Why are we talking about this?
This is a moral atrocity that gives us a chance to reflect on life’s big questions. We want to take the opportunity as a church to pray. Israel is mentioned a lot in the Bible and we should be informed about how it relates to the Christian faith. We want to be united as a church around the Gospel even though we may have some different takes on Israel’s role in what we call eschatology—the study of last things.
What’s Happening in Israel?
On October 7th, Hamas launched a massive surprise attack on southern Israel, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers while also taking many dozens as hostages. In response, Israel has declared war on the group and is planning for a long campaign to defeat it.
What is Hamas?
Hamas emerged in the 1980s as an Islamic resistance movement operating primarily in the Gaza Strip (pictured above). It is a terrorist organization dedicated to the non-existence of Israel. In its , it expressed is mission to be the obliteration of Israel.
It is a form of a politicized Islamicism that is interested in establishing a ruling political power by any means necessary.
Hamas is politically in control of Gaza. But it’s important to note that not all those in Gaza support Hamas. There are many who do not support this act of terrorist aggression and do not want to see this war come.
When we pray for peace in the Middle East, we have to recognize that Hamas is an obstacle to that peace.
On a political level, a just outcome would be the eradication of Hamas and the establishment of a peace-seeking state of Palestine. On a spiritual level, we desire to see conversion, repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ on all sides.
Does eschatology effect our interpretation of current events in Israel?
Yes, eschatology absolutely can impact how we view current events in Israel.
We each have interpretive grids that help us understand how to put Scripture together as a cohesive whole. There are two major frameworks for trying to understand how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament: dispensationalism and covenant theology. There’s also a mediating position called progressive covenantalism, which would most accurately represent the perspective of the teaching at Trinity Bible Church.
This is a complicated subject. At the risk of over-simplifying, here’s how we might explain it.
Dispensational theologians argue that throughout history, God has had two peoples: there is Israel and there is the church. And there are distinct destinies for those two peoples: Israel has an earthly destiny relating to the Promised Land and to the temple; the church has a spiritual destiny, relating ultimately to heaven.
Covenant theologians argue that God has one people throughout redemptive history. It was “Israel” under the First Covenant in the Old Testament, and it’s called “the church” under the New Covenant in the New Testament. God has a single saving purpose for his one people—to redeem sinners from every tribe, tongue, nation, and race through the blood of Jesus Christ.
A dispensationalist framework summarizes the interpretation of promises made to Israel this way: “’Israel’ refers to a physical, national people and it is not the case that the church is the New Testament replacement of historic Israel in God’s plan of salvation.” Therefore, because the Church does not fulfill all of the promises made to ethic Israel there still awaits a future literal fulfillment of the land promise to ethnic Israel.
Covenant theologians see the promises of Israel now being applicable in a spiritual sense to the church. Sometimes this is negatively regarded as “replacement theology,” as if the church replaced Israel and now God has no concern for them any longer.
Progressive Covenantalism holds a mediating position somewhere between those two. Progressive covenantalism would understand Scripture to teach that (1) Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel and all its promises. (2) Because Jesus fulfills Israel, its promises, all that it signified, the church (Jew and Gentile) now receives those blessings by virtue of faith union in Jesus, the true Israel.
One writer says it well, “The church does not replace Israel, but it does fulfill the promises made to Israel [by union with Christ]; and all those—Jews and Gentiles—who belong to Christ are now part of the new people of God.”
So to take the land promise as an example, progressive covenantalism would understand the land promise made to Israel to anticipate an international community of faith who would inherit the whole earth, which has already been inaugurated by Jesus and will be consummated when he returns. In other words, “the land” ultimately isn’t Canaan, it’s the New Creation.
Romans 11:26 might also impact this discussion when it says “all Israel will be saved.”
There are a few ways to understand that verse.
Dispensational: Once the full number of Gentiles are saved, God will turn his attention back to Israel and all of the geopolitical physical nation of Israel will be saved.
Covenantal: “Israel” here actually means “church,” which is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.
Progressive Covenantal: “Israel” here either refers to all of the faithful remnant of Israel throughout time, or it indicates that there will be a mass conversion of ethnic Israelites at or near Christ’s second coming.
To think about this some more,
Areas of Agreement
How we put the pieces of the Bible together—including how we view end times—influences how we interpret what is going on in Israel. Regardless of some of these differences, there is much that we all agree on.
Trinity’s Statement of Faith on The Future: “We believe Jesus will soon return bodily to conquer his enemies. God will create new heavens and a new earth where all of his children will dwell with him forever in glory.” Jesus is the only way of salvation for both Jew and Gentle and God plans to save both types of people until the end of history. There is no place for hatred for the Jewish people. God plans to save many of them through faith in Jesus. We want to avoid “newspaper eisegesis.” We should not start with contemporary news and then read that into Scripture. The proper way to interpret the Bible is to understand what the text meant to the original audience, how it’s to be understood in light of the gospel, and only then do we consider contemporary application.
Are We In the End Times?
In one sense, yes.
“Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” — 1 John 2:18
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” — Hebrews 1:1-2
However, we cannot be sure if its the end of the end. No one can be sure and we should all live in light of the fact that Jesus can come back at any moment.
How Should We Feel?
The Bible says we should grieve with those who grieve (Rom. 12:15) There is a place for holy outrage at injustice (Rev. 6:10)
Hope and long for Jesus to be lifted up and embraced by all people for God’s glory (Jn. 12:32) Check your heart that it might not be filled with the same kind of hatred as Hamas (Titus 2:7-8)
What Can We Do?
For peace, justice, and mercy For the swift defeat of Hamas That Israel would be safe and secure. We pray for them on two levels: as those who have been grafted into the promises that God made to Israel’s patriarchs (Rom 11:11-24) and as we would another nation terrifyingly attacked by those who seek evil Our prayers extend to the Palestinian people as well on a political level, we should pray that they would gain leaders brave enough to condemn the violence, stand against Hamas, successfully restore the rule of law, and work for peace with Israel. on a spiritual level, we should pray for conversion in the entire region... That God’s Gospel, fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ, would expand in that region and bring eternal life and peace that begins in this life and extends into the next.
Be Grounded in the Word
Train your mind in the Scriptures and gain solid convictions about what it teaches. Study the Scriptures in faithful community and be willing to go where Scripture takes you. Watch how you speak and interact with others as a witness to Christ. There is room for disagreement on minor issues of eschatology, but be gracious and humble in your discussions.
Be Careful With Your Media Consumption
Be careful what you listen to and how much you listen to it. Throughout human history, during times of social upheaval, many voices rise up to try to interpret current events and predict future events. Some even try to predict the end of the world. Many cults started this way. Please exercise discernment in the sources of information you take in—especially on the internet (Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, etc.). If you’re wondering about a particular source of information or theological interpretation, please reach out and ask! You can send an email to . We will all receive it and would be happy to provide guidance.
“Persons are curious to know [about the end times]. Will the temple, they ask, be erected in Jerusalem? Will the Jews be positively restored to their own land? Will the different nations all speak one language? Will they all resort to one temple? and ten thousand other questions. Beloved, we cannot answer you. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." We do not profess to understand the minutiae of these things. It is enough for us to believe that a latter-day glory is approaching. Our eyes glisten with joy, in the full belief that it is coming; and our hearts swell big at the thought that our Master is to reign over the wide, wide world, and to win it for himself.” - Spurgeon