For God So Loved the World
I am quite certain that God is intent on reaping a great harvest of people in the next few years. Actually, He is already doing so, but this will increase exponentially. This ingathering of souls will come from many nations.
I am also quite certain that satan is very determined to stop this harvest through the unrest and violence in the Middle East, fomented by China, Russia, and Iran, through the prince of Persia (Daniel 10). Ancient Persia is modern-day Iran. As well as warring against the coming harvest, this principality in satan‘s kingdom hates Israel, whom his terrorists call the “little satan,” and America, whom they refer to as the “great satan.” The hatred is likely because these two nations have done more to redeem the world from satan’s control than any other nations: Israel gave the world Yeshua, the Savior; America has done more to preach the good news of His salvation and Kingdom than any other nation. Also, America stands in the way of ALL three of these nations and their plans.
Realizing that God is preparing the earth for this great outpouring and harvest, the violence satan is implementing is designed to do the following three things:
distract the church from this harvest season, and
create such chaos in the Earth that it becomes difficult to reach people and nations with the gospel. We, the church, must make certain that we do NOT fall prey to this distraction; if we stay focused, God will deal with number two, making sure the chaos is unsuccessful.
The third goal of the enemy in the current violence and chaos, and one which often goes undetected, is to foster hatred and animosity between people groups, including on the part of Christians. This, too, is designed to fight the great ingathering of souls. We must not fall into this trap.
It is appropriate, of course, to hate evil (Romans 12:9). Terrorist groups around the world should be destroyed, and evil rulers should be brought to justice whenever possible. Israel has every right to destroy Hamas, just as America had the right to attack Al Qaeda, the Talaban, and ISIS. It was necessary for the Allies to destroy the Nazis in World War II. The perpetrators of evil throughout the world must always be dealt with ruthlessly. The only deterrent to their evil is to demonstrate that we are more powerful; peace only comes through strength.
However, in this season, we must be very careful to direct our anger and rage at the evil perpetrators, not toward Middle Easterners and the Muslim world in general. I have great concerns regarding this. We must not make all Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians, Afghanis, Iraqis, Jordanians, the Lebanese, and others in the region the objects of our anger and disdain. This is so important. Many in these nations are our brothers and sisters. Millions of others, who do not yet know the Lord, will also be our spiritual family one day. I’m confident they’ll be part of the coming great harvest. We must be careful not to allow satan and his evil actions through terrorists and evil leaders to turn our hearts against them.
I don’t need to remind you that Jesus loves the people of these nations as much as He does you and me. Christ said, “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only son…” (John 3:16). Yahweh loves the entire world, all of it. And Jesus died to save them all.
Many people in the Middle East are descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son through Hagar, including most Palestinians. I become concerned when I hear sermons that speak evil and condescendingly of Ishmael. I feel that many Christians have a subscious, if not conscious, disdain for Ishmael and his descendants. However, God did not hate Ishmael; He loved him. Ishmael’s name means “God hears.”(1) He cared for him and his mother, Hagar, rescuing them when they became outcasts (Genesis 21:19). He also gave them promises regarding their future (Genesis 21:17-21). Remember, it was not Hagar’s idea to have a child through Abraham; it was Sarah’s. Abraham agreed to it (Genesis 16:1-4). Ishmael was not the problem; the unbelief and consequent actions of Abraham and Sarah were the problem. Yes, Isaac was the son through whom Yahweh had decided to bring the Messiah, and He refused to renege on that decision. However, God did not - and does not - hate Ishmael or his descendants. He loves them.
Many years ago, I, like many Americans, assumed all Palestinians were terrorists. Perhaps that’s because their name was part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s name (the P.L.O.), which caused violence against Israel and was designated as a terrorist group in 1987.(2) Back then, I automatically lumped all Palestinians into this group. However, this is absolutely not true. Yes, it is true that many Palestinians have been taught to hate Israel, but not all of them do, and many do not support Hamas. Likewise, not all Lebanese support Hezbollah, nor do all Iranians support the violence promoted by extremists in Iran.
In August of 2021, I reported that, according to Operation World, Afghanistan was the second fastest growing church in the world, right behind Iran. The Gospel Coalition reported at the time that most of the people being won to Christ in Afghanistan were reached by Iranians. Please remember that these and other Middle Eastern nations are increasingly ripe harvest fields; and that we have many “family members” in all of these nations. Lumping the roughly 50% of Palestians who do not support Hamas in with those who do, would be like lumping we in America who are pro-life in with abortionists. As we know all too well, evil is not always easy to stop in a nation.
Though I support Israel’s right to defend herself from terrorists, and I know it is inevitable in a war such as this that innocents suffer and die, my heart still breaks over it. Some of the absolute best humans I have ever known are Palestinians. And I know them well, even pastoring them for a season. They despise terrorism and all terrorist organizations. They’re lovers of Yahweh, followers of Yeshua, and minister for Him selflessly throughout the Middle East. These beautiful people feed the poor, clothe the naked, provide for the homeless, and live a more pure expression of Christ than 99% of all American Christians I know. They now have friends and co-laborers who are suffering horrendously; some will die. They grieve for these innocent individuals, as do I. War is tragic.
I have preached in the churches of Jordanian believers who pay a great price for their love of Christ; far more than any American Christian I know. At the risk of imprisonment, they are reaching other Jordanian Muslims - most of whom are NOT terrorists - as well as Muslims from other nations. They minister to thousands of refugees, feed starving families, give water to the thirsty - as Yahweh did for Hagar and Ishmael, educate children, and care for the sick and diseased. We must love and pray for them. I do. And remember, some terrorists can also be saved. Pray for their salvation, also.
Thousands of Syrian, Afghani, Iranian, and other Middle Eastern believers, as well as African Christians in Muslim nations, are martyred for their faith every year. Please don’t refer to their nationalities as evil. And remember, many of them were once Muslims - Muslims that Jesus loved enough to die for, just as He did you and me.
I hate terrorism, antisemitism and all racism. I want justice administered to those who recently raped, murdered, tortured, and kidnapped people in Israel. Their brutality is abhorrent, evil beyond words, and I defend Israel’s right to destroy them. But I do not hate their nation or nationality. I love the people in all the Middle Eastern nations, and want to reach them with the gospel. I refuse to allow satan and his cohorts to succeed in using this current evil to delay or stop God’s great harvest there.
Pray for the salvation of a billion souls in the Middle East! Pray for the Jews, and pray for the Muslims. Pray that the prince of Persia does not succeed in turning the region into a river of blood. Pray that China and Russia do not succeed as they work to create further unrest. Pray that innocent lives are protected during the current violence and war. Pray that God uses the evil there to open the eyes of millions of people. Pray that many visions and dreams revealing Christ would occur. Pray for the believers there, and that great signs and wonders will take place, confirming the gospel. Pray that many laborers are sent into that harvest field; pray for their protection. Pray that the Prince of Peace, the Giver of life and blessing, pours out His Spirit in unprecedented measure.
In fact, let’s pray these very things now.
Pray with me:
Father, we ask for the salvation of a billion souls in the Middle East. Save Ishmael and Isaac. We ask for the salvation of Jews and Muslims. We pray that China, Russia, Iran, and the prince of Persia do not succeed in turning the region into a river of blood, and that innocent lives are protected during the current violence and war. We ask that You use the evil there to open the eyes of millions of people. Give many visions and dreams revealing Christ. Release great signs and wonders to confirm the gospel. We ask that many laborers be sent into the harvest field of the Middle East, and we pray for their protection. We pray that the Prince of Peace, the Giver of life and blessing, pour out His Spirit in unprecedented measure.
And we pray for the body of Christ. We ask that the church be alert and protected from this demonic strategy to harden our hearts toward people in other nations. Cause it to fail. We ask You to awaken Your love and compassion in our hearts for all people, from every nation. Strengthen our brothers and sisters suffering in this part of the world. Pour out amazing grace. Supply for their needs; protect them. And do what You do so well, Yahweh - turn this evil back on the head of the serpent. Make him pay!
We declare that the plan of the evil one to stop the coming harvest will fail; God will make known His wisdom and strength through His Ekklesia to principalities and powers throughout all the world (Ephesians 3:10).
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James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), ref. no. 3458.