Israel And Gaza; A Christian Response
Updated: Oct 23
Who wants to hear about love during a war you might say. However, that's the very time we need to remind ourselves of who we are in Christ and His great love.
Everyone who knows me understands my love for Israel and my undying support. Unlike many who have strong opinions about this topic, I have spent the better part of my adult life having fully researched the complicated relations between Israel and her neighbours in addition to the strained relationship between Jews and Christians. The Christian faith has sadly been responsible for a lot of pain and suffering of the Jewish people in the past. This is mainly due to the arrogant doctrine known as 'Replacement theology.' Anti-semitism crept into the church a long time ago and still exists today. When you read Romans 11, there is a warning for Christians who seek to become arrogant against the natural branch, the Jewish people. God is not a covenant breaker and the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.
Christians in 2023 ought to love and pray for Israel. We need to do our own research into this topic and see it from a biblical perspective. We need to see that standing with the Jewish people is God's will. That being said, doesn't God love all people, including the Palestinians? Yes, He does and He also has a purpose for each individual life, whether they choose to walk in it or not. The Palestinians ought to love their neighbour Israel and seek to do good. Genesis 12:3 states, 'I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' This is also a dire warning for those who wage war against 'the chosen people', the Jews. Few people realise that the Palestinians actually share genetic roots with the Jews.
Even though I stand with Israel, I also have a heart for all people. I learned that it’s okay to love Israel and also care for the Palestinians too. Many years ago, I visited Bethlehem where we were handing out Christmas gifts and telling the local kids that we love them and that Jesus loves them. One little boy asked me, ‘Do you love Israel?’ I responded, ‘Of course. Why do you ask?’ He replied, ‘Well if you love Israel, you don’t love me.’
I was taken aback a little but I completely understood why he felt this way. He had been raised with a ‘them or us' attitude. When I explained to the boy that God’s love was so big that I could love Israel and him as well, he easily accepted my answer and had a huge, coy smile on his face. The wall suddenly dropped, and he received the gift. He had been taught a wrong understanding of God’s love, but he was shown the truth through our care for him.
The truth is, God’s love has been shed abroad in our hearts so as ambassadors for Christ, we ought to stand with Israel but also care and pray for the innocent Palestinians. Some might argue that there are no innocent people on the other side of the border. Former Prime Minister, Golda Meir, once said, 'When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.' The sad truth is that Israel's enemies have spent more money and assets on seeking Israel's destruction than they have on building facilities for children and strengthening their own economic stability. Many believe that the humanitarian relief funds that the Gazans receive are spent on making rockets to send into Israel. Israel themselves spend their money on defense so that they can withstand the rocket attacks that come from Gaza. Israel's missile defense systems are second to none and help to save countless Israeli lives. Yet, the Palestinians have figured out a way to overwhelm this system so that rockets hit innocent civilians. They do this by sending more rockets into Israel than the system can keep up with. Hamas' own charter states that it wants to destroy Israel, they aren't shy about admitting this.
THE LAND Many perceive Israel as being the biggest bully in the region and the oppressor of Palestinians. It's actually the polar opposite. Israel is a democracy and the freest nation in the Middle East. In 1948, Israel established its own state. The plan was for the division of the land into three sections: a Jewish state, an Arab State, and the City of Jerusalem. This could have been the beginning of an Arab State (or Palestinian State) but why wasn't it? The Arabs immediately began to seek the destruction of Israel the very next day after its birth. The Arabs never wanted peace and have continually waged war against Israel. These days they chant, 'from the river to the sea Palestine will be free.' This may sound good to the ears of those who don't know any better but if you simply take a look at the geography, to free Palestine from the river to the sea means the complete annihilation of the Israeli people because that is where they are located. The Palestinians have been very effective in their publicity campaign and solely rely on the ignorance of the public who haven't conducted even the most basic and essential fact check into the situation.
The truth is, God Himself gave the Promised Land to the Jewish people. When you see the picture to the left, you will notice how small Israel is today compared to the land they were given. The red marks the initial size of Israel. We must remember that the Jews were chosen to birth Messiah and they hold a very special calling and responsibility to God. They are chosen to be servants. They are chosen to be a light in this dark world and Jerusalem is the centre of the world (Ezekiel 5:5). It's the most disputed real estate in the world yet there ought to be no dispute. The Bible, along with secular history books and even archaeological digs all prove undoubtedly that this land belongs to the Jews. It wasn't until 1964 that the Palestinians began calling themselves this name. Before Israel became a state, the people who occupied Palestine were the Jews, Christians and Arabs. Even the name 'Palestine' has changed and evolved as to what part of the region this name covered. The name 'Palestinian Arabs' was an invention to lay a false claim to the land as if they were the indigenous people. You wouldn't need to be a skilled historian to quickly and easily dispute this. Even the earth cries out with the truth as Jewish treasures are being dug up. These treasures date back thousands of years, well before the religion Islam was even invented. The ancient Romans also used this name to demolish the Jews' God-given right to the land. The word 'Palestine' comes from 'Philistine' - Israel's historic enemy - and was meant to be an insult against God's chosen people and the promise.
ISRAEL AND THEIR RESPONSE AND RESPONSIBILITY
The way that Israel responds to this October 7th atrocity is also a huge responsibility because God has entrusted them to act in accordance with His ways. Even in war. There is no such thing as a green light to respond without mercy. Yet Israel never had this mentality in the past, in fact, the opposite could be said. Israel has always shown humanity towards their enemies, and this is sadly not returned or even acknowledged for the most part. Israel does what's called a 'roof knock' before they bomb a building. This is a warning to leave the building so the Palestinians don't get hurt. Also, in previous campaigns, they have also sent out letters to warn of impending attacks. This is because Israel's army is not fighting civilians, but the Hamas terrorists who run Gaza. It's important to note that Israel has only responded with campaigns when they have been attacked with thousands of rockets coming in from Gaza, raining on the heads of innocent Israeli citizens. Often the media doesn't show the initial attack against Israel but mainly promotes Israel's response, which makes for good television. Most of the time, mainstream media doesn't outright lie, they simply only show half of the story which lacks major context. It is believed without doubt that Iran is behind this attack. It was only five years ago that Benjamin Netanyahu offered a hand to Iranian citizens who were struggling with drought in the land. Israel created a website to help them fix this problem. He bypassed Iran's leadership because he knew they would reject the help. These countries don't care about their hurting people. Israel does because God does. Israel has also been involved with countless humanitarian missions over the years and has contributed to the world through the introduction of life-saving technologies that we have adopted and give little to no credit to Israel for creating.
When I heard about the merciless attack on October 7th, I prayed that Israel would remember who they are and their identity in God. My prayer was that they would respond and do only what God would have them do. I believe God is answering my prayers and the prayers of countless others around the world. Israel has always remembered who they are and who they represent so I believe they will respond in a proportionate manner. The world may come against Israel saying that the response is disproportionate but are they really in the right position to judge this? Israel has decades of experience and intelligence that place it in the best position to evaluate the situation and respond accordingly. We must pray for them during this time because it is prophesied that the nations will eventually come against Israel. This conflict has the potential to escalate beyond what anyone could comprehend or even want to imagine. This could very well be the beginning of a world war. Those who are well-versed in Christian eschatology realise and understand the times that we are in. Zechariah 12:2 even calls Jerusalem a cup of trembling for the nations that seek to come against her. This is a future prophecy and is very concerning for those who try. WHAT DO WE MAKE OF ALL THIS?
I have had many people contact me because they are not sure what to think. They are hearing all sorts of news coming out of Gaza. The truth is that Israel is not perfect. Every country is made up of people and man is not without sin. It is possible that Israel may make mistakes. However, what I have observed about Israel over my life is that they have done everything they could to try and reach a peaceful agreement. Every attempt has been met with contempt by the Arab nations and the world. They have been lied about constantly and even their good works, which are many, are often overlooked. Ironically, even the recent great deed of letting people from Gaza work in Israel may have been to Israel's detriment. It is believed that they were used as a way to gain intel for this latest attack. It's worth mentioning that of the Palestinians who live in Gaza, 58% approve of Hamas' actions. That's a very difficult thing for a well-balanced human being to comprehend.
I can't imagine praying for the good of my enemy after what they have done. The acts committed against Israeli citizens are unthinkable and inexcusable. Despite all of this, we ought to pray for the welfare of the innocent Palestinians who are caught in the crossfire. This is a war against terror, not civilians. Children and babies everywhere deserve to be safe. Despite our feelings about their repugnant acts, we Christians need to remember what Jesus said, ‘But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.’ Luke 6:27-28. Jesus is God. He was concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. This means when Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, the God of the Jews has spoken into this situation. It's a tough call but we ought to love and pray for all people, as hard as it is to put aside our very strong emotions right now. This would be very hard for Israelis to do because they are hurting so we must stand in the gap and pray. I would hope that someone would do the same for me if I were in their situation.
We must refrain from having a closed heart like this little boy from Bethlehem. It’s not a choice between loving one or the other. You might not always feel 'the love' either, but we must always act in accordance with God's love. As an ambassidor for God, we ought to be praying. It’s about love for humans no matter who they are and where they are located. As a Christian, I feel the need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and that the Jews will come to know their own Messiah, Yeshua, in addition to their neighbours. The only hope for real peace is for the world to accept the Prince of Peace, Jesus. To be in war and to love seem to be juxtaposed positions but only with God's help can we succeed.