The relationship between Israel and the Gaza Strip has been fraught with tension since 1967. Although Israel’s military no longer occupies Gaza, it still controls its airspace, infrastructure, and the movement of goods and people both in and out of Gaza.
Suspecting the Palestinian Muslim terrorist group Hamas of having kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month, Israel killed ten Palestinians and arrested hundreds of others – including some who’d been released during a prisoner exchange. Protesting this move, Hamas began firing rockets into Israel and insisted on a re-release as a ceasefire condition. After burying the three Israeli teenagers, Jewish extremists kidnapped and burned alive a Palestinian teenager in retaliation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized. Using human shields, Hamas is still firing rockets on Israel, which have injured nearly 30 people. They’ve also threatened to bomb Ben Gurion airport in Jerusalem. Israel, in turn, has fired rockets on Gaza, killing nearly 200 people and injuring more than 1300. They’ve also called up nearly 40,000 reservists.
I don’t like terrorist groups, Palestinian or Jewish. So whoever killed those Israeli teenagers has my full condemnation. God will judge them, either in this life or in the next. However, Israel’s retaliatory arrests were out of proportion, as are the rockets that Israel and Hamas keep firing on one another. The retaliatory murder of a Palestinian teenager was also unjust.
I want this bloodshed to end, but not on today’s terms. Most governments use diplomacy rather than war, which they consider “evil.” True peace isn’t the absence of fighting. It’s winning the war. Diplomacy didn’t work with King George III and Parliament, so America went to war. Diplomacy didn’t work prior to both world wars either. Why is the Middle East any different? If everyone fought one another as they wanted to over their grievances, many people would die, but tension would disappear. Outsiders should intervene only to prevent blood feuds and genocide. Besides, only Christians can live together in peace and the Middle East has few. This is the reason that the Antichrist’s peace agreement won’t work. It isn’t the fruit of true peace between God and man but the reverse.
Israel’s occupation of Gaza is a real grievance, similar to U.S. checkpoints near the Mexican border. Sometimes they find drugs and illegals, many times not. Our government still oppresses people, both at home and abroad. What will future retaliation look like? Both government and church oppressed the peasantry before the French Revolution; retaliation was swift and bloody. The truth is that anyone oppressed will rise up and smite his oppressor; people can only take so much. So if Israel stopped watching every move Gaza makes, she might see fewer rockets.
So is Israel right to control Gaza? She never occupied the northern portion in ancient times; the Philistines did. Israel occupied the southern portion only during the reign of King Solomon. The promised borders stretch from the Euphrates to the Nile rivers (north-south) and from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea (east-west) (Genesis 15:18, Exodus 23:31, Numbers 34:1-12, Joshua 1:4, Ezekiel 47:15-20). However, ancient Israel was never that large. The Jewish people won’t see those borders realized until the millennial reign of Jesus Christ either. And believers of all “nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” will live there, not just Jews (Revelation 7:9). Until then, is it necessary for Israel to control Gaza at all? Why can’t they let these people alone?
Only clever propaganda, like the recent 007 films (MI6, UK), can make citizens think that they and their cutting-edge governments have anything to fear from third-world and developing nations. It’s like a giant with many new toys waiting to see if a bug with a few old ones will find one new toy; then the giant can take it away. The Bourne Identity films (CIA, U.S.) reveal the truth that cutting-edge “nanny state” governments are our real enemy. Israel is a giant; Gaza, a bug.
I realize, however, that I’m seeing the Israel-Gaza situation from an earthly point of view. I don’t know how God is orchestrating events using the wills of individuals and nations, both obedient and disobedient, to accomplish his purposes. I only know the end result: the AntiChrist will bring a 7-year peace agreement to the Middle East. I don’t know what the path to that agreement will look like, but God does. In situations like this, his secret ways are mysterious.
Yes, Jews are God’s chosen people and the church hasn’t replaced them, since “all Israel will be saved” one day (Romans 11:26).* Surrounded by Muslims who hate Jews and want to see their country wiped off the map, Israel is fighting to exist as a free nation and has a right to defend herself. Still, not everything she does is right. Israel isn’t a rabbit’s foot for the United States either. We shouldn’t rejoice when children in Gaza are killed. That’s cruel and no Christian should ever be cruel. Sometimes righteous people are “taken away from” future evil (Isaiah 57:1). But if their deaths are unjust, a righteous God will avenge the evildoers.
We seem to forget that regardless of God’s loyalty to a person, family, or nation, he is still just. God avenges evil, no matter who commits it. In the Bible, God was “for” Israel when she obeyed him and against her when she didn’t. Have we forgotten those 40 years in the wilderness and 70 years in Babylon? Modern Israel is no different. For the past decade, she’s been cursed with drought and famine (Deuteronomy 28:23-24). Now why would God curse Israel? Not only does she perform abortions on innocent babies, Tel Aviv is also the homosexual capital of the world. God doesn’t smile on sin. So why should Israel be exempt from divine punishment?
We can be sure of one thing. God always watches over his people. Some believers are Israelis, both Jew and Gentile. Others are Palestinians; one family member supports a Christian orphanage in Gaza. God also watches over those whom he knows will one day become his people, by faith in Jesus Christ, wherever they live. This is prevenient grace. Therefore, our first concern for citizens of Israel and Gaza should be their eternal destiny. Sinners on both sides of the border need Jesus. They need to repent and believe. Our second concern should be “pray[ing] for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). However, lasting peace won’t come until the Millennium.
Yes, “all Israel will be saved” one day (Romans 11:26), but only after she mourns for Jesus like an only son (Zechariah 12:10-11) and only after she’s been hoodwinked by the anti-Christ for a few years. Still, God will fight for Israel. He doesn’t need us. He’ll also take care of his children – believers. So should we support Israel at all costs or Christians only? I think the latter.
* All Scripture verses are NKJV, unless otherwise noted.