Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Ignorant View of a Biased Man

Pastor John Hagee speaking at the November March for Israel (Forward)

Jay Michaelson is an open and proud gay man who is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He also is identified as a rabbi in his bio. 

I have no idea where he was ordained. But if he engages in male to male sexual activity typical of most gay people, then his rabbinic ordination is worthless – even if it is Orthodox.  There is no way a man can call himself a ‘teacher of Torah’ which is what a rabbi is supposed to do and deliberately violate one of its cardinal principles. I can't say for sure that he does that. But at the very least he has never said that such activity is forbidden if he is actually opposed to it as the Torah requires.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not anti LGBTQ+. On the contrary. I support their right to be treated with the dignity that every human being deserves. That is what being created in the image of God requires us to do. Mistreating them in any way is a violation of the Torah. They have a right to be treated with respect and human dignity. And to judge them by the content of their character, not by their sexual orientation. There is nothing sinful about being attracted to members of the same sex. It is how one reacts to that attraction that might be.

(I know that I have said this many times. But I have to say it every time the subject comes up lest I am accused of gay bashing. Something I am vehemently opposed to.)

I mention all this now because of an opinion piece he wrote in the Forward where his identity as a rabbi has relevance. Which he does bring to bear in his column.

Therein he bashes Pastor John Hagee, founder of CUFI (Christians United for Israel) one of the strongest supporters of Israel and the Jewish people in all of Christendom. I am not going to go into all the money Pastor Hagee has raised for the Jewish state or all the support he has drummed up among the Christian faithful. That kind of thing is easy to find online. Needless to say it is massive.

I am, however, going to address the Michaelson’s ‘proof’ that Hagee’s support is nothing more than a desire to bring on the second coming of his god and therefore no friend to Israel. This he says is evidenced by the following: 

“Prophetically, we are on the verge of the Gog-Magog war that Ezekiel described in chapters 38 and 39,” Hagee said on Sunday, after over 200 Iranian missiles were fired on Israel... 

And what does Hagee plan to do about this unprecedented attack? “We don’t need to de-escalate,” he said. Instead, Christians United For Israel — the Christian Zionist organization that Hagee founded in 2006 —held an “emergency fly-in” Monday to visit lawmakers in Washington, D.C., in order to “tell them to stop shuffling papers and do something to help Israel.”

A cursory look at Pastor Hagee’s comments might lead some people to say, Hey! Maybe Michaelson is right about all that Evangelical support. Maybe it is all about hastening end-times and the  second coming.  And accelerating Armageddon where non believing Jews and other non believers will die.

Wow! A Christian that believes in Christian theology. Is anyone really surprised at that? Anyone who thinks that an Evangelical preacher gave up a core Christian belief is a fool. And yet, Michaelson thinks that Hagee's true motives have finally been exposed. Which are not about supporting Israel but about hastening end-times. 

But that just isn’t the case. Of course Hagee believes in that. But guess what,  We have an end-times prophesy too. It is known as Acharis HaYomim.- the 'end of days’. Hagee’s  quote from Ezekiel is quite accurate. There will be a war between Gog and Magog - that will end with the coming of Moshiach. But not as Hagee believes with the second coming of his god. That result will manifest at the proper time. Until then Pastor Hagee’s support for Israel and the Jewish people is both warm and genuine.

In the meantime devout Jews and Christians base their views about Israel on the bible. This is why Evangelical Christians tend to support the most right wing position on settling the land of Israel. In this sense their views are not that far off from those of the religious Zionist right who believe the same thing. I don't agree that we should be doing that now for reasons that are beyond the scope of this post. My point is, however, that they do so because the bible tells them that all the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.

This hardly makes Hagee no friend of Israel. At least not any more than the tens of thousands of Israelis that believe and advocate for the same thing. Does Michaelson think they too are no friends of Israel?  Disagree if you will. But enemies of Israel they are not.

What Michaelson chooses to ignore is that people like Hagee and his flock support Israel and the Jewish people not because they want to hasten end-times (even though they believe in that theology).. But that is clearly what Michaelson want’s you to believe. 

We know why they support Israel by what they constantly preach to the flock. Quoting passages from the Torah (their Old Testament) where God says numerous times that those who bless the Jewish people will themselves be blessed. 

That being said, a lot of people will actually agree with Michaelson and  say that they have been saying this was their true motive all along. But I have heard their televangelists preaching their reasons for many years and the vast majority of time, it is all about what their their Old Testament says, Not what their New Testament says. 

The late Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein who made a career out of courting Evangelical preachers told me the same thing. Evangelical support of Israel like that of John Hagee is not based on their end-times prophesy beliefs. Michaelson’s view to the contrary not withstanding. They are simply the machinations of an ignoramus with preconceived biases who has not done his homework.