This is a tough topic because you will be branded for whatever side you choose, or even if you do not follow either or narrative, you’ll be branded anyway. And that’s okay.
There is this war between Israel and Hamas. Just to throw that out there, “hamas” in Hebrew means violence. This we see coming out of this organization; cruelty and violence. I believe because of what the nation of Israel, its land and its people represented or represents, until the Lord Jesus returns the country will face opposition.
Now does that mean the political State of Israel is innocent? No. The State of Israel has been guilty of great pride, and parades in the name of. Should we then say, “oh God is judging them” and be indifferent towards their sufferings? I do not believe that is the right attitude either. For God does not delight in the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:23, Proverbs 24:17)
But what I do believe we should do in this time is to pause and ask God for wisdom. Being careful not to be emotionally manipulated by the media and their donors.
Our theology on auto-pilot often leads us to views like the pre-trib rapture, and a mentality like “oh it’s Israel, I support them no matter what.” But why? I will come back to this.
Many years ago a friend of mine asked me what I believed about the rapture. I hadn’t paid too much attention to the issue. But when I took a deeper look, I found a plain reading of scripture pointed to a post-trib/pre-wrath rapture view. Although at the time, I didn’t quite know what the view I had was called by the ‘theological society’. In this view, we will be raptured after the Great Tribulation, but before the wrath of God. The Great Tribulation is persecution of the saints brought on by the anti-Christ beast system. And the wrath of God is judgement, brought on by God towards unbelievers. Some people believe that the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God. I do not subscribe to this. Revelation 3:10 says:
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
This is from the King James, notice the word “temptation”, other translations will say “trial” but this I believe is a mistranslation. The greek word used here is peirasmou (πειρασμοῦ). This translates to temptation. So keeping the word temptation, we know God tempts no one (James 1:13). Therefore, the Great Tribulation cannot be the wrath of God. I am not a “KJV-only”, because whether we agree or not, King James was compromised like the rest of us. He had a sin nature, and there’re reports that he had agendas in regards to authority and government. (See Ephesians 6:12 compared to an earlier translation like the Geneva Bible) It is more helpful to compare translations during study and ask the Holy Spirit to explain or testify to us on passages of Scripture. That’s just my advice, to each their own study methods.
Back to the topic, we know that as believers, we are not subject to the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Therefore, we will be taken out right before His wrath comes upon unbelievers as we read in the last verses of Revelation 6, and in Revelation 7.
“17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:17
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:13-14
If you’re not convinced with just this simple set of timeline, we can also remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24:37. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” I believe this verse not only speaks to the depravity of man, but gives insight to the timeline itself.
How was it in the days of Noah? We read about the depravity; when the righteous are in the midst of depravity there will always be ridicule by the unbelievers. We are in the world but not of the world. We interact with unbelievers through work, services etc. We see their works, and our righteous souls become vexed by their deeds of darkness (2 Peter 2:8). A righteous man warns. Noah warned the people (2 Peter 2:5). Then God took Noah and his family into the ark, a foreshadow of Christ by the way, but anyhow, this was Noah’s rapture so to speak. And then the wrath of God came upon the unbelievers. Those who believe that the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God may say, but look Noah was in the storm, but was just protected through it within the ark. But wait, not so fast. What about Lot? Lot and his family were completely taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah before God destroyed it. So we see it is not a question of location, but of protection. We will not be subject to the wrath of God. Back to Matthew 24:37, we see the general timeline remains: persecution/ridicule by those possessing the spirit of the anti-Christ, then “rapture” (taken out, protected throughout whatever), then judgement or wrath of God on unbelievers.
Why does the rapture timeline even matter? Because people’s convictions on the rapture influence how they view what’s happening and even more so for Christians, their responsibility as Christians. Christians who expect pre-tribulation rapture timeline may not prepare themselves for the Great Tribulation. And by prepare, I mean continue with vigor to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. That is, to practice Godliness. There are “Christians” who abuse grace and believe this is as bad as it gets for me, I can do as I like, not exercise my spiritual gifts and will be raptured away.
In the case of this war between Israel and Hamas: There are actually people who push for war in order to propel end-time events. And these people are not just Hamas sympathizers.
Who is Israel? Israel represents many things. Jacob, Jesus (Hosea 11:1), the church, the actual location, the people who are born within the boundaries within the lands of Israel, or ethnic Jews. I stated earlier that on auto-pilot, we tend to say “oh Israel, I support them no matter what”. And the mainstream media knows this. We should stop to ask God what’s happening. When I did, I found that when I think of the State of Israel in the proper perspective I am less emotional, and more concentrated about my responsibilities as part of the body of Christ. An overly romanticized view of ethnic Jews is not helpful. And not because someone is an ethnic Jew, does not make them our brother or sister.
“He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” – Matthew 12:48
“You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” Romans 11
There are not two trees. Like you have the tree of Christians, and you have the tree of ethnic Jews, and they are somehow brothers and sisters because we share the Torah. No. There is one tree, two branches albeit (Zechariah 4:11, Revelation 11:4). But these two branches point to believing Jews and Gentiles.
But what about:
“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 12:3
Some people read this and believe we must demonstrate unwavering support towards ethnic Jews. But this passage was spoken to Abraham. “All nations being blessed through you” alludes to Jesus Himself. All nations are indeed blessed because of Jesus and His work on the Cross, and rising from the grave. And the Bible is clear on the matter of faith. For without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” Romans 4:16
“It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” Romans 9:6-9
The Bible is pretty clear that we are regarded as Israel through our faith.
So is God done with the ethnic Jews? I do not believe He is. Any ethnic Jew can be grafted right back into the tree. Also:
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:25-26
Some people take “all of Israel” to mean ethnic Jews. How can this be? We just saw from Romans 9 what is regarded as Israel, people of faith. All of Israel, that is the Israel of God, will be saved when only the full number of Gentiles have come in.
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.“ Galatians 6:14-16
Verse 15 is effectively telling us yet again it’s not about the flesh. But about the new creation, being born again. And peace and mercy to all who follow the rule, that is, believe in this manner. All who follow the rule is not just ethnic Jews, but also Gentiles. And we see, from the last statement who receives this peace, the Israel of God. Therefore, the Israel of God comprises of both ethnic Jews and Gentiles.
So what about the State of Israel? What about:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.” Psalm 122:6-9
There’s no conflict. We are to pray for the peace of the people within Jerusalem. The God of the universe choose that particular location, through Abraham to bring about the Savior Jesus Christ. Even though the Church is the Israel of God, God loves the people of the State of Israel. God is mindful of the humans He created, whether ethnic Jew or not. We should however remove the auto-pilot overtly romanticized mindset towards ethnic Jews. I am uncertain as to why we do not hold the same level of support for persecuted brothers and sisters around other places in the world. The ones who belong to the Israel of God, and not just holding an Israeli government issued passport. Is it because we have not grasped the actual position of the church where the meaning of Israel is concerned according to the Bible? The Israel who truly are the children of God.
P.S. If you’re in Christ, fear not in regards to facing the Great Tribulation. This is what God says in this time:
3 But I will give power unto my two witnesses and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are two olive trees, and two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouths and devoureth their enemies: for if any man would hurt them, thus must he be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesying, and have power over waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all manner plagues, as often as they will.
If you read and understood this article, you’ll know who these “two witnesses” are. 🙂
Excellent sermon on some of what was discussed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQo2MVc1IuE&t=3473s
Further reading: https://www.cuttingedge.org/news/n2223.cfm