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Israel, Palestine and Lebanon: A Middle East conundrum

Palestinians search the destroyed annex of the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church, the oldest church still in use in Gaza, damaged in a strike on Gaza City on October 20, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
Palestinians search the destroyed annex of the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church, the oldest church still in use in Gaza, damaged in a strike on Gaza City on October 20, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. | Dawood Nemer/AFP via Getty Images

The eyes of most Americans have been fixed on the nation of Israel since the unwarranted and brutal assault into the Gaza Strip was made on Oct. 7 by the terror group Hamas. Shortly afterward, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida posted on the platform X that “Israel has no choice but to seek the complete eradication of Hamas in Gaza.”

According to the results of a recent Rasmussen Poll, 66% of voters said that they agreed with Rubio, including 41% who came down on the side of “strongly agree.” The same poll indicated that a majority of Americans believe that the Palestinians are to blame, and a strong plurality also believed that the United States did not do enough to support the nation of Israel. While it is relatively easy to find a basis of agreement with the results of the polling, it perhaps offers a much too simplistic view of the horrific situation. 

If anyone is paying any attention whatsoever to the turmoil in the Middle East, it should come as no surprise that the rogue nation of Iran is greatly responsible for the carnage. It could even be argued that both the Obama and Biden administrations are at least somewhat complicit in the evil through the delivery of a massive $150 billion “ransom” to Iran as part of the “nuclear deal” in 2015. That number does not even include the $6 billion that was released to Iran just days before the genocide attack. Nor does it encompass an additional $33.7 million from the so-called “American Rescue Plan” promoted by the Biden administration and passed by Congress that went to a Palestinian relief organization which is suspected of harboring terrorists in Gaza and had been labeled “effectively a branch of Hamas.”

Though the spending priorities of our tax dollars are more than questionable, it is quite another prospect to claim that Hamas is a puppet of Iran. Those who follow the religion of Islam know that there is a great division between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, almost to the same extent as the hatred between Islam and Judaism. Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was Sunni and as long as Iraq was respected as a power in the Middle East, the more aggressive Shiite-dominated Iran was held in check. However, when the U.S. defeated Iraq, Iran filled that vacuum very quickly, which brought about a Shi’a dominance in the region.

Ironically, Hamas is predominantly a Sunni terrorist group which, at times, has been at odds with Iran. Nevertheless, as we have seen when it comes to Israel, both Iran and Hamas can align together for a common purpose. Added to this conundrum, to the north of Israel there is a terror group known as Hezbollah which is a Shi’a group with very close ties to Iran that is in reality nothing more than a puppet of the evil regime. The great fear amongst Middle East watchers as it applies to this conflict is that there will be an additional, and perhaps coordinated, attack from Hezbollah on the northern border of Israel with Lebanon.

In conjunction with the continued fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, this factor would not only open another front to the current conflict but also easily allow the violence to expand to Iran and other neighboring countries as well. Though the international friction between superpowers like the U.S., Russia, and China is currently being carried on by surrogates, there is a very present danger that the repercussions of the conflict may spread to such an extent as to usher in another World War. The fuse on the dynamite keg is lit, the question is will it be snuffed out in time to avoid the full measure of the explosive devastation?

How this scenario plays out is certainly one of concern not only for the nation of Israel and Jewish people all over the globe but for Christians as well. At Southern Evangelical Seminary, we know from Scripture that though this may not be end times eschatology playing out before our eyes, it certainly is what Jesus described in Matthew 24: 4-14 as “birth pangs.”

While America should be ever vigilant on the world stage to stand with the nation of Israel because it simply is in our best national interest to do so, there is a far more serious consideration. As the story of the Bible unfolds right before our eyes, all people, especially those of us who are Christ followers should understand that at a very minimum this whole sordid scenario is another clarion call for the message of the Gospel to be proclaimed clearly and loudly.

In the meantime, perhaps we should all keep at least one eye peeled to the eastern sky.

After a distinguished career as both a lawyer and a judge, Judge Phil Ginn retired as the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge for the 24th Judicial District in North Carolina. Over the course of his 22-year judicial career, he was privileged to hold court in almost 50% of the county seats in North Carolina. Currently, Judge Ginn serves as the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary.

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