IWOT Pastor Ambassador's Perspective on War in Israel
“Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 25:22
Ever since 2016, I have personally led more than 500 Christians throughout the land of Israel, taking them to view the incredible archaeology, walking with them in locations where biblical events took place, and introducing them to the people of Israel. I have made numerous friends of every background, race, and religion. It has been one of the great honors of my life to lead others through the land of Israel and to watch as their eyes have been opened to all that God is doing in this amazing land.
“I took this in Jerusalem just a couple days before the attack. Hundreds of people from 60 nations singing freely. It makes me cry thinking of the days of peace and joy we had before this started.” – Pastor John Vedder
On Saturday morning, October 7th, at 12:30 a.m., I boarded a plane leaving Tel Aviv on my way home to Alabama. I had just finished leading a group of 20 American Christians on a tour of the land where we also participated in a celebration of the Feast of Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles. This celebration is in response to Zechariah 14:16 where it says that one day all the nations of the earth will come to Jerusalem to celebrate this great feast together. So, we say, “why not start now”! It was a wonderful tour and, in many ways, it was very similar to the other 5 tours I had already led this year. What I did not know at the time was that we were one of the last planes out of Israel before the rockets started flying.
We landed in JFK and began hearing of what was going on back in Israel. My heart was immediately torn. This was already day 12 away from my wife and 3 young children back at home and I knew I needed to be home with them, but everything in me was pulling me back to Israel. To help however I could. Hand out waters. Hand out food. Carry children as they were running to a bomb shelter. At the end of the day my place for now has been back home with my family, but that doesn’t mean that I have not been able to play a role in supporting Israel. Within minutes of my landing in JFK, friends, family, and churches all over the US started reaching out to see if I was back and if I was safe. As the discussions continued, these loved ones began asking questions about what was going on and how we should view it from a biblical perspective.
My work with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) is to educate the Church from a biblical perspective about the events that are happening. I believe that deep down this is not a war over land or water or property or differences in political views. This is a war between the powers of evil and the very Word of God itself. We read all throughout the Bible, old and new testaments, that God promised an everlasting inheritance to the Jewish people. Namely this is a piece of land that would forever be theirs. There have been seasons where the Jews did not rule over this land, but make no mistake, there has been at least a remnant of Jews living in the land of Israel for the last 4,000 years. Why God chose this piece of land to give to the Jews, I couldn’t tell you…He didn’t ask my opinion. He has, however, made it abundantly clear through His Word and the unfolding of history that the land of Israel would be their everlasting inheritance. God has brought the Jews home and for the first time in nearly 2,000 years they are in a unified Jerusalem and Israel. This is no coincidence.
I believe the book of Ezekiel, specifically chapter 36, speaks to the purposes and plans of God for the current nation of Israel. It speaks of a time when God would reach out His hand to the nations to regather His people back to their everlasting inheritance of the land of Israel. At the beginning He would not do it for the sake of Israel, but for His name’s sake. When God makes a promise, He will keep it. Even if it takes 2,000 years. So, we can trust that He will fulfill His promises to His people. This is greatly encouraging to the body of Christ because it is as if the Lord has raised a banner to the nations to show that He is a covenant keeping God. God has brought Israel back not to harm them, but to care for them and show His great love for them. He is doing this in our generation and before our very eyes. God has never abandoned them and has an ongoing purpose for His people in Israel. God loves Israel deeply and longs to have a relationship with them, as He does with all of His children. This is one of His greatest desires, to be in relationship with us.
Israel’s desire now is to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors, and to be a blessing to everyone around them. This is not often shared in the media, but Israel shares water, power, food, and medical assistance to her neighbors including the Palestinians in Gaza. What other nation provides basic life necessities to an enemy on their border, especially one whose sole desire is to destroy them? Israel longs for peace. Israel did not want this war. They only want to raise their children in peace and safety.
Israel has fought many wars over the past 4,000 years and all of them have been military conflicts. This was different. What we saw on October 7th was an expression of evil itself to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth. There is no justification for the rape of women, the torture of the old and helpless, and the mutilation of babies in their cribs. On that terrible Saturday the world saw the true face of Hamas. Their desire to destroy as many Jewish lives as possible and to do it as painfully as they can. This is not a new war. In fact, Satan has been waging this war ever since God made a covenant with a man named Abram. Satan knows that if he can wipe the Jews from the face of the earth, he can make God out to be a liar. I believe this will never happen. God will never allow the Jews to be destroyed. He has promised that He would be their protector and provider. So, I trust in the God of Israel. I trust that He will be faithful to his promise by protecting them.
Without going into the 4,000 years of historical documents of Jews living in the land and in some cases purchasing it multiple times over, I believe that the Jews and the nation of Israel are the rightful owners of the land that we now call Israel. This means Israel has the right to defend herself against Hamas who calls for her destruction and who is actively engaged against her.
As the Nazi war machine raged through Europe just 80 years ago, many churches and Christians were silent against those who sought to destroy the Jews. Today I believe it is time for the Church world-wide to stand with the nation of Israel and to say with them, “Never Again.” I will not stand idly by, watching as evil seeks to destroy them.
To Israel and my Jewish friends, you are not alone. the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), founded in Jerusalem in 1980, stands today as an organized body of Christians to say just this. You are not alone. We stand with you and support you. This does not mean that we hate other religions or those from different backgrounds. In fact, as a ministry we serve all facets of life in the Middle East and desire to see reconciliation between all peoples. This means the ICEJ gives financial and practical support to Arabs of all religious backgrounds, Druze communities, Jews of all religious backgrounds, and Christian communities.
The ICEJ has shown our love to the nation of Israel and its people by meeting many practical needs. One of which is providing almost 200 bomb shelters which have been placed all over Israel. These do not just go to Jewish communities, but shelter communities of all backgrounds. We have had a direct impact on bringing nearly 180,000 Jewish immigrants back to the land of Israel as part of what is known as Aliyah, or Jewish immigration. We also have a nursing home called the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa Israel which houses nearly 65 full-time residents. These are men and women in their 80s and 90s who survived the second world war and the Holocaust and were living out the end of their lives in need of a helping hand. It’s our honor to help by practically providing for their daily needs.
After the war started in Israel on October 7th, the ICEJ was asked to provide aide in many different areas. A current fundraising effort is to provide bullet proof vests and helmets for as many Israeli troops as possible. We have already raised enough money to purchase multiple military grade ambulances to serve the communities in the South near the Gaza border. We are setting up a temporary refugee camp near Jerusalem to give shelter and food to Jews who have been displaced because of the war. We are continuing to provide PTSD treatment and care for children and families in need. We are on the frontlines taking food and water to the communities most affected and providing meals to IDF soldiers. These are just a few of the ways that we are able to love and support the nation of Israel and her people in this season. It is a privilege and honor to stand with them in prayer and practical support.
My prayer is that this war would end as quickly as possible with the least number of deaths as possible. My heart is broken for every family that has suffered the loss of a family member and for those who are still waiting and hoping for their loved one to be released from Hamas. As this continues, I believe the world is seeing the true nature of the terror group called Hamas. We as all people from all nations should stand in opposition to their evil schemes. I pray the Lord will intervene on behalf of Israel and spare the lives of the innocent on both sides. Ultimately, I believe Israel will be victorious against her enemies. Not because of her military might or because of the peace treaties that she has made, but because I believe in the Word of God. I believe that He is a covenant-keeping God.
If your heart has been moved to support Israel and stand with them, there are a few ways to get involved. Pray. Pray for peace. Pray for the Lord’s mercies over the Middle East. Speak up. Speak up when you hear lies about Israel. Speak out on behalf of Israel. And give. Give to organizations like the ICEJ, who are your hands and feet loving and supporting the nation of Israel in this unprecedented time.