Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
note: This article was originally published in 2000.
"The violence which threatens to engulf the Middle East and derail the peace process was all too predictable." This is the opening sentence from the lead story in this week's International Intelligence Digest. Right from the beginning, most informed commentators have predicted that the only logical conclusion to the peace process would be war. As long as the Palestinians could win concessions at the bargaining table war could be avoided, but the day would come when no more concessions could be given. According to Intelligence Digest, that day may have come, and the stumbling block is of course Jerusalem.
I Am Going To Make Jerusalem A Cup That Sends All The Surrounding Peoples Reeling, ... Zech. 12:2
How have we come to this? Let's review the real issues. The Koran teaches that any land conquered in the name of Islam will never be lost. The very existence of the nation Israel is a violation of that teaching because the land of Israel, including and especially Jerusalem, was once conquered for Islam. Since 1948 the utter destruction of Israel has been the stated Moslem goal, but five consecutive wars taught them that Israel was too strong to be destroyed militarily. The brilliance of Arafat's "Peace Process" is that it enables him to win back much of the land through inexpensive negotiations. This has the effect of simultaneously weakening Israel and giving the Moslem forces time to rebuild.
Land For Peace?
What most people don't realize is that with the speed of modern aircraft and missiles, conventional warfare requires more geography rather than less to give defenders sufficient time to react to an attack. Taking land from central Israel (the West Bank) means that attack aircraft could traverse the country in about 8 minutes. Not enough time to react with effective counter measures. Plus the Jewish people have been demoralized by 50 years of war like conditions. A growing number now favor peace at any price, and certainly Prime Minister Barak's supporters elected him on the promise of a negotiated peace in return for security. But this plan will make them less secure rather than more.
Also, Israel's enemies have used the time spent in negotiations to create long-range ballistic missile and biological warfare capabilities in an effort to neutralize Israel's nuclear threat. A nasty situation all around. Most informed observers believe that as soon as the Moslems have gained everything possible from negotiating and believe they're strong enough to destroy Israel, they'll attack. And unless major changes in position concerning the sovereignty of Jerusalem are forth coming, the negotiations are effectively over. Neither Arafat nor Barak has much else left to give and if either yields on Jerusalem it will almost certainly mean the end of their political career, if not their life. Whether Israel's enemies are strong enough yet for a military victory remains to be seen. At the first "Arab Summit" in 6 years, held in Cairo this weekend, the consensus was for negotiation not war.
I Make Known The End From The Beginning ... Isaiah 46:10
Over 2500 years ago the Lord informed Ezekiel of a great battle involving the same coalition of Middle East nations currently aligned against Israel (Ezek. 38-39). He said this battle would take place in the latter days, after the Jewish people had been gathered in the land from many nations following a great war, and would be a surprise attack on the mountains of Israel (West Bank). He also said the people would be living in safety (38:8) but that doesn't seem to define their current state. Research the Hebrew word translated safety and you'll find it literally means a place of refuge and that the attitude is one of confidence, even carelessness. Perhaps this attitude springs from Israel's knowledge that they've been victorious in five previous wars and is influencing their current negotiating position.
Who Started This?
The so called Arab-Israeli conflict has actually been brewing for over 4000 years. It began with Isaac and Ishmael, sons of Abraham, and appears through out the Old Testament. It became a Moslem-Jewish conflict with the advent of Islam in the 6th century AD and indeed today there is hardly a real Arab to be found in the Moslem coalition lined up against Israel. This is now a religious issue, not a political one, and will not be resolved until the Lord Himself causes every knee to bow and every tongue confess that He (alone) is Lord (Phil 2:10-11).
Why Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem?
If this is a great cosmic problem that won't ever be solved until the 2nd coming, how can our prayers help? Here are some good reasons.
1st, speaking of the Jewish people the Lord said, "Whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye (Zech. 2:9)" and "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me (Matt 25:40)." I know it breaks His heart to see the way His City has been defiled by hate and bloodshed. As Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision has said, "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God." It's good for us to be on the Lord's side.
2nd, He has commanded it and rewards us for obedience. All of Psalm 122 speaks of the special nature of Jerusalem; the one place on Earth God specifically chose for His dwelling and vs. 6 promises prosperity to those who pray for its peace.
And 3rd, when you pray for the peace of Jerusalem, you're praying for the Messiah to come and establish His Kingdom. Maybe that's the best reason of all.