The prophet Isaiah speaks of a final day of judgment when “people will go into caves of the rocks and into holes in the ground away from the terror of YHVH and the splendor of His majesty, when He arises to terrify the earth” (Isaiah 2:18-19). The two specific countries that Isaiah focuses on in that prophecy are Lebanon and Bashan (modern Syria): “For YHVH of armies will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is arrogant and haughty, and against everyone who is lifted up – that he may be brought low. And it will be against all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up, against all the oaks of Bashan – against all the lofty mountains, against all the hills that are lifted up” (Isaiah 2:12-14).
Modern military strategists discuss nine main challenges that are confronting Israel – threats that may pop up one at a time on the battlefield or quite possibly as a confederation of enemies. They are: Hamas (Gaza), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Gaza), Hezbollah (Lebanon), Arab riots (within Israel and in the West Bank), Syria, Shi’ite militias in Iraq, Iran, the Houthis (Yemen) and conceivably Turkey (Türkiye). This list of enemies reminds us of the battle rosters of Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38:4-6. Though perhaps not the final fulfilment of those passages, present developments show that such prophetic events are not far away.
Previous newsletters have examined the history and theology of both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This newsletter will focus on Hezbollah, the third enemy in the above-mentioned list. The newsletter after this one will consider the dangers posed by an ‘Arab Revolt’ on Israeli streets from ‘Palestinian’ Arabs in Israel and the West Bank.
Canaan, Phoenicia and Israel
Moses tells us that “the sons of Noah were Shem, Ham and Japheth. The sons of Ham were Cush (Ethiopia), Mizrayim (Egypt), Put (Libya), and Canaan . . . Canaan fathered Sidon, his firstborn; Heth; the Jebusite; the Amorite; the Girgashite; the Hivite. . . The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon going toward . . . as far as Gaza; and going toward Sodom and Gomorrah . . .” (Genesis 10:6-20).
The biblical Canaanites were not Semites (descendants of Shem) but Hamites (descendants of Ham). About 2,300 B.C. the ancient Egyptians called the Canaanites ‘the sand-dwellers in Asia’ and by 800 B.C. they were known by the Greeks as ‘Phoenicians.’ These early inhabitants of Lebanon were sometimes poetically compared to the majestic cedars growing in the mountainous regions: “You who live in Lebanon, nested in the cedars . . .” (Jeremiah 22:23).
The God of Jacob warned the Jewish people about the Canaanites and their corrupting spiritual influence in Exodus 23:31-33: “I will set your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. For I will hand over the inhabitants of the land to you, and you will drive them out from you. You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not live in your land, otherwise they will make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it is certain to be a snare to you.”
Lebanon under the jihadi crescent
The armies of Mohammad, the mujahidin (jihadi warriors) burst out of the Arabian desert to conquer Lebanon between 632-639 A.D. And apart from a brief Crusader interlude (1095-1302 A.D.) Muslim rule continued in Lebanon until the French Mandate in 1918. Lebanon’s borders were ratified in the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920, and the country’s independence was declared in 1943.
In 1956 Lebanon’s population was 54% Christian and 44% Muslim. In 2020 the CIA estimated that the population was 67.8% Muslim and 32% Christian. This trend of Christian decline and Muslim growth is commonplace through the Middle East. Lebanon’s Islamic population is today sub-divided between 31.9% Sunni Muslims and 31.2 % Shia/Shi’ite Muslims. To put these numbers in perspective, Sunni Muslims make up 85% of the Muslim world, while Shia Muslims make up less than 15%.
According to Arab geographer Al-Maqdisi’s description which goes back to 966-985 A.D., already Shi’ites were a majority in Lebanese Tyre and Tripoli. For a helpful understanding of the history of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide and its modern ramifications, see: https://www.cfr.org/article/sunni-shia-divide.
Due to the rocky and bloody relationships between the various religious streams in Lebanon, in 1943 a National Pact was established, setting up a government based on ‘multi-confessionalism’ – where high-ranking political offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President must always be a Maronite Christian; the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim; the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim; the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament members of the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith.
Lebanon has seen significant sectarian strife over the past century. One horrific example was the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) witnessed over 120,000 casualties. Over the years Lebanese Presidents and Prime Ministers have been assassinated by Syrian agents or by Hezbollah.
The Iranian decision to establish Hezbollah was taken after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran in February 1979. His Council of the Islamic Revolution (Šūrā-ye enqelāb-e eslāmī) decided that the time had come to export the Shi’ite revolution to the Arab world and to found Islamic movements based on Iranian Islamic ideology. Khomeini appointed Ayatollah Ali Akhbar Montazeri to establish an extensive network which would support ‘Islamic liberation movements’ – Hezbollah Hijaz in Saudi Arabia, Hezbollah in Bahrain, Hezbollah in Kuwait and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In August 1981 Ali Akhbar Mohtashamipur, a close ally of Khomeini, was dispatched to Syria as the Iranian ambassador. One of his assignments was to found a new Shi’ite movement in Lebanon as an alternative to the Shi’ite movement Amal. The Amal movement was founded in 1974 by two Iranians, Musa al-Sadr and Dr. Mostafa Chamran. But Iran now saw Amal as a secular movement, because it refused to recognize Khomeini’s concept of Velâyat-e Faqih (the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) – total loyalty to Khomeini and to his Iran-led Shi’ite revolution.
Working from the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Mohtashamipur established Hezbollah and set up its Shura Council (‘the Council of Lebanon’) – essentially the Hezbollah leadership. Mohtashamipur was involved in supervising Hezbollah’s suicide bomb attacks against the American Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, the American and French contingents of the MNF in October 1983 and the American Embassy annex in September 1984. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) and Syrian military intelligence were co-planners in these terror attacks. Mohtashamipur was also instrumental in the 1988 Hezbollah torture and killing of Lt. Col. William R. Higgins , the American Chief of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization’s (UNTSO) observer group, as well as overseeing a USD $10 million payment to arrange the December 1988 bombing of Pan AM Flight 103.
An extensive history of the shadow war between Israel and Hezbollah can be found in this excellent article by Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira ‘Inside the Struggle Between Israel and Hezbollah.’ Hezbollah’s ideology is clearly laid out in the following article: ‘Hizballah’s Ideology: Main Points and Practical Implementation.’ The following article exposes how over the past decade Hezbollah and Hamas have developed a closer working relationship.
At present, the official Lebanese government has next to no control over Hezbollah, which is an Iranian-planted terror group created to destroy the Jewish state.
The CIA’s take on Hezbollah and Israel
Robert Baer, former CIA case officer in the Directorate of Operations from 1976 to 1997 (where he served in Iraq and Lebanon, etc.), does not see things through a biblical framework. He has no grid for God’s heart and calling on Israel, nor does he understand the Last Days vision found in the Hebrew prophets. Nevertheless, some of his perspectives are worth noting.
- The Iranians look at things differently than does the West. “It’s a war of civilizations for them.”
- “In the Middle East, it’s about a people, the Arabs and the Iranians, who feel humiliated from the 19th century . . . [W]e are gradually moving into a war unconsciously against Islam — which you don’t want to do. There’s just too many people, there’s too many countries. They own the oil, most of the world’s oil resources, and hope we sidestep this . . . It’s a basic misunderstanding of what’s happening in the Middle East, and it doesn’t have to do with Democrats or Republicans. And one side [of this problem] is support for Israel.”
- And how important is Israel in American foreign policy? “It’s extremely important. But it’s because we look at Israel as a democracy, one. … And the Holocaust is very important in the American conscience, political conscience. It’s a gut reaction. We support Israel for those two reasons, the Holocaust and democracy.”
- “I don’t agree that Hezbollah itself is a terrorist organization. It delivers powdered milk; it takes care of people. It’s a social organization; it’s a political organization. It fights corruption . . . We can’t label [them] terrorists and fight Hezbollah as an organization in its entirety. We have to isolate the murderers and fight them . . . Hezbollah itself is not a terrorist organization”
- Al Qa’eda and Hezbollah “are isolated individuals which don’t have anything to do with Islam in general.”
- “But we are going to need the Muslims to fight this war on terror. We need Saudi Arabia; we need to make Saudi Arabia feel comfortable. We need Saudi Arabia to go back to its schools and reform them and stop preaching jihad.”
- “What can we do about it? We can only cope with these problems inasmuch as we solve the problem of Israel and Palestine. If we can implement U.N. Resolution 242, we can internationalize Jerusalem, do something about the right of return of Palestinians to Palestine. And then go to the Middle East and say, ‘All right, now it’s time to implement other U.N. resolutions’ . . . But it really does boil down to Israel, in a lot of ways.”
- And when you were in the CIA, was there an awareness of this? . . . “No, but it’s not CIA’s business. These are the politics we saw, but we were never involved in this. We never had to worry about resolutions, U.N. 242. I mean, [we] read about it and cared about it.”
Baer’s stunning lack of awareness about the spiritual aspects of jihad, his dismissal of classical Islamist teachings on jihad, and his ignorance about the Bible’s perspective regarding the Jewish people – all reveal that some of those responsible for guarding the chicken coop seem to have forgotten how to recognize foxes.
POTUS Biden recently stated that he was coming to Israel to ask some hard questions – including what is Israel’s endgame in dealing with Hamas. Later on, when asked if he supported a ‘hostages-for-ceasefire’ deal, the President stated: “We should get the…we should have a ceasefire…not a ceasefire, we should have those hostages released, and then we can talk.” It seems that the U.S. Administration has an endgame which does not includes Israel’s clearly stated endgame goals – the total elimination of Hamas in Gaza, down to its last member.
And what are Hezbollah’s endgame goals? IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen warned in the Hebrew press that Hezbollah is basing its war plans on three key pillars: First, Hezbollah plans to hit Israel’s civilian front and military bases with barrages of up to 150,000 rockets. The second tactic is a dense defensive posture aimed at producing a heavy casualty toll among IDF strike forces. Thirdly, Hezbollah plans to carry out wide-scale commando operations targeting civilians and IDF posts across the entire border.
Hamas’ endgame goals? They are extremely clear and not open to negotiated settlement. The Hamas Charter states:
- “The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] draws its guidelines from Islam” (Article #1).
- “Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims” (Article #28).
- “The Platform of The Islamic Resistance Movement (ed., Hamas): Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.”
- “Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: ‘The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” (Article #7).
Senior Hamas official Ali Baraka said in an October 8, 2023 interview that aired on Russia Today TV: “In order to keep the [October 7] attack secret and successful, the different factions and our allies did not know the zero hour. But after half an hour, all the Palestinian resistance factions were contacted as were our allies in Hezbollah and Iran. The Turks were also notified . . . Our allies are those that support us with weapons and money. First and foremost, it is Iran that is giving us money and weapons. There is also Hezbollah, and the Arab and Islamic people who are standing by us. There are countries that support us politically. Even Russia sympathizes with us.” Hamas and Hezbollah have expressed the hope that other countries will join in the attack on Israel if the IDF goes after Hamas in Gaza.
Earlier on Sunday October 22, 2023, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha and stated: “If the attacks of the Zionist regime against civilians and the defenseless people of Gaza persist, no one can guarantee that the situation will be under control and the scope of the fighting won’t expand.” “If the measures aimed at immediately stopping the Israeli attacks that are killing children in the Gaza Strip end in a deadlock, it is highly probable that many other fronts will be opened. This option is not ruled out and this is becoming increasingly more probable,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told Al Jazeera on Sunday.
Iran is trying to ‘play chicken’ with Israel and with the U.S.A., hoping that these two countries will blink – or perhaps that the U.S. will put pressure on Israel to postpone or call off its military operation into Gaza aimed at eliminating the jihadi evil forces that raped, tortured, kidnapped and massacred over 1,400 Jewish babies, children, pregnant women, pensioners and just plain Israeli civilians.
- It seems that the Middle Eastern players all have a clear endgame in mind. Pray with us that Israel’s endgame will be honored by Israel’s allies.
Hezbollah has been sending scores of commando teams to fire Russian anti-tank guided missiles at IDF soldiers and tanks, at Israeli citizens and kibbutzim. Mortars and rockets have been fired for many days now from Lebanon into Israeli cities, villages and farms on the border with Lebanon.
Though officially war has not been declared, all Israelis understand that we are at war with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Iran.
How should we then pray?
As tanks begin to roll, here are some bullet points to be praying about:
- Pray for ‘shock and awe’ to be successfully carried out by the IDF to thwart the years of planning that Hamas has done – tunnels, mines, commando teams whose job is to kidnap IDF soldiers, and to even make off with their dead bodies. Davidic divine strategies as in Psalm 144:1: “Blessed be YHVH my rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle!”
- Pray for clarity of strategy, purpose and resolve for Israel’s leaders to deal a final death-blow to Hamas in Gaza – total and unconditional surrender of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and total removal from Gaza for them both
- Pray for the leaders of your nation to receive a revelation of God as the Captain of the armies of Israel (see 1 Samuel 17:45): “But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a saber, but I come to you in the name of YHVH of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’”
- Pray for minimal loss of life on all sides except for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
- Pray for God’s strategies and leading regarding how to deal with Hezbollah, and for the God of Jacob to hold back regional war if possible, involving Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Turkey, the Yemenite Houthis and other superpowers
- Pray for revelation and clarity to be imparted by the God of Israel to the world intelligence community who have not yet understood what jihad is all about and are fogged as to how to deal with it decisively
- Pray for the physical rescue of the at least 229 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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