Inspired by an IsraelNationalRadio program, some 30 Christians protested at a Florida church against its pastor's national call for a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel.
Holding signs imprinted with Biblical verses, including one from the Book of Joel against "scattering My people and dividing My land," the demonstrators were responding to an open letter to President Bush favoring a Palestinian state. The letter equates Israelis with Palestinians, stating, "Both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine. Both Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other."
The signatories numbered more than 30 evangelical leaders, and among the leading names was that of Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Longwood, Florida.
The Sunday protestors were outraged at the pastor's stance so blatantly against the Bible whose message he preaches. John Hellein, of a church just two miles away, told Arutz-7, "I heard the news while riding my bicycle and listening to an Ipod radio broadcast - and I nearly fell off my bicycle. I was amazed that the pastor of a church so close to home would say something so opposed to the Bible. I knew right then that I wanted to organize some kind of protest."
Hellein said that many of the church members were unaware of the controversial stance their pastor had taken, and "thanked us for informing them of it and protesting. This is not to say that everyone agreed; there were also other opinions."
The radio broadcast he was referring to was that of Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel, hosts of Arutz-7-IsraelNationalRadio's "Light Unto The Nations" program. They issued a call to the pastor to explain his position, from a religious standpoint, on their show. Hunter declined, however, with his assistant explaining that it "just isn't the best forum for Dr. Hunter to explain his position on this issue."
Gimpel and Abramowitz noted Hunter's refusal, evoking many emails in protest of Hunter's position. They issued another call to debate the issue with him when Gimpel arrives in Florida this week for a speaking tour. Facing strong pressure within his own constituency, this time Hunter agreed - and National Public Radio was contacted to be the host.
Once again, however, the event did not materialize, because of scheduling problems at NPR. Both Hunter and Gimpel have now agreed to debate the issue on BBC Radio this Thursday, Aug. 30, at 10:20 AM EST.
The radio hosts say they have received dozens of irate listeners' emails in response to the call for yet another Arab state. "I am deeply distressed about this misguided pastor who advocates a Palestinian state in the Heart of Israel," wrote one.
Gimpel and Abramowitz say, "Pastor Hunter would be wise to heed the warning issued by his namesake, the prophet Joel, who prophesized, '...there will I deal with and execute judgment upon them for their treatment of My people and of My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and because they have divided My land.'"
"It is one thing for Pastor Hunter to stand against G-d on his own," they aver, "but to lead his congregation into such error is tragic indeed."
Abramowitz told Arutz-7 he is happy to be able to debate the issue in purely religious terms. "There are many truth-seekers in the Christian community who are willing to stand with Israel even if they have to defy their own leaders," he said. "Truth resonates. As the Jewish people, we are not seeking allies; we have a responsibility to share the truth and clarify it to a world that may not want to hear it." [- IsraelNationalNews.com ].
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It is important to know the real meaning of the verse from Joel, in its proper context. For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshafat, and I will punish them there on account of my people, my inheritance, Israel, whom they scattered among the nations, and they divided up My land. (Joel 4:1-2) In other words, when the time of the messiah arrives and G-d gathers the Jews back to the Holy Land, He will punish the gentile nations for exiling the Jews from the Land (in Roman times) and dividing up the Land among themselves. Although the exile was a Divine decree because of the sins of the Jews, the gentiles are still punished for offering their services in carrying out the decree.
Today we have a group of gentiles who say, We dont want to be punished for taking the Jewish peoples land away! Lets go and give it back to them. (The Christians have other motivations besides this, having to do with their religion. But well only address this reason.) The truth is that this is a good thought on their part. When the great Day of Judgement comes, the gentiles will be punished for all the things they did to the Jews over the centuries, and taking their land away 2000 years ago is only one thing on the long list. If a particular gentile speaks up and says, I am sorry for the things my people did to yours. I will always treat the Jews nicely, and he follows through on that with actions, he is considered one of the chassidei umos haolam (pious gentiles) and will be rewarded by G-d.
But when it comes to giving back Eretz Yisroel to us, they must be told that we are not allowed to take it from them until G-d sends us the messiah and gives us the signal that the time has come. So yes, they may feel sorry for exiling us; let them be nice to us now during the remainder of our exile, and then they will not be punished for the sin of their ancestors who took away our land. When the Day of Judgement described by Joel comes, this group of gentiles will be acquitted, since they have repented from that sin. Repentance does not always have to mean undoing the sin, for some sins are impossible to undo.
Even today, after many Jews have strayed from the true Jewish religion and have established a state of their own, we must encourage the gentiles to show kindness to Jews only in the context of exile. For them to encourage Jews to emigrate to the Holy Land and strengthen the Zionist presence there is to encourage Jews to violate their own religion and rebel against G-ds decree of exile. Furthermore, concentrating more Jews in one area of the world can only be dangerous for the physical welfare of the Jewish people.
Lastly, it is completely out of place for Jews to show anger or debate against Christians who are not sufficiently pro-Israel for their taste. These Zionists are apparently not satisfied with the 85 million Christian friends they already have, and they wish to conduct a campaign of vilification against the lone voices in the evangelist movement who have the chutzpah to call for a Palestinian state, horror of horrors.