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Praying for Israel
Why I've been vocal and some important articles and links
Just over a week ago, Hamas terrorists breached the border between Gaza and Southern Israel and began a campaign of sadistic, barbaric torture and murder of innocent Israeli civilians, many of whom were sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians just over the border. They shot indiscriminately at cars, killing families. They shot indiscriminately at a concert, killing 260 young people. They invaded homes in 22 communities, killing men, women, and children. They tied up children and burned them to death. They shot Holocaust survivors. They raped women. They slaughtered and beheaded babies. They threw grenades into packed bomb shelters. And they took 200 people hostage in Gaza, including women, children, and the elderly. It was the most egregious attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust. What’s more, on the day of the attack and since, large crowds of people around the world, including in some US cities, have protested, not in support of Israel, but against them. Many with anti-semitic signs and slogans, some even praising Hamas.
I’ve been very vocal on social media about this since news came in about the attack. I also worked with my friend and former colleague, Brent Leatherwood, president of ERLC, to draft an evangelical statement in support of Israel. Thankfully, many Christian leaders signed it. You can read it here. I also wrote this piece for The Dispatch about the gravity of this moment and the need for serious American leadership.
So why so much advocacy for Israel? A few reasons. First, there is the basic idea of human dignity. This was a brazen assault on innocent human life. We should mourn every innocent life lost, those in Israel and those in Gaza, where Palestinians are often forced into impossible situations by corrupt and self-dealing terrorist leaders. Genesis tells us that every human life is sacred and precious (Genesis 1:26).
Second, I support Israel because Christians share a spiritual history. God chose Israel from which would come the Messiah, Jesus. Jesus is a Jewish Savior who has come to save people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.
Third, I support Israel because in every generation there are people who seek to eliminate Jewish people. We are only 80 years removed from the Holocaust and yet we still hear, in the Hamas charter, in the angry shouts on many city streets, and in the foolish pronouncements by student groups at places like Harvard, the ugly rhetoric that seeks the annihilation of a people.
Fourth, I support Israel for personal reasons. My late mother is Jewish. She converted to Christianity in her late teens and we were raised in the Baptist church. I’m what many refer to as a Messianic Jew. I believe that in the church, we are all one in Christ, as Paul says in Galatians “There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female (Galatians 3:28). And yet I also believe Christians retain their ethnic and cultural identities (Revelation 5,7). My great-grandparents emigrated to America from Eastern Europe, one side from Poland and the other from Russia, likely to escape the programs. My grandfather was an Army tank commander who fought against the Nazis. I’ve been to Israel four times. I love the land. I love the people.
I do want to say strongly that my support for Israel’s right to exist as a nation and right to defend themselves is not a defense of every single action by their government. No human government ever deserves that. Nor does my support for Israel imply a lack of concern for the people of Gaza and The West Bank, many of whom live in poverty and despair. There are faithful Christians doing great work there. Those people deserve freedom and flourishing and leaders who care about the interests of the people instead of themselves.
So this is why I’ve been especially vocal. I’ve read most of the accounts of the atrocities that have taken place in Israel and I am shook to my core. I’m praying feverishly for the destruction of Hamas, for peace in Israel and Gaza, and most importantly, for “thy kingdom come”, where all war will cease, where pain will no longer be a reality, and where the world will be made right again. Only a belief in the Christian story, the gospel narrative, and the hope of the resurrection can sustain us when we look into the very heart of darkness and the epitome of evil.
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