As the bombs rained down in the Middle East, Rabbi Tuly Weisz was sending up prayers — waging a spiritual battle against the evil of Hamas' terror.
He organized emergency prayer calls between Jews and Christians to do what Psalm 122 directs, to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
Weisz told Fox News, "The world is looking for political solutions, and we're looking for spiritual solutions ... [We're] bridging the two communities and having rabbis and pastors together praying to the same God."
Weisz is founder of Israel 365, which builds bridges between Jews and Christians and all who share faith-based values.
From his home in Ramat Beit Shemesh southwest of Jerusalem, Weisz feels the ground shake and the sirens sound as he and his wife try to shield their six children from the horrors unfolding less than an hour's drive away.
But there's no protecting them from the conflict that has been waging between Jews and Arabs for centuries if not several millennia.
Between Jews and Christians there is much shared religious foundations. The Hebrew Scriptures are what Christians call the Old Testament, the part of the Bible they understand to be pointing to Jesus, the Messiah.
And there's also reverence for the verse in Genesis in which God says of Israel, "I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed"(Genesis 12:3).
Said Weisz to Fox News, "There's a lot of history between Jews and Christians. There are a lot of reasons why Jews and Christians don't ordinarily get together. However, since I started the organization, I felt that the relationship was crucial — and crucial in so many ways for the security of Israel, as we're seeing today, but also for really the stability of the United States as a Judeo-Christian country."
One of the problems for his hope today is that fewer and fewer Americans have a biblical worldview. A worldview is a fundamental and comprehensive philosophy of how you see the entirety of world, its meaning and purpose.
A survey last year by Arizona Christian University showed that among American Christian pastors, only 37% possessed a biblical worldview.
The majority, 62%, have what's called more of a syncretistic worldview, a theological term meaning an amalgamation of different religions and cultures. It's a remnant of the European Enlightenment period of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries — the belief that man, not God, is the measure of all things.
One of the byproducts of the philosophy is the assumption that all religions are equally valid and true, that there are many paths to God.
How is it manifested today? The protests on college campuses supporting Palestinians and Hamas could be seen as a byproduct of a waning biblical worldview in the United States — a belief that God through His Messiah is our only hope. There's no belief in the Jews as God's chosen people.
There's also the well-documented rise in the number of Gen Z, millennials and Gen-Xers who are religiously unaffiliated.
One study says those in Generation Z — born between 1997 and 2012 (ages 11-26) — are 34% religiously unaffiliated.
It's the bulk of the age of those on college campuses, where young people are being influenced by pro-Palestinian courses and professorships influenced by Arab states.
In a 2021 study by the Jewish Virtual Library, called Arab Funding of American Universities, Dr. Mitchel G. Bard wrote, "Donors from Arab states have quietly made contributions to American universities to create centers and chairs to propagate their views. The Arab lobby succeeded in hijacking the field of Middle East Studies and now has faculty across the country who use their positions to advance political agendas that are typically pro-Arab (often specifically related to the Palestinians), anti-Israel, and uncritical of radical Islam."
The study showed that three countries contribute more than 80% percent of all Arab funding. Qatar leads with $4.3 billion; the Saudis are second with $2.1 billion; and the UAE are third with $1.1 billion. Other countries on the list include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon ... and interestingly, the "State of Palestine," with nearly $7.5 million.
But being "religiously unaffiliated" or even ambivalent is a self-deceiving position.
As theologian Dr. John Frame said, "There is no neutral position when it comes to religion."
The religiously unaffiliated mistakenly believe that they are controlling their own fate. And as Dr. Tim Keller, who recently passed, always preached, "If you're not worshiping God, you're worshiping something" — something has captured your heart and put meaning in your life.
And in this secular culture, there are plenty of "God substitutes." Gender, politics and power have become the biggest surrogates for the God of the Bible, filling the vacuum left empty by "Un-affiliation."
So if the starting point of understanding the conflict in Israel is only about a few decades old, dating back to its 1948 creation, then "unjust" politics is its cause. Therefore politics is its solution.
But we are witness to a holy war among brothers that has waged since nearly the dawn of civilization.
Even if you are a devout Christian or Jew, there's room for debate about a lot of the opening chapters of the Bible in Genesis, such as the timelines of creation — whether it was seven days as Scripture says, or 13 billion years as scientific discovery reveals.
And there’s a lot of research that reconciles those two scenarios.
You can also debate whether there was a real man named Adam and his wife Eve who committed the first sin that caused the downfall of the entire human race. Or whether there was an actual man named Noah who built an arc that saved the Earth’s animals and his immediate family of three sons and their wives during a global flood that wiped out the rest of humanity.
And there’s plenty of research on the topics and what they mean.
But most scholars agree that when the patriarch Abraham emerges on the biblical stage in Genesis, hundreds or even thousands of years after Adam, and after Noah’s flood — our time and God’s time are now synched.
By all anthropological and archeological understandings, the early Iron Age around 2000 BC is where this story really begins the narrative of where we are in history between Jews and their brother Arabs.
Both are descendant from sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. They are brothers of different mothers.
And from the time the younger Isaac is born, they and their clans have been at odds, conflicting over what is rightly theirs.
The Bible describes Ishmael as the son of the slave woman Hagar born the natural way. And Isaac, the son of the promise, God’s promise. Born to Abraham’s wife Sarah when she was old and past the age of childbearing.
It was a miracle, and part of God’s covenant to make Abraham into a great nation — and give him the land.
It's the same land on which this modern conflict is now taking place.
The climax of Abraham's relationship to God comes with Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac. It's one of the first signs of Christianity revealed: a father willing to sacrifice his only son.
Psalm 83 in the Old Testament is one of many Scripture verses bemoaning Israel's constant state of conflict. It has just as much weight today as it did in ancient times: "For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more."
There are many Christians who discount the Old Testament (maybe influenced by those pastors without a biblical worldview). The only part of the Bible they need adhere to is the New Testament and the Gospels and Jesus’ teachings. It's become a default mode for many who see only the modern politics of this conflict.
Israel is the "occupier" of Palestinian lands. But there’s a very inconvenient truth about ignoring the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus believed the Old Testament reliable and said so Himself, that all of it pointed to Him. In the Gospel of Luke 24, Jesus says, "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."
New Testament scholar and Anglican priest Dr. N.T. Wright said the situation is incredibly complex because "the weight of history is always there."
Wright, years back, taught alongside Jewish scholars at the Hebrew University and lived alongside some Palestinian Christians at St George's Cathedral.
He says, "We often don't realize how difficult it is living in a small territory with porous borders and with border disputes going back centuries, and old memories and folktales and songs that reflect this. So the whole business ... is much more complicated than we imagine."
However, he goes on, "the New Testament does hold out this shimmering hope of an inheritance, which is the whole world for God's people."
Still, there's something else that a biblical worldview has at the ready to relieve the tension and pains of this moment in history.
Says Wright, "This constitutes a call to lament. And that's a very biblical answer from the Psalms, from Isaiah, from Jeremiah, a call to lament."
It's a groaning in travail knowing that God is with us but asking, "What on Earth is going on? What is God doing?"
This is Rabbi Weisz's prayer as well.
But there's still fear.
Said Weisz, "My grandparents survived Hitler's concentration camps, and my grandmother, who should live and be well, is very nervous about her grandchildren today in Israel as a survivor of Auschwitz."
Part of the emergency prayer call included American pastor Paula White, a former member of President Donald Trump's Faith Advisory Team.
She wrote on her website, "We will make sure that we are on the right side of God and the right side of history. May God bless you and may God bless Israel."
Rabbi Weisz clings to this kind of armor against the forces of evil.
"Although we have our differences, what we have in common is so much greater than what divides us," he said.
"And showing solidarity in this unprecedented way, we believe is the best Iron Dome to defend Israel today."