For Zion’s Sake

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“For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace,” declares the LORD, through his prophet Isaiah, “and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.”  So great is God’s provision for His people that even “the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory . . . ”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: This prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes!  All hail the blinding brightness of Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, and Goldie Hawn!  Behold, God is blessing His people in these Last Days, raising their profile among the Gentiles!

OK, perhaps you didn’t interpret the text that way, but at least one goy does.  John Hagee, pastor of the nondenominational Cornerstone Church of San Antonio, with “more than 18,000 active members,” has made support for the modern state of Israel the chief expression of his faith: You can find it in his church’s doctrinal statement, sandwiched between “Water Baptism” and “The Priesthood of the Believer”: “We believe in the promise of Genesis 12:3 regarding the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.  We believe that this is an eternal covenant between God and the seed of Abraham to which God is faithful.”  Under Hagee’s leadership, the church has donated tens of millions of dollars to assist Jews in moving from Russia (Gog) to Israel.

Hagee has written dozens of books on the imperative of Christian financial and political support for Israel, including 1998’s Final Dawn Over Jerusalem, in which he states that the long list of Jewish entertainers flourishing in America is an indication that God is pouring out His blessings on His people.  Hagee’s latest, Jerusalem Countdown, reveals the life of a “pastor” who must have some sort of teleporting device in order to maintain his affairs in Jerusalem and Washington while shepherding the flock of 18,000 in San Antonio: “I was invited to Washington DC to meet with Condoleezza Rice and other national leaders concerning this Roadmap,” he writes.  “When I asked about Jerusalem, this was the answer I received: ‘Jerusalem is so controversial.  It is so sensitive that it’s not even on the table for discussion.’” With all due respect to Condi Rice,  “[L]et’s put Jerusalem on the table,” he retorts, because, with no due respect to Saint Augustine, “Jerusalem is the City of God.”  Furthermore, “[g]iving up Gaza, then the West Bank, and then Jerusalem . . . clearly violates the Word of God.”

In addition to his “private” and “frank” conversations with Benjamin Netanyahu, Hagee has sources in Israeli intelligence, and one of them has secret-squirreled to him that Iran will soon have the capacity to launch long-range nuclear weapons at New York City.  The Iranians are in cahoots with the Russians, who are seeking to unite the Islamofascists against Israel and the United States.  And here, “sources” and FOX News headlines fade into Armageddonian inevitability, as he reminds us that “Ezekiel’s war as described in chapters 38 and 39 will consist of an Arab coalition of nations led by Russia for the purpose of exterminating the Jews of Israel and controlling the city of Jerusalem.”

Armed with this knowledge, last spring, Hagee created what NPR’s Guy Raz called “the first Christian political-action committee dedicated entirely to supporting the state of Israel.”  Besides chairman Hagee, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) includes such big names in the evangelical world as Gary Bauer and Jerry Falwell.  Together with 3,400 delegates, they descended upon Washington in mid-July for their inaugural meeting, even as the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was escalating dramatically.  In attendance were Israeli ambassador Daniel Ayalon, GOP chairman Ken Mehl-man, and senators Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback.  As reported by Israpundit.com, greetings were read by President Bush (“G-d bless and stand by the people of Israel and G-d bless the United States”) and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who commended CUFI’s “bold stand at this crisis time” on behalf of the land that is Israel’s “birthright.”

Citing Isaiah 62, Hagee, in his keynote address, urged Christians to refuse to remain silent for Zion’s sake.  To do so would provoke the wrath of “Almighty God, Who is watching.”  On the other hand, “think about our name: ‘Christians United.’ . . . A rabbi from Nazareth, Jesus Christ, prayed, ‘Father, that they may be one.’  Tonight, we have become one . . . for Israel.”

Ultimately, then, Christian Zionism has accomplished what popes, reformers, and councils could not: a reunification of “Christian-dom,” as Hagee put it.  Unconditional support for Israel is the sacrament around which we unite, and the victim is a border people—the residents of southern Lebanon and northern Israel—whose sacrifice is a small price to pay for the political aspirations of zealots in Jerusalem, Washington, and San Antonio.

Of Isaiah 62, one Syrian Christian had a different interpretation: “Let us prove ourselves worthy of that name which we have received,” wrote Ignatius of Antioch at the close of the first century.  “For whosoever is called by any other name besides this, he is not of God.”  How could any people—even those who produce countless Grammy and Oscar winners—be considered heirs to the promise of Isaiah 62 who “has not received the prophecy which speaks thus concerning us: ‘The people shall be called by a new name, which the Lord shall name them, and shall be a holy people’”?  “This,” Saint Ignatius continues, “was first fulfilled in Syria; for ‘the disciples were called Christians at Antioch.’” 

In his great zeal for “Zion,” Hagee has asserted (to some mild controversy) that Israelis who faithfully practice Judaism receive the grace of God just the same as Christians.  Yet, continuing his epistle, Saint Ignatius counters that “It is absurd to speak of Jesus Christ with the tongue, and to cherish in the mind a Judaism which has now come to an end.  For where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism.”  Not even the “Christian AIPAC,” as Hagee calls it, can substitute for a Faith centered on the Incarnate One, “for Christ is one, in whom every nation that believes, and every tongue that confesses, is gathered unto God.” 

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