People around the world are watching horrified today as Israel defends itself against unprovoked attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah, Islamic terrorist groups based in Gaza and Lebanon, respectively. More than 900 Israelis are dead — and thousands more injured — following Hamas’ invasion of the country early Saturday morning.
Author Joel Rosenburg calls the attack “Israel’s 9/11” and “Israel’s Pearl Harbor” — the American equivalent of more than 26,000 people dying in 72 hours.
Cultural and political leaders responded to the assault today as deaths continue to climb — including almost 700 people in Gaza and 11 Americans. 150 more are facing execution as Hamas’ hostages.
Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family, writes,
The savage terrorist attack on Israel by the Hamas terrorist organization has rocked an already uneven world, spiraling the Middle East into violent chaos. Our hearts break for our Israeli friends, as well as for the unknown number of innocent victims and families from other countries, including the United States, who are caught in the crosshairs of this unprecedented slaughter and war.
Though most have expressed despair at the sudden, bloody war, which began when armed Hamas soldiers killed 250 people at a music festival three miles from the Gaza border, some Americans chose to protest Israel instead. A rally sponsored by the New York chapter of Democratic Socialists of America’s New York drew 1,000 people apparently supporting Hamas’ attack.
“Resistance is justified when people are occupied,” they reportedly cried, waving signs with slogans including, “By any means necessary.”
Though I believe most onlookers understand the evil inherent in such indiscriminate bloodshed, it clearly bears repeating: the malevolence demonstrated by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, to the extent it supported and enabled these organizations, is morally bankrupt. It should not be justified by any political or social agenda, let alone praised.
Support for Hamas’ attack is particularly anathema to Christianity, not only for its commitment to life, but because of believers’ clear biblical mandate to support Israel. God’s love for His chosen people is encapsulated in the book of Isaiah, when He addresses Israel:
“‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isaih 54:10 ESV).
Some Christians hesitate to support Israel because they disagree with their politics or national history. But theologian Al Mohler says advocating for Israel doesn’t mean justifying everything Israel has done as a country, noting, “In a fallen world, every nation is going to be involved in some kind of wrong.” Instead, says Mohler, Christians must assert Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.
Hamas and Hezbollah’s indiscriminate murder and kidnapping of Israeli citizens represents an existential threat to the country, particularly considering both groups are funded by Iran. Christians have a responsibility to uplift Israel in this time of tumult with prayer and advocacy.
As Daly summarizes:
The scale and scope of the brutality are not yet fully known, but we do know that hundreds of lives have been lost, families have been disrupted, hostages have been taken, and women and girls have been raped, beaten, and killed. Scripture has long called for us to pray for the peace of Israel, so that is what we must do. The Lord knows full well the extent of the distress, and so we trust He will be merciful to those who are hurting. May they be comforted in this time of horror. We also plead with Him to bring justice to those whose barbarous acts threaten the innocent and the greater security of the wider world.
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