On Saturday, October 7, 2023, during the Jewish Holiday of Shemini Atzere, the militant terrorist organization Hamas launched a surprise and savage attack against Israel, killing over 1,000 Jewish citizens and at least 27 Americans. Dozens more are unaccounted for. It is further reported that during the attack, the barbaric terrorists seized hostagesbeheaded babiesraped women, and gleefully paraded naked bodies through the streets. The videos of the massacre and devastation are gut-wrenching.

     Anti-Semites claim Hamas is justified because Palestinian Arabs believe Israelis occupy their land and oppress them. Hamas has made a covenant to obliterate Israel, and a former Hamas leader called for “A Global Day of Jihad” on Friday, October 13, 2023, urging Arabs and sympathizers to protest and support the Palestinian Arab cause.

     As expected, enraged Israeli officials initiated a campaign of retaliation for the attack, vowing to level Gaza, where most of the terrorists are hiding. Hatred is spewing its venom, and the evil of an escalating war is on full display on television screens all over the world. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in American cities and college campuses are pitted against those who unabashedly support Israel. As the Bible predicted, the world is divided over Israel, one of the world’s smallest but most pivotal nations.

     Most American Christians stand with Israel, sometimes without fully understanding everything the Bible says about the Jews and the predicted Middle East conflict.  We know that God promised Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).  There are some who believe God’s promise to Abraham was temporary (and figurative) and that all the Old Testament promises to Israel are now fulfilled through Jesus and the Church. As a child, my church and my parents held that same view, believing God no longer regarded Israel as a distinctive nation.

     However, I later learned to study scripture using the principle “Literal if possible; figurative if obvious,” and I encourage you to evaluate the following verses in that same way:

Psalm 105: 8-11: “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you, I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”
God’s covenant with Israel is “forever.” It’s for “a thousand generations.” It’s “an everlasting covenant.”

Psalm 122:6“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.”
Jerusalem is the only city that the Bible singles out as the focal point of prayer for peace. Jerusalem is called “The Holy City,” and Satan is determined to create chaos in the place God holds sacred.

Amos 9:15: “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’says the LORD your God.”
When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Jewish people were scattered around the world. However, the Old Testament prophets predicted a day when God would regather the exiles of Israel “from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12), “never again to be uprooted from the land” (Amos 9:15).

Zechariah 2:8-9: “For this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye—I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them.’”
Zechariah prophesied that after the “Glorious One” (Messiah) was sent, God would still consider Israel “the apple of his eye.”

Ezekiel 38:14-16: “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people, Israel, like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.’”
Ezekiel 38-39 speaks of a great battle in Israel in the “latter days” involving a people from the far north called “Magog” led by a king named Gog. Among the countries mentioned as joining in the battle against Israel is Persia, which is modern-day Iran.

Romans 11:1-2“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.
The New Testament book of Romans teaches that Gentiles have been “grafted into the branch” of God’s chosen tree, and we receive the blessings of the Messiah – forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life. While most Jews have not accepted Jesus as their Savior, God is not finished with them.

Romans 11:11-12“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!”
The book of Romans suggests Israel will experience harsh discipline for rejecting Jesus, and as a result, many will turn to Christ and be saved in the end.

(Romans 11:25-29): “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved. As it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

     Again, there are sincere, Bible-believing people who interpret these passages figuratively, but I believe they are literal. God is still dealing with the nation of Israel.*

     Does this mean we should always side with Israel, regardless?
While Christians are right in siding with Israel in the current conflict, that does not mean everything the Jewish nation does is right, and Israel should never be opposed. In Old Testament days, God often chastised the Hebrews for their sin and warned that, in the future, they would be chastened for their unbelief. While God promises to bless those who bless the descendants of Abraham, that does not mean we should automatically approve every decision made by the Israeli government. We need to measure every government’s actions according to the plumb line of God’s Word. Jesus is the standard of truth, not the nation of Israel.

     Does the current Middle East conflict mean we are nearing Armageddon?
The Bible says, “No one knows the day nor the hour” when the Lord will return. However, Jesus warned, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).  So while no one can say for sure whether this is an indication of the last days, Christians should continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).


Recommended Reading: For a more extensive treatment of this matter, check out Does God still have a plan for Israel?” by Bobby Harrington, President of “Renew.”


    Bob Russell is Retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.