By David Brickner
Ever since I can remember there has been a pushke in the office of the executive director of Jews for Jesus. This particular pushke is for the JNF. If you’ve never heard of a pushke and you don’t know what the JNF is, the former is like a piggy bank, except instead of a pig, it’s a rectangular box with a slot for coins. The latter, JNF, stands for the “Jewish National Fund.”
Many Jewish homes have a pushke for one charity or another. The JNF distributes their small blue metal boxes to collect money for planting trees in Israel.* Since its establishment in 1901, the Jewish National Fund has planted more than 240 million trees in Israel, thanks to donations from around the world. At first the contributors were mainly Jewish, but now Israel can point to sections of forested land in Israel that were made possible by donations from Christians— individuals, as well as groups.
I’m always amazed and blessed to see how many Christians love the Jewish people and the land of Israel in such tangible ways. Some give to plant trees while others help provide a variety of material aid, from food and clothing for the poor, to building schools, to funds for bomb shelters. Some churches “adopt” cities in Israel. Others give to overt political activities such as lobbying on behalf of Israel in Washington, D.C. Indeed, many in Israel see American evangelical Christians as their very best friends.
Then again, some people are uncomfortable about helping Israel, because doing so may seem to reflect views that they don’t hold. But guess what? Ultimately, none of the things we’ve mentioned thus far is the very best way to help Israel. That is not to say that such help goes unappreciated. But you can offer the very best help, the ultimate help, regardless of your political and theological views.
Stop and think: What can meet Israel’s most desperate need? The psalmist speaks for the entire nation of Israel, asking:
“From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
God has promised Israel:
“For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13).
It is easy enough for secular Israelis to forget this deeper spiritual reality, to believe that strength lies in military might or clever diplomacy, or even in strategic alliances with the United States of America. But as followers of Jesus, we should know better; we must not only remember these spiritual realities, we must also seek to speak to the people of Israel about them.
Right now we see a great spiritual hunger among Israeli Jews. But the voice of the prophets is not often heard in the land of Israel today. Nor does the fervent faith of the psalmists soothe many troubled hearts there. But Jesus offers hope to calm the fearful soul. The gospel is the good news that ultimately overcomes uncertainty and the conflict that presses in on every side. That is why Jesus is the best help we can offer to Israel. The need is urgent and He is the only solution.
There is nothing political about sharing the gospel with Israel, yet the task is explosively controversial and all too often dismissed or even discouraged by some of the very people who most wish to help. I would never discourage those who wish to plant trees or give other kinds of help if they wish. Nor is it my place to persuade Christians who disagree with Israel politically to change their views. I only want followers of Jesus to really and truly understand and be motivated by the reality that He is the only lasting source of help for the inhabitants of this deeply troubled part of the world.
This May marks the 60th anniversary of the modern state of Israel, a nation born in adversity, at enmity with her neighbors and dogged by war and strife to this very day. Our only hope for peace, Israel’s only hope for peace, was born in the Middle East some 2,000 years ago. Y’shua brings peace and reconciliation between Arab and Jewish individuals who trust in His name. One day He will establish a lasting peace that will echo around the world and reach into the hearts and lives of all who hear His voice. In the meantime, together we can be a part of bringing this hope to the hearts of those living in Israel right now.
“pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).
Mar 1, 2008
By David Brickner