1 Peter 3:15 - But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
Anyone who visits Israel is quick to notice the golden-crowned mosque which is known as the Dome of the Rock. The mosque sits on a spot which holds special significance for three of the world's major religions.
* Jews venerate the location because their temples and the Holy of Holies once stood there.
* Muslims hold the spot hallowed because they believe Mohammed paid a visit to heaven from that location.
* Christians respect the spot because it was frequently visited by the Savior.
In 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel conquered the Temple Mount. The general who led the Israeli army into Jerusalem ordered their flag to be put up on top of the mosque. The action was called to the attention of the Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who quickly had the flag removed. He understood that such an action would provide a rallying spot for the defeated Islamic armies.
The ceasefire agreement, which placed the Temple Mount under the authority of the Jordanian monarch, showed Dayan was right. Today, an Israeli who wishes to go up on the Temple Mount is thoroughly searched, and a representative from Israel and the Temple's police force accompanies him to make sure he doesn't break the law, which says no Israeli symbols are allowed on the site.
Although the law isn't a great one, and it is certainly not satisfying to all parties, it is probably the best that can be done. For more than 50 years, it has been in effect and respected.
Yes, it has been respected until April 11th of this year.
On that day, a Christian group of tourists from China smuggled an Israeli flag past security, unfolded it in a most public place and took their pictures with the flag prominently displayed.
It is the kind of action which can have all kinds of repercussions: none of them good.
Before our Savior ascended into heaven, He told His people to take His Name into all the world. It is a request that is still in effect, and one which we are eager to do. To tell the condemned world of Jesus' redemptive act is a great opportunity. But there is a right way to witness and a wrong way to witness. The apostle Peter shared that right way when he wrote the Savior's people should always be prepared "to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."
The witness of the Chinese, I am afraid was more a political one than it was a Christian statement.
Even more, the fact that they deliberately smuggled the flag onto the sacred spot shows they had missed the boat on being gentle and respectful. It is the kind of action that does not glorify the Savior. Instead, it gives ammunition to those critics who are so very eager to criticize every witness the Savior's followers make.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I ask that the Holy Spirit rest upon the witness made by all the Savior's followers. Grant that all we do or say may point to the Redeemer's sacrifice and the hope we have because of His loving life, death, and resurrection. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz on April 13, 2018 for Breaking Israel News. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/105817/first-time-in-50-years-israeli-flag-flies-on-temple-thanks-to-chinese-non-jews/#w8U2IBavGbtbF2cz.97
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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