The events of the last ten days in Israel are of concern to everyone. Sometimes there is a tendency to think that events in another part of the world have nothing to do with us. Yet, the events in the Middle East threaten to throw our world into more chaos. There are so many tension points around the globe that a spark in any location can have worldwide implications.
The situation in Israel has a long and complicated history. Added to this dimension is a belief among many Christians that Israel’s role in the world is an important part of understanding the end times and the return of Christ. I don’t know what this current conflict might mean but Jesus told us to ‘keep watch’ and it would be foolish to think that these events are not significant.
During times like this many believers turn to Bible prophecy for insight. There are many different approaches as to how to view world events and our role. Some passages are difficult to interpret, and we should be careful about building too much certainty from such verses. Other verses are clearer and more helpful. For example, not everyone agrees on when the events of Revelation chapters 7 and 8 take place. However, one thing that is clear is that in the midst of conflict and suffering prayer matters.
It has become common in our world for people to dismiss the power of prayer as if our words are simply floating up into the atmosphere and disappearing among the clouds. Do prayers in times like this even matter? Revelation 8:3-5 suggests they do, “Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.”
Two things are happening here. First, the prayers of all God’s people reach the throne room of heaven. They are not on the same level as wishful thinking or a feeling of hopefulness. Our prayers go into the very presence of God, they are heard, and they make a difference. The creator of the universe, the judge of all humankind, is attentive to the prayers of his people.
Second, our prayers have an impact. “Then the angel took the censer…and hurled it on the earth.” Eugene Peterson writes, “The prayers which had ascended, unremarked by the journalists of the day, returned with immense force as ‘reversed thunder’. Prayers reenter history with incalculable effects. Our earth is shaken daily by it.” (Reversed Thunder, p.88) God answers the prayers of his people in astounding ways.
What do we do when we see such conflict and suffering? What do we do when we see the potential for war? Prayer makes a difference. There is much in our world to pray for. Don’t think it is a waste of time or the least that you can do. Invite the prince of peace to move in history and save the many who are in danger and under siege. Call upon heaven to shake our world with the righteousness of God.