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Thursday 11 January 2024

Israel’s Deplorable War


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I want to build on another post I wrote recently titled Unjust War with this post. One of the most disturbing things I see some Christians asserting with the nation of Israel is that because they are God’s people they are inherently blessed and God is on their side in this Gaza conflict.

But let’s reflect on this biblically. I do not believe the modern nation of Israel is the people of God as some Christians erroneously believe. I have outlined that in many posts last year, so I don’t want to re-examine that argument in this piece. But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that Israel is the continuation of the nation of David and Solomon, that their religion is the continuation of Zadok and Asaph’s faith, and all the inherent blessings and consequences of Mosaic law are theirs to claim by right of their covenant on Sinai. Let’s just grant all of this for the sake of argument, let’s steelman the position of the Christian Zionists and say, ok guys, you have it your way, Israel are the people of God.[1]

If all of this is the case, how then would God respond to the nation of Israel doing evil in this world? The precise same way that he would respond to any other nation doing evil in this world. This is why I find this argument of these Christians so disturbing. There has never been a time when God’s people could just act however they liked because they were God’s people. The Rasputin’s of the world may have pretended there was, but such a time has never existed. God’s relationship with his people does not work that way, he expects those who go by his name to honour his name in how they live and act in this world. God will hold every individual and every nation to account. Israel, in this regard, is in the exact same boat as any other nation. So let’s turn to the Old Testament to see what God would say to his nation if they were acting badly.

The Old Testament

We read in Amos 9 this incredible statement of the Lord, addressed to Israel:

“7 “Are you not like the Cushites to me,
    O people of Israel?” declares the Lord.
“Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
    and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?
Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom,
    and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground,
    except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,”
declares the Lord.

“For behold, I will command,
    and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
as one shakes with a sieve,
    but no pebble shall fall to the earth.
10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
    who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’”

These words were written by a prophet of God and directed to the nation of God, specifically the northern kingdom of Israel, as I noted above. God was warning them that their status as the people of God did not exempt them from punishment. Because though they were his special nation they are still a nation like any other and God holds all nations and the leaders and people of those nations to account for how they act in the world.

Look at that last verse in particular, “10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’” God is saying that those who prophesy and proclaim falsely that his people cannot be defeated because they are the people of God and secure, will be punished for their false proclamations. I find it incredible that there are still Christians today who have this exact same perspective on the nation of modern Israel, even though this was precisely the message of the false prophets that is often condemned in the Scriptures. For example,

“16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you’” (Jeremiah 23:16-17).

The worst people in the Bible are at times the people who claimed that Israel or Judah could not face disaster because they are the people of God. But this is a lie from the pit of hell. The Law of Deuteronomy outlined blessings for good behaviour and curses for bad behaviour. God is not a God of disorder, or a God who tolerates evil and injustice.

This passage does say that God will preserve Jacob, that is Israel. It goes on to say in verses 11-15 that God is going to rebuild the fallen booth of David; that is Israel will be re-established. This was fulfilled in the book of Acts, as noted by James (Acts 15:14-18). But the point is, God does not let his nation get away with doing evil, that is not how he works. He has never worked that way, that is one of the most important messages in the Bible, from the book of Genesis to Revelation, for the people of God from Abraham till today. 

The Modern Day

So, it is particularly grievous to see Christians hold to basically that view today. That the blessing of a nation, any nation really, but especially a nation called Israel could be divorced from how it followed the commands of God. I write this for my readers (if you are still there) who may think that you should not be criticising Israel’s unjust war right now because you believe that Israel is God’s people and therefore they will succeed, by virtue of this "immutable fact”. But this is not what happened in the Bible. God disciplined Israel when they did wrong and blessed them when they did right. And right now they are doing great wrong.

Yes, this began with them being attacked. Yes, they feel threatened by what are genuine threats in their region both near and far. Yes, they are in part seeking to secure a place of safety for their own people, something that every national government should do for their own people. But like the United States after 9/11 they have cast off almost all restraint and like the US after 9/11 they are creating a world that is far more hostile towards their people, because they have gone way too far in their response. The whole world stood in sympathy with America when those towers came down. The whole world became disgusted with American when their response was turned into forever wars in the Middle East striking at every target they could. The whole world stood in sympathy with Israel on October 7th, but from that day forward they have been whittling down that goodwill, just like the U.S. did.

If you want to consider Israel the people of God, which is an erroneous belief because only those who believe in Jesus are the people of God and that is basic Christian theology, but if you do, and you believe that you want what is best for them, I’d be praying for them to pull up and show restraint. I’d be shouting it from the rooftops. Israel may be strong in relation to other nations its size, incredibly so, but it has a fraction of the power the United States has and cannot afford to be so aggressive to its neighbours. This is wisdom, and yet in some circles in the media and the church this is not supposed to be said.

Someone needed to pull in the head of the United States when it started swinging blindly at any and all assailants after 9/11, maybe some of you Christians with influence with the Jewish people in Israel can have an impact and call for restraint, at least in your spheres of influence. Such crimes, like the Hamas attack, need to be responded to, for sure. But the response should have been done with just restraint and wisdom, not wanton destruction and violence against civilian infrastructure and populations.

It is deplorable to bomb civilian centres in such ferocity as the IDF currently is. I watched one Fox news personality try to defend it by asking his interviewee, “America dopped two bombs on Japan to stop the war with them, was that wrong?” I can’t recall the answer of the man being interviewed, I think he spoke over the interviewer, but the straight answer is: yes, it was wrong. Absolutely it was wrong.[2] It was deplorable and evil, and it was a war crime, as was the bombing of Dresden and many other similar war crimes in that war. The international rules of war that developed after that war were created in response to how vicious and cruel those crimes were. If you are harking back to some of the most deplorable acts of the last century to advocate your position, you are undermining your own argument.

Nations which deal out unjust violence never prosper, even if they are powerful and at the top of the world power structure. And so it has ever been. Because there is a just and powerful God who expects better of his creations, and especially any who would claim the mantle of his name. There is a just God who frowns on evil like the killing tens of thousands of civilians to defeat a few hundred or few thousand enemy combatants.

You do not serve Israel, the West or God, by making a defense of things like this and say that any nation which acts like this will prosper. You actually place yourself in the place of the false prophets of ancient Israel when you do this. And that’s not a good place to be. 


List of References

[1] They really aren’t though guys.

[2] And it wasn’t the chief reason that Japan surrendered anyway. Russia was behind why they actually surrendered, because their army was closing in on Japan and Japan were terrified of Russia.  

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