On Oct. 7, we here in Israel awoke to an unspeakable horror. Evil had been unleashed upon us such as we had not known since the Holocaust.
Over 1,200 Israeli soldiers, civilians, men, women and children, even babies, were brutally and mercilessly slaughtered by around 3,000 demonically-driven, drug-frenzied Hamas operatives and Gazan ‘civilians.’
About 240 Israelis and foreign nationals were taken captive into Gaza as hostages.
As a result, Israel declared war against Hamas in Gaza that very day, and this war has been raging now for over 100 days.
Many Israelis and Gazans have died or been injured, and both peoples are suffering terrible grief, fear and privation.
Every Israeli knows there are some hard questions that must be answered. Where was the army on Oct. 7? What happened to our intelligence? There will undoubtedly be long and painful inquiries and ‘heads will roll.’
There is, however, one question we are reluctant to ask – the elephant in the room – where was God on Oct. 7? As Messianic or Christian believers it is a frightening, potentially faith-shaking, perhaps nearly blasphemous, question to ask. Dare we ask it?
We love to sing and pray the words of Psalm 121:4: “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Did God fall asleep on Oct. 7? Has God forgotten or rejected Israel? The answer, of course, is ‘NO,’ and ‘NO.’ But if that is true, why did God allow this dreadful atrocity to happen?
Joshua Berman, a blogger for the Times of Israel, had the courage to raise this question, and he pointed out: “Strikingly … our religious response to our suffering puts us at a divide from those who preceded us. From the Bible through the Shtetl our forefathers believed that when collective calamity befalls us, we must stand before the Almighty in recognition of our failings – our sins. But there is very little talk of “sin” as the cause of our current crisis, even within religious circles. At every stage of our history, our greatest texts have affirmed that collective calamity is caused by our own misdeeds. Every story in the Bible where Israel suffers teaches this lesson… And yet we are uncomfortable thinking this way about our current crisis. For some, after the Shoah, it is no longer possible to speak about Jewish suffering as the result of sin. Others take offense at the notion that God would allow, let alone unleash, the mass atrocities witnessed on October 7.
In this, he is correct, however, Berman goes on to say, “ Moreover, how are we to even know what our sins are? In biblical times prophets told Israel what her sins were. But we have no such prophets today.”
And in this, he is wrong. We don’t need modern prophets to tell us our sins, we can know and, if we are honest with ourselves, we do know what they are. We have just to open our Bibles and look back at what the LORD has promised Israel and the way He has dealt with her throughout her history until the modern day. God has not changed and nor have His standards and promises.
God executes judgment on two levels.
On the level of the individual, God will, on the Great Judgement Day, judge each of us according to whether we have accepted Yeshua as our Messiah and Lord, by faith.
On a national level, however, his judgment is ongoing throughout history and he punishes the sins of the nations by means of war and natural disasters, such as famines, earthquakes and plagues. Israel is measured by her obedience to God’s commands, and the other nations by how they treat Israel (Genesis 12:3, Joel 3:1-2).
Historically, every nation or people that has come up against Israel has been destroyed, and those that are coming against us now will also be destroyed in due course.
When Israel first entered the Promised Land, God set out a series of blessings and curses. He said that if Israel obeyed His commands, He would bless the land with abundance and peace (Deuteronomy 28:1-14), but this was conditional. If Israel did not obey God, then He would send us great suffering and give our enemies victory over us (Deuteronomy 28:15-69). We can see these blessings and curses working throughout all the history of Israel. When the people worshipped the LORD, the land prospered and had peace, but when they turned away and worshipped foreign gods, they suffered disease and famine, and their enemies overcame them. This principle has never been revoked and we are seeing it in action today.
But what is Israel’s sin today?
The first commandment God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, states: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:2-5).
Jesus also identified this as the greatest commandment saying, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
I love Israel and have devoted my life to serve and pray for the people of Israel for over 40 years. There are many things I respect and admire in our society; our strong family values, our resilience and courage, and our zest for life, to name a few.
However, we, as a nation, have turned away, ignored or discounted our God. Our young people finish their national army service and head off to the ashrams of India or the Far East and there they learn to worship the Hindu gods or Buddha. They come home and spread these foreign religions. Others get involved in the occult and practice sorcery and witchcraft, which is strictly forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 18: 9-13).
In many of our schools, our children are taught New Age, Occult and Hindu practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
The religious make a god of the study of the Talmud and venerate the human mind, and break God’s command, forbidding the addition of laws to his Torah (Deuteronomy 4:2).
The secular community worships the gods of materialism and hedonism.
As a nation, we have rejected the promised Messiah, Yeshua. We have all idolized and trusted in the IDF, instead of trusting God. We have broken the first and most important commandment in so many ways, not even to mention the second, which commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I want to make it clear I am talking about the collective nation, not individuals. I do not wish to imply that those who died, were injured, or taken captive were greater sinners than anyone else. It is God who determines the fate of each one of us and I am not qualified to judge any man or question God’s decisions.
However, on a national level we all bear at least some blame for our commissions, and our omissions, and will all suffer the consequences, each one of us according to God’s will. We all need to examine our hearts and our actions and repent of our sins before God.
We do not like to think of God as a jealous god, a god of wrath or a god of war. We prefer a comforter who loves us and forgives our sins. He is that too, of course, but we have forgotten the fear of God.
When did you last hear a sermon about the wrath of God? I am likely to be criticized by many for saying these things, but they need to be said.
As the Body of Yeshua, and as the nation called by His name, Israel, we need to keep this balance.
The early church in Jerusalem experienced a period of peace and growth when they walked both in the fear of God and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).
We need both sides of the coin.
In these terrible dark days of war and brutal savagery, we see many in the army, on the media, in our congregations and amongst our friends, calling upon the mercy and protection of God. This is good and proper, but without true repentance and a turning back to Yahweh, the true God of Israel, and a recognition of His Son, the Messiah Yeshua, we as a nation will continue to risk the wrath of God.
That said, God has not rejected Israel, and has promised her a glorious future according to the prophets of Scripture. I do believe He will preserve Israel and defeat all her enemies as He has promised, but until that time, we will suffer much pain and loss for our sins.
I fear that there will be no true national repentance until Yeshua returns and the remnant recognizes their Messiah and mourns for their sins (Zechariah 12-14). Until that time, especially during this time of tragedy and loss, I pray that we will not just call upon the Name of the LORD, and ask for help, but also recognize and repent of our sins, both individual and national, so that the LORD can bless us with peace.
“ …if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).