It was announced early this morning that the United States and its partners had reached a historic deal with Iran which the Obama administration is claiming will undoubtedly prevent the radical Islamic nation that has vowed repeatedly to wipe Israel off the map from ever obtaining nuclear weapons.
The response from all parties involved was exactly as should be expected. The official position of the United States is that this is a historic success. The Iranians took to celebrating in the streets and shouting “Death to America.” The GOP said that the deal is a mistake. Social Media exploded with crazy overreactions.
And the Israeli government took to the microphone to condemn the agreement:
“Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons…Many of the restrictions that were supposed to prevent it from getting there will be lifted. Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world. This is a bad mistake of historic proportions.” – Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
It’s really easy to lose perspective on this. Here are 5 things we need to do in light of this terrible agreement. (And it is a terrible agreement.)
1. Take a Breath
This isn’t a surprise. We didn’t wake up this morning expecting a deal that truly would have prevented Iran from building its nuclear program and rebuilding its infrastructure that had been so devastated by years of sanctions. In reality, we knew this was coming.
And it didn’t surprise the Father, either. He knew this was coming. And He knows where things are going. I’ve thought a lot about the sovereignty of God over the past several years. Almost every time I think of this theological concept, I’m reminded of the story of Joseph in Genesis. A few years ago I taught through this story in a church. And the primary lesson from this story is that God doesn’t just work through circumstances, He works above them. His plan exists outside of the ups and downs of our lives and our world. His plan was the same yesterday as it is today, and His will is going to be accomplished.
I was reading through Romans 8 this morning, and was really encouraged by one of the most quoted verses in the Bible:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31
God was for Israel yesterday, and He is for Israel today. He was for the Jewish people yesterday, and He is for them today. He was for His Church yesterday, and He is for us today. This should give us a calm in the midst of this storm.
2. Remember Who Our Enemy Is
It’s easy to hear the chants of “Death to America” from the Iranian propaganda machine and became enraged. It’s natural to feel powerful emotions when we hear Iran’s leaders declare that their goal is to wipe Israel off of the map of the Middle East. And I, too, feel betrayed by President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the rest of our government officials who have sold Israel out.
But they aren’t our enemies. It’s hard to come to grips with this, but it’s true. The battle being waged here isn’t a battle between nations; it’s a battle in the spirit realm:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12
And the encouragement we should take from this is that we have a God who is more powerful than all that we are truly waging warfare against. And that leads us to our third response.
3. Pray…A Lot
Pray for Iran – As I’ve already said, it’s easy to think of the Iranians as our enemies. So, if you’re struggling with this, let me remind you of Jesus’ words about how we are to treat those opposed to us:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? – Matthew 5:44-46a
Another hard commandment from Scripture is the commandment to pray for our leaders, even when we disagree with them (as we do in this case). Here’s what the Apostle Paul reminded his disciple, Timothy:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2
And even more diligently than praying for our enemies and leaders, we must pray for Israel. This is a command, but one that brings with it a tremendous blessing:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good. – Psalm 122:6-9
And finally, may we pray for a spirit of repentance and revival to come upon those who claim to be followers of the Messiah of Israel, Jesus:
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
4. Support Christian & Messianic Organizations in Israel
Things are likely to get pretty difficult in Israel over the next several years. As Christians, we are not just encouraged to share financially with our believing Jewish brothers and sisters, we’re expected to do so:
For if the Gentiles have come to share in their (the Jewish people) spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. – Romans 15:27b
May I take a moment to encourage a spirit of discernment as you give to these organizations?
There are some who claim to be committed to a spirit of unity between Jew and Christian, that raise hundreds of millions of dollars from Christians, while at the same time funding Jewish counter missionary organizations that are a big part of the problem of the persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel.
Others make the same claim from the Christian side, while refusing to share funds with Messianic Jews in Israel and in some extreme cases believe that the Jewish people have no need to put their faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah.
If you’re looking for a respectable organization that functions from a spirit of love to all the people in Israel, but focuses first on the needs of the Messianic community there, I encourage you to contribute to MaozIsrael.org. (Please note: While Maoz Israel is the organization that I personally support, I have no direct affiliation with them and have not been asked to promote them.)
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:10
5. Wait for the next deadline…
My friend Christopher Mantei, Founding Director of Wings of the Eagle Ministry, made a really interesting observation this morning that I’ll share with you here.
The United States Congress is required to review and approve the Iran Nuclear Deal before it is fully enacted. According to law, they have sixty days to do so. That puts this deadline at September 12, 2015.
If you’ve been following the conversation regarding the Shemitah, you already know that Elul 29 – the day when the Shemitah year concludes – is September 13, 2015.
So, we wait and see.