Standing With Israel

Standing With Israel

Peggy Shapiro

“Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall
be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be
buried.”  This famous pledge by Ruth, a young Moabite widow, to her Israelite
mother-in-law Naomi is such a moving declaration of loyalty that it is
frequently cited in marriage ceremonies.

It was also frequently repeated at the three-day (July 18-20) Christians
United for Israel (CUFI) Summit in Washington D.C. When Glenn Beck, the keynote
speaker at the culminating Summit banquet, quoted that biblical pledge of
friendship, five thousand Christians leapt to their feet in praise and
affirmation, and I, a Jew, a child of Holocaust survivors, was moved to tears by
this army of unshakeable friends.

It was my third CUFI Summit and there were many changes in an organization
which has grown to over 700,000 in its short six years of existence. In addition
to the larger halls, greater number of students (over 500), and more lobbying
appointments with Congress, there was a deepened message of commitment to
Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. The other Summits also had biblical
themes including “And I will bless those that bless you [Israel] and curse the
one who curses you. “Book of Genesis, Chapter 12, Verse 1-3. The passage
challenges individual Christians and the nation as a whole to be a blessing to
Israel if the United States is to continue as the most blessed country for
another 200 years and warns that the day America abandons Israel, America will
begin its descent. There are clear rewards for supporting Israel.

There is no reward, in this life or the next, expected in Ruth’s pledge to
her mother-in-law. In fact, Ruth knew full well that what she was doing posed
risks, yet she was firm in her determination to follow her mother-in-law and
cling to the faith she had adopted.  The Christians who assembled at the Summit
and made their heartfelt pledge to protect and stand with Israel did so out of
unconditional love and with no expectations of rewards.

They acknowledge what so many refuse to see: Jews and Christians face the
same enemies and their destinies are bound today as never before.  What begins
with the Jews doesn’t end with the Jews. Today I read
about Yousef Nadarkhani, a 32 year-old Iranian evangelical pastor, who had been
commanded by the Iranian regime to renounce his Christian faith or face
execution. Nadarkhani’s dooming sentencing is only the latest occurrence in the
Islamic Republic’s aggressive and heightened attack on the Christian
population.  It is not just Iran.  USA
Today
reports that “The single most dangerous thing in the world to be,
right now, is a Christian in a Muslim country.”

Those who are attempting to erase Jewish history from the land of Israel are
also bent on eliminating the Christian presence.  In1995. Bethlehem, the most
identifiably Christian town, had a Christian population of 80 percent.  Today
with a population of under 30 percent Christians, Bethlehem has, for the first
time in over two thousand years, lost its Christian majority. The same changes
have taken place in two other famously Christian towns, Nazareth and
Jerusalem.

The story’s the same in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere in the Mideast. The only
place in the region where the Christian population is growing is in
Israel
.

Just as Ruth, Christians United for Israel pledge their loyalty clear-eyed
about the realities of the hostilities they can encounter and expecti no rewards
for their act of love. However, the story of Ruth and Naomi does not end with a
declaration of loyalty. With Naomi’s guidance, Ruth remarries and has a son.
Naomi goes from feeling isolated to the joy of holding a grandchild in her arms.
And Ruth’s son Oved becomes the father of Jesse, whose youngest son is David,
the beloved king of all the Jewish people. Years later Jesus, a descendant of
David, is born in Bethlehem.

Without Ruth, Jewish history could not continue. And Christian history could
not begin.  CUFI stands with Israel in an ultimate pledge of loyalty, and
without that pledge, Jewish and Christian destinies would be more
vulnerable.

Peggy Shapiro is Chicago Community Coordinator for
StandWithUs

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