On March 27, 2023 Prime minister Netanyahu addressed the rising tension in Israel. He started his presentation with a biblical story about King Solomon and the two mothers (1 Kings 3: 16-28). Netanyahu likened the two mothers with the two opposing poles in Israel. He added that the child is the country and he does not want to divide the country. Consequently, he wants to save the life of the child. The story presented by Netanyahu has several assumptions that are not accurate:
1. Netanyahu is not like King Solomon. Solomon sought the wisdom of God and confessed that he is unable to address all the challenges. He therefore begged God for understanding. God was pleased with Solomon because he truly was seeking the wisdom of God. Such wisdom is rooted in building the house of God and promoting his standards of Justice, not a particular political program.
2. Netanyahu overlooked that the two mothers are not equally right. Their positions were not equally legitimate. In fact, one of them is a liar and a thief. She killed her child and is now trying to take the child of another woman. The story is not about compromise to save the child but is about justice to give back the child to the right mother and deal with the oppressive mother with the justice of God.
3. Netanyahu also overlooked that the two mothers are prostitutes (1 Kings 3: 16). They are far from God and are probably worshiping idols. He also overlooked the fact that there is also a dead child!
4. Netanyahu overlooked the fact that the end of the story of Solomon’s Kingdom is division because of injustices and abandoning the way of love and divine mercy. Moreover, the text is structured to point out that the Kingdom of Solomon not only collapsed but the people ended in exile. Their ethical failure and covenantal failure led to their exile.
5. Netanyahu would have benefited more if he highlighted the concept of justice in biblical Israel. Such justice was rooted in the balance of powers between the priests, the king, the judges, and the prophets. The King was evaluated by prophetic voices and ethical standards that embody justice as designed by God and approved by biblical prophets.
6. Biblical Justice cannot be embodied without covenantal love. A deep relationship with God is the means for spreading Kingdom ethics. Such ethics and justice were embodied in Jesus Christ who is the climax of justice. He embodies missional justice that is rooted in covenantal love.
Stating the issues again from a different angle, I repeat that the situation in Israel is very tense. Many Israeli Jews are against the judicial “reforms” that the government is proposing. The government wants to advance several legislations including “reforming” the court system and proposing that a simple majority in the Israeli Parliament can override supreme court rulings. The opposition sees these steps as a move towards autocracy and away from democracy.
The disagreement developed into many demonstrations, strikes, and a paralyzed country. People are not able to use the airports. The roads and highways are not open because of the demonstrations, the educational institutions are striking, and Gas stations are planning to strike as well. This is part of what is going on and part of the tensions inside the country that is losing control. The economy is facing unexpected challenges and many tourists are cancelling their visits. In addition, radical religious groups are acting in oppressive ways. Several radical “Islamists” attacked Christian institutions and churches in Nazareth during the past 10 days. So how can we pray for this situation
1. Pray for people to value the sanctity of life and not to spill innocent blood.
2. Pray for the protection of religious minorities because of the rising voices of radical religious voices among Ultra-Orthodox Jews and radical Muslims.
3. Pray for peace, security, and justice for all the peoples of Israel and Palestine. The justice of the court system in Israel is deeply related to missional justice towards Palestinians.
4. Pray for Netanyahu and for wisdom for all the leaders of Israel
5. Pray for the protection of the church and its ministries and for spreading the Gospel in these difficult times.
6. Pray that that the country will not collapse but will establish justice and celebrate it in a truly democratic state, a state for all its citizens including Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship.
7. Pray for a just and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis.
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