Many people want to understand the level of priority that Eagles' Wings places on right understanding and relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. They have many, varied questions regarding our commitment and activities relating to Israel. Are we supporting Israel to try to hasten the second coming of Christ? Are we trying to make Christians follow the Mosaic laws again? Are we trying to hasten some end-times apocalyptic Middle East war?
And so, we feel it is important to tell you why we have placed such an emphasis on Israel in our ministry. As we have interacted deeply with Israel and the Jewish people around the world since 1992, three clear motivations frame our understanding and actions.
1. The Christian church owes a debt of gratitude to Israel and the Jewish people.
Our faith is founded upon Judaism. It is our root. Romans 11:17-18 says, "if some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you."
Christianity did not form in a vacuum. Our faith was generated from a consecrated place - Israel - and a chosen people - the Jews. The gospel is a Jewish message about a Jewish Messiah given
to Jewish disciples within a Jewish context. The Bible tells us that salvation is “of the Jews” (John 4:22) and that to them “pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants... and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God” (Romans 9:4-5). To not understand where we have come from is to not be clear about who we are, where we are, and where we are going. To be true to the Bible, we have to understand the Jewish heart of the faith we are professing, and we need to understand the people and Scriptures through whom God gave us His Son.
Two things begin to happen when we understand the Jewish-ness of our faith. First, we start to appreciate and glean from all the rich truths that God taught His people through the Law and the feasts: the power of a true Sabbath, the beauty of redemption in Passover, the joy of harvest in Shavuot (Pentecost), the humility of Yom Kippur, the future hope in Sukkot (Tabernacles). Second, we realize that these feasts have not ended. God said they were not only Israel’s feasts but also “His
feasts” and that they would endure forever. God has a calendar, and Israel is keeping it! And though we, as Gentile believers, are not bound by the Law, there is much we can learn from these powerful traditions.
The appointed feasts of the Lord received the stamp of eternity from Moses and King Solomon. “Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him... for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the New Moons, and on the set feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel” (2 Chronicles 2: 4). Whenever God appointed and dedicated feasts for His name’s sake, He intended for them to be celebrated perpetually. His promises are without compromise and without expiration. We owe a great debt to the Jewish people for maintaining, even to this day, the words and feasts of the Lord.
Christianity exists today because the Jewish people kept themselves faithful to God and His Covenant with them, generation after generation, persecution after persecution, diaspora after diaspora. Surely it is right for us to “give honor to whom honor is due.”
2. The Christian Church owes a debt of repentance to the Jewish people.
We represent Jesus. As followers of Jesus, one of our chief roles is to serve as His emissaries, representing Him to the world. Honoring and hallowing the Lord’s name is central to our call as believers and our accountability before men. We therefore must understand how the testimony of our words and actions fashions a lens through which others will see God.
But through the centuries, the name of Jesus has been profaned and vilified by people claiming to be Christians. In the name of Christ, they have acted against the Jewish people in unspeakable ways. This has happened to such a drastic degree that the name of Jesus has become a figurative and literal curse to the Jewish people.
I find that many evangelicals are largely ignorant of the unspeakable and perpetual horrors committed against the Jews in the name of Jesus throughout church history and are unaware of the resulting scars on the corporate soul of the Jewish people.
Again and again, generation after generation, in “Christian” city after “Christian” city, the Jewish people have been maligned, ostracized, tortured and even burned alive by Christians acting in Jesus’ name. These crimes against humanity often occurred while other Christians - equally culpable in their indifference and inaction - allowed such atrocities to take place. The culmination of this, in a sense, was the sin of silence and apathy of the European “Christian” church in the 1930’s, which in great majority sat idly by while 6 million innocent members of Jesus’ biological family were liquidated in Hitler’s ovens.
But it is not only large numbers in the distant past who have been hurt in Jesus’ name by his professed followers. My good friend George from New York, a Jew who was raised in Cleveland, experienced the results of anti-Semitism personally when he was a young boy. While walking to school through his mostly Catholic neighborhood, he was surrounded by a large group of older boys from the local Catholic school. “You killed Christ!” they screamed at him. “You put Jesus on the cross!” The boys then proceeded to surround young George, trapping him so that
he could not escape while they urinated on him.
If we are truly concerned about preaching the gospel, if we are truly concerned about being a witness to the goodness of the name of Jesus, then the fame and honor and accurate representation of the character of Jesus must be at the forefront of our agenda. Despicable things for centuries have been perpetrated against the Jewish people in the name of Jesus. Israel matters because our support of her becomes a practical act of repentance for centuries of sin so black and grim that it has stained the soul of the church.
3. We stand for common values against common enemies.
Israel’s cause is just.
After 15 years of studying, living in and traveling to Israel, I am thoroughly convinced that even if I were merely a moral person (and not a Christian), I would still be standing with the justice of Israel’s cause.
Israel is not a perfect society. Indeed, no nation is. But Israel stands as a beacon of democracy, human rights, and pluralism in the midst of surrounding dictatorships filled with the repression of basic human rights. Today, any person – Jew, Christian, secular, Buddhist, moderate Muslim, Hindu – any person who wishes to live in a world of tolerance and respect must be concerned about the increase of radical secularism on one hand and radicalized Islam on the other. Western values, which have sprung from the Judeo-Christian tradition, are under extraordinary assault, and Israel is the front line of this battle.
To pretend that the civilized world does not face a serious threat at the hands of militant Islam is the willing blinding of oneself to obvious and imminent danger. Proof is in abundance around the world. Militant Islam is dedicated to global conquest and the destruction of Israel, America, and the West. Its adherents are daily sacrificing their children as homicide bombers to accomplish their aim. To pretend by its attack on Judeo-Christian ethics, that our radicalized secular society is not allowing the expansion of this very force of Islam (which will then ultimately turn on the secularists), is to be culturally and historically illiterate and to refuse to see reality. But at this moment, a spiritually complacent Western church seems unaware or in denial of the twin threats to the future of Western civilization - radical Islam and militant secular humanism.
When we stand with Israel, we are standing with the values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.
We invite you on the journey that has changed our lives... to understand the roots of our faith, the true nature of our God, and the miraculous story of Israel and the Jewish people.
For more information about why you should stand with Israel, we recommend the following resources:
Why stand with Israel?
Click here to read a short article by Day of Prayer Co-Founder Dr. Jack Hayford.
Israel: A Dividing Line
Click here to hear this full-length teaching from Dr. Robert Stearns.