According to Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, the talks will collapse if Israel does not extend its freeze on construction in the West Bank. On the same day Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, reportedly said that rebuilding would resume on September the 26th.
Once again, followers of Christ will undoubtedly express a variety of opinions:
Some will believe that it is a Christian’s responsibility to support Israel as God’s chosen people. Others will be convinced that a Christian’s responsibility is to seek justice for displaced and impoverished people wherever we find them.
More than a few are convinced that the land once given to Joshua and David belongs to the present state of Israel. Others have come to the conclusion that the land belongs to God and that even if he is in the process of returning Jewish people to their ancestral homeland, he will give not give them unchallenged security until the whole nation acknowledges the God of its fathers.
Others will suspect that any such effort to forge peace in the middle east prior to Christ’s return will be done in the spirit of anti-Christ. Others will believe we should always be on the side of peace rather than war, even in the middle east.
In this light see if you find any of the following thoughts significant:
- When God chooses a person or nation, it is for the sake of all (Gen 12:1-3).
- When God wanted to correct Israel’s unbelief, he sent prophets to confront her wrongs, and if his people did not respond, repeatedly allowed other nations to either oppress them or to even drive them into exile (Judges 2:11-25).
- When God wanted Israel to fight enemy nations in his name he gave them supernatural help (Josh 6).
- When Israel was in the land God gave her, she was to care for the foreigner among her (Lev 19:33-34)
- When Israel depended on foreign allies for defense (i.e. Egypt) it was regarded as a idolatrous reliance that detracted from the glory of the One who chose Israel for himself, to bless all nations (Isa 30:1-3).
- At the end of the age, all nations will turn against Israel in her state of unbelief, and will be rescued by God alone—who will also give the surviving remnant a heart of belief in the Messiah who died for the sake of all (Zechariah 12:1-11). In a real sense God will use Israel and the world to bring one another to their knees before him.
- Even in the days of the New Testament before Israel was destroyed and driven into exile by the Romans in 70AD, (fulfilling Jesus’ predictions), the Apostle Paul (who had a deep love for the people of his own nation) reminded his readers that “All who are of Israel are not Israel” (Romans 9:6). He went on to say, “In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (v 8).
For now, when an Israel that has not been restored spiritually tries to take a promised land by her own hand, they may be similar to Abraham and Sarah who tried to fulfill God’s promise by deciding to have a son by Hagar.
For now, even if we see indications that we are living in the end times we don’t really know whether there are 5 days or 500 years left on God’s timetable.
For now, followers of Christ have reason to rise above partisan, nationalistic issues while praying and calling for justice and mercy for both sides of this conflict.
For now, hoping for some degree of peace, justice, and mercy in the Middle East might be similar to trying to prolong our own physical health even though we know that our bodies will eventually die.
For now followers of Christ have every reason to care for all for whom Christ died. This is our chance to see every Jewish or Palestinian son, daughter, wife, husband, grandmother, or grandfather– on either side– as if they were our own.
Note: For the month of September we are going to be airing a new video series on the Ion Network, 7:30 a.m. Sunday mornings, called “Following Jesus in a Land of Conflict”. The series can also be seen online at www.dod.org. The series revolves around conversations I had with two Israeli citizens, one Arab Palestinian, the other Jewish, and both followers of Christ. I hope you get a chance to see some or all of these discussions.