Scholars in numerous articles and books have extensively covered Dr. Jerry Falwell’s character and distinctive influence in shaping the political landscape, particularly within the conservative framework of the 1980s. Regarded as a pivotal figure from the religious right, Falwell stands as a captivating political and social phenomenon. However, little attention has been given toward the inception of Dr. Falwell’s association with the State of Israel and the profound significance of the Jewish people as a cornerstone of evangelicalism in America. This aspect bears a considerable impact on the enduring relationship between the two countries, a facet deserving closer exploration and analysis.

Falwell’s Spiritual Bond with Israel

In his book, Falwell reflects on the profound moment when he first grasped the significance of the nation of Israel for a devout Christian, an insight he gained during his religious studies in college.[1] Recounting this revelation, he writes,

Chapter after chapter, book after book, the documents of the Bible narrate the story of those whom God adopted and how He aided in the rescue of His creation. He forged a covenant with the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—pledging a great nation in a secure land. ‘And from my people Israel,’ God vowed, ‘a Messiah will arise to save the entire people from their sins.’

This awareness that the Israelites are the chosen sons of God became a recurring theme in his writings, speeches, and statements—a consistent thread woven throughout his life, serving as a cornerstone of his faith. Falwell expected every devout Christian to comprehend that the children of Israel are God’s chosen sons, destined to live in peace in the land divinely promised to them in all His glory.

Falwell explores the Messianic prophecy concerning the anticipated attack on Israel in the last days in his book Listen America!.[2] His interpretation unfolds as he describes the assault by Israel’s adversaries, with the primary foe identified as the Soviet army and their Arab allies. Falwell references chapters 38 and 39 from the prophet Ezekiel’s writings, portraying the prophesied battle against Israel. In his book, he interprets the prophecy, envisioning a scenario where Russia is defeated and Israel is saved again by God’s hand. Falwell emphasizes the potential for Russians to turn to the words of God, avoiding a scenario where they might find themselves on their knees, seeking forgiveness from the God of Israel. According to his interpretation, God’s relationship with Israel is ongoing and not concluded. Yet, there’s a possibility that those nations pursuing Israel may find themselves in alignment with the biblical warning found in the Book of Genesis, 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Falwell often cites this verse as a religious motivation for those who believe in the obligation of non-Jews to bless the people of Israel—an intrinsic religious motivation to support the Jewish people and Israelites. Falwell interprets the text of the Torah literally: anyone blessing the people of Israel will find blessings bestowed upon themselves. He further explains theologically, noting that throughout history, nations persecuting the Jews have felt the weight of God’s judgment, whereas God has blessed those standing by the Jews. On the flip side, those who stood by the Jews were recipients of God’s blessings, according to Falwell. He contends that if we desire America to maintain its blessings—symbolized by fields of white wheat and significant achievements—while preserving its core identity, the nation must persist in standing by Israel.

In the chapter titled “A Miracle Called Israel,” Falwell extends into a prophetic discourse, asserting that, as of the book’s writing in 1980, God continued to bestow blessings upon the tiny state of Israel. He endeavors to substantiate the existence of God with a powerful statement:

Despite relentless efforts by its neighbors to eradicate the nation and internal challenges related to the functioning of the Knesset, Israel persists in shining forth, a testament to God’s unwavering commitment. The nation endures in freedom, a result of divine intervention.[3]

Continuing in a historical narrative infused with biblical quotations, Falwell traces Jewish history from the departure of the Israelites from the Promised Land through the diaspora and eventual return to Palestine via the Balfour Declaration. His account encompasses the establishment of the state and Israel’s wars and emphasizes the miraculous nature of divine providence—a testament to God’s commitment to safeguard the children of Israel.

Falwell then shifts to a contemporary scenario, discussing the impact of the oil embargo on US–Israel relations:

A growing dependency on oil, posing a threat not only to Israel but also to nations controlling gas and fuel, is evident. Should America compromise its relations with Israel in favor of the oil cartel, it risks following the fate of Rome, relegated to history books as an ancient power. We must not allow this outcome.[4]

A pivotal aspect of Falwell’s religious stance toward the State of Israel revolves around his response to the Armageddon theory—the notion of the renewed coming of Jesus through the war of Gog and Magog. This theory posits the destruction of the majority of the Jewish people, with the survival of a remnant known as the Derby theory.[5] Falwell has made numerous statements vehemently asserting that he does not endorse this belief. His support for the Jewish people, and Israel in particular, he contends, stems exclusively from what is ascribed to the chosen people in the Old Testament.

In addressing the issue, particularly during a tour of Israel in 1985, Falwell clarified his perspective when questioned about the Armageddon theory. He emphasized a divergence from the viewpoint held by many Zionist Christians who assert that Armageddon must unfold in the Holy Land as a precursor to the advent of the Christian Messiah. Falwell underscored, “The Holy Scriptures speak only of the struggle in the Jezreel Valley and not for the annihilation of humanity.” Responding to inquiries about the stance of the then president Reagan on the Armageddon theory, Falwell refuted any such alignment, stating, “I don’t know any person who believes or who seriously accepts that anything happening in Israel will foreshadow or delay the coming of the Messiah.”[6]

Falwell’s Approach to Imparting the Significance of Israel to Students and Future Pastors

On various occasions, Falwell underscored his role in founding the “Religious Shepherds” movement, which is dedicated to educating communities on the importance of loving Israel and the Jewish people. As noted by David Brog in his book,

Falwell expresses a profound sense of responsibility to enlighten the American populace about supporting the State of Israel and the Jewish community worldwide. Falwell actively trains thousands of pastors in this mission, emphasizing its importance. At Liberty University, where he serves as an instructor and within the broader educational scope, Falwell imparts this crucial knowledge to approximately 6,000 students, instilling in them an understanding of the issue’s significance and equipping them to play a part in eradicating anti-Semitism in the future.[7]

As an integral part of academic training within an academic institution, there was deliberate explanation and emphasis on the significance of Israel in fulfilling God’s instructions and spreading the gospel. The website of “Thomas Road Baptist Church,” where Falwell initiated his journey, outlines this connection in the “History” section. It states,

With the goal of training champions for Jesus who will enter all walks of life, the Thomas Road Baptist Church established the Lynchburg Christian Academy in 1967 and Liberty University in 1971. Since its inception, this distinctive educational system has prioritized academic excellence within the framework of its local church. An educational program geared towards the return of the Messiah emerged in the early 1970s. The Thomas Road Church garnered national acclaim during this period as one of the fastest-growing churches in America. Concurrently, a Christian counseling office was established to aid families facing challenges and guide them in constructing homes based on biblical principles. The vision for global programs and missions has progressively intensified each year, resulting in the addition of new missionaries and special projects.[8]

Later, the site refers to the book of Deuteronomy, 6:4–9:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.



From the outset of his career as a pastor and educator, Dr. Falwell seamlessly intertwined his political and religious convictions, emphasizing the significance of Israel within the framework of the community of millions of evangelical believers under his leadership. His dedicated efforts were directed toward the political advocacy of the State of Israel, the Jewish people, and the imperative to equip the next generation of leaders. In his vision, these leaders would play a pivotal role in disseminating the gospel and instilling the belief in the profound importance of Israel among believers.

[1] Jerry Falwell, Strength for the Journey: An Autobiography (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 163.

[2] Jerry Falwell, Listen, America! (New York: Doubleday, 1980).

[3] Ibid., 93.

[4] Ibid., 93.

[5] Darby Theory, originating in the 19th century, predicts Israel’s miraculous establishment and divine protection, with evangelical support crucial for its fulfillment. However, a deviation is anticipated, culminating in a false Messiah constructing a man-made third temple in Jerusalem, according to this theological perspective.

[6] Steve Rodan, “Falwell Affirms Support of Israel Despite Cool Hello,” Arizona Republic (March 9 1985): F3–1.

[7] David Brog, Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State (Lake Mary, FL: Front Line, 2006), 143.

[8] “Thomas Road Baptist Church official website,”