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That's a Good Question

Should We Stand With Israel : Unpacking the Enigma of End Times, and Christ

October 24, 2023

Jon Delger


Ryan Kimmel

JonHey everyone, welcome to That's a Good Question, a podcast of Peace Church. This is the place where we answer questions about the Christian faith in plain language. You can submit questions at I'm Jon, I serve as a pastor, and I also get to serve as your host on this show, and I'm here with Pastor Ryan.


Hello, I'm the lead pastor here at Peace Church. And we are excited to have a conversation today, answering some specific questions about a very specific topic going on in the world today. So today is a special episode.

JonSo today is a special episode, because a couple weeks ago on October 7, the Hamas terrorist group surprised the nation of Israel with an attack using thousands of rockets and many armed individuals and at least 1,300 people died in Israel as a result of that attack. Many more were injured, some were kidnapped, some were raped. We've had many people in our own church ask us to speak to this. We've been praying about this in our weekly worship service, been praying for justice and for the protection of human life, but we'd love to have a chance here to answer some questions from those people, especially people in our own church, about this situation. So we said last week, and I'll say it again, that we are not political commentators, we are not military strategists, we are pastors. So what we'd like to do is address some questions about this situation, specifically as it relates to the Bible, theology, Christian worldview, the church, Christian life, and those kind of things. So with all that being said, we got a couple questions from people. Here we go. Here's the first one. So some people are disagreeing about who the bad guy is in all this. Is it Hamas because they attacked Israel or is it Israel because they have maybe not been so nice to Palestinians? So the basic question is, is there a bad guy? Who is it? And why?

RyanYeah, again, as we go into this, I also want to underscore kind of what you said. We're not political commentators and even when it comes to interplaying the world events with what's going on, interplaying what's going on with world events versus not just biblical, but specifically end time stuff. I do not come from a background that spent a lot of time talking about this. I know many of our people in our church did. In addition to that, I also come from a reformed trained background and for all the wonderful strengths of Reformed Theology, a grand emphasis on delineating how the end times are going to play out is not a hallmark of Reformed Theology. And so I venture into this as a student and a lover of the Bible, and I want to look at this stuff through the Bible. But when we look at this, the more immediate question of, you know, is the question, who is the bad guy? Or how do we know who the bad guy is?

JonIs there a bad guy? Who is it and why?

Question #1: Is there a bad guy? Is it Hamas or Israel, and why?

RyanYeah, it's Hamas. Period. Without question, Hamas is the bad guy. Now that doesn't say that Israel is doing everything perfectly or that God's not going to hold them to account for certain actions. But when we talk about the current conflict, what's happening, Hamas is the bad guy. I mean, their charter talks about eradicating the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. attacked people, not soldiers or their military, but everyday citizens, and even went on to do horrendous things like live streaming the kidnapping of families, parading around dead bodies, capturing women and children. I mean, without question, Hamas is the bad guy. They're the bad guys in this player. Now we can have conversations about the appropriate response to that and if Israel is taking that or not, but is Israel justified in defending their nation and seeking to ensure what happened on October 7th never happens again? Just from a political standpoint, just from a world event standpoint, I don't know anyone who denies that Israel is justified in some form of response. Putin himself said that.

And so the question is, is who are the bad guys? Hamas are the bad guys. Now, I think what's happening in America, especially among the populace, is it seems like a lot of favor towards the Palestinian people and trying to highlight some of the stuff that they've dealt with. And we can have a conversation about that, but I think that ends up turning into anti-Semitic rallies. We've even in our own state of Michigan, a, I think she's a director of a synagogue was murdered a couple days ago, stabbed because of just the the the public frenzy that's now happening in support of Palestine and against the Jewish people. But when you look what actually happened, and you remember, remind yourselves of the events that played out. Hamas plans for a long time this attack. We know that now they set up residential mock residential areas and practice this and They went and they attacked families women and children murdered people kidnap people and and even in their charter says that they're there one of their goals is the eradication of the Jewish state and Jewish people and so I Got no problem saying Hamas is the bad guys because they are.

JonYeah. Yep. Yeah, agreed. So coming at it theologically, all human beings are sinners. None of us is perfect. Israel, Hamas, everybody. And yet, this is not like a war between two nations over scarce resources or something like that. This is not two militaries going back and forth. This is a terrorist group whose design is to cause terror and pain and suffering. It has come in and killed civilians.

RyanSo we're talking about Hamas as a terrorist group. We know that they are the ruling governing body of at least the Gaza Strip, and they were elected to that position in 2006 or 2007, but they haven't held an election since. They have not at all given people a chance to usher in a new government whatsoever, it's clear that they've kind of had a stronghold grip on the Gaza Strip and the people who live there. And so, I just want to clarify, when we talk about a terrorist group, people might say, well, they were voted in. Yeah, in 2006, and they haven't had an election since, and their charter talks about the eradication of other people. So, I'm not sure what else qualifies for a terrorist group.

JonAll right, so the next question we got is this. There are many things going around right now about Israel being God's people. Aren't we all God's people now by adoption or is the nation of Israel more special to God?

Question #2: Aren't we all God's people now by adoption, or is the nation of Israel more special to God?

RyanThat is a multi-layered question I think I hear a lot of Dispensational influence in that question, and I think when we look at it even in reformed circles like ours Conservative reformed circles you probably have people who would nuance things differently in all the time I've known you pastor Jon and all the theological questions we've had, I don't know if me and you have spent an incredible amount of time talking about end times and how that's going to play out.

JonRight. I mean, I think you said at the beginning that that's one of the marks of Reformed theology, is usually that we, I think, are a little bit more focused on just the mission before us, and not thinking as much about exact, precise things about the end times.

RyanOr trying to decode how it, you know, the world events versus biblical prophecy.

JonYeah, Reformed Theology in general has said, I mean, don't get me wrong, they have said more than what I'm about to say.

RyanRight, yeah.

JonBut to paraphrase, I say Reformed Theology says, Jesus is king, he's gonna win, and that's like the main, and he's coming back, and that's the main thing we need to know.

RyanRight, Jesus is coming back, so do what he's told you to until he comes back. So as far as the question of is Israel special, was that one of the first things? Are they more special? More special to God is how the question was asked. I guess I'd say more special than what. Here's the thing, the Bible, even in the New Testament, does talk about Israel in ways that it doesn't talk about other groups. We talk about the Gentiles, which is like everyone who's not Jewish. So on the one hand you can say, the Bible kind of lumps everyone else together and then talks about Israel in a unique way. You can't deny the place of Israel in the biblical story. I mean, the covenant was given to them, God called them out, the law was given to them, Christ came through Jewish heritage. So yeah, on the one hand, the Bible does hold Israel in unique regard. I think the question that we begin to think about now is like, okay, well, now that the church has been established and the new covenant is for God's people as part of the New Testament church, what then about Israel? And that's where you start to have a lot of conversations and a lot of different opinions. Like Romans 8, 9, 10, 11 speaks to this, and it's like, even what Paul says to the Romans, people can take in various different ways, you know, when even some of the other letters, what does Paul mean at the end of Galatians when he talks about the Israel of God? Is that something special? Other places, I think it's Romans 9, 7, something to the effect of, you know, not all Israel are Israel. So this notion of God's, and this is where we think covenant theology is such a helpful way to understand Scripture.

JonAnd there's so much we could, I'll just interject real quick. So if those categories are new to you, the two different ways of viewing the overall grand storyline of the Bible, and it especially has an impact on how you think about end times, is these two ideas of dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. Those are kind of two different schools of thought when we read the Bible. There's so much we could say. At church, we've had some different classes on this. We could talk about that more a different time. Those are kind of two different schools of thought that you could search and read some books on and find out more about. But yeah, as Covenant Theology people, it's kind of Reformed Theology in general, it's covenantal. So we're looking at Scripture and looking at the progression of through the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was considered God's covenant people. But all throughout the Old Testament, it was looking forward to a time, even going back to Genesis 12, the foundational promise with Abraham, a blessing to all the nations. There was always this trajectory of it wasn't going to just be the nation of Israel. It was going to be all nations. It was going to be the whole world who's going to hear the gospel and become God's people. And so we would say that the church is the fulfillment of those promises, that the church is now not just Israelites, not just Jewish people, but people from all nations receiving Jesus and following him.

RyanBecause this is what Jesus, part of what he did, he built the church. He started the church and he ushered in the new covenant, placed it to the people who would follow him. And so when we talk about what's going on on the world stage versus biblical events and Israel's unique place in this, this is where I think people begin to think about what's happening on the world stage as it relates to Israel and biblical prophecy. What prophetic passages of scripture are currently being fulfilled through this attack in Israel's war with Hamas. Do we have, I mean, have you had people, I don't know about the question.

JonThat's actually one of the ones on the list here. You're jumping ahead of me. That's okay. That's awesome.

RyanIt's just because we know, I mean, you know, we know what people are asking and talking about. It's whether or not they actually asked the question on the website.

JonYeah, the basic question was, is this, is today's events, is what's going on right now, a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

Question #3: Is what's going on right now a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy?

RyanI would say that since Christ's ascension into heaven, we've been in the time of longing for Christ to return. And whatever you think about how the rapture plays out or the tribulation or any of that sort of stuff, what we all agree on is that Jesus is coming back. And that's what we long for, that's what we look towards. And so, is what is happening going on part of biblical prophecy? Here's the thing, maybe, maybe not. We don't know. That's the thing. You can spend all the live long day trying to figure out what player on the world stage fulfills what character in biblical prophecy. And here's what I'd say to people who are super zealous for that. How are you gonna know? You spend a lot of time talking about this, how are you going to know? And I'm not saying you just ignore it, but on the one hand I am saying you kind of focus on what Jesus told us to focus on. And for me it's, you go and make disciples of all nations, you glorify God, you love your neighbor, you build the church, you use your gifts, love your neighbor. Like, for me that's what I think we should be spending our time focusing on until Christ returns.

So, right now, do we pray for Israel? Absolutely. We pray for them as a nation, pray for them as a people. I pray for the Palestinian people who are caught in the crossfire. I saw a video the other day of a, I think he was like a five-year-old Palestinian boy who was woken up because like three houses down were bombed. And this kid was just shaken up and it absolutely destroyed my heart. I mean, I was just heartbroken. It just, it reminded me of thinking of like my little boys and just being like, this is just terrible what's happening. Like, war is horrible. And I want a swift end to this. And I think, I mean, this sounds like a pipe dream, but I mean, I think the best way for this end is for everyone to repent and come to faith in Jesus. This is why I think the church's mission needs to be primary, that we're out there sharing the gospel, spreading the gospel, not spending all of our time trying to decode biblical end times prophecy with what's happening on the news. Is there a conversation for that? Yeah, but I'm more interested in having the conversation of claiming the gospel, reaching a neighbor, seeing people repent and place their faith in Jesus and reaching the nations for the gospel.

JonAnd so, yeah. Well, yeah, to add on that, so I read a number of articles and getting ready for this and made a little bit of a list here from the articles of just, and from scripture, just thinking about different, a conflict in Israel is not new. If you list the people that Israel has been in conflict with over history, the Egyptians, the Amalekites, the Midianites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Amorites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Romans, just to name those, getting up to the New Testament. Israel's neighbors have frequently sought to destroy them. Not that that's okay, but it has happened. This isn't the first time in history. It's a Nacarib king of Assyria, Haman official of Persia, Hitler, leader of the Nazi Germany. So, you know, if you're looking for clues that this is the end, well, we've been seeing these clues for a long time. And it's true, you could say that every one of those has is we're closer to the end. It's true. Now, we don't know how close we are to the end, but it is coming and we're headed that direction.

RyanHere's what we can say, every day we get closer. Right. Every day we get closer. Here's what I can guarantee you, everyone who's listening to this podcast, I'll put this clear, everyone who's listening to the podcast in the year 2023, can't say about the future, but one thing I can promise everyone who's listening to the podcast in 2023, I guarantee you within 100 years you're meeting Jesus. You're standing before his throne and you're going to give an account to your life. Whether or not he comes and does that here or you go to his throne room, you're meeting Jesus. So trying to figure out, you know, when's he coming back? It's like, you know, either within your life or at the end of your life, you're coming face to face with him. Like, don't think this is maybe some distant thing. This is going to happen for you either before you die or the day you die. Yeah, right. So you're saying that people in the future, they might have longer life expectancy. I'm just no, no, no. I'm saying people in the future, it may be longer than 100 years. I'm saying within 100 years, I can promise everyone who's listening.

JonYou are. Yeah. Or maybe you're just really optimistic and you're thinking somebody might be listening to this podcast in heaven. Oh, so actually, they're coming with it.

RyanSomeone could be listening to this podcast. That good. Yeah.

JonWell, that's going to go on.

RyanThat's the other thing is that is I see I'm watching a lot. I'm listening to a lot of sermons right now as pastors. Can their pre-planned message and sermon to focus on this? And I'm just, I'm not gonna make, I'm not gonna make any prophetic predictions. I'm just not gonna do it. I don't feel that call. I don't, I'm not that confident. I just don't think that's appropriate for the time we're in. And I get people wanna respond to it. And...

JonYeah, so let me, so let's just, I looked at, there's a lot of texts that people will refer to just to try to say that like what's happening right now is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. I picked just one to look at and think about, Jeremiah 30. So, Jeremiah, especially 30 verse 7, talks about the time of trouble for Jacob, the time of trouble for Israel, God's people. And there's people right now that are pointing to verses like that and saying, see, this is it. The nation of Israel is going through a time of trouble, and so that's fulfillment of this precise verse in the Bible. The end is coming, and what's going to happen is Israel is going to go through a hard time, and then things are going to get way better, and there's going to be peace for the modern-day nation of Israel. Whereas we would look at that, and we would say, I think when I look at Jeremiah 30, I see a couple of things going on. I think there's sort of short-term fulfillment in 586 BC when Persia comes into power and when actually the North and South nations of Israel and Judah kind of come back together. There's temple rebuilding, there's people coming back to Jerusalem, there's that. And then I think ultimately, you know, the very next chapter of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 31 and following is about the new covenant, the ultimate promise that God has for when his people will be united to him, they will be freed from sin, they'll have eternal relationship with him. And so I think on the one hand, we see sort of a historical fulfillment of that in 586, but also we see a long-term fulfillment of that in people coming to meet Jesus and having eternal life. That's how it's ultimately fulfilled. So just to give an example of kind of how we as Covenant Theology Reform guys would look at a passage like that and say, well, is it really specifically speaking about this modern-day situation or is it talking about some kind of a historical trajectory and ultimately a fulfillment in Jesus?

RyanYeah, that's definitely, yeah, that's typically how I approach what's going on on the world stage as far as it relates to biblical events or biblical prophecy. The other thing I'd say is that one thing that we can say is that what's going on in the world stage, there's also a spiritual counterpart to this. That there is a spiritual battle happening, that the enemy is working against the forces of the church and I think you can say some of this is being played out. That the enemy has sway over the lost and unrepentant world, and you're seeing some of that come to fruition. When people don't have Christ as their Lord, this is the inevitable outcome. It's war and strife and terror and heartache and brokenness and broken families and death and destruction, and this is why Christians need to be focusing on ushering in the Kingdom of God through people coming to faith in Jesus and us sharing the gospel.

JonAwesome. Hey, last formal question I got for us, and we can say a little bit more, but if Israel is not special, why have we been praying for them in church?

Question #4: If Israel is not special, why have we been praying for them in church?

RyanOh man, okay. So if Israel is not special, why have we been praying for them in church?

JonSo we've already talked about that first half, right? We've said on the one hand, they're historically special, and that they're the people that the Lord originally chose in the Old Testament that the Bible was delivered through, that the Messiah came through. And then we've also talked about the flip side of that and how the church is the real covenant people of God now, the inheritors of God's promises. So, you know, whatever our take is on that, that we've already talked about, why they're specifically talking about at Peace Church, why have we been praying for them? We've spent some time during congregational prayer. I've been the one who's gotten to do it. And we've just prayed for people in the nation of Israel. We've prayed for justice, we've prayed for the protection of human life. So why have we done that?

RyanYeah, I would say if they're not special, we're praying for them because they were the ones who were attacked. I think they're the ones who were justified in some level of response. You know, their approach has been so much more, I'll just use the term godly than Hamas is. I mean they gave people warning saying hey we're gonna bomb these areas so get out of town versus Hamas doing his secret you know sneak attack. So on the one hand because we believe that they're they're the ones who were attacked and they're the ones who are on you know defending themselves that's that's probably what I'd say is like you know why if Israel is not special why are we praying for them? Then that's probably how I'd say that but I would also go back to say, well, on the flip, I think there is a unique call to pray for Israel. The Bible, again, Romans 8, 9, 10, 11, really, really focuses on a specific detail for Israel. And so those are part of the reasons that you can't deny the fact that they do have a unique place in the history of redemption, in the history of the biblical storyline. And so it's out of respect for that, that we'd also pray for them.

JonYeah. Well, and also, I would add, we often, whenever there's a major world event like that going on, we do usually mention them in our prayer. Just our congregational prayer time at church is a chance for us to pray as a church. It's also a time, I think, for us as pastors, just to get to try to set an example, just kind of try to model for people how to pray through situations. And so, like when the Russia-Ukraine thing was going on, we were praying for Ukraine and for protection of human life and for justice and all that good stuff.

RyanYeah, I was gonna say, it's not like we're only praying for Israel. We're not praying for Hamas to have victory, but we prayed for the humanitarian crisis that's happening. We prayed for the protection of innocent life on both sides of this war. And so it's not like we're only praying for Israel, not praying for those who are affected by the war. We're praying for both.

JonYeah, and typically we've ended those prayers by saying something, and most of all we pray for Christians in these places, that they would show the love of Jesus and that they would speak the gospel so that ultimately people can receive eternal life.

RyanYeah. On the day after this attack happened was also the launch of a significant campaign for our church. Yeah. And I specifically said in the opening, it didn't make it to the podcast because it was kind of like a prelude, but I said, you know, there's somewhere between a thousand and thirteen hundred Christians in the Gaza Strip. And I specifically said we need to specifically pray for them. We're praying for everyone, but they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we're praying for a unique protection on them that they would be able to be, get out of there safely or be protected. And, but again, we pray for everyone that's over there, but they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray for our family in ways that we don't pray for strangers. We pray for the world. We pray for everyone to come to know Jesus. But when we look at the pages of the New Testament, there's a unique call to do good to everyone, and especially the household of faith, as Galatians says. And so, you know, when people ask, why are we only praying for Israel? I would say listen to everything we're saying because we're not only praying for Israel We're praying for the entire conflict. We're praying for protection of life We're praying for the Christians who are affected over there and your ultimate we're praying that Everyone comes to faith in Jesus if both sides repentant place their faith in Jesus. They would no longer be enemies They would not only longer be friends. Do they not be family by the blood of Christ? How amazing would that be? That's what we're praying for, too, ultimately.

JonAwesome, awesome, good stuff. Just to kind of close down on this major theological topic that we've talked about. So if you're if you're thinking about that and asking questions about that in your own mind, I would encourage you to read Romans chapter nine and chapter 11. Those are key passages. They're also really tough passages, but they're key passages on this topic. Galatians chapter three has some really important stuff on this topic as well. And then again, unfortunately, I aren't able to go super deep on all that in this episode, but maybe in future episodes can go even deeper on that.

RyanYeah, I also just say, for those who are really immersed in the prophetic aspect of this, you know, what is playing out prophetically before our eyes? extreme clarity on this side of the equation. And so while it's interesting to try and discern all this, what I would say to people is don't let that distract you from the specific commandments and commission that you have to glorify God, love your neighbor, share the gospel, reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus. Don't spend so much time going down the prophetic rabbit holes or rabbit trails that you forget to actually announce the gospel and share it with the lost world around you because my eschatology is not very particularly sparse sparse out but what I can say and what I do believe is that Jesus is coming back his first coming is proof and guarantee of his second coming as is the resurrection and so for me it's like I'm working for that end not so that I can be proven right that I guessed all the nations correctly in their code words for who they are in the biblical prophecy.

When Christ comes back, I don't want to be hunkered down in a prophetic rabbit trail. I want to be out on the front lines sharing the gospel with the lost world. And so what I'd say to people out there is like it is an interesting and fascinating discussion to talk about biblical prophecy. But I'd say really be balancing that with actually living the Christian life as far as sharing the gospel with your neighbors and your family that's lost. Does that make sense? You get what I'm saying? Yeah, totally. It is something that our dispensational friends and brothers and sisters in Christ have a hyper focus on and there is no shortage of the internet exploding with videos about that. But my loving caution to our church, to the Peace Church family who's listening is don't spend so much time immersed in that that you forget to actually share the gospel with your neighbor.


That's good. Awesome. Thanks Pastor Ryan.


Thanks Pastor J.


Thanks everybody. Great time. Be sure to review and rate and share this podcast so we can reach more people and help them.


Maybe not this episode.

JonAre we keeping that in? He said that. Because we want to help people grow in their knowledge of the Bible and their walk with the Lord.

RyanNo, you can't say that anymore. I do want to say one more thing. Here's the other thing I want to say about this is while, you know, there are people who are totally willing to make certain claims and declarations right now about what's happening, for me, it's like so much is unfolding so fast. It's not that I'm just going to sit and wait and watch. I'm going to watch and pray over what's happening as we continue to announce the gospel, as we continue to see the church build and as the kingdom expand. So we're not just sitting on our duff doing nothing. We are doing what God calls us to do, what Christ commanded us to do, as we pray for the unfolding of the events that's happening out there.

JonYeah, so you're saying we watch the news, it's not like we've got our heads in the sand. We know, we care, we pray, but we also keep our eyes on what's right in front.

RyanYeah, yeah.

JonThat's good. Awesome, thanks everybody. Awesome, thanks everybody.

RyanHey, thanks.

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