Declaring that his views on Israel have been misunderstood, evangelical Christian leader Mike Bickle has written an Op-Ed on The Times of Israel expressing his commitment to Israel and explaining remarks in which he cited Adolf Hitler as being among the “hunters” sent by God as mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah.
“Let me make clear,” Bickle wrote. “What Hitler did was evil, an utter atrocity to the Jewish people and to all of mankind. The creation of the modern state of Israel after the Holocaust is a testament to God’s enduring love for His beloved people.”
“I have been and remain committed to the spiritual and material defense of Israel and the Jewish people, as is my ministry,” Bickle went on. Later in the article, he added, “For those times when I have communicated my beliefs poorly, I apologize.”
Bickle has made headlines in recent days after he endorsed presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, and after Cruz touted his backing.
In public sermons over the years, Bickle has focused intensely on end-times prophesies, and has predicted that Jesus will not return until Jews embrace him as their Lord and savior. He has predicted a new era of Holocaust-like conditions for Jews before the Second Coming, insisting that Jews who do not recognize Jesus as their messiah will either die or be sent to prison or concentration camps. His website claims that “Jesus ‘bound’ Himself by His own prophecy, saying He would only come back and rule in Jerusalem when Israel’s leaders ask Him to reign as King over them.”
In a 2011 sermon, Bickle cited a passage from Jeremiah 16:16 to elucidate the attempted extermination of European Jewry. “The Lord says, ‘I’m going to give all 20 million of them the chance to respond to the fishermen. And I give them grace. And he says, ‘And if they don’t respond to grace, I’m going to raise up the hunters.’ And the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler,” he told an audience.
Through the International House of Prayer, Bickle runs the Israel Mandate project, an effort to convert Jews to Christianity, which runs daily livestreaming prayer services for “the nation of Israel to receive their Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus),” according to its website.
Several American Jewish groups this week demanded that Cruz clarify his position on Bickle’s endorsement. The Anti-Defamation League, for instance, called on Cruz to repudiate the rhetoric espoused in the evangelist’s sermons, along with his inflammatory positions.
“Mike Bickle’s views about why God allowed Jews to be killed in the Holocaust, as expressed in a 2011 speech, are abhorrent, intolerant and unacceptable,” the ADL said. “We assume that Senator Cruz accepted Bickle’s endorsement without knowing about these comments. We hope that when these comments are called to the Senator’s attention, he will clearly and forcefully reject Bickle’s hateful ideas.”
In response, however, the Cruz campaign said it “welcomes support” from faith leaders across the country, including that of Bickle. Cruz adviser Nick Muzin told Jewish Insider. “My understanding is that he was paraphrasing the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah. I know that he has made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of his mission.”
In his Times of Israel Op-Ed on Friday, Bickle, the founder and director of the controversial Kansas City ministry International House of Prayer, explained his controversial interpretations of passages from Zechariah and Jeremiah: “Various Old Testament prophets prophesy dark days for Israel before the Messiah returns, and I read these prophecies with dread. My message is that the Church must respond like Corrie ten Boom’s family – by standing with Israel instead of drawing back in fear and silence.”
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with other members of her family, helped Jews flee Nazi persecution during the Holocaust, which she recounted in her memoir, The Hiding Place.
“The prophecies of Zechariah and Jeremiah are difficult and easily misinterpreted to the biblically illiterate,” Bickle continued. “But let me be clear: I have made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of my ministry …
“When I was considering an endorsement of Ted Cruz, his record on Israel was central to my decision,” Bickle wrote. “I noted the way Cruz brought evangelical leaders and Jewish organizations together in a valiant effort to stop the Iran nuclear deal. I observed that no candidate for president has a stronger record than Cruz on standing with Israel, fighting radical Islamic terrorism, and combating anti-Semitism in the world. I could not and would not have supported Ted Cruz unless I were confident that he supported Israel.”