We’ve been dealing with a weighty subject in our last few posts — God and the problem of evil. I have just returned from a week in Palestine, sponsored by an organization that seeks to educate Westerners on some of the plight of that group of people.
The week was difficult. We saw suffering and poverty everywhere. We Christians often celebrate 1948 as Israel returning to its land as a fulfillment of God’s promises to His covenant people. I believe that followers of Jesus should be pro-Israel. But that is not to say that we should be anti-Arab.
Israel committed (and still commits) many atrocities in its goal of colonizing all of the land. We saw refugee camps of Palestinians who were driven out of their homes by Zionist settlers, slums that rivaled the worst in American society. We heard stories of illegal restrictions put on Palestinians by Israel (Palestinians can’t dig their own wells, have to buy electricity and water from Israel, must go through humiliating border checks, etc.). I believe I am going through a bit of PTSD from seeing all the sadness, hopelessness, and oppression of the Palestinian people.
God puts a premium on caring for the persecuted, the poor, the marginalized. Here are a few verses about God’s care for the oppressed:
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free . . .
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
In you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have oppressed the foreigner and mistreated the fatherless and the widow.
They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free . . .
We read of the Lord in Jeremiah 22:
16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the Lord.
God is on the side of the oppressed, the persecuted, the humiliated. I certainly don’t know the answer to “the Palestinian problem,” but I can’t believe that the Lord of creation is pleased with the conduct of Israel if half the stories we heard were true. Let’s pray for Israel — and for the Palestinian people!