The Hebrew prophets spoke God’s heart and perspective to those in power. But it was a dangerous livelihood; being a faithful messenger for the God of Jacob might cost one’s life. Such was the case when Michah-Yah (Micaiah) brought a divine warning to Ahaz king of Israel :
- Then Zedekiah the son of Cena’anah approached and struck Michah-Yah on the cheek; and he said, “How did the Spirit of YHVH pass from me to speak to you?” And Michah-Yah said, “Behold, you are going to see how on that day when you go from one inner room to another trying to hide yourself.” Then the king of Israel said, “Take Michah-Yah and return him to Amon the governor of the city, and to Yo’ash the king’s son; and say, ‘This is what the king says: “Put this man in prison, and feed him enough bread and water to survive until I return safely.”’” But Michah-Yah said, “If you actually return safely, YHVH has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Listen, all you people!” (1 Kings 22:24-28)
The nitty-gritty of the prophetic ministry was often played out in the courts of power as the word of the Lord was spoken to kings and generals. God used His prophetic messengers to demote and promote Israel’s leaders. This is one reason why the prophet Samuel exercised secrecy and plausible deniability when anointing David as heir apparent while Saul still reigned:
- Now YHVH said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, because I have chosen a king for Myself among his sons.” But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” But YHVH said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to YHVH.’ And you shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will let you know what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.” So Samuel did what YHVH told him, and he came to Bethlehem. Then the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” And he said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to YHVH. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 16:1-5)
Another example of how prophets needed to walk with discretion and discernment is revealed in how Ahi-Yah (Ahijah) the prophet from Shiloh confronted King Solomon’s aide-de-camp Jeroboam alone in a deserted field, announcing to him that YHVH was raising him up in due time to replace Solomon as king over the Jewish people:
- Then Jeroboam the son of Nebat . . . Solomon’s servant . . . also rebelled against the king . . . Now the man Jeroboam was a valiant warrior, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious, he appointed him over all the forced labor of the House of Joseph. And it came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahi-Yah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahi-Yah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. Then Ahi-Yah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces; for this is what YHVH, the God of Israel says: ‘Behold, I am going to tear the kingdom away from the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), because they have abandoned Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and keeping My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did” . . . Solomon sought therefore to put Jeroboam to death; but Jeroboam set out and fled to Egypt to Shishak king of Egypt, and he was in Egypt until the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:26-40)
YHVH is actively involved in politics
Though it may be hard for some to believe, the God of Jacob is actively involved in the world of politics. From Hannah (the mother of Samuel) to Asaph (David’s seer), and from Miriam (Mary, the earthly mother of Messiah Yeshua) to Daniel (the diplomatic prophet in Babylon and Persia), the Scriptures take us behind the scenes to reveal how God is pulling strings, bringing down dictators and establishing new rulers (who are sometimes also dictators in their own right). YHVH is sovereign, and He uses many ways to fulfil His good promises to the sons and daughters of Jacob:
- Then Hannah prayed and said, “YHVH puts to death and makes alive; He brings down to She’ol and brings up. YHVH makes poor and rich; He humbles, He also exalts. He raises the poor from the dust; He lifts the needy from the garbage heap to seat them with nobles, and He gives them a seat of honor as an inheritance. For the pillars of the earth are YHVH’s, and He set the world on them. He watches over the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness. For not by might shall a person prevail. Those who contend with YHVH will be terrified; against them He will thunder in the heavens. YHVH will judge the ends of the earth, and He will give strength to His king, and will exalt the horn of His anointed” (1 Samuel 2:6-10)
- “For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation. But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another” (Psalm 75:6-7)
- Daniel said, “May the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the periods. He removes kings and appoints kings. He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to people of understanding (Daniel 2:20-21)
- “This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers, and the decision is a command of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and He grants it to whomever He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of people” (Daniel 4:17)
- “For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is to generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has given help to His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, just as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Luke 1:49-55)
The prophetic virgin and power politics
God has been known to speak directly into the geo-political world, alternately counseling and exhorting, rebuking and pronouncing blessing or judgment to national leaders.
The world-famous prophecy regarding the birth of Messiah Son of David to a young virgin Jewish woman is found in the Scroll of Isaiah: “Therefore YHVH Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him ‘Immanuel’” (Isaiah 7:14). There is military and geo-political background to this prophetic word; it brings both helpful context and proper understanding of current events at that time.
Ahaz (the young king of Judah) was facing threatening military maneuvers from the ten northern tribes of Israel, as well as from the Arameans [modern Syria]:
- “Ahaz the son of Yotam, became king of Judah at twenty years of age, and he reigned for sixteen years in Jerusalem . . . Then Retzin the king of Aram and Pekach the son of Remal-Yah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem for war. And they besieged Ahaz, but were not capable of fighting him. At that time Retzin king of Aram restored Eilat to Aram, and drove the Judeans away from Eilat. And the Arameans came to Eilat and have lived there to this day” (2 Kings 16:1-6)
- “When it was reported to the House of David, saying, ‘The Arameans have taken a stand by Ephraim [modern West Bank],’ [Ahaz’s] heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake from the wind” (Isaiah 7:2).
Ahaz was tempted to turn to super-power Assyria, asking them to attack Syria/Aram and the northern kingdom of Israel, thus relieving Judah of the military threat. Isaiah was given a cutting-edge prophetic message to Ahaz, promising him and his people divine protection if they trusted in the God of Jacob and not in a Gentile super-power:
- Then YHVH said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son She’ar Yashuv, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the road to the Fuller’s Field, and say to him, ‘Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stumps of smoldering logs, on account of the fierce anger of Retzin and Aram and the son of Remal-Yah. Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remal-Yah, has planned evil against you, saying, “Let’s go up against Judah and terrorize it, and take it for ourselves by assault and set up the son of Tav-El as king in the midst of it,” this is what YHVH God says: “It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass” . . . Then YHVH spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask for a sign for yourself from YHVH your God; make it deep as She’ol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I put YHVH to the test!” Then he said, “Listen now, House of David! Is it too trivial a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? Therefore, YHVH Himself will give y’all [plural in Hebrew, referring to the House of David] a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel” . . . YHVH will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s House such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah – [the invasion of] the king of Assyria. (Isaiah 7:1-17).
The background to this Messianic prophecy was an explosive military threat from Syria and from the northern kingdom of Israel against the people of Judah and the House of David. Isaiah warned Ahaz king of Judah that if he did not trust the God of his father David but turned for military protection to Assyria, that super-power would eventually cause great damage also to Ahaz’s own kingdom:
- Ahaz sent messengers to . . . the king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son! Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Aram, and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.” And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the House of YHVH and in the treasuries of the king’s [palace], and sent a gift to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria listened to him. And the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and captured it . . . and put Retzin to death (2 Kings 16:7-9)
The Assyrian super-power would exile Israel to northern Iraq and even threaten the survival of Jerusalem. Such was the blowback from Ahaz’s royal hutzpah, his spurning of the prophetic word of YHVH:
- Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshe’a, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and led the people of Israel into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes (2 Kings 17:5-6)
In the same way as King Ahaz ignored God’s prophetic promises regarding His will and strategies for the Jewish people, so in our day both Israeli leaders and leaders of super-powers are ignoring YHVH’s clear promises regarding the restoration of Israel to her biblical borders. This ‘politically correct’ world consensus is also hutzpah – hubris, spitting in the face of the God of Jacob – and He will settle accounts with these leaders b’agala u’bizman kariv, as it is said in Aramaic – speedily and soon.
The role of the prophetic in today’s Middle East
There is a lesson for us all to learn today from all of this. The blowback from ancient Middle Eastern battles and toxic political alliances with unfriendly super-powers resulted in the strong presence of non-Jewish enemies in Samaria. These enemies were later given the name ‘Samaritans.’ Today the West Bank still remains the home of enemies of the Jewish people, though today these enemies are called ‘Palestinians.’ Most of these are descended from the Edomites (see Ezekiel 25:12-14 et al. and my book ‘Jews, Arabs and the Middle East: A Messianic Perspective’), who claim these territories for themselves, scorning the prophetic promises of YHVH to the Jewish people. Here is a short ‘take-away’ of some prophetic lessons here:
- The ignoring of Isaiah’s prophetic word given to the House of David is still affecting Jewish history in our day
- The biblical ministry of these Hebrew prophets affected the destiny of nations at that time, as well as the redemption history of the entire planet. These prophets were called by God to address real military threats coming against Israel; they advised Jewish kings on how to defeat their enemies in battle; and they spoke counsel and wisdom to them on how to relate to super-powers with wisdom and discernment
- The God of Jacob has much to say today to His Jewish people regarding His gifts and calling on them (see Romans 11:28-29). In our day, such prophetic ministry is urgently needed
How should we then pray?
- Pray for a revelation to the leaders of Israel and of the world of the reality and central importance of God’s prophecies regarding Israel’s restoration
- Pray for a biblically sound prophetic ministry to be restored to the leaders of Israel, and that the world-wide body of Messiah be moved by the Holy Spirit to focus with intercessory intensity on these prayer needs as we progress into the flowering of World War III
- Pray for the physical rescue of the approximately 129 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP/PLO. Some hostages are being tortured, raped and starved (this based on testimonies of recently released hostages). Hamas is holding onto many corpses as well for bargaining power
- Pray for Hamas’ cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza to be finally shattered and all chains broken off the Palestinians living there
- Pray for Iran’s role in jihadi deception, dissimulation and anti-Semitism to be uncovered and rejected by world leaders
- Pray for justice, clarity, moral courage, discernment and divine strategies for Israel’s leadership in utterly destroying the jihadi threat in all of its aspects
- Pray for minimal loss of life on Israel’s side and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
- Pray that the outstretched arm of YHVH will not return before it brings justice to God’s enemies
- 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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