Pray for Israel

My Saturdays are usually spent studying, getting a little exercise, then couch potato-ing. I surf the channels for good college football games, particularly those featuring my two home state teams, Arkansas and Georgia (it's a good thing they don't play each other that often, good for Arkansas, that is?!). This past Saturday was a historic exception, as my channel flipping rotated between CNN and Fox News.

Not since the Babylonian invasion of 586 BC or the Roman incursion of AD 70, not since the Nazi Holocaust of the 1940s or the Yom Kippur War of 1973, has there been such a vicious attack against Israel by her enemies. The casualty count of the Hamas assault against the people of Israel, which shamefully began just after Yom Kippur and on the Jewish Sabbath, may not rise as high as those previous atrocities, but it should be universally condemned, nonetheless.

This column is dedicated each week to encourage Christians to love the Lord and obey God's word. From time to time, I pray it also reaches non-Christians and makes them think about giving orthodox, historic Christianity a good look. Today I want to point us all to the Psalms, particularly this one:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

May they be secure who love you!

-- Psalm 122:6

As Americans in general and Christians in particular, we ought to obey this mandate and pray for peace and safety to be restored in Israel. This includes defending the right of the Israelis to defend themselves militarily and ultimately defeat this enemy, Hamas. There are many reasons we should do so.

Americans love democracy, and Israel is our closest democratic ally in the Middle East. Theirs is imperfect, as is ours, but it is a full-fledged, freedom-loving democracy just like the good ol' USA. Our interests are intertwined. Our national securities are interrelated. Our support in this fight needs to be unequivocally with Israel.

What Hamas did was extremely cruel and unusual. They killed civilians, wholesale and indiscriminately. They've taken hostages, presumably to be used as human shields and negotiating pieces. They're dancing in their streets around the dead bodies and living captives of the Jewish people, which include a number of women and children. Balance should be sought in weighing in on political matters between Israel and the Palestinians, but this is not politics -- this is terrorism, wrought by the worst slithering sliver of the Palestinian people, Hamas (fully funded by the nation of Iran).

Finally, Christians should always love, pray, and support Israel at almost every turn, and certainly in this conflict. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is Jewish, the son of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God, as vindicated by His death and resurrection. Our Gentle Apostle, Paul, loved the Jews so much that after his conversion to Christianity, he hyperbolically stated he would give up his salvation to secure theirs (ref. Romans 9:3). Therefore, we should also love them, pray for them, seek their security, and hope for their salvation.

I traveled to Israel in the late winter of 2008. It was a two-week study tour with the best guides and 50 fellow pastors, Catholic and every stripe of Protestant. It changed my life for the third time (the first was my conversion, the second my comprehension of the doctrines of grace, the third this trip to Israel).

I walked where Jesus walked in Galilee. I wept where Jesus died in Jerusalem. I witnessed the empty tomb (both of them, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Gordon's Calvary). I watched baptisms taking place in the Jordan River. I partook of Holy Communion in the Holy Land. For years afterward, and occasionally to this day, I choke up when reading or preaching from the Gospels, because my mind makes a beeline back to the gorgeous land, the gracious people, and the holy places of Israel.

You may be a dispensationalist who believes God still has a plan for Israel, and if so, I know your interest is piqued. You may be a covenant theologian who believes the only plan Israel needs is God's plan of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. You may be a non-Christian or an irreligious person, no doubt tired of the infighting between Christians and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. What we all have in common is we all want peace. Now is the time to pray for peace. Now is the time to stand with Israel.

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].