BreakPoint: Israel and Iran on the Brink?

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Are Israel and Iran on the brink of war? It’s a hugely important question from a confusing part of the world. I’ll try to bring a bit of clarity.

The Middle East is a complicated place—okay, that’s what’s known as an understatement. Not only is there civil war in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia duking it out with Iranian-backed forces, protests are flaring up in Gaza, and the terrorist group Hezbollah is gaining political ascendancy in Lebanon. The U.S. may be followed by other nations in moving embassies to Jerusalem, and the Trump Administration just announced it is pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal.

But the most significant and confusing events right now may be in Syria. Syria’s civil war has cost an estimated half-million lives, and has displaced a wave of refugees the likes of which we haven’t seen since World War II.

As I speak, within Syria’s borders are the following cast of characters: Kurds rebelling against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad; Turks seeking to crush any Kurdish idea of forming a state; remnants of ISIS are there, as are Russians, American troops, and Sunni fighters, including Al-Qaeda.

And if that weren’t enough, the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah is in Syria as well, fighting for Assad. And of course, there’s the Syrian military, with a proven propensity for using chemical weapons on its own people.

But perhaps most ominous of all, forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran—Israel’s sworn enemy—have used the Syrian civil war to attempt to establish a permanent military presence on Israel’s doorstep, complete with Revolutionary Guards, drones, naval bases, and offensive missiles.

Given the consistent threats of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei to turn Tel Aviv into dust, a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria is clearly a red line for the Israelis.

According to all the analysis I’ve read, neither Israel nor Iran want an all-out war. Okay—I have my doubts about Iran. And the kindling is piling up. A spark of any kind could ignite a major conflagration in the Middle East.

We all should pray that doesn’t happen.

So far, the signs aren’t good. Last week, the Israeli Defense Forces shot down what they claimed was an armed Iranian drone over Israel. In response, the IDF then destroyed the base where the drone was launched, killing Iranian military in the process. To retaliate, Iran’s so-called “elite” Quds Force launched 20 missiles at Israeli military posts in the Golan Heights. Israel responded with a massive wave of air and missile strikes against Iranian military targets around Syria.

The Trump Administration has made clear that the United States will stand firmly on the side of Israel, as we should. Not only is Israel our only true ally in the Middle East, it’s the sole stable democracy, surrounded by Islamist dictatorships, secular dictatorships, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, as well as the chaos in Syria.

American Christians have long stood with the Jewish state. In fact, years ago on this program, here’s what Chuck Colson had to say:

We must recall the words of Genesis 12, verses 1 and 2, regarding the ancient Israelites. God says, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Of course, we mustn’t confuse the modern nation-state of Israel with the people of the Old Covenant. But it’s clear in Romans 10 and 11 that Paul understands God’s special concern for the Jews. Certainly America’s own sense of decency demands that we help protect Israel—the Jewish homeland and the only true democracy in the Middle East.

If ever there were a time to take seriously the injunction of the psalmist, this would be such a time: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels” (Psalm 122). Amen.

 

 

Israel and Iran on the Brink? Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

As John has strongly encouraged, pray for God’s peace to be over Israel and over the very challenging situations that are threatening the broader peace within the entire Middle East. As the psalmist advised, let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

 


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  • Buck Rogers

    Israel might be the good guys, but invoking Genesis 12 is a stretch.

    • Dana

      “We must recall the words of Genesis 12, verses 1 and 2, regarding the ancient Israelites. God says, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Of course, we mustn’t confuse the modern nation-state of Israel with the people of the Old Covenant. But it’s clear in Romans 10 and 11 that Paul understands God’s special concern for the Jews. Certainly America’s own sense of decency demands that we help protect Israel—the Jewish homeland and the only true democracy in the Middle East.”

      It says: “Of course, we mustn’t confuse the modern nation-state of Israel with the people of the old covenant. BUT, it’s clear in Romans 10&11 … God’s special concern for the Jews…”

  • RobertArvanitis

    Good overview, and of course excellent thoughts on prayers for peace.
    —————————
    It’s not that hard to have a local army.
    It is orders of magnitude harder for countries to project force beyond their borders. The US is far ahead of the rest of the world (the Russians once could, and the Chinese soon may).
    Since 1948, Israel has made peace or (mostly) neutralized its immediate neighbors.
    Iran will get a bloody nose every time it gets close. Iran’s rocket program is over with withdrawal of North Korean advisors so it is now reduced to attack by proxy.
    The Sunni states are shifting towards the US, so Hamas in Gaza loses support. The “bargaining chip” of Jerusalem is off the table.
    That leaves Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon as a persistent danger to Israel, especially if Sunni Turkey and .Shia Iran make a devil’s pact to pursue aggression and distract their own abused populations.
    But at least it’s a one-front war

  • Jordan Smith

    I find that invoking the Bible to justify continued support for the modern nation of Israel a problem is a stretch…

    Supporting them because they are a democracy, yes. Supporting them because Israel is a conveniently placed bulwark against radical Islamic states and organizations, sure… Supporting them because it give the US a strategic ally who owes us (and depends on us in some ways), OK…

    But lets not confuse geopolitical realpolitik with biblical principle. Along with being a democracy, the Israeli government has arguably committed war crimes (if not crimes against humanity) against the non-Jewish population in and around their territory. Now, I admit that Israel has more than enough reason to be justifiably paranoid about their neighbors, but the civilian death toll (to be fair, caused by both sides of this conflict) is very high and somewhat reminiscent of the terror bombings during WWII (both sides have demonstrated a willingness to target civilian areas in order to get at military targets).

    If we invoke the covenant with Israel, might I point to another verse in Matthew 27: “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Now, while the writer of Hebrew’s interprets this as all people as a nation of priests have access to God (which is true, don’t misunderstand me), the other reality is that God’s presence actually leaves the temple and enters the new temple, which is the body of Christ (see John 2: 19-22). So let us be careful of claiming that it is still God’s will that Israel exist as a political nation (he might, but then, he might not).

    • Dana

      It says: “Of course, we mustn’t confuse the modern nation-state of Israel with the people of the old covenant. BUT, it’s clear in Romans 10&11 … God’s special concern for the Jews…”

      • Joel Stucki

        I think what he means is that the current state of Israel should not be seen as a continuation of the Davidic dynasty from the Bible, and that they have no mandate (as the people had under Moses and Joshua) to destroy the other people in the land. But they are still the covenant people and that is unchangeable.

    • Joel Stucki

      Well…
      The covenant is with Israel the people, not specifically with the nation formed in 1948. That said, the land promise is inseparable from the rest of the covenant. It is God’s land, and he has given it to them via an everlasting covenant. The people of Israel (the physical descendants of Jacob) only exist as a distinct people group because of that covenant.

      If that covenant no longer exists, or if it has been transferred to a different people, then the Jewish people should no longer exist as a distinct group. Their mere existence confirms the continuity of the covenant. And that covenant includes a land promise.

  • Lauren Huyser Krieger

    I disagree vehemently with those who say it’s a stretch to apply Genesis 12 to the modern state and people of Israel. Romans 11 says that God is not finished with the nation of Israel. Revelation 12 echoes this in prophetic symbolism. And who else are the people of Israel if not the descendants of Abraham, to whom the promise of Genesis 12 was given? No, Genesis 12 is THE premier reason that the United States and all people who love the God of the Old Testament, the God of the Jews, the God of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, should support and stand with the nation and the people of Israel. It doesn’t mean that Israel never does anything wrong, or even that they are always “the good guys” (although they’re head and shoulders above anyone else I can think of). It means they are still the chosen people of God through whom the Messiah of the whole world came.

  • Indigo Blue

    Look, I fully support Israel but I’m not going to pray for peace for them. Revelations clearly teaches that peace in Israel will come about either just before the rise of the Antichrist, and he will then reaffirm it, OR the Antichrist will be the one to establish their peace. Either way, twilight is in the sky and I am too ashamed of my work left undone to pray for an end to the day yet. :/