KELSEY REED: Hello, welcome to Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast from WORLD Radio and God’s WORLD News. We’re here to come alongside you, learning and laboring with you as you disciple kids and teens through culture and current events. I’m Kelsey Reed, and I’m here with Jonathan Boes.
JONATHAN BOES: Hello!
KELSEY: Together, we want to model conversations and apply tools that you can use at home or in the classroom. And as always, we love to hear your questions so that we can tune our material to the things that you are engaging there in your context. We believe that in-person learning is the place where you have the greatest impact on children, on teens. And so we hope that our material can be fitted to what you are looking at in your context. If you have a question, we’d love for you to send it in or even record it. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
JONATHAN: So learning and laboring with you. I don’t know about you, Kelsey, but today as we prepare for this topic, I feel both of those things keenly. I’ve been learning a lot, and I know there’s still so much I have to learn. And just the heaviness of this topic—there is a labor in this. I think anyone who engages with this topic, you feel that emotional labor, mental labor, even spiritual labor. So what we’re talking about today, the conflict between Israel and Palestine—Israel has declared war. On October 7, the Islamist terrorist group Hamas launched an all-out surprise attack on Israel. The actual numbers are hard to confirm, but over 1,000 Israeli people appear to have been killed. And that’s mostly civilians. Many say this is the worst single massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. And in response, Israel has declared war, bombarding the Gaza Strip in attacks that have also taken civilian life. And we’ve already heard from multiple parents who are asking for help sorting through this conflict. It’s heavy news.
We also want to point out that it’s a developing situation. So to let you know, we are recording this on October 13. By the time you’re listening, things will likely have developed and changed. Some of the things we’re saying right now might even seem a little bit out of date already. But we feel it’s important to cover this and to explore the worldviews and philosophies at work in this, the things that remain the same even as the situation develops. And one last thing in this discussion: We will likely be making reference to some of the atrocities committed by Hamas. And so if you have littler ears around as you are listening to this, if there are kids in your vicinity, we’ll just ask you to use your parental discretion, as this discussion will be getting into some heavier topics.
KELSEY: Labor, indeed. I’m going to go back to that term, again, to think about the labor that we are seeking to engage, and that humility of knowing that we are learners. We love to talk about being “professional learners.” So again, we are applying that posture of a learner to all we do, and really appreciate many of the questions that we are hearing in our organization across all the divisions right now, asking with that type of posture for us to help equip their learning. And so, as a co-learner, I just am so thankful for that posture and those questions, asking for things like the history.
So we love to use the Five Common Topics or the “Big Five,” as we call them, since we attuned them a little bit more carefully to the news. And we love to try to organize our thinking according to giving the big picture first. So we’re going to give a little bit of survey and dive a little bit into that history, showing the relationship between the causes that come from a very, very deep history in Israel. We’ll also start out by defining some of our terms. But before we go into those things, we do have a few more disclaimers that we need to address.
JONATHAN: So, some of the things we’re not going to really get into in this discussion: We’re not here to tell you what Christians should think about the modern nation of Israel. That is, even in relatively peaceful times, a contentious theological topic. We know we have listeners who come to that with different perspectives. But we do believe there are biblical truths we see in this issue that apply no matter what your view of the nation of Israel is.
KELSEY: And I need to give a little bit of a disclaimer in terms of the theological point of view that I’m coming from, to say that, while I’m coming from a particular view, I am not saying that you must take the view that I hold. We need to be able to listen to one another, and to acknowledge that there’s a diversity of perspectives on the same issue that are not salvific or close-handed issues.
JONATHAN: And we know that one of the areas in this whole discussion where parents are really asking for help is just with the facts, the history of this conflict—the who and the where and the why. It gets so complex. For myself, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of my life oblivious to many aspects of this history, the reasons behind the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We’re going to get into some of that for sure in this discussion. But as we said, it’s an unfolding situation. Our focus is really on the discipleship issues. But here at WORLD, we have many great resources for sorting through these facts and getting the latest information. So just to briefly point to some of those: For the grownups, we have wng.org and The Sift, where you can find news about what’s going on in Israel and Gaza. On WORLDteen and WORLD Watch, we are covering these events at age-appropriate levels for teen viewers and readers. And in WORLDkids, you know, at that kids’ level, we’re not getting super deep into this, because it’s such a heavy topic. But in our latest issue, we do have a spread on Gaza, explaining some of the history behind that region and the situation there at an age-appropriate level. So if you’re looking just for help sorting through some of those facts, or if you want the most up-to-date information on what is going on, those are some great resources here at WORLD News Group. And we’ll drop some links in the show notes for those.
KELSEY: So now that we’ve done some of our disclaimers, and also pointing to resources, I want to actually start us off a little bit differently than we usually do in our podcast. I was reading through the Psalms this morning, which is something that I do habitually, to shape my heart response to things in the world, things in my life. This news is heavy. And I run there for the way that it equips my prayers. It shapes my thinking. And so join with me in listening, or if you want to read along, Psalm 73:
Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
That’s not the end of that Psalm this morning. But as you continue to shape your and your children’s heart response, may I encourage you to run to the Psalms. May they equip your prayers as they do ours.
JONATHAN: And that’s so good, to come into this discussion beginning with scripture, to get our hearts in the right place for it, because the emotions are so high. The opinions are so strong. But we’re going to roughly follow our SOAR method today, the “survey, observe, analyze, respond.” And to start with that survey, big picture level, we wanted to bring out a handful of definitions, terms that either we are seeing a lot in the news right now, or terms that we think bring clarity to this discussion. I think one of the first big terms we wanted to bring out is a term we get in our theology, which is “eschatology.” Kelsey, can you unpack this word—eschatology?
KELSEY: Sure. Well, I’m going to try to do so as briefly as possible, because eschatology really belongs in the full scope of scripture to be able to understand it fully. And I obviously don’t have either the time or really the chops for that. But eschatology basically means our perspective of end times. How do we view what is going to happen through these last days after Jesus’ resurrection? So we might suggest that we are already in those in times—that might be a view called “amillennial.” This is where all those different views on the Millennium come in—you know, do we think that there’s going to be a tribulation? Do we have a post-millennial or a prehistoric millennial view? All of those things come out of this whole field of worldview thought, one of those pillars of worldview, of what is going to happen in the end times.
JONATHAN: And that term pops up a lot now, or brings clarity to this discussion, because in many perspectives on the end times, Israel plays a large role. And so when you see major history-making conflict in Israel, for a lot of people that brings up those questions about the end times.
But you also just brought up the term “worldview.” That’s another thing we see at play here that I know we want to define before we move forward.
KELSEY: So even while we’re pulling on that eschatological thread, and we see that being pulled in places all around social media right now, we also need to back up to that higher level thinking of worldview, under which eschatology is merely one of the pillars. So worldview is the way that we think of all of the big important things of life. It’s the lens through which we might look at life. And I’ve been writing on worldview—we’ll put some of that material in the show notes to define it further. But in a very succinct way, worldview is the perspective we have on all the different important things in life—our origins, what the problem is in the world, what the solution might be, etc. So we’re going to see worldview popping up over and over again in this discussion, because it provides some background for some of the terms, or even some of the factions, how they’re engaging this conflict and why. So really, we’ve even named it in our episode title. “Warring worldviews” are going on right now. So the next thing that we want to define really helps to point back to some of those deeper worldviews.
JONATHAN: Coming out of worldview, one of the specific philosophies we see referenced in the current discussion around Israel is “postcolonialism.” Now this is quite an academic term. In that academic realm, it’s related to a way of looking at things like history and literature. We’re seeing it here used more as a way of generally looking at the world. And we’ll get into it a bit more later. But basically, postcolonialism looks at things primarily through the lens of “colonized” or “colonizer.” Who is the oppressed people who have been colonized or taken over or pushed out, versus who is the colonizer, the conqueror who has come in and pushed others out or oppressed them? Essentially, looking at it through power structures. That would be the perspective of postcolonialism.
KELSEY: And for the sake of being still at our survey level, we have to keep that as a pretty simple thing. But you can already hear maybe that there’s some oversimplification going on with this term. But we’re going to leave off some of that discussion until we’re in our later portions of SOAR, in our analytical level.
So as we’re keeping it at this survey level, we want to make sure that all of our listeners have been brought along with us. So we’re going to touch briefly on the who, what, when, where, and then push into the why a little bit of this conflict. So first of all, the who—you know, who are we talking about? Right now we’re talking about Israel, and specifically the Hamas terrorist group that has wielded fairly significant power.
JONATHAN: Again, we’re going to be very brief here. But the current nation of Israel, the modern state of Israel, was formed in 1948. It claims a right to the land where it is situated tracing all the way back to biblical times, when we see, you know, Abraham being given the Promised Land. It goes that far deep into history. But there are other people in that area of the world. That’s where the Palestine part of this comes in. In today’s world, Palestinians have been mostly situated in Gaza. The relations there are complex, but there is a sentiment among Palestinians, obviously, that they have been oppressed by Israel, not given their own state. That’s what they want. They want their own state. And Hamas is the terrorist group, the Islamist terrorist group that has come up within that and really started as an underground thing, but eventually took power, as Palestinians became disillusioned with their official government, which they saw as corrupt, which they saw as overly cooperative with Israel. And Hamas, being very anti-Israel committed to Israel’s destruction, has become a powerful force. And that is the group we see responsible for these current attacks on Israel. Are there more shades you want to bring into that history, that you feel like are essential for this?
KELSEY: I think it’s helpful to trace back that conflict, just as you traced back to Abraham and the Promised Land, that the conflict is just as old as Abraham, and actually Ishmael, his first son. So we see, and we must see, the biblical shades, where we recognize this conflict that plays out from way back with Abraham, but into his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, and then into the next generation, Jacob and Esau—Jacob, who was renamed as Israel. And we hear in the scripture, “Jacob I loved, Israel I loved, and Esau I hated.” This is an ancient conflict, and therefore points to deep, deep pain.
I think it’s really good for us to go into further shades of how Israel was formed as a nation, to think about these wanderers that we see recounted in the scriptural narrative. They were promised the land, but then they didn’t take the land, through their own disobedience, and wandered in the desert for 40 years. They became a wandering people, Israel did, as they were unable to fulfill the covenant that the Lord made with Abraham. And they were brought from the place where they had an established kingdom that—we see in the record of the Kings and Chronicles, they failed. They failed in their kingship. They failed in their purity before the Lord. They committed atrocities towards their own children. And they were brought into exile as a part of the discipline that the Lord enacted on Israel. All of this is a part of what then sent Israel through many, many, many years as the Hebrews were cast out of that area of the globe, as Islam began, and they had that area as a part of their holy places as well. They lay claim to that same geographical area as Holy Land for themselves. The Dome of the Rock is a magnificent building that was built on top of the temple mount, where the temple had been destroyed. So very important to trace the ancient history of this development and to recognize the wandering nature, the diaspora, of the Jewish people, and that they had been actually flung out, which—I believe part of this was the Lord’s purposes in acquainting the rest of the world with who He was through His people, Israel.
Fast forward into just through the Middle Ages, when there was so much suffering in the Jewish people, to now when the 20th century, when Israel was built. So why? Most proximate to the State of Israel was World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust. We mentioned them. You, in your intro, spoke about that. This violence that has been done to Israel is the biggest single violence since those single [violences] that stacked up to the great Holocaust—single atrocities or single acts of violence where massive life was lost. The Zionist Movement had everything to do with seeking an actual nation-state for Israel, a land, a homeland that they could claim as their own.
JONATHAN: And you were talking about the biblical history there, and how Jerusalem even today is such a contentious place, where different groups are laying claim to it. So again, we’re bringing it up now to the modern times. We saw this attack—Hamas committed a surprise attack on Israel, killed civilians—one of the biggest incidents was at a music festival, where civilians, not even just from Israel, but visiting from other nations, were horribly killed. And then the death, we saw, was celebrated by the terrorists parading bodies through the streets. Again, this—this is difficult stuff. And a lot of it was shared on social media. There was a lot of misinformation on social media. We actually saw people sharing videos of past events and past attacks, claiming it was recent. But there was also a lot of actual horrible footage and images of the atrocities committed.
So again, I think, a parental connection here: If your kids are on social media, there is a chance that they have been exposed to some really graphic and horrible things. So that might be a worthy place to check in, just on a practical level here. For a lot of adults even, I know, if you were on Twitter (now called X) over the weekend, when these attacks took place, you may have seen things that you did not want to see. So that’s something to be aware of.
But Israel declared war and launched a counterattack on Gaza. Again, that’s developing. We don’t know, since we’ve recorded this, exactly what has developed there. But there has been civilian loss of life on that side as well. One thing to note is that, you know, Hamas’ attack was a total surprise on Israel. Israel’s response—they did give a 24-hour warning to the people in Gaza, and Hamas told civilians in Gaza not to evacuate. Of course, there are shades to this, where even if they had evacuated, a day is not a lot of time to get people out of a rubble-strewn mess of a place where there are border patrols and all that stuff going on in Gaza. At the same time, there are a lot of people, we are seeing, claiming that Hamas is using civilians as a shield against Israel. So there are a lot of shades to that. But it boils down to a lot of civilian loss of life.
And then we see the responses coming from outside of Israel and Gaza. We see a lot of support for Israel, obviously, from world leaders coming out of this situation. I think one of the really striking things, though, that we observe, not from a lot of official channels, but from a lot of vocal channels—for example, a group of 30-some student groups at Harvard released a statement essentially blaming Israel for the attacks that Hamas committed on Israel, saying because Israel has oppressed Palestinians (as they would say), Israel is responsible for the violence now being committed—basically shifting the blame from the Hamas terrorists on to Israel. And so again, a lot of the official channels—like, you know, the officials at Harvard—denounce that statement. But I would say there’s been a surprising amount of what I observe as equivocation, or, you know, not necessarily people saying Hamas was right, but people saying, “Who are we to tell Hamas that they were wrong?” Because they were oppressed. You know, there’s a lot to unpack in that.
KELSEY: And so even as we’re doing our observation work of the varied responses, I also think it’s extremely important to notice how much misinformation has been coming out regarding this horrible violence. That misinformation has been exacerbating our emotional response to it by putting violent material out there that has nothing to do with this specific conflict. So again, parent, as you are engaging discerningly with your teens who are on social media, it is vital to know that not all information that is out there is correct or good. And an excellent article that was released today in our WORLDteen, that can be found on our WORLDteen website, discusses some of that in greater detail.
JONATHAN: So if we’re ready to move into analysis, I think this is where we can begin to explore these worldviews at play, both in this conflict on the ground in Israel and in Gaza, and in the responses we see to this conflict.
KELSEY: And I think as we pivot from that place of discussing the misinformation, it is vital again that we understand the emotional undercurrents that have been even leveraged by that misinformation. So we’re seeking to have a logical, rational response to this where, we name and pick apart. And that does not mean that emotion is bad, but we need to trace it to its core, and rethink what our approach is before we engage in action. May our action not merely be knee-jerk responses to the information that we are inundated with online.
So let’s analyze a little bit more. What are the worldviews that are in place, either in these student groups, in the particular groups that are involved in the violence, as we think about these warring ideologies in our world, if we trace them back a little bit, and are getting into those base categories of what people’s thinking is and how their action has been shaped by their thinking? It helps us to get a better handle on what we’re seeing, and even how we shape a discipleship response.
JONATHAN: So one thing for sure we see is the Islamic worldview of Hamas. Now, to clearly say, not everyone who follows Islam would believe the things Hamas believes. Absolutely. But in Hamas, we see a particularly violent, extreme version of an Islamic worldview, that glorifies in the death of their enemies, where we see—even in other countries that are allied with Hamas, we see, like coming out of Iran—celebrations of the death, explicit celebrations of the death of Israeli civilians, and that celebration even being directed to their god, almost a thankfulness for the death and destruction caused. And I think, in that, we see a worldview, a god-view, a picture of God that is sharply different than the Christian image of God, or even the Jewish image of God.
KELSEY: And for more on just Islamic worldview thinking, I would like to highly recommend one of our opinion writers through WORLD News Group. He gives so much more in-depth understanding and analysis of the news that is going on in our day and age, being able to address where Islamic thinking is in play in these news stories that we are seeing in the engagement of just these events around the world. His last name is Ibrahim. I’m not sure if I’d be able to pronounce his first name, but A.S. Ibrahim on WORLD News Group, the opinion section.
JONATHAN: And we can link to some of that in the show notes as well. And so the worldview of Hamas, that’s a very easy worldview to challenge. I don’t think you’re going to find many people on the ground in your community who are, you know, sharing that violent, extreme worldview. But I want to talk about one of the more deceptive worldviews that we might see in our community, not the worldview that would celebrate this violence, but that might say, “Well, who are we to tell the oppressed how they should fight back?” That’s a sentiment I’ve seen a lot. We mentioned those student groups. But even if you’re on social media, and looking at comments people have, I’ve seen this a lot, this kind of—“Well, Palestine has been oppressed, they have been pushed back, they haven’t been given their own state, they have no future in sight. So who are we to tell them that they shouldn’t commit this violence against Israel?” And this is where I think we bring in that term postcolonial, when we see those sentiments. We see people putting all of the eggs in their moral basket into this basket of power structures, reducing this conflict to a kind of single black-and white-element of “Who is the oppressed; who is the oppressor?” And there’s really, in this, no reference to a transcendent moral authority. It’s this is a humanist philosophy that is, you know, on a purely horizontal level, human to human, which makes it essentially relative. If all good and evil in the circumstances are defined by “Who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor,” then when you see things like the murder and rape of civilians, you have no ground on which to call those things wrong if they’re being committed by the oppressed.
KELSEY: So a secular humanist view, which takes out a transcendent authority that can tell the reality of men’s hearts, tell of that reality being a broken reality, one that human effort is not effective to change. We cannot change or eradicate the evil from our hearts. And we do need to name this very carefully and explicitly as evil, as atrocity, as heinous acts that have been done. The postcolonialist view, which oversimplifies or reduces into these e structures, does not allow for humanity to name the evil in one another’s hearts. And in fact, we don’t have that authority outside of an ultimate Authority, who tells us what truth claims that we can make about good, about evil. If there is no God, the truth is that all things that we would define would be defined relative to our persons. We would define evil in our own eyes, as we also hear in the record of scripture: We defined what was right in our own eyes. When we cancel God, we are left with our own definitions, our own ways of trying to make sense of the world, or those “man-made worldviews.” So out of that secular humanist worldview that has canceled God, we see so many varieties of philosophies that come out of it. But Neo-Marxism is one of those, which is the thing that supplies that foundation for that postcolonialist philosophy or interpretation of our times. It really does great damage to our understanding, if we aren’t careful to name it, and clean that up in our thinking. It does damage to our thinking about who we are, about how man works, and how desperate we are for His amazing, powerful, transformative work in our lives—but not merely as individuals, but as nations.
JONATHAN: And so, if you do not believe in a transcendent moral authority, you’re left with trying to find that somewhere in humanity. And one of the ways we see that play out is in Neo-Marxism, and specifically here postcolonialism, defining good and evil purely in terms of power structures, in terms of who is oppressed, and who is the oppressor. And I think one of the reasons this is so seemingly good to people, is that it’s taking something good and oversimplifying it and twisting it. We see, all through scripture, that God loves the people who have been oppressed. He calls for justice for the oppressed. He has strong words against those who would mistreat the poor, or would mistreat foreigners or refugees. But that does not translate to throwing out the entire rest of God’s law. I think one of the parts of scriptural ethics that rubs really against a lot of today’s modern humanist philosophies is that it’s not just that the oppressors have a responsibility to the oppressed, it’s that the oppressed actually have some moral responsibility to the oppressors, that there are things that are right and wrong no matter where you fall in the social system, because right and wrong are rooted in a God who is as far above the oppressed as He is above the oppressor, and is totally transcendent. And so there is room for a situational ethics, for these shades where, you know, we need to figure out what’s right and wrong in a certain situation. And depending on the amount of privilege we have or lack, that might look a little different situation to situation. But ultimately, we can’t reduce morality just to who has more power, where we always have to side with who has less power. That’s a lot of what we see going on here.
KELSEY: In some other shades of worldview in play in this, there is a very materialistic worldview. And I don’t mean that tendency for us to want material things, when I say materialistic worldview. I’m suggesting here that it’s important for us to unpack further the idea that there is a transcendent God, one who is over all, and part of the nature of Him, in His transcendence, in His otherness than humanity, is that He is outside of time, and that there is the hope that time will end. But there’s something after it. That would be our Christian or monotheistic view, that it has this personal and transcendent God in view. When we think about all of life, when we define whether evil is going to meet its utter end with the end of time, or whether we have to try to make sense of life and combat evil and stomp it out or eradicate it during time—that would be maybe a part of materialistic view, even bleeding into maybe some of our Christian perspective. We have to return to understanding the character and nature of God and His promises, that in the fullness of time, He is going to have the final victory and bring us to glory. But if we’re not thinking that way, and we’re trying to make sense of how to bring justice in the here and now, we often do dip into those versions of social justice that come out of this postcolonial or neo-Marxist type thinking, because we want to see justice and we want to see it now. So this also relates to some of our end times view. Are we going to be able to see justice in its fullness in this time? What are we expecting to see? How do we work with expectation that there will be ultimate justice, and seek to be agents of that justice, but also with the humility of knowing it is not in our hands to bring it in its fullness, while we await His return?
JONATHAN: And that, to me, connects with another one of the areas where I think we need to bring some careful challenge. So we mentioned that Christians have big theological disagreements about today’s state of Israel, and whether it is still God’s chosen nation, all of those things. But one thing that I think is true, no matter what you believe on this front, is that in scripture, Israel’s status as God’s chosen people—that is never used to whitewash sin. In the Bible, when Israel fails to follow God’s commandments, or when Israel does things explicitly against God’s commandments, it’s never like, “That’s fine, you’re God’s chosen people. We have to support you no matter what.” God calls them out for those things. And so, again, there’s lots of different facts at play. And it’s hard to sometimes sort out the truth from the rumor. But when we look at either the current events or the history, if we do see the modern state of Israel, doing things that seem to go against biblical ethics—and so in the wake of this horrible attack on Israel, where lives have been taken, we want to firmly and strongly say, what Hamas has done is evil. And we want to support the suffering people in Israel. But if we do see ways that, in the past, Israel has not acted biblically, or ways in the present that their retaliation has caused an undue amount of loss of life of civilians in Gaza, where—again, there are churches in Gaza, there are Christians in Gaza too. If we see that, in their retaliation of a true injustice, that Israel is also committing injustices—again, unfolding situation—we shouldn’t be afraid to also name evil on that side. Because even when God’s people commit evil, it’s still evil. And that’s something we see through all of scripture, that biblically, we can never call something good just because it comes from what we perceive to be our side or our team or a people that we support.
KELSEY: We would be remiss if we didn’t touch on that portion of scripture that I know many of my own good friends have struggled with through the course of the years, and has been a matter for many for their arc of deconstruction. And that is this place in scripture where the Lord tells Israel to eradicate those who occupy of the land, specifically the Canaanites. And it is very important, as a side note, for us to recognize that there was a legacy of evil in this nation, a legacy, as in hundreds upon hundreds of years of the type of behaviors that were sexual perversions, that were destruction of the youngest, most fragile pieces of that community—the child sacrifice. When we think of the order of brokenness, when we think of evil and good, we have to have nuanced thinking. And we have to take history to bear. And it is humbling, because it is a mystery beyond, I think, what we can, in our own lifetimes, really grapple with to a place where we might find it satisfactory to our emotions, to the questions that we have. Those questions are good. They do not need to be silenced. They need to be wrestled with. Your children may have them, specifically as speaking of this type of conflict and Israel’s role in history. So just a side note, that the biblical record is difficult—as difficult as this current event is.
JONATHAN: And one of the things, though, that makes that even distinct from today, is the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, or what we might call the Old Testament and the New Testament. And so I think one of the things we want to affirm in this is that we are living under a New Covenant, and in this New Covenant, the Gentiles are a part of God’s plan. And so what that means is that the Jewish people, but also the Palestinians, and even the Hamas terrorists, are all people who have an opportunity to repent and enter the family of God, if they repent and call on the name of the Lord. And they are all made in God’s image. And so that means we have something tough to grapple with here. We need to grapple with what it means to firmly stand against evil, and name evil as evil, to in no way say that Hamas was right to do what they did, as we see some people, you know, hinting at. But we also need to figure out what it means to love our enemies and to treat humans with dignity, and to remember that in Gaza, where Israel is retaliating, just as much as in Israel, there are people who need God’s grace, and who God would call to repentance and to join this family of grace. You know, we need to have our discussion somewhat tempered. Because when we’re talking about people who have positioned themselves as enemies of God’s people—Hamas, explicitly, they are anti-Israel, committed to Israel’s destruction—scripture tells us that we were enemies of God. You, me, all of us—apart from the work of Christ, we are enemies of God, and by extension of God’s people. That’s intense. And that should put some of our discussion into perspective here, where, again, it’s a tension. How do we call evil evil, name evil as evil, but remember that we were evil, and that all have been called to God’s grace? We don’t have an answer to that question right now. I think that’s something you have to grapple with.
KELSEY: And what we do know, that can hold our hearts as we grapple with the things that are mysterious, is that we are partakers in the blood of Jesus, in the New Covenant in His blood. Jesus, as we look at scripture, we see that He was the perfect Israelite. We are engrafted into Him—His perfect life, His perfect salvific death for us, His resurrection to new life that is the new reality that we do live in now. And that is a possibility for anyone, to live in that new reality in Jesus, in this New Covenant. And what it means to be the church is that outpouring of Jesus’ perfect Israelite, who has brought every tongue, tribe, and nation into this new community of people who are marked by His blood. It is vital, as we think about that, to recognize that what our work, then, as we move into this response section—what our work is in this world is to describe that new reality, the reality of being His, being identified in Him, and in going to seek others for this beautiful community that is being added. It has been redeemed but is being perfected. It is being made more and more beautiful in Him daily. What a lovely prospect. What a winsome invitation that we have. And so it’s so much of eschatology, to return to that, that has been in debate over the centuries, but is about “How do we live in this now and not yet time?” No matter what the characteristic of that time is, what is our work as believers as the church now? And Chris Wright, a famous missiologist, would say, our work right now is to go and make disciples of all nations. It’s to go with this word of hopefulness that we can be transformed, that our relationships can be transformed, that we would not have our identity as a nation anymore—as a nation of Palestine, or a nation of Israel, a nation of Britain versus a nation of Ireland. I think of so many of the places through the years of history where our identity as a nation, or as worldview, where our religion has served as the highest identity, instead of our new identity in Christ. So as we wrestle with what we cannot change, what we can seek to change as agents of His kingdom is we can seek to bring that gospel to them that changes, ultimately, all men’s, women’s, children’s hearts. Because we don’t know when the time is going to be that He’s coming. May we be diligent to express that word of the gospel, and to pray, and to pray for His mercy in these horrible, violent situations that we will experience, as Matthew 24 reminds us, until the end of days. Jonathan, would you like to read from Matthew 24 today?
JONATHAN: Matthew 24:6-8: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
KELSEY: And to drop down to verse 36, that reminds us: “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
So as we wait for the time that not even the Son knows, may we pray for His equipment to do the work that is ours as we work and wait for Him, remembering—parent, teacher, mentor of kids and teens, whoever of you students have listened in today: He equips us for that work.
On October 7, Hamas terrorists attacked Israel. In response, Israel declared war. At the request of listeners, we're exploring the history and worldviews behind this conflict.
Check out The Concurrently Companion for this week’s downloadable episode guide including discussion questions and scripture for further study. Sign up for the News Coach Newsletter at gwnews.com/newsletters.
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See more from the News Coach, including episode transcripts.
- Learn about “The Grand Narratives of Today’s World” at the News Coach blog.
- At WORLDTeen, learn more about “Misinformation in Media” surrounding Israel and Hamas.
- For more background on Israel and Hamas, see “A history of violence” by Jill Nelson at wng.org.
- For more on the ideology of Hamas, read "Hamas and the ideology of hate" by A.S. Ibrahim.
- From WORLD Opinions, read “Just war theory and the war against Hamas” by Marc LiVecchi.
- Read “Signs of the Times” by Lisa Crow at Inspire a Fire.
- Keep up with the news about Israel on WORLDteen, WORLD Watch, and WORLD.
Concurrently is produced by God’s WORLD News. We provide current events materials for kids and teens that show how God is working in the world. To learn more about God’s WORLD News and browse sample magazines, visit gwnews.com.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Covenant College.
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