NASHVILLE, TN – Israel remains vital to the Middle East, the United States, and Christianity said speakers at “Israel: Hope in a Region of Crisis,” a session on February 25 at Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention, in Nashville, TN.
Susan Michael, the USA Director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ), said the nation of Israel had no parallels in history. Surviving two exiles, the Middle Eastern state the size of New Hampshire, raises a banner to the world.
On one side, there is the message of excitement and God’s faithfulness, she said; on the other, a picture of the day of reckoning. “God will judge nations based on their treatment of Israel,” she said.
Bible teacher Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries International described the current situation of Israel in the Middle East, which is “shaken and undergoing historic changes.” Going through numerous passages in both the Old and New Testaments, Arthur described the plan God has for the nation
After quoting from her book, Israel, My Beloved, Arthur stated that Israel is God’s beloved and we should “treat her like that.
ICEJ International Director Juha Ketola began by discussing Israel’s stability in the midst of a chaotic region. “It’s a miracle that against all these dark forces and the hate from other nations, Israel is thriving,” he said.
While other nations openly hated Israel previously, things were changing now, said Ketola. And while other leaders still may not like the presence of Israel, they have become jealous of Israel’s stability and success, and are now aspiring to become more like them, he added
Ketola said the Muslims in the region are divided into two major groups: pragmatists and radicals. Among the radicals, one group believes they can attack and destroy the West now, but another group, which Ketola called “realistic radicals,” believes they have to bide their time more. The United States is mistakenly attempting to ally itself with those realistic radicals, according to Ketola.
He said that, through Israel, God is moving across the region, even in Iran. “Statistically, the number one Christian revival in the world is in Iran,” Ketola said.
The spread of the Gospel was evident in the report of the last speaker, Steven Khoury, an Arabic Christian pastor at Calvary Church Jerusalem. Having a father who is a pastor, Khoury said he was called “son of a traitor” in his community.
He faced a choice between the hate for Jews he heard on the street and the biblical stories he heard from his mother. Khoury chose to follow Christ and said he has regularly faced rocks and explosives being thrown at his home and church.
Calling himself “the triple whammy: a born-again Arab who loves Israel,” Khoury said most Muslims he hears from are facing a crossroads. They are either going to embrace the radical teachings of ISIS or turn away completely from Islam. Christians must “show them something different,” he said. He maintains part of that difference can be seen in Israel. “When you stand for Israel, you stand for all of us here. A safer Israel is a safer Christian population,” he said.
Michael concluded the session by explaining ICEJ wanted to give a “Christian perspective on Israel, the Holy Land, and the conflict there.” She said it has to be one that is based on “a love for all the peoples involved” and “an honest assessment” of the situation.
By Aaron Earls
Published: February 29, 2016