The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have begun a ground operation in the Gaza Strip.
- What are the latest developments?
- What do the Scriptures say about these events?
- How can we pray?
Tunnel of hate
Early Thursday morning 13 Hamas commandos crawled over 2,500 meters through a tunnel from the Gaza Strip and surfaced near Kibbutz Sufa in Israel’s western Negev. They were armed with much “kit” as the British say, as well as with hostage-taking equipment. Their goal was to murder, take hostages and flee with them back to Gaza.
A combination of sharp IDF Intelligence Corps spotters and prior Shin Bet leads had put the IDF on high alert. As the terrorists spread out in the fields, their every move was captured by drones equipped with infra-red capabilities. The jihadi warriors discerned that they were spotted and fled back to the tunnel, with missiles exploding at the entrance to that tunnel barely one second after the last terrorist ducked in.
Over the years Hamas has constructed at least ten of these tunnels from Gaza into Israel with the sole purpose of murdering and kidnapping Israelis. On June 25, 2006 Gilad Shalit, an Israeli tanker, was kidnapped and the rest of his crew murdered by Hamas close to this very spot. Hamas later exchanged Shalit for 1,027 terror prisoners, and sees such activities as highly profitable. Other kibbutzim and farms in the area abutting Gaza are aware of such tunnels but the IDF has not yet discovered and destroyed most of them. Many lie at least 25 meters (70 feet) underground.
Hamas had intended this terror-tunnel attack to be a game-changer in the hostilities. They continued to fire rockets at Israeli civilians throughout the day and actually increased the number of attacks.
The Israeli security cabinet met Thursday morning and came to a conclusion that they had tried to avoid for ten days – authorizing a ground invasion.
Thursday early evening Israeli artillery began laying down a wall of fire, standard military practice before a ground incursion. At approximately 22:00 hours, IDF tanks, combat engineers, infantry and special operations forces rolled into Gaza on three fronts.
This invasion has various goals. The first one is to neutralize the terror tunnels. The second one is to eliminate Hamas’ extensive reserves of long and short-range rockets. Other operational goals exist, though they would be pulled out of the drawer depending on developments on the ground.
Hamas hides its rocket bunkers in mosques, under hospitals, in schools and in homes (www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-strongly-condemns-placement-rockets-school; www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4545336,00.html) – always smack dab in the middle of civilian areas. Rocket bunkers wedged in beside Gaza’s al-Wafa hospital were hit by IAF UAVs on Thursday night, with huge explosions following, indicating direct strikes on rocket warehouses. It has been an open secret for many years that Hamas has its central command and rocket bunkers buried deep under Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital. It is these targets that the IDF needs to obliterate with as little loss of life as possible.
- Pray for the military and political decision-makers in Israel – that YHVH will give them His strategies and wisdom as they prosecute this war against jihadi terror – the same spiritual family as Osama ben Laden, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and the ISIL/ISIS
- Pray for the Israeli soldiers involved – especially the Messianic believers – that they would be given divine guidance and protection (Psalm 91:5-8) and granted victory (1 Chronicles 11:14)
Waziristan next door
It may help to understand the present war with Hamas in these terms: if England were faced with a Waziristan next door, a jihadi enclave which fired rockets into Birmingham and sent terror squads into Trafalgar Square, how long would it take for COBRA (the Cabinet Office Briefing Room) to stream SAS squads and Harrier jets into action? If the USA were faced with rockets from Ciudad Juarez, or al Qa’eda gangs tunneling into San Diego, would it not respond with Delta Force, Seals and SWAT teams – with overwhelming force?
Even so, Israel has endured 14 years of Hamas rockets without striking a decisive and crushing blow on the jihadi forces responsible. WWII had a decisive ending because of the unconditional surrenders of the German and Japanese High Commands. Until such an event happens to Hamas, the battle will go on.
- Pray for backbone, resolve and fierce cleaving to the mission for Israeli decision-makers, generals, and commanders in the field
YHVH the primitive?
One of the voices which surfaces occasionally in the internet chatter is from people (believers and secularists both) who view the Bible as a compendium of syrupy ethical maxims and proverbs. Jesus is seen as a peaceful shepherd, someone totally opposed to war – like Mahatma Gandhi. These advocates of “peace at any price” are skating on thin ice when it comes to God.
In the 3rd century AD/CE, a theologian named Marcion of Sinope (in modern Turkey) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcion_of_Sinope) taught that YHVH was a god of hatred, war and anger, closely identified with the Jewish people, while Jesus was a God of love and peace. As a result, he developed a Bible (the Marcionite Canon) which removed anything Jewish and anything YHVH-related from its pages. It was a pretty slim volume! The Church Fathers (bless their hearts) declared Marcion a heretic and his teaching as heretical (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcionism).
Yet today there are many today who see the Hebrew Scriptures as somewhat less than the word of God, and who cannot relate to YHVH as Lord of the battle or as Warrior God (Deuteronomy 20:10; 1 Samuel 18:17; 25:28; Psalm 24:8; Psalm 144:1). And they do not believe that God fights for Israel and publically identifies with her.
The prophet Isaiah wants us to know that YHVH identifies sympathetically and empathetically with the Jewish people, “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). They are as close to Him and as tender in His sight as His own eyes, “Behold, he who touches you (Zion) touches the apple/pupil of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
God has already taken sides. It is He who, as Captain of YHVH’s armies, sent Joshua into battle against Jericho, and it is He who granted them victory (Joshua 5:13-6:5). It is true that God was not in Joshua’s army, but Joshua was certainly in God’s army, and taking direct orders from Him!
Daisies on the battlefield?
There are some politically correct peaceniks who are attempting to hand out daisies on the battlefield. They exhibit a naïveté which is stunning and which, if followed, would lead to the destruction of good on the face of the planet.
J.R.R. Tolkein’s epic Lord of the Rings was written in the face of Nazi terror. He wanted to warn the world of the danger through his prophetic fairy tales. Let us learn the lessons that Tolkein wanted us to learn. Let’s not get caught up in deception and totally miss out on being ready for today’s battles and trials!
Who exactly is this YHVH of armies? Let’s remember David’s confession:
- “What shall be done to the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ( Samuel 17:26)
- “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of YHVH of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have blasphemed!” (! Samuel 17:45)
- “Let the godly one exult in glory. Let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand – to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written. This is an honor for all His godly ones. Praise YHVH!” (Psalm 149:5-9)
Some believers may feel more comfortable at this point changing the subject to that of spiritual warfare and praise meetings.
One should remember that C.S. Lewis, in the second book of his science-fiction trilogy Perelandra (a friend of Tolkein’s who wrote this book during the war with Hitler), emphasized that sometimes spiritual warfare in the heavenlies actually has “on earth” consequences, and that fighting physical evil on earth is sometimes the most appropriate spiritual thing to do.
A generation which did not know Joseph
Moses gives us an oversight of developments in ancient Egypt after the death of the patriarch Joseph son of Jacob: “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). This dynamic does not only apply to the pagan king of antiquity. It may also apply to believers in our day.
Whereas in the 1960’s through the 1990’s many Evangelicals and Charismatics were warmly disposed to Israel and the Jewish people, now at the beginning of the 21st century some of these hearts have grown cold –“ Because wickedness will increase, most/many people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).
In days past a “summertime soldier and sunshine patriot” warmth toward Israel was easy when there was no cost involved. In our day it turns out that a slight amount of social disapproval or PC pressure melts waxen hearts to reveal the hard edge of good old Jew-hatred and anti-Semitic double standard. The prophetic warning concerning children not walking in the sins of their fathers – or the opposite, children walking in sins that their fathers never walked in (Jeremiah 31:29-20; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 30; Matthew 23:29-32) – is something to which we would well pay attention today.
- Pray for believers who have drifted with the current, hardening their hearts to God’s heart for Israel. Pray for renewed revelation, a renewed heart of flesh, and repentance
Scorpion in the tent
There is a well-known Middle-Eastern fable concerning a scorpion and a frog. The scorpion (who cannot swim) asks a frog at the river’s edge if he would allow him to hitch a ride on the frog’s back. The frog adamantly refuses, declaring that everyone knows that scorpion’s sting for the pleasure of it, that there is no way that he is going to risk his life for such a creature, and that if the scorpion stung him they both would die. The scorpion appeals, cajoles, whines – and ultimately the good-natured frog allows him to hop on his back.
As they are mid-point across the river, the scorpion stings the frog. “My friend, why did you do this?” groans the frog as they both sink into the waters. “Because, my friend” says this scorpion, “this is the Middle East.”
Hamas knows it cannot win militarily in the short run, but it is prepared to sacrifice many Gazans on the altar of war in order to turn world opinion against Israel. In doing this, it is holding true to its Islamist world view and to its own Charter (www.acpr.org.il/resources/hamascharter.html ):
- “The Platform of The Islamic Resistance Movement: Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors” (Introduction)
- “The Islamic Resistance Movement (ed., Hamas) draws its guidelines from Islam” (Article #1).
- “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief ” (Article #8 – The Slogan of the Hamas).
- There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility” (Article #13).
- “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad … We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise. ‘I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill’” (Article #15).
The psalmist in his day challenged YHVH about Middle Eastern enemies who spoke with deceitful tongues and hated peace. “Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:107).
Here is a youtube video produced by an Arab believer in Jesus, presenting footage of something very similar – what Hamas really acts like in Gaza and the West Bank. The grim footage shows Hamas thugs attacking, beating and killing other Muslims because they sang at a wedding – a heretical act according to Hamas’ version of Islam. There is footage of the beating of PLO supporters who were later murdered by Hamas (though not on the video). This may help the reader to get a better idea of the nature of the beast called Hamas (www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOJKkLlih94&feature=youtu.be).
Fear, bread and hesitation
The Jewish people have fought their enemies and the Lord’s enemies in Bible days, and the struggle continues today (see Ezekiel 36:1-5; Psalm 83). The generation that saw God’s miracles in the land of Egypt still trembled inside and was afraid at the battle that was set before them over the Promised Land.
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:30 -33).
Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is YHVH bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt” (Numbers 14:1-4).
The challenges involved in warfare resulted in Israel whining, trembling, cursing and rebelling against God and His leaders. The challenge for some in Israel today involves facing committed jihadi warriors. Major TV announcers declare in anguished tones, “But we will never be able to defeat Hamas! What if our army does some action that turns the world against us? The world will never allow us to win against Hamas!”
Just as a previous generation falsely prophesied that the Jewish people would be eaten up by the Canaanites like hot bread, so many journalists and media personalities are falsely prophesying defeatism and self-destruction for the Jewish state. Sadly, they are joined in this by some well-meaning Evangelicals who would prefer to see Israel lose its battles than win them – all in order to fulfil prophecy, of course…
- Pray for Israel’s media to receive a lion’s heart and God’s perspective instead of fear and defeatism
- Pray for the IDF to achieve its goals quickly, expeditiously and with minimum loss of life to all sides
- Pray for the Jewish people to into the fullness of their calling and gifts as a prophetic and mighty army
- Pray for the blunting of the enemy’s weapons and goals
- Pray for the salvation of the Jewish people through revelation of Messiah Yeshua
- Pray for the protection of Gazan civilians caught in the crossfire between terrorists and the IDF
- Pray for the revelation of Yeshua to many in Gaza, and for salvation and protection to all innocents there
- Pray for eyes to be opened among the nations of the world regarding the reality of YHVH’s fighting for Israel in our day
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!
In Messiah Yeshua,
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