Is It Biblical For A Christian To Support Israel’s War?
During question- answer sessions in Christian gatherings or home groups, rarely there is a second opinion on topics like gay marriage, abortion, cloning, Sabbath, tithing and euthanasia as the Bible addresses these directly. On the other hand, preachers hesitate to address issues on faith healing, prophesies, speaking in tongues etc., for fear of hurting sentiments of a few who differ in interpreting God’s Word. Let us analyze here as to whether Israel’s war is justified on the Biblical perspective and whether Christians should endorse Israel on this issue.
When posed with a question, ask yourself “What does the Bible say about this?” Understand the literal meaning of the verses by referring to different Bible Versions. Now think about when and where this was told and know about the context, historical background and cultural habits at that point of time. The most important is to refer to all other passages on this subject throughout the Scriptures and you will know what the Bible as a whole says about this.
The problems in the Middle East are of ancient origin. We must look back into the Old Testament to the birth of Ishmael, son of Abraham through Hagar, his maid servant (Genesis 16:15) to understand the deep-seeded roots of this crisis. Later, Abraham's wife Sarah, in her old age, bore Abraham another son, Isaac, according to God's prophetic Word.
History has shown that Ishmael became the father of the Arabic people, while Isaac became the father of the Jewish people. Thus, the enmity that began between these two boys continues today.
As such, Jerusalem has been a frequent target throughout history. It was completely destroyed by the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70. Since that time, the fig tree of Israel stood alone, without fruit and almost without hope, until a miracle happened. The most important date of the past 20 centuries, since the resurrection of Christ, is May 14, 1948, when Israel officially became a nation again. Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Today, a number of Israel citizens have either been displaced or are living in bomb shelters round-the-clock.: Hard as it may seem to believe, the Israelis are absolutely convinced that they are victims, not aggressors.
It is apparent, in light of the rebirth of the State of Israel, that the present day events in the Holy Land may very well serve as a prelude or forerunner to the future Battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Jesus Christ. The Bible compels Christians to "pray for the peace of Israel," and millions of Christians do this every day. We must never abandon Israel, even though much of the world despises this nation.
That the God of the Bible is pro-people is established by these historical facts. The wonderful Old Testament story of Ruth is a great example. She was from ancient Moab, which is now modern Jordan. God planned that Ruth would become the wife of Boaz, and the great-grandmother of King David himself. Now, Jonah, history's first missionary was sent to Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire, which today includes a
number of Arab nations. So, a Christian who is pro-Israel cannot be accused of being anti-Arab.
What does Bible say about war? There are over 200 references to "war" in the Old Testament. Here are a few references
"The Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation" (Exodus. 17:16)
“Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites and to carry out the Lord’s vengeance on them. Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel” (Numbers 31:3)
"The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name"(Exodus 15:3)
"prepare a war; let the soldiers draw near. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears..." (Joel 3:9, 10)
There are about 18 references to “war” in the New Testament as this one in Hebrews, “who through faith conquered kingdoms…. escaped the edge of the sword, became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies”. The author praises Old Testament warriors such as Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, as examples of great men of faith who risked their lives in armed conflict. (Hebrews 11:32-34). Other references to war in the New Testament are figurative.
Nation of Israel was established by warfare, defeating and expelling former residents of the land of Canaan. Israel’s war is justified on the basis of promise of God.
The Lord said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12: 1-4)
There is no admonition for Christian involvement in physical battle or war in the New Testament. There are no direct statements that war is categorically sinful, or that Christian involvement in war is prohibited.
Soldiers asked John the Baptist: “and what should we do?” John replied: “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely-be content with your pay” (Luke 3:14).If serving in the Roman army was seen as inappropriate for believers, this would have been a perfect opportunity for John to tell soldiers to resign from the military service and choose a more suitable profession. The military service was voluntary. But John counseled the soldiers not to take advantage of their armed status to do violence and to rob people. Instead, they should be content with their wages. The attitude of Jesus toward those serving in the army was similar to that of John the Baptist. When a Roman centurion came to Christ, begging Him to heal his paralyzed servant, Jesus did not rebuke him for being a soldier. Instead, He commended his faith saying: “Truly, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Matt 8:10).
Acts 10 describes Cornelius, a Roman centurion as “upright, God-fearing and praying constantly”. No one objected to his baptism because he was serving in the Roman Army. After their baptism, Cornelius and his household apparently continued to serve in the army.
Now let us examine this. We are told to love our enemies and not to “repay anyone evil for evil” (Matt 5:44; Rom 12:17). Christians are divided in their answers to these questions. The fact is that all wars are intrinsically evil, because they stem from selfishness and pride. They reflect our fallen, rebellious human nature, which affects international as well as interpersonal relationships. James 4:1-2 makes this point clearly, saying: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you can not have what you want. You quarrel and fight” Whenever there is a battle between nations, or between two businesses, or labor and managements, or husband and wife, or parent and child, someone (maybe both) is exhibiting pride and selfishness. It is significant that the first war was fought in heaven itself to terminate the rebellion initiated by the pride and selfishness of Lucifer “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven” (Rev 12:7-8).War proved to be a necessity in heaven itself in order to suppress the rebellion of Lucifer
Paul referring to some immoral Corinthians said “Expel the wicked man from among you” (1 Cor 5:13).If a church member refuses to work, preferring instead to live on the assistance of the church or government, we may tolerate that situation for the sake of peace. But the Scripture admonishes otherwise. Paul says: “For even when we were with you we gave you this command: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess3:10). For the sake of peace the church may be inclined to feed a lazy person, but there comes a point when the best way to help that person is to deny him food. In summary, peace is not always possible. Can we praise a police force that stands idly by and offers no slightest resistance to the armed robber, the rapist or any other criminal who preys on society?
In admonishing believers not to pay back evil for evil or to take vengeance, Paul says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom12:18). We must do whatever we can do to promote peace by avoiding conflicts and violence. But the phrase “if possible,” suggests that sometimes peace is not possible. There are situations when peace can only be maintained through armed conflicts designed to ward off aggressors.
The bottom line is love and hate exist together peacefully through emotions. A typical example is Jesus getting angry at the defiling of the House of God as narrated in John 2:13-16 “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market?"
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-- time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up…time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance…….A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”
God has used certain nations to bring an end to evil empires whose wickedness had reached the limit of His mercy. God used Cyrus to subdue the Babylonians and the Medes. Cyrus allowed exiled Jews to return to their homeland and to rebuild their Temple at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3-5). Surprisingly, in Isaiah 45:1, Cyrus is called the Lord’s “anointed.”
A balanced reading of the New Testament texts suggests that there is a basic agreement between the Old and New Testaments on their teaching on warfare.
A Christian must support Israel not only on humanitarian ground but also for political reasons.
Most importantly we must endorse Israel for reasons supported by the Scriptures. The founding of Israel as a nation in 1948 was ordained of God to provide a homeland for the Jewish people and to prepare for the future return of Jesus Christ. The Abrahamic Covenant demands it.
So what should Christians be doing during this time of global unrest? We should continue to pray for Israel as Psalms 122:6 instructs. ("Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure”). We should proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and prepare hearts for His imminent return. If we do not understand why or how God does certain things or permits them to happen, it is because our limited minds cannot understand His secrets nor see the universal plan of creation.