As I said on my last post, I will now share my observations and comments regarding the speech by Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960, who then went on to become president of the US, in view of current events in Israel and the Middle East.
JFK repeatedly referred to peace and hope when he spoke highly of the bipartisan friendship US presidents and members of congress have traditionally shown to Israel, particularly the Democratic Party. But one wonders what he’d say about today’s Democratic Party and the way many in his own party appear to be shifting away from that tradition.
In a recent USA Today article, Nir Barkat commented,
I fought in the Israeli army. I was an officer injured in combat. I am proud to say Israel will always be able to defend herself. But Israel has always wanted and received from the United States the moral recognition for her right to exist and her right to determine her own destiny. Sadly, the Democratic Party took a large step away from its moral support of Israel. The Democrats sent a clear message to Israel’s enemies that Israel does not have the bipartisan moral support she once had in the USA. And that’s a message that feels like a dagger to the heart of our nation and her capital.
I was also appalled to see the delegates in the convention hall literally “boo” Jerusalem when the language was put back in. What kind of message does it send to hear roughly 50% of the Democratic Party “booing” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? In my opinion, this clearly showed Americans that the original language of the platform, with Jerusalem taken out, is the true reflection of the Democratic Party and the president.
If this trend by the Democratic Party continues, and more and more people, whether Democrat or not, adopt the same attitude toward Israel, then the hope Kennedy spoke of is on very thin ice. Friend, this is NOT good news!
What also is not good news is the kind of leadership that appears to be absent today which he described as “impartial but firm, deliberate but bold—leadership instead of rhetoric.” In recent years there has been a lot of rhetoric about “hope and change.” But, ironically, the Middle East is burning, hate and violence are spreading like wildfire, and Israel still yearns for peace and security under increasing threats and criticisms. Here we are 52 years after Kennedy’s speech, and the situation in the Middle East is getting worse instead of better. Many wonder if peace will ever come.
I propose that in view of human failure to fulfill the hope of peace that we go back to the Good Book Kennedy quoted in his speech. While we would agree that we should follow the command of the Psalmist, “Seek peace, and pursue it,” (Psalm 34:14), we must understand that it can only be achieved when humanity puts its trust in the LORD: “Blessed is the man who trusts in him,” (Psalm 34:8). I am afraid the reality is that too few really put their trust in the LORD. Instead, too much trust is put into government, military strength, economic power, and clever schemes.
The truth is, trusting the Lord is what gives us true hope for it is built upon the good news that Kennedy quotes from Psalm 122:7, “Peace be within thy walls, prosperity within your palaces. For my brethren and companion’s sake, I wish thee prosperity.” Such hope for peace between Jews and Muslims alike will not come to pass, however, until we have the right kind of leadership in place to establish it.
Here’s where the good news comes in. Those who believe in Jesus as God’s Messiah, his Anointed One, have the hope that he will literally appear from heaven to forge true and lasting peace in the world. In fact, he is called, “the Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6) and “of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end,” (Isaiah 9:7).
This hope is what motivates us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as it says in Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.” As long as nations hate the nation of Israel, seeking it’s destruction, and deny that Jerusalem is Israel’s Holy City, then there will be no hope of prosperity in the world. But those who desire good for Israel, seeking for it to flourish out of love for the Holy City, then there will be great prosperity. This hope is good news to those who sincerely pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Kennedy had it right when he said, “For Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave.” The Bible clearly indicates that Israel will not be wiped out like some would like to see. But a time will come when Jerusalem will prosper. Israel will endure and flourish. And yet, realize this: NOT because of human attempts but through divine intervention, when Jesus Christ, himself, personally appears to establish it. (See Isaiah 2:4.) So, when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are essentially praying for the Messiah to come to save Israel and bring peace among all nations of the earth.
Such is the hope of those who put their trust in the Lord. The good news is, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away,” (Isaiah 35:10).
Pastor Michael P. Brown