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3:17 | SKMB


A life-transforming encounter with the Spirit.

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
Acts 2:17 NIV

October 7th was the Jewish sabbath, it was also a terrible day of rampage in the Promised Land as embittered Hamas terrorists committed unspeakable acts of evil upon citizens of Israel. [i]  Well over 1000 were killed. Some of their victims were young adults attending the Supernova Sukkot music festival, in part, celebrating peace.  Because this attack occurred in Israel, the Christian community around the world was immediately keen to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6 NIV), and rightly so.  In the words of U.S. President Joe Biden, Hamas was an “unadulterated evil,” and rightly so. Regarding the people of Palestine, the Christian community seemed to feel cautiously sorry for their plight, while some felt they deserved the fallout from their politically elected legislative authority – Hamas.[ii]  Weeks later, media and social pundits from within and outside of the Christian community have polarized people’s postures.  The embers of Antisemitism and Islamophobia were stoked and are now burning hot.  It seems that the church could once again be polarized as it was during COVID.

The war in the Promised Land poses a relevant question for the Canadian M.B. Church – What posture are we to possess toward Israel and Palestine in light of what is unfolding in the Promised Land? Since the October 7th attack on Israel, and further unfolding narratives of destruction and death, I have found that too many of the voices within the church, speaking for or against either nation state, to be less than reflective of what I believe Jesus would expect from his followers. The Scriptures instruct us that Israel has a special place in the redemptive purposes of God outlined from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible also teaches us that the whole world is loved by God, specifically the Gentiles: “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people” (Romans 9:25 NIV). The cross is for all people. Salvation is offered for everyone (John 3:16).
The dream took place in the early morning of October 16th following days of disquiet in my spirit. It was a deeply upsetting dream (more like a nightmare, really).  Without giving details, which I feel would be too disturbing to include here, my dream was a revelation of horror, fear and then profound sadness.  I woke from this dream startled. I picked up my smartphone – 3:17 am. I climbed out of bed, prostrated on the floor and began praying, asking the Lord about the meaning of this dream. The sentiments below were birthed from what I can only describe as a supernatural encounter – a dream given to me from the Spirit.  I shared my experience with the pastors of my province and, without dissent, affirmed it to be a word for such a time as this.  And so, I am sharing it with you.
Profound sadness was the starting point for my teaching by the Holy Spirit. Both Israel and Palestine are desperately seeking justice, freedom, and peace. However, they are choosing earthly, self-serving paths in their pursuit of it. Sometimes these ways are truly evil and morally repugnant. As a result, profound sadness is the result as people, property and peacetime are destroyed. I came to understand that this was the deep sadness I was feeling in my dream. Added to that, I came to understand that this sadness I was feeling was a gift. It brought me to a space of beginning to know God’s heart for the lost people of the Promised Land. I asked the Spirit what I was to do with this dream and revelation. He asked me to wrestle with two questions: What will be your posture as my beloved toward Israel and Palestine? Am I calling you to choose a side in this conflict or something else?
As I pondered these questions, I was surprised by the breadth of my current passionate feelings. In a measured, gentle manner the Holy Spirit brought me to the following texts: 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus, John 14:7 NIV
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
The Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:1 NIV
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love,
in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”
The words of the Prophet Isaiah speaking about the coming Messiah;
 read and fulfilled by Jesus.
Matthew 12:18 NIV

Heart issue? True and lasting peace, freedom and justice are rooted in Jesus. The hope for these foes in the Promised Land war is a heart transformation which cannot be accomplished through military action, terrorism or even political will. I understood then in a fresh way that both Israel’s and Palestine’s efforts to gain justice, freedom and peace, whether through military might, political prowess or some other earthly device, would always fall short.  And, once again the hostilities would return.  Why?  Because the people of both nations, like all of humankind, suffer from a cancer of the heart, a spiritual ailment that spills out from our corrupted hearts into our relationships causing division, destruction. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn framed it well: “The line between good and evil runs not through states, nor between classes, nor between parties either – but right through every human heart.”  The only perfect remedy is a reborn, transformed heart; a reality which the Prince of Peace alone offers.
Scripture teaches that it is the role of earthly governments is to bear the sword for the purpose of punishing those who practice evil, this is the will of God, and for these morally guided governments we are called to pray. What then is the work of Kingdom citizens? What about our work as ambassadors for our King Jesus?[iii]  What about our posture as Jesus’ godly representatives, as agents of the Prince of Peace – peacemakers?  What then does being Christ’s ambassador – a peacemaker – look like as we speak about the nation states of Israel and Palestine?
Before I could fall asleep again, the Spirit pressed upon me to ponder the literal time of my dream – 3:17.  I did, and then a revelation came to me:  John 3:17 – “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to SAVE the world through him.” Who is the true saviour of all people in the Promised Land. How then should we live?  The Spirit asks,  What will be your posture as my beloved toward Israel and Palestine?  Am I calling you to choose a side in this conflict or something else?
As you discern your own posture, might I suggest that we together…

  • Live out the counsel of the Apostle Paul: “…make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 2:1-5 NI
  • Pray that the gospel witness of the church in the Promised Land would ring out.
  • Pray for the intervention of the Spirit of God in ways that redeem and restore.
  • Support churches and para-church organizations that proclaim the gospel to all people in the Promised Land.
  • Make safe spaces in your faith community to engage in deeper conversations.

“For God speaks again and again,
    though people do not recognize it.
“He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they lie in their beds.”
Job 33:14-15 NLT


[i] I want to make it perfectly clear that the focus of this article is my conviction about how Mennonite Brethren as disciples of Jesus – a kingdom people – could posture themselves toward the nation states of Israel and Palestine. Hamas is an elected political authority that has a history of terrorism toward Palestinians and Israel. Their declared mission is the destruction of the state of Israel and the death of all Jews. In the strongest terms, I unreservedly condemn Hamas’ evil actions toward Israelis on October 7th.  They alone are solely responsible for their acts of terror.

[ii] As a Christian community called to love our neighbours (and enemies), we cannot close our eyes to the suffering of Palestinians.  We cannot turn a deaf ear to the pain of Palestinians (see Proverbs 21:13).  God loves all people and Christ died for all people.  The gospel is for all people (John 3:16).
[iii] Romans 13:4; 2 Corinthians 5:20



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