(Jerusalem, Israel) — Happy birthday, Israel!
Yes, today marks 72 years since the rebirth of the modern State of Israel in 1948 (Israelis go by the lunar calendar; on the Western calendar, Independence Day is May 14th.)
Today, despite the coronavirus pandemic, Israelis are joyfully celebrating our freedom and security. Not everyone is happy, though. Too many in this region and the world despise Israel and seek our isolation, demise, and even annihilation.
That said, I don’t want to focus on geopolitical issues today.
Rather, I’d like to draw your attention to two curious numbers:
- Only 40 percent of American Jews believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, according to a 2013 study by Pew Research. That means that six in ten American Jews don’t believe see Israel as the Biblical “promised land,” or are not sure. Among those who are Reform Jews, only 35% believe Israel is the given by God to the Jewish people.
- By sharp contrast, fully 80% of Evangelical Christians in America believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people and that the rebirth of Israel in 1948 was the dramatic fulfillment of Bible prophecy, according to a 2017 study by LifeWay Research and The Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem.
Set aside, for a moment, questions of how to make peace with the Palestinians, and with other Arabs in the region. Important topics. But let’s discuss those later.
Right now, just take a moment to consider how bizarre this is that twice as many American Evangelicals see Israel as the Biblical “promised land” than American Jews.
There are a number of reasons, but here’s the central one: Most American Jews do not spend much time reading, studying or memorizing the Bible. Few consider the Hebrew Scriptures the authoritative, inspired, inerrant Word of God. Thus, what the Bible teaches about God’s love and plan for Israel and the Jewish people is not something they spend much time thinking about, much less believe.
For most Evangelicals, just the opposite is true.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying on this topic, specifically about how to help Jews, Christians, Muslims and others better understand Israel’s place in the region, the world, in history and in the Bible. I’ve been talking with a wide range of leaders. As a result, I’ve got some thoughts that I’d like to share with you. But not right now.
At the moment, I’m going out to our grill in the backyard of our Jerusalem apartment to make dinner for my family and celebrate the Lord’s unfailing love and mercy for my family and my people. Shalom from the City of the King!
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