Shalom! On May 14, 2018, the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This fulfills the promise that the American president, Donald Trump, made on December 6, 2017, when he reaffirmed Jerusalem as the capital of the modern State of Israel and announced that the United States would finally move its embassy there. The move of the embassy, though approved by Congress in 1995, has been delayed for one reason or another, but unless there is a last minute change, the move is about to be initiated!1
This is an exciting day for both Israelis and American evangelical Christians who are generally pro-Israel, as was borne out in a recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research and sponsored by Chosen People Ministries and author Joel C. Rosenberg.
According to the survey of more than 2,000 evangelicals, 69 percent hold a positive view of Israel, 80 percent believe the Abrahamic covenant (which includes the promise of the land) continues unconditionally until our present day, and 76 percent believe it is important for evangelical Christians to support the right of the Jewish people to live in the land of Israel.
These numbers are striking! In fact, it is proof positive of what so many Israelis and members of the Jewish community now understand—that evangelical Christians are the best friends of the Jewish people.
Additionally, the Jewish community realizes that there are tens of millions of evangelical Christians living in the United States with some influence on our government’s policies in the Middle East. There might be more support today for Israel than when President Harry S. Truman recognized the fledgling State of Israel on May 14, 1948.2
The new embassy is located in the area of Arnona, which is about three miles from Bethlehem!3 The following was reported in the Times of Israel:
The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona [in south Jerusalem], on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem. At least initially, it will consist of the Ambassador and a small team.4
The facility currently housing the United States Consulate will switch from a consulate to the embassy of the United States in Israel on May 14.
Further, the Times of Israel said,
The date of the move is seen as largely symbolic, as the logistics of a permanent relocation are expected to take much longer. Most of the embassy staff could continue to operate from Tel Aviv during the early stages.
Staff at the consulate were told Friday that, as of mid-May, they would be considered employees of the embassy, Channel 10 reported.
In its initial phase, Ambassador David Friedman will move to the consular premises, Channel 10 said, and the building will be formally redesignated as the U.S. Embassy.
A SIGN OF THE TIMES
Even though the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may cause further disruption in the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, we are hoping that any increased hostility will quickly subside.
As followers of Jesus and those who believe the Word of God, we also need to view today’s events through the lens of Scripture.
This is why we need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. As followers of Jesus the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, we are told by King David in Psalm 122:6 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” In fact, there is an added promise at the end of this passage: “May they prosper who love you.” Will you join us in praying for the peace of Jerusalem?
We also understand that the Bible teaches there is trouble ahead as the conflict between Israel and the nations will intensify as we grow closer to the day of the Lord’s return. We understand from the Bible that lasting peace in the land of Israel cannot happen until Jesus returns! Yet, we are still called to be peacemakers and to pray for peace because every day that Israelis and Palestinians are safe from military or terrorist action is a good day!
I do believe we are growing closer to the second coming and that all eyes will be on Israel in the days ahead. I am reminded of a passage in the Book of Zechariah describing the very last days before Jesus returns. According to Zechariah 12:9, the following will take place just prior to the second coming of Jesus: “And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
Zechariah describes a time when the nations surrounding Jerusalem will grow increasingly hostile toward the Jewish people. We see the beginnings of this intensifying global antagonism toward Israel today. During the past seventy years, most Western nations were favorable toward Israel, and her enemies were mostly Middle Eastern nations. Today, even some of Israel’s traditional Middle Eastern enemies seem to be getting along with the Jewish state as the West, particularly Europe, is turning its back on the Jewish people.
The prophet further describes that decisive moment at the very end of time when the Jewish people as a nation will turn to Jesus! The prophet writes,
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)
In Zechariah 14, we learn that the turning of the Jewish people to Jesus precipitates the second coming of Messiah. The prophet writes,
Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. (Zechariah 14:3-4)
The Apostle Paul describes this moment as well,
Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!…For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:12, 15)
The time is coming when all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25-29), but until then, we are called to preach the gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).
AN EMBASSY FOR JESUS OUR MESSIAH AND KING
A little more than a decade ago, Chosen People Ministries purchased and renovated a beautiful building about twenty minutes from the Western Wall. This is the headquarters for the work of Your Mission to the Jewish People in Israel. We have a few dozen staff in Israel preaching the Good News, planting congregations, serving elderly Holocaust survivors, doing online evangelism, training new leaders, and much more.
Our Jerusalem Center looks like an embassy and this is exactly how God uses this facility. It is an embassy for the kingdom of God — a foothold in Jerusalem today, serving as a signpost for what the Lord will do tomorrow! One day He will return and recapture what is His, but for now, our Jerusalem headquarters is a bustling center of gospel activity in Israel.
The Apostle describes our work for the Lord as follows: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
We are His ambassadors of love and grace to a dark and sinful world!
We are grateful for the move of the embassy! We see this as another indication that God’s plan is unfolding before our very eyes, since only seventy years ago, the Jewish nation did not exist.
Would you give a gift this month in honor of the embassy move? Seventy is a significant birthday for Israel as the number “70” has great biblical significance! If you recall, the prophet Daniel gave the incredible prophecy of the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24-26, predicting the year when the Messiah would die for our sins!
Seventy elders were appointed by Moses to help him with his work, the Israelites spent seventy years in captivity in Babylon, seventy persons went down to Egypt according to Exodus 1:5, and seventy disciples were sent out by Jesus (Luke 10). You get the idea!
Would you give a gift of $70 or a multiple of seventy this month for the support of the work of our ministries in Israel? Your generous support will help us continue to reach the 6.7 million Jewish people now living in the modern State of Israel! Whatever you are able to give in honor of Israel’s 70th birthday will mean a lot to our staff on the ground in the Holy Land.
Your brother in the Messiah,
For your gift of $210 (70×3) or more, we will send you our newest book, Israel, the Church, and the Middle East: A Biblical Response to the Current Conflict. It provides an in-depth biblical, historical, and up-to-date look at the present tensions in the Middle East.