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This is an unreferenced overview of a longer summary of my response.

How do we/should we respond to the horror of what happened on 7 October 2023 (10/7) in southern Israel and now the war in Gaza and other Palestinian areas?

I respond consciously as a follower of Jesus, from his worldview of God’s kingdom come in his ministry, death, and resurrection. In offering this guidance to think through and respond to the Middle East crisis, I don’t speak for any church, denomination, or organisation.

Our first response as followers of Jesus is to weep and lament.

Soon after 10/7, people began asking me for my response. I repeatedly said, “Jesus wept.” Why? This shortest verse in the Bible shows Jesus weeping with those who weep in the pain and loss of death. The Middle East crisis is very emotional and divisive. We first turn to God and lament the evil that has taken place, weeping with all who weep, processing emotions. We lament for humanitarian reasons: each life is sacred. Lament is the power of prayer that protests in the courts of heaven, invoking God’s justice and salvation. We leave judgement to God, The Judge of all, including the spiritual powers that drive the conflict.  

We cannot keep silent – but we must speak from silence.

We cannot and must not keep silent in the face of the evil that has taken place. It must be condemned. But, we must speak from the silence of listening, learning from all sides of the conflict to discern truth. Then, when we speak, we echo silence, and people hear truth. The divisive nature of this war clouds how we see and hear. Words and names trigger us to label people ‘for’ or ‘against’ to secure our existing narrative. We must sift the information, video clips, disinformation, and propaganda, to distinguish truth from the political ideologies and legitimizing theologies at work – the spiritual powers that condition our thinking.

Give disclaimers – define terms, draw distinctions and degrees.

A responsible response requires disclaimers, defining terms and making distinctions. Truth is the first causality of war. Thus, we give disclaimers like “to the degree this has been fact-checked and verified as true…” To be nuanced is not being ‘neutrally balanced’ or ‘politically correct’, it’s to account for our assumptions. So, we define the ideologies and theologies behind the conflict, and distinguish between key ideas and groups, such as: Jihadist Islam and moderate Muslims; Hamas and Palestinians; Judaism and Zionism; Israelis and the Israeli government; anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism (my summary paper has the details). By conflating/equating these, we stereotype ‘the other’ and treat them accordingly.

Resist the pressure to take sides – side with truth, justice, peace-making.

The pressure to take sides has split the world into pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel. It’s not a matter of, “are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13-14), but are we on God’s side? To side with God in the conflict is to side with truth and justice, as Jesus said, seek first God’s kingdom and his justice. We oppose injustice no matter who perpetrates it. Morality cuts both ways. Jesus and the prophets were not neutral regarding truth and error, right and wrong. What Hamas did on 10/7 was evil. For Palestinians, Israel’s destruction of Gaza to exterminate Hamas is genocidal collective punishment. So, in siding with God, Jesus taught his followers to hunger for justice, make peace, reconcile relationships, transcend “an eye for an eye” by non-violent resistance of evil, as in doing good and loving one’s enemies.

Discern the powers behind – the justifying ideologies and theological legitimizations.

Holy War? Just War? Or Non-violence? We must define and distinguish between these three traditional theologies to see how each side uses them to legitimize what they’re doing. For Hamas, it’s holy war to exterminate Israel. Israel uses just war to legitimize their actions to destroy Hamas. When Israel’s Netanyahu compares Hamas to the “Amalekites”, he invokes Old Testament holy war. Many Christians support Israel on a just war (even holy war) basis. Jesus ended Old Testament holy war in his sacrificial death to defeat evil. He renounced violence, the Law of Just Retaliation (“an eye for an eye”, Matthew 5:38-42), as a means of settling conflict. Jesus lived and taught self-sacrificing non-violence to defeat evil, bringing his reconciling kingdom into places of pain, division, and conflict.     

Liberation Theology. A political theology that uses fixed Marxist categories of social analysis to legitimize the liberation of the oppressed, with a ‘just revolution’ to overthrow the oppressor – by force if necessary. To the degree it is used to legitimize the Palestinian struggle for justice with the use of violence, it serves the ideological powers of Hamas.

Dispensationalist Theology – Christian and Jewish Zionism. Many evangelical Christians support Israel from an underlying dispensationalist theology: God deals with humanity in dispensations, first Israel, then the church, then Israel in the end-times. This gave birth to Christian Zionism, which preceded Jewish Zionism, the ethno-nationalist ideology behind the establishment of Israel in 1948. This theology teaches two people of God in two covenants with two destinies. Jews are God’s chosen people of the Abrahamic covenant with the destiny of the land. Christians are the church of Jesus’ new covenant with a heavenly destiny, raptured into heaven before the Anti-Christ and the tribulation. So, for Christian Zionists, Israel is key to God’s purposes: every event that happens in the Middle East is interpreted as end-time fulfilment of unfulfilled prophecies. The result is uncritical support for Israel and Netanyahu’s far-right Zionist coalition. They label those who don’t support Israel, “replacement theology” Christians – anti-Semites. Besides misinterpreting scripture, it demands loyalty to Israel, giving no room for nuance or critical engagement. That’s a sure sign, among others, of dispensationalist Zionism being in service of ideological power.

So-called Replacement Theology. Traditional theology doesn’t use “replacement”. Christian Zionists use it of their critics, saying Reformed covenant theology teaches the church has replaced/superseded Israel as God’s people. The New Testament uses “fulfilment” in Christ. Paul warned Gentile Christians not to be arrogant regarding Jews, thinking they’ve replaced Israel, calling Jews “Christ-killers”, etc. It’s anti-Semitism, the seeds of the Jewish holocaust. To the degree such ideas are used by Christians to criticise or reject Israel, and/or to support the Palestinian cause, it’s in service of the ideological powers that divide and rule.

Jesus and Apostolic Kingdom Theology

Traditional covenant theology teaches one people of God in one covenant with one destiny, fulfilled in Messiah. “Covenant” is a subset of “kingdom of God”, which was Jesus’ mission of fulfilment and lens of interpretation. He didn’t abolish (replace) Torah and the Prophets but fulfilled them (Matthew 5:17). He fulfilled ALL God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:20), including the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants in the “new covenant” of his kingdom, sealed in his blood. It redefined the people, land, city, and temple, transcending the territorial faith of Judaism. God’s people are all who believe the gospel of God’s kingdom come in Jesus. They are Abraham’s children, heirs of the promises. Circumcision is of the heart, not the flesh. Unbelieving Jews are distinguished from believing Israel: they’re cut off and Gentile believers are joined to believing Israel. There will be a revival of ethnic Jews at the end of the age when all Israel will be saved. But that doesn’t imply return to the land. The holy land is God’s kingdom come in Jesus, with the inheritance of the nations, the earth. The temple and its sacrificial system, which ended in AD 70 as Jesus predicted, was his body and ministry of the kingdom. God’s Jewish-Gentile people, the church, is now the temple in which he dwells. The city is transcended in the heavenly Jerusalem, “mother” of believers, while “present Jerusalem is in slavery (to sin) with her children” (Galatians 4:24-26, Revelation 11:8, 21:2).        

The church doesn’t replace Israel but fulfils her calling and destiny in Messiah Jesus. We recognise modern Israel’s right of existence as restorative justice after a long history of suffering injustice. We don’t see Israel as the fulfilment of unfulfilled promises, but evaluate her on the basis of justice, as we do all nations. The only way (politically) to guarantee peace and security for Israel is to also guarantee peace and equality for Palestinians. Thus, we support a negotiated two-state solution, each within agreed secure borders.

Conclusion: Defeat the powers – be God’s people, be peacemakers.

Peace-making. To be God’s people is to be peacemakers, intervening in non-violent ways to break the cycle of violence, seeking a negotiated peace based on (relative) justice.

Presence. Peace-making is bodily presence. If Israeli and Palestinian believers crossed the divide, the wall of hostility that Jesus destroyed in the cross, they could repent, reconcile, and unite as Christ’s one Body in the land. They would then have authority in real terms to intervene to make peace, and thousands of international believers would join them.  

Praying. We make peace by prayer and intercession, our most powerful weapon of warfare to defeat the powers behind, because we address the sovereign God, ruler of the nations.

Prophesying. We do peace-making by proclaiming the good news of the Prince of Peace. And by speaking truth to power, fearlessly challenging injustices on both sides of the divide.

Protesting. We do peace-making by public protest, as and when required. Like Jesus and the prophets, we act out the truth we speak as and when needed for all to hear. Discernment is needed when it comes to public protests, so that we’re not in service of ideological powers.

May the Lord have mercy and bring shalom to Palestine and Israel.

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ABSTRACT (brief description of this paper, which is an expansion of my overview):

How do we/should we respond to what happened on October 7 (10/7) and the war that has followed? Process it emotionally. Examine what happened, including the context and causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sift the tsunami of information, disinformation, fake news, and propaganda, discerning truth by listening to all sides. Discern the underlying ideologies and legitimising theologies, the ‘powers behind’ that form the thinking, speaking, acting. Resist the pressure to take sides, pro-Jewish-Israeli or pro-Palestinian-Hamas. We side with Jesus – the mind of Christ – applied to the crisis. Hence, this is an exercise in biblical social and political ethics: we evaluate and decide based on truth and justice, which morally cuts both ways. We don’t decide based on prophecy: modern Israel is the fulfilment of unfulfilled promises, with the implications that follow. Rather, we challenge legitimising theologies and ethics of war with the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, with their interpretation of Israel, prophecy, the land, temple, city, and the end-times. The resulting response is Jesus’ call to be peacemakers and reconcilers who bring God’s kingdom into the crisis, thereby defeating the spiritual-political powers that ‘divide and rule’. Christ followers respond with/by the power of the gospel of God’s kingdom come in Messiah Jesus, the Prince of Peace, or the lack thereof, depending on the degree of our ideological capture to either side. This paper is a summary of a comprehensive referenced manuscript.


Weep – lament before God.
Don’t remain silent – but speak from silence.
Give disclaimers – define terms, draw distinctions and degrees.
Don’t be pressured into taking sides – side with truth, justice, peace-making.
Discern the powers behind – the justifying ideologies and legitimizing theologies.
Holy War? Just War? Or Non-violence?
Liberation Theology.
Dispensational Theology – Christian and Jewish Zionism.
Replacement theology.
Jesus’ kingdom theology and the apostles’ interpretation.
Conclusion – Be God’s people, be peacemakers.


I respond to the horror of 10/7 (7 October 2023) and its destructive aftermath as a follower of Christ (meaning Messiah/King). Jesus’ worldview of God’s kingdom come in his ministry, death, and resurrection, is my reference. I offer this summary as guidance to think through the Middle East crisis. I don’t speak for any church, denomination, or organization.

Soon after 10/7, people began asking me for my response. I repeatedly said, “Jesus wept.” Why? The context of this shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35) is human death and grief. Jesus, as a man, weeps with all who weep in the pain and loss of death. But he gives hope, bringing reconciliation and resurrection out of the darkness and devastation of death for those who believe, seen in the story of John 11.


What happened on 10/7 and what has followed is horrific. It’s very emotional. If we don’t process our feelings, we explode over others or implode within ourselves. So, we first turn to God and weep with the victims of such evil. We lament for humanitarian reasons because every life that is lost is sacred. Every person killed is made in God’s image, precious to God, precious to a mother, a father, a family. God, in Christ, weeps with those who weep.

Lament is the power of prayer that protests in the courts of heaven, invoking God’s justice and salvation. The Judge of every person, nation, and spiritual power (Psalm 82), will avenge perpetrators and vindicate victims (Deuteronomy 32:35-36). Paul says, don’t take revenge, but to “leave room for God’s wrath… it is mine to avenge” (Romans 12:19).


When Hitler invaded Poland, a reporter said, “he ripped the lid off hell”. Hamas did it again on 10/7 when they massacred Israelis and took hostages. Hell has broken out in Gaza, in its death and destruction at the hands of Israel going after Hamas. We cannot keep silent – either way. Evil is not selective. Neither can we be. But, we must speak from the silence of listening, learning, discerning… truth. Then, when we speak, we echo silence. Not selective righteous anger. Nor hateful vengeance. But truth. I could only respond with more words than “Jesus wept” after weeks of prayerful processing of my emotions and thoughts, listening, and learning from all sides of the conflict, discerning truth.

The emotive nature of this war and the divisive views of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, clouds how we see and hear. Words, names, news outlets, etc, trigger us to label people “for” or “against”, then we hear what they say via that label. Or we switch off (please read this entire paper before deciding). In so doing, we secure our narrative and reinforce our prejudice: “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up”. Our views are formed by valid information, disinformation, and propaganda, on divided sides of social identities, political ideologies, and legitimizing theologies. They are the “the powers behind” that the Bible speaks of – to be discerned, challenged, and defeated. They condition us into group thinking and loyalty, blinding us to truth, to reality on the other side. The first casualty of any war is truth. Everything must be fact checked and verified. To discern truth, we hear all sides, establish facts, and examine underlying justifications – political and theological. Truth is inconvenient, but it sets us free (John 8:31-32). We follow truth over tribe.


Memes, short statements, and Bible verses don’t do justice to the complexity of the war and its causes. There is so much ‘static’, mixed truth, and bias when sifting through all the news, video clips, views of experts, etc. Thus, a responsible response requires disclaimers, defining terms and making distinctions. To be nuanced is not to be ‘neutrally balanced’ nor ‘politically correct’. It is to use words precisely, accounting for our assumptions and reasoning.

For example, ideologies are sets of ideas and beliefs (political, economic, cultural, religious) that give group identity by rationalising and legitimizing group interests, over against other groups. When group interests clash, ideological war begins, leading to material conflict if a just peace is not negotiated. Signs of ideological conditioning and capture are conformity to group thinking, divisive solidarity, irrational defensiveness, rigid prejudice, and the violence that erupts. People and public protests that use violence to make their point reveal their ideology is a spiritual power. Ideologies are ‘isms’ (Marxism, Nazism) that become totalitarian if not confronted by truth and justice (as the Hebrew prophets did). They are “the gods” that God judges (Psalm 82), “the rulers and authorities” (Ephesians 6:12) behind nationalist political, economic, cultural, and religious systems. The battle is not against “flesh and blood”, but against the evil spiritual forces that use systems and the people within them.

Religious theologies (Jewish, Christian, Islamic) can legitimise socio-political ideology and racist-national identity. White Christian Nationalist theology undergirded Apartheid in South Africa. It was unbiblical, heretical, evil. Theologies can kill. History shows ideological powers rise and fall. Sooner or later, God judges and disciplines them. The same applies to the Middle East war: what are the powers that drive each side? Christ followers must discern ideological powers and their legitimizing theologies and defeat them. To the degree we’re conditioned by them and under their power, we fail to recognise them. We only discover that in the ‘dialogue of opposites’, seeing reality from the other side of the divide. We must decisively break with ‘the powers’ to prophesy to them, to enforce the defeat they’ve already suffered at the nail-pierced hands of Jesus (Ephesians 2:14-16, Colossians 2:15).

To do this we must also draw distinctions, as in distinguishing between Islam, Muslims, and jihad. What drives Hamas is jihadist ideology. They exist to irradicate Israel as their charter states – seen in their 10/7 attack. They’re part of fundamentalist militant Islam in contrast to moderate Muslims. By conflating them, we treat all Muslims as evil, feeding Islamic phobia and hatred. Hamas is the political organisation representing Palestinians, but only in Gaza. Not all Palestinians are, or support, Hamas. Some Palestinians are Christians, to whom we must listen, and learn from their experience in Palestinian territories.          

We must distinguish between Judaism, Israel, and Zionism. The ideology behind the state of Israel is Jewish Zionism, the founding ethno-nationalist ideology of modern Israel. Christian Zionism legitimizes it, teaching modern Israel is the fulfilment of unfulfilled prophecy (more below). Biblical Israel was a theocracy; modern Israel is a liberal democracy. Ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t recognise the modern state of Israel, saying Torah teaches God exiled Israel in AD 70 and only Messiah can re-establish Israel as a theocratic state. They reject Zionism and oppose Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian territories. To be anti-Zionist is not to reject Israel’s right to exist, but to be critical of Israel’s governing ideology. That does not mean you’re anti-Semitic, which is racism, discrimination against Jews because they are Jews, which led to Hitler’s holocaust of 6 million Jews. Also, you can disagree with aspects of the Jewish faith (which some call anti-Judaism) without being anti-Semitic.

We must also distinguish Jews (ethnicity, 15 mil. worldwide) and Israelis (citizens, 7 mil. Jews and 2 mil. Arabs). Israel is divided. Half of Israelis (in Peace Now and Democratic Movement for Change) oppose Netanyahu and his far-right coalition of religious Zionists. They have reduced the powers of the Supreme Court so they can appoint their own judges and build more illegal settlements on Palestinian land in the occupied territories – a means of ethnic cleansing. Again, it’s not anti-Semitic to be critical of Israel’s government for unjust policies. In fact, it’s loving Israel to speak truth to power, as Hebrew prophets did (and were killed). Jewish critics of Zionism and Israel’s government (like Noah Harari, Gideon Levy, Gabor Mate, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe, etc), are called “left wing socialists”. Jews who label them “anti-Semites” because they examine the context and causes of the conflict, and mourn the death of Israelis and Palestinians, reveal their Zionist ideological capture.   

If we don’t define words, draw distinctions, and recognise nuances, we conflate/equate the concepts. We generalise and stereotype ‘the other’, labelling and treating them accordingly. That further blinds us, reinforcing our existing ideological conditioning and prejudice.    


The pressure to take sides is enormous, either way. Legitimizing theologies enable groups to claim God is on their side. If you don’t side with them, you’re against God. If God is on our side, we can kill our enemies in his name, believing they are God’s enemies.

Joshua asked a man with a drawn sword, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” The man replied, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence (Joshua 5:13-14). So, the question is, are we on God’s side? Taking God’s side is to let God be God, not playing God. It means siding with (God’s) truth and justice. This is exactly what King Jesus said, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his justice” (righteousness, Matthew 6:33). Then God will act and provide – trust him.  

If you’re not “pro-Palestinian”, you’re labelled “pro-Israel”, and vice versa. The pressure to take sides does not allow for nuances, only condemnation of ‘the other’, which feeds hateful divisions. Then you can’t speak truth to ‘the powers’ on your side: you become a court prophet blessing and legitimizing them. To side with God is to oppose wrongdoing, not matter on which side it is. We don’t have to justify which is the greater evil so that we can take the ‘better side’. Neither do we have to equate ‘the one is as bad as the other’ (moral equivalence) to be ‘neutral’ or ‘balanced’. Evil is evil, sin is sin, no matter the degree or agency. Morality cuts both ways. The Hebrew prophets, including Jesus, were not neutral or balanced when it came to truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil.  

We condemn Hamas for their barbarous 10/7 massacre of 1400 Israelis, taking 240 hostages (including women and children). We can list all their atrocities, to the degree they’ve been verified as factual. However Hamas justifies them, it is evil. Jesus wept. And we condemn Israel’s destruction of Gaza, displacing 1.9 million, killing 21,672 (70% are women and children), with over 7000 missing under rubble, and over 56,000 injured (as of 29 December 2023). To the degree these are verified as factual, the justifications by the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) don’t make it (morally) right: “In our right to exterminate Hamas we warned everyone to leave. They are unfortunate collateral damage of human shields for us to destroy Hamas in tunnels under civilian buildings. Hamas is to blame”. For the Palestinians in Gaza, it’s genocidal collective punishment. They’ve lost everything. Jesus wept.

It’s demonic to use a child as a human shield. It’s also demonic to bomb a child to kill a killer – killing a child, on average, every 15 minutes. And to smash a child’s skull in a kibbutz, or by bombs in Gaza, moves one beyond good and evil into the rule of gods and demons. Their “blood cries out to God from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). Crying out to God for justice is a biblical theme. God always hears and answers, sooner or later (Exodus 22:21-24). Jesus said, “Will not God bring about justice for those who cry out to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7).

To “seek first” God’s rule of righteousness is to side with truth and justice in any situation, to intervene to make peace, to reconcile, heal, and restore. Whenever I hear, “Pray for Israel”, I say, “YES, but pray also for Palestinians”. Because people are dying, hatred is deepening, and we’re called to be peacemakers – like Jesus. Applying his teachings to his Jewish followers in the context of brutal Roman occupation, we learn his response (a sample from Matthew 5):

  • “Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth” (5). Not just ‘the land’, Psalm 37:11.
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice (righteousness), for they will be filled” (6). The cries for justice from both sides of the divide – God is The Judge of all.
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called children of God” (9). They express God’s nature/character, whose Son reconciles human relationships with God and each other. Hebrew shalom (peace) is God’s wellbeing based on right relationships.
  • “You’ve heard it said, ‘Do not murder’; but I say, if you’re angry with your brother or sister, you are subject to judgement… go and reconcile with them” (21-24). Unresolved anger leads to hatred and name-calling which murders dignity long before the body.
  • “You’ve heard it said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’; but I say, don’t resist an evil person” (38-42). Jesus teaches ways of response that don’t damage the person in return. If we follow theLaw of Just Retaliation (Exodus 21:24-25) we will all become blind and toothless, unable to see how to respond in non-violent ways that defeat the evil behind the perpetrator(s). We will then take a head for an eye, a body for a tooth, which is happening. And evil triumphs. Distinguish between people (God loves) and the evil (God hates) that works through them and the systems they create.
  • “You’ve heard it said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’; but I say, love your enemy and pray for them…” (43-47). Strict Pharisees, Zealots, and Essenes taught love of “neighbour” as your own kind (Jews) and hatred of “enemy” as the other (Romans). Israeli right-wing religious parties and Jewish settlers do the same today. Jesus defined “neighbour” as anyone in need, even your enemy (Samaritans, Luke 10:29-37). Jesus’ “love your enemy” was from Torah: “Do not hate… love your neighbour… the foreigner among you” (Leviticus 19:17-18, 34; Exodus 23:4-5, Proverbs 25:21-22). This was the governing law in Israel as witness to the nations of God’s rule. Christ-followers must continue to live this ethic as witness to a world divided by enmity – Jesus offers peace and reconciliation based on (his) justice. How can this become a political ethic?


We all think, speak, and act based on underlying ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. They must be examined and evaluated (our justifying ideologies and legitimising theologies) to decide on a biblical-ethical response to the Middle East crisis. We look at theology and violence, Liberation Theology, Christian Zionism, Replacement Theology, and Jesus and his apostles’ teaching on Israel, prophecy, the land, temple, city, and the end-times. Essentially, it’s about how we interpret scripture. I can only give very brief explanations in this summary.  

Holy War? Or Just War? Or Non-violence?

These are the three traditional views on the use of violence. There is also violence that does not justify itself as either just or holy. We must define and distinguish them to know how they’re used to legitimise what has happened and continues to happen.

Holy war is an ideology of death motivated by a religious cause. We can kill others in God’s name because our enemies are God’s enemies. To the degree this theology drives groups to violence against civilians, they are terrorists by modern international law. Holy war in Islam is jihad (Arabic), meaning ‘struggle’ against ungodliness in oneself and others (moderate Islam). Using violence to ‘struggle’ against Allah’s enemies is radical Islam (e.g., Hamas). They shout Allah Akbar, “God is great”, as they murder enemies. Holy war theology in the Old Testament (OT) ended in Jesus’ war against evil by self-sacrifice, which defeated ‘the powers’ on the cross. He renounced violence to achieve that end. Christians have also used holy war theology at times, e.g., to legitimise the 11th century Crusades.

Just war is a political-ethical theory seeded by Aristotle (4th cen. BC) and developed by Augustine (5th cen. AD Christian theologian). It took the ancient Lex Telionis, Law of Just Retaliation, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”, to a new level: the right of self-defence to conduct war under certain agreed conditions. But only “as a last resort”, after all non-violent ways have failed. In Israel’s right to self-defence, Netanyahu and his government justify the IDF operations in Gaza to “exterminate” Hamas as just war. However, he compares Hamas and Iran to the “Amalekites”, invoking holy war (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Commentators cite IDF violations of international law with Gaza reduced to a human catastrophe. Many Christians use just war to support Israel. Some use holy war, as in Netanyahu’s “Amalekites”. As we have seen, Jesus rejected the Lex Telionis, transcending it in the law of love.

Non-violence (also called pacifism) is the use of peaceful means, not force, to bring about socio-political change. Violence only begets more violence. Killing is the problem, not the solution. Non-violence pursues negotiation for peace-making based on justice. Most peace treaties in history were based on compromise, on relative justice. Pursuit of absolute justice perpetuates conflict indefinitely. Jesus taught and lived non-violence through self-sacrifice, as the means to defeat evil. He taught his followers the same: lay down your life, don’t take up the sword or you will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52). Tertullian (2nd cen. theologian), famously said, “The Lord in disarming Peter, thenceforth unbelted every soldier”. Christians did not serve in the Roman army for the first two centuries after Christ.         

Liberation Theology

This theology turns the biblical theme of liberation into a socio-political ethic of activism for the oppressed. A novelty in church history, it began in Latin America in mid to late 1960s via Catholic theologian, Gustavo Gutiérrez, among others. They used the Marxist categories of social analysis, “oppressor” and “oppressed”: God takes the side of the oppressed to liberate them from the structural sin and systemic evil of the oppressor, by violent ‘just revolution’ if necessary. This legitimized revolutions in Latin America and elsewhere. The Catholic Church (Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI) rejected the ideological framework of Liberation Theology while affirming the wholistic (biblical) liberation of God’s kingdom come in Jesus Christ. Palestinian Christians are now a small minority, but to the degree Liberation Theology is employed to legitimize their struggle for justice, with the use of violence to free Palestine, it serves ideological powers – as in Hamas and Hezbollah.

Dispensationalist Theology – Christian and Jewish Zionism

Christians, generally, sympathise with Jews. They are against anti-Semitism, which is racism. They support Israel as a Jewish homeland in her right to a secure existence, as justice after a long history of suffering. While affirming the recovery of the Jewish roots of our faith, they don’t interpret the political developments in Israel as fulfilment of end-time prophecy. They evaluate what happens based on justice, having the same concern for Palestinians, who’ve also suffered since the conflict began. Thus, the only way (politically) to guarantee peace and security for Israel is to also guarantee peace and equality for Palestinians. So, they would, generally, support a negotiated two-state solution, each within secure borders.

Some evangelicals (Pentecostals/charismatics included) support Israel as the fulfilment of unfulfilled promises: modern Israel, founded in 1948, is key to God’s purposes being fulfilled for Christ’s return. That means supporting Israel as God’s chosen people and nation. If we don’t, we’re against God’s purposes and are (seen as) anti-Semitic. Underlying this ‘Israel theology’ is dispensationalism, which began in the 1830s. John Darby, an Anglo-Irish leader in the Plymouth Brethren, taught dispensationalism from his interpretation of Daniel’s final ‘week’ (seven years) in 9:24-27. He was inspired by Margret MacDonald’s vision (1828) of Christians raptured into heaven before the Second Coming. A pre-tribulation rapture must take place before the Anti-Christ rules for seven years, then Jesus will return to Jerusalem to establish his millennial kingdom. God deals with humanity in dispensations: in short, the dispensation of Israel up to Christ’s first coming, then the church dispensation from Christ to the rapture, then back to Israel for the last seven years and into the millennium.

This theology was unknown in church history before Darby. It spread through the Scofield Reference Bible. Most reputable evangelical scholars rejected it as unbiblical. It birthed Christian Zionism, which preceded and supported Jewish Zionism in the late 1800s. Jews must return to Palestine to (re)build their homeland for God’s end-time purposes to be fulfilled. Zionist politicians in Britain motivated the Balfour Declaration in 1917, for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people… it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. That was achieved in 1948, but it led to the ongoing conflict. The history of the conflict is painful and complex – Jewish and Palestinian versions of the history are worlds apart. There are facts of history, interpretations of the facts, and ideological revisions of history. Facts and truth can be – and are – known.

Christian Zionism teaches two people of God: Israel and the church. Each has their covenant and destiny. Israel has the Abrahamic covenant for an earthly destiny: the holy land and the millennial kingdom. The church as the “new covenant” for a spiritual destiny: the rapture and ruling from heaven. The Abrahamic covenant is eternal: possess the land God promised in Genesis 15:18-21. If we bless Israel (Abraham’s seed, Genesis 12:3), God will bless us. If we oppose Israel, God will curse us. The prophecies of Israel’s return to the land are applied partially to the first exile (5th/4th BC) and fully to modern Israel, bypassing Jesus and the New Testament (NT) interpretation of the promises. God turned back to his chosen people in 1948, marking “the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”, more so in 1967 when Jerusalem was liberated from Gentile control (Luke 21:24). That’s when “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). Hence, some leading dispensationalists said the rapture would take place in 1988, a generation after 1948. Then it was revised to 2007, 40 years after 1967. Other dates that were predicted have come and gone. No rapture, no Anti-Christ.

The fruit of Christian Zionism is, a) finding end-time prophetic fulfilment in every event that happens in the Middle East; b) uncritical support for Israel and the present government with its ethno-nationalist-religious Zionist ideology; and c) labelling Christians who don’t support Israel as “replacement theology” Christians – in other words, anti-Semites.

A full study is needed to do justice to dispensational Christian Zionism. But, beside misinterpreting scripture, it leaves no room for nuanced critical support of Israel, demanding loyalty – a sure sign that it’s in the service of ideological power.

So-called Replacement Theology and traditional Covenant Theology

I say “so-called”, as traditional theology doesn’t use “replacement” of Israel. Christian Zionists use it (and “supersessionism”) of their critics, saying Reformed covenant theology teaches that the church has replaced/superseded Israel as God’s chosen people. “Replace” and “supersede” are not in the Bible and reputable evangelical scholars don’t use them. They use the NT “fulfilment” of God’s promises in King Jesus (more below). This is different to both replacement theology and Christian Zionism – though my personal experience is that Christian Zionists only hear “replacement” when one talks of “fulfilment”.

However, we humbly acknowledge there has been ‘crossover’ in traditional theology from respect for ethnic Jews and biblical Israel, to arrogance and presumption, even labelling Jews “Christ-killers”. Paul warned Gentile believers against such attitudes of “conceit”: God joined us to believing Israel, not the other way round – we’ve not replaced Jews (Romans 11:17-21). If we believe that God abandoned the promises made to the Jews and replaced Israel with the church as his chosen people, we develop anti-Semitic attitudes that lead to acts of racism. For example, Martin Luther’s ‘anti-Judaism’ attitude (critical of Judaism, seeking to convert Jews to Christ) in later years crossed into anti-Semitism. He made it racial against “the Jews” in his treatise, On the Jews and their Lies. This treatise is seen historically as the seeds of the German Lutheran church’s support for the Shoah (Jewish holocaust).

Thus, to the degree Christians use replacement theology to criticize or reject Israel, and/or support the Palestinian cause, it is in service of the ideological powers that divide and rule. We must distinguish between this kind of replacement theology and covenant theology that teaches there has always been only one people of God, in one covenant, with one destiny. The biblical covenants were added to and fulfilled in subsequent covenants: the Abrahamic covenant (people and land), in the Mosaic covenant (Torah and temple), in the Davidic covenant (Messianic Son), and in the promised “new covenant” of Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36. They’re all fulfilled in/by Messiah Jesus in his ministry, death, and resurrection, with the destiny of God’s eternal kingdom, where God’s will is done on earth as in heaven. Jesus taught his followers to pray and live that reality of Kingdom come (Matthew 6:10).


“Covenant” is part of the biblical theology of God’s kingdom – Jesus’ mission, message, and ministry. The OT promise is now NT fulfilment, in which we live, awaiting the consummation of the kingdom in Jesus’ return. The kingdom was their worldview, the lens of interpreting both the Hebrew Bible and “the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3). Hence, we follow their interpretation of prophecy, Israel, the land, temple, city, and the end-times, e.g., Matthew used “fulfil/fulfilled” sixteen times of Jesus in his gospel to Jewish readers.

Jesus, the Jewish King, brought God’s kingdom to Israel – most leaders and people rejected him. He saw those who believed as people of the kingdom, the remnant of true Israel. He chose twelve apostles as patriarchs of the renewed Israel of the new covenant, who will sit on thrones judging Israel (Luke 22:20, 29-30). They didn’t replace Israel but were believing Jews who, with King Jesus, fulfilled Israel’s call and destiny. All the promises and covenants were not only fulfilled but transcended and universalised in Christ’s kingdom come.

  • The promised “new covenant” (Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36) was fulfilled in Jesus’ kingdom, sealed in his blood sacrifice (Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25).
  • The Davidic covenant is fulfilled in the Messianic Son (2 Samuel 7 cf. Psalm 2:6-7). Jesus inherits not only his father David’s kingdom – land in the Middle East – but “the nations” and “ends of the earth” (Psalm 2:8). The earth is holy, belonging to God (Psalm 24:1).
  • The land in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15:18-21) was interpreted as: “Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, through the righteousness that comes by faith” (Romans 4:13). “The land” inheritance is “the earth” (Psalm 37:11 cf. Matthew 5:5). In the prophets, the land becomes the new earth with new heavens (Isaiah 65:17f, 66:22f), the ultimate destiny of God’s people.
  • Circumcision in Abraham’s “everlasting covenant” (confirming the land as an “everlasting possession”, Genesis 17) marked God’s chosen people. It symbolised circumcision of the heart, as Moses said (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6). That was fulfilled in Messiah’s death and resurrection (Colossians 2:11-12). So, “the Israel of God”, the true Jew, is defined by that inward circumcision of the Spirit by faith (Galatians 6:12-16, Romans 2:25-29).
  • So, God’s people, the children of Abraham, are defined by faith in God’s promises fulfilled in Messiah, who is “the seed” of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). All believers are “children of God… neither Jew nor Gentile… if you belong to Messiah, you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29). Paul is emphatic: all God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” in Christ – he fulfils them all (2 Corinthians 1:20). In Romans 9 to 11, Paul quotes the prophets to distinguish between believing Israel (children of faith, “the remnant”, 9:27) and unbelieving Israel (ethnic Jews who reject Jesus).
  • The Mosaic covenant Torah was fulfilled in Messiah – he didn’t come to abolish or replace the Law or the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus’ kingdom teaching was the Messianic Torah that Moses prophesied (Deuteronomy 18:17-19), which fulfils and enables all that God required of Israel and the nations, for his will to be done on earth as in heaven.
  • The Mosaic tabernacle and later temple were interpreted as Jesus, the real temple in which God dwelt (John 1:14). He forgave sins (Mark 2:5-6) based on his “once and for all sacrifice” that ended sacrifices for sin (Hebrews 9:12-14). He predicted, a) true worship of God will not be linked to a holy mountain or temple (John 4:21-23), b) the temple will be destroyed (AD 70, ended the sacrificial system), c) the temple of his body will die and rise again (John 2:19-22). The apostles taught that believers – the church in which God dwells by his Spirit – is the restored temple (Ephesians 2:19-22). It fulfils Ezekiel’s (47) vision of a universalised new temple flowing with living water. Ultimately, the temple is “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” that fills the new earth (Revelation 21:22).    
  • The city of Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, was the place where Messiah must die (Luke 9:30, 13:33-35). Everything moved toward Jerusalem. After the cross everything moved from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:6-8). Jesus predicted Jerusalem’s destruction along with the temple. For Paul, “the present city of Jerusalem… is in slavery with her children”, while “the Jerusalem above is free… our mother… of the children of promise” (Galatians 4:23-28). Abraham looked for this city, the heavenly Jerusalem to which we come to worship (Hebrews 11:10, 12:22). The last NT reference to earthly Jerusalem is “Sodom and Egypt, where the Lord was crucified”, while God’s people look to “the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 11:8, 21:2). Thus, the city is spiritually universalised.    

This evidence from Jesus and his apostles shows how “holy” (people, land, temple, city) has been transcended beyond locality and territory, fulfilled in the universalised and heavenly reality of God’s kingdom, already come in Messiah.

The question arises: does this mean that Israel (ethnic Jews) has no place in God’s purpose for humanity in salvation history? No, not at all. In Romans 9 to 11, Paul uses the olive tree image to affirm Israel’s role in God’s plan. God’s people – Abraham and his descendants (of promise) – are the olive tree. “Natural children”/“natural branches” (9:8, 11:21) that did not (do not) believe are cut off. Hardening of the Jewish heart allowed wild branches (believing Gentiles) to be grafted into (believing) Israel. However, “for the sake of the patriarchs”, God’s calling on Israel remains (11:28-29). Ethnic Jews will respond when Gentiles have “fully come in”. It means, “natural” Israel will repent and turn to faith in Messiah Jesus at the end of the age – as do all who enter God’s Kingdom (10:12-13). God will graft them back in, “and so all Israel will be saved”, Jews and Gentiles, the one olive tree (11:25-26). Thus, Paul’s view of Israel is ‘subtraction and addition in fulfilment theology’, not replacement theology. He does not indicate that the end-time regrafting depends on Israel’s return to the land. Jews come to faith in Messiah Jesus anywhere – and they are – to enter the promised kingdom.

Texts that might indicate otherwise: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24), could mean an end-time restoration of the city (thus, the land) to Jewish control. Most scholars say Jesus was referring to the end of the age when the gospel has been preached to all Gentiles (Matthew 24:14). Matthew placed Jesus’ words to Jerusalem, “you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (23:39), after his triumphant entry (21:9). Again, it could imply Jews in a restored Jerusalem. But, in Matthew’s placing, it referred to Jesus’ Second Coming when Jews who believe will welcome him as Messiah (Zechariah 12:10) and those who did not (do not) believe, will be damned.

What is clear:
1. The OT prophecies of return from exile to the land were fulfilled between 538 – 445 BC.
2. And completed in Jesus calling Israel to “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15), which meant: return to God (exiled from God) and enter the kingdom (the Promised Land). Beside Israel being ruled by Rome, Jesus saw her in slavery to sin and Satan (John 8:33-47). Also, Paul saw Jerusalem (Israel) “still in slavery with her children” (Galatians 4:25). Thus, Jesus fulfilled the OT promises of “the return” by leading a new exodus into the new land of the kingdom, with a new Shepherd, by a new covenant (Ezekiel 34, 36 cf. Jeremiah 31).
3. So, the olive tree, “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), is already a restored theocracy under King Jesus, ruling at God’s right hand. The timing of the kingdom’s consummation on earth is in the Father’s hands (Acts 1:6-8). Our priority is to take the gospel of God’s kingdom in the Spirit’s power to all nations, including Israel, so that the end may come (Matthew 24:14).
4. This doesn’t mean that God can’t work sovereignly to give Jews a homeland as an act of historical reparative justice. But we should not make it ‘holy’, as in ‘the chosen nation’ of prophetic fulfilment, endorsing whatever they do. We evaluate modern Israel like any other nation (e.g., Palestine), based on God’s justice and truth, needing Christ’s gospel.


Peace-making. To be God’s people in this situation – in any context of division and conflict – is to do what Messiah Jesus did. The “war of the Lamb” is to “wage peace” in self-sacrificing non-violence while others wage war with violence to resolve conflict. Peace-making does not take sides, the more moral or the lessor of two evils. It sides with truth and justice against wrongdoing to defeat the evil behind. Continued violence will not lead to peace but will sow seeds of deeper hatred to reap a greater harvest of violence – we’re on the edge of a third world war. To make peace means to intervene in non-violent ways to break the cycle of violence. It seeks negotiated peace based on (relative) justice, involving forgiveness and compromise, with assurance of security for both sides. If a side refuses to negotiate peace, rejecting all efforts to that end, till a ‘victory’ of annihilation by one or other side, then death triumphs. God historically allows that as an ultimate form of judgement. But that does not morally justify the supposed ‘victor’. God will hold all concerned accountable.

Presence. We do peace-making by incarnation, by the bodily presence of God’s reconciled people in the context of the conflict. Imagine if Christ-followers from both sides – Israeli and Palestinian believers – crossed the divide that Jesus destroyed in the cross when he tore down the wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14-16). They could free each other from ideological capture by coming together to tell their stories, pray, repent, reconcile, and decide on a united response as Christ’s one Body in the land. They are first citizens of God’s kingdom before citizens of Israel or Palestine. Their loyalty is first to King Jesus and his rule, and to one another as brothers and sisters, above their nationalities and respective governments. This would recover the authority of the gospel of the Prince of Peace. Reconciled Israelis and Palestinians, the “one new humanity” under Christ’s government, will show the “rulers and authorities” on both sides God’s “manifold wisdom” (Ephesians 3:9-10). That enforces their defeat in King’s cross (Colossians 2:15). Instead of being a copy of society, of the ideologies that ‘divide and rule’, believers will be a model of God’s reconciling kingdom. They will have real authority to speak truth to both sides of power. Like Jesus, they put their bodies on the line in united non-violent action to make peace. Christ-followers around the world, equally divided by the ideologies and their theological legitimizations, will see their example and support their peace-making as the one pierced Body of Messiah in the Middle East.

Praying. We do peace-making by prayer and intercession, which includes lament, our first response to the conflict. Prayer is our greatest weapon as Christ-followers because it deals directly with the God who rules the nations, the judge of all spiritual powers. Daniel 9 & 10 show the mysterious power of prayer (repentance, fasting, intercession) in defeating the spiritual powers that oppose God’s kingdom purpose. Prayer opens the way and empowers the bodily presence of all who work for peace. We must “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) and for the peace of Gaza. Pray for shalom, for negotiations to end violence and engage in reconciliation talks for a sustainablepeace based on right relationships (justice). And pray for all who suffer and have suffered tremendous pain and loss.

Prophesying. We do peace-making by proclaiming the truth of the good news of the Prince of Peace. Don’t lose sight of the power of the gospel, let alone that of prayer. Having spoken to God, we speak to people. To prophesy is to preach the hope of salvation and lasting peace in King Jesus. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, as we courageously proclaim it (Romans 10:17). Imagine if, out of this enormous pain on both sides, multitudes turn to faith in Jesus. The entire area will change for humanitarian good. To prophesy is also to fearlessly speak truth to power on both sides of the divide. Not to confront wrongdoing and injustice is to enable evil to destroy. Our authority in confronting the powers is effective to the degree it has lived integrity in an incarnate life of the gospel of peace. By focusing on end-time prophecy, as many dispensational Christians Zionists do, we cease to be prophetic. Christ-followers stand in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets – fulfilled in Jesus – who lived and spoke the truth in self-sacrificing martyrdom, which defeated the evil behind the people and political systems that perpetrate wrongdoing.   

Protesting. We do peace-making by public protest, as and when required. The prophets, Jesus included, acted out their prophetic message from time to time, in forms of public demonstration so that political-spiritual powers, and society at large, could see the truth God was speaking through them. It generally included a call to repentance to avoid coming judgement. Christ-followers who join secular organised public marches, even if for a just cause, are in danger of siding with partisan ideological power, unmasked when the protest becomes violent. So, we must differentiate between a pro-Israel march and an anti-Semitism protest; between a pro-Palestinian march and protesting Israel’s destruction of Gaza, killing over 21000 to kill Hamas killers. Imagine if all believers, Israeli and Palestinian, refuse to use violence, refuse to serve in their military formations. This civil disobedience, in Jesus’ name, refusing to be servants of ideological power – of unjust policies, of violent enforcement – will confront and disarm the evil behind. There are ways we can protest for justice in service of the peace-making process without partisan support for ideological powers.

May the Lord have mercy and bring shalom to Palestine and Israel.