The season of readiness
June 19, 2021
Wondering how to pray about the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine? It seems very complicated! It’s tempting to choose sides, assign blame, compare firepower and death tolls, debate about mercy versus righteousness and so on. Perhaps we can learn from the biblical account of when Joshua was about to lead Israel into battle to possess the land currently in contention:
“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my Lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” (Jos 5:13-15)
“Whose side are you on?” The commander ignored the question, because it was backward: Joshua was about to be given specific and highly unusual instructions that he would be required to obey to prove he was on the Lord’s side. This week I heard a testimony about instruction from God that nullified the question, “Whose side are you on?”.
An Arabic-speaking friend had a dream that she and her husband were visiting a Palestinian family in their home when people outside began shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “Death to Israel”. The two sons ran outside and joined them without thinking. She asked them why they weren’t seeking peace. They answered, “Nobody can provide this peace”. She told them one person can – Jesus Christ who was born in this very land. They said they were educated but couldn’t find work because their land had been seized. My friends asked if they’d read the Bible. No, they hadn’t. So they gave them a few copies, encouraged them to read it and prayed with them. Then she woke up.
The next day this friend and her husband went to a park in our city. A group of people started shouting, “Allahu Akbar” and waving the Palestinian flag, and suddenly she understood her dream. She approached a couple of guys holding flags and learned they were Palestinian. She asked, “Aren’t we fed up with wars and blood? How long will we keep living this way? Why don’t we pray for peace?” Then she said, “You’re young, the future of this world, and there is one person, Jesus Christ who is the King of Peace, who can give us peace”. She gave them a booklet about people in the Bible like Abraham who left their lands, trusted God and were blessed by Him, and encouraged them to read the Bible on the Internet. She also met some of the female protesters, gave them the booklet and got their phone numbers to follow up. My friend, a Syrian, was astonished to have had this encounter in a Canadian city.
Let’s avoid being cornered into taking sides. Let’s listen to the Lord for His instructions. Let’s believe He makes us ready to respond and obey. Let’s believe He makes others ready for the Gospel, both Jew and Gentile. The Good News trumps the news and the problems from overseas that immigrate here. “Let your gentleness [alternatively reasonableness, forbearance, courtesy] be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Php 4:5).
God, forgive us for allowing our own understanding of what is right to distract and sideline us. We worship You and align with Your purposes so as to become instruments of Your will done on earth as in heaven.
We pray for Christ-followers in the Middle East to be fueled with the Father’s love and the Spirit’s power to reveal Jesus as Savior and LORD (i.e. Yahweh) to Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Jews alike.
We pray for opportunities here in Canada to speak Jesus, speak life, speak peace into lives distorted by history, hatred and false identities. The Lord is near!