Prayer for the nations with regard to Israel
A biblical introduction from Harald Eckert
With the Scripture in Exodus 19:6 as a backdrop, 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we as the Christian church participate in the “gifts and callings” of Israel (Rom. 11:28f). We are called to partner with Israel to be a “light to the nations” (Is. 49:6; Acts 13:47). Together with Israel, we form a “royal priesthood”, proclaiming the great wonders of God! We share a priestly calling – as well as a prophetic one – to the nations!
Our access to this calling as the Christian church is Jesus himself! In Jesus, our priestly calling is based upon His calling as a priest in the “order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7,1ff). In Jesus, our prophetic calling is based upon His prophetic calling, which is connected to and even surpasses the calling of Moses and Elijah (Lk. 9:28-36; Acts 3:22, see Deut. 18:18). Jesus, our “head”, is Priest, King and Prophet. We as his “body” should participate in and reflect that fact by being a priestly, kingly and prophetic people.
In the New Testament, Paul admonishes and encourages us to pray “first of all” for our kings and those in authority (1. Tim. 2:1ff). We carry an intercessory mandate and responsibility for our national leaders. As the prophets of old (Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Esther, etc.), as Jesus himself (before Pontius Pilate) and as Paul (before King Agrippa, the Roman procurator Felix and possibly the Roman Caesar, Acts 27:24, see Acts 9:15), some of us are also called to proclaim the miracles and wisdom of God prophetically to those who are in authority– even if the message may be controversial. Others should pray for them as they do.
The priestly aspect of our intercessory mandate is based upon the love and compassion of God himself. Out of His mercy and love, Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16ff). Out of His mercy and love, Moses interceded for his people and nation after they had built the golden calf (Exodus 32). Out of His mercy and love, Jonah preached to the heathen city of Nineveh, the main capital city of its time. Out of His mercy and love, we are called to intercede for our nations – as Abraham did, as Moses did, as Jonah was called to do – along with so many others, knowing and believing that “where sin abounds, God’s grace wants to abound even more” (Rom 5:20b).
The prophetic aspect of our intercessory mandate is based upon the holiness and righteousness of God. This is true with regard to Israel. This is true with regard to the Church. And this is also true with regard to the nations. God loves the nations. But if any nation finds itself rejecting God’s love and blessings or God’s ways regarding His chosen people, the Jews, and His land Israel, then that nation is heading for disaster. In His love and mercy as well as in His holiness and righteousness, God is calling His modern-day prophets to warn the nations – and especially the leaders of the nations.
This priestly and prophetic calling of the Christian Church is increasingly relevant as the second coming of Jesus draws closer. Biblical prophecy referring to the relationship of the peoples and nations of the world towards Israel and the Jewish people is zooming into focus. This is true for the biblical narrative regarding the “valley of decision” (Joel 3), the judgment of the nations (Zach. 12 and 14) and the separation of “sheep” and “goat” nations (Mat. 25), to name but a few key Scriptures.
Looking at current developments of national and international relations with Israel, political reality seems to confirm biblical prophecy. In many societies, Anti-Semitism is on the rise. From a diplomatic standpoint, Israel is becoming more and more isolated, and is often even "demonized" in the national and international media. The modern history of Israel, starting with Theodor Herzl and the Zionist movement and including subsequent major political decisions and declarations made by the international community of nations – declarations founded and established upon international law – is either misunderstood or purposely misrepresented. The decision makers of today seem to be amazingly unaware of the most basic facts contained in those declarations – which in essence establish the land of Israel (including far more territory than is currently under Israeli sovereignty) as the officially and internationally recognized homeland of the Jewish people. Many (mostly Moslem) nations still do not accept Israel as a Jewish state. Some are openly advocating and actively pursuing the annihilation of Israel as a nation and the Jews as a people.
May the praying church worldwide hear this urgent call to stand “in such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). May we have the courage to accept and actively enter into both our priestly and our prophetic mandate to be “salt and light” (Mat 5) and a “kingdom of priests” (1 Pet. 2:9) to our respective nations – encouraging and admonishing the leaders in our churches as well as our governments to reconsider their relationships to Israel and the Jewish people.