“We do not want to see more killing and destruction”.
Aya Ridwa is 25 years old and a student. She lives in Gaza.
The nation of Israel has been bombing Gaza for over a week. Nearly two hundred Palestinians have died in these Israeli airstrikes. Israel has repeatedly warned civilians in the region to evacuate. Unlike the army in Iraq, Israel has no doubt about what it is doing or why. Nor is there any question in anyone’s mind about Israel’s superb military capability or the country’s willingness to use it to defend itself.
This has always been true of the brave little nation that sits in the crosshairs of the Middle East surrounded by its enemies.
One critic described Israel’s assault upon the militant group Hamas as “shooting fish in a barrel”.
But Hamas, which governs Gaza, has been bombing Israel, hiding its weapons among civilian populations, even in mosques, and has rejected an Egyptian-sponsored cease-fire that Israel accepted. If the kid on the playground who is pummeling you bloody offers to stop, why in the world would you say no? And if you picked the fight in the first place, what in the world would you expect?
Israel has never lost a war since it became a state in 1948.
It is a peace-loving nation but it is no pacifist. It has no hair trigger but it does have a steady aim. Israel has always understood its constant danger, living as a sheep among ravenous wolves. It’s been well-armed and ready throughout its history – a history that teaches that religious-based differences among nations are the most threatening.
Nowhere on earth has this been truer for thousands of years than in the Mideast. Once again the region is boiling. And with each conflict – whether in Syria, Libya, Iraq or Israel – the world edges closer to Armageddon.
The Middle East is the geopolitical storm center of the twenty-first century. Israel is its eye. That’s because Israel remains in someone else’s eye.
“For the people of Israel belong to the Lord,” Moses sang.“Jacob is his special possession” (Deuteronomy 32: 9, New Living Translation).
God found the Jewish people “in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them …” (vs. 10, NLT).
God “surrounded” Israel. He still does.
God “watched over” Israel. He still does.
God “guarded” Israel. Today he still does.
God keeps Israel – even now – “as the apple of his eye” (vs. 10, King James Version, emphasis added).
There are those, including many evangelical theologians and leaders, who argue otherwise. They subscribe to what is called Replacement Theology (or Supersessionism) – the belief that since Christ came to inaugurate a New Covenant, Israel has ceased to be God’s chosen people, replaced – and superseded – instead by the Church. Christian believers are indeed the beneficiaries of God’s promises to Abraham, “blessed with faithful Abraham” through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:9, KJV). Abraham, because of his faith in God, “is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16, KJV).
As followers of Jesus, you and I are “heirs according to the promise” made to the patriarch (Galatians 3:29, KJV). We too are God’s children and his chosen people. We too enter into covenant relationship with him by faith. Nothing that God has done through Christ in his church has changed God’s special relationship with the people he chose for his very own so long ago.
God still has a plan for Israel. God still loves Israel. God still protects Israel. This is as crystal clear and as relevant as tomorrow’s headlines. Watch and see if it is not so. While we must pray for peace and love all people everywhere, including those in Arab lands, God’s prophetic purpose continues to unfold. God will never abandon Israel and woe to those who would assail her, for “he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2:8, KJV, emphasis added).
What made Israel so special as to be chosen by the almighty Creator of the universe to enter into particular covenant relationship with him? Moses explained it to the people:
“The Lord did not set his heart upon you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you …” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8, NLT).
This is God’s sovereign and gracious choice.
“For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his special treasure” (vs. 6, NLT, emphasis added).
What was – and continues to be – true of Israel is also true of you and of me and of all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. We are, writes Peter, “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people …” (I Peter 2:9, KJV).
You too are the apple of his eye.
Why? It’s “simply that the Lord loves you”.