to the Jewish people.

Finally I said: but why me? ‘We prayed for it,’ so he told me, ‘and we believe that it should be you’. Ultimately I agreed, reluctantly.” Well, being the chairman now of this very small Dutch organization ‘Christians for Israel’ I had to deliver sometimes some lectures about Israel. But what was I going to say about Israel? I had no idea!’ Willem realized that Israel was a blind spot for him. “So I had to go back to the Bible again to find out what Israel is all about. The search to understand the ‘mystery Israel’ never ends. Once you are seized by the mystery of Israel you want to learn and understand more and more. I found out that we, Gentiles, got to know God through and by Israel: for salvation is from the Jews.”

His intense study of the Bible resulted in the book Why Israel? (Publisher Barnabas) that has been translated into almost thirty languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.

A different sound
That he flies from pillar to post these days is especially caused by the unexpected success of that edition. “I follow the book, ha-ha! Because of these translations I get invitations from all over the world for lectures, to come and teach about Israel from a Biblical perspective. I very much like to do that, experiencing that more and more pastors and churches open up for this new understanding about Israel. As Christians for Israel we have a message for the churches in the first place. Sometimes I say: I try to convert the churches – which is a hell of a job!”

Convert? What is wrong?
Replacement theory – the opinion that the Biblical promises for Israel were transferred to the New Testament church and that Israel’s role is over, that the Church replaced Israel as the chosen people of God – is still deeply inside the blood of the church. Although it is no longer said and taught so openly as in previous centuries. But God has made everlasting covenants with His people Israel, and He still holds uncompromisingly to these promises. All the promises He made with Israel, He will fulfill for Israel. And all the promises He made with the Church He will fulfill for the Church. But we should not try to make a kind of unholy mix of the two – as so often happened in the past, in Church-history, by many theologians. “Pensively: “The church has not only thrown Israel overboard, but has also narrowed salvation down to the idea of immortal souls floating bodiless in heaven… The Biblical concept of the Kingdom vanished and together with that the understanding of Israel and of the meaning of creation itself – this earth, human beings with body, soul and spirit (citizens of two worlds) on their way to the resurrection of the body and the renewal of the Universe itself. I hope one-day a new way of Christian thinking will arise, with Israel in its proper place and understanding of the Kingdom to come. A new Biblical theology.

Flaking off
That the support for Israel has flaked off in the past decades also in Christian circles does hurt him. “It damages the church and also our nation. God says: ‘Whoever blesses Israel, will be blessed. But whoever curses Israel, will be cursed’ This blessing of Israel and standing with the Jewish people is crumbling away in Christian countries, especially in Europe… And now Europe is rapidly changing. We created a spiritual vacuum by despising and killing the Jews. We cut the root and stole the fruit. First the church cut the root spiritually and theologically, and then we started to cut the root physically by murdering the Jews – ultimately by the millions. And now old and new gods enter into this self-created vacuum. Almost as a judgment of God. As if He is saying: ‘You didn’t like My people?’ I will send you other strangers with another god; let’s see how much you like that…’”

Secularization and the arrival of the Islam are judgments from God?
“Yes, God is withdrawing Himself. Churches and cathedrals have become museums. Europe has entered into the post-Christian era. Fortunately there are still some pockets of light in this darkness of Europe. Some churches that return to the Word of God, believe the truth of the Bible. Churches that repent for the behavior against the Jews and show it by deeds that are true fruits of true repentance. These Bible-believing churches are growing, also in Europe. I travel a lot worldwide and the ‘theological crust’ that many Christians and churches have developed over the centuries in the lands of Christianity concerning Israel, I do not find in many countries in the rest of the world. As soon as you explain from the Bible what Israel is all about, they understand and start praying for Israel, and start blessing Israel in a very practical way.”

On October 6, 2013 it was Israel Sunday again. Good tradition?
In itself a very good tradition. But then he continues passionately: “But I do see that the Israel-Sunday in many churches is changing into a kind of Pro-Palestine Sunday, and is encouraging the churches more and more to support the Islamic Arabs than God’s people Israel. Just one Sunday a year and then implemented like this… Showing the ‘unquenchable solidarity’ with Israel? No way. If we understand the Bible correctly, every Sunday should be an Israel-Sunday! Of course, being ‘Christians for Israel’ does not mean being ‘Christians against Arabs or against Palestinians’. But first things first!”

War in Syria, tensions between Israel and Iran: is Rev Glashouwer lying awake at night because of this? “No, Israel is the greatest sign of hope that the world has ever seen. We are a special generation, because two unique signs of the times that were mentioned by Lord Jesus are being fulfilled right in front of our eyes. One: restoration of Israel on a national level after nearly two thousand years of exile – which will ultimately lead to a spiritual restoration. God’s first born son Israel, will one-day recognize God’s only begotten Son. Two: the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the nations, for the first time in history – by powerful satellites, radio/TV-programs, internet and other electronic highways. Hundreds of hours every day. In practically all the languages of the world.  Jesus’ Coming in Glory and His Kingdom of peace and righteousness must be very near!”

Are you looking forward to it?
“I think that would be fantastic! I once had these ecstatic experiences. Seeing God and creation itself being cleansed from everything that doesn’t belong in it must give the ultimate experience of ecstasy, happiness and feelings of bliss.”

Will you then say again ‘‘Ho, Lord, please stop!’

Laughing: “Probably not!”


Israel Sunday
The first Sunday in October – this year (2013) it was on October 6 – the Protestant church in the Netherlands expresses her ‘unquenchable solidarity with Israel’, by giving careful thought about the position of Israel. Many other religious communities follow this custom as well.

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer (1944) studied theology at the Universities in Utrecht and Groningen in the Netherlands. Besides being a pioneer for and working for twenty years with the ‘Evangelische Omroep’- Evangelical Broadcasting Company, between 1970 and 1992 he held several positions at the ‘Evangelical College’ in Amersfoort, the foundation ‘House on the Mountain’ in Jerusalem and as advisor of the foundation ‘Friends of Amcha’ (aid to survivors of the Holocaust). As a minister he served Dutch Reformed congregations in Tull en ‘t Waal and Katwijk aan Zee in the Netherlands. For twelve years he was chairman of Christians for Israel; in 1999 he became fulltime chairman of ‘Christians for Israel International’. He is married with Marianne; they have four children and six grandchildren.

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