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From the River to the Sea

I rarely use this space to highlight current happenings in our nation or world. We are constantly inundated with stories throughout our days about the economy, the election, immigration, the Ukraine, seventeen-year cicadas, or whatever is the event de jour of the news cycle. As a body of Christ, our goal is to remain focused on the mission God has for us to be a gospel presence in our community. Our pastors, staff, and lay leaders, therefore, are careful to refrain from offering opinions on every political or social issue. Our purpose is not to support or oppose any political party or agenda; rather, it is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, regardless of who occupies the White House or controls Congress.

However, I believe some recent events in our nation require a response from those of us who follow Christ. I have been absolutely astounded to read about and see televised the protests on college campuses across our nation. Briefly—if you rigorously avoid any news sources—at Columbia University and a number of other colleges, students have set up encampments and made demands of their college or university to sever ties with any companies doing business with Israel. This is their reaction to Israel’s attempts to weaken Hamas after the brutal attack on southern Israel by this terrorist organization last fall. Just as a reminder: these terrorists killed nearly 1500 individuals and took approximately 250 hostages, most of whom are still being held. Moreover, Hamas has made it perfectly clear that their goal is to kill all the Jews in Israel. This group has been classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries around the world. 

There are multiple concerns I have about the actions and demands of these protesters. But, that is a discussion better suited for another venue. The reason I have decided to use this space to give attention to these recent events isn’t as much because of their demands (which I vehemently oppose) but their mantra. These individuals have moved beyond asking for policy changes and have lunged into hateful rhetoric calling for the annihilation of an entire people group. The ubiquitous phrase—both written and chanted by these protesters—is: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Do you know what that means? 

The eastern border of Israel is the Jordan River. The western border of Israel is the Mediterranean Sea. This cry is a support for what we have seen attempted before: the rise of a group or groups to attack and annihilate all Israeli citizens, thus removing any Jewish presence from that land. These college students (and others) are calling for the murder of men, women, and children. This chant supports what Hamas did on October 7 of last year, but hopes for it to happen to a much larger degree.

When Katie and I were in Israel several years ago, we met a number of Palestinians living within Israel. They operated businesses and restaurants and lived peaceably among their Jewish neighbors. I did not hear a one of them chant anything about the river to the sea. 

Yet, these American students (I wonder how many have actually been to Israel or any other country in the Middle East?) are calling for this horrible atrocity and see nothing wrong with their demands. Something has gone majorly wrong in our nation when this kind of speech is tolerated. 

There are approximately 7.5 million Jews living in Israel. Nearly 200,000 Jews and Arabs living there are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As Christians, we have an obligation to be informed on this issue. We may hold differing opinions on a number of political issues; however, we need to be ready to respond to this kind of ruthless, abhorrent speech calling for the annihilation of Israel. Join me in praying for our nation, for Israel, and for discernment in knowing how to respond to those who ask us about these current events. 

Kevin Mills

Lead Pastor

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