Many of you, along with myself, have been watching the war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas unfold on our TV and computer screens. We witnessed with horror as Hamas terrorists launched hundreds of rockets into Israel on October 7th, and then engaged in a Nazi style blitzkrieg across the border where they kidnapped hundreds of Israelis and murdered hundreds more. And the fact that we live in a time when people struggle to believe what they are hearing and seeing from the news outlets has created a great amount of confusion within the United States. There was once a time, not long ago, when the overwhelming majority of Americans would be in support of Israel. But, alas, that is no longer the case.
However, what is not new is that the academic elites, once again, are on the wrong side of the war. During the Vietnam war, liberal celebrities sat on top of Vietnam tanks in North Vietnam and stated on live television that American soldiers should apologize to the peace-loving people or North Vietnam, refusing to believe the atrocities that were being committed by Ho Chi Minh against South Vietnamese women and children, and American POW’s. During Gulf War I, liberal academic elites took to the streets chanting, “No blood for oil!”, seemingly indifferent to the atrocities being committed by Saddam Hussien in both Iraq and Kuwait. This war is no different. Liberals are driven by emotion rather than logic.
But how are Christians to view the war between Israel and Hamas? We hear all the stories of atrocities being committed in Gaza. We hear language being used that the Palestinians have been a brutally oppressed people for decades. We want to be compassionate. We hear suggestions that Israel has inflicted enough damage on Hamas and that there now should be a ceasefire, at least for humanitarian reasons. As Christians, we wonder if we should be cheering on the Israelis who are bombarding Gaza day and night. Is this the start of Armageddon? Since the war began, many Christians have taken to studying God’s Word with a Bible in one hand and the daily news in the other. Is this the beginning of the end?
I would like to offer a few guiding thoughts about how Christians should view and approach the war in Gaza. First, biblically speaking there is nothing special about the soil in Israel. Clearly, this is a debatable topic, but that largely has to do with how one approaches their interpretation of redemptive history. Those who interpret scripture through the lens of Dispensationalism believe that Israel must retain possession of the promised land in order for the temple to someday be rebuilt and for Jesus to return. However, those who interpret scripture through the lens of Covenantal-Amillennialism believe there is nothing particularly significant about the land.
In Romans 4, Paul makes the argument, using Abraham as the example, that justification before God has always been by faith along (vv.1-5). He specifically states that the “purpose was to make him [Abraham] the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them [non-Jews] as well” (v.11). He has already made the argument that a person is not a Jew who is one merely outwardly, but that a true Jew, someone who is truly a part of the people of God, are those who are circumcised in their hearts, those whose hearts are made sensitive toward the things of God by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Rom 2:28-29). Later in the book, he will unequivocally state that with regards to the people of God, ethnic Jews have been broken off because of their unbelief and Gentile believers have been grafted in because of their belief in a crucified and resurrected Messiah (11:17-24), and “in this way all Israel will be saved (v.26). Thus, the true Israel of God are not merely ethnic Jews, but rather all those (Jews and Gentiles) who place faith in Christ as the Messiah.
For this reason, when Paul talks about the promise of land that was given to Israel, he says that “the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13, emphasis added). When did God ever promise Abraham that he would be heir of the world? Paul understands that since the true Israel of God are both Jews and Gentiles who place faith in Christ, and since the true descendants of Abraham are those united to Christ by faith, then in Paul’s eschatology the true Israel of God will indeed inherit the land of Palestine, and far beyond (Rev 21:1).
Thus, there is nothing particularly special about the land of Palestine, at least not in the sense that it is needed for Christ to return. And there is nothing particularly special about the nation of Israel, at least not in the sense that they are the true or primary people of God. Nevertheless, Christians should stand with Israel, support Israel, and pray for Israel for three reasons.
First, from a political/military point of view, Israel is the only true ally the United States has in the Middle East. It is a known fact that the United States currently has numerous covert military depots throughout the nation of Israel. For decades the Unites States has stockpiled weapons and ammunition in various classified locations in Israel. The U.S. has always known that should it ever need to wage a war in the Middle East, it would need a staging ground and would need warehouses filled with weapons and ammunition at its immediate disposal. No other nation in the Middle East would ever allow the U.S. to do this. When one looks at the map surrounding Israel—Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq—there is no nation in the Middle East which is friendly toward the United States.
Second, the land of Palestine righty belongs to Israel. Regardless of one’s theological perspective or understanding of redemption, the historical fact is that God gave that land to Abraham and to his descendants (Gen 15:18). When the God of creation gives a parcel of land to a person and to his descendants, that land rightfully belongs to them. “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Rom. 9:21). The historical record shows that the land belongs to the descendants of Abraham. Of course, Muslims would argue that the Qur’an dictates that Allah has given the land to the Palestinians. However, the Qur’an has only the word of Muhamed to support its claims. The Bible has the historically verified resurrection of Christ to support its claims.
Third, Christians should share an affinity with the nation of Israel much the same way Americans have historically shared an affinity with England. Despite fighting two wars with England at the beginning of our history, the United States has always shared a very close relationship with England, not just for political/military reasons, but because in many ways the collective subconscious of the United States has always implicitly recognized England as the Mother-Country. Despite our historical bragging about having whooped England during the Revolutionary War (and arguably the War of 1812), we recognize that many of our traditions and beliefs come from England and, more importantly, we recognize that if it wasn’t for England, there would be no United States. The United States would not exist without England. Americans hate to hear that.
In the same way and for similar reasons, Paul encourages Gentile believers to view Israel the same way. Paul reminds the church in Rome that they “are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen” (Rom. 9:4-5). All Christians should share a very close affinity to the nation of Israel precisely because our Judeo-Christian values come from them. Let us not forget that Jesus was Jewish, and all the apostles were Jewish. In fact, every western democracy has established most of their forms of government from the Judeo-Christian values which reach all they way back to the Book of Genesis. The apostle Paul states quite plainly that “from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ.” In other words, if it were not for the nation of Israel, there would be no Christianity—there would be no Church. Every U.S. President since 1947 has rightly stated that the United States will always stand with Israel. Every Christian should urge their U.S Representative and Senator to stand with Israel. We should root for Israel. But above all, we should pray for Israel. But we should not only pray that Israel would be victorious in this war, but that they would come to the saving belief that the Messiah came two-thousand years ago, and that they would place their faith in Jesus of Nazareth.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies