With an election looming as my hometown, Doncaster, continues to battle against dreadful flooding, candidates and voters alike have turned it into a political football as the ‘blame game’ hots up.
Yet there’s been hardly a mention on our mainstream news outlets of the hundreds of rockets that have been raining down on Israel over the past few days. Schools and businesses have had to shut down as residents have become literally paralysed with fear.
But we seem to have little sympathy for them. Are we perhaps too happy to follow the BBC’s lead in suggesting that they brought it on themselves by taking out a leading terrorist in a bid to weaken the aggressors?
We in Britain need to know that the present conflict in southern Israel affects us too. In one sense it was caused by our forefathers giving credence to the Palestinian cause by capitulating to Arab pressure. The whole scenario boils down to a challenge of the Jewish state’s legitimacy.
Britain and her allies accepted its legality at the San Remo Conference on the Italian Riviera 100 years ago next spring by signing a treaty recognising the Holy Land as belonging to the Jews. It was approved by the League of Nations and thus became international law, which has never been abrogated. But Jew-haters have been trying to rewrite history ever since.
In fact, the original agreement, which confirmed the promise contained in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to do everything possible to create a homeland for the Jews in what was then known as Palestine, envisaged a much larger slice of territory than Israel is currently having to settle for – and even that is being challenged.
But there’s more to it. The battle raging around Gaza – quite possibly a rehearsal for Armageddon in the north of Israel (see Rev 16.16) – reflects the battle of the ages between the hordes of hell and the forces of God.
The seething fury of the enemy of souls is not easily placated. Which is why if you tread on its head, as the Israeli Defence Force has done, the backlash will be ferocious.
There is a sense in which the IDF are fighting for the soul of Western civilization. They’re on the frontline, amidst oppressive regimes trying to enslave the world with fanatical Islam.
It’s our battle too and I venture to suggest that if, as a nation (and especially Christians among us), we embrace Israel once again by supporting them in their fight for freedom, floods and other catastrophes might well become less frequent. (Gen 12.3, Isa 60.12) Are we praying for the peace of Jerusalem? (Psalm 122.6, Isa 62.1)
The Gaza conflict should not, of course, be happening. Israel eventually succumbed to international pressure by pulling out of the enclave in 2005 as part of the ‘land for peace’ deal agreed at Oslo in 1993 with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. But peace never came.
Islamic Jihad, who have been firing the latest rockets, are committing a double war-crime – by targeting Israeli civilians and launching their arsenal from within their own civilian neighbourhoods.
At the same time, the European Court of Justice has approved discriminatory legislation against Israel that requires EU countries to label Israeli goods made in so-called occupied territories.
Despite there being over 200 ongoing territorial disputes around the world, the EU has never once rendered a ruling on these territories until Tuesday’s singling out of Israel – yet another reason why we need to distance ourselves from the EU.
The Bible sums up the problem: “Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.” (Psalm 92.6f)
Ultimately, the Gaza debacle is being played out across the world in the battle for the souls of men and women. The enemy will never stop firing his rockets of deceit and hatred, and no amount of ‘peace’ treaties will placate him.
Particularly pertinent to our discussion is the wonderful testimony of a reservist soldier caught up in this conflict a few years ago. While on guard duty, Yonatan Perry stooped down to tie his shoelace just as a bullet brushed through his hair. He realised that a ‘Higher Power’ was watching over him and, after having a dream of Jesus, went on a search for truth which culminated in his baptism in the Mediterranean Sea as a disciple of Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus), the Jewish Messiah.
It’s all about Jesus, really. He’s trying to attract the attention of his chosen people, encouraging them to call upon him in their troubles. And we should be doing the same: imploring our Jewish brethren to return to the God of Israel, manifested in the flesh through his Son Jesus Christ. For the gospel is, after all, “to the Jew first” (Rom 1.16).
Jesus is returning to this world, probably sooner than we expect. A South African friend of mine has just shared with me a vivid dream he had back in 2013, just before the latest round of conflicts broke out in Gaza, of a huge figure of Christ standing over Jerusalem and of many falling silent and broken before him – very close to the picture portrayed by the prophet Zechariah in his description of the Messiah’s second coming (chapters 12 to 14). My friend has since told me he was not familiar with those passages!
Jesus said the world would be filled with violence and turmoil when he returns. So don’t focus on the conflicts, the chaos and the confusion you see all around you. Look to Jesus! It’s all about him.
Amidst the floods and all the fighting, He is our anchor!
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International