Israel, The Church, And Iran

Each year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, sirens wail for two minutes throughout Israel in honor of those who perished in the genocidal regime. This year the soul piercing alarm was especially sobering. It seemed accompanied by an almost palpable sense the nation is awakening to possibly its worst nightmare: the dreaded reality we could be hanging on the precipice of the unthinkable—another Holocaust, possibly worse than the first.

I am reluctant to dwell on the Holocaust, both in my personal life and in ministry. I write about it here and now only as the result of having been stirred in my spirit these past several days to do so. (As if to punctuate the urgency, at this very instant, the Memorial Day siren has just sounded!)

A visit to the new Holocaust Museum on Holocaust Remembrance Day last week made the issue unavoidable. I had not previously been to the new museum, and wondered what God might be saying through it that particular day. I did not suspect what lay ahead and what I would perceive. I was stunned to discover the displays and exhibits of the media campaigns, news accounts and political realities of the 5-10 years prior to the Holocaust chillingly mirror the very media campaigns, news accounts and political realities of today. Like many of you, I have closely followed current events pertaining to Israel for several years. Still, I was dumbstruck at the shocking parallel between that which took place then, and now.

The museum lays out the evidence—which speaks for itself—clearly and plainly for all to see. This evidence was intended to provide an historical account of the past. But these days it shouts a prescient warning of the future much like the national siren. From behind glass cases housed in sprawling modern architecture, the same anti-Semitic cartoons, the same Jew-blaming and hating news articles, the same governmental appeasements, and the same global reluctance to take seriously the devil’s threats, all scream to be heard.

In certain critical ways, the recent Durban II conference resembled the international forum that convened in the 1930’s in order to deal with Hitler and the “Jewish problem.” Interestingly, many media accounts of Durban II have apparently been slanted. Striking disparities exist between Western reports compared with those reports in the Israeli and Jewish media. Whereas the Western media generally depicted Ahmadinejad as having been marginalized by the nations, Israeli accounts offer another perspective. The Jewish perception is that one worse than Hitler is more than tolerated by the international community; he is unabashedly given center stage in his call for the annihilation of Israel. The fact that some national representatives (to their credit) walked out on his speech is seen as a positive gesture—but one that accomplished very little. What is necessary to prevent another genocidal assault on the Jewish people is proactive, positive action. Good defensive gestures and protests, or prolonged conversations, are not enough at this point.

In the spirit realm, Durban II opened doors at very high levels for a new release of global anti-Semitic and anti-christ powers. No doubt most civilized nations do not support the present Iranian regime. But by their collective behavior, these nations are not doing anything to realistically stop it. The course of action they are undertaking is sadly but highly reminiscent of the international response to the German Nazi regime prior to World War II: much talk, but much less action. The evidence is on display at the museum.

Will Israel act alone if necessary and strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities? Reports and rumors go both ways. In truth, we do not know what is taking place at the highest levels of Israeli and international decision making. It does appear, however, the country is preparing its military and civilian population for the possibility of such a strike and subsequent enemy retaliation. At minimum, Israel is intentionally giving the impression this option is being kept open.

Should Israel strike at Iran, she will most likely have to go at it alone—and perhaps suffer severely at many levels for doing so. A military operation against Iran might draw a line in the sand dividing Israel against the US, as well as other nations. I personally believe the devil would aim to sever relations between Israel and the US over this issue, so as to eventually destroy both nations. But I believe God’s heart—and His summons to prayer—is to bless them both as the result of right choices made for right reasons. Now, sometimes blessing involves discipline, but our Father’s discipline is for the purpose of restoring His children back to Him and His ways. Our intercession to God and intervention to governments will make a difference in the realities that unfold.

Meanwhile, many have said in recent months that because Israel will turn to God only when all other nations first turn away from her, the US should stop helping her. This view, however, needs to be tempered by the whole counsel of God’s Word. It is true that Israel’s ultimate salvation on a national scale occurs at a time she has been forsaken by the world. But to say this means the US (or any other nation) should cease to help her is to seriously misunderstand the Scriptures and character of God. Such a perspective does not accurately reflect our Father’s heart. He does not cause one of His children to sin so that another might be saved. He does know in advance the choices we will make. When a choice is made to act out of His will, our fallen human nature yielding to demonic temptation, Yahweh still remains faithful to His Word and His promises. He does not want the nations to sin by ignoring the Jews in their distress so they can “finally” get saved. He will, however, use the nations’ ill treatment of the Jewish people for Israel’s ultimate good, because He is good.

In reality, non-Yahweh worshiping nations have no incentive to risk their own perceived best interests for the sake of the Jews. Indeed, God’s Word says that Israel is not even reckoned among, or regarded as one of, the nations. (Numbers 23:9) A people set apart to serve Him, we will not find lasting national purpose or security apart from service to Him. (The same is true for believers, and in a broad prophetic sense, all nations.) Meanwhile, God loves us so much that He is willing to allow us to suffer, even tragically—and indeed, He suffers “tragically” along with us—if that is necessary to turn us to Himself. But this truth still represents a major oversimplification. There is much more to Israel’s suffering.

Israel’s suffering is not just about restoring the Jewish people to the Land and to the Lord. Consider Yeshua, a perfect Jew not needing to be restored. Yet He suffered tragically, not only at the hands of his kinsmen according to the flesh, but by the nations and for the nations. Many parallels exist between the Savior’s suffering and the suffering of the Jewish people—although only Yeshua’s provides atonement for sin. In this vein, Israel’s suffering, as we wrote in Why Care about Israel? is very much about the perfecting of the saints and salvation of the Gentiles. The Jewish nation serves as God’s flesh-and-blood representation of Yeshua. How His people among the nations respond to her determines, in part, their kingdom destiny. Biblical and post-biblical history indicates that no nation ever stands indefinitely with the Jews. Rather, it is the remnant of faithful believers from among the nations that stands with her. This whittling down to a remnant is also God’s design. Our choices serve, in His hands, as a carving tool for His grand purposes destined to explode with glory in the last days. Watch and pray—and obey!