Israel in your face
“Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!” (Exodus 32:26b) *
Israel’s 2014 war against Hamas in Gaza is only a forerunner of what is to come – for Israel, for the Muslim-Arab world, for the nations, and for every Christian on earth.
We should be ready. There is not much time. The hour is very late and preparedness is paramount. What lies ahead will make Operation Protective Edge and the international reaction to it seem like the most flippant of clichés: A walk in the park; a Sunday-school picnic.
Yes, what is coming will be the furthest reality from a cliché that we can imagine. It will be unavoidable, frightening and something we cannot ignore. It will push Christians worldwide to the very edge.
God has a plan. He has had it from the beginning. It is an arrangement He is all ‘caught up’ in, and He is bringing it front and centre, making it impossible to disregard what He is doing.
In the outworking of this plan, there is a decision to be made before God. He asks it of each one of us. If we have not determined our response by the time events reach a level of intensity yet unseen in the course of human history, we will be hard put not to make the wrong one.
By then it may be too late.
Concerning Israel, and speaking to its future, the Bible says:
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. (Isaiah 9:2-3)
And, with glorious hope and promise:
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)
But the same Word warns:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21)
And it instructs Christians:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
At the very heart of God’s purpose lies a small piece of real estate – Israel. So it has always been, so it will always be. From time immemorial – and to the end of the age – this land has been and is center stage for the outworking of God’s redemption of mankind.
Too many Christians have lived their lives with Israel pushed into the background, events surrounding her sitting on the periphery of their faith, unheeded, unimportant.
Until 10 short weeks ago, it may have been easy for many to live this way, with Israel off the radar.
Suddenly – since June 12, 2014 – Israel is in your face for a multitude of Christians. She is in the world’s face, and she is in the enemy’s face (where she has always been).
To a number of observers, the kidnapping and murder on that day of three Jewish boys – Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach – saw a weighty shift take place in the heavenlies – in the realm of principalities and powers over Israel, the Middle East and the world.
On that tragic day, God’s prophetic timepiece ticked over.
In the first weeks after the kidnappings, not knowing that the three were already dead, a remarkable thing happened – Jews united in prayer. Hundreds of thousands inside and outside of Israel joined their cries to the worldwide appeal to God: “Hashem, bring back our boys.” The song went viral.
The night before the discovery of their bodies, their parents stood on a stage and spoke to tens of thousands of upturned faces as Jews gathered from across the country, united in solidarity, to stand with them.
These three couples, hurting yet steadfast before the Almighty, expressed their unshakeable faith in the God of their fathers – the Lord God of Israel – echoing a version of that faith-filled prayer Jews in trouble have sounded down through the centuries, all the way to the gates of their worst nightmare – “though He tarry, yet will I believe; and though He tarry, yet will I believe.”
Job once sounded similar words when he said concerning God, in the face of calamities that claimed his entire family and livelihood and could easily have broken someone of lesser faith, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust him.” (13:15)
Instead of dropping the country into depression and gloom, the terrible news of the boys’ murder crested the wave of faith and concord that had been generated by the kidnapping. This wave carried the nation, strengthened and united – from the echelons of political and military leadership, to the streets of its religious and secular cities and towns – into combat in Gaza. Older Israelis said their country had not been as one in this way since the Six Day War.
Touching on a profound, Bible-based truth, a Christian observer expressed her deep yearning and prayer that God might use this wave of national unity in the midst of suffering to gather Israel into His arms and reveal Himself to them once again.
This revelation of God to His people Israel will come. Gentile believers living in this land sense its imminent and glorious advance; we have our faces turned expectantly towards God, watching for it. But it represents only one aspect of the unfolding, most critically important, story of our time.
You see, dear readers, what we see materialising at the center of the global arena is a two-sided tale of eternal light on the one hand but never-ending darkness on the other.
On the positive side – the national drawing together of Israel signifies like the first lightening of the eastern skies, the dawning of the longed for, unending day of joy and celebration for the Jewish people, who since 1882 have been being gathered from 120 countries back into their own land.
The people of Israel believe that the destruction of their temple 2000 years ago and their banishment into exile was the consequence of fratricidal hatred and bitter division. Being bonded together as one, even through painful experiences like they are experiencing now, points to the glorious future to come.
The negative side of this story? Darkness. Gross darkness. Like speed racing, ground-covering, light-swallowing cloud shadow, night has been descending on the Gentile nations in contrasting correlation to the light rising over Israel.
What we are witnessing is nothing less than preparation for a nation-encompassing revival in Israel, the pouring out of God’s Spirit and His life-giving waters on His elect. It has begun, and so too has His judgment on the nations who spurn Him and who dare to mess with the land upon which He has chosen to put His Name.
It is essential for Christians worldwide to understand that both processes are in place, that we all will be a part of either one or the other.
Both the worldwide anti-Semitic protests and pro-Israel rallies make it very apparent that in the simultaneous outworking of these processes, people are currently making their choices, choosing their side. It is incredibly sobering to watch. It drives home the fundamental truth that where we stand concerning Israel is a point of decision every single one of us arrives at and will be asked before God to finalise.
It has been a long time coming, the global outbreak of the latest epidemic of Jew hatred. For decades, the volatile fumes of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism have been pumped into the atmosphere across the globe. The loathing has been fueled by a world seduced into believing – or choosing to believe – that the Jews have stolen Arab lands, and that Israel is a serial abuser of human rights, responsible for inflicting deliberate, decades-long suffering on the Palestinian Arabs.
Media trials and UN-appointed commissioners have already declared Israel guilty of war crimes. There are some quarters in which delegitimisation of the Jewish state is in full cry. And calls are growing for Israel’s political and military officials to be charged before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
These vapours of anti-Israel animus were swirling thick and heavy before the eruption of this Gaza war. Operation Protective Edge, sparking hysterical political responses to distorted media coverage of the conflict, merely lit the match.
From Calcutta to California, Paris to Bonn, London to Sydney, Austria to Auckland multitudes marched, denouncing and condemning Israel. Anti-Semitism at these rallies was naked – calls for gassing Jews and annihilating the Jewish state; the praising of Hitler; vandalising of synagogues, smearing of hate-filled graffiti on Jewish kindergarten walls; abuse spat on Jewish reporters.
A few misguided Jews who attended these events were lauded as heroes. But of particular significance, I believe, was the supporting presence of pro-Palestinian Christian groups.
Thus, addressing between 40,000 and 100,000 (the number varying depending on the claimants) demonstrators In Cape Town, South Africa on August 9, a spokeswoman of the Christian organisation Kairos Southern Africa accused many of that country’s Christians who do support Israel of disconnecting “from the principles of international law and basic decency” when it came to the Jewish state.
“They confuse nostalgia for the biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. This blinds and deafens them,” was Marthie Momberg’s blanket charge.
Her assertions were supported by attending Liberation Theology champion and former Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, who declared that they “were against injustice, oppression… everything that is evil.”
Glaringly absent from all these rallies was any denunciation of the evil that is Hamas, only the current most prevalent manifestation of the rancid evil that has laced the entire “struggle” of the Palestinian Arab cause.
Not thousands, but millions of Christians have attached their support to this cause. The position that the Islamic terror war seeking to create a new Arab state called Palestine is understandable and even justifiable, while Israel’s war on that terrorism, and in defense of its God-given land is evil and must be condemned, is pro-actively propagated by that vast interdenominational Christian organization, the World Council of Churches.
And as our television screens have testified in recent weeks, these Christians are in bed with the Islamists and other anti-Semites who call for Israel’s destruction. Indeed this camaraderie has been apparent at many of these recent anti-Israel events.
Conversely, God-fearing Christians who hold to the belief in the Bible as God’s Word have gathered in many of the same cities hosting the pro-Palestinian marches, coming together around local, often embattled and angst-ridden Jewish communities to declare their support of Israel’s right to militarily defend itself, and to express public admiration for the unprecedented humane way in which the IDF fights war.
In numbers, the pro-Palestinian events typically dwarf the pro-Israel ones. And the pro-Israel ones are almost exclusively attended by Jews and professing Christians.
Organizers reported that the biggest rally ever held in Africa in support of Israel – about 10,000 strong – took place on the streets of Johannesburg on August 3. Many of the attendants were Evangelical Christians. On August 5, I attended a pro-Israel rally in Prague’s Wenceslas Square. Christians came from around the Czech Republic, and some even trained in from Germany, to make their support known. Their numbers, however, were small.
While tragically multitudes of Christians are being seduced into opposing God’s purposes with Israel, it is also clear that there are Believers who have chosen to stand in the light with these purposes, and to be part of the blessing.
Thankfully there is evidence that, even as darkness moves to engulf the countries that oppose Israel, and as God’s judgment begins to fall on these nations, fingers of light will still shine through the gloom where there is a coming together of Believers to stand in support of His people and His land.
The Bible indicates that in some nations, should such light outshine the darkness, it could yet turn away the wrath of God.
Christians need to know the facts, to gird themselves with the truth, and they can. Instead of educating and informing themselves via a media that is overwhelmingly hostile to the ways of the Almighty, we encourage you to go to Christian sources – the most important of which is the Bible – the Word of God Himself. Its pages are packed with particulars about the plan He purposes to complete with and through the people and the land of Israel.
And don’t be deceived into ‘spiritualizing’ the Bible – too many churches do. When you read about God’s future plans for Israel, you are reading about His plans, spelled out through the ancient Hebrew prophets concerning Israel of today. Israel is Israel is Israel. Likewise “the elect” refers to Israel and to the Gentiles who are grafted in.
As well as your Bible, other valuable teaching materials on Israel which are recommended for their clear explanations, some for ‘beginners’ as it were, (and we are all somewhere on that road) others for those further in this journey of understanding, are:
“The coming Third World War” – A message delivered to Norwegian Christians in July 2014 by Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director of the Israel-based International Christian Zionist Center.
Teachings by renowned veteran British Bible scholar David Pawson
Information put out by Christians For Israel International
* NB: It is not a question of the Lord being on one side (Israel) or the other (Arab). It is a question of God’s side, or the enemy’s, and whose we choose to be on.