For an American Christian Zionist like me who married into the Jewish tribe, my adjustment to the new dynamic of a Biden administration is challenging.
I’ve been deeply immersed-and privileged-to work professionally on behalf of Israel for almost twenty years. It has now dawned on me that I am living in a sort of “political exile.”
In the last four years, I rejoiced in President Trump’s momentous and rightly enacted policies toward Israel. Due to his initiatives in the 2020 historic Abraham Accords, which miraculously reshaped the greater Middle East, he should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Unlike President Trump, Democrats are already re-visiting the strategically flawed Iran deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, (JCPOA) rammed through by Obama, Biden, and Kerry.
Not that Mr. Biden is unfriendly toward the Jewish state. While not a senator who initiated a lot of legislation to strengthen the US-Israel relationship, he has a positive track record in his Senate votes.
And Biden has known every prime minster since Golda Meir and supported Israel’s security aid.
Yet, each time I read that Biden is restarting down the road to an Iran deal, my nervousness takes over.
When he hired Wendy Sherman, the same key negotiator who cinched the 2015 Iran Deal, I found myself praying, “Lord, I do hope she and her team have learned lessons on how to negotiate strategically.”
If they conduct the Iran talks without understanding the overarching religious dimension of Iran’s Imams, it would be an enormous oversight. And underestimating the Iranians’ skill in diplomatic chess moves will once again result in more nuclear green lights for the theocratic Imams.
The highest goal of the top leaders in Tehran is to roll out a golden carpet for their “messiah,” the Twelfth Imam. It’s radical Shia Islam on steroids if they reach nuclear capability, a far too-formidable tool in the apocalyptic hands of the world’s most terror-producing nation.
My concerns have only increased since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, prior to leaving office, made the startling announcement that Iran has served as a home base for al-Qaeda for several decades.
Naïve negotiations which dismiss the alliance of these twin terrors on the same soil cannot be repeated.
Thankfully, my concern and nervousness have directed me back to the biblical Book of Daniel and his exile. Daniel shines as an outstanding role model of what I call spiritual valor. Kidnapped from Jerusalem, Babylon became his home.
What does political exile look like though Daniel’s eyes?
Here are just a few examples that I’m re-planting in my life as guidelines for living in a new context.
Prayer – In Daniel 6:10, we read that Daniel prayed at his window facing Jerusalem, and specifically that he “got down on his knees three times a day and prayed, giving thanks to his God as he had done previously.” He often prayed for wisdom, and asked his three friends to pray with him. Even pagan monarchs could see the wisdom the Lord had given Daniel. In Daniel 5:13-14, we read the words of King Belshazzar, who said, “I have heard of you…and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.” It’s clear that Daniel spoke respectfully when appearing before the four kings who ruled in his lifetime: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. May we be faithful in ceaseless prayer for our leaders and nations, and speak respectfully to – and about – leaders with whom we disagree.
God’s Sovereignty – Daniel gave us a significant prayer in Daniel 2:20-23. “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom…He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him.” May we trust and fully rely upon the sovereignty of God at all times and in all situations.
God’s Provision – Daniel 2:46-49 relates that King Nebuchadnezzar gave Daniel “high honors and many gifts…and made him “ruler over the whole province of Babylon…” In his political exile, God never forgot Daniel. His God-given witness and wisdom changed the course of history later when Cyrus freed the exiled Jews to return home to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. We may not necessarily receive “high honors and many gifts,” but may we trust the Lord to provide graciously for us in “exile,” as well.
Repentance – Daniel was a man of humility. In chapter 9:4 he readily confessed his own sins, and those of his nation, “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from Your commands and laws…” May we humble ourselves and confess our sins, and our nation’s sins, to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, as well.
Armed with Daniel’s examples in prayer, God’s sovereignty, God’s provision, and our repentance, I’m confident that the Lord will give me His supernatural shalom when my concerns and nervousness overcome me.
My specific prayers right now focus on several points.
· I’m praying for persecuted Iranians who are coming to Christ in historic, unmatched numbers.
· I’m praying that on social media, I will write with wisdom using civil discourse that still fully expresses my values.
· I’m praying for President Biden and his administration, for an outlook governed by reality in their policies on Iran and with Palestinian leaders.
· I’m also praying that Christians will now fully engage as activists with US Congress for laws that promote the mutually beneficial US-Israel relationship.
To sum up, I’m asking the Lord to help me live like Daniel and fill me with his example of spiritual valor in tough times.
Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After nine years she retired and later worked part-time with International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA. Arlene is now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and writes a weekly column at CBN ISRAEL. She has often traveled to Israel, including being invited three times by Israel’s Government Press Office to their annual Christian Media Summit. Her web site is www.ArleneBridgesSamuels.com