One of the trends dominating the news cycle here in Israel over recent months is the ever more apparent gap between Israeli Jews and American Jews. One commentator said that the two groups are like the proverbial couple that wakes up on the 40th anniversary of their wedding, look at each other and both say at the same time “you’re not the person I married.”
This phenomenon has a lot of people, including many of Israel’s Christian friends, deeply worried.
Here’s what I think.
Most of America’s Jews belong to streams called “Reform” “Conservative” and “Reconstructionist” while most Israeli Jews are either Orthodox or Secular/Traditional, meaning they keep a lot of traditional customs but they don’t consider themselves religiously observant (nor is there a significant number of Israeli Jews who follow the non-Orthodox streams mentioned above.)
It would take way too long to give an adequate description, but it’s enough to say that these non-Orthodox streams of Judaism are functionally atheistic, retaining a form of the nomenclature, customs and traditions of Judaism while dismissing God as either non-existent or irrelevant and treating the Bible as little more than “the foundational myths” of the Jewish people. They are, especially the younger generation, increasingly supportive of Secular Humanism and it’s economic cousin, Socialism. They are also increasingly aggressive in their rejection of traditional religion and normative Judeo-Christian values based on the Bible.
Getting back to Israel, the Nation-State that the early Zionist pioneers envisioned and which David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and the rest of that first generation of leaders founded and built was very much in that Secular Humanist and Socialist mold. If you read the memoirs of these leaders, you’ll see that they almost entirely ignored God and thought of people who took Him seriously as backward and foolish, expecting religion of all kinds to gradually disappear by the end of the 20th Century at the latest. However, they DID like the role the Bible, as well as traditions like eating matza at Passover and lighting candles at Hanukkah, played in preserving the social and cultural cohesion of the Jewish People.
Their vision of a Secular, Atheistic country with a Socialist economic system which retained the cultural patterns of traditional Jewish communal life is VERY MUCH in line with what most American Jews want Israel to be like. The fact that in 2017 Israel is unapologetically Capitalist and Israeli Jews are increasingly religious and friendly towards Evangelical Christians really doesn’t work for them. That really is the main issue that is increasingly causing American Jews, especially young people, to lose their affinity for Israel, and I would say t anyone that is looking for a solution to this problem that there really isn’t a solution, and that’s okay.
Because the modern State of Israel, with all of its imperfections and faults, is a project of the God of the Bible. I’m not a prophet, but I predict that as we move forward fewer and fewer people, Jewish or not, who don’t believe in the God of the Bible are going to support Israel or even not be opposed to it.
So how should Israel’s Christian friends and supporters react to all this?
It’s easier for me to say what Christian supporters of Israel should NOT do.
They shouldn’t worry about it, much less try to get in the middle of it, because it’s something that was going to happen sooner or later and this process is actually a good thing when seen from God’s perspective. He created this country for a reason, and it wasn’t so Jewish people could have a State where modern-day idolatry is the order of the day. (As I opined in a previous blog, Humanism, Socialism, Atheism, Feminism etc. are merely the 21st Century names people give to the idols they worship in ways that are practically indistinguishable from the names people gave to their idols in ancient times, such as Baal, Dagon, etc.)
Furthermore, this growing schism between (and to a certain degree within) the American and Israeli Jewish communities is similar to the process described in the Book of Judges when Gideon started out with thousands of soldiers and God whittled it down to 300 men, with whom He accomplished His purpose. At the end of this schism process we currently see happening, I predict that a fairly small number of Jews and Christians who fear God and take the Bible seriously will stand against the entire rest of the Human Race, including all those Jews and Christians who DON’T fear God and DON’T take the Bible seriously, in their defense of this country.
As a citizen of Israel, that scenario doesn’t worry me one bit, and I humbly suggest that it shouldn’t worry anyone who has faith in God and what He’s doing in the world today.
So keep praying for Israel (especially for Revival) and keep offering practical support in whatever way God has shown you to do. That’s all any of us can do, and it’s all we need to do.