Televangelists Invoke Holy War to Push for Weapons for Israel, Strikes on Iran
Pastor John Hagee, joined by Israeli diplomats and lawmakers, cited End Times prophecy to call for military support for Israel, U.S. strikes on Iran.
Pastor John Hagee of the Christians United for Israel advocacy group and head of the Cornerstone Church, brought a focused message to his congregation and millions of viewers around the world.
Hagee discussed the horror of the Hamas attacks on Israel, then quickly turned his attention. “The righteous rage of America must be focused on Iran,” he thundered, flanked by Israeli diplomatic officials and joined by several members of Congress, who recorded pretaped messages of support for his cause.
The pastor called for increased military assistance to Israel and said the U.S. should ratchet up sanctions, block oil shipments to Iran, and strike at Iranian ships. “Let me say it to you in plain Texas speech,” Hagee continued, “America should roll up its sleeves and knock the living daylights out of Tehran for what they have done to Israel. Hit them so hard that our enemies will once again fear us.”
The crowd in San Antonio erupted in applause and waved small Israeli flags.
Many televangelists have depicted the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7 as a piece of a biblical prophecy that some evangelical Christians believe is sign of the “End Times.” These Christian Zionists have preached that bloodshed in Israel is necessary for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
In this interpretation, Christian Zionists cite the prophet Isaiah's words in the Old Testament, that God "shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed Judah from the four corners of the Earth,” a prophecy they believe was fulfilled with the creation of Israel in 1948. Further, verses from the Book of Revelation that discuss an apocalyptic war over Israel will usher in Christ’s return and reign over the earth.
For many of these evangelical Christians, the modern founding of Israel was the beginning of this prophecy, which they argue states that Jews must control Jerusalem before a war between the evil empires of “Gog and Magog.” Televangelists such as Hagee have said that various Arab nations, as well as China, Russia, and Iran, correspond to these biblical enemies of Israel, and he believes a war is necessary to fulfill the prophecy. According to this belief, the End Times conclude with faithful Christians raptured to heaven and Christ returning to slay or convert nonbelievers, including Jews, before ruling over the world in a final era of humankind.
Such a view of current events was on full display last Sunday, as co-pastor Matt Hagee, John Hagee’s son, and heir to the religious throne, presided over a geopolitical map of the Middle East, showing that Israel was surrounded by its biblical enemies such as a Magog as Russia and Persia as Iran.
"The Secretary of State is not going to get us out of this one,” said the younger Hagee. "God has a hook in the jaws of these nations, and he's drawing them here," he continued, pointing at the map. "God tells Ezekiel exactly how he's going to defend Israel," he said. "He speaks about raining down fire and hail and brimstone. That's a heavenly air assault.”
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, took the stage at the San Antonio, Texas church later that day, citing the prophet Isaiah, a nod to End Times theology, to call for Americans to support Israel’s war.
"We need to be partners with God,” said Erdan. “For those of us in Israel, we are battling on the frontlines, for you my friends, we need you on the frontlines as well,” he said.
The frontlines on which Americans could help, the Israeli ambassador explained, are “the political frontlines, making sure your elected officials on the state and national level stand with unwavering support for Israel.”
"Israel is the apple of God's eye, Israel is unique to God," thundered Pastor John Hagee during the broadcast. "Let me say to every person watching this telecast,” Hagee continued, "I encourage you to bless the house of Israel with your financial giving.”
The telecast featured messages from Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas, as well as Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the House Majority Whip.
“Congress must take deliberate action to give Israel whatever resources they need to end Hamas once and for all and combat Iran's support of terrorism,” said Emmer, who ended his message with a prayer. "This savage atrocity wasn't just the worst slaughter of Jews since World War 2, but one of the worst terror attacks against America since 9/11," remarked Cotton.