"Israel is not just necessary to the return of Christ, it is essential to it." So says Reverend A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in New York City.
His sentiments are shared by millions of Christians around the world, who steadfastly believe that a Jewish state is necessary for the Second Coming of Jesus. Their fervent support for Israel is buoyed by Old Testament passages that anoint Israel to the Jewish people, refer to the Jews as God's "chosen people" and promise that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).
Others Christians support Israel out of a sense of spiritual debt to the Jews, noting that the majority of the Bible was written in Hebrew and ordained by God to the Jews. It is through this original covenant between God and His "chosen people," that gentiles are able to come to God. Paul speaks of this spiritual debt and instructs us to assist the Jews (Romans 15: 27).
Other Christians have more secular reasons for supporting Israel. They believe that a united Jewish state represents the best hope of preserving the Holy Land and curbing the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East.
Whether religious or secular in nature, a deep support for Israel resonates with millions of Christians. Undeterred by the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the widespread hostility toward Christians in the Middle East, throngs of Christians immigrate each year to the Holy Land. Indeed, Israel is the only state in the Middle East where the Christian population is actually growing.
So widespread has this support for Israel become that there are far more Christians than Jewish Zionists in North America. This support of Israel is particularly strong among evangelical Christians.
Of course, all do not share their fervor. Many orthodox Christians and Catholics, for example, subscribe to the "replacement theology," or the belief that the Christian Church supplanted the Jews as God's "chosen people," when the latter refused to accept Jesus as Messiah.