On October 7th, 2023, Hamas attacked Israel. Hamas, an Islamic resistance group founded in 1987, surprised Israel by land, sea, and air. More than 1,400 Jews were killed in the initial assault. Of course, Israel has responded with overwhelming measures. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has surrounded the Gaza Strip, a tract of land approximately twice the size of Washington DC with a population of two million.
War has been declared. Blood has been, and will be, shed.
But what if both Hamas and Israel are pawns?
What if both are being manipulated by the same enemy who delights in their mutual destruction?
You must see the implications of Jesus’s true war on the reality of the existing conflict. Neither Hamas nor Israel declares themselves to be followers of Jesus. Neither group seeks to deny themselves daily, pick up their crosses, and follow the Messiah (Luke 9:23). According to Jesus, the real and true war is the one that rages between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
In John 8, Jesus is confronted by a group of Jews. The conversation turns to Abraham, the one through whom God birthed the nation of Israel. The Jews declare that because Abraham is their father that, therefore, God is their ultimate Father. Jesus objects. He argues that if Abraham were their true father, then they would embrace Him. But the Jews reject Jesus. Therefore, according to Jesus, Abraham cannot be their father, and neither can God. There is only one other option. Jesus declares, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (John 8:44). Jesus called the Judaism of these first century Israelite’s demonic.
These Jews were pawns in a war they misunderstood. Satan was effectively distracting them. Distracting them from what? From seeing the truth of Jesus. Receiving forgiveness. Being adopted into the true family of God. Being delivered from darkness. Being filled with the Holy Spirit. And Satan used their religion to distract them!
So, Israel and Hamas war over land and livelihood. Judaism verse Islam in a religious battle. Neither faith declares Jesus to be Messiah. Neither cares. All the while lives are being lost and a massive amount of destruction is wrought.
Satan playing both sides against each other to keep them from Jesus.
Pawns in a war they misunderstand.
Make sure you grasp the significance of the way in which the Apostle Paul describes the salvation of a group of people in a city called Colossae. In Colossians 1:13, Paul writes, “For He (God our Father) rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”
The real and true war is the one that rages between the kingdom of Jesus and the domain of darkness. Everything else is used by Satan as a distraction, blinding the lives of unbelievers to the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And, similarly effectively, distracting believers. Paul warns believers in Corinth, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Notice the clarity on the battle lines. What’s the issue? Devotion to Christ. That is the dividing line. The aim of Satan is to distract, dissuade, destroy, and whatever other “d” word you want to use to keep all people away from the love and faithfulness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Among nations Satan uses war. The true war is not the United States v. China; Russia v. Ukraine; or Israel v. Hamas. The true war is the kingdom of God v. the kingdom of Satan. And the only way to win is by surrendering one’s life to Jesus, the King of kings.
Among people Satan uses our past, present, and future. He will remind you of all the terrible things done to you or that you have done. He will busy you with what you should be or could be doing today. He is happy to spin you up fighting in the widget war. And he will terrorize you with any potential future necessary to keep you from considering Jesus. Everything in your life is usable.
And he does with precise expertise.
In creation, God our Father placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to enjoy fellowship with Him and to reign on earth. In Genesis 3, Satan swindles man out of his leadership role, effectively stealing man’s kingdom reign. In that moment Satan became “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30).
The battle lines were drawn.
The battles lines have not changed.
The battle still rages today.
Either we are engaged in the war to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and advance our Father’s kingdom in Jesus’s name or we are being expertly distracted by demonic forces to waste our years on worthless pursuits.
And we, like Israel and Hamas, are pawns.