Corner of Crown & Albion Streets, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia
Photo by Albert Chiu



The stained glass windows of CPC's auditorium.

Pastoral Letter 19th November 2023

Rev. Christopher Chan

Pray for Israel, Gaza and us

The Israel-Hamas war has gone on for over a month now, commencing with Hamas carrying out a terror attack on Israel on 7 Oct. Some 1400 Israelis were killed and 240 kidnapped in that attack. In the retaliatory bombardment and ground incursion of the Israeli army into Gaza, it is reported that over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed to date, mostly civilians including many children. The inhabitants of Gaza are suffering an acute shortage of food, water, electricity and medical essentials caused by an Israeli blockade of access to crucial supplies. Both sides claim justification for their hostile action due to the other side having wronged them first.

It is human nature to allow hatred to develop, or even fuel hatred and be driven by a desire for revenge. If you or I have loved ones in Israel or Gaza who have fallen victim to the atrocities from the opposing side, we may be consumed by anger and may call for vengeance also. As a Chinese saying goes: “The vicious cycle of vengeance, when can it ever end?”. It cannot end, except through the transformation of hearts by the gospel.  “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (being His enemies and rebelling against Him), Christ died for us.”, and even as the world rejected and crucified His Son, He still lovingly calls them to return to Him. That stands in absolute contrast to our own vindictive human nature. As Christ’s community, we are admonished to “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” 1 Thess 5:15. This is very relevant and practical for us as a church. Grudges and vengeance in our context may not be physical, but even in subtle ways and in our minds, they can be detrimental to the individual and our community. Forgiveness and repaying wrong with good is absolutely necessary for maintaining our unity, harmony, love and effective witness as people of Christ.

In regard to the Israel-Hamas war, some Christians see it as a necessary step to further the restoration of the land to the nation of Israel according to God’s promise in OT times, which will begin the countdown to Christ's return. For that reason, they solidly support Israel in her retaliatory attack, despite the enormous collateral damage perpetrated. Subscribing to Reformed Theology, we understand God's promise differently. It is for True Israel, Christ’s church rather than national Israel, even though He still has mercy for that nation and is calling it to be part of the True Israel. Hence, we see this war as abhorrent to God, with unrighteousness on both sides.

Let us earnestly pray for Israel and the Palestinians that the enmity between them will be quenched. Seeking God's intervention is the only solution because it lies in human hearts being changed, which is not achievable by political or pragmatic means. Prayer is not the last resort. It is the first. Let us exercise our responsibility of intercession, to bring about God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.



允許仇恨産生,甚至助長仇恨,並被復仇慾望所驅使是人類的天性。如果你或我在以色列或加沙有親人成為對方暴行的受害者,我們可能也會被憤怒所吞噬,也可能要求復仇。中國有句諺語:「冤冤相報何時了? 」除非人心被福音所轉化,否則它不會了結。「惟有基督在我們還作罪人(為祂的敵人並悖逆祂)的時候為我們死、神的愛就在此向我們顯明了。」即使世人拒絕並釘死祂的兒子,祂仍然恩慈地呼喚他們回到祂的身傍。這與我們報復的傾向形成了鮮明的對比。作為基督的團體,我們被勸導要「…謹慎,無論是誰都不可以惡報惡。或是彼此相待,或是待眾人,常要追求良善。」帖前5:15。這對我們教會來說是非常相關和實用的。在我們的情況中,怨恨和復仇可能不是表现于人身攻擊,但即使是以較隱秘的方式或在我們的思想中進行,它們也可能對個人和我們的群體有嚴重的害處。饒恕和以善報惡對於維持我們作為基督子民的合一、和諧、相愛和作有效見證是絕對必要的。



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