17 Nov 2023
As we witness the events unfolding in the current Israel-Hamas war, there is a tendency to take sides according to our worldview of events. However, this issue goes beyond who is right and who is wrong; we need to put on the Biblical lens to understand what God wants us to do as Gentile believers. In short, we cannot interpret the Bible based on current events in Israel; we need to interpret what is happening in Israel using the Bible.
As Gentile believers, there are seven non-negotiables that we need to understand and align to when it comes to the issue of Israel:
1. The God of Israel is Sovereign and in Control
The word for the now is Isaiah 42:22–23:
“But this is a people robbed and plundered; All of them are snared in holes, and they are hidden in prison houses; they are for prey, and no one delivers; for plunder, and no one says, ‘Restore!’ Who among you will give ear to this? Who will listen and hear for the time to come?”
It is important to hear the heart of the God of Israel in Isaiah 42. Verses 21–25 are in the context of the End of the Age when Israel will be robbed and plundered; its people will be hiding in holes. There are some similarities with what happened during the Hamas incursion of southern Israel recently, which put many Jewish people to flight. This has also happened before: the Romans’ sacking of Jerusalem in AD 70 which led to the dispersion of the Jewish people across the nations for more than 1,800 years, as well as the Holocaust of World War II which saw the death of six million Jews. Verses 24–25 show that God is not out of control, but — critically — He is the one who orchestrates the crisis facing Israel in Isaiah 42. I am not concluding that the current war in Israel is sent by God. That said, He is not blind-sided by the incursion nor is He out of control.
The God of Israel is sovereign, and He uses crises in Israel to work out His redemptive judgement, seeking to turn Israel back to Him. In verse 23, He exhorts us to “give ear”, “listen” and “hear” for the time to come when Israel will face a crisis — a crisis ostensibly orchestrated by the God of Israel. This crisis will be so severe because the God of Israel pours the “fury of His anger” on them, yet the people of Israel “did not know” though it “burned” them (v25).
Take some time to reflect on the utter severity of this — despite the fullness of His anger poured out on Israel, the people of Israel did not apprehend the seriousness of His fury. Such an existential crisis will happen again when the Jews will be subjected to a holocaust whereby two-thirds of them will be killed. Again, this is the God of Israel working in redemptive judgement, seeking to turn the nation back to Him. In Zechariah 13, we are told that one-third of the nation of Israel will be refined as silver is refined, and tested as gold is tested, that they may turn to the God of Israel (v8–9).
2. Israel is God’s Litmus Test for Gentile Believers
In Matthew 25:31–46, Jesus emphasised six criteria that will determine obedience to His leadership in the End-Times. They all concern how we relate to His brethren when they are hungry, thirsty, are strangers, naked, sick and in prison. All six are issues related to the Jewish people being refugees or in prison camps. The penalty for neglecting these six activities is condemnation in Hell.
The gravity of Jesus’ words are heavy. But the interpretive key here is “My brethren” (adelphos) — which refers to the Jewish people (the brethren of Jesus, a Jewish man). The same heaviness can be seen when the Apostle Paul uses the same words — “my brethren” — when he wished himself accursed that his Jewish brethren might know Yeshua (Rom 9:3).
The Jewish people are not as yet fleeing from Israel, but there will come a time when they will. Note that the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31–46 comes after Matthew 24, when Jesus talks about the Jewish people fleeing during the Great Tribulation.
When this happens, it is important for Gentile believers to stand with the Jewish people. This is not only a requirement, but actions that have eternal consequences. This does not mean that eternal salvation is based only on our protecting and providing shelter and food to the Jewish people in flight — but doing so would be the culmination of years and decades of loving and praying for the Jewish people, in alignment with the heart of the God of Israel. Conversely, if we do not start to love and serve the Jewish people now, we will not be aligned to His heart; there is a chance that we won’t provide and care for them during the Great Tribulation and our passivity now could lead to haughtiness and antisemitism eventually. Put simply, if we don’t stand with Israel now, it will only get harder for us to take that stand when the crises for Israel increase in frequency and intensity.
3. Our Opinions Do Not Matter; His Opinion Does
The dynamics behind the current war between Israel and Hamas are complex and deep-seated. The important matter in question here, however, is not only a human or political assessment of who is right or who is wrong. This is secondary. Also, as believers, our position towards Israel cannot be romantic (where we sentimentalise about and embrace her culture) or blind (whereby we fail to recognise her faults and failings). Our position, according to Apostle Paul, is that we cannot be “wise in (our) own opinion” with regard to God’s redemptive plan for Israel (Rom. 11:25). We are called to stand with Israel — that is, to pray for her, to love her, and to support her people in tangible ways in times of crisis. If we do not do so, we could end up on a slippery slope: ignorance of His plans for Israel could lead to arrogance; arrogance leads to passive resistance and eventually active resistance against His purposes for her. The end result would be apostasy and antisemitism.
In the Bible, there is only one nation (people group) whom believers are called to pray for — the nation of Israel. Psalm 122, for example, explicitly calls on believers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This non-negotiable applies only to Israel, and not to any other nation or people group on the earth. It is important to note here that standing with Israel does not mean that as Gentile believers we do not pray for the Palestinians or support them in tangible ways in their time of need. The God of Israel loves all people and desires them to come to the saving knowledge of His Son. As believers, we are called to minister to and serve those who are in need.
4. The Mystery of Israel
The Apostle Paul urged believers of his time (and by extension, modern-day Gentile believers) not to be ignorant about the mystery of Israel. He urges them to understand God’s salvation plan for and through Israel for all mankind.
The mystery is manifold and profound, but it can be summed up as thus: Jesus has bound Himself to only return if the Jewish leadership calls Him to return (Matt. 23:39). Jesus will only come back to rule and reign on earth if the Jewish leadership does this out of their own free will. There is a divine “loophole” here which Satan understands and is working to effect: if there is no Jewish leadership on earth to call on Jesus to return, He will not return. In this context, we can understand the global hatred for Israel (as seen, most dramatically, during the Holocaust of World War II). As it turns out, Satan has his plans but the God of Israel will outfox him at every turn: while He will allow the Jewish people to be judged and some of them to be killed, there will remain a remnant who will call on the God of Israel, be saved, and serve as the first model nation to be fully discipled and walking in the ways of the God of Israel. This was what led Apostle Paul to bow in worship about the depths and riches of His wisdom and knowledge (Rom. 11:33). This grand narrative will keep us anchored and stable as we see the crisis in Israel unfolding.
5. Messianic Believers and Their Gentile Brethren: One New Man
The “One New Man” refers to the fullness of peace and oneness between Jewish and Gentile believers as the Body of Christ. It entails the joining together of two different entities to become unified as one — this is achieved through the power of the Cross and His body that was broken for us (Eph. 2:16) . This doesn’t mean each loses their individual identities. As in a marriage between a man and a woman, they are “one” to Him, yet retain their individual roles and personalities. Two key phrases — such as “together with Israel” (Eph. 3:6, NIV) and “fellow citizens with God’s people” (Eph. 2:19) — point us to the fact that within the One New Man, there exists two distinct groups.
As Gentile believers, we cannot say that “we’re not into this ‘standing with Israel’ thing”. This is not negotiable; it is really important that we understand that Israel’s destiny and the Church’s destiny are intrinsically linked together not only in this age but for all eternity. One cannot exist without the other. It is absolutely essential that we have a foundational understanding of Israel’s role in the redemptive purposes of God or we will never be motivated to stand with Israel especially when it will cost us.
6. The God of Israel Demands 24/7 Prayer for Israel
As we see the current conflict in Israel unfolding, we are seeing this as the culmination of decades of prayer and prophetic words given by the Lord about a prayer movement for Israel. As crisis after crisis hits Israel, the Lord has shepherded and continues to shepherd a global prayer movement for the apple of His eye!
In May 2023, 5 million believers around the world prayed for Israel at least one hour a day for the increase of God’s salvation promises for Jerusalem and Israel. This was truly unprecedented in the history of the Church. Looking back, it seems that the God of Israel was already telling His people to start praying — and was intensifying prayer — before the current crisis in Israel erupted. Indeed, He has given many words to His prophets in the form of angelic encounters and even a comet in 1983 not expected by scientists, to underscore His plans for promises for Israel.
In Isaiah 62, the God of Israel declares that He will not rest until “her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns” (v1). I would urge you to feel the passion of the God of Israel as He declares, in verse 6, for the raising up of watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem who would not “hold their peace” day or night to pray and contend for Israel. He is calling for these intercessors to not keep silent and give Him “no rest” till He establishes Jerusalem as a “praise in the earth”. This truly underscores how intense the God of Israel is about prayers for His beloved nation. The language is so clear and direct, that as believers, we do not have a choice but to pray continually for Israel.
7. The God of Israel Burns with Passion for Israel
The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37). Part of loving God with our all entails needing to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We cannot cherry-pick here: if the God of Israel loves Israel with a passion, as Gentile believers who seek to love Him with our all, we must love Israel the same way He loves her. It is something we should actively seek to grow in from now to eternity.
Indeed, the Bible is replete with the God of Israel being truly emotional and passionate about His beloved nation. He loves them with a passion, and He grieves when they turn away from Him and His ways. In Jeremiah 31, He asserts that only if the ordinances of the sun and moon cease will Israel stop being a nation before Him forever. Hosea 11 is a poetic passage of the God of Israel saying He draws them “with gentle cords, with bands of love.” It is a beautiful expression of how the uncreated God, the Most High, teaches Ephraim to walk, heals them and even stoops down to feed them (v3–4). And this expression of His passion for Israel is not confined to the Old Testament. In Matthew 23:37–39, Jesus laments over Jerusalem and longs for a time in which He could gather them under His wings as a hen gathers her chicks. He looks forward to a time when the leaders of Israel will call upon Him to return.
Truly, these are seven non-negotiables that the God of Israel requires of Gentile believers when it comes to the apple of His eye. Even as Joshua had an encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Army and responded in full alignment with Him, will you stand with the God of Israel? Will you stand with Israel and love her as He loves her?
 One Thing Ministries, “One New Man: Gentile Believers and Messianic Jewish Believers”, https://www.onethingministries.net/wp/wp-content/One-New-Man.pdf.  “Isaiah 62 Fast: Global 21 Days of Prayer for Israel,” https://isaiah62fast.com/.  Mike Bickle, “Contending for our Prophetic Promises: Four Saturdays in 1983,” 17 October 2021, https://mikebickle.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Contending-for-Gods-Promises-4-Saturdays-in-May-1983.pdf.