On Shabbat morning, following the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, on Simchat Torah—a day set aside to commemorate the joy that flows from God’s Law—terror fell upon Israel.
On Oct. 7, 2023—50 years and a day after the onslaught of the Yom Kippur War—the forces of Hamas pulled back the curtains and showed the face of undiminished wickedness, their capacity to commit horrific acts of barbarism being matched only by their hatred for Israel and the Jewish people. They undeniably touched “the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8). From their attacks against “the Holy Land” (Zech. 2:12), targeting the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we gain significant insight into the depravity of the human heart.
Indeed, the ultimate “Seed” (Gal. 3:16) of Abraham, our Lord Jesus, explicitly warned us that the days before His return would increasingly resemble “the days of Noah” (Matt. 24:37). Those were days fueled by demonism—to such an extent “that every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Thus, “the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). Clearly, the world is moving toward a future time of tribulation when all the restraints against evil will be cast off (see 2 Thess. 2:6-7).
Yet, even on this—a day reminiscent of the Holocaust for the Jewish people—God was watching over His chosen people and their land. He calls to us through the words of the prophet Zechariah, saying:
“My cities shall again spread out through prosperity;
The LORD will again comfort Zion,
And will again choose Jerusalem” (Zech. 1:17).
Appropriately, many Christians are now feeling as if we carry a renewed burden for Israel and the Jewish people. After all, they have bequeathed to us our Scriptures and our Savior, and we anticipate the day when we will share with them in His kingdom—there in their land. More broadly, as Americans, we recognize Israel’s colossal contributions to the development of Western civilization, and today, she serves as a deeply cherished ally in the Middle East.
This is a time and opportunity then, first of all, to seek to “bless” (Gen. 12:3) the people of Israel. Let us not attempt to rid ourselves of this burden that we feel. Rather, may it drive our passions for Israel to run even deeper than they ever have before.
I believe that many Christians are wondering what all of this means with regard to God’s prophetic timetable for Israel and the world. I am sure that many entered churches last Sunday with the hope of hearing comforting words, which would also give them perception to put these events in Biblical context. I am certain that many of them left disappointed.
I would love the opportunity to address those pastors and church leaders who could yet be persuaded of the Biblical importance of Israel. Perhaps they even claim to hold to a dispensational understanding of Biblical history and prophecy and yet have not focused sufficiently on these areas. Perhaps they’ve been neglectful in dealing with them from the pulpit. If I could, I would simply tell them that there will never be a better season to shepherd their people toward an understanding of Israel’s past, present and glorious future—rooted in God’s covenant-keeping love. Although they are currently a nation in unbelief, He is working within history to guide His people into “an everlasting salvation” (Isa. 45:17).
Will all of this take wisdom, courage and boldness—for all of us, and for some more than others? Of course—just as it did when The Friends of Israel was founded 85 years ago this December … even when there was no Israel to befriend.
The events of last Saturday are a huge weight to bear for Zion, and for all who love her (see Ps. 87:2). Jesus certainly warned us of such times, stating in Luke 21:24:
“Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
We know that Israel will indeed be the staging area for end-time events, and God must—and will—protect her. We thank Him for that glorious word until in the passage referenced above—which means that there is a purpose and a termination to all of this. The prophet Isaiah described it like this:
“I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off;
My salvation shall not linger.
And I will place salvation in Zion,
For Israel My glory” (Isa. 46:13).
In the end, those who refuse to carry this burden for the people of Israel and for their eternal salvation will learn how Jerusalem itself will become “a very heavy stone for all peoples” (Zech. 12:3).
Now is not the time to equivocate. This is our generation’s opportunity to stand with the people of Israel. I implore you to do so without hesitation or shame.
Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in Columbus, WI, and serving in the Midwest. For more information on his ministry, visit sermonaudio.com/pscharf or foi.org/scharf, or email email@example.com.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version.