I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord—
An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there thrones were set for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.
–Psalm 122 (NASB)
Not that the sermon wasn’t good or the Sunday school class wasn’t stimulating, but this is the best thing I learned in church today (yesterday as you read this). Pastor Randy returned from being away for several weeks in California and led the congregation in an impassioned prayer for Israel in these trying times. Randy lived in Israel for fifteen years and still has many Jewish friends there. One of his friends calls Randy every three days or so and gives him an update on what is really happening there, events you’ll never see reported on CNN or MSNBC.
The Iron Dome missile defense is working but when a missile was intercepted directly over the home of Randy’s friend, they heard the loud explosion followed by the rain of shrapnel hitting the roof. The missile alarms go off daily prompting everyone to go to the shelters.
The friend’s adult age daughter’s boyfriend is an officer of an elite ground unit in the IDF. This officer was leading his men (in the IDF officers don’t tell soldiers to go and do something while sitting back, they always say “follow me” and then lead their troops) through one of the thirty-eight known Hamas terrorist tunnels in Gaza when a booby trap bomb blew up literally in his face.
The three men behind him died but amazingly, this man survived. A number of bones on his face were broken, bomb fragments are in both eyes, and he’s lost the hearing in one ear.
He will regain his sight eventually but will always be partially deaf.
Randy was insistent that we must pray for the peace of Jerusalem. He also said this:
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
–Genesis 12:3 (NASB)
Not only did Randy speak of blessings but of curses, and he even invoked these curses against all of Israel’s enemies.
He also recited Psalm 122:6 in Hebrew and wished we could read and speak it in Hebrew as well:
שַׁאֲלוּ, שְׁלוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם
Remember the second half of that verse:
May they prosper who love you…
Which strongly implies the opposite to those who hate Jerusalem.
From my point of view, loving Israel and cherishing Jerusalem is a “no brainer,” but after all, my wife of over thirty years is a Jew and I have learned a deep-seated compassion for the nation and the people whom God has called His “priests” and the “apple of His eye”.
I also consider it spiritual suicide to not love Israel for in the end, God Himself will defend her against all of her enemies in war, which sadly I fear, includes the nation in which I live.
This topic wasn’t supposed to spill over into Sunday school class but when Charlie was asking for prayer requests, I mentioned that Randy fulfilled my typical request in a much better way than I ever could. That started a discussion and one fellow, who tends to have a “sparky” temper at times, inserted the “there are two sides to every story” argument.
I didn’t mind, and in fact I agreed with him, when he said that the Arab non-combatants in Gaza are as much victims of Hamas as the Jewish Israelis, but he then downgraded Israel and her current Jewish population saying they are guilty of doing many wrongs as well.
I can’t speak for the actions of every individual in Israel, but I can see that God didn’t promise to fight off the enemies of the “Palestine,” He will defeat the enemies of Israel. To stand against Israel now, even in the slightest degree, isn’t only standing on the wrong side of history, it’s standing on the wrong side of God.
I wasn’t the only one to come to Israel’s defense in class, and shortly afterward, this fellow seeing “both sides” got up and left, followed a minute or so later by his wife.
I actually feel bad about that because on many other levels, this person does love Jesus and sincerely serves him (he just returned with a group from our church who went on a short-term missions trip to the Philippines and Thailand). It’s just that so many Christians are blind as to the true focus of Christ’s love and what Jerusalem means to him.
I mentioned before that I thought John MacArthur’s current battle against the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) over PCUSA’s support of “marriage equality” was something of a Red Herring, not because MacArthur isn’t sincere (he’s always sincere), but because the center of God’s attention is always Israel.
This isn’t to say that missions trips or the many other fine endeavors of the Church are “Red Herrings,” but we can’t let all of these other activities make us take our eye off the ball, so to speak, lest we lose the prosperity that comes of loving Jerusalem and praying for her Shalom.
The rest of the world, and particularly Europe, are attacking the Jews over perceived Israeli injustices in Gaza. Sometimes those attacks include physical assaults against Jewish people. How long before European nations start marshalling their armies and physically attack the nation of the Jews: Israel?
Here in America, we have lost our way as well and can no longer see the moral chasm between Israel and Hamas (that last link leads to an article written by General James T. Conway, who retired in 2010, and was the 34th commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps). Most of us, including many in the Church, swallow the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish propaganda being pumped at us by the mainstream news media as well as social media venues. We pay attention to secular “wisdom” and abandon the Word of God. More’s the pity.
Randy said that in the days of the Temple, many of the songs of ascents would be sung by those who were going up to Jerusalem, to the House of the God of Jacob, He asked us to imagine going up the steps with Psalm 122 on our lips. Imagine the Levitical priests singing the songs as you entered the Temple court. Imagine the anticipation, the grandeur, the beauty, the thrill of approaching a tangible encounter with God in the only place in the world He has placed His Name.
I reminded my Sunday school class that in modern Judaism, you can pray the Psalms for different occasions. This is a good occasion to pray Psalm 122 for the peace of Israel.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; those who love you will be serene. May there be peace within your wall, serenity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and my comrades, I shall speak of peace in your midst. For the sake of the House of Hashem, our God, I will request good for you.
–Psalm 122:6-9 (Stone Edition Tanakh)
“Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God…
–Revelation 21:9-10 (ESV)
One last cautionary note. Verse five of Psalm 122 says, “For there sat thrones of judgment.” There will be a judgment against those who do not seek Israel’s peace. Choose a blessing and not a curse. Choose life.