Home Perspectives & Other Resources ISRAEL/GAZA: THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE


Image: Digital Globe/FreeBibleimages.org

A perspective by Gustav Krös

Since Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel in the early morning hours of 7 October, the war between Hamas and the government of Israel has escalated drastically. Thousands of people have died on both sides, and many more have been injured, and hostages are still being held. The war that has been fought over the past two weeks is a continuation of a decades-long conflict in the land.  Perspectives on the reasons for the conflict are diverse and the Church has not been spared in this diversity of perspectives. This article, therefore, gives voice to one of the perspectives in the Church, concerning the situation in Israel and Gaza, but it is acknowledged that this is not the only perspective.

As the war continues and people continue to die, we must remind ourselves that the physical battle we are witnessing reflects the spiritual battle that is raging over the land and its people.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” If we, as Christians, are not going to constantly remind ourselves of this, then we will become victims of this battle as well. Due to the bombardment of information and opinions through secular and social media, we run the risk of being polluted in our minds and hearts, which could cause us to lose focus on the spiritual battle and God’s Kingdom in the process.

To help us keep our focus, I believe it is important that we remind ourselves of why this spiritual battle is raging, as such, I will highlight two aspects.

Firstly, it’s about God’s Name

In God’s salvation plan, He had to choose a nation with whom He could journey and to whom He could entrust His Word (Rom 3:2). It would also then be within this nation that the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, would be born. As part of this process, God would connect His name to this nation in an irrevocable way (Rom 11:29). God chose Israel for this unique path, and so we see throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament that God is referred to as the God of Israel. From Moses speaking to Pharaoh in Exodus 5:1 saying, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says,” to the people praising the God of Israel in Matt 15:31, after witnessing many miracles performed by Jesus.

Even when Israel failed to keep God’s commandments, we see that God continued His journey with them, due to His faithfulness, His love and for His Name’s sake. We read in Ezekiel 20:9: “But for the sake of My name, I brought them out of Egypt. I did it to keep My name from being profaned in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived and in whose sight I had revealed Myself to the Israelites.” [emphasis mine]. This reality of carrying God’s name is also a reason for the re-establishment of the nation of Israel.

There are many prophecies in the Bible regarding the re-establishment of Israel as a nation, and I reference a few of them. Deuteronomy 30:4-5 says: “Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.” Isaiah 11:11-12 says: “In that day the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of His people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.”

Ezekiel 36:22-24 says: “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” [emphasis mine].

We see, therefore, that the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, which led to the current situation, did not happen coincidently. It is all part of God’s plan due to His irrevocable connectedness to Israel as He continues to walk a specific road with them for His Name’s sake. At the same time, His connectedness to Israel has made Israel a prime target of the devil’s attacks ever since the covenant between God and Israel was formed. Just as much as every attack launched by the devil on a Christian, is, in essence, an attack on God, in the same way, every attack by the devil on the nation of Israel and the Jews is an attack on God.

By re-establishing the nation of Israel, God raised a banner to the nations (Isa 11:12) proclaiming that He is real, the prophesies that foretold it is true, and that the God of Israel is the real God. The devil hates this, and he will not stop his campaign against the people of Israel, because it’s not about Israel, but it’s about tarnishing the name of God due to His connectedness to Israel.

Secondly, it’s about souls

As much as the devil wants to tarnish the name of God, he also knows that he has already been defeated, and with the limited time he has available, he wants to take as many souls as possible with him. Due to this reason, he does not want peace, but rather war, to see as many people as possible die. When we look at the timing of the attack on Israel from this point, we see that it was part of a deliberate attempt to prevent Saudi Arabia from normalising ties with Israel. In the weeks preceding the attack, there were regular news reports that headway was being made in this regard, but now with the ongoing war, the process has been put on hold.

At the same time, the Hamas fighters, who carried out the attack, displayed the heart of the devil in that they did not simply focus their attack on the military but specifically targeted civilians, from babies to the elderly. They also did not just kill people, but deliberately tortured them and recorded it to share it with the world. These acts were perpetrated to not only sow fear but also hatred. Whether the Hamas fighters truly believed that surrounding nations would join them in their fight and that they stood a chance of overthrowing Israel, I don’t know, but one thing they did communicate very clearly through their actions is that they are not interested in peace.

At this point, it is also important to remember that one needs to differentiate between Hamas and Palestinians as a whole, that Hamas does not represent the majority of Palestinians. Hamas comprises a small percentage of the Palestinian population that is being used by the devil to perpetuate the cycle of violence in the land, and most of those who die due to this war die without Christ.

According to the Joshua Project, 97% of Israel’s population is still considered ‘unreached’ and 99% of the West Bank and Gaza are still considered ‘unreached’. From the devil’s perspective, it therefore doesn’t matter who dies on which side of the line, because on both sides most of the people die without Christ. It is therefore important for the Church to pray and work for peace to prevent more people from dying without knowing the Prince of Peace.

The Church’s role

Believers need to pray that the Lord protects our hearts so that we remain soft towards all involved in this battle as we humbly seek a Godly balance between justice and mercy (Micah 6:8) within these events. It is helpful then to remind ourselves that God does not show favouritism, as Romans 2:9-11 states: “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favouritism.”

Because God does not show favouritism, He also has an equal longing for all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4) and we know that He will also use these events to draw people to Himself. Some Messianic Jews in Israel have shared that many Israelis are disillusioned by their government’s inability to protect its citizens on the day of the attack. They pray that these events will open people’s eyes, that they shouldn’t rely on their government, but that they should turn back to God as their protector, and that in the process of seeking God anew, they will discover Jesus as well.

From a Palestinian perspective, there is the hope that Hamas’ actions on 7 October will open the eyes of moderate and nominal Muslims to the true spirit behind Islam and that they too will become disillusioned by the ongoing cycle of violence and open their hearts to an alternative and find Christ in the process. But whether it is Muslim or Jew, we pray that these events will lead people to cry out to God and He will reveal Himself to them and that a harvest will be brought into His Kingdom through these events.

But, for this to happen, we know His Body, the Church, needs to be there to share the Good News with the heartbroken and those who are suffering. And the good news is that the Church is there, in Gaza (and in the West Bank) and in Israel, made up of Messianic Jews, Palestinians and many from other nations. These events are contributing towards the Church uniting and truly functioning as the Body of Christ in the country by not only praying and worshipping together but tangibly being His hands and feet as well. It is through these united efforts of the Body of Christ in the country that people will garner hope and see that peace is possible – that even if the war continues to rage, one can have peace with your neighbour, and you can have peace in your soul – when you know the Prince of Peace.

Therefore, as we continue seeing these events unfold in Israel and Gaza, may we be reminded of the spiritual battle behind these events and that many are dying without Christ. At the same time, secular and social media will continue trying to sway people to choose sides, but may we ask the Lord to protect our hearts and not fall into the snares of anger and hatred. May our hearts remain soft towards both Jews and Palestinians. May we continue to pray for the Church in the country. May we pray that the unity in the Body will grow and remain steadfast and strong in resisting the devil and his evil schemes (James 4:7).

Ultimately, we pray that these events will be used to bring in a harvest of souls, for we know that when the Holy Spirit is at work, even extremists like Hamas can come to faith in Christ.

Please also pray for the following:

  • For people on both sides of the conflict to encounter Christ
  • For everyone in the country mourning the death of loved ones and for those whose loved ones are still missing
  • For the protection of Gazan civilians trapped in the fight between the Israeli government forces and Hamas