War in Israel: How Serious is the Threat, Really?
In recent weeks there has been much discussion about the possibility of war with Iran, as well as the threat of regional instability spreading to Israel. Many concerned people have expressed that they are praying for us here in Israel while also stating their own reservations about visiting during this time. For this reason, we feel compelled to address these concerns and to encourage many to continue to pray for and, if possible, visit Israel.
First of all, it must be taken into consideration that Israel has been in a state of readiness for war basically since its existence. In addition to this, since 2006, Israel has been discussing Iran and regional actors on a consistent basis. Every few months, the Israeli media has a debate about the next war-when it will happen and with whom. The discussion of upcoming wars is as much a part of Israeli culture as falafel and hummus. Additionally, at times, the international media chooses to pick up the local discussion and make it more fantastic and more extreme to sell to a Western audience. This appears to be what has happened in recent weeks, stoking many Americans fears.
None of this is to say that Iran is not a threat or that a war with Iran or other groups in the region is not going to happen. Iran is clearly attempting to become a nuclear power and has great animosity towards Israel. Furthermore, the nations surrounding Israel continue to have great internal issues, which have the possibility of spilling over into Israel.
However, the current threat is no greater than it has been in recent years with record numbers of tourists continuing to visit Israel. These tourists often remark about how safe they feel in Israel, even compared to the US! For instance, the media does not often show how, throughout Israel, children walk around and take buses throughout the large cities at night, even in mixed Jewish-Arab cities such as Haifa and Jerusalem. Violent crime is so much lower than in the US that walking around cities at night is not even considered dangerous and the very rare occasions that something happens are considered national events. A visitor to New York or Miami is in much greater danger, statistically, of becoming a victim of violence than in Israel.
We do know that Scripture predicts conflicts that will affect Israel greatly. Nevertheless, the time for these conflicts does not appear to have arrived when one looks at Scriptural accounts. The great war of Gog and Magog, which appears to involve Iran, will be at a time when Israel is at peace and has no walls. In Ezekiel 38:11, the leaders of the world scheme and say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people-all of them living without walls, and without gates and bars.” Israel today is far from this, with even a great security barrier due to the conflict with the Palestinians. If anything, Israel is forever suspecting attack and spending much money on walls and security.
Interestingly, this passage comes directly after the chapter describing Israel’s restoration, which will likely bring revival and, ultimately, peace to the immediate region (Ezekiel 37). Furthermore, the outcome of Gog and Magog will be very costly to the attackers, while, to Israel, it will be a time in which weapons will be burnt to use as seven years worth of fuel (Ezekiel 39).
In addition to the Ezekiel reference, Revelation speaks of a great battle in the end of days in which the kings of the world gather at a location in Israel called “Megiddo,” or commonly referred to as Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Zechariah also describes a day in which God “will destroy all nations that attack Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:8-9).
Whether these references are referring to a single event or not, it is clear that there will be conflict over Israel and that, in the end, God will defend Israel against those who come against her. However, it is difficult to predict when such things will happen and the rest of the world will likely be experiencing unprecedented conflict during these times too.
It does not take a prophet to be able to look at the world and realize it is changing at an unprecedented rate, including the Middle East. This makes visiting Israel all the more interesting and relevant! There are no guarantees, wherever you are, and the best advice is to be exactly where God leads you and to remain in His will rather than worry about what the news says about a place. In Israel, it is always hard to predict when a war will be. Yet, even when a conflict breaks out, those who have lived through such times describe the peace of remaining focused on God and knowing you remain where He has called you to be. Those who are trying to be alarmist and cause believers to fear for Israel and to cancel plans to visit are losing focus on God Himself. We continue to appreciate prayers and we recognize the unpredictability of the situation in Israel. However, Israel plays a central role in God’s plan for all mankind and God will take care of His children in this special nation.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
- That God would continue to put Israel on peoples’ hearts so that they may pray for Israel and be a part of what God is doing in the land
- For Israel to turn to her Messiah and realize that her true security will come from Him only and not her own strength
- For believers to be a source of peace and stability in the land, drawing those who do not yet know the One True God
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