Praying Missionally amidst war and destruction.
- War and Peace are two opposite realities that never meet.
- War is cruel and only has horrible consequence; and Peace is hardly achieved through war.
- War has no winners – only losers – with the loss of innocent lives.
- Truth is the first casualty in war; and news becomes propaganda.
- No one can fathom the loss and pain caused by war.
- Winning a war is one thing – but winning Peace is another matter.
- “War does not determine who is right — only who is left.” (Anonymous quote)
- “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” (Plato)
“God brings wars to an end all over the world. He breaks the arrows, shatters the spears, and burns the shields.”(Psalm 46:9)
A. Celebrating Christmas amidst war in the Land of Birth of the Prince of Peace.
This Christmas Christians celebrate the birth of ‘Prince of Peace’ amidst 2 terrible wars, Ukraine & Russia (663 days) , and Israel and Hamas (72 days): the latter being the land of the nativity. Since October 7th violence, millions of Christians have been praying for both Israel and Palestine who are going through immense suffering resulting from this war. This circular is not to add to news and information regarding war, but to encourage to pray ‘missionally’ for the purposes of God to be fulfilled in this context.
Centuries before Christ was born, in a tumultuous time in Israel, God revealed His plan of Salvation through a ‘Child’; whose name is the Prince of Peace – relevant to the context of this war even today.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6.
Yet, the presence of the Prince of Peace seems impossible as BBC reports that the prospects of Peace “might seem a long way off now, and many more people are going to be killed before it happens.”
However, Intercessors can be motivated by the invisible realities and exercise spiritual authority that overrules earthly realities. They can focus on God’s intervention through the ‘Prince of Peace’ and pray like king Jehoshaphat who prayed amidst war: “…nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
“The Spirit also helps us… for we do not know what we should pray for…, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession…”Romans 8:28.
- Lord we declare that You are Sovereign and that you reign over the Nations.
- We Pray that the Prince of Peace will prevail over the nations which are at war.
- We Pray that forces of Satan that are motivating violence and bloodshed will cease.
- We believe that the Holy Spirit will help the Church to pray effectively to convince leaders and rulers to cause all fighting to cease.
B. Praying in the Context of this War.
Praying in a context of any war is very complex, and needs wisdom, and even revelation. There is the danger of bias and prejudice in the context of Israeli-Hamas war, and it is precarious to pray from the Old Testament perspective seeking the survival and triumph of Israel and at the same time, the destruction of its neighbors as it was with Canaanites.
The “Philistine – Palestinian” fallacy is used by Islamists to affirm Palestinian pre-existence and it makes Jews the ‘occupier’ or the oppressor.
Similarly, some Christians with blind loyalty to Israel pray for Old Testament outcomes although the New Covenant privilege of prayer does not legitimize eliminating certain nations or people who are against Israel.
Wars and The Disillusionment with of God.
Satan uses wars to bring confusion and disillusionment about God’s sovereignty and justice that challenges the reality of the Prince of Peace. The two World Wars were fought by so called ‘Christian nations’ in Europe that left post-war Europe secular and godless, and a generation bitter against God. The war in Ukraine too is between large Orthodox nations raising questions about of Christian values and ethics.
At the same time, war can also draw people closer to God in times of desperation.
The Middle East war is against ‘God’s chosen People’ by the ‘Radical Islamic’ groups who believe that modern Israel has no right to exist, since they view that Islamic conquest of Palestine in mid 7th century is permanent.
Therefore, the texts from Hadith to kill Jews are incorporated to the Hamas Constitution.
“The hour will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, until the Jew hides behind the stones and the trees and the stones or the trees say, ‘O Muslim, O servant of Allah, this is a Jew behind me, Come and kill him,’”
Therefore Israel is in a very precarious and volatile situation surrounded by over 18 Moslem nations and almost a billion who pray daily for its elimination. Militarily, it is outnumbered by both terrorist and conventional armies from Sunni and Shiite Moslems Nations.
Only the reality of God’s prophetic destiny can eventually save this nation.
- Father, we pray that you will eliminate radical thinking which incites violence.
- We pray that the Truth of God’s love and mercy will prevail.
- Pray that the Blindness will cease and the Truth of God’s word will prevail.
Praying pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian prayers.
The war has polarized nations politically and also Christians on how they pray. Christians are naturally attached to Israel and their degree of loyalty is dependent on whether they believe in ‘Replacement theology:’ that the church has replaced Israel; or ‘Dispensationalism’ that teaches after the rapture, God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan.
However, Paul warns in Ephesian 3 that there is a ‘mystery’ involved in understanding the Jew-Gentile relationship and conflicts.
“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:1-2)
Since It is Christ, and not the Gentiles or Israel which is the primary focus, intercessors must be motivated to focus on Christ and His Mission, and not just on the outcomes of war.
Therefore, this Intercession is primarily ‘missional,’ from the perspective of the “Great Commission,” which is the primary responsibility of the Church.
Many Christians feel obliged to pray regularly blessing Israel citing Genesis 12:3 while some indirectly imply that enemies who rise against Israel are cursed. However, they ignore the primary blessing in this verse is that Israel should be a blessing to ‘all the nations’ through Christ, the Prince of Peace – born through the seed of Abraham which we celebrate this Christmas.
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and All Peoples on earth will be Blessed through you.”
This was fulfilled when “Christ redeemed us from the curse… by becoming a curse for us” and enlarging this call “in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles…” (Galatians 3:13-14)
Abraham and Missions.
Paul also affirms that the Call of Abraham was a “Gospel or Missional Call” in Galatians 3: 8
“ Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”
Therefore, Prayer for Israel must not be based only on current ‘geopolitical’ realities, but on the revelation of Christ the Messiah to both Jews and Gentiles.
The Peace of Jerusalem.
Equally, praying for the ‘Peace of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122:6) does not presume the destruction of other cities surrounding them. During the exile, the Lord asked Jeremiah to “also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile’ (Jeremiah 29:7) – even to pray for the Peace of Babylon, the capital of the oppressor!
Although Jerusalem’s Population today is around 970,000 people, there are 650 cities with 1 million people and above, which needs prayer as they constitute to 4.3 billion people of the global urban population who need the Gospel.
The greatest influence of Jerusalem is not the location of its holy sites that attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims. It is the message of the ‘Prince of Peace’ who was crucified and resurrected in Jerusalem and where the Great Commission was given to the Church “from Jerusalem… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It is this empowerment of the ‘Holy Spirit’ which makes the ‘holy land’ meaningful.
Let us pray from that perspective of Christ’s redemptive purposes so that current military and political context will be resolved. The real war is the ‘battle for souls.’
C. On Whose Side is The Prince of Peace?
The name of the Prince of Peace is also Emmanuel – ‘God with us.’
The question arise whether He with Israel or with Palestinians and Hamas?
Joshua too asked:
“Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” He replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”Joshua 5:14
Intercessors do not take sides – instead they align with Heaven’s Commander and invite the armies of Heaven who are at their disposal. It is important to listen to the Commander of the armies of heaven than to opinions and views inundated by the media.
Let us look at how the Prince of Peace stands with both sides today.
D. Prince of Peace on the side of Israel:
The Gospel of Matthew was written to the Jews begins the story of Christmas with the Genealogy of ‘Jesus the Messiah’ tracing him back from Joseph to Abraham. (Matthew (1:2)
This connection to Abraham is what makes the Jews special as ‘People of the Land.’
Yet, John the Baptist warned the Jews:
“…do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. (Luke 3: 8)
Jesus also warned Jews saying: “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham…You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning…” (John 8:39,44)
God does not approve anything and everything Israel does if they are not fulfilling God’s call and purpose. As Jewish Scientist Albert Einstein said, “It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
Paul also asked the question, “What advantage has the Jew?” since they were given the ‘word of God.’ But he concludes:
“Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.” (Romans3:1,9)
Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to touch the people of Israel with a deep conviction of sin, and assurance of His love and presence to reveal the Prince of Peace as the Emmanuel with them,– not only to save them from Hamas and enemies, but from Satan and sin.
The Prince of Peace Stands with Israel:
- The Prince of Peace stands with Israel because they are the seed of Abraham, and they have a covenant Blessing in Christ.
- Prince of Peace stands with Israel because of the terrible human suffering the nation has faced, the loss of children, women and untold sorrow and pain experienced by the families of the hostages.
- Because of the 2000 people who have died in the hands of Hamas cruelty.
- The Prince of Peace stands with Israel because it is not by their military or Political might that they will succeed. True peace will not come through war or destruction.
- Because they have ‘Missional Purpose’ to be a blessing to all the Nations.
- The Prince of Peace stands with Israel, not only because they are “the People of the Land’, but because they too must be redeemed to be a “Blessing to all people of all lands.’
- The Prince of Peace stands with Israel, because they need a fresh revelation of what Apostle Peter declared in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost:
“Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36)
D. Is the Prince of Peace in Gaza among Palestinians?
Luke’s Gospel to the Gentiles begins the Story of Christmas by tracing Christ’s genealogy from Mary to Adam, going beyond Abraham (Luke 3:38) revealing a wider view of God’s universal purpose of the Prince of Peace.
Therefore, Palestinians and Hamas although in conflict with Israel, are also included in the blessing of Abraham through Christ. They are not intended to be eliminated like in the ‘Old Testament’ Philistines or Canaanites, but created in the image of God to be redeemed and become God’s own Treasure.
Peter writes that to Jews, Jesus became “The stone which the builders rejected” and a “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” At the same time, the Gentiles – including Palestinians- are called to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” and “once were not a people, but now you are the people of God.” (1 Peter 3: 9)
How does the Prince of Peace identify with Palestinians and Gaza?
- Palestinians run as they flee from Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
- The Prince of Peace was also born in Bethlehem – an ‘Occupied Territory’ of the Romans.
- His parents were displaced and unsettled by the occupiers’ administration and taxation system.
- At His birth the visit from the Princes from the East (the Magi) to the ‘King of the Jews,’ caused a diplomatic disaster brining terrible consequences because of Herod’s wrath.
- Amidst the killings of many innocent babies, children and mothers wailing, the Prince of Peace was ‘displaced’ and had to flee to Egypt.
- His family may have escaped death as refugees through some border town like the modern ‘Rafah gate’ in Gaza, the only border town crossing point with Egypt.
- He may have lived in a ‘refugee camp’ in a ‘foreign territory’ as homeless and stateless temporary immigrant. He was deprived of the opportunity of an education as others did because people later asked: ‘where did he get all this?”
- He was denied returning to his own birthplace, Bethlehem due to fear of the political rulers. He was ‘resettled’ in another location called ‘Nazareth,’ which was a village in Galilee secluded by the surrounding hills, too small to provide opportunity for employment.
- According to Josephus, it was Sepphoris, the major city of Galilee that was an hour’s walk from Nazareth where most of work opportunity existed for His father as a Carpenter. Like the thousands of Palestinians in Gaza crossing daily to work in Israel Joseph worked for the occupier.
- When Jesus was around 5 years, as a result of the insurrection of Judas – like the Hamas rebellion today – Jesus may have witnessed the Romans’ wrath totally destroying Sepphoris, flattened to the earth like Northern Gaza today destroying all opportunities for work for Joseph.
- It was during the rebuilding of Sepphoris by the Romans 10 years later as a great city called the ‘Ornament of Galilee,’ that the Prince of Peace in his youth and adulthood, may have worked for the Roman occupier, as a carpenter a tradesman, to support his widowed mother and 4 brothers and sister.
- The urban Sepphoris may have provided Him the opportunity for mingling freely with the common people, contributed to his generosity toward the strangers, outcast, and his conviction of the equality of all classes of people before God, which attitudes later characterized his public career.
- The Prince of Peace stands with the Palestinians also today, as they are hurt, wounded, and killed. He sympathizes as they suffer the agony of losing innocents children and women killed by Israeli bombing and as they are used as human shields.
- Jesus identifies with the sick and suffering in the overcrowded hospitals just as the “multitudes were brought to him in every town, He had compassion for them, healing every disease and sickness among the people.”
- He understands what it means to be sacrificed as a ‘human shield’ because was eventually rejected and sacrificed in collusion with the occupier Romans, so “that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11: 50)
- The Prince of Peace does not only hear “voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children…” but also the voice of mothers in in Ramallah or Jabalah refugee camps in Gaza crying for their lost children.
- The Prince of Peace is the only hope for the Palestinians this Christmas: “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)
- He stands also with ‘Palestinian Christians’ who also find themselves attacked or betrayed: regarded as ‘Arab Palestinians’ by Israel, and as ‘Western collaborators’ by extremist Muslims. And according to Operation world, they are “ignored or abandoned by the global Church who trace their roots back to pre-Islamic times.”
Let us Pray for the Palestinian People.
- To be delivered from the evil influence of Hamas extremism and radical Islam ideology.
- For protection from the impact of war, shelling, and bombing.
- For women and Children who are suffering immensely, and for Healing and restoration of peace
- That their hatred against Jews will not hinder the Gospel of Christ the Messiah.
- Pray that Christians among Palestinians to be preserved during the war so that they will be the salt and light among them.
- Pray that there will be visions and dreams of the Prince of Peace this Christmas.
- Pray for Hamas fighters to have an encounter with Jesus as Saul of Tarsus did.
- Pray for the restoration of homes, schools, hospitals, and other institutions and for Palestinian leaders who can bring good governance of Gaza and West Bank.
F. The Message of the Prince of Peace to the World amidst War.
Finally, as the old saying goes, ‘bad news travels faster than the good news,’ Israel-Hamas war news has travelled speedily to every nation, especially through social media through almost 7 billion mobile phones users in the world! Yet, the Good News of the ‘Prince of Peace’ given 2000 years ago is yet to reach to over 2 billion Unreached People who live in over 5000 ‘People Groups’ in many nations of the World.
This Christmas, there will certainly be ‘no rooms in the inns’ of Bethlehem or in Jerusalem for pilgrims or tourists due to war in Israel. But Christmas goods will flood stores in every nation as Churches be filled with Christians celebrating the Prince of Peace. While God is able to fulfill His divine destiny for Israel amidst all wars and chaos, let us pray for this contrasting times of ‘War and Christmas,’ will be a unique opportunity to reach people through the Church’s missional obligation:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Thank you for Praying with us during the past Year. Your Intercession has made a difference.
We Wish you a Blessed Christmas.
- BBC World.
- Mark Durie: Understanding Israel Biblically.
- Jesus & Sepphoris.
- Operation World – Palestine.
Photo Credits: Getty Images, Washington Post, Arab News, Courent.com, Al Jazeera.