February 5, 2012

Pray for Israel. Pray for peace.

"God, do not be silent;
God, be not still and unmoved!
See how Your enemies rage...
They say, 'Come, let us wipe out their nation;
let Israel's name be mentioned no more!'"
Psalm 83:2 ff

The fuse is lit and -- without God's intervention -- the Middle East appears ready to explode. This time, however, the catastrophe is not likely to remain contained in the region. Iran has a global strategy.

Nine years ago, Iran publicly announced its intentions to develop nuclear power capabilities for peaceful purposes. The claim that the Iranian people wanted nuclear technology for power purposes was laughable for those who observed the announcement from out of range. Closer neighbors, however, were alarmed. They knew that the facts contradicted Iran's stated agenda:
  • Iran does not need nuclear capabilities for power purposes because it sits on a sea of oil. 
  • Iran is not developing nuclear power for the welfare of its people because, from the beginning, Iranian officials made clear that they will not be deterred no matter how much their economy suffers as a result of sanctions or isolation from the international community.
  • Iran's leaders (not low-level yahoos) have professed that they have been communicating with Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, the Twelfth Imam (also known as al-Mahdi) who disappeared in 872 AD. They believe that he will return soon to re-establish the rightful governance of Islam and establish peace and justice throughout the world. However, on the way to that perfect utopia, they believe he will lead them in destroying Israel and bathing the world in the blood of all non-believers who refuse to submit to their rule. (For a small sampling, see video, below.)

Disturbing headlines make clear that more than a war of words has already begun:
So, why should non-Israelis be concerned about this tiny sliver of land and its neighborhood problems? Well, for some, it should be sufficient to explain that Iran now threatens terrorist and military attacks around the world. They target the global economy by disrupting the free flow of oil. They seek the annihilation of a neighbor.

All this belligerence from radical rulers who have conventional weapons at their disposal. So, imagine what these fanatics would be like with atomic bombs to back up their blackmail?

Still, for Christian believers, there is an even better reason to stand up for Israel: God.

If you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then there can be no doubt that we should stand with Israel when it is under attack. Here is a sampling of God's promises and warnings regarding Israel:

"By faith he (Abraham) made his home in the promised land 
like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, 
who were heirs with him of the same promise."  
Hebrews 11:9

"...the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess...
the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance...
If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, 
as he promised on oath to your forefathers, 
and gives you the whole land he promised them..."
Deuteronomy 19

"Then the Lord said to him: 
'This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob 
when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’"
Deuteronomy 34:4

"When you enter the land that the LORD will give you 
as he promised, observe this ceremony."
Exodus 12:25

"I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, 
and it will be their inheritance forever.” 
Exodus 32:13

"...not one of them will ever see 
the land I promised on oath to their forefathers."
Numbers 14:23

"But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, 
even though at that time Abraham had no child."
Acts 7:5

 "He will push them out before you, 
and you will take possession of their land, 
as the LORD your God promised you."
Joshua 23:5

"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, 
and I will bring you back to this land. 
I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." 
Genesis 28:15

"Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am about to die. 
But God will surely come to your aid and take you up 
out of this land to the land he promised on oath 
to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.'" 
Genesis 50:24

"You made their sons as numerous as the stars in the sky, 
and you brought them into the land that you told their fathers to enter and possess."
Nehemiah 9:23

"...You made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land 
of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. 
You have kept Your promise because You are righteous."
Nehemiah 9:8

"Then you will know that I am the LORD, 
when I bring you into the land of Israel, 
the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers."
Ezekiel 20:42

"He chose our inheritance for us, 
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved."
Psalm 47:4

 "But I said to you, 'You will possess their land; 
I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.' 
I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart from the nations."
Leviticus 20:24

"You gave them this land you had sworn to give their forefathers, 
a land flowing with milk and honey."
Jeremiah 32:22

 "I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land 
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." 
Isaiah 58:14

Finally, a nuclear armed Iran promises to fulfill the prediction of a former Prime Minister of Israel. When Richard Nixon once tried to placate Golda Meier with a security guarantee, she famously responded, "By the time you get here, we won't be here."

Of course, Israel will be roundly condemned if it is forced to defend its existence. However, it is not in our interest to insist that they commit national and personal suicide. So, we should not prevent them from defending against an existential threat.

For ourselves, we can only pray for peace and prepare for war.

May God bless our prayers.

2/21/12 UPDATE: Netanyahu's silence: calm before the storm?
2/24/12 UPDATE: Deputy Defense Minister: "Iran ready to wipe Israel off the map."
2/25/12 UPDATE: Just one more indication that the enemies of Israel will not limit their attacks to Jews: Anti-Christian messages deface Jerusalem's churches