Well, it appears that not only our Jewish clergy oppose the Gaza pullout, but Evangelical Christians do as well. Yup, Pat Robertson was leading about 4000 pilgrims on a visit to the Holy Land when he took a brief pause to speak to his sponsor and primary benefactor, God, who asked him to relay a message to the faithful and the Haaretz reporter who was there. Pat, a good friend of Israel, informed his audience that God says,
‘I’m going to judge those who carve up the West Bank and Gaza Strip.It’s my land and keep your hands off it.’
Pat was not specific about the punishment awaiting those who carve up the West Bank and Gaza strip but it’s fair to presume that he was probably inspired by the Old (and discarded) Testament, AKA the Hebrew Bible. Think fire and brimstone and pillar of salt.
Apparently, in order for the Second Coming of Jesus to take place, Israel must avoid “Satan’s Plan” of giving up Gaza or any part of Judea and Samaria. So, you are probably asking, why is the Second Coming so important that it takes precedence over the skilled strategic planning of Arik Sharon, one of Israel’s finest strategists?
Well, the Second Coming is when Good will finally triumph over Evil. The catch is, of course, that if you didn’t accept that Jesus is Christ before this fateful day, you end up kind of like those beings at the bottom of the painting. Needless to say, this includes the very Jews who receive the support of the Evangelical movement.
The Evangelical movement in the US, encompassing tens of millions of Americans, is a powerful political force. It is probably safe to say that part of the reason for this Administration’s strong support of Israel stems from the influence of this base of voters who tend to vote Republican, vote in large numbers, and have been known to influence the dismissal of Republican candidates in primaries unless they represent “agreeable” values. Needless to say, this increases the likelihood politicians will espouse similar values, not to mention a debt of gratitude, to the Evangelists.
And these people looooooove Israel. Why, you ask? Well, among other things, the phenomenal success of a series of books called the Left Behind series, has now influenced millions. The series focuses on the “Rapture” when apocalyptic forces destroy parts of the world and Christ reappears to divide the believers from the disbelievers. Here’s a blurb from the successful Glorious Appearing:
Antichrist has assembled the armies of the world in the Valley of Megiddo for what he believes will be his ultimate triumph of the ages. With a victory here he would ascend to the throne of God.
The Tribulation Force has migrated to the Middle East, most ensconced at Petra with the Jewish Remnant, now more than a million strong. But only one of the four original members of the Force remains alive, and he is near death.
Jerusalem is falling to the Global Community’s Unity Army, and Tsion Ben-Judah has been slain. Few in Petra know of his loss, and both Rayford Steele and Buck Williams are unaccounted for. It’s been just over seven years since the Rapture and almost exactly seven years since Antichrist’s covenant with Israel. Believers look to the heavens for the Glorious Appearing of Christ, as the world stands on the brink of the end of time.
So good old Tsion is slain and the the Antichrist has a covenant with Israel. I like the symbolic use of seven years there. Uh huh.
Now, I admit, in these rough times when Israel has few friends around the world and certain Christian groups are encouraging divestment from Israel-related investment, it feels goooood to be loved. Let’s face it, there are way more of them than us and they want to take care of us.
Is it ethical to accept this support? Who knows. Israel certainly needs all the help it can get, and anyway, there’s not much it can do about the faith of these supporters. In the deepest, darkest days of this war (think March-April 2002), Christian Evangelists were still coming to visit as tourists.
Of greater concern is the question, “what if they’re right?”