Recently, on the morning of Saturday, October 7, Islamic terrorists launched a vicious, unprovoked surprise attack on Israel. The attack was led by the terrorist organization, Hamas. Their base of operations was from the Gaza Strip, as well as hot spots in Syria and Lebanon. Over 1,200 people were killed and as many as 150 hostages have been taken. Over 20 Americans in Israel have been murdered by Hamas as well as citizens from almost 30 different nations. Israeli citizens have been targeted, and women and children have been ruthlessly slaughtered. At least 40 Israeli babies have been beheaded. The nature and degree of devastation and bloodshed inflicted on Israel in this event is the worst in decades. Netanyahu says it is Israel’s “9/11 or Pearl Harbor.”
This past week at a Q & A with the Elders of our church one of our members asked, “How do we as Christians interpret these recent events about Israel?” Also, this week at seminary, one of my students asked, “What are reliable resources we can go to for getting reliable information?” These are two insightful questions because ignorance, confusion, and misinformation rule the day from popular news outlets that attempt to explain what is going on between Israel and Palestine right now. It is easy to be confused because the saga between Israel and her enemies has a long history that is religious, political, ethnic, geographic, and most importantly, spiritual in nature. One-dimensional assessments are shallow and fall short.
The super-majority of the world rightly has been condemning the horrific slaughter of the innocents in Israel. The United States, the UK, and Germany have formally voiced their support for Israel. But many prominent voices have remained silent, not wanting to condemn the obvious guilt of Hamas. They do so for various reasons: some out of sheer ignorance (ignorance of history and the Bible); some are politically motivated; and many more simply hate Israel and all Jews. This event is so categorically wrong that it has clearly exposed people’s loyalties and allegiances who have long been trying to hide them from the majority. In addition to those who remain silent are those who remain neutral, like the Pope, who sees this recent event as a 50-50 enterprise. He implies there is equal guilt on both sides. But there is not. And worst of all are the many who are celebrating the slaughter of the innocent by the Hamas terrorists, including Muslim nations around the world, the leadership of Black Lives Matter, students on public American university campuses, and even Democrat political officials in the United States Congress.
To help Christians read the news with discernment moving forward, some basic facts need to be highlighted and oft-repeated lies and distortions need to be exposed up front. Below are several basic, foundational issues at play in this complicated scenario, which I hope will set the record straight for many. Much of it has to do with fundamental diction and nomenclature. The way people use words and phrases exposes their worldview and deepest convictions. We need to pay attention to those subtle details. Also, true history needs to be clarified and the key players involved need to be properly profiled and even unmasked. Consider the following misleading words and statements surrounding this issue:
This is a war between two nations
No, it is not. Israel is a real, legitimate nation. Hamas is not a nation but is a Muslim terrorist organization that has no central location. They are infested throughout the Middle East in strategic pockets either covertly or in places where they are allowed to exist as co-belligerents with those who hate Israel.
This is an ongoing war between Israel and Palestinians
No, it is not. This is actually the greatest misnomer of all. There is no such thing as “Palestinians” today. Technically a Palestinian is a “Philistine.” That is what the word means. The Philistines became extinct around 500 BC. Historically, the land of Israel has never been formally known as Palestine. The Bible never calls it Palestine. Significantly, the Quran never mentions the word “Palestine,” nor does it ever mention “Jerusalem.” Small portions in southern Israel have been assigned the title “Palestine” deliberately (by the pagan Romans in the 2nd century AD, because they hated Jews) or mistakenly and pragmatically by the Brits after WWI. There is no Palestinian ethnicity, language, history, religion, or culture. Someone today who identifies as “Palestinian” is usually Egyptian or Middle Eastern in ethnicity, Muslim in religion, Arabic culturally, and just happens to reside in the land of Israel in a portion that was renamed “Palestine.” It is akin to someone saying, “I’m a Texan” because they reside in Texas.
Hamas represent the Palestinians
No, they do not. Hamas is a Muslim terrorist organization that exists for one purpose–to eradicate Israel, all Jews, and anyone else who does not submit to Allah. There are many people who call themselves Palestinian who do not support Hamas. Hamas is an offshoot of the terrorist organization called the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas began in 1987 and is a transnational Sunni Islamist group that originated in Egypt. Its name, Hamas, is an acronym that in Arabic means “Islamic Resistance Movement.” It rejects any peace deals with Israel. They accomplish their agenda through violence in the name of Allah. Their founding charter states they seek to eradicate Israel and all Jews. Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization was the historic catalyst for their origin. Iran, the terrorist state, has for a long time been providing money, weapons, and other resources to Hamas. Hamas took political control of the Gaza Strip around 2005 and since then Israel has had no presence in the Gaza Strip. They rule the 2.3 million people living in Gaza through fear and intimidation. Pay close attention to news sources that call the terrorists of Hamas “militants,” “combatants,” “freedom-fighters,” “resistance-fighters,” or even “aggressors,” instead of the proper terms such as “terrorists,” “anti-Semites,” and “murderers. So-called journalists who refuse to use the proper terms by watering down and blurring the true identity of Hamas have a nefarious agenda and a bias against Israel. The BBC is a good example. Their CEO went on record this week saying his outlet refuses to call Hamas “terrorists” because that is a “value judgment.” Also, be aware of those who refer to Israel as “occupiers” of the land or an “apartheid” people. These are terms of derision that distort the truth and inflame hatred.
This recent conflict is over the rights to the land
No, it is not. Even the official spokesperson for Hamas said so just this week. He openly declared that the goal of Hamas is to eradicate Israel because they have no right to exist. Hamas does not want to co-exist in peace with the Jews, or any non-Muslim. Who owns the land? The Bible directly answers that question: God does. God declared, “The Earth is the LORD’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps 24:1). In 1440 BC, God told Moses at Mount Sinai regarding the Promised Land: “The land is Mine” (Lev 25:23). And God told Moses that He was going to give the land to Moses and the Israelites. “The LORD your God has given you the land to possess” (Deut 3:18). God gave the land to the Jews because He promised Abraham that He would. In 2100 BC, over 4,000 years ago, God told Abraham, “To your descendants, I will give this land” (Gen 12:7). And He did in the days of Joshua in 1400 BC. And God told Abraham that He would give the whole land of Canaan to the Jews as an “everlasting” possession (Gen 17:8). And in 600 BC God said further that this promise of the land for the Jews would remain true as long as there are sun, moon, and stars in the sky (Jer 31:35-37). Paul reaffirms this promise God made to Israel in Romans when he proclaims that God’s promises to His elect nation Israel cannot be rescinded or revoked (Rom 9-11). Since the days when Joshua marched over 2 million Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land in 1400 BC, the Jews have always had a presence in the Land. So, for 3,400 years, there have always been Jews in the land, even during times of oppression by their enemies, even when they were the minority.
What are some reliable news sources to help understand the Israeli conflict?
There are many good ones. And there are many bad ones. Typically, good ones from an objective perspective that coincide with biblical truth and a Christian worldview include World Net Daily, World Magazine, World of the Bible (Randall Price), Ariel Ministries (A. Fruchtenbaum), Chosen People Ministries, and The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Typically, reliable news outlets include AlbertMohler.com, TownHall.com, RedState.com, Breitbart News, NewsMax, The Daily Wire, CBN News, CNS news (mrctv.org), MarkLevinShow.com, and CalThomas.com. For further information on the history of Palestine see chapter 7 in my book, What the Bible Says about Israel, titled “Who Are the Palestinians?” It is more relevant today than in 2020 when I wrote the book. For an excellent summary of the historical origins of Hamas, see the YouTube video, “Nazi Collaborators-The Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseni.” Watch it before it gets removed! It reveals the truth like few others. It is 49 minutes in length.
Is this the end of the world? Are we in the Tribulation?
Probably not. No one knows the day or the hour (Matt 24:36). Many Christians thought the world was ending during the first two World Wars. Many Christians asked me the same question during the war with Iraq and on 9/11 – “Pastor Cliff… are we entering the Tribulation?” Martin Luther thought the Pope of his day in the 1500s was the Anti-Christ and that the world was ending. God knows when the world is going to end yet, he told his apostles that it was not their concern about when the end will take place, but instead entrust that to the Father’s sovereign control (Acts 1). In the meantime, he called his disciples to be prayerful, faithful, persevering, and focused on today (Lk 21:36). Do not worry about tomorrow, it will take care of itself (Matt 6). And no matter how bad things seem to get, God is still on the throne (Ps 115:3). Everything is going according to his plan, perfectly (1 Cor 15). He works all things together for our good and his glory (Rom 8:28). Even the worst of things.