It’s no coincidence that we are studying ancient texts in our "Echoes of the Minor Prophets" series in this season, and we find ourselves witnessing a modern war in the same geographical location. This land is called by many names: Canaan, Israel or Palestine. So if you’re not picking up what I’m putting down…beloved, these minor prophets are relevant to current events!
It’s relevant to our current time in history and particularly how we are interpreting the current events of the Israeli-Palestine War.
The late Karl Barth, one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century, said “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
So how can we, as Christians in this corner of the world, have a spiritually formed response to the Israel-Palestine War? I have four ways to invite you to consider:
- Pray for Peace in Israel and Palestine: Jesus taught his people to pray at all times. Scripture guides us to pray for leaders in political positions of power and authority (1 Timothy 2:2). So I’m reminded to pray for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Joe Biden, leaders of Palestine, and leaders of Hamas.
I urge you to specifically pray for a ceasefire and peaceful negotiations. Pray for justice and righteousness because this is the character of God. And Pray for the body of Christ discerning how to respond with truth & grace.
- Lament for the violence against humanity: Lamenting is the spiritually formed way of dealing with hardship, suffering, inhumanity and injustice. It’s crying out to God for his justice to prevail without our human retaliation. I have prayed and written several laments over the last two weeks. When I’m not sure how to pray, I lament. [Here's how to write a lament.]
I don’t believe that God is pleased with the death of innocent lives – women and children and men who have nothing to do with Hamas or the attack on Israel. And I believe God weeps for the lives of Israelis that have been taken and the number of families separated by kidnapping.
By the way…there are Christians living in Israel and there are Christians living in Gaza as well as the West Bank. They are also caught in this crossfire. We are called to weep with those that weep. Lord have mercy!
- Resist calling evil, good or calling good, evil. Violence is never just in the new humanity created by Jesus. Taking the life of another human being is never the preferred will of God.
Some people believe in a just war - that’s the theory that there are times when war is the only moral option to deal with injustice or evil. The problem with the just war theory is that it is largely subjective! But who determines when the civilian casualties are enough to justify the bombing of neighborhoods, schools and hospitals?
Some Christians believe that Israel is just in their retaliation. Not just fighting against Hamas, but clearing out Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. They support killing innocent, defenseless civilians - 40% are children. That is evil.
Around the world some people have marched or protested against this evil. You can’t tell if all the motives for marching are the same, however the cause is to raise awareness to this imbalanced retaliation by Israel. It is good to call for a ceasefire to spare innocent lives and allow for humanitarian resources to help those who are in need of medical and basic care.
It’s easy to put things in a simple category of good and evil - righteous and unrighteous - holy and unholy. Beloved, only God is just and righteous. So must humble ourselves to the reality of sin in all of our hearts. Even God’s chosen people can miss the mark and so can we. Do we have enough truth in us to acknowledge the value of human life?
- Hope in Christ’s return and restoration. Beloved, remember that we belong to Christ. Our ultimate allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of man - not the nation of Israel or America. While we are called to pray for them, we do not worship them.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. Not Israel and not America. When Jesus returns he promises a new heaven, a new earth and a new jerusalem.
Now, the minor prophet Zechariah had a revelation of the future of Israel. By the way it takes 40 minutes to read or listen to this minor prophet in one sitting.
Listen to Zechariah describe a future when God and his people dwell together.
Zechariah 2:10 “Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.
The overarching theme in the book of Zechariah is that the Messiah is coming. But he is not coming like any king of Israel that you would notice. He’s not coming on a throne or with an army. Zechariah tells us plainly — Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
Jesus is the messiah, the Savior of Israel, a fountain whose blood covers the sins of all who come to Him for salvation. And thankfully Jesus did not just die for Israel, he also died for the gentiles as well. And through his death, Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus created one new humanity when he destroyed the divided wall of hostility that separated Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14).
Jesus is the only hope of ending this conflict and the body of Christ is compelled to represent him on earth until he comes to set everything right.
This is the word of the Lord. Let it fill our minds, flow from our mouths and free our hearts to live as the beloved children of God. - Amen