A generation ago, Christian allies of the state of Israel were generally American Evangelicals influenced by teachings that stressed the importance of the Jews’ return to Zion as a prerequisite for mankind’s final redemption. But now, writes Daniel Hummel, such allies of Israel are being dwarfed numerically by a new kind of Christian Zionist:
Israel has found potential allies [outside Europe and North America] who vastly outnumber American Christian Zionists. They are driven less by apocalypticism and more by a type of nation-based prosperity theology—an outgrowth of their Pentecostalism, which is the fastest-growing segment of Christianity in the world today.
The new Christian Zionism in countries like Brazil, Nigeria, and China is not only remarkable as a religious development. It could have major geopolitical implications. For much of the last seventy years, and especially after the Arab-Israeli war in June 1967, the Third World . . . was generally hostile to Israel in international venues such as the United Nations. Many countries . . . still do not have official diplomatic relations. But given the growth trends of Pentecostal Christianity and the expansion of Christian Zionist lobbying in dozens of countries, historical attitudes toward Israel may be changing.
In the United States, the prosperity gospel (or prosperity theology) is associated with Pentecostal preachers who teach that God bestows material blessings on those who prove their faithfulness by following the Bible. . . . Some Pentecostals outside the United States . . . have gleaned from the core insight of the prosperity gospel a more collectivist lesson: God also bestows material blessings to entire nations. In broad terms, the Old Testament depicts God materially rewarding or punishing Israel based on its actions. And just as explicitly, God seems to say, he rewards or punishes other nations based on their actions toward Israel. . . .
Genesis 12:3 is the text these Christian Zionists cite most. Speaking to Abraham, God promises, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Read plainly, this verse provides a clear roadmap for Christian Zionists to gain the favor of God: bless Abraham and his household, i.e. the state of Israel.