Why Care about the Nation of Israel? Why Bother to Pray for Israel?
To the majority of the world Israel is a ‘thorn in the flesh’. She is a focal point of Middle East tension and aggression and an insoluble political problem for world leaders. Even the institutionalised church says Israel is of no significance today, link. So why should followers of Christ pray for Israel? The answer is simple – it’s a Biblical command:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.
Jerusalem means “City of Peace” and so we should pray that the city will live up to its name. The phrase “peace be upon Israel” is found also at the end of Psalm 125 and 128, indicating that it was a common farewell blessing. The Psalms were probably written before 300 BC and since then Jerusalem has been far from peaceful. A spiritual battle rages over Jerusalem and prophecy says that this battle will intensify at the end of the age. Israel’s neighbours will threaten the very survival of Israel at the end of the age.
Israel’s Watchmen should Pray for Israel
What is the role of a ‘watchman’ in the Bible? God made the prophet Ezekiel a watchman for the House of Israel. Ezekiel’s role was to first hear the word of God and then to pass on what he heard to Israel. In Ezekiel’s case, he passed on warnings, even if they didn’t want to hear them (Ezek 33.7). In Old Testament times the watchman blew the shofar to warn Israel of impending danger (Amos 3.6). That is still true, and today’s watchmen should be alert to future problems for Israel and sound the alarm (this time by the media).
But a watchmen can also be an informer and an encourager, one who ‘builds-up’, as in Isa 62. Here the watchmen are focussed in multiple directions: on the coming glory and righteousness of Jerusalem (Zion), on the return of God’s people to their own land, on the coming blessings of the land itself, and on the witness of Israel to the Gentile nations:
Enjoy this awesome song echoing Isaiah 62
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day and night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isa 62.6,7)
The Power of Prayer
Prayer in History: God cares for His people Israel, and He answered the prayers of Israel’s leaders in the past. Recall how God heard Israel’s cries in Egypt and delivered His people (Acts 7.34), how He parted the sea for them (Exod 14.16), how He provided water out of the rock when they were thirsty (Exod 17.6, Num 20.11) and gave Israel meat in the desert when they were hungry (Exod 16.12). Recall how God defeated the Philistine who defied the armies of Israel (1 Sam 18.50), how He answered Elijah by fire (1 Kings 18.38), reversed the shadow on the sun dial, as requested (Isa 38.8), and heard Elijah’s prayer for rain (Ja 5.17,18).
Prayer Today: The cross of Christ speaks of His sacrificial death for mankind. And an empty cross speaks of His resurrection – Jesus lives today to make intercession to God for all who trust in Him (Heb 7.25). This means that followers of Jesus can now come ‘boldly’ to God and God will hear their prayer. Jesus said:
Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you