The Silence of the Shepherds

By Jan Markell

October 17, 2023

It is true—the headlines, photos, and videos coming out of the current Mideast conflict are not seeker-sensitive. They won’t make church attendees feel good. Talking about the sensitive situation won’t fit into any church-growth strategy. It won’t encourage anyone to become purpose-driven. It could even create divisiveness.

So, I should not have been so thrown when I began to get e-mails from across the country stating variations of the following:

    Jan, I was very dismayed that the church we attended did not even make mention of what was going on in Israel on Sunday, October 8. Nor did the topic arise on Wednesday night—though there were several mentions of the Houston Astros game . . . . .


No One Can Say They Didn’t Know

Has there not been wall-to-wall coverage on all media outlets, day and night, for days? Can anybody claim they didn’t know? There were demonstrations demanding that we should “gas the Jews.” The scenario could expand to a Mideast war. Some are saying World War III is at hand. We have evil at a new level on display.

And yet the silence of some shepherds is deafening!

Evangelical Foolishness

I checked the website of the largest evangelical organization—the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Wouldn’t they have a banner headline calling on us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Actually, their banner was all about racial justice.

Scrolling down, they have a blurb in an article written that Israel should not act out of revenge and that they should support the dignity of all people affected. Note to the NAE: Terrorists have no dignity. They are evil. They are demonized.

Know What You Believe!

Are pastors, churches, and denominations silent because of their theology? Perhaps it doesn’t fit with the current scenario? Perhaps they believe the church is the new Israel (Replacement Theology). Perhaps they are Amillennial, and Israel is a bit inconvenient. This belief encompasses many Protestants and all Catholics.

Outfits like Bethel Church in Redding, CA, believe in Dominionism—that is, that the church will save the world and then they establish the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. The literal restoration of Jerusalem is not important. The church supersedes the calling of Israel to be a light to the nations!

Silence in the Face of Evil is Evil!

But there is still human disaster and suffering at play here! Bonhoeffer said, “silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”  How can you be silent?

If every church in North America were to meet for special prayer, could an unspeakable disaster be averted?

Can we set aside theology and pray—from the pulpit—for the salvation of the Jews and Muslims? Don’t these esteemed church leaders know that is the only path to true peace? Many Jews and Muslims are secular and, thus, are open to the gospel.

You’re Grafted In!

May I remind all pastors and evangelical leaders that because of the Jews, we have our Bible, the prophets, the apostles, and our Messiah. In fact, “salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22) Gentiles are “grafted in” to the Jewish olive tree. (Romans 11:11-31)

This is an appeal to pastors to not keep silent. Help your flock understand that Christians are often the greatest friend Israel has. At the very least, instruct them on how to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:6). Do you know there is then promised a blessing: They shall prosper who love thee?

That sounds like church growth could happen as a blessing from God!

How odd of God to choose the Jews,

But not so odd as those who choose

The Jewish God, but spurn the Jews.

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