The Kingdom of God and the Gaza War

By: Dr. Gerald McDermott

The kingdom of God is central for both Jews and Christians. The great Jewish philosopher Michael Wyschogrod taught that the number-one image for God in the Hebrew Bible is God as King. The same thing, you could say, is in the teachings of Jesus—that the kingdom of God is absolutely paramount. Jesus’ favorite teaching method was through parables, and the number-one theme of these parables was the kingdom of God.

Both Protestants and Catholics are tempted to misunderstand the kingdom. Protestants are tempted to think it is only internal and invisible, in the heart. Yet in the Gospels and Acts, the kingdom becomes quite visible. The Romans feared that the Jesus movement was an external threat. They knew that if the God of Israel was King, which the apostles preached, then Caesar was not. So the Romans persecuted the Jesus movement in visible ways.

The Catholic temptation is to think that the kingdom of God has already arrived in the church, and nothing more is to be expected. It’s all done. But if that is so, why did Jesus tell His disciples to keep repeating in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come!” as if it had not yet fully come?

The biblical message is that the kingdom is now because Jesus, as emissary of the kingdom, has come once. But He will come again to establish the kingdom more fully. So the kingdom is now and not yet. It’s both!

Now what about Israel? Jesus talks about the restoration of Israel in Acts 1:6 and elsewhere. More and more scholars are realizing that it’s not possible to understand Jesus’ view of the kingdom of God without understanding His expectation of Israel’s restoration.

In Luke 21 Jesus predicts that one day, Jerusalem will no longer be trampled upon by the gentiles, and this will begin the end of the Times of the Gentiles. “Trample upon” is a technical term for political and military control. That occurred when Israeli paratroopers seized East Jerusalem in 1967.

We must first understand that both the Hebrew Bible and Jesus teach that God deals with nations as nations, not just individuals. Second, God judges the nations by how they treat the Jewish people and Israel. And third, toward the end of days, the nations will turn against Israel and her people. Scripture also suggests that Israel’s restoration is part of the firstfruits of the healing of the nations, specifically mentioned at the end of the book of Revelation as part of the future.

So, what about Israel’s war with Hamas? We should not be shocked by the savagery and evil of Hamas. What we saw on October 7 was a full-color video of Satan’s hatred for God’s chosen people, the Jews.

Would Jesus support the Gaza war? Many Christians from the pacifist tradition, the Anabaptist tradition, would say no, that He was against all bloodshed and killing. I disagree. I respect them, but I would say that Jesus tells us to love our enemies and hate the evil they represent.

Jesus was a Jew, and the Hebrew Bible, whose every letter Jesus inspired, teaches that the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil. Paul quotes that in Romans 12:9. Jesus Himself hated evil. In Revelation 2:6, Jesus praises the church of Ephesus for hating the works of the Nicolaitans, “which I also hate.”

Jesus is not a pacifist. He believed, as all Jews believe, that there is a time for war, as Ecclesiastes 3 teaches.
Jesus shows His hatred for evil in the parable of the wicked tenants. He tells us the vineyard owner punished the wicked tenants who killed his servants and son by, as the text puts it, “putting those wretches to a miserable death.” Those are inspired words describing a bloody punishment of wicked men.

In Revelation 19 Jesus’ robe drips with blood, and out of His mouth comes a sword for killing the wicked. This is the same Jesus, whom many Christians think is only mild and meek. But the true Jesus is also holy and punishes wickedness.

The point? While Jesus calls us to love our enemies, His love is holy. That’s very different from the world’s love, which is typically unholy. His call for us to love our enemies does not contradict the tragic need for nations—particularly the nation of God’s chosen people, the Jews—to defend themselves against those who seek their elimination.

We Christians must recognize that Iran and Hamas say quite openly that they are coming after Christians next. Israel today is fighting for civilization and righteousness. We must do what we can to support them—spiritually, politically, and militarily.

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Jesus the King

The 2023 War with Hamas: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The Double Standards of the Gaza War