Israel confirmed early this morning that a temporary pause in the Israel–Hamas war would extend for at least one more day, with eight more Israeli hostages reportedly set to be released. Tragically, the tenuous nature of this truce was demonstrated when two Palestinian brothers affiliated with Hamas opened fire at the main entrance to Jerusalem, killing three Israelis and wounding six other people.
Emily Hand is an example of the Israeli children hostages. After the nine-year-old was freed by Hamas, her father described her condition: “She was just whispering, you couldn’t hear her. I had to put my ear on her lips. She’d been conditioned not to make any noise. . . . You could just see glassy-eyed terror.” He added: “Last night, she cried until her face was red and blotchy, she couldn’t stop. She didn’t want any comfort, I guess she’s forgotten how to be comforted. She went under the covers of the bed, the quilt, covered herself up, and quietly cried.”
NOTE: Henry Kissinger, an American diplomat and Nobel winner, died yesterday at the age of one hundred. I will publish a Daily Article Special Edition this morning reflecting on his life and significant legacy.
“The danger many Jewish people fear the most”
Anti-Israel propagandists have claimed for years that Israel “stole” and “colonized” its land from the rightful Palestinian owners. (For more, I invite you to download my free digital book, The War in Israel: What You Need to Know about This Crisis of Global Significance.) Ironically, as commentator David Rubin notes, “Billions of people around the globe are about to celebrate the birthday of a Jewish man, born in Bethlehem 2000+ years ago, but don’t think Jews lived there before 1948.”
Now apologists for Hamas are claiming that the terrorists didn’t commit atrocities on October 7 while demanding a permanent ceasefire that would empower Hamas to slaughter more Israelis in the future. But the more children kidnapped by Hamas tell their stories, the more difficult it becomes to defend such atrocities.
This ideological war is consequential far beyond the Middle East. As Jewish American and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer writes in the New York Times, “Too many Americans are exploiting arguments against Israel and leaping toward a virulent antisemitism. The normalization and intensifying of this rise in hate is the danger many Jewish people fear the most.”
Sen. Schumer documents the shocking rise in antisemitic violence in America after Hamas’s October 7 invasion and asks, “Are we still a nation that can defy the course of human history, where the Jewish people have been ostracized, expelled, and massacred over and over again?” His question is obviously crucial for the future of Jews in America.
But it is also vital for the future of America herself.
The lowest point in our nation’s history?
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth” is a law of propaganda often attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party. Similarly, the first stage in changing culture is to normalize the new “truth” or behavior, then to legalize it, stigmatize those who oppose it, and criminalize their opposition.
LGBTQ advocates, for example, have followed this playbook very effectively in recent years. To illustrate: Disney’s new “family” Christmas movie portrays a family with two fathers and features a boy calling another boy a “hottie.” Evangelicals like me who disagree with such sexualization of children are stigmatized as “homophobic” and dangerous to society and may face legal and criminal penalties in the future.
However, while God loves us and wants to bless us (cf. Ephesians 2:4–5), he cannot love us and bless that which harms us.
When we abandon biblical truth and reject biblical morality, the prophet’s description becomes true of us: “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2). Since God is the only source of spiritual life (John 15:5), “to set the mind on the flesh is death” (Romans 8:6).
We should therefore be grieved but not surprised that US suicides reached a record high last year, or that overdose fatalities have risen fivefold in the last two decades, or that 68 percent of us say this is the lowest point in our nation’s history they can remember.
“There is only one relationship that matters”
In a sermon attributed to St. Macarius (AD 300–391) we read:
Woe to the path that is not walked on, or along which the voices of men are not heard, for then it becomes the haunt of wild animals. Woe to the soul if the Lord does not walk within it to banish with his voice the spiritual beasts of sin. Woe to the house where no master dwells, to the field where no farmer works, to the pilotless ship, storm-tossed and sinking. Woe to the soul without Christ as its true pilot; drifting in the darkness, buffeted by the waves of passion, storm-tossed at the mercy of evil spirits, its end is destruction.
Woe to the soul that does not have Christ to cultivate it with care to produce the good fruit of the Holy Spirit. Left to itself, it is choked with thorns and thistles; instead of fruit it produces only what is fit for burning. Woe to the soul that does not have Christ dwelling in it; deserted and foul with the filth of its passions, it becomes a haven for all the vices.
Does his warning describe and explain the spiritual and moral condition of our culture?
Conversely, we are promised: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Jesus assures us, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (John 15:5).
To this end, I will close by sharing my favorite paragraph in my favorite daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. I read it every year on this date and am encouraged and challenged each time by Oswald Chambers’ wisdom:
There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfill his purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purpose, and yours may be that life.
Will God “fulfill his purpose through your life” today?
NOTE: To truly understand what’s happening in Israel would require years of seminary-level classes on the Mideast. But in our latest free ebook, The War in Israel: What You Need to Know about This Crisis of Global Significance, I’ve done my best to condense history and context into a digestible format.
I pray that this resource—which we’ll update as events warrant—will help you better understand the issues at play, its global and spiritual implications, and how God might be using even such an event to bring about a spiritual awakening.To hear more about my heart behind this book, please listen to our just-released Denison Forum Podcast episode on this topic.