In Pastor Hagee’s most recent article – which even managed to grace Haaretz - he claims that, "Christians should support Israel because it is simply the right thing to do". We at Jewish Israel wish it were that pure and simple, but it’s not so for Pastor Hagee and millions of evangelical Christians.
If Pastor Hagee could keep his theology in the church, rather than publicly trying to build a covenantal union with the Jewish people, it would make any strategic relationship between Israel and her Gentile supporters a bit more kosher and far easier to digest. But rather than take a simple moral stand with the state of Israel and her people, Pastor Hagee and CUFI directors are doing all they can to consummate a theological Judeo-Christian union complete with wedding bells.
Within hours Jews will be celebrating Shavuot (when G-d gave the Torah to the Nation of Israel), and Christians will be celebrating the Pentecost (the birthday of the Church). As far as we Jews are concerned, never the twain shall meet. However, evangelicals and messianic congregations have other plans. What they present as a purported exploration of their Hebraic roots and a pursuit of common denominators with their Jewish "brethren" is, in actuality, a quest to fulfill their theology:
The book of Ruth is read in the Jewish Synagogue at the feast of Pentecost, which is the first day,as it were, of the Gentile church. The book of Ruth tells the story of a rich, powerful Jewish man who takes a Gentile bride and exalts her, the way that Jesus, on the day of Pentecost, raised up the Gentile church, as the Bride of Christ.
Pastor John Hagee’s wife, Diana Hagee, has penned "Ruth the Romance of Redemption" and in the first chapter of that book she explains the "crossover" as follows.
"… the Book of Esther, is a book about a Jewish maiden who marries a gentile and saves her people from annihilation. This book is known as the Romance of Providence… the Book of Ruth, a book about a Gentile girl who marries an Israelite and is grafted into the root of David. This book is known as the Romance of Redemption…
…I used to refer to myself as a goi when speaking to Rabbi Scheinberg because I was a non-Jew; however, after researching the Hebrew I realized I was grafted into the root of Jesse by the death of my Savior at the cross. I am God's ami, part of His people-of His covenant. I was not God's child by birth; I became God's child through adoption. Hallelujah!
Diana Hagee goes on to explain that, "Many Christian scholars, such as J. Vernon McGee, believe one of the main purposes of the Old Testament is to furnish a reliable genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Ruth is the only book in the Old Testament that presents the family tree of David, proving to be the most vital link from Abraham to the coming Messiah. The genealogical table in Ruth is duplicated, in part, in the New Testament in the Gospel of Matthew from Perez to David, with a few unique details added to the lineage in Matthew."
The themes of Esther from Purim and Ruth from Shavuot are popular among evangelicals and CUFI supporters. And, once again, if the Christian theological spin on those biblical heroines was kept within the church and the subsequent inspiration was channeled, refined and couched in terms of moral support for Israel - minus the theology - it would most likely be fine by us. But Pastor Hagee and CUFI directors have - since CUFI’s inception - insisted on introducing theological theme into mixed Jewish- Christian audiences at Nights to Honor Israel. Not only are the themes problematic, but so are some of the personalities presenting them.
According to a Heritage Florida Jewish News report dated January 17, 2008, Jewish participants in a Night to Honor Israel held in Orlando back January of 2008 reported that there was a distinct Christian tone to the evening with fiery rhetoric and references to the Antichrist, Armageddon, and blasphemers. Pastor Mike Evans and Walid Shoebat were featured speakers and some Jewish members of the audience reported feeling "uneasy".
In 2007 James Hutchens, a regional director of CUFI from its inception and the director of Jerusalem Connection sponsored a Night to Honor Israel which again played upon the theme of Shavuot:
"We will be celebrating Israel's 59th birthday with our Jewish friends and acknowledging the relevance of Shavuot for Christian Zionists," explained James M. Hutchens, president of the JerUSAlem Connection. "Shavuot is the time when the book of Ruth is emphasized. Ruth is the proto-type of the non-Jew who pledges unconditional allegiance to Naomi, her Jewish mother-in-law. Ruth is a symbol of the Christian Zionist support for Israel and the Jewish people today."
Hutchens has a sordid history in Israel. In the mid 1970's Hutchens, his wife and children deceptively converted to Judaism through the Chicago Rabbinate with the intentions of making aliyah and establishing a congregation to teach Jews that it is possible to believe in Jesus and to remain Jewish. The plot was discovered and their case was taken to the Israeli Supreme Court. Hutchens and his family were kicked out of Israel and their conversions were revoked.
To be fair it should be noted that Hutchens resigned as a CUFI regional director in 2008.
At a most recent Night to Honor Israel in Jerusalem, Hagee again picked up on the theme of Ruth.
"Ruth is a gentile speaking to a Jewish mother-in-law in a covenant relationship that changed the history of the world. Get these thoughts in your mind. Christians United for Israel is a gentile organization in a covenant relationship with the Jewish people and the state of Israel. " Hagee proceeds to read off the seven promises and he continues: "Christians and Jews listen to me very closely. Our future is bound together by a covenant relationship. What we have in common is far greater than the things which we have allowed to separate us over the centuries. We are bound together by the Torah… We are bound together by the patriarchs and by the words of the prophets. We pray to the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… "
Whoa! We will stop right here!!
As far as we Jews are concerned, there is absolutely nothing of truth in the above statement. While we are aware that Pastor Hagee has contributed in excess of 58 million dollars and his moral support and lobbying efforts toward Israel, nothing will make us Jews alter our positions regarding our G-d, our Torah, our principles of faith, or our covenantal obligations.
We may, at this particular time in history, have common concerns and interests with a number of gentile groups, but we have no covenantal relationship with them. There is nothing in our Torah that would indicate that Jews and Christians are or will be theologically bound together.
The Book of Ruth is not about a Gentile woman. It is about a righteous convert to Judaism and her kindness and devotion. Our laws of conversion are derived from the Book of Ruth. And the G-d the Jews pray to is not the same as the Christian god.
Indeed David Parsons, the media director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) recently did a magnificent job substantiating this point. From the likes of this article, it would appear that a rather nervous ICEJ is asking for a little breathing room– lest their concepts of the trinity and divinity of Jesus get compromised in the quest for Jewish friendship.
"Christians can and should genuinely engage with Jewish friends, but without ever having to
compromise our concept of the Triune God; of the promised Messiah being not only "Son of God"
but God Himself. In holding to this doctrine, we stand upon a legitimate interpretation of the Hebrew
Scriptures. Through Christ, we are invited into an eternal loving relationship self-contained within the
three persons of the Godhead, who are distinct and yet inseparable. And within that secure place,
we can confidently worship Jesus with abandon".
For the record, during that Night to Honor Israel in Jerusalem, Hagee was repeatedly welcomed home by Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, and praised and likened to a Kohen pastor and modern-day Melchizedek by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat. And in a tribute film presented that evening, the Netanya Academic College lauded Pastor Hagee for his activities to bring Jews and Christians closer and for enabling Jew and Gentile to study side by side. Hagee was hailed as "an icon" by that institution and they conferred "an honorary degree upon him, placing him among Israel’s leaders…" This and more can all be seen on GOD TV, a missionary TV station beaming from Jerusalem.
Israel’s institutions of higher learning have always invited gentiles and had them studying within their halls. Nobody has put a theological spin on it – with implications towards assimilation - until now.
The grand plan for bringing theological assimilation to Israel is best illustrated in this very recent video by Jonathan Bernis of the messianic Jewish Voice (the same "rabbi"/pastor who exposed Pat Boone , was part of a scandal involving a Knesset member , and who has a featured program on DayStar Television, a station which broadcasts in Israel with the endorsement of Pastor Hagee).
While some evangelical groups are using a more genteel and very generous approach to courting us Jews, others groups are downright aggressive and provocative, while retaining the loving theme of Ruth.
The "your people shall be my people, my god is your god " T-shirt folks sure have a strange love-hate relationship with us - bordering on the masochistic. Their leader Jacob Damkani, of Trumpet of Salvation and the Gilgal missionary hotel in Tel Aviv, can be seen and heard in this recent video, asking crowds on the streets to hit him.
He then proceeds to profess his love and understanding of those who oppose him, because he understands that he is bringing them idolatrous beliefs which are proscribed by the Torah.
By the way, on this same video, an altercation between the Ruth T-shirt brigade and some Orthodox counter-missionaries takes place in the center of Jerusalem, within a stone’s throw of the magnificent new branch of Southeastern University – a "Christ-centered" institution affiliated with the missionary organization Assemblies of God.
Another confrontation appears to take place on the Beach in Tel Aviv .
Pastor Hagee makes a point in his recent article that, "the first rule adopted by Christians United for Israel was that there would be no proselytizing at our events. CUFI exists only to honor and support the Jewish people, never to convert them."
There may be no overt proselytizing at their events, but they sure are "sharing their faith" and CUFI claims to represent many millions of evangelicals – many of whom are actively proselytizing or supporting missionary church plants in the Jewish state.
If you don’t want to rely on Jewish Israel’s conclusion, please take the time to hear it directly from ex-missionary Gavriel Sanders.
In addition, just last week, Pastor Kenneth Rawson, a devout Christian and a true friend of Israel, said Jews should embrace their Jewish heritage (not evangelicals). Pastor Rawson and his tireless support of Israel predates CUFI’s efforts by many years, and he had this to say on A7 radio’s Temple Talk show about evangelical support for Israel, Pastor Hagee, and the participants in the ICEJ Succot parade:
"Unfortunately many – not all – but many evangelical Christians do have a conversion agenda. And it is based on certain scriptures that they use to show that the Israel that they profess to love is a Christian Israel…They believe in the seven year tribulation during which the Temple will be built - which is why they’re so interested in you [Rabbi Richman]. Then there will be 144,000 Jews who are converted to Christianity and then these 144,000 Jews will just carry on missionary work throughout Israel and throughout the world and they say one third of the Jews will convert. What’s going to happen to the two thirds? Oh, they’re going to be damned eternally.
And on the Feast of the Tabernacles they have a parade and there are evangelicals marching in the parade saying, ‘We love Israel!’ ‘We love Israel!’ The Israel they love is a prospective Christian Israel… Now they of course say, ‘we don’t have a conversion agenda, and anyway if we did that would be way off in the future during the seven year tribulation.’ I’m not indicting all of the evangelicals Christians. I’m sure there are some that have taken a very moderate viewpoint on conversion of the Jews and I’m very happy to see this, but there is a conversion agenda going on right now. We’ve all heard of John Hagee and his operation…"
Pastor Rawson goes on to speak of John Hagee’s endorsement of 24/7 Daystar’s missionary television, that few Jews will remain in Israel according to the evangelical end-days scenario, and how anxious the Christians are for the Temple to be built- because they believe in the imminent return of Jesus.
Pastor Rawson concluded by addressing his beliefs and the history of Christianity, saying that, "I do not believe that Christianity was ever meant to be a majority religion. Judaism was meant to be a majority religion…"
Jewish Israel wishes a Chag Shavout Sameach to all of its Jewish readers