Local Christians, Jewish people weigh in on Embassy move to Jerusalem

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Israelis and many Christians are celebrating what they see as the spiritual significance of President Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Some Jewish people, though, say the move was purely political.

U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, right, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin unveil an inauguration plaque during the opening ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, Monday, May 14, 2018. Amid deadly clashes along the Israeli-Palestinian border, President Donald Trump's top aides and supporters on Monday celebrated the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as a campaign promised fulfilled. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Presidents Clinton, George W Bush, and Obama all pledged to move the U.S. Embassy, but they never did. With President Trump making his promise a reality Monday, many in local Christian circles say it's very biblically significant.

On the map, Israel is only the size of New Jersey, yet it makes news headlines daily.

"God has a way of testifying to the world that he has told the truth, and I think that is what we are seeing here," said Christian pastor Gary Hay. He pastors Hope Church in Springfield.

"It is the birthplace of Judaism, the birthplace of Christianity, and is at least of great significance to Islam," said Missouri State University philosophy professor Dan Kaufman.

He says that's why the world is always watching. Kaufman and Christians condemning the violence, but Pastor Hay also says he is not surprised by it. He believes it is written.

"We're told to expect that type of opposition. Jesus said if they persecute me, they'll persecute you, and he was talking to his Jewish followers at that time," Hay said.

"I don't see that it has any spiritual significance because Jerusalem was already the capital of Israel before this happened," said Kaufman.

From his perspective, the move was only symbolic, and not helpful.

"The Palestinians are not going anywhere. The Israelis are not going anywhere. They are going to have to work something out. And it's made harder it seems to me, when nations like ours signal so clearly in favor of one direction over the other, as opposed to being a bit more neutral. Now, Israel is our ally, has been throughout the Cold War and after, there's a good reason for that. But I do think that it's a bit provocative, and I don't really see the point," Kaufman said.

"Our roots go way, way back into Judaism, and Jesus was a Jew, and Jesus loved the Jews, and yet they misunderstood him. And yet he promised if they've misunderstood me and persecuted me, they will do the same to you," Pastor Hay said. "So this is not a surprise, but it's an agony and a grief, the violence, that I assure you breaks the heart of God. He promises he'll protect the nation and we should honor it too."