Yesterday, the U.S. relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a historic move packed with both political and spiritual significance.
What — or rather who — motivated president Donald Trump to go against decades of American policy at a time when the peace process is frozen, amid warnings of Arab outrage and a looming nuclear threat from Iran? When neither mainstream American Jews or Israeli leaders were pushing for this?
The answer is evangelical Christians. This represents a major shift in American-Israeli policy. Christian voters made the Jerusalem embassy issue a key pillar of the Trump campaign, insisting the president keep his promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv.
The influence of the Christian Zionist lobbying effort on the Trump administration can be seen from the prominent role given to evangelical pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee at the embassy ceremony.
How do we understand why Christians care so much about where the American embassy sits?
This week, Israel365 hosted a group of Christians from around the world on a tour from Poland to Israel to celebrate Jerusalem Day and the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
I asked participants why this move was so important to them.
The answer they gave is that it is foretold in the Bible.
In the Book of Nehemiah, the Jews had started returning to the Land of Israel from Babylonian captivity and rebuilding Jerusalem. However, Nehemiah was burdened by the fact that the city walls were still in shambles. He fasted, mourned and prayed for the mercy of God to help rebuild the walls of his beloved city.
Nehemiah worked as the cupbearer to the Persian King Cyrus. The king noticed that Nehemiah was in grief and asked his servant about his troubles. Nehemiah responded that his beloved city was destroyed and in ruins. He asked permission to go and help build the city.
Not only did the king give him permission, the king gave him the resources he would need to accomplish the task. The king granted military troops, horsemen, letters of passage and even building materials for Nehemiah to use.
So, while Nehemiah and the Jews ultimately had to carry out the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the Persian king provided the cover and funds for Nehemiah to achieve his goal.
Parallelly, today, it is President Donald Trump and his faithful evangelical supporters who have paved the way for the strengthening of Jerusalem.
As we in Israel rejoice today for the diplomatic and religious achievements that the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem represents, and while we are thanking President Trump for keeping his word, we Israelis must also thank America’s Christian Zionists.
It is evangelical Christians who are standing with Israel today in ways that Nehemiah never could have dreamed about.
Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the director of Israel365, which connects 2 million people to Israel every month. He founded the I365 newsletter, is publisher of Breaking Israel News, and editor of The Israel Bible. He lives with his family in Ramat Beit Shemesh. To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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