Day by day, global pressure is being brought to bear on the nation of Israel. Israel is currently under intense criticism from the international community for pursuing its current course of military action in Gaza in response to Hamas’s rocket attacks from Gaza. As of 23 July, an estimated 649 Palestinians, 32 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have been killed in the fighting. Understandably, the global pressure on Israel to pursue peace with the Palestinians will continue to increase.
While the United States has been Israel’s long-standing ally, such friendship is not assured. Writing in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy in 2007, two top American scholars argued that Washington should cut Israel loose and return to U.S. policy before the 1967 war, when the U.S. tried to occupy a middle ground between Israel and her Arab neighbours. Indeed, the campaign for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which was once rejected as the scheme of crackpots, is growing. According to one newspaper report, some European pension funds have withdrawn investments from Israel; some large corporations have cancelled contracts with the country, and John Kerry, the United States’ top diplomat, has stressed that such efforts against Israel would only increase if Israel rejects his efforts to conclude a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
It goes without saying that as Christians, we must take a biblical view of Israel. While this sounds rather obvious, such an approach helps us avoid two extremes vis-à-vis Israel. On one hand, we cannot revile Israel as some present-day intellectuals are wont to do. On the other, we cannot romanticise Israel, by subscribing to Jewish practices wholesale and fully agreeing with everything she does. Rather, a biblical view would be to seek God’s revelation, through His Word, as to His heart for Israel.
There are five reasons why Christians should stand by and pray for Israel.
1. Jerusalem is the focus of world redemption
In His sovereignty, God has chosen Jerusalem to be the city for Jesus’ global headquarters when He returns. Jerusalem would be the capital of Jesus’ reign, for the 1,000-year Millennium and throughout all eternity (Rev 21-22). Indeed, Jerusalem as the throne of God (Jer 3:17) would be the city that connects both the New Jerusalem (heavenly reality) and the Millennial Kingdom (earthly reality).
2. The mystery of Israel
Some doors are made with two locks. This means that the door can only be opened when both locks are unlocked. The same principle applies to Jesus’ return – both Israel and the Gentile Church will have to call on Jesus for Him to return. As He approached Jerusalem to go to the Cross, Jesus spoke at the Mount of Olives and lamented that Israel will not see Him again until it calls out to Him “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt 23:39). In Rev 22:17, the Bride (the Church), working in tandem with the Holy Spirit, prays what is the shortest and most powerful prayer in the Bible: they call on Jesus to “come” back.
Indeed, Israel’s significance is a mystery in itself. In God’s divine timetable, Israel is the vehicle through which global redemption and salvation of the nations would be achieved. Through Israel, there would be the fulfilment of world evangelisation and the discipleship of nations (Isa 2:2-3, Mic 4:1-2).
3. Israel and the Holocaust
The Holocaust in World War Two saw the deaths of 6 million Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany. The Bible is clear that there will be another holocaust. Satan will rally the nations of the earth to his cause in the release of an unprecedented wave of global anti-Semitism. This will culminate in every nation of the earth actively seeking the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish people under the leadership of the Antichrist (Ps 2, 83:4-5, Joel 3:11, Zech 12:2, 14:2).
With this in mind, we should understand that global pressure on Israel would only increase going forward. This is the loophole that satan seeks to exploit – if there is no Israel, there would be no Israel to call on Jesus to return; if Jesus does not return, satan would not be consigned to his eternal place in the lake of fire.
4. God calls for night-and-day prayer for Israel
In Ex 31:14-15, the nation of Israel was called to observe the Sabbath. Those caught breaking the Sabbath were to be put to death. This is how important the Sabbath was to God. However, in Isa 62:6-7, God calls for night-and-day prayer for Israel – something that would obviously cause His people to break the Sabbath! But the issue here is not so much about God “breaking” His own law, but the intensity of His heart for Israel.
5. Understanding and feeling God’s heart for Israel
As forerunners at the International House of Prayer preparing the way for Jesus’ return, we are called to lean on Jesus’ bosom and discern the movements of His heart (John 13:23). On the issue of Israel, we must understand and feel God’s heart for Israel, and more importantly, ask Him for the same heart for the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8).
Indeed, the Bible is replete with examples of God’s desire and passion for Israel. In Deut 5:29, God yearned that Israel would fear Him and keep His commandments, so that all would be well with them. In Zech 8:2, God stresses that He has “great zeal” for Israel. In Hosea 2:14, the Lord says that He would allure Israel by taking her to the wilderness and “speak comfort” to her. Two verses down in 2:16, God through the pen of Hosea would have raised many a Jewish eyebrow when He declared Himself to be Israel’s “Husband” – this denoting an unprecedented level of intimacy between the Lord and Israel, an alien concept to many Jewish people at the time!
Indeed, God’s passion for Israel does not cease in the Old Testament. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul wrote about the great sorrow and continual grief in his heart for Israel, so much so that he wished himself “accursed from Christ” for the sake of his brethren (Rom 9:2-3). One chapter on, Paul stressed that God has not cast away Israel (11:2); indeed, all the “gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (11:25). God has never forgotten Israel. He has and will continue to ensure that she fulfil her highest destiny. He holds her close to His heart! Replacement theology should be replaced totally.
As modern-day Christians, we should seek to meditate on these truths so that we would have the same heart that God has for Israel – and as a result, act accordingly, be it giving to Israel, speaking forth Israel’s prophetic destiny or contending for her in 24/7 prayer. May we be gripped with God’s heart for Israel as we wrestle with His word!
 The Economist, “A Campaign That is Growing Weight,” 8 February 2014