Thoughts on the Synagogue Standoff

I’m sure you heard about the hostage situation this weekend in Texas. On Saturday night, a 44-year-old British man named Malik Faisal Akram took four hostages during services at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. One hostage was released during the 11-hour standoff, and the others were freed after an elite FBI rescue team arrived on the scene.

The suspect was killed during the rescue.

Despite the relief we all felt that no hostages were injured, Jewish communities here in the United States have become increasingly nervous and vigilant. After two years of intensifying antisemitism in the U.S., they are again stepping up security measures and worrying about similar situations.

Rabbi Joshua Stanton, a senior fellow at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, said this on Monday:

“I did not become a rabbi to be an expert in security. I became a rabbi to teach, to support, to care, to be in the wider community as a source of love for the world. And now, all of a sudden, there is a great deal of fear. … And to have the Jewish community targeted like this casts a (pall) over all of us.”

You’ll remember, of course, that 11 people were killed in 2018 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Another worshiper was killed by a gunman in 2019 at a synagogue in San Diego. Even here in the United States, extremists pose a threat to the Jewish community.

I may be new to the Tipping Point Community, but my friend Jimmy Evans has written several times about the rise in antisemitism in the United States. He’s right to point this out, of course. Jews are the target of 58 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in America.

This should not be surprising to students of Bible prophecy. The nation of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish people have drawn the attention—and hatred—of the entire world for thousands of years. Why is this the reality? Why is this relatively small people group so often the subject of attacks? Why is Israel in the headlines every day? 

Eye of the Hurricane

The answer is quite simple: It’s because Israel is the eye of the hurricane of the great event of the end times. Israel occupies center stage in God’s drama of the ages, which we see playing out before our very eyes.

God predicted this long ago:

“I will bless those who bless you,

 And I will curse him who curses you;

 And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

 —Genesis 12:3

If you’ve ever wondered why the United States has become so powerful despite being such a “young” nation in the world’s history, it’s because America supported Israel. God has blessed us. Make no mistake about that.

Take a look at history, and you’ll see it turns out badly for any nation that raises its hand against Israel or the Jewish people. Nations like Assyria, Babylon, and the Roman Empire no longer exist. Spain and Germany turned against Israel leading up to and during World War II and paid a significant price. 

The Final Conflict of Humanity

But those are past battles. The Bible tells us that the final conflict of humanity will not be fought over Paris or Rome or Los Angeles or New York City. It will be Jerusalem. That’s why we should pay attention to this ancient city, the “apple of God’s eye,” and the spiritual home of the Jewish people.

Jesus said, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).

And God, speaking through the prophet Zechariah, said this:

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

Zechariah 12:2-3

Today we have individual gunmen targeting Jewish worshipers in Texas, and on the other side of the world, leaders of nations like Iran talk publicly about wiping Israel off the map. Israel takes these threats seriously, especially when it is clear that Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons.

You have likely read about the Gog-Magog War, prophesied in Ezekiel 38. It tells of a large force from the north of Israel—along with several allies—attacking her. It’s very clear that this attack will happen in the last days. When this attack happens, God will step in and save Israel. Five-sixths of this invading force will be turned back, and then the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon Israel, and a great revival will sweep the nation.

The individual attacks against Jews—like the recent hostage situation—are just a prelude to the terror of this coming war. We live with hope that God will step in to protect His people. We know that those who curse Israel will face the wrath of God. We understand that each act of antisemitism should remind us of the coming end times, in which antisemitism will become global.

But thankfully, we also know that the people of God will prevail.

In the meantime, we need to be alert.

We need to wake up to the fact that Jesus Christ is returning.

We need to live with the knowledge that time is short.

We need to pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

We need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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