‘Don’t mention the war!’

Churches get involved in a ludicrous comedy of errors.

By Charles Gardner | | Topics: CHRISTIANS
The events of Oct. 7, the war in Gaza and the ensuing rise in global antisemitism have caused many Israelis to seek God. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90
The events of Oct. 7, the war in Gaza and the ensuing rise in global antisemitism have caused many Israelis to seek God. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

It’s one of the most well-known lines from one of the best-loved British television comedies of all time – the 1970s series of Fawlty Towers featuring the hapless Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) running a shambles of a seaside hotel.

Everything always went wrong, amid howls of laughter from all the family watching at home. The iconic line – ‘Don’t mention the war!’ – came up repeatedly in an episode involving a German guest.

It was, of course, a quite unnecessary instruction to Spanish waiter Manuel which only succeeded in exacerbating the situation.

Well, churches in South Africa (and no doubt here in the UK too) have the dubious honour of using the same disclaimer – i.e. ‘Don’t mention the war!’ – to visiting speakers from a certain mission to the Jews.

They announced that they were still happy to hear about efforts to reach Jewish people with the gospel they first brought us – but only on condition that no reference is made to Israel’s current war with Gaza.

This is presumably because they see it as mixing politics with religion, or that it might encourage hearers to take sides on the issue.

Yet, ironically, when a representative of this same mission went to see her Jewish doctor with a bad chest cold, talk of the war proved the trigger for a serious discussion of the gospel.

The physician was an atheist who, on a previous occasion, had mocked our friend for quoting the Bible.

But this time she was positively transfixed by Old Testament prophecies of how, when vast armies attack Israel from the north, the Jewish Messiah will come to their rescue and they would “look on the One they have pierced,” to quote the prophet Zechariah (chapter 12, verse 10).

The doctor immediately confessed to coming over with “goosebumps”. It was clear she knew exactly what was meant, even though Jesus wasn’t mentioned.

As Isaiah put it, “he was pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5)!

The good doctor was thus left with an awful lot to think about thanks to the crisis in Gaza and her earlier question: “Why does everyone hate us?”

Context is all-important in gospel communication, and the global rise in antisemitism sparked by the war is an obvious bait for gaining the attention not only of Jews who don’t yet believe, but also of Christians who fail to understand what is happening.

God has not divorced, forsaken, or rejected His chosen people. He has an everlasting love for them and is ready to welcome them back into His arms in a restored relationship.

The violent opposition to the Jewish people is a picture of the fierce spiritual conflict through which Satan is doing his level best to prevent this reconciliation from taking place. And Jesus will not come back until it does.

Removing the context of the war, and the tsunami of antisemitism following in its wake, is to suggest all this has nothing to do with the gospel and biblical prophecy. It amounts to shutting heaven’s door in men’s faces, as Jesus accused the religious leaders of doing. Yet the war is clearly causing many to reflect on eternity.

As the doctor will hopefully discover, the cure for all our troubles is to be found in the One who took our sins on the cross and bled and died in our place.

There’s a war raging – spiritually as well as physically – for the souls of men and women, and we do a great disservice to our hearers if we deny this reality.

Peace will come, but not before the Prince of Peace stands upon the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem! (See Job 19:25, Zechariah 14:4, Acts 1:11)



Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew FirstA Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.



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One response to “‘Don’t mention the war!’”

  1. Jake Wilson says:

    Jesus will DESCEND from heaven yet he ASCENDED in Galilee, not from the top of Mt. Olivet. The latter spot began to be venerated during the NICEAN APOSTASY aka the FALLING AWAY (2 Thes 2:3), which brought us the triune God and paved the way for the MAN OF LAWLESSNESS (Rome Papal) who emerged after Rome’s fall (Thess 2:7-8).

    Job 19:25 most likely refers to Jesus, yet Zech 14:4 refers to YHWH. The reconciliation of Jewry with Yeshu will occur AFTER his return, just as the brothers were blind towards Joseph’s identity UNTIL his “parousia.” (Gen 45:1-5).

    God is giving Satan a long leash. It is the former who employs the latter to bring all nations against Jewry (to avenge Jewry in due time).

    The author may want to take a closer look at those “Trinity proof texts” rather than repeating the most ludicrous churchy errors in an article which points out churchy errors.

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