When Jerusalem was finally reunited under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, no country besides Israel itself recognized it as the capital of the Jewish state. And until recently, the entire world, including the U.S. – Republican and Democratic administrations alike – has refused to recognize Jerusalem, fearing the international outcry that would result.
Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital may be disputed by many around the world, but not by Israel. The connection of the Jewish people to the city Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called “our eternal capital” is thoroughly documented in the historical record, and in the Bible. Jerusalem has stood at the center of national and spiritual life of the Jewish people for millennia.
When the modern state of Israel declared independence in 1948, it named Jerusalem its capital, though it was a divided city, with its eastern half occupied by Jordan. That changed in 1967 with Israel’s miraculous victory in the Six Day War, when the Israelis drove out Jordanian forces and Jerusalem once again became the undivided capital of the state of Israel. Later, in 1980, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed a law that simply says, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
Still, the rest of the world kept their embassies in Tel Aviv. But then, Israel’s push for the world to recognize Jerusalem began to sway in favor of the Jewish state. In 2016, U.S. President Donald Trump made it clear that he was more open to recognizing Jerusalem and moving the U.S. embassy there than any other president before him. But he needed support. Evangelical Christians responded to the call without reservation.
Christian leaders began a push to make the recognition of Jerusalem a reality. Mike Huckabee’s My Faith Votes launched an email campaign to build support. American Christian Leaders for Israel (including activists like Gary Bauer and Penny Nance) sent a letter to the White House, and many of President Trump’s evangelical advisors brought up the issue with him repeatedly.
These efforts paid off on December 6, 2017, when President Trump announced U.S. recognition of Jerusalem and ordered the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv. The following year, on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, the United States officially moved its embassy.
The message is clear: When they stand together, Christians can act as a political force that effects far-reaching changes in public policy. There can be no doubt that evangelical Christians played a pivotal role in this historic event. After decades of patience and dedication, people of faith prevailed.
And yet, paradoxically, all of this comes at a time when Americans are becoming less religious, and Americans – young people in particular – are drifting from the foundations of faith that sustained and guided previous generations.
This secularization of our culture should not come as a surprise. According to the American Bible Society, nine out of ten households own a Bible yet more than half of Americans have read little or none of it.
Young people have also made their feelings about Israel abundantly clear. Even among evangelicals, four in ten are indifferent about Israel despite the Bible’s clear teaching that God will bless those who bless Israel (Genesis 12:3). America has been a staunch supporter of Israel since it won its independence in 1948, but now we need to ask: Is that changing?
It’s a critical question, because Israel is our greatest ally, and is a country built on the same foundation of values that we hold dear in the U.S., values of democracy and personal liberty. And it faces the same threats that the U.S. and all western democracies face.
As much as radical Islamist terrorists hate the west, they hate Israel more. For over seventy years, war after war has proven that these terrorists wish to annihilate the Jewish people. And all the wars and terror campaigns remind us that Israel functions as the bulwark, the first line of defense, for the entire western world.
Thankfully, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has proven time and again that it is truly a military to be reckoned with.
Not twenty years after declaring independence, Israel proved itself against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, who vowed to destroy the state. The conflict became known as the Six-Day War, because it took the IDF less than a week to put an end to the threat as well as reclaim territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the massively outnumbered Israeli military repelled a surprise attack by an Arab coalition through ingenious efforts like transporting tanks across the Suez Canal on a floating bridge. On another occasion, they were able to hold off hundreds of Syrian tanks by shifting the positions of their own tanks and making their numbers appear much larger than they were.
More recently, the IDF’s innovation has been on full display with the deployment of a missile and rocket defense system known as the Iron Dome. This system has successfully intercepted hundreds of rockets and saved countless lives.
The world will never know how many terror attacks on U.S. soil or in other countries were avoided because Israel acts so decisively and powerfully. We’re indebted to the IDF for acting as an incredibly effective front line of defense.
Many of us wonder how we can repay a such a debt. Now, we have a good opportunity to do so, and we can do it in honor of the fighting men and women of the IDF and in honor of the one-year anniversary of the U.S. embassy moving to Jerusalem. Each one of us played a part in moving the embassy, and each one of us can stand with the IDF against terrorism. We can repay this debt with kindness and support.
As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the embassy move and thank God for His ability to unite His children, remember the soldiers who risk their lives for those children, in Israel and abroad. Do not let them stand alone. Stand with them. Stand with the IDF.
Send a care package to an IDF soldier today. If we can move an embassy, imagine what the IDF can do with our full support.