Over the years I have been privileged to visit the Land of Israel at least a dozen times. One of the places that impacts me the most is the IDF Base (the 605) that sits in the midst of the Golan Heights. Here is where your theories and knowledge come face to face with real people. “Real Jewish people,” that is, that have little if any interest in Jesus of Nazareth.
For the most part they look at you with eyes full of caution, yet wonder why Gentiles are so interested in helping out on a Jewish IDF Base. It was here that Genesis 12 became real to me; I saw it in the faces of the kids of IDF (the majority are under the age of twenty). I know they are in the Land “in blindness” and that a large percentage of them are “not walking with God,” but it was here that God showed me the meaning of love, and that experience has shaped my life like nothing else has over the last five years.
Then we encountered some Christians, whom we now call friends, who started a ministry to help young Russian immigrants make their aliyah to the Land, supplying them with food and clothes and making sure that young mothers had “baby baskets” waiting for them at the hospital so that their newborns had the basics. I guess love does come in the form of diapers! This experience has led me and my wife to find ways to tangibly support (bless) those in Israel. Many of my friends scratch their heads and wonder, “What happened to Stolebarger?” and they ask me “Why?” With all of them in mind, here are a few thoughts to consider.
1. God Keeps Covenant
In Numbers we read that God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent. In regards to His keeping Covenant, we read in Psalm 89 that He will not break the Covenant that He established with Israel. Isaiah reminds us that God will never forget Israel and Hosea portrays the passion of YHVH in regards to his estranged bride. And Paul in the book of Romans lets all of us Gentile believers know that God is not finished with Israel! Also, and this is just a thought, but if Israel could be eternally cut off and God could renege on His unconditional promises, then what would keep Him from casting the Church off because of its shortcomings?
2. Consider the Origins of IsraelCan you think of any other nations whose origins were created by an act of God? Genesis 12 states the God will make them a great nation, and Deuteronomy 32 speaks of God setting the boundaries for this nation that would be the apple of His eye.
3. Blessings and Curses
“I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you!” (Gen 12). In your spare time do a little research of the following nations who at one time were quite powerful: Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes/Persians, Romans, Spanish, British, Russians, Germans, Ottoman Turks; or, how about the Amalakites and the Edomites or maybe individuals like Haman or Hitler? Their undoing all had to do with their “cursing” Israel. (I wonder if we should add the Iranians to the list—stay tuned!)
4. Consider the Contributions of the Jews
Close to 80% of our Bible was written in Hebrew and came from the Jews (Torah, Tanach and all of the Poetic Writings). The Prophets were Jewish as well as the Patriarchs, the Disciples, Mary and Joseph, Paul and may we never forget that Jesus too was Jewish!
5. Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews
He was born in Bethlehem, circumcised on the eighth day, had His bar mitzpha in Jerusalem, kept the Law of Moses, wore a prayer shawl with tzizits, never denied His Jewishness, and at His death bore the title “The King of the Jews.”
In the weeks to come we will be putting together a DVD presentation entitled, “Why Support Israel,” and this will be in two parts. I will be recording the first session from a Christian perspective, while my good friend, Jane BenAri, from Israel, will be doing the second session from a Jewish perspective.