A Great Awakening: Israel's Next Generation

News Image By Elie Mischel/Israel 365 January 25, 2024
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I recently met with a small group of American Christians in their 50s and 60s who came to Israel to express their love of Israel during this painful time. They called it "the ministry of presence"; sometimes, simply showing up and being present makes all the difference. Still, I couldn't help but notice that the vast majority of Christians who support Israel are older. I asked the group's pastor about the younger generation of American Christians. "Will they also support Israel?" 

With a pained expression, he said, "We're not confident that America will make it, that America will be there in the end. We're a country that no longer loves the Bible and God's word. There are no guarantees."

The pastor has good reason to worry. By all accounts, young Americans are turning away from the Church in droves. According to the Pew Research Center, people who say they do not have a religious identity are projected to rise from about 30% today to over 50% in the coming decades. 

The main reason for this shift is "switching" - Christians deciding to no longer be Christian. In other words, America is suffering from a "falling away" crisis of epic proportions, with the vast majority of the dropoff taking place among young Christians between the ages of 15 and 29. Millions of young Americans are turning away from God.

This is hardly an internal Christian problem. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, "When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything." Young Americans who abandon their parents' religious path are radicalizing in ways previously unimaginable. 

A new Harvard-Harris poll found that 51 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-24 believe that Hamas' slaughter of Israeli civilians "can be justified." Given the high number of antisemitic incidents at America's top universities, it is reasonable to assume that radical anti-Israel beliefs are even more prevalent among the future leaders of the nation. "The road to hell," Thomas Sowell prophetically said, "is paved with ivy league degrees."

Without the moral grounding that religion provides, young people are struggling to distinguish between a genocidal terrorist group and the Jewish nation. Whether we realize it or not, we are fighting a war for the hearts and minds of America's younger generation - and we are losing.

Still, the abandonment of God and the radicalization of American youth is not inevitable. The proof stands before our very eyes, here in Israel, where young people are on an entirely different trajectory from their American counterparts. Our young people are more religious than their parents' generation. 

During our darkest hour, they have proven themselves to be Israel's "greatest generation," selflessly fighting to protect our people and avenge the atrocities of October 7. Filled with Jewish pride and love for one another, they are not only heroes, but also role models for young people across the world. I have no doubt that this incredible generation of Jewish heroes, driven forward by their faith in God, will lead us to victory over our enemies. 

The religious revival of our youth is no accident, but rather a sign of the "great awakening" of our people foretold by our prophets about the end of days. "Days are coming, says Hashem, and I will send famine into the land, not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of God" (Amos 8:11). 

Our soldiers are thirsty for God's word, for the Bible and God's commandments. "This tangible living thirst, which fills the practical lives of the Jewish people with its light... calls out to the nation to wake up, rise up and shake off the dust of humiliation" (Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Orot HaTechiyah 1). 

America's spiritual decline is real, and it does not bode well for the future. But let us not forget that God has a plan for the world, a plan far deeper than our human understanding can grasp. 

Originally published at Israel 365 - reposted with permission.

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