As the Christian world prepares to celebrate Christmas the harsh remarks from the international community against building in Jerusalem comes at an awkward moment. This is, after all, the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of the Jewish Jesus. Where? Not in Rome and not in America but in Bethlehem in Judea. Did I hear someone say ”occupied territories?”
The embarrassing fact for those who dislike Israel within Christendom is this. There would be no Christmas celebrations without the Jewish people. The New Testament clearly states that ”salvation is from the Jews”. (Joh. 4:22 ) The birth of Jesus, the son of David, is the ultimate gift of the Jewish people to the world. Others would want to deny his Jewishness altogether. But consider this. Jesus (Yeshua) was born in Bethlehem in Judea to Jewish parents, Joseph and Mary (Miriam). He was circumcised on the eighth day, according to Jewish tradition, and later consecrated to the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem. To me that sounds quite Jewish.
One can only speculate how the Christmas message would have come about had Jews not been allowed to give birth in Bethlehem or enter Jerusalem during this critical time in history. In modern times, after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 when the Jordanians had annexed East Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed to enter the Old City. Jews could worship freely at their holy sites in the Old City only after they had recaptured East-Jerusalem in 1967. My message to the European Union is this: Let us keep it this way. According to the Christmas message the birth of a Jew in Bethlehem and his consecration in East Jerusalem was not a ”provocation” but the ”reason for the season.” Or to quote the angel on Christmas night: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
Hence it is tragic that so many Christians today seek to discredit the Jewish people and their state through a theology of replacement and calls for boycotts. The New Testament calls us, as Christians, to do the opposite – to be thankful and bless ( Rom: 11) as the Jewish people are called to be ”a blessing to the nations.” (Gen: 12:3)
At a time when many try to rewrite history by dejudaizing Jerusalem, it is important that we as Christians reaffirm the undeniable historical facts about the capital of Israel. Not only was Jerusalem the spiritual capital of the Jewish people at the time of the birth of Jesus but it had been their capital for 1000 years before – when King David declared it the capital of the First Jewish Kingdom. His son and successor King Solomon later built the First Temple there, according to the Bible, as a holy place to worship the Almighty.
There is no more credible and well documented claim to statehood and national sovereignty than that of the Jewish people to their own homeland in Israel and to Jerusalem as their historical capital.
A final and comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors will have to be based on these historical facts and respect for commitments made under International law.
In order to secure a viable peace in the Middle East, Jerusalem will have to be kept united under Jewish sovereignty and open for people of all faiths and convictions. I believe this is the best guarantee for ”peace and good will toward all men” in the ancient region of our Lord and Savior.