Taking Sides in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
“Whose Side Are You On?” This is a question that many wonder upon hearing of someone’s frequent travel to Israel, knowing about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although it is rarely asked so directly.
Sometimes we make quick judgments of others’ stance upon simply hearing them mention “Israel” or “Arabs.” As believers in Jesus, there also might be a certain expectation on us. Or maybe even you yourself asked someone else: Whose side are you on?
In the Bible when Joshua entered the land, he asked the same thing.
“Whose Side Are You On?”
Joshua and the Israelite army were camped in the Jericho plains preparing to take Jericho, according God’s instructions. That is when Joshua encountered a man with a drawn sword. “Whose side are you on?” He asked.
It’s a fair question given what they were about to do. But the response wasn’t what he expected. “No.” Well that’s… not how you answer an either-or question. But the man continued: “But as commander of Lord’s army, I am on the scene.”
Joshua’s quick response is equally surprising, and admirable. It showed that first and foremost Joshua was a servant and not a general.
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” Joshua 5:14
Does Pro-Israel Mean Anti-Arab?
With the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and biased western media reports, there are multitudes of opinions about right and wrong. In some circles it is almost expected that if you are “pro-Israel,” you must be “anti-Arab”. Or if you sympathize with the “Palestinian suffering,” the enemy becomes the “Israeli oppressors.”
For many Christians, this gets confusing as the Scriptures are used to back both positions. It leads some churches and pastors to avoid it altogether. This is a major mistake.
According to the Bible, in the coming days, God will continue to move Israel to the center stage of the world’s attention. To ignore Israel will mean to become more ignorant. And to ignore prophecies about Israel’s return to the land will mean to ignore God’s plan in the earth.
So as Christians, whose side are we supposed to be on? I believe our answer should be the same as Joshua’s: “No.”
God’s Perspective On Conflict
The letter to Ephesians gives us one answer. God “seated Him (Jesus) at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…” (Eph. 1:20-21). Then later, we read that as believers we are “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (2:6)
As believers in Jesus, we are seated with Him above all the conflicts – including the Israeli-Palestinian one. We are seated above the powers behind these conflicts. And it’s not for the great view!
God’s plan for us is not to choose sides in a conflict, even if, like Joshua, we are acting on God’s instructions. After all, Joshua was a commander of Israelites. But God wants us to see reality from His perspective.
We have to ask God for His direction and walk it out. Or perhaps like Esther, we can use our position close to the King and plead for justice at “such a time as this.”
Heart for Israel? Heart for Palestinians?
Do you have a heart for Israel? Then walk it out knowing that God passionately loves also the Arabs, even the ones enslaved in Islam. He wants them to come to His house for all nations.
Do you have a heart for Palestinians? Then walk it out while honoring the imperfect Israeli sovereignty. God’s everlasting covenant with Israel has not changed.
Like with Joshua, the Lord is not looking to back our position. It’s not about us (especially in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). He is looking for us to seek Him. We are to follow His plan and respond to His leadership.
Hope and Healing in the Middle East
Over the last few weeks, Israel has dominated global headlines as tensions and violence have escalated across our nation.
Many people are hurting, both in Israel and in Gaza—and while this conflict may not be new, there is a fresh sting every time it rears its ugly head.
As believers, we’ve been entrusted with the message of reconciliation that can only come through the name of Jesus. We believe that God is calling us to be His hands and feet and bring Hope & Healing to those who are suffering and in the greatest need during this time.
Will you join us? www.firmisrael.org/hope