The situation in Israel is horrifying. We pray for peace in Israel, for the soldiers defending the peace of their homeland, for the families sitting in terror, for the women bloodied from sexual assault, for the captives who don’t know if they’ll survive, for the loved ones of the captives who have been slaughtered.
How much longer will the horrors continue? What is God’s plan for Israel?
“For I Know the Plans I Have for You”
This Sunday as my church congregation was praying for Israel, one of the elementary-aged kids said Jeremiah 29:11 was coming to mind. Her father, one of the elders, was encouraged and proud, saying he’d never before heard that verse prophesied in context.
It’s a verse many of us have heard before and may have used to encourage each other. The original context is God’s enduring love for Israel even as she’s being overcome by an enemy. When the people of Israel were being carried off to Babylon, God promised that He wasn’t done with them, and He still had good things in store for them.
10 For thus says Adonai: “After 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will visit you, and fulfill My good word toward you—to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope.
12 “Then you will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me, when you will search for Me with all your heart. 14 Then I will be found by you,” says Adonai, “and I will return you from exile, and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” says Adonai, “and I will bring you back to the place from which I removed you as captives into exile.” (Emphasis added on verse 11.)
I know that one day God will bring an end to wickedness, judge the world and make all things right. I know that one day God will establish Jerusalem and make her the praise of the earth (Isaiah 62:7).
6 On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set watchmen.
All day and all night, they will never hold their peace.
“You who remind Adonai,
take no rest for yourselves,
7 And give Him no rest until He establishes
and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Praying for the Fulfilment of God’s Promises
That chapter of Isaiah starts with these words of commitment to pray for Israel:
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her righteousness shines out brightly,
and her salvation as a blazing torch.
Psalm 122 says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem—
“May those who love you be at peace!
7 May there be shalom within your walls—
quietness within your palaces.”
What kind of peace are we praying for? The end of the current calamity. I’m also praying for eternal, global peace with Jerusalem at its center. God promises in Isaiah 11 concerning Jesus the Messiah and concerning Jerusalem, His “holy mountain”:
4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
and decide with fairness for the poor of the land.
He will strike the land with the rod of His mouth,
and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
5 Also righteousness will be the belt around His loins,
and faithfulness the belt around His waist.
6 The wolf will dwell with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the kid,
the calf and the young lion and the yearling together,
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow and the bear will graze,
their young ones lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like an ox.
8 A nursing child will play by a cobra’s hole,
and a weaned child will put his hand into a viper’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of Adonai,
as the waters cover the sea. (Emphasis added.)
“They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,” Isaiah prophesied, “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of Adonai, as the waters cover the sea.”
There’s coming an age of peace for Jerusalem and for the whole earth. This is God’s plan. The violence we see today in Israel encourages me to pray for the peace of Israel and pray that God will complete all He has promised to do.