My church is calling its people to a season of prayer for Israel. We’d like to begin by encouraging focused prayer this weekend, and would ask each one who feels led to set aside a specific half-hour period between now and Sunday to intercede for Israel. Our Missions Team has even asked that we consider aligning our prayers with the Jewish Sabbath Day in Israel, stretching from 5:00pm EST tonight through 5:00pm tomorrow. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in this. This article may be of help to guide your reflections and prayers.

The savage butchery of the recent Hamas terrorist invasion of Israel that has left 1,400 Jews dead (and counting – proportionally, that would be 40,000 dead in the US) and nearly 200 taken hostage has been a horrifying reminder to the Church in the West to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps.122:6).

It’s easy in the busyness of our American lives – as we ferry the kids to soccer games, update our fantasy football results, and make grocery lists for the upcoming holidays – to forget that the Lord is doing things in the wider world around us to further along his plans for the earth that would bring us to our knees in prayer if we saw them clearly. “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times,” Jesus lamented to the religious leaders in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:3). He might say that to us as well.

One of the greatest “signs of the times” for our age is the nation of Israel. But many of us have forgotten how dear Israel is to the heart of God, and how central it is to God’s timeline for earth. Here are six reasons why what happens to Israel should matter to followers of Christ.

God Chose Them To Be His First Messengers

Jews are known as the “chosen people”. This refers to how God raised up the nation of Israel early in the Old Testament age to use them as his primary messengers for reaching the world for him. The first eleven chapters of the Old Testament show us how quickly sin spreads across the earth when humans have a common culture and language. To save us from ourselves, God divided humanity up into different languages and nations in the Tower of Babel story. This way if evil infected one culture and brought it to ruin (e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah), the damage would be contained.

Additionally, it allowed God to take one nation to himself, for the purpose of training and teaching them his ways, whom he then could use to call the wider world to him. In World War II, D-Day was when the Allies established a beachhead in France through which it could push back and defeat the Nazis.

Israel was God’s beachhead, a nation miraculously brought to birth through Abraham and Sarah, whom God called with this promise: “I will make of you a great nation…I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3). God chose the Jews for this mission.

God Used Them To Bless The Earth

Paul lists in Romans 9:4-5 how Israel has been a blessing to the earth, just as God promised Abraham. “To them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” In other words:

  • God gave to the world through the Jews his Laws, through which he taught the world his nature (that he is holy), and taught us our nature (that we are sinful in need of redemption).
  • Through Israel God gave the world his Word, through which he taught the world how to seek him, know him, worship him, and reach for his redemption.
  • Through Israel, God gave to the world his priests and sacrifices, which paint a picture for the world of how its redemption and rescue from evil would be achieved.
  • Through Israel God gave to the world his prophets who prepared Israel and the nations for the coming of the one who would accomplish this great rescue.
  • Then at last, God gave to the world through Israel the Messiah, Jesus Christ. That is, he gave the world Through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, God broke the back of sin’s power over humanity, and achieved our redemption.

God Loves Them

“He who touches you touches the apple of his eye,” said the prophet Zechariah (2:8). Through the prophets, God tenderly spoke of Israel as a son he loved (Hosea 11:1), and a bride he cared for (Hosea 2:14-20). On his way to the cross, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, because its inhabitants did not see God’s clouds of judgment gathering on the horizon.

Yet God’s affection for Israel was not based on any inherent goodness on her part (Deut.9:6). It wasn’t because of her strength and numbers (Deut.7:7) It wasn’t because she tried harder than other nations (Romans 9:16). He loved Israel because of his promise to Abraham (Deut.7:8). And because of his mercy (Romans 9:16). And because of his sovereign choice (Romans 9:11-13), that he might show his power through them to the nations (Romans 9:17).

But over time, Israel forgot these lessons of grace, and began to think of themselves as “better than” the Gentiles, when all along, it was God’s plan to use the Jews to reach the Gentiles. Furthermore, the struggle between Jew and Arab is a family feud. Both are children of Abraham, the Jews through the promised son Isaac, and the Arabs through Ishmael.

God’s love for Israel is different than for the Arab nations, only in that he chose Israel for its unique assignment. The Jews should not think of themselves as “better than” the Arab. The Arabs should humble themselves before God, and repent of their demonic and jealous hatred for their brother Israel. Sadly, this is unlikely to happen until all this evil has played itself out.

God Disciplined Them

Our concern and support for Israel should never be a blank check endorsed with the words “Israel right or wrong.” Even in the Old Testament, whenever Israel did what was unjust or evil (which was just about every other chapter) God would remove his blessing from her until she learned her lessons. Israel’s story is in so many ways is a picture of our own story with God – three steps forward, then two back – which is why we should learn it (Romans 15:4).

In the modern conflict between the Jews and Palestinians dating back more than a century, Israel’s political choices are never beyond critique. One of the oldest surviving Christian churches is ethnically Palestinian, and the believers still found in these enclaves have stories to tell of mistreatment suffered at the hand of both Muslim and Jew.

However, this is in no way to suggest a moral equivalency in the current struggle. No one except the most pathological idealogue could watch the videos of the atrocities committed on October 7th and conclude that we were seeing two parties on equal moral footing. The words “evil” and “savages” are more than appropriate to describe the terrorists who have surrendered their will to the hellish doctrine of Hamas, Hezbollah and those in league with them. Civilized society has no choice but to send them back to the stone age. When the very eradication of the Jews is written directly into a group’s constitution, it’s best to believe them and act accordingly. Speaking of…

God Protected Them

There are Jews who might legitimately call into question the idea of God protecting them from her enemies, especially when considering the millions slaughtered to Nazism and Communism in the past century. “How odd / that God / should choose / the Jews” was a scornful haiku written to say “Thanks but no thanks” to God’s selection of them as his chosen ones.

But there can be no question when looking back through biblical and classical history at the parade of nations that has tried to annihilate the Jewish race, that were it not for God preserving a remnant, the Jews would have long since gone the way of the Philistine (Romans 9:29).

A deeper question to be asked though is where this bizarre global hatred – which persists to this day and is splattered across our newsfeeds – comes from. With the hatred of antisemitism, we have moved from the realm of the sociological to the spiritual. The word “demonic” used earlier fits the conversation. It Satan shows himself by his desire to “steal, kill, and destroy” as Jesus said (John 10:10) then it should be easy to spot his servants.

God Would Bring Them Back To Life

The most severe punishment came upon Israel not when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC and took the Jews into exile, but rather in A.D. 70 when Rome destroyed the city and scattered the Jews, a dispersion that lasted two millennia, and formally ended in 1948 when the modern nation of Israel was created.

What we are watching with our own eyes is in all likelihood the literal fulfillment of prophecy. The prophet Ezekiel foretold in chapter 37 that there would be a time when Israel would be as good as dead, like a valley of dry bones, but that supernaturally God would bring the Jews back to life, and usher them back into their land. Some might argue that this prophecy applied to the Jews returning from their Babylonian exile, though Israel was far from dead in Babylon. And chapters 38 and 39 which follow describe an invasion of Israel by a confederation of nations that has no historical precedent. It can only be describing a future event awaiting its fulfillment.

Then Jesus in a famous sermon of the Last Days called the “Olivet Discourse” (versions of which are preserved in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21), says after predicting the imminent destruction of Jerusalem: “They [the Jews] will…be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:25).  The implication is that after a long period where Jerusalem would be controlled by Gentiles nations, the Jews would get their land back.

The apostle Paul in Romans 11 adds further illumination on what this “time of the Gentiles” could be referring to. Paul has been writing about why his fellow Jews have largely rejected the Gospel in his time. On one level it doesn’t make sense. They’re the chosen ones whom God has used, loved, disciplined, and protected.

It’s Paul’s conviction that a spiritual hardening “has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25). The Jews are like natural branches of an olive tree that have been broken off so that others [the Gentiles] can be grafted in (11:17-24). But Paul hints in the strongest of terms that the natural branches will one day be easily grafted back in (vs.24), and then “all Israel will be saved” (vs.26).

Though Messianic Jewish communities exist, the nation as a whole is far from Christian. However who can deny that a stage is being set that would allow for the fulfillment of these prophecies in days to come. (A prophecy from Zechariah 12:10 almost always brings tears to my eyes to think of it: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him…”

We can add to these verses dozens and dozens of prophecies from the Old Testament (especially in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah) and the book of Revelation where Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, is found at the epicenter of world events leading to the end of the age. It’s as though these ancient prophecies are being ripped from the headlines even as we speak.

So How Should We Pray For Jerusalem?

This past week, the podcast Think Biblically hosted by Sean McDowell and Scott Rae, interviewed Dr. Mitch Glaser who is the president of Chosen People Ministries which works with Messianic congregations in America and Israel. We highly recommend that you have a listen to it here.

When asked how he was praying for what was happening in Israel, Dr. Glaser replied:

Well, of course, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, which I interpret as praying for the country, for the nation, for Jewish people globally…So we’re praying for Jewish people, for Jewish Israelis, and of course we’re praying for Palestinians. I always pray first for believers, and then I pray for those who are not yet believers…I understand that when Jesus returns, our prayers will be answered. There’ll be no more tears, there’ll be no more death, no more disease, there’ll be no more disunity but we will all rally around the throne of King Jesus. And so I pray even so, come Lord Jesus, because a lot of us are really sick and tired of this existence, and every time you think things are fine, then it pops up again. Why? Why? Because the nature of man is sinful, and when sin is undeterred, it becomes more and more evil. And so I pray that God would deliver us from evil, and I believe Hamas is evil, and so I pray on the one hand that God would have mercy on their souls, and on the other hand, I do pray that God will give them appropriate judgment. And I know nobody wants to hear that. But David did pray what are called imprecatory prayers. So I pray for peace, I pray for their salvation, and I pray for justice.

Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His latest book, “Communion With Christ” is now available through Amazon. His blogs and scripts can be enjoyed at his ministry website: and his writing website: Bear is also the author of “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon. 

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