Thursday, April 25, 2024

Inbox: Israel and Gaza

Lynette writes:

“If you have time, are you able to post a response to one of [Matt Littlefield’s] latest articles?”

We live to serve, Lynette. The article is entitled “Why Can’t Many Christians See Obvious Evil?”, in which Matt takes to task believers who he says can’t see the “obvious evil” in Israel’s attempt to purge the Gaza Strip of its ability to wage war on Israel.

The article smacks of Replacement Theology … not so much by commission as by omission.

Littlefield is obviously not preoccupied with the subject of his title, which is very general, but with the specific case of the Gaza war. So the title’s a bait-and-switch, really. What he wants to say is that Israel’s war on Hamas is evil. And of course, war IS evil.

Two Problems

What bothers me about his approach is two things:

Firstly, his circumlocutious advice to Christians that they are regarding Israel too highly. That might be right in cases where Christians are treating Israel as equivalent to the church and making no distinction between the secular and often-malevolent, Pharisaic powers currently influential in Israel, on the one hand, and the pure people of God on the other. However, it is wrong if we take it to imply that God has no longer has particular plans for, or interest in, national Israel.

Secondly, the complete absence of mention of the actions of Hamas and their Gaza supporters in having plotted and executed the vicious massacre that set the wheels of war in motion. Why is it that the sudden and cruel murder and butchery of around 1,100 Israeli civilians — men, women, the elderly, children and their ongoing kidnappings — don’t even get faint mention in Littlefield’s account of the reasons for the war?

The Iranian and Western roles in stocking Gaza with the weapons of civilian murder. The terror tunnels. The rapes. The grenades thrown into civilian shelters. The parading of the wounded. The child stuffed into an oven. The twisted corpse of a young woman, thrown carelessly into the back of a pickup truck and treated like a seat by Hamas enthusiasts. The teeming hordes who literally danced in the street for joy at the news of these things. Why does none of that even make a brief appearance in Littlefield’s account? What about the fact that Israel gave Gaza its independence, and Gaza used it for such butchery? How about the reality that because of Hamas, Israel has really no option but war? Backed by the massive resources of much of the Islamic world, Hamas remains totally committed to the death of all Jews.

Why is that not relevant?

What about the remnant? What about the necessity of God’s demonstration of his ability to call a people out of Egypt and bring them into the land as he has promised? Littlefield is so preoccupied with the evil Israel does that he seems to have no concern at all over the evil that forced Israel’s hand in the first place. Why is he so slow to see that “obvious evil”?

The Need for Balance

I’m not saying we make an apologetic for war. But I am saying that a realistic appraisal of Israel’s predicament requires a more balanced kind of reportage. Littlefield seems completely unsympathetic to Israel’s plight, and if this is because he’s preoccupied with condemning Christians who are too supportive of Israel, then it seems to me he still falls badly afoul of the Reformed-style mistake of thinking Israel is out of the plans of God, and is irrelevant to his future glory. It’s really like Littlefield has never read Romans 11 at all.

So what is the right Christian position? Not the blind enthusiasm of those who are too eager to imagine unregenerate Israel as morally right in this situation, for sure. But also not the myopic preoccupation with the effects of the Gaza war minus any historical, circumstantial or scriptural context. It seems to me that is Littlefield’s error. In his rush to call out evil in response to the effects of war on Gazans (many of whom, unfortunately, are Hamas sympathizers), he skips entirely over the evil that is Hamas, that was October 7, and that is expressed in the burning desire of both Gazans and so many in the West — Satanic in its ultimate source — to eradicate the remnant of Israel before Messiah returns.

That’s where his imbalance and his Replacement Theology is most evident, I think.

More on Israel, Gaza and Matt Littlefield here and here.

1 comment :

  1. Very well said! It is a struggle sometimes to balance my love for Israel via Scripture with some of the mistakes of the Israeli government. But there is an old saying about this conflict that sums up my view "I will always side with civilization over barbarism"