Yesterday in a conversation with a Jewish friend of mine, I was reminded of the ongoing struggle of the Jewish people, a struggle that found its way into the news twice in just the past week: First, when Neo-Nazis called for an anti-Jewish march in Whitefish, Montana; and Second, when President Obama delivered a parting shot by refusing to veto a UN resolution condemning Israel. Both of these actions left me confused, angry, and sad for my Jewish friends.
The march in Whitefish is easier to understand. It’s plain, old-fashioned anti-Semitism, the same anti-Semitism that led to the expulsion of the Jews from Israel in the first century, the pogroms that led to the massacre of Jews in Europe, and finally, the most heinous of them all, the extermination of millions of Jews under Adolph Hitler. I’ve never understood it, especially when the persecution comes from so-called Christians. God’s Word is clear: Those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed. I, for one, want to be blessed.
The second news story is more confusing. Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, bar none, and this administration has treated them like dirt ever since President Obama came to office. We’ve snubbed their prime minister, we’ve undermined their national security and we’ve given preferential treatment to Iran, a nation whose leaders have sworn to wipe Israel off the map. In many ways, the current leaders of Egypt and Jordan have been better friends to Israel than the current U.S. administration. Everyone in the Middle East, including the Israelis, knows that there needs to be a lasting peace, but you don’t get there by unilaterally ceding land to the Palestinians. They tried that in Gaza and wound up with, in effect, a Hamas-controlled missile base lobbing rockets into the heart of Israel. One of the greatest challenges to a lasting peace agreement is, who do you negotiate with? Israel has a stable democratic government, but the Palestinians are fractured and none of them are willing to let a different faction negotiate for them.
It’s a challenge, to be sure, and one that few of us in the west will ever understand, because we’ve never seen millions of our friends and family fall victim to a holocaust. If you’d like to better understand Israel, theologically, geopolitically, archeologically and sociologically, then I would encourage you to join my wife, Jennifer, and me as we lead another tour to Israel this coming May. They say that before going to Israel, you read your Bible in black and white, and after returning, you read it in full color. It’s true, and our trips are life-changing. At a minimum, every pastor should go to the Holy Land, preferably early-on in their ministry. We still have a few slots open if you would like to join us.
And before I forget, next week, Monday, is the start of the 2017 legislative session. Our government affairs team is already in place, and their job is to pass the good bills and kill the bad ones. This broadcast will also change from a weekly to a daily format to keep you up-to-date and informed on everything that’s happening in Helena. You can also visit the bill tracker on our website at montanafamily.org and finally, you can keep us in the Capitol and on the air by making a year-end gift. It’s all part of keeping Montana a great place to raise our children and grandchildren.