In the middle of a listing of men who had volunteered to serve David while also supporting his anointing as king over Israel, my attention is magnetically drawn to the, “Men of Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron. 12:32). Two leadership qualities stand out here: awareness and decisiveness. Like the 200 plus individuals from this relatively obscure tribe, we need to have a basic grasp of the zeitgeist (spirit) of our day while also being generally cognizant of the cultural climate in which we live and work in order to be transformers instead of conformers.
Given the level of global anti-Semitism currently rearing its ever present ugly head over the conflict between Israel and Hamas, inevitably we’ll be asked to weigh in with our opinions concerning this volatile controversy. What will we say when those types of questions and comments confront us? Let me suggest three things:
1) The central issue in the Middle East conflict has never been Israel’s so-called “illegal occupation” of land – it’s been and continues to be Israel’s right to exist! All major Palestinian organizations are centered on the goal of destroying Israel. The Palestinian National Charter (adopted in 1964 – three years before the Six Day War and the resulting occupation) declares its aim to be “the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” The PLO’s 10 Point Program of 1974 reaffirmed this as the organization’s goal. The charters of Hamas and Hezbollah both explicitly state that their goal is to “obliterate” Israel. Even while supposedly negotiating for peace, Palestinian leaders have repeatedly stated that any peace agreement would only be a tactic towards the ultimate goal of eliminating Israel entirely. To this day – Palestinian media – routinely broadcasts the real agenda: to claim all of Israel – not just the West Bank and Gaza.
2) The Land Covenant received by Moses in Deuteronomy 29:1–30:20 – reaffirms that the unconditional title deed to the Land given to Abraham still belongs to Israel. This Land Covenant is an enlargement of the original Abrahamic Covenant. It amplifies and emphasizes the promise of Land to God’s covenant people in spite of their unbelief. The Abrahamic Covenant teaches that Jewish ownership of the Land is unconditional while the Land Covenant teaches that the enjoyment of the Land is conditioned on obedience; which is why Israel doesn’t receive its full Land inheritance with peace and safety until the entire nation in obedience to God’s Word recognizes and acknowledges Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.
3) Palestinian self-determination – in the nationalistic sense of the establishment of a Palestinian state denies the fact that there is no such thing as a historic “Palestinian” people living in the Middle East. This is demonstrated by the fact that before 1967 there was no such thing as Arab – Palestinian nationalism, and no attempt to develop the territory as a homeland for the Arabs who lived there. Before 1967 there were no Arabs living in Israel who identified themselves as “Palestinians,” nor did they seek to achieve any kind of statehood there. So what is this really all about? Tragically, it’s about the fact that millions of Arabic people for whom Jesus died, have been horribly used as political pawns by the evil leaders of the Islamic nations surrounding Israel to falsely garner worldwide sympathy and support for a “Palestinian” people that are of absolutely no concern to them; because in reality these jihadists and those they influence, are seeking the total annihilation of the Jewish state!
So what do we do?
1) We pray for peace. Praying for peace is not limited to praying for Israel but for all people, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, and anyone and everyone who is suffering because of the violence. If Messiah delays His return perhaps He will grant a season of peace to this deeply spiritually oppressed part of the world. And that in turn could give people more time and opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
2) We work for peace. We work for peace in the sense that our relational interaction with other people will increasingly reflect our relational interaction with God. God is the ultimate peacemaker reconciling the world to Himself through the death and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. So as we work for peace in a godly human relational one on one sense, we will look like God’s children while facilitating peace within our spheres of influence.
3) We proclaim God’s peace through Messiah Jesus. As God gives us opportunity we communicate the reconciliation provided by Messiah’s death and resurrection to individual Jews and Arabs so that they can find peace with God and peace with one another. These are our responsibilities until Messiah returns. And when He does return He will finally bring true and lasting peace to Israel, the Arabic nations, and the entire world.