We Are ITAI
The Story of Itai, King David, and the Last House
General Itai was the commander of King David’s 600 mighty men. His story is found in II Samuel chapter 15.
David’s son Absalom was filled with contempt for his father and his supporters were about to overrun David’s kingdom in Jerusalem. As David, his family, and his servants were fleeing Jerusalem this large royal entourage stopped at the last house in David’s palace complex. David and his family were being forced into the wilderness and he wanted to give his household servants and loyal guards an opportunity to remain in the palace if they so desired.
As Itai and his men were passing by the king to enter into the wilderness with him, David told Itai to remain in the safety of Jerusalem because this was not Itai’s fight. You see, Itai and his men were not Jewish. They were from Gath, a foreign country. Itai’s response to David’s demand is one of the most courageous verses in the Bible: “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” (II Samuel 15:21)
The question is: Why would a Gentile foreigner lay down his life in order to protect a Jewish king?
The answer has three elements and it is why the people of ITAI (Israel Team Advocates International) support Israel and the Jewish people today. Itai supported David for three reasons: WORSHIP, RELATIONSHIP, and GUARDIANSHIP.
“As the Lord lives” (II Samuel 15:21)
The most profound yet simple statements we can make about God is that He lives. It is clear that Itai had come to believe in the Living God because of his opening statement to David, “As the Lord lives.”
“And as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life” (II Samuel 15:21)
Itai valued a person more than he did a palace. Itai committed himself to David out of loyal relationship whether David was in a place of royalty or rejection.
“Whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be” (II Samuel 15:21)
Itai saw in David’s throne the age-long redemptive plan of God. Through guarding the throne of David, Itai was taking part in God’s eternal plan of redemption that would one day be fulfilled through a descendant of David—the promised Messiah who would sit on David’s throne for eternity.
Why Christians Should Support Israel and the Jewish People
SUPPORTING ISRAEL IS AN EXPRESSION OF WORSHIP TO THE LIVING GOD
The Bible says that Israel and the Jewish people are the apple of God’s eye (Zachariah 2:8). The phrase “apple of the eye” in the Bible is a metaphor about what God cherishes. The Jewish people are worthy of God’s love, esteemed by God, and dearly loved by Him. Loving Jewish people and their promised land is an expression of worship because it is loving what God loves.
Supporting Israel and the Jewish people is to affirm that we worship a covenant-keeping God. The land of Israel was given to Abraham and his Jewish descendants through a covenant. God swore two irrevocable and unconditional oaths to Abraham:
- To “bless” or redeem the world through Abraham’s family (Genesis 12:1-3), and
- To give the promised land of Canaan to Abraham and his natural descendants as an “everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8).
If the land of Israel does not belong to the Jewish people then we have no foundation in which to worship God because He ceases to be true to His Word.
SUPPORTING ISRAEL AFFIRMS OUR GOD-ORDAINED RELATIONSHIP WITH THE JEWISH PEOPLE
By embracing the Jewish people relationally and convenantially we strategically place ourselves in the eternal story of God.
The story of God’s redemptive plan starts with a person, Abraham, and ends with a people from all nations—both Jews and Gentiles who have been joined together in Messiah as “one new man” (See Ephesians 2:11-22).
We have been uniquely bound to the Jewish people by God Himself. The roots of our faith are Jewish. The Bible was written by Jews. Our Messiah, Jesus, is Jewish.
SUPPORTING ISRAEL FULFILLS OUR CALL TO BE THEIR PROTECTORS AND GUARDIANS
Presently, anti-Semitism is rising throughout the world. A righteous remnant of Gentile Christians must rise to meet this pressing challenge to minister to Jewish people in their suffering.
Because we have been relationally engrafted into the same olive tree—the spiritual, convenantial root system God established with Abraham and his descendants—do we have any other choice but to unite ourselves with Israel and her people during these difficult days when the world seems to be turning against Jewish people?
The personal cost to Gentile Christians for such committed solidarity with Jews in a time of persecution will be high. This is why only an authentic righteous remnant of Christians will choose a path such as this. These righteous Christians will fulfill the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-40:
“When the Son of man comes in all of His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then the king will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did unto Me.”
In these verses Jesus is saying that in the last days of time His “brethren” (the Jewish People) will be imprisoned, homeless, naked, hungry, and thirsty. However, a group of people that Jesus calls “the righteous” (these are the righteous Gentiles from the nations of the world) will have mercy on the Jews and protect, nourish, and comfort them in their distress.
The Bible is filled with passages of scripture that speak of righteous Gentiles from the nations who protect and guard Israel (see Isaiah 49:22-23; 60:3-5, 10, 16).
It’s time for a decision—
Will you support the Jewish people in their wilderness journey?
“And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they stopped at the last house.” (II Samuel 15:17)
As we stand at the last house (which represents safety and security) will we choose to remain in safety? Or follow Itai down the avenue of the righteous into the wilderness with our Jewish brothers and sisters?
May we proclaim with Itai to the House of David:
“As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” (II Samuel 15:21)