Why Churches Need to get Involved with Israel

By: Ingolf Ellßel, ICEJ Chairman


I am writing from the perspective of a denominational leader, an overseer of the German Pentecostal movement, to share eight reasons why churches need to get involved with Israel.

1. We Must Preach the Whole Counsel of God

For me personally, when you are a leader of pastors, you have a responsibility to lead the church into the whole gospel and all the promises the Bible gives us. Every promise is important. We read about this in 2 Corinthians 1:20, where Paul says that “every promise of God is made “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ. We can also look at promises from the Old Testament . . . they are “Amen” through Jesus.

2. Israel is a Revelation

The second reason pastors should stand on the side of Israel is because it is a revelation. When you have the grace of revelation that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, you are obliged to preach it. And when you have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and you know this is the way to build up faith in your heart, you must share it. Revelation about the promises of God is grace, too, but you are obliged to preach it and teach it. The same is true when we have a revelation to stand on the side of Israel. Theology alone does not provide this revelation to others, nor does simply listening to us talk about it—we need the help of the Holy Spirit to reveal truth about Israel whenever we preach from the Word.

Let me share a personal testimony. I had studied theology and knew a lot about Israel through this study, but I realized that it was a dead letter in my life. I knew about it, but it was not in my heart. I knew what I should do, but there was no power inside me to live it out.

Then I preached the gospel in a tent meeting in a neighboring village. During the meeting, a businesswoman found Christ. One year later, to say “thank you,” she gave me and my wife tickets to visit Israel. It was 1983, and we were just beginning to pastor a small church and did not have much money. We were very excited!

We visited Israel for eight days. It is a wonderful country with so many places to see. But there was a special moment when we were in Jerusalem, standing in front of the Western Wall. I realized the power of the Holy Spirit—it was like a Pentecost experience. After that, I felt a love for Israel deep down in my heart. The grace I received obligated me to preach and teach others to do something for Israel.

If you have not been inspired yourself, how can you inspire others? If you need such a revelation about Israel, pray! God can put this love for Israel in your heart too.

3. Israel is Loved

The Bible tells us Israel is loved by God. Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Only God can love this way! The very next verse says, “I will build you up again. And you, Virgin Israel will be rebuilt.” God’s love for Israel is why He does great things for the Jewish people.

The prophet Isaiah says about Israel: “Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life” (43:4, NKJV). God is willing to do the best for Israel. We should have the same goal. . . .

The apostle Paul tells us why God loves the Jewish people in Romans 11:28 (WEB): “But concerning the election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” [This is referring to] Abraham, who believed God . . . and walked with God in the new country the Lord wanted to give him. Abraham was obedient, even to sacrifice his own son, and God loved him.

Shouldn’t we also love what God loves? This is a strong argument. Churches need help finding this secret, and no pastor can oppose this argument. So as a leader of a denomination, when I teach pastors about God’s love for Israel, and I ask them this question: Should we also love what God loves? The answer must be very clear. Yes!

4. God Motivates Us

We should also stand on the side of Israel because God motivates us to do this. Many promises in the Bible reflect the different and wonderful ways God blesses, and we should not omit even one of them. The New Testament tells of many of these promises—Jesus Christ is the foundation of all that God promises to those who believe in Him. In Genesis 12:3, God speaks to Abraham, saying: “I will bless those who bless you . . . and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God blesses us when we bless Israel. I am motivated knowing that when I stand with and speak for Israel, God will bless me. I am sure every person who comes into this secret would [want to] get involved with Israel.

5. God Tests Us

Another reason is that relating to Israel is a test—and it’s not easy. Consider the Old Testament story about Naomi and Ruth. Naomi was an old lady who went out from the Land of Israel with her husband and two sons because Israel had been dry for many years, and there was nothing to eat. They went to the country of Moab, where both sons married Moabite women. . . . Sadly, Naomi’s husband and both sons died. Noami was left alone with her two daughters-in-law.

Naomi felt in her spirit that she should return to her home country. There was a ceremony to say goodbye, and one of the daughters-in-law, Orpah, kissed Naomi. But Ruth clung to her. Ruth 1:14 is a prophetic dimension. Naomi represents the people of Israel. There was a cloud over Israel for centuries; so many Jewish people died through different circumstances. They were hated by so many nations, and the people of Israel were poor with no home country, like Naomi.

In this story, Orpah and Ruth stand prophetically for two types of Christians: the “Orpah Christians” and the “Ruth Christians.” Orpah Christians say “thank you” to Israel because their salvation came from the Jewish people . . . and that is all: “Thank you, Israel, for Jesus Christ—now go your way.” The other type of Christian, the Ruth Christian, clings to Israel and stands by Israel’s side . . . God is testing us—even pastors and denominational leaders—and asking us: “Do you love what I love”?

Ruth Christians respond to God’s question with a resounding “Yes.”

Some say: “Yes, there was a time when Israel was poor, was homeless. But now they are returning home. And of course, the State of Israel is now rich, and the property, very expensive.” Because of this, some think proper Christians do not need to help Israel. But I know the real poverty of Israel . . . They need people to visit them, and when they feel [Christians’] love for them, they can open their heart, and we can serve them. And we need such Christians and such pastors. For this reason, I teach superintendents from our movement to live this lifestyle, which pleases God.

Satan’s persecution of the Jews still exists. Millions want Israel to perish. And I know it is not easy to stand with a despised people or on the side of the weak who have no honor in society. But this is what God does: He stands on the side of Israel, even in the difficult times. It is up to pastors to do the same.
Scripture also says Jerusalem will become a test for the nations. In Zechariah 12, Jerusalem becomes a “burdensome stone” for the nations. Some will say “we support Israel,” and some will say “no, we don’t.” Even Christians are in this test: Will I stand as a Christian on the side of Israel? Yes or no?

I have led the Pentecostal movement in Germany for 12 years. I once asked our Board: “Do we have a statement on Israel? Is there something on this in our movement?” And they were all quiet—there was no statement. I then told them that we as Germans have a bad history—really, a trauma—about the Holocaust and what our former generation did to Israel. They still stepped away and said Israel is complicated—there would be no statement.

But I taught them that you cannot be neutral in this. God is not neutral about Israel; He takes a strong position on the side of Israel. He loves them, and He cares for them. And when His Son, Jesus Christ, lives in our heart, godly things will grow up in our mind, in our heart, and in our actions. It took three years to bring them out of their neutral, quiet position and make a clear statement. With the board’s decision, we started to teach at our national conference about Israel. We invited Dr. Jürgen Bühler to speak to our pastors and others—and it changed.

Now I help pastors and Christians have a better understanding of Israel. All my trips to Israel were a study. An understanding for Israel grew in my heart, and a relationship started. With this foundation I could now teach because I had lived something. . . 

6. The Church has Questions

As a denominational leader, you must deal with why Christians are silent or neutral about the Israel issue. I discovered that we must help our fellow Christians find answers because they have many honest questions. Here are some examples:

  • As a follower of Jesus, do I have to be a friend of Israel? This question exists in the hearts of many Christians in our churches.
  • To what extent must I affirm everything that the State of Israel and the Jewish people do, including their personal and political mistakes?3
  • Why did God choose Israel? This is basic, but they do not know it. They think the gentile Christian is chosen but Israel is lost and God does not want to take care of them. But read the Bible! God will take care of them [the Jewish people], but He looks for people like you and me to do it.
  • What happens to the Arabs? Can we be their friend if we also want to be friends of Israel
  • How do we move from the New Testament position of faith and piety to Jewish customs and tradition? How do we counter the danger that with openness to Jewish tradition, customs, and Judaism, an Old Testament-oriented “legalism” will reach us? Gentile believers often fear coming back under the law.
  • Which Jewish festivals are practically important for us and ones we should also celebrate—and is there theological justification for this?

These are questions in the hearts of people.

7. We Have Similar Challenges

Another reason we should stand on the side of Israel is because we have a common fate. By “common fate,” I mean that Israel and Christians have the same end-times challenges. Let us read carefully from Revelation 12:13: “When the dragon [Satan] saw that he had been hurled down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” When I teach, I make it clear that the woman is Israel, that salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22), and the child is Jesus. But God protected the woman (Israel), and Satan was angry. Then the dragon (Revelation 12:17) was enraged at the woman and went to make war against the rest of her offspring, those who obey God’s commandments and hold the testimony of Jesus. This is happening worldwide now.

I remember an experience from one of our Feast of Tabernacles, perhaps in 2016. Our leadership invited President Reuven Rivlin to deliver a word of greetings. And I remember an important sentence from his speech: “We have noticed very well that Christianity is the most persecuted religion. We know what persecution is, and we will speak out for you.” What an important statement from the president of Israel! Jews know about persecution from their own history, and he recognized that Christians were being persecuted in many countries. We understand from Revelation 12 that the devil is behind this; he uses nations and peoples to oppress Christians around the world. Israel is stepping up to confront this. I ask all my pastors: Where are the Christians taking this step for Israel?

8. It Brings People into God’s Will 

We should also stand with Israel to bring pastors and churches into the will of God. This is the last good reason that motivates me as superintendent of our movement. I see that God cares for Israel. When we serve Israel, we are pursuing His will—and this gives us a sure knowledge of being used by Him. We are used in different ways, of course. We see how God wants to bring back all the people of Israel to their home country—the land He gave them. Just as Ruth took care of Naomi, we are helping Israel come back to the land of their fathers. I have encouraged our pastors to teach their churches that every Christian should be able to say at the end of their life: “I supported at least one Jewish person to fly home to Israel and live there.”

Scripture encourages us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Isaiah says, “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her” (Isaiah 66:10). When you love Israel, you will rejoice with her in all the successes she has. So pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). Be the guardians on her walls, praying day and night (Isaiah 62:1). This is happening, but we need to do more.

I’m very thankful for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem . . . I know they have the best contacts, even with the Israeli government, and they are influencing people worldwide. It is a privilege for me to serve with the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.