|By: Dillon Burroughs; ©2014|
|With the Israeli-Gaza conflict exceeding 1,000 casualties and Israel’s commitment of a “prolonged campaign” to destroy Hamas targets, many are asking whether the Bible connects with today’s headlines in the Middle East. Much speculation abounds, yet there are at least three clear biblical connections relevant to the current conflict.|
With the Israeli-Gaza conflict exceeding 1,000 casualties and Israel’s commitment of a “prolonged campaign” to destroy Hamas targets, many are asking whether the Bible connects with today’s headlines in the Middle East. Much speculation abounds, yet there are at least three clear biblical connections relevant to the current conflict.
Ezekiel 38 predicted more that 2,500 years ago that a growing coalition of nations would rise up in battle against Israel in the last days. Though today’s conflict may not be part of Ezekiel’s fulfillment, the conflict between Israel and its neighbors clearly foreshadows a growing coalition opposed to Israel’s existence.
In fact, prophecy experts typically identify the nations in Ezekiel 38 that will rise up against Israel as Russia, Turkey, Libya, Sudan, Iran, and some of the former Soviet nations (often called the “Stans”). A close look at the political attitudes in these nations reveals that much anti-Semitism already exists. It would not take much to see an alignment of these and perhaps other nations in a military operation against Israel in the not-too-distant future as Ezekiel predicted.
Revelation speaks of a seven-year time period called the Tribulation during which Israel will enjoy a temporary peace. During this time of peace a new Jewish Temple will be built but will soon be defiled by an international leader known in the Bible as the Antichrist.
Much judgment will come upon the planet during this time, with Jesus returning in victory at the end of this Tribulation period (Revelation 19). Bottom line, the Bible predicts Israel will not experience long-term peace until the return of Jesus.
Despite current conflicts in the Middle East, Jesus has made clear the calling of His people. In His final words before returning to heaven, He taught, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus gave both a clear command and a sense of urgency regarding this task of making disciples. Today’s volatile headlines serve to highlight the most pressing need of the hour—to take the good news to those who have yet to hear. This involves both sharing the good news and living it out through a variety of practical ways.
Every action matters. Matthew 10:42 teaches, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” When you see or read about the battles raging in Israel and elsewhere, consider the following applications.
First, pray for those involved in the conflict. This includes prayer for the people involved on both sides. Many soldiers and civilians are being injured, killed, displaced, and are undergoing a harsh reality of surviving in a war zone day after day. We are called to pray for those in need, pray for the salvation of those who have yet to believe in Jesus, and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).
Second, live with compassion toward others. Whether across the globe or across the street, people in our world are hurting. How can you help? Many great organizations exist to meet the practical needs of people facing poverty, homelessness, mental illness, imprisonment, war, hunger, medical needs, and other areas. Find a way to show compassion and live out what you believe.
Third, live passionately devoted to Jesus. James 1:27 teaches, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” We are called to help those in need and to live devoted to God.
When is the last time you have invested an extended time in prayer or Scripture? When is the last time you have shared your faith? How are you involved in your church or small group of believers to encourage one another and grow together? Acts 2:42 notes the passion of the first church included that, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Today’s events in the Middle East are relevant to Bible prophecy and to how we live for God today. Let’s commit to praying, serving, and living devoted to the Lord as we patiently wait for the His return in the midst of today’s conflicts.