'Promise Made, Promise Kept': Evangelicals React to Trump's Plan to Recognize Jerusalem as Israeli Capital
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Evangelicals are "ecstatic" over the Trump administration's plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"Promise made. Promise kept," declared Pastor Paula White, a member of the president's faith advisory council and senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, Florida.
"Once again, President Trump has shown the world what I have always known — he is a leader who is willing to do what is right however loud the voices are of the skeptics and the critics," she said. "Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends."
Faith leaders agree that the move is long overdue and are praising President Donald Trump for being the first in a long line of U.S. presidents in several decades to stand by America's ally in such a major way.
"It is quite possible that President Donald Trump's statement on Israel today is the single most important announcement regarding Israel by a U.S. President since President Harry Truman recognized Israel as a state 70 years ago on May 14, 1948," Dr. Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church, said in a statement.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee agreed.
"For over two decades American presidents have talked the good talk on Israel," he said. "But when it's come to taking action, they've hesitated and kicked the can down the road instead of standing with our ally and recognizing its right to call Jerusalem its capital."
"Today, President Donald Trump did what his predecessors didn't have the courage to do," Huckabee continued. "In so doing, he set two great examples for us — how to make good on promises and how to treat your friends."
This billboard has been posted in Jerusalem by pro-Israel evangelical Mike Evans, thanking Trump for the move:
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, noted, "It is a bold, courageous move that is long overdue, and is especially significant coming from Israel's closest ally. Both Jews and Christians around the world have prayed for this day, which rights a historic wrong by affirming to the world that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people."
U.S. officials are eschewing the notion that the move is a political statement. Rather, they say recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be an acknowledgement of "historical and current reality."
It's a sentiment evangelicals wholeheartedly agree with.
"The historical record, empirical fact and our faith all confirm that Jerusalem is in fact the capital of the Jewish people," said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
"Christianity began in Jerusalem, which served as the context for Jesus' life and earthly ministry," said Rev. Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia. "The significance of Jerusalem to Christians, however, cannot be separated from the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people."
"Their history is our history," he continued. "We are intertwined through our Old Testament scriptures and spiritual legacy. Their biblical examples are our biblical examples, and we share this heritage in Jerusalem as our spiritual capital while Israel also legally proclaims it as her national capital. Their national history has become our spiritual history."
Tuesday's announcement is being viewed as the beginning of a new era when it comes to America's Middle East policy.
"President Trump's support of Israel is encouraging. It marks the beginning of a new season in U.S. Middle East Policy," said Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. "The previous administration allowed persecution , terrorism, and stereotyping of the Israeli people."
Meanwhile, Dr. David Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, warned that while the decision by the Trump administration was likely to face opposition, believers shouldn't lose heart.
"There will be many who oppose this decision, just as so many have opposed Israel and her people throughout the centuries," he said. "We should not be surprised by this, but rather more convinced than ever that, despite great opposition, God's hand will forever be on the people of the promise."
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