I had a fascinating afternoon at the Travel Center today when I met a gentleman there from the 'International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem' (ICEJ). This is a notorious organisation that has published such statements as " . . . . God in His sovereignty calls and elects certain vessels for His eternal purposes." This 'vessel' in this case is the Jewish People as presently embodied in the state of Israel.
The Christian Embassy promotes the idea that God is a divine real estate agent that has granted the Jewish People (I guess that means me too), the Land of Canaan in perpetuity, quoting on their website such juicy titbits from the Old testament as, "To deliver the Land of Canaan to Abraham's natural descendants as an "everlasting possession" (Genesis 17:8)".
The ICEJ uses biblical references liberally on their website to deny any Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own, and adds their own little twist: They give this 'warning' (their word) in their 'theological monograph' entitled: 'Swords into Plowshares - Christian Zionism and the Battle for Armageddon' : " . . . If they (gentile nations) persist in permanently dividing the land and thereby disinheriting the Jewish People, they will incur the wrath and displeasure of God." I got the impression from my conversation today that the gentleman might be thinking of himself as a humble tool of God's displeasure. Gave me the creeps.
The monograph claims that accusations that the ICEJ's policies are aimed at hastening Armageddon are false, and that they are only awaiting the biblically prophesied "Messianic Kingdom on Earth". However what they do not state is that those same prophesies tell us that Armageddon and the final judgment must come first. At the conclusion of the introduction the document states, "Thus we have an interest in the fate of the entire world in heart and mind when we defend Israel's restoration to her land". The fate of the world, of course, leads through Armageddon to the Messianic Kingdom. You can find the entire document at this link.
The organization also sponsors Jews to emigrate to Israel. According to their website they have helped over 100,000 people emigrate to Israel from Russia and the Americas.
The ICEJ does some charitable work in Israel too, and liaises with a network of semi-underground messianic church groups throughout the country. The vast majority of Israelis do not like the messianic groups and 'Jews for Jesus' types. Although proselytizing is technically illegal in Israel, the folks today gave me the impression that they are definitely seeking converts. Personally I abhor the persecution of Jewish converts to Christianity in Israel and would like all these Jewish/Christian groups to be able to practice their religion in dignity and freedom. However like most folks in the Middle East, I do not like missionaries. Religion in this region is rooted in family and community and to convince someone to change their religion often fractures these relationships, dividing families, and disrupting community life.
The ICEJ claims that biblical prophesy requires all the Jews to return to the Holy Land in order to create the conditions for their messiah to return. Of course according the Book of Revelations, any of us who do not become Christian at that time will be consumed in the fires of Armageddon and everlasting damnation etc etc. (read the Christian Book of Revelations for all the gory details).
The gentleman I met today and his lady companion spoke of the great love of Jesus Christ as they tried to minister to myself and the Muslim cafe owner who finally retired to the back room in disgust. This great love they speak of is tempered by their adherence to the extreme violence of their 'End of Days' scenarios which are 'lovingly' detailed in the Christian Book of Revelations and referred to on the ICEJ website.
These people are sincere, and dangerous. Their misguided faith in the 'word' of their bible is rigid in it's support for the settlements in the West Bank and other Israeli efforts to thwart any chance of a just peace. The ICEJ is well funded and dedicated. They need to be opposed on a political and theological level and I encourage any readers who are believing Christians to counter the theocratic ideology of the ICEJ within your own communities.
A more rigorous analysis of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem can be found here.
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