The Twentieth Sunday of Pentecost – October 15, 2023
Holy Trinity Church – Tom Mount
Two biblical responses to guide our hearts
- Instinctual compassion toward the innocents
- “Compassion” – Ln. pati, “suffer;” com-, “with”: “suffer with.” See Rom 9:2-4a. When we “compassionate” someone, we imaginatively “suffer with” them.
- The principal ways we compassionate others is through presence and prayer. We can pray for comfort and grace for the families, frustration of evil plans, faith in Jesus.
- Righteous anger toward the guilty
- See Revelation 6:9-10. Some Christians feel guilty about wanting justice on perpetrators of violence based on a misinterpretation of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:38-42 (cf. Ex 21:23-27) restricting the personal use of lex talionis, the law of proportionate retribution. He’s saying: don’t take revenge or you will corrupt your soul and may preempt God’s justice (Romans 12:19).
- We are made in God’s image. God is just, so he hates evil (Exodus 34:7b). We must too. But we must steward our anger (Eph 4:26) and leave justice to.
- Who are the guilty? 1) Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, 2) Iran, 3) Those funding Iran knowing their history and agenda.
Three biblical principles to guide our heads
- The irrational monstrosity of diabolical evil
- Evil: How do we account for this level of depravity? It is diabolically sourced.
- Irrational: It is reflected in the degree of hated toward Jews among Muslim nations, the world generally and America particularly (academia, media, entertainment).
- The moral wisdom of standing with Israel at this time
- We are to love for those in need: Proverbs 24:11; Lk 10:25-37.
- Israel has a responsibility to retrieve its hostages and neutralize terrorist threats.
- Modern Israel has a proven history of seeking peace despite being repeatedly attacked. Its military responses tend to be strategic, targeted and proportionate.
- Israel has been an important ally that brings needed stability to the region.
- God still has a special love for the Jewish people (Rom 11:28).
- The complicated identity of modern Israel
- Modern Israel is not the same as the ancient nation of Israel, which was bound by covenant to Yahweh. The “kingdom was taken” from Israel after rejecting their Messiah (Mt 21:43). A “remnant” was saved but the rest were “hardened” and were “broken off” the olive tree of God’s covenant people (Rom 11:7, 17-24). The nation was judged for their rejection of Christ in AD 70 and scattered among the nations (Lk 19:41-44). Paul predicted a time of future salvation for many Jews (Rom 11:25-32).
- Through Jesus, God instituted a New Covenant with Israel, which included all followers of Jesus: believing Jews and Gentiles as “the Church.” The “Old (Sinaic) covenant” was rendered obsolete (Heb 8:6-13).
What can we do?
- Stay informed. Consult sources that provide firsthand accounts (ex: The Daily Wire shows video footage taken by militants and Israelis).
- Speak out as needed when you hear uninformed or hateful opinions.
- Pray! For the families of victims on both sides: comfort, salvation. For the Israeli government as they seek to retrieve their hostages and remove bad actors from power: restraint, good intelligence, providential guidance. For the U.S. government to know how best to support Israel and sanction Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. For the Palestinians and Arab nations to recognize Israel’s right to exist in their homeland and cooperate with Israel in designing a permanent solution to Palestinian autonomy.