This is a question that many wonder upon hearing of someone’s frequent travel to Israel, although it is rarely asked so directly. Sometimes we make quick judgments of others’ stance upon simply hearing them mention “Israel” or “Arabs.” In the Bible when Joshua entered the land, he asked the same thing.
Joshua and the Israelite army were camped in the Jericho plains preparing to take Jericho, according God’s instructions, when Joshua encountered a man with a drawn sword. “Who’s side are you on?” He asked. It’s a fair question given what they were about to do, but the response wasn’t what he expected. “No. But as commander of Lord’s army, I am on the scene.” Joshua’s quick response showed, in this setting, he was a servant and not a general.
Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” Joshua 5:13-14
With the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and biased western media reports, there are multitudes of opinions about right and wrong. In some circles it is almost expected that if you are “pro-Israel,” you are “anti-Arab,” or if you sympathize with the “Palestinian suffering,” the enemy becomes the “Israeli oppressors.” For many Christians, this gets confusing as scriptures are used to back both positions, leading some churches and pastors to avoid it altogether. This is a major mistake. According to the Bible, in the coming days, God will continue to move Israel to the center stage of the world’s attention. To ignore Israel and what the prophets say about Israel’s return to the land will be to become more irrelevant to the world’s attention and God’s plan in the earth. So as Christians, whose side are we supposed to be on? Like the response that Joshua heard, it’s not the answer we are looking for. I believe the answer is “No.”
Ephesians gives us the answer. Chapter 1:20-21 tells us that God “seated Him (Jesus) at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…” then later in Chapter 2:6, we read that we as believers are “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” As a believer in Jesus, we are seated with Him above all the conflicts and the powers behind them, and it’s not for the great view! God’s plan for us is not to choose sides in a conflict even if, like Joshua, we are acting on God’s instructions. He wants us to see from His perspective — above the current conflicts — and ask Him for His direction to walk it out. Or perhaps like Esther, we use our position beside the King to plead for justice for “such a time as this.”
Do you have a heart for Israel? Then walk it out knowing that God passionately loves the Arabs that hate Israel and are enslaved in Islam; He wants them to come to His house for all nations. Do you have a heart for Palestinians? Then walk it out while honoring the checkpoint difficulties and imperfect Israeli sovereignty; God’s everlasting covenant with Israel has not changed. Like with Joshua, the Lord is not look to back our position — He is looking for us to seek Him for His plan and respond to His leadership.