If You’re Going to Stand, Now Is the Time :: By Paul J. Scharf

The United States was attacked in unprecedented waves of terrorism on Sept. 11, 2001. What followed was an immediate, passionate surge of patriotism mingled with religious fervor. Many of us remember those days very clearly.

Our patriotism ran only so deep, however, and the spiritual connection was extremely shallow. After six months, the enthusiasm had largely faded away.

When Israel was attacked by Hamas in unprecedented waves of terrorism on Oct. 7, 2023, we would have expected a passionate surge of support for Israel grounded in Biblical understanding.

But that support never came—at least not from society as a whole. What happened instead was near-instant handwringing driven by concern that Israel would respond with a heavy hand—far beyond that which such barbaric acts, including the taking of at least 250 Israeli (and American) hostages, might deserve.

Now, more than six months later, the enthusiasm is just beginning to build—against Israel—with no signs of slowing down. We are moving into an era of unprecedented, irrational, demonic antisemitism, causing fear in the hearts of many Jewish people. Those spouting the toxic rhetoric run within the highest levels of our government and apparently fill the hallways and faculty lounges of historically prestigious academic institutions.

The themes of the chanting crowds are as pompous as they are poison. The most gracious interpretation I can offer is that these young people simply have no earthly idea what they are caught up in. So, for the sake of clarity, let me provide a few explanations:

  • When you identify with Hamas, you are admitting to be part of an international terrorist organization—declared to be so by the United States Department of State.
  • When you cry out “From the River to the Sea,” you are referring to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The phrase is shorthand for the eradication of Israel and, ultimately, all Jewish people.
  • If you call out “Death to America,” I can only understand you to mean that you wish for the violent and gruesome annihilation of the United States—its system and her citizens.

We watch with horror as these demonstrations unfold. Perhaps more stunning than the acts of the protesters is the lack of a dignified response from those in charge at all levels of our society.

We may indeed be sickened by what we see, but we should not be surprised and need not be fearful or frustrated. The prophet Zechariah warned us twice that, just before Christ’s return, the entire world would be drawn inexplicably toward Israel—and all would come to oppose her. “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:2; see also 12:3). This will certainly include the United States—in whatever condition she exists following the rapture of the church. As we witness the spiritual status of many of our allegedly best and brightest—our nation’s future leaders—on our college campuses, it does not take much to imagine our impending demise.

None of this is shocking if we understand the prophetic Scriptures. What really ought to haunt us is this question: What has your church had to say regarding these happenings? If the answer is nothing, you have cause for deep concern.

May I ask, dear pastors, what you are teaching about these issues? Certainly, the people in your pews are looking for answers, and they are looking to you for leadership. What have you been offering them? Have you devoted even one message to this timely topic?

I would say to all Americans, but especially to all Christians, if ever you are going to stand for the people of Israel, now is the time. If you keep silent now, you may not have another opportunity. As Nazi-era Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller famously stated:

… Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.[i]

My friend Dr. Tim Sigler puts it this way: Do you wonder what you would have done if you had been alive during the Holocaust? Watch what you are doing right now. You will likely find the answer to your question in the response you are offering at the present.

Finally, to anyone reading these words with a sigh and a shrug, still unconvinced about the whole issue of Israel’s importance, I would simply challenge you to consider God’s Holy Word through, again, the prophet Zechariah: “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (12:9).

I know where I stand.

How about you?

Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in Columbus, WI, and serving in the Midwest. For more information on his ministry, visit sermonaudio.com/pscharf or foi.org/scharf, or email pscharf@foi.org.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

[i] Martin Niemöller; “Quotation from Martin Niemöller.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; n.d.; https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/photo/quotation-from-martin-niemoeller; Internet; accessed 25 April 2024.

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