From the beginning of this ministry, when I was saved in 1971, I have promoted Israel. At first it was mainly a matter of explaining the place to Christian audiences so that they would better understand the Scriptures. I was welcomed at Biblical churches and even at some liberal churches, and the information about Israel was well received.
In those days, Israel was regarded as a brave and democratic ally of the United States, reasonably well regarded in the United Nations and appreciated for its plucky resistance to constant Arab assaults and its modern, progressive ways. Christians of all sorts got along well with Israel, and it was a pleasant ministry.
Then came the 1973 war, which the Arabs lost badly despite their overwhelming superiority of numbers and weapons. At that point, Israel’s enemies turned to using the tongue instead of the teeth. They began defaming Israel, and they caused the oil embargo of the ’70s that had us standing in long lines for gasoline. Then most of the American media turned against Israel. They seemed to buy the yarn that the Arabs had to withhold their oil because the Israelis were so mean that they made the Arabs do bad things. The press and network TV became utterly hostile to the Holy Land, and some of the same people in the same chairs—Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Walter Cronkite—defamed Israel like a bunch of dispossessed Arabs (though Israel did not dispossess any Arabs).
My ministry changed at that point to explaining that Israel was just the same as ever, suffering terrorism while constantly reaching out for peace. It was still a staunch American ally and a fully-functioning democracy. I fought the media at every turn and, of course, I still do.
Somewhere along the line, the State Department, ever the appeasing flunkies of wealthy Arab potentates, also began badmouthing Israel, and the U.S. government became a concern of mine. During the years Jimmy Carter was president, Israel was steadily criticized in Washington.
The seminaries were next. Somewhere in the mid-’80s, Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary and Talbot Seminary, among many others, began teaching strange prophecy systems like Progressive Dispensationalism, which attempted the awkward task of omitting Israel—mentioned on every page of the Bible—from End Times Prophecy. The “time of Jacob’s trouble” became sort of a time of persuading Israel that it needed to make huge land concessions to the likes of Arafat, a terrorist by that time of twenty years of bloody murder.
In the early ’90s, the Madrid Peace Conference was held. Nations assaulted peaceful Israel with all sorts of blame for the problems of the “Palestinians,” illegal aliens hailing from Arabia and claiming still another nation as their own.
Then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel would have none of that nonsense, and he told me so personally. He had no use whatever for phony peace conferences, phony pretenders to the Land, or, for that matter, the U.N., the State Department, Russia, Europe, etc. But Madrid inevitably led to the disastrous Oslo Peace Process, where left-wing Israelis attempted to win Palestinian confidence by handing over huge parcels of land, important cities like Hebron and Jericho, and even presenting them with brand new guns. My ministry changed completely; I seemed to be living in the world of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.
I then became a kind of apologist for Israel’s very existence, and I tried to show the believing churches (the liberals weren’t having me to speak anymore) that Israel very much needed their support for its own safety. Imagine having to tell what were basically American immigrants, from different young nations, that the 4,000-year-old Chosen People and their Promised Land were in real trouble.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Arafat began the terrible Intifada at the turn of the millennium, and his suicide bombers and other terrorists murdered innocent civilians wholesale. This caused frenzied reactions all around the globe about Israel’s “sinful ways.” Supposedly the Jews had done awful things to force the poor Palestinians into killing them as fast as they could.
And that about brings us to the present, where my visits to churches are now confined to purely Bible-reading congregations who deeply appreciate that all this deterioration in Israel’s affairs is a matter of real End Times Prophecy (not the anti-Israel baloney taught in the seminaries these days). I am especially well-received by the smaller, but much better informed congregations who now refer to themselves as Christian Zionists, and are waiting on the edge of their seats for the arrival of the Lord in the Rapture of the true Church.
Well, that’s the view of a Believer, but even ordinary diplomats, not necessarily scripturally informed, are beginning to see Israel as a pariah in this world. The following article appeared recently in the excellent newsletter Watchmen From Jerusalem:
A Nation Dwelling Alone
Yehuda Avner, a veteran diplomat, wrote an article confirming that God fulfills His Word. In 2005 “Israel remains something of a curio in the family of nations. Its diplomats do their professional best to represent their country as a normal sovereign nation, but the truth is that the Jewish state can’t quite shake off being the odd state out.
“This would be anathema to Zionist theorists and thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose essential hypothesis was that once Jewish people enjoyed what every other normal nation possesses—a country of their own—they would automatically enter the family of nations as a normal people and anti-Semitism would shrivel and die…one wonders to what extent the dreamers of yesteryear comprehended the depths of the anomalies and abnormalities of the Jewish people’s experience in history.”
Avner notes Balaam’s prophesy over Israel. “This people shall dwell alone and shall not be counted among the nations” (Num.23:9). “One does not have to resort to mysticism to acknowledge that this is the inimitable theme of the Jewish nation throughout history. Call it a blessing, call it a burden, call it a responsibility, call it a privilege…this national condition is an ongoing international reality…” (“The Jewish Predicament,” Y. Avner, Jerusalem Post Op-ed, April 21 2005)
Saul Singer recalls his grandmother telling him “of an article she wrote after WWII against what became a cause celebre—the quest for world government.” Particularly in the 20th century, “universalism has been seen as the elixir that will solve the world’s problems… That the 20th was both the bloodiest of centuries and one in which this vision was most repeatedly advanced may have blunted the ardor of some. The notion, however, that nationalism is the problem and universalism the salvation is still going strong…
“Judaism is on the outs in the modern world because it is particularistic. It not only believes in one God and one ethic, but its founding act was what we celebrate on Shavuot [Pentecost]: God’s gift of a particular book to a particular people…
“Some Jewish philosophers have tried to show that Judaism can conform to [universalistic] ideas… Ultimately, however, Judaism set itself on a collision course with universalism, all the more so with the Jewish state’s reestablishment in modern times.
“Not only did the Jewish people, in the form of the Davidic kingdom, arguably invent the nation state, but we had the gall to do it again just as the post-nationalistic ethic was taking hold… Our problem, then, goes beyond the fact of collections of nations, such as the UN and Arab League, ganging up on us, but that the very notion of nationalism— whether of Israel or the Jewish people—seems to go against the grain…” (“Thank you, France,” S. Singer, Jerusalem Post Op-ed, June 9, 2005)
What else can I tell you? If you want to know what’s going on in Israel, the best way is to go there.
Our Spring Tour leaves March 19 and returns March 30, with the Petra extension returning April 2. I invite you to join me as I return to Israel with renewed energy and excitement to be home again.
If spring doesn’t work for you, then you can join my lovely wife, Sandra, on our very popular and inexpensive Summer Tour. The dates are set for June 6–16. You will enjoy our “dig for a day,” where archaeological treasures await to be found. Once again, I am looking forward to seeing many of you in Orlando for our Holy Land Experience weekend, set for December 30 to January 1, 2006. We’ll have great fellowship while enjoying the pleasant Florida weather.
For information on any of these tours, you may contact Tony at 214-696-9760 during regular business hours, or call 1-800-WONDERS (966-3377) anytime to request your brochure.
And always remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
P.S. As you read this letter, our TV production crew will be flying to Israel to shoot high-definition television (HDTV) footage for our Ark of the Covenant one-hour special plus our next television series. Please support us with prayers and finances as we improve our production standards, once again, to make more beautiful programs than ever.