Friday, July 18, 2014

Why, as an Evangelical Christian, I Continue to Stand with Israel

In the summer of 1997, my two youngest brothers were attending seminars at BYU in order to earn their undergraduate degrees. I took a two week vacation from my job and went to Provo, Utah, to be with them and with my mother during that time. Stefan and Judah spent every day in school from morning till late afternoon, and so Mother and I had to find ways to entertain ourselves during those hours.

During that two week period, BYU was hosting an exhibit of the artifacts from Masada, which was on special loan to the campus via the BYU Jerusalem Cultural Center. The exhibit traveled under guard with posted signs that the 1997 trip was the first time that these artifacts had ever been in the United States.

As I went through the exhibit, I was amazed. We saw portions of the book of Isaiah contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls, pottery from the Holy Land, and artifacts which had been excavated from the fortress at Masada, where the last Jewish rebellion against the Roman government occurred about 66 A.D. The residents of Masada had lived in the fortress for five years, before they finally committed suicide to avoid capture and execution by the Roman army.

Cassette tape recorders were provided to each visitor so that we could tour the displays while listening to an explanation of each item that we saw. We saw replicas of Herod's palace and the last temple, artifacts left by the Roman soldiers, and shards of pottery and makeup brushes and brass mirrors left by the women who had lived at the fortress. When we came to a collection of very small clay lamps which were about the size of the palm of an adult hand, Mother motioned to me to turn off my tape recorder. "Look," she pointed. "This explains the parable that Jesus told about the ten virgins--five had enough oil for their lamps and the other five did not. This explains why the five with the oil could not share theirs with the others." I looked more closely at the lamps and saw what she meant--each little lamp was made like a nightlight with only enough supply of oil for one night. When we had finished talking I clicked my cassette recorder back on to hear the narrator explain, "These oil lamps would have been the ones referenced in the parable of the ten virgins."

Of all of the experiences I have enjoyed over the course of my life, seeing the artifacts from Masada is in the top 5. The exhibit was a profound reminder that the nation of Israel was completely gone for almost 2000 years. As the child of parents who were in the Jesus movement, I grew up in a house where the star of David was prominently featured, and I learned from my earliest youth that the Jewish people are precious to God. To see the belongings of these people who were exterminated and scattered by the Romans was a profound reminder of the struggles of the Jewish people throughout history and particularly the long struggles of Israel as a nation to maintain its sovereignty.

As evangelicals, we believe that Israel is a nation that has a special and unique history and an important future. We believe that the promise of God in Genesis to Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you and the entire world will be blessed because of you," extends to the entire nation of Israel. We also agree with Benjamin Netanyahu that the reestablishment of the nation of Israel May 16, 1948 was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that it was God who re-established this nation as an independent state. Therefore, we reject statements such as the one made a few years ago by Henry Kissinger that within ten years the nation of Israel will cease to exist. We stand against Iran's anti-Israel rhetoric not only because it is racist and genocidal but also because it stands against the purposes of God.

Yet, today, I see so many even in the evangelical community who are faltering in their support for the nation of Israel.  In church on Sunday, the pastor asked us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" and went on to say that in times like these it is hard to tell "the good guys from the bad guys."  Not so!  There is no moral equivalency between a nation that fights in self-defense and distributes leaflets urging Palestinians to evacuate--as the IDF did this week before widening the assault on Gaza--versus a nation that begins conflict for the sole purpose of ethnic genocide.  When the Palestinian teen was killed in Israel, the Israelis investigated, discovered the identities of the murderers and began prosecution.  There was no such investigation from the Palestinian side when the three Israeli teenagers were murdered.  There is no moral equivalency--there is a clear choice between a jihadist blueprint for systematic murder and terror and a free democratic nation attempting to live in peace though surrounded by enemies.  Yet, as the church which is supposed to hold high the truth of God, we seem determined to abandon one of the most prominent truths of the both the Old and New Testament--the fact that God Himself established Israel and set her boundaries.

As the conflict continues between Israel and Gaza, we pray especially for the peace and safety of Israel.  We pray that God will guide their military efforts and protect this nation which is so dear to His heart.  And we pray for a speedy end to this conflict and for God to intercede in this situation so that the region can live in safety and so that Israel's neighbors will come to respect her national sovereignty and right to exist.

Abraham Lincoln said, "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." When we stand with the nation of Israel in friendship and military support, we are on God's side.  That's why, today, I stand with Israel.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me A Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at


  1. Great post, Alexandra.....brought back some good memories. In the summer of '71, between my freshman and sophomore year in college, I got to participate in the archeological dig at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. We were there for 6 weeks and got to do a lot of touring. Masada was one of the places we were able to visit. Very moving when you think about what all happened there. By the way, my wife went on the same dig in the summer of '73 and she dug up one of those little hand held lamps. It's in perfect condition and she got permission to keep it (only a girl could get away with that!).

    1. I envy you that experience Rich. And how cool for your wife to have gotten to keep a lamp. Someday I hope to visit Israel--that's on my bucket list for sure!