Should the American Embassy in Israel Move to Jerusalem? Christian and Messianic Jewish Scholars Respond
Christians and Messianic Jews are weighing in on the possible relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the Trump administration appears to have pushed pause on its campaign promises to do so.
Messianic Jewish scholar and host of the Line of Fire radio program Michael Brown, who has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages, told The Christian Post in a Jan. 5 phone interview that the reason he believes that "Jerusalem is the most hotly-contested city in the world. And it's not only because of natural conditions, I believe it is also because of spiritual issues."
"Although it is important that we reach out to the Palestinians to work for the well-being of all, I absolutely believe that we must recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital," Brown said, adding that there is no historic claim for Jerusalem of a Palestinian state.
In a Dec. 22 CP article, Brown predicted that if President-elect Trump successfully relocates the embassy, "1) all hell will break loose against him (expect it in the most shrill tones), with constant, worldwide controversy over the move; 2) God will bless our president for doing it; and 3) God will bless America for doing it."
Richard Land, former head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention told The Christian Post in a Jan. 5 interview that he believes God made specific promises to the Jews as a people that he did not make to the Gentiles. Some of those promises include the land of Canaan "forever," his words to Abraham in Genesis 12:3a where he says to Abraham that he will "bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you."
"Does that involve the state of Israel? Not explicitly," he added. "It involves the Jews around the world, all of them."
And in the last half of the twentieth century and first part of the twenty-first century the regathering of millions of Jews to their historic homeland is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, Land said.
As to whether or not a potential relocation of the American embassy constitutes a "blessing," to Israel, Land believes that "we have to defer to the Jews to tell us what they think blesses them and what they think doesn't bless them. It is not for us to tell the Jews what blesses them and what doesn't bless them."
"I'm not going to ask Israel as a state to make any concessions that they feel are going to endanger their national security. That's doesn't mean I won't give them my opinion. And when I think they are doing things that are wrong, I have," he continued.
Land further noted that he agrees with recently deceased Israeli President Shimon Peres that, short of the Lord's return, the only viable option for peace is a two-state solution and that he has spoken with several Israelis in recent years who acknowledge that "you cannot occupy people forever without being brutalized yourself."
CP asked Brown how he thought that blessing would materialize and if indeed President Trump and his administration does follow through with moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
While he said it would be presumptuous to give specifics, Brown offered, that "the obvious thing would be divine favor, that in many ways, we're lacking in divine favor, internationally in our status, the state of our nation at home, the massive amount of debt that we have, the amount of violence."
God cares about every person in the Middle East, he added, and Christians must recognize that "there is a Satanic attack to wipe out the Jewish people, to keep Jerusalem divided, to keep it out of Jewish sovereignty. Therefore, when we stand with God we stand against Satan and that would then bring blessing with it."
Yet others do not view the embassy move as a wise or pragmatic idea given how it may further inflame tensions in a volatile part of the world.
According to a Jerusalem-based Messianic Jew who has extensive experience in the humanitarian, nongovernmental organization world and spoke with The Christian Post on condition of anonymity, the embassy move is short-sighted which threatens to destabilize the region.
"The reason the US embassy is not in Jerusalem, though it does have a consulate here, is because along with the majority of the world, every U.S. administration and policy towards Israel and the conflict since 1967 has not recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on the basis that its final status must be determined through a negotiated settlement rather than an unilateral declaration," she said.
Such is the legal standard outlined in the Oslo accords and subsequent peace negotiations.
"Since the peace process and all negotiations have stalemated," the anonymous source added, "the final status of Jerusalem, according to U.S. and international policy, has not yet been resolved or determined."
"For those of us, Israelis and Palestinians alike, who live in Jerusalem and experience the daily tensions of life here, the last thing we want is to suffer from another decision made by seemingly out-of-touch politicians that could inflame more violence and sow more enmity and hostility in an already very divided and polarized society."
Brown acknowledged this possibility of a potential increase in turmoil but offered that "generally speaking, those that oppose Israel respond better to strength than to weakness. And if we think back to various efforts of U.S. presidents to make peace agreements with the Palestinians, they've only been rewarded with a terror campaign, with an intifada."
"All of the bloodshed that has taken place without Jerusalem being the capital didn't help. So the best thing is to take a strong stand with Israel and say Jerusalem will be undivided as the capital."
Operating from a the fear that there might be additional trouble is immaterial because they do not need to be ignited since they regularly inspire themselves with complete fabrications about the Jewish people, Brown added.
"[Moving the embassy is] on our books, we need to act on it. I believe it is a righteous thing to do. And let's also be realistic. If you live in Israel near Jerusalem, and you're Muslim, you pray with your back to Jerusalem, and your face towards Mecca. If you're a Jew praying anywhere in the world you face Jerusalem ... let's not confuse the issue, this has never been the capital of the Palestinian state," he concluded.