by Ariel Heinsius Bryant | Regent University School of Law
One of the most prevalent concepts revealed during the 6-week biblical track of the Leaders Course is how modern Christianity tends to overlook the impactful and fundamental relationship that it has with Judaism. As was partly explained in this course, Judaism and Christianity find their roots biblically intertwined and, yet, so many Christians do a disservice to their faith and to the Jewish people by disregarding this historic and divine relationship. When I was young, my parents would take my siblings and me to Jewish events that their friends invited them too. And our home church celebrated Israel with large events and always sought to stress the bond between Jews and Christians. With this in mind, I always wondered why I never heard of my friends attending Jewish events or participating in church-wide events to celebrate Israel. In retrospect, I realize my experience was unique and that Christians in general often do not share this awareness of the Jewish people.
And the fact that many Christians overlooks this bond, also influences how modern Christianity views the state of Israel. Even though Christians are mandated to support and protect the land of Israel, so often Christians have bought into the lies about Israel being the problem in the Middle East. While in law school, I work as a Law Clerk at the American Center for Law & Justice. And just today, I was discussing Israel and its claim the land with another clerk. This individual was critiquing Israel for being so openly hostile and territorial in the Middle East. He also noted that Palestinians need more protection and support from the United States because Israel has turned into a bully in the region. Considering we both work at a pro-Israel organization and are Christians, it was surprising to hear him talk so disapprovingly about Israel’s policy to simply survive in the Middle East. Unfortunately, however, his reaction is not unique or atypical. This is a response we are seeing time and time again within the church. Thus, this course served as a reinforcement of the understanding that Jews and Christians were given an intertwined destiny, and we must have a firm understanding of that destiny or else we may fall victim to apathy towards Israel and the Jewish people.
Moving on to another topic that is somewhat related, I found the discussion of Zionism quite interesting. There is often a misunderstanding towards the concept of Zionism. It is sometimes viewed as a colonizing ideology backed by force. And yet, after looking at the Biblical passages mandating the Jewish people to return to their homeland, Zionism takes on a whole new meaning. It is certainly not a colonizing force like how Great Britain colonized India. Rather, it is a return to home and homeland. It is a return to that which already belonged to the Jewish people.
Another takeaway perspective from the course is the sheer gravity and significance of the Old Testament. Once again, often Christians go straight to the New Testament. They support this notion by asserting Jesus is the crux of Christianity and His life is documented in the New Testament primarily. But the Old Testament must not be passed over. As we read through passages in Genesis and Isaiah in particular, I found myself further and further drawn into the Old Testament. The prophecies are fascinating and the anticipation of the coming Messiah is tangible!
Ultimately, I came into this course knowing that I support Israel. Supporting Israel has always been a part of my faith, and it was something I was taught from a very young age. However, I did not necessarily have a finalized conclusion as to how much we are admonished to stand for Israel. Is saying that you stand with Israel enough? Is being involved in a CUFI chapter enough? Is celebrating Israel and going to Jewish events enough? Is being politically involved just to have an impact on U.S.-Israel relations enough? Is moving to Israel to be absorbed into the way of life enough? Anyways, there are vast levels of how to support Israel, and I was not quite sure what level of support the Bible calls us to engage. This course helped clarify that inquiry by revealing that the protection of the Jewish people and their homeland of Israel should not be a backburner topic. It should not just be something used as a conversation starter regarding standing with Israel. It should be a forefront issue and a pressing matter that you take seriously because of how significantly and passionately the Bible talks about Israel and God’s chosen people. And for me, that meant thinking from a perspective of seeking justice for Israel and the Jewish people. With my interest in the legal profession and current standing in law school, I have always had a calling towards justice. I know God has placed a burning desire in my heart to fight for justice for those who are often overlooked. And I understand that God has not bound me to fight for what is right, true, and good merely in one country. This course and Passages, in general, has further opened my eyes to justice on an international level. With my burning desire to see justice done, I can think of no greater, no more historic, and no more ancient conflict than that of Israel and its fight for survival within the Middle East. After seeing Israel firsthand and reviewing the beginnings of the Jewish people through this course, there is no doubt that Israel is crying out for justice.
All in all, I would not say that my perspective on these topics was drastically changed over the course of this program; however, my perspectives and convictions regarding Israel and the Jewish people became more deeply rooted. After this course, I am more ready than ever to engage others in supporting Israel and discussing the merits of other’s views on Israel, especially regarding its heritage and beginnings. I am grateful for the opportunity to have not only participated in Passages but to have also completed this informative and instructional course.