by Zach Maddox | Middle East
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”
— Matthew 5:9
Rockets from Gaza
In the fall of 2012, Israel and the Gaza strip exchanged rockets. Having a rocket fired toward Jerusalem forced me to think about those facing a great number of rocket attacks. Sitting in my children’s dimly lit bedroom one evening, waiting for them to drift off to sleep, I wondered what it was like for families going to bed in Gaza City and Ashkelon. They regularly face threats of rockets and bombs.
The Gulf War—Operation Desert Storm
While attending middle school, I watched televised footage of American troops working to expel Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait, easily disconnecting the bombing and loss of life taking place an ocean away.
Bomb Shelters in Ashkelon
We live within 50 miles of Gaza and, yet, it is hard to imagine the daily threat and stress of rockets fired eight to 10 miles away. Ashkelon deals with missiles fired from Gaza and the Iron Dome missile defense system shooting them down. Most of the rockets are destroyed, but some pass through the defenses.
Funds were raised for bomb shelters in Ashkelon because of the continual threat. They were trying to find peace of mind in a challenging location.
Tragedy in Gaza
Israel responded to attacks by bombing sites within Gaza. Innocent people now live among the wreckage. A BBC correspondent stated, “A mother in her wrecked home is scurrying around collecting her daughter’s dolls, dusting them off.”
By the time the firing stopped, 133 Palestinians and six Israelis were dead. Where will they spend eternity?
Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem
Matthew 5:9 records Jesus saying, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”
Psalm 122:6 gives instruction to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!” Many churches tell me they regularly pray for peace. What kind of peace are they praying for?
Palestinians Keeping Jesus from Returning
I was invited to a dinner in Jerusalem and met a Palestinian Christian whose family has always lived in Israel. He visited a church in the United States and was warmly welcomed as “a guest from Israel.” When people greeted him at the end of the service, a man shook his hand and said, “I’ve longed to shake the hand of a Jew from Israel.” The guest informed him he loves the Jewish people but was a Palestinian Christian. The church member pulled his hand away, turned, and walked away.
These kinds of experiences cause Palestinian believers to ask, “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my Christianity? Am I keeping Jesus from coming again?”
The Church Keeping Jesus from Coming
The only thing keeping Jesus from coming is the church fulfilling her mission, seeing people from every tribe and nation recognize Jesus as Lord. Read Matthew 24:14: “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
If you are praying for the peace of Jerusalem, pray for the Prince of Peace to infiltrate the hearts of all Jerusalem’s inhabitants. Pray for the secular Israeli, the orthodox Jew, the religious Armenian, and the hardline Muslim to experience hope and love in Jesus.
May they experience His peace, even when sirens warn of incoming missiles! Hope is in the King of Kings and in His eternal confidence, not on being spared from tragedy.
Embrace the commands of Jesus to love God and love people—all people. Be willing to go and tell others about Him, teaching them about God and the eternal destiny found in Christ. Pray for peace and proclaim His message around the world.
What are some practical ways you can love, go, teach? Share your comments below.