Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Israel
“On my first plane ride to Israel, I gained God’s heart for that nation. I was flying to another city for a prayer meeting and sat next to an African American young lady who was flying to the same city but for a different purpose. She was going to be a bridesmaid in a wedding. As we began to talk, I sensed this was more than a chance encounter when she told me that her first name was Zion, and that her last name was Redie, pronounced ‘Ready.’ Her name was Zion Redie and she was flying to a wedding. Long story short, since then, I’ve been praying the scriptures from Isaiah 62:1-2, ‘For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory.’ The passage later says, ‘And her land shall be called married….’
“Remembering this brought a renewed zeal in my heart to pray for Israel and for the Jewish people. During my trip to Israel, I learned that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other Christian African American leaders in the Civil Rights Movement enjoyed a love for Israel and had a great relationship with the Jewish community. There are reports that Dr. King actually visited Israel shortly before his assassination and was planning to bring 5,000 clergy from America for a speech on the Mount of Olives.
“Many don’t realize it, but there was a time, between 1954 and 1964, when the connection between the Jewish and African American communities was very close. Many called that season ‘The Golden Age’ of unity between our communities. For example, many Jewish scholars and rabbis were educators in historically black colleges and universities. Some even taught for free because they recognized our shared narrative of overcoming slavery and oppression. Jewish rabbis also put their compassion into action and marched with Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. Famous Orthodox rabbi Abraham Heschel was one of those rabbis and said that as he marched with Dr. King, ‘It was as if my legs were praying.’” (William Ford, III)
“And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you,
And make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:2-3; NASB)
Give Him 15 minutes in prayer:
- Intercede for the nation of Israel.
- Bless the Jews with peace and prosperity.
- Talk to the Lord about the revelation Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and William Ford, III, received for the African American community by watching His covenant relationship with Israel.
- Intercede for the Jewish people worldwide. Ask God to reveal Jesus to them. He is the Messiah they long for.
A prayer you can pray:
Lord, Israel is the apple of Your eye. Thank You for those like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Will Ford III, who have been leaders in reminding us of the covenant commitment You have with Israel and the land they are on. The fact that these men are African American is significant, as the people group they have come from has experienced some of the same things the Israelites have experienced. They have experienced a long season of slavery, yet kept their faith in You. They have been persecuted in foreign lands they were exiled to, yet they looked to You for comfort in the midst of their longing for their homeland. You sustained them.
Israel is a sign and a wonder. They are to be honored, as they show what it looks like when You make a promise. We can see that we can trust You when You make a promise. You are going to keep it. The way we act toward You may delay things, but it won’t stop You from fulfilling what You said. Dr. King knew that. He knew that Your “marriage” to Israel was the example needed in the Civil Rights Movement to see his own people set fully free. He knew they could not overcome without the hand of God involved, so he wanted his people to go to Israel, to link arms with the Jews, and to remember together the greatness of our God. The Jewish community responded and encouraged them, likewise. Is this not the Kingdom? Let our prayers rise before You for Christians and Jews of every color. Let Zion be made ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. Save and deliver, Jesus. Amen.
May America always love Israel just as the Lord does!
Learn more about William Ford, III here.