Every Christian loves Israel. It is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The holiest sites of Christianity are not located in the USA or Britain or Europe. They’re all in Israel. That’s why Israel is the Holy Land.
BELOW: Starring LOTR’s Legolas the Elf
Israel is mightily beloved of the evangelicals
DAP senator Nga Hock Cheh recently (April 25) said in the Dewan Negara:
“I’m just saying that since that is a proposal to establish an embassy in Palestine whether it would be better if we can also consider establishing an embassy in the Israel so that in foreign relations, we can try to broker a peace treaty between the two states in the process also gets some help from the expertise of Israel. I was just putting as a question.“
Nga is himself a Bible-thumping Christian, according to political analyst Dr Kamarul Yusoff – see his Facebook entry on April 30 titled ‘When a DAP senator preaches in the Dewan Negara’.
Dr Kamarul observed that Nga (linked to the Perak evangelical warlord Ngeh) quoted Bible verses multiple times in his senate speech. Thus the enthusiasm of the many fervent DAP Christian YBs for a Malaysian embassy in Israel is most understandable.
BELOW: Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
Why Christian knights gave their lives to capture the Holy Land
Let’s start with the celebration of Easter.
GOOD FRIDAY: Jesus was nailed to the cross, an event called the Crucifixion. Christians today wear a crucifix around their neck. The cross, upon which Jesus died, was staked on a hill named Calvary. It is located in Jerusalem.
Hours before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father in Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane is at the bottom of a slope on the Mount of Olives. The Church of All Nations is presently here.
BELOW: Rock of Agony in the Church of All Nations, where Jesus prayed on the eve of his death
The mother of Emperor Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on this traditional site of Jesus’ Crucifixion – please remember, folks … in Israel!
Side note: Constantine the Great is the Roman ruler of antiquity responsible for the expansion of the faith throughout his vast empire – what was later to become the realm of Christendom.
The city of Constantinople – today Istanbul – was the capital of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire before the Ottoman conquest. Along with Constantinople, the Byzantium cities of Alexandria (in Egypt) and Antioch (in Turkey) were major centres of early Christianity, as was Rome in the Western Roman Empire.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt by the Crusaders when they conquered Jerusalem from the Muslims.
These Christian knights established their Crusader States in the Middle East between the years 1102 and 1291 CE, centering around the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
BELOW: Monastery of the Cross, West Jerusalem
EASTER SUNDAY: After Jesus died, he was buried in the tomb still preserved inside the aforementioned historic church. ‘Sepulchre’ in general means tomb or burial place. In its Biblical usage, sepulchre refers to the cave where Jesus was buried.
A structure called the aedicule preserves the location of Jesus’ tomb.
The Resurrection is when the Christ was raised from the dead. This miracle occurred in Jerusalem, I-S-R-A-E-L.
BELOW: Bethany, Jesus’ favourite place of rest and refuge … the Church of St Lazarus is built here
According to the scripture, Jesus ascended into heaven in the vicinity of Bethany, a village down the slope of the Mount of Olives. The Church of the Holy Ascension is here and “contains what is traditionally the last footprint of Jesus on earth” in Jerusalem … which is in I-S-R-A-E-L, don’t forget.
Ascension in Christianity is “the bodily rising of Jesus into heaven on the 40th day after his Resurrection” from the physical location of Jerusalem. In Israel!
BELOW: Religious tourists at Chapel of the Ascension, a shrine located on Jerusalem‘s Mount of Olives
Jesus of Nazareth and Israel’s other biblical connections
You can’t get a more holy land than Israel for Christians.
Jerusalem is their pilgrimage destination where there is a church for any Christian whatever his denomination. Or in other words, the most important churches – be they Greek Orthodox, Byzantium, Catholic, Russian Orthodox or ancient churches built and rebuilt again through the ages – they’re all here.
And whatever place names you learned from the Bible, they’re all here in Israel too.
Jesus is associated 17 times with Nazareth in the New Testament. We say “Jesus of Nazareth” because it was where he grew up. Nazareth was then a small village in the foothills of Galilee; today it has grown into a city in northern Israel.
The beautiful Basilica of the Annunciation (pix below) is here in Nazareth. The ‘Annunciation’ is when angel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that she would conceive. Becoming the mother of baby Jesus is called the Immaculate Conception.
Second Coming of Christ linked to New Jerusalem
Israel is simply overflowing with sites sacred to Christians, recounted in both the New and Old Testaments.
Jerusalem is also known as the City of David. The Hebrew King David ruled the Kingdom of Israel and Judah c.1000 BCE. Jesus was descended from the royal line of King David.
The gates of a golden city of prophecy, New Jerusalem, are pivotal to the ‘end times’ from the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
Mount Carmel – referenced variously in the Bible – lies south of Haifa, today the third-largest city in Israel. Carmel gives its name to the famous Carmelite religious order of monks and nuns. To the southeast of Haifa is the site of Megiddo where Armageddon (End of the World Battle) is anticipated to erupt.
Places from the biblical ministry of Jesus
The bedrock of the teachings of Christ is his Sermon on Mount.
Mount of Beatitudes got its name from Jesus’ most beloved sermon that begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” is another well-known Beatitude.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:3-11).
Mount Hermon, better known as Mount Sion/Zion, is where Jesus took the disciples. This location is mentioned in Psalm 133:3 and Song of Songs 4:8.
BELOW: Crusader building in Mount Zion commemorates the site of the ‘Upper Room’ where Jesus and his 12 apostles had the Last Supper
Mount Zion overlooks the Plain of Gennesaret where Jesus often preached, including the time when he healed the multitudes. Gennesaret is southwest of Capernaum, where Jesus lived after he left Nazareth. The archeological site of the old Capernaum ruins is in modern-day Israel.
The Church of the Beatitudes sits overlooking the Sea of Galilee – actually a freshwater lake.
Galilee’s lake was where Jesus stilled the raging storm (Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25) and where he walked on water (Matthew 14:26). Near its shores Jesus fed the five thousand men, women and children through the miracle of Fish and Loaves – a popular story told in all four of the Gospels.
On the edge of the Sea of Galilee (below) at Capernaum lies the Church of the Twelve Apostles.
Biblical places not yet under Israeli control
The Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus in the town of Bethlehem. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is build at the location where Jesus was born.
Bethlehem comes under Palestinian jurisdiction for the time being although this may change in the near future since the Jews have just elected a hard right and ultra religious new Knesset (parliament). President elect Binyamin Netanyahu has indicated to Jewish voters that he will annex settlement areas in the West Bank.
Mount Sinai where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments is on the Sinai peninsula, Egypt. Israel captured Sinai in the 1967 Arab war but returned the territory to Egypt in 1982 in exchange for peace.
Israel still controls the Golan Heights, also won in the 1967 war. Recently President Donald Trump said America recognized Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights (below) which is now most unlikely be returned to Syria.
DAP is full of evangelical Christians
Republican evangelicals who are Trump’s strongest voter base just love Israel to bits. In fact, one of Trump’s strongest backers is CUFI – Christians United For Israel.
Like other Christians the world over, Americans too make regular pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. So do Malaysian Christians, the only privileged group to be exempted from our country’s ban on travel to Israel.
As can be gleaned from the landmarks referenced above, Israel and Christianity are inseparable. The soul of Israel permeates every page of the Bible – from the Old Testament (Tanakh in Hebrew) to the New Testament. Jesus was after all a Jew.
Christians have a super strong spiritual connection to Israel. If a DAP Christian ever tells you he’s anti Israel, don’t believe him.
Note: (May 3) Headline has been changed from earlier version ‘Israel is super duper holy land’