Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency begin meetings with Iran today in Vienna. The stakes couldn’t be higher, for two reasons.
First, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing for war. He shocked his country last week by bringing the opposition party into his governing coalition. The last time Israel formed a unity government was in May 1967, when the nation faced war with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The result was the Six-Day War that saved Israel from annihilation.
Now Netanyahu has built a similar coalition that will strengthen his ability to go to war with Iran if necessary. Israel has already stated that if negotiations fail, they will attack Iran rather than allow Tehran to develop nuclear weapons that could launch a Holocaust in six minutes. Netanyahu forfeited September elections that would have guaranteed him another four years in power–that’s how urgent he considers this moment to be.
What could cause Israel to attack Iran? A second development in today’s news: disclosure of an Iranian explosive containment chamber that can be used only for nuclear arms-related tests. A secret informant risked his life to smuggle this information out of the Parchin military site. The chamber’s existence shows that Iran’s claims to be seeking only peaceful nuclear power are untruthful.
If Israel and Iran go to war, will Hezbollah and Hamas attack Israel? Will other Muslim nations join the conflict? Will the United States become involved? What will happen to oil supplies and a global economy still struggling to recover from recession? (A recent poll indicates that 62% of Americans believe our economy is back in recession.)
What can we do to forestall war? Support Israel. After numerous trips to the Holy Land, I have learned this fact: the more Israel knows we will stand with them, the less they believe they must act on their own.
How does this fact affect Christians today? We cannot influence the Supreme Leader of Iran or the prime minister of Israel. But we can speak to the King of Kings. In fact, he instructs us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels'” (Psalm 122:6-7). And he calls us to pray for “all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2).
It has been four decades since daily intercession for the Middle East was as urgent as it is now. This is a battle we must join on our knees.