On November 4, 1979, at 06:30 in the morning, 500 Iranian students gathered close to Tehran’s U. S. Embassy to receive an adrenaline-filled briefing. A hastily assembled organization ‘the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line’ set up by Islamic university associations would oversee the violence that followed. A female student concealed a pair of metal cutters in her black chador; her task was to cut the chains locking the gates of the American Embassy. At 10:30 am the storming of the embassy began. Within a few minutes busloads of screaming demonstrators arrived and over 3,000 clambered over the gates. Approximately 90 people were taken hostage, including 66 Americans. The U.S. Marine guards and embassy staff were bound, blindfolded and paraded before shouting mobs and the world’s TV cameras.
It took the U.S. military five and a half months to attempt a hostage rescue mission on April 24, 1980 (Operation Eagle Claw). It failed dramatically resulting in the death of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian. For a total of 444 days the 53 (later 52) American hostages were imprisoned and/or tortured. The shock waves of that event continue to ripple across the globe to this day.
Two other appalling hostage situations in recent years were:
- the Moscow Dubrovka theater hostage crisis (October 23, 2002) where 40 to 50 armed Islamist Chechen terrorists took 850 hostages. Russian Spetsnaz forces accidentally killed between at least 170-204 hostages and 39 terrorists while inserting knockout gas into the theater’s ventilation system
- the Beslan school hostage crisis on 1 September 2004, where Islamist Chechen and Ingush terrorists took 1,100 people hostage (including 777 children) in North Ossetia, North Caucasus. The tragic result ended with 333 deaths (including 186 children)
Hostage-taking – it’s what enemies do
The word ‘hostage’ comes from the Latin word for ‘stranger’ – hostis. That word later morphed into meaning ‘enemy’ – from where we get the word ‘hostile.’ A hostage is a person seized in a hostile, criminal or enemy action under threat of serious physical harm or death. In the above three examples Islamist terrorists took non-Muslims hostage in order to further Islamist jihadi strategies.
Hostage-freeing – it’s what the good people do
Security forces around the world have raised up special forces whose specific job it is to free hostages with a minimum loss of life. They are often called SWAT teams (acronym for ‘special weapons and tactics’).
The U.S.A. has highly trained Special Operations Forces groups like Delta Force and Navy Seals for such tasks. The FBI also has its crack Hostage Rescue Teams (HRT) based in Quantico, Virginia at the FBI Academy. Its motto is Servare Vitas (‘to save life’).
England has a dedicated division of its Special Air Service (SAS) called the Special Projects Team, one part of which deals with hostage situations.
France is famous for its GIGN (Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale; National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) whose motto is ‘S’engager pour la vie’ (‘To join the fight for (the sake of) life’). GIGN was called in by Saudi Arabia in December 1979 to oversee the freeing of hostages at Mecca’s Grand Mosque.
The gold standard of SWAT teams
Israel has been dealing with hostile neighbors for at least 3,800 years. The 20th century has seen the Jewish state develop military responses to hostage taking, raising up what its neighbors grudgingly describe as “the world’s gold standard” in SWAT teams. Its YAMAM (Yechida Merkazit Meyuchedet; ‘Central Special Unit’) is considered tops for its Close Quarter Battles doctrine and real-time applications regarding hostage rescue and counter-terrorism operations. YAMAM’s motto is taken from Psalm 18:37: “I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and I did not turn back until they were consumed.” YAMAM operators see their calling as saving lives – to rescue hostages and surgically neutralize terrorists before innocent civilians are murdered.
Most Israeli young men and women see these SOF soldiers as heroes and role models. Motivation to enter these units is strong, and competition is fierce to get in.
YHVH is a One-Man SWAT team
The God of Jacob describes Himself in Isaiah as being a SWAT team all by Himself as far as Israel is concerned:
- For I am YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” (Isaiah 43:3-7)
God is prepared to sacrifice other nations – even superpowers like Egypt and Cush (Ethiopia) – in order to rescue Israel. He would gladly pay a kingly ransom in order to buy His people out of enemy slavery or exile. The God of Jacob is committed to spiritually and physically free His Jewish hostages, and to restore them to the Promised Land – by any means necessary.
Today some Americans see the U.S.A. as being polarized over racial issues. Others see the division as more politically based, between Left and Right ideologies. It may help to consider the latest census and demographic studies done in the U.S.A. They reveal that Whites are 60.1%, Hispanics are 18.5%, Blacks/African-Americans are 13.4% of the total U.S. population.
It may come as a surprise to some to discover that the God of Jacob’s census taking starts from a totally different presupposition. YHVH’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob delineates the way He looks at the world:
- “For thus says YHVH of armies, After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8)
- “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For YHVH’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness. He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:8-10)
God’s heart and strategy touches all nations. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have life everlasting!” (John 3:16). At the same time, YHVH proclaims that He has a special strategic priority and heart for the Jewish people. They are His firstborn nation: “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says YHVH, “Israel is My son, My firstborn” (Exodus 4:22).
This firstborn status is explained in the Bible (Deuteronomy 21:15-18; Romans 1:16; 9:1-5; 11:28-29) as being a continuing priority in the outworking of God’s kingdom. Though all are created by Him – red and yellow, black and white – God draws a redemptive plumb line through mankind: on one side are the Jewish people, and on the other are all the nations (the Gentiles). These Gentiles includes Caucasians, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, etc.
Most Bible believers have not grasped this clear biblical teaching about God’s priority dealings with the Jewish people. This is due to the malignant influence of Replacement Theology both in the Christian Church and in Islam. Most Whites don’t grasp this truth. Most Blacks don’t get it either.
A measure of sanity could be restored to all if we could grasp God’s revelation that, according to Scripture, Jewish lives are a priority matter to God and therefore Jewish lives and destiny should matter to all believers. This priority is not something fleeting or limited to the Old Testament. It continues in our day and into the Days of Messiah, because “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29).
For more information
The Bible is often the last place we turn to when we are lost. If you are interested in learning more about why God has a priority calling on the Jewish people, and how that should affect our lives both spiritually and physically, I encourage you to read the book ‘Israel the Key to World Revival.’ It is available in English at https://davidstent.org/books/ and also in Spanish (follow the Spanish flag on our website). It is also available in German (www.amazon.co.uk/Israel-Schl%C3%BCssel-weltweiten-Erweckung-German-ebook/dp/B00CNDP8QS).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for God’s revelation to be given to believers worldwide regarding God’s SWAT team heart for Israel
- Pray for revelation to be given to the Jewish people about God’s heart and strategy for His people Israel
- Pray for YHVH to pour His Spirit out on the Jewish people
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
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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