The Sacrifice of Urija Bayer Impacts Israel

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Urija Bayer, a Christian who voluntarily served in the IDF and gave his life protecting Israel. The outpouring of love and appreciation came from every corner of society, despite the fact that Urija wasn't Jewish and didn't have Israeli citizenship. In fact it was because of these facts that his service and sacrifice was deeply felt by so many.

Christians who came to serve

Urija's family are German Christians who came three generations ago to serve the people of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust, building a nursing home to care for elderly survivors. They run a charity to fund their work, and have tirelessly served, seeking to bless Israel. Some are calling the Bayer family and their community Christian Zionists, others call them Messianic Christians, or even Messianic Jews. It's hard to know how to categorize this Ruth-like group who love Jesus and came to comfort God's people in the way that they have. Not only did they come to serve, bless and comfort Holocaust survivors, but their descendants have refused to leave in Israel's hour of need, and are willing to fight even until death to defend the Jewish state. Two of Urija's siblings are still serving in Gaza as combat soldiers. The word “hero” has been repeatedly attributed to the Christian Sergeant-Major in the plethora of media articles about him. And deservedly so. Even an Ultra-Orthodox news site (Behadrei Haredim) dedicated the kindest of words, saying that Urija had died in a “heroic battle” fighting as a combat soldier, and wished long life to his Christian family who came to serve Israel six decades ago.1  

Where did those prayers go?

Flowers for Urija's funeral

Sergeant-Major Urija served as a member of the Maglan Special Forces unit of the Nahal Brigade and died from severe head injuries sustained in combat. There were many people praying for him as his life hung in the balance, but it seems those prayers weren't wasted. The fact that there were so many at the funeral, at least 2000, including many dignitaries such as the German ambassador, heads of medical institutions, and many high-ranking military personnel, goes to show how significant both his decisions and his death have been. Urija was even mentioned in the Israeli Parliament, as Knesset Member Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) thanked the Bayer family for their sacrifice:

“Urija was the salt of the earth; the citizens of Israel thank you and the Bayer family.”

Well over 450 Israeli soldiers have died in this war with Hamas so far.2 The soldiers have come from all walks of life and from every sector of society; secular Jews, religious Jews, and Messianic Jews, Arabic-speaking Christians, Bedouins, Druze and Muslims. Most Israelis are compelled to serve but exceptions are made for Arabs and for those who are not citizens of Israel. Urija didn't have to fight. He and others like him willingly and voluntarily choose to protect Israel with their lives. And like many of the 600 or so Jewish and Arab soldiers who believe in Jesus in the IDF, his faith led him to pursue excellence and valor. The courage and faithfulness of believers in the army often leads to them earning positions of responsibility in some of the most challenging units. This is a profound witness.

Your people will offer themselves freely
    on the day of your power,
    in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
    the dew of your youth will be yours.
(Psalm 110:3)

Urija Bayer's funeral

The life of Urija Bayer leaves a message

Urija's love for Israel was demonstrated in his willingness to lay down his life. In this time of intense hatred and cruelty, Urija's selfless decision—and subsequent death—speaks volumes. Jesus said there is no greater love than this: than to lay down your life for your friends. The funeral took place among huge crowds in Maalot on December 19th, with people carrying flags flocking both sides of the road up to the military cemetery. After the ceremony by the army rabbi Urija's mother spoke about their faith very openly, saying, “My little boy has gone home to the source of light!” She told the crowd that Urija's faith was known by his fellow soldiers in the Maglan Unit. His uncle was invited to pray at the end of the ceremony.3 The extensive media coverage of Urija and his family shows the impact their story has had on the public, as ordinary Israelis grapple to understand why this German Christian gave his life for Israel.

Urija was proud to serve in the IDF and determined to defend the nation he loved. He was just twenty years old. May his memory be a blessing, and his family comforted, as they have comforted Israel.

  1. News Max, Christian Family Praised After Son Urija Bayer's Fall in Gaza,
  2. Times of Israel, Authorities name 466 soldiers, 59 police officers killed in Gaza war, Emanuel Fabian, Updated 20 December 2023
Show the world you are One for Israel!

Order your 2024 ONE FOR ISRAEL

Prayer calendar