Evangelical voters say when it comes to casting their ballots, a candidate's support of Israel is a top-tier issues, along with life and marriage. That's according to multiple interviews by The Washington Post. Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist-Dallas, says that benchmark takes on a bit more meaning for the candidates as primaries are set to begin in a few months.
"Evangelicals have had a long relationship with supporting Israel, and I believe it is an important issue for them when they consider for whom they're voting," says the Southern Baptist pastor. "I think certainly the fact that Israel is at the forefront of the news right now maybe has caused that concern about Israel to rise a little bit."
According to Jeffress, the proof text for many evangelicals is Psalm 122:6 where the psalmist directs the reader to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." And most believe that Israel is still God's chosen people, the pastor adds.
But the main reason most evangelicals support the Jewish state, it seems, is because Israel plays a major role in biblical prophecy. Many think the events right now in the Middle East could be the ramp-up to the return of Christ.
Jeffress says it's impossible to know for sure if that's the cae, but contends the signs are there. "I believe there's certainly a direct parallel between what we're seeing now and what the Bible says is going to happen in the last days," he shares.
And the pastor suggests the war in Israel is causing evangelicals to look at scriptural prophecy with new eyes – and that if this war doesn't usher in the Rapture, the Tribulation and the rest of events described in the Bible, it sure provides a roadmap.
"People have wondered for years as they read the Book of Revelation: Why would the world forces gather in Israel, a nation no bigger than New Jersey? Well, I think we can see how a regional conflict could quickly escalate into a World War," he concludes.
Jeffress is scheduled to begin a new sermon series on November 5 titled "Are We Living in the End Times?"