In the last month our emotions and thoughts have been in turmoil as we have watched TV broadcasts of the horrific war in the Middle East. We’ve seen lives and communities torn apart on all sides of the conflict. As Christians we must want to see peace come to all who suffer, as quickly as possible (Matthew 5:9).

The Bible tells us that the people of Israel had a special role in God’s purposes in the time of the Old Testament. This was so that they would be an example of how God can love and choose and bless a radically sinful group of people. As such they were to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:5-7) – i.e., a signpost of how God intends to love and choose and bless sinful people out of all the nations of the earth, including Palestinians and even good Aussie pagans.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for sin and win full salvation, He did so for Israel, Palestine, and all the nations of the earth. At that point Israel’s special role in God’s purpose was fulfilled, since the King of Israel, Jesus, finally gave the light of God’s salvation to every nation. Since then, the blessing that belonged to Israel now belongs to all believers in Christ, whom Paul calls “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

Because of what Christ has done, the dividing hostilities between Israel and Palestine, and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia, and between all other nations, have been overcome, and reconciliation and true, loving community made a reality for all who will believe it, receive it and do it (Ephesians 2:11-22).

In the name of Christ, let us pray and work for peace.

Grace and peace, Jonathan.