Jlem Museum Traces History of Christian Zionists
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Relatively few people realize the major role Christians played in the formation of the modern State of Israel. The new Friends of Israel Museum in the heart of Jerusalem reveals this hidden history.
A dramatic introduction starts the tour: stunning aerials of Israel as a map traces the land given by God to the 12 tribes, all set to originally scored music.
The museum uses state-of-the-art technology, such as oversized touch panels, that allow visitors to learn more about the history of Christian Zionism.
Features like video mapping enhance some of the most compelling and often unknown stories of Christian Zionists' contribution to the development of the modern nation-state.
In a 2012 speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of Christian Zionists' essential role in the nation's history.
"I don't believe that the Jewish state and modern Zionism would have been possible without Christian Zionism," Netanyahu said. "I think that the many Christian supporters of the rebirth of the Jewish state and the ingathering of the Jewish people in the 19th century made possible the rise of Jewish Zionism."
American Mike Evans built the museum to help spread the word of Christian Zionism's place in Israel's history. He wanted "a home for Christians to celebrate their heroes and their history."
"I found no place in Israel where Bible believing Christians can go to. And they have heroes and they have history," Evans told CBN News.
The museum was founded on years of research and the information in a two-volume set entitled, "The History of Christian Zionism," authored by Evans.
"There are so many of them," Evans explained. "If you just take George Bush, 1844, this guy was a Hebrew professor and he wrote a book that sold a million copies on the restoration of Israel. And yes, his two relatives were U.S. presidents."
There are many others.
Orde Wingate, who formed the first Jewish fighting unit in nearly 2,000 years, the beginning of the modern Israeli army we see today.
Corrie Ten Boom and her family, whose father and sister were killed by the Nazis and she suffered in a concentration camp because her family hid Dutch Jews during the Holocaust.
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg faced death to save Jews.
One museum display explained, "In the dead of winter, Wallenberg joined thousands of Jewish prisoners on their death marches to Auschwitz, trying to save anyone he could."
Evans wondered, what fortified these Christian men and women to face death?
"I realized, number one, it was their Bible. They had an intimate relationship with the living Lord and they loved the Word of God," he said. "And they were willing to live for it. And with the Word of God came promises to the Jewish people."
Those scriptural promises, from Ezekiel to Isaiah to Abraham, are woven through the museum's exhibits.
Another display revealed, "According to the ancient writings, one day God appeared to Abram and spoke words that would give birth to the nation of Israel."
For museum visitors, the experience is Wow!
"It's an experience like no other. It's interactive. You learn a lot of things that you probably never even learned," one visitor told CBN News.
"I think this was one of the most impressive things I've seen in Israel since in the time that I've been here," another said.
Many said the museum taught them so much they'd never known before and now they want to spread the word.
"I'm going to tell everyone I can think of, the people in my synagogue, to come here to see how this beautiful land of Israel was not [Notes:built] just by the Jews, but by the Christians and the wonderful people who risked their lives to make us a homeland," one American visitor said.
For Evans, the museum lets the Jewish people know that though surrounded by enemies, they are not alone.
"They see Auschwitz and what they went through. And they see the alienation in the world today, and they come through it [Notes:the museum] and they say, we're not alone. There are Christians who really love us. And it's just amazing to see that. It gives me hope, I'm not alone. That's enough."