NASHVILLE (BP) -- Over the years, Southern Baptists have adopted numerous resolutions affirming Israel's right to exist as a sovereign and independent state in its ancient homeland. These have included a resolution in celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary (2008), several resolutions condemning anti-Semitism (2003, 1981, 1972, and 1971), and a resolution encouraging the nation of Israel to embrace and affirm the principle of religious freedom (1978).
Southern Baptists have also prayed "for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6-7), affirming God's "love for and offer of salvation in Christ to all people, including both Jewish and Palestinian people" (two resolutions, 2008 and 2002; quote from 2002).
When news broke that Israel and Hamas had begun observing an unconditional, 72-hour humanitarian truce Friday morning, Aug. 1, 2014, many hoped it would lead to lasting peace. However, within three hours after the cease-fire went into effect, the truce broke down. Clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters erupted and, according to news reports, militants again began firing rockets into Israel.
On the political front, the "peace of Jerusalem" seems to be an elusive dream. But on the spiritual front, those who know the Prince of Peace have learned that peace is a gift the Lord gives (John 14:27). Peace is also a supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer; as such, it is the natural expression of being filled with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Simply put, when we experience peace with God (Romans 5:1) it introduces us to the peace of God (Philippians 4:7).
It is appropriate for followers of Christ to pray for political peace; but we pray for more. We pray that the Prince of Peace will bring His reign of peace across the land, beginning in each human heart through the redemption that is freely offered through Jesus Christ.
As you enter your private place for your personal time of solitude, Scripture and prayer (Matthew 6:6), remember to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." As you gather your household for family devotions, remember to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." As you assemble with your church for Sunday worship, remember to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
We pray for nations (Isaiah 56:7; Psalm 2). We pray for leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-5). We pray for laborers (Matthew 9:38). We pray for the lost (Romans 10:1-4). And, interwoven through it all, we pray for peace.
Roger S. "Sing" Oldham is vice president for convention communications and relations with the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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