Should We Pray for the peace of Jerusalem?
Recently Israel was once again headlining the news. Hamas began firing hundreds of rockets indiscriminately into Tel Aviv and some into the outskirts of Jerusalem. So, of course that is going to bring the wrath of the IDF in retaliation. We all understand no nation is going to allow rockets to be launched into their cities without its military hitting back and putting a stop to it.
It did not last as long as most of these battles usually last in the region but never-the-less, once again, this set the hair on fire of a lot of American evangelical TV preachers like John Hagee. Not because people on both sides are getting killed or that we will end up paying for it one way or the other in rebuilding what was knocked down and destroyed, No. John Hagee sees this as an attack on “God’s chosen people” and anyone who tries to question the latest skirmish and mention that citizens on both sides are victims of war, they are sticking their finger in God’s eye.
There is a whole lot of confusion and false teaching being spread mainly in the US concerning national Israel and the city of Jerusalem. Before I get to far let me say up front that No, a person is not an anti-Semite if they do not view the state of Israel as special and different from any other nation on earth. And i’ll also add it is not antisemitic to believe the Jews are not special in the eyes of God. It is not antisemitic to say the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people. Ever since Christ came and fulfilled the law and the prophets and was established as King of Kings and is sitting on His throne, all who are in Him are God’s chosen people. Acts 2:32-36. From the day of Pentecost forward those who were added to the church are in Christ and are God’s chosen people. Acts 2:47 We as Christians were chosen before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:3-6.
Before Christ came Abraham was chosen to be blessed and given a land and be the father of a great nation and a descendant who would bless the nations of the entire world. Genesis 12:1-3. Through Abraham the children of Jacob (Israel) were chosen to bring in the nation and the land. The nation of the children of Israel were chosen to be blessed with the law and the prophets who were tutors or guardians to eventually lead the world to Christ and be justified by faith in Him. Most evangelical preachers stop at Genesis 12 verse 3 and only mention half the verse. “I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you”. But that wasn’t the entire words from God. Verse 3 finishes with this, “and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Bible study will show All the promises to Abraham were fulfilled.
Look at Joshua 21:43-45. In 43, all the land was given to them and they took it and dwelt in it. Then in verse 44 they rested and in verse 45 we are told not one good thing the Lord promised failed, all came to pass. But for whatever reason, Joshua 21 43-45 is never mentioned by the preachers like John Hagee. He claims the promise was fulfilled in 1948 and finalized in 1967 with the capture of Jerusalem by the IDF and verified in 2017 with President Trump moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. How that last point has anything to do with the promises of God I still have not heard or found one Biblical verse to support that claim. But many evangelicals went ballistic with joy when our embassy was moved Jerusalem touting “fulfilled Bible prophecy”. Wherever the US embassy is has absolutely nothing to do with Bible prophecy. Psalm 122:6 is the go-to verse most evangelicals use to claim Jerusalem is special and the one city in the world that we as Christians should keep in our prayers. But look at the context of the entire Psalm. This is a Psalm of David, David conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites and established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Of course psalmist and King, David, a man after God’s own heart, would write a song calling for prayers for Jerusalem, the capital of his kingdom and where his home was and where his son would build a temple for the ark of the covenant. How evangelicals take one verse so out of context is perplexing and acrually unbelievable. Don’t forget after about 400 years the Babylonians destroyed it.
Yes Christians should pray for peace of Jerusalem and every other city. But God will answer those prayers according to His will not ours. Every city is home to someone, some family, some culture, some people. Jerusalem is not special in that regard. We should not pray for any city for selfish reasons either, such as we will prosper if we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122 has David telling us how the twelve tribes would go up to Jerusalem as a testimony for Israel and gives thanks to the Lord. David then says pray for its peace and may those who pray for Jerusalem prosper. The Psalm is not meant as an eternal commandment of the Lord. And it is not a guarantee of prosperity to anyone who prays for Jerusalem’s peace. David was a good King and had his people’s best interests in his mind. It’s like John’s letter to Gaius in 3 John 1 he says to Gaius “I pray you may prosper in all things and be in health just as your soul prospers”. That is a general feeling we have for each other as Christians and friends. David was saying may those who love Jerusalem prosper as his general blessing and hope. And in verse 8 he specifically said “for the sake of my brethren and companions”. He wasn’t thinking of American evangelicals in 2021. Our politicians today will sometimes end a speech with “God bless America”. We ask for God to bless America in our prayers. Our prayers are contingent on God and His will, and not our wishes. On the other hand the state or health of the Church is not contingent on the peace of the city of Jerusalem.
What about Genesis 12:3 and God’s promise to Abraham to bless those who bless you, and curse those who curses you? Is that not talking about Israel? Actually if the blessings and cursings were to Abraham or to his grandson Jacob it is irrelevant to us, the last of the blessings were to all nations, though Abraham which of course directly effects us. Genesis 22:18 God says to Abraham “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
Why was Abraham chosen to be the one to have a descendant bless all nations? Not because of Israel, not because of the Jews to come, but because he obeyed God’s voice. And who was that last promise going to benefit, the Jews, the nation of Israel, Jerusalem? ALL Nations! Everyone! The famous verse at football games John 3:16, “For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his only begotten son”. The son who was given was Abraham’s seed and he fulfilled the promise! Look at Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.
The rest of the chapter explains what the law was for. The law given to Abraham’s descendants who were Jews. The law was given as a tutor to bring everyone to Christ, who is the seed to bless all nations.