Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?
- Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
With everything that is taking place in the Mid-East, it is easy to see Bible prophecy playing out right before our eyes. The Bible is clear about what will happen to Jerusalem before God intervenes, and it isn't pretty. Yet, we are continually encouraged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Are our prayers just an exercise in futility or can they actually affect the outcome in that region?
Things don’t look very good for Israel, do they? Things don’t look very good in the Middle East for the United States either!
The US embassies throughout the Middle East are being victimized by coordinated attacks. The US Ambassador to Libya was murdered. Rocks are thrown at the US Consulate in India. Mobs storm the US Embassy in Tunis. Protestors gather at the US Embassy in the Sudan. Armed men set fire to the KFC in Tripoli. The US is on alert for attacks in Libya. As I write, the US Embassy are under attack in Khartoum, Yemen, Somalia, just to mention several more.
Think about it, I haven’t even mentioned the situations in Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran—and Israel.
The reason the attacks on the US in the Middle East are important is because the only nation willing to stand by Israel militarily and politically is the United States. Can you imagine that even the US is wavering in its support? Who would have ever thought this could happen? The United States has always politically controlled what Israel can and can’t do on the world scene. Israel may soon be standing all alone.
Israel is not peaceful today. Threats arrive from numerous quarters. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has openly declared that as soon as it is practical, Iran will launch a nuclear attack against Israel. Recently, president Obama made an ambiguously irritating statement of US policy toward Israel by refusing even to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on his recent visit to Washington.
For months Israel has threatened to destroy Iran’s nuclear processing plants knowing that in many ways they are completely alone in the world. However, confusion reigns as a majority of Israelis are against military invasion.
In the midst of all of this confusion, the Bible speaks. We are encouraged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The prayer for the peace for Jerusalem, found in Psalms 122:6-9, is a sweet prayer of blessing and peace for the beloved city.
In historical context, the Psalm is written after many enslaved Jews have returned home to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Nehemiah has rebuilt the wall to bring some sort of security to their ancestral home. Ezra and others soon commenced rebuilding the Temple. All is peaceful and well in the city of Jerusalem and the people want it to stay that way. So, they are encouraged to.pray for peace to continue unabated.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels."
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, "Peace be within you."
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity (Psalm 122:6-9).
Unfortunately, the peace did not last long. Jerusalem has been a battle ground ever since the Jewish return from Babylon. The number of foreign occupations and merciless battles for control of Jerusalem is staggering: decimation by Antiochus Epiphanies (200-175 B.C.); total annihilation by the Romans (70 A.D.); multiple Moslem invasions (700-1000 A.D.); the three-fold-European Crusader waves of invasion (1000-1200 A.D.)—just to mention a few.
The current, ongoing wars between the Arab nations and Israel began in 1917 when the British took control of Palestine. In 1948 A.D. the Balfour Declaration ended British occupation and immediately the Israeli war of independence flared. Divine miracles from the hand of God alone culminated in Israel becoming a sovereign nation.
But the hostilities were far from over. The 1967 the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War and the present-day battles with Hezbollah will pale in comparison when all hell breaks loose with the unveiling of the Anti-Christ.
How tragic that what may well be the holiest place for three major religions is a battle ground and will continue to be so until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
So why pray? Because prayer can change things! Prayer often works like a safety deposit box at the bank which requires two keys to open it. The bank has a key and the bank depositor has a key. When both keys are turned simultaneously the box will open. Answered prayer often occurs when God’s key (His will for a particular situation) combines with the bank depositor’s key (his/her prayers). Our prayers plus His will blend powerfully. So we pray.
I am convinced that much of what Jesus desires to accomplish on earth never occurs because we never put "our keys in the box" by prayer. After all, James said, "You have not because you ask not."
Who knows how much more destruction and how many more battles might have been avoided if only we Christians and Jews had prayed.
Therefore, praying for the peace of Jerusalem is not futile.
So, we pray for the present peace of Jerusalem—knowing that our prayers can make a difference—even though we know that as prophecy is fulfilled Jerusalem will become the final battle ground.
Well, Gary, I hope this helps in some ways to answer your question.
Dr. Roger Barrier recently retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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