“…Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name.” 2 Chronicles 12:13
Leave it to President Trump to acknowledge the elephant in the room by stating: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.”
But Trump didn’t stop there. He did what Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush promised to do when campaigning but never accomplished in the Oval Office. He ordered that the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv be relocated to Jerusalem.
Congress passed and Clinton signed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which said “The United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” But no president until Trump followed through with the order.
Many evangelicals have celebrated Trump’s announcement, but others are concerned.
Those who are concerned fear that Trump’s directive will be viewed as demeaning to the Palestinian people.
Just as “God so loved the world…,” evangelicals are committed to love all people equally, including Israelis and their neighbors. So rejoicing at the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could be viewed as unloving to Palestinians.
Those who rejoiced saw this event as a fulfillment of the Bible’s promises to the Jewish people.
According to a new LifeWay Research study, 80 percent of evangelicals believe that God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants are for all time. Although the study doesn’t specifically address Jerusalem as the capital city, 69 percent of Christians say Israel has a historic right to the land.
Why? There are many verses like Genesis 28:13 where God speaks to Jacob and says, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.”
When the United Nations passed the partition resolution that created a Jewish and Arab state on May 14, 1948, many evangelicals saw that as the fulfillment of a prophecy written 2,500 years earlier. Ezekiel 36:24 says, “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.”
Since that time, Israel, a tiny nation the size of New Jersey, repeatedly has been at war with its neighbors.
In October 2002, during the second intifada, IndyStar’s Editorial Board met with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, who gave us first-hand accounts of suicide bombings in his city. He blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, comparing him to Osama bin Laden. I drew a cartoon showing Arafat looking into the mirror and seeing bin Laden. Two years later, Arafat was dead at the age of 75. The intifada ended the following year.
In 2006, Olmert was prime minister, and I drew him standing on a small patch of ground with Hezbollah and Hamas on each side of him. Olmert says, “But I gave you land for peace.” The Hezbollah leader points at the ground under Olmert’s feet and says, “I want that piece.” And that has been the history of the peace talks.
In 2008, Olmert offered to make the Old City of Jerusalem an international city, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected it.
Why? Because Israel’s neighbors do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
After the Six Day War in 1967, the Arab states announced the famous Three Nos: No Peace With Israel, No Negotiation With Israel, No Recognition of Israel’s Right to Exist.
But in 1979, Egypt President Anwar Sadat signed a peace agreement with Israel for the return of the Sinai Peninsula. Sadat was assassinated two years later.
The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That was always supposed to be the final step in the peace process. President Trump just made it the first step.
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said that, “When President Reagan made that famous speech he said ‘Mr. Gorbachev, bring down this wall,’ all of the people around him, told him this was a bad idea. Sometimes you have to take risks.”
Trump’s Jerusalem gambit is a risk this evangelical is comfortable with. But whether rejoicing or concerned, all evangelicals can agree that we need to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Psalm 122:6
Contact Varvel at [email protected] Friend him on Facebook at Gary Varvel and follow him on Twitter: @varvel.
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