Israel, Gaza, and the Gospel

Israel, Gaza, and the Gospel  Hero Image Israel, Gaza, and the Gospel  Hero Image

Dear Watermark Family,

Over the past six days, we have watched in horror as a terrorist attack was carried out on Israel, and a war has escalated to drastic proportions between Israel and Hamas. In moments of crisis, we as followers of Christ must seek to respond in the most God-honoring, biblically informed way possible. As we have prayed and processed as an elder team, we believe the most faithful way to encourage our local body is to respond to the war in Israel and Gaza in five specific ways:

“Abhor what is evil” (Romans 12:9)

Hurt combined with hatred can lead to all sorts of evil. This is what we saw transpire in Hamas’ attack on Israel. Decades of hurt combined with deep-rooted hate produced a level of depravity that is hard to stomach. The brutality expressed in the killing of innocent people of all ages as well as the force displayed in taking people hostage is evil. We should call it that unapologetically. Evil is never justified. Please pray for God to execute justice and to restrain future evil acts by Hamas in the coming days.

“Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15)

At the time this is being written, approximately 1,200 Israelis have been killed by the evil actions of Hamas – an unthinkable tragedy. Our hearts should break thinking about the family and friends who are grieving the unexpected loss of loved ones. We should feel a deep urgency for all hostages to be found and returned home safely.

Also, at the time of this writing, 1,400 Palestinians have died in Gaza with approximately 450 being children. This is also a tragedy. It may be tempting to believe the narrative that all 1,400 of these Palestinians were terrorists and their deaths were “deserved” in some way. This is an easy narrative to comprehend and in times of great tragedy, confusion, and fear – nuanced conversation is understandably difficult. But Watermark family, we must always align our hearts with God’s heart. Every Palestinian has been created in the image of God, just as every Israeli has also been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). There is deep trauma and loss being experienced by many Palestinians who are simply caught in the middle. Additionally, regarding those who are terrorists, we must remember that God doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), and that we are called to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45). Please pray that God would reveal himself as Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3,4) to all family and friends experiencing the loss of loved ones. Pray for the safe return of all hostages.

Pray for world leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Significant decisions are being made around the clock by world leaders. Israel’s government is deciding how to respond to Hamas’ attacks. Nations, including ours, are deciding how to counsel and support. In the coming days (or weeks or months), leaders will gather to attempt to negotiate a cease fire as well as address a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Please pray that in the midst of this crisis, God’s wisdom would supernaturally lead and direct the minds of those making significant and costly decisions.

Pray for an open door for the gospel (Colossians 4:3)

Both Jews and Palestinians desperately need the gospel. In all likelihood, most Israelis and Palestinians who have died over the past few days, did so without a saving relationship with Jesus. In the coming days, many more will die, and face eternity separated from God. Let us all grieve any death that would result in eternal separation from God. And yet, we see in Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 that there will be Jews and Palestinians joining together to worship Jesus in eternity. Please pray God would reveal himself in miraculous ways to both Jews and Palestinians during this crisis. Pray that many (including Hamas leaders) will turn to Jesus. Pray that believers in Israel and Gaza will boldly share the gospel. Pray that no one perish without a saving relationship with Jesus.

Additionally, may our greatest hope be in the reconciling power of the gospel (Ephesians 2:11-22). More than a desire to see an extraordinary display of force from the Israeli government, may we long for an extraordinary display of the power of the gospel. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, can accomplish the peace that leads to flourishing for both Jews and Palestinians. Please pray that a day would come where the gospel would reconcile Israelis and Palestinians.

Pray more than you speak (1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Proverbs 10:19)

Finally, may we not be quick to draw simple conclusions from a complex situation. Proverbs 10:19 states, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Remember there are members in our body with Jewish backgrounds and with Palestinian backgrounds. So, out of love for one another, we think that the most God-glorifying response at this moment is for our conclusions and solutions to be few, and for our prayers to be many. Pray for the salvation of all (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:43-45). Pray for wisdom for government officials (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Pray God’s comfort for the afflicted (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). Pray for Jesus to come quickly (Revelation 22:20).

This Sunday we will spend a portion of the service praying together for Israel and Gaza. Please plan to join us.

The Watermark Elder Team

How to Give

With the Holy Spirit in us, we know that we are to love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40) and that we should be generous when we see others in need (1 John 3:17). Below are two opportunities for Watermark members to give toward relief efforts in Israel:.

Our partner, Texans On Mission (TBM), currently has a team in Southern Israel providing thousands of meals for people who have lost their homes or who are sheltering in bunkers below their homes. You can give directly to Texans on Mission to support their current needs.  Give to Texans on Mission.

Watermark has a designated fund for disaster relief. We use this fund to dispense aid and resources to like-minded partners and churches in areas affected by natural or manmade disasters and to deploy teams for long-term relief efforts. Long after the news coverage has ended these partners and local churches remain, helping to restore and redeem broken communities. Donate to Watermark’s Disaster Relief Fund.

How to Pray for Israel and Gaza

Elder and Teaching Pastor Timothy Ateek lead our church in prayer for the war and conflict happening in the Middle East. Together, we asked God, specifically for what’s happening in Israel and Gaza, that justice would be executed, wickedness and evil be restrained, and that the innocent would be sustained and preserved. Watch the prayer moment below.