I listened to and read the transcripts of Israeli President Netanyahu’s address to Congress and I cannot say that I disagree with his assessment of Iran’s intentions or the danger the world potentially faces if something is not done to halt their nuclear ambitions. I do believe that Israel is in a precarious position both ideologically and geographically, and I pray for their nation. And while I have my own interpretive understanding of our political responsibility to Israel specifically, I wholeheartedly respect those who are passionate about defending Israel from bully invaders and overwhelming onslaughts.
I say all of this intentionally.
What disturbs me is not a person’s healthy desire to see Israel secure and allowed to exist in peace. What disturbs me are the people that I know and hear who are so passionate about Israel, and willing to intervene with full force if need be, but who have been largely cool to the needs of Ukraine in the light of the bully invasion by Russia. I join wholly with those who would be disheartened by the potential humanitarian crisis that could occur in Israel if Iran was to become a capable nuclear force, but I am troubled by many of those same people who wanted to seal off the Ebola-stricken parts of Africa and isolate those impoverished nations in their most desperate state of need. I struggle with anyone who would take the theological high road to support Israel no matter the circumstances, but who haven’t raised an eyebrow to the fact that China aborts more than 13,000,000,000 babies every year (that’s 13 million if the zeros were blurring your eyes).
I am forced to wonder just what we believe the “peace of Jerusalem”, that the Psalmist blesses those who pray for, might actually be. Is it really just about the peace, freedom and restoration of a single city in the Middle East? Or is it a cry that the world would know peace? That the world would know the Source of that city’s peace?
Friends, theological specifics aside, if our hearts break for the stress that Israel is under in the shadow of a thousand enemies, we must ask why would we be so passionate for that and not other, equally heartbreaking, happenings. Do we want Israel free because we love the Israeli people? Or do we want them free because we think that God won’t be nice to us if we don’t? Is it still compassion if it is self-serving?
May we desire peace, freedom and prosperity in every nation, in every city, in every home. Let those of us who are Christians not forget that Jerusalem was a city established by God not to be the only place on earth where blessing was found, but to be a genesis point from which cities and nations and cultures would emerge who understood that a place that honors God is a place that is blessed.
Netanyahu spoke of the impotence of a ten year program of sanctions, he said that ten years is “the blink of an eye in the life of a nation.” And I agree with him. But I wonder, without the support of the developed world if Sierra Leone or Liberia would even exist in ten years. Ten years represents 130 million more precious babies in China that will never see the light of day. Ten years is indeed the blink of an eye, more than even President Netanyahu may realize.
My prayers are with Israel and the Israeli people, as the are with Iran, Palestine, Iraq and the other nations that seem to have adopted instability as a way of life. I pray that the “peace of Jerusalem” would be in Jerusalem, and that it would also be in Tehran, Beijing, Monrovia and even Washington D.C.