Israeli forces enter Rafah amid cease-fire negotiations with Hamas

Israeli forces enter Rafah amid cease-fire negotiations with Hamas May 7, 2024

An Israeli tank brigade took control of the Gaza Strip side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt this morning. However, the overnight incursion appears to be short of the full-fledged offensive Israel has planned into Rafah.

It comes after Hamas announced yesterday that it had accepted a cease-fire proposal to halt the war. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office responded that the truce proposal fell short of Israel’s demands, but Israel will send a delegation to meet with negotiators to try to reach an agreement.

If you support Israel as I do, you’re hopeful that negotiations lead to long-term peace for the Jewish state. But you’re concerned that if Hamas survives in Gaza, it will make good on its promise to invade Israel again with the same brutality it unleashed on October 7.

Also, if you’re like me, you didn’t reflect immediately on what today’s news could mean for the 1.4 million Palestinian civilians in Rafah. You know that God loves Arabs as much as he loves Jews (Galatians 3:28), but it is human nature to respond most deeply to news that affects us most personally.

And as followers of a Jewish Savior, we tend to view the Middle East through the lens of the Jewish people.

“A handle for what is nearest”

This personal filter is essential for navigating the deluge of news in our digital culture. If we became viscerally involved with every story, the cognitive and emotional overload would be debilitating.

Consider these headlines in today’s news:

You likely care about these stories to the degree that they do or do not affect you personally. You’re not alone: in The Crisis of Narration, philosopher Byung-Chul Han quotes the cultural critic Walter Benjamin: “What gets the readiest hearing is no longer intelligence coming from afar, but the information which supplies a handle for what is nearest.”

While personalizing the world is understandable, there’s a better way.

“When you know how much God is in love with you”

Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart for Jews who had not yet accepted their Messiah (Romans 9:2). Given his previous life as a Pharisee trained by Gamaliel, such passion is to be expected.

However, the apostle was deeply concerned for Gentiles as well, most of whom he had not yet met but all of whom he sought to bring to Christ (Romans 15:15–21). He risked and ultimately gave his life to reach them. The reason was simple: Paul had experienced the transforming love of Christ and now, he testified, “the love of Christ compels us” to share that love with the world (2 Corinthians 5:14; NKJV).

Mother Teresa was right:

“When you know how much God is in love with you, then you can only live your life radiating that love.”

It’s been said that a true test of a person’s character is how they treat people they don’t have to treat well. Similarly, we can measure the depth of our love for our Lord by our compassion for those whom our circumstances would not compel us to love.

When we love such people, we offer the world something it can find nowhere else. We demonstrate the power and relevance of the faith we profess. Such unconditional love answers our skeptics (1 Peter 3:16) and changes our culture, one person at a time.

These facts apply to this morning’s news and to every person you meet today.

“This grace is for all the world”

Julian of Norwich (1342–c. 1416), whose deeply personal encounters with the love of Christ have inspired generations, wrote:

God protects us as tenderly and as sweetly when we are in greatest need;
he raises us in spirit
and turns everything to glory and joy without ending.
God is the ground and the substance, the very essence of nature;
God is the true father and mother of natures.
We are all bound to God by nature,
and we are all bound to God by grace.
And this grace is for all the world (my emphasis).

When last did you experience such grace?

With whom will you share it today?

NOTE: In today’s world, society often contradicts biblical truth, especially regarding sexuality. So how do we guide our loved ones rightly? Our latest book, Sacred Sexuality: Reclaiming God’s Design, offers answers and aims to equip you with wisdom and compassion to navigate these challenges. Request your copy today and join us in reclaiming biblical principles for our families and future generations.

Tuesday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“God’s love is like an ocean. You can see its beginning, but not its end.” —Rick Warren

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