The enemies of Israel are also the enemies of Israel’s God. And they roar with rage against God’s Jewish people, especially when those Jews thrive on the soil of the Promised Land. In Psalm 74 Jerusalem’s worship leader Asaph raises his intercessory lament about this very situation to YHVH, the God of the armies of Israel:
God, why have You rejected us forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? Remember Your congregation, which You purchased of old, which You have redeemed to be the tribe of Your inheritance – and this Mount Zion, where You have dwelt. Step toward the irreparable ruins.
The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. Your adversaries have roared in the midst of Your meeting place. They have set up their own signs as signs. It seems like one bringing up his axe into a forest of trees. And now they break down all its carved work with axe and hammers. They have burned Your sanctuary to the ground. They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name.
They said in their heart, “Let’s completely subdue them.” They have burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
The rebel roar
Isaiah adds his prophetic and poetic perspective: “Oh, the uproar of many peoples who roar like the roaring of the seas, and the rumbling of nations who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters!” (Isaiah 17:12).
The sons of Korah join in, describing the anti-Semitic hatred of the nations as violent earthquakes and roaring seas: “The earth shakes and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea . . . Its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” (Psalm 46:2-3).
Ezekiel sums up God’s heart and strategic anger regarding those who invade, conquer and destroy the Land of Israel, claiming it as their own national homeland:
- Certainly in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and with contempt of soul, in order to make its pastureland plunder . . . the land of Israel, . . . the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the valleys (Ezekiel 36:5-6)
When God seems silent as nations roar
Asaph continues to press his point with God in Psalm 74: Where are You as our enemies roar against us? Why aren’t you responding more quickly with Your promised judgment?
- We do not see our signs. There is no longer any prophet, nor is there anyone among us who knows how long. How long, God, will the enemy taunt You? Shall the enemy treat Your name disrespectfully forever? Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? Extend it from Your chest and destroy them!
King David (Psalm 69 and 109), Asaph, Paul (Galatians 1:8-9) and the martyrs in Heaven (Revelation 6:10) all call on YHVH to judge His enemies. The theological term for such prayers is called imprecatory prayers.
It might be helpful, as we consider current events in Israel and the Palestinian-occupied territories, to remember God’s soon-coming judgments against those enemies of Israel who claim the Jewish Land as their own, using terror to achieve their goals:
- “YHVH God says this: Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has incurred great guilt, and avenged themselves upon them . . . I will also reach out with My hand against Edom and eliminate human and animal life from it. And I will turn it into ruins; from Teman even to Dedan they will fall by the sword. And I will inflict My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel. Therefore, they will act in Edom in accordance with My anger and My wrath; so they will know My vengeance” (Ezekiel 25:12, 14)
Don’t forget Your track record, YHVH!
Asaph holds God accountable not to forget His biblical reputation –
- His powerful acts of judgment against Pharaoh and all demonic forces of wickedness (Exodus 12:12)
- His establishment of divine order and justice in creation
- His acts of salvation and deliverance from the time of Noah until our own day:
Yet God is my King from long ago, who performs acts of salvation in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by Your strength. You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan. You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. You broke open springs and torrents. You dried up ever-flowing streams. Yours is the day; Yours also is the night. You have prepared the light and the sun. You have established all the boundaries of the earth. You have created summer and winter.
To paraphrase Asaph: “O God of Jacob! You owe it to Yourself and to the glory of Your name to stretch out Your holy arm and move on behalf of Your beleaguered Jewish people – especially when our enemies roar with murderous cries and actions!”
In the Bible, jihad against Jews is jihad against Jehovah
Asaph wrote in Psalm 83 that when Middle Eastern nations attack the Land of Israel and the Jewish people, they are simultaneously attacking YHVH, the God of Jacob:
- For behold: Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let’s wipe them out as a nation, so that the name of Israel will no longer be remembered.” For they have conspired together with one mind. They make a covenant against You. (Psalm 83:2-5)
Islamist terror attacks against the Jewish people – whether they come from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas or the PLO’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – have resulted in 18+ Israelis murdered by Palestinian jihadi terrorists so far in 2022. These terrorists would be correctly and biblically classified as enemies of both YHVH and of His people. They echo the declaration of God’s enemies in Psalm 83:12: “Let’s possess for ourselves the pastures of God.” God’s take on their beliefs and actions can be seen in Asaph’s imprecatory prayer against them in Psalm 83:13-18.
Psalm 74 amplifies this theme:
- Remember this, YHVH, that the enemy has taunted You, and a foolish people has treated Your name disrespectfully. Do not give the soul of Your turtledove to the wild animal! Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever! Consider the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the places of violence
[the Hebrew word Hamas is used here, similar to the Arabic name of the Islamic jihadi terror
Recent jihadi events in Israel
The past two months have seen a sharp rise in jihadi murders of Israelis. From Beersheva in Israel’s South, to Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak on the coastal plain, to Hadera, Elad and Ariel in Israel’s Center, terrorist groups have fatally shot or stabbed 14 civilians and 4 security personnel. Three of the Israeli fatalities died in hand-to-hand combat with the terrorists, and one of these three brave men was an Arab-Israeli policeman.
Many of the jihadis perpetrating these attacks came from the city of Jenin in the Palestinian-occupied territories. This city (not far from where I served in the security forces) is a center of jihadi activities, both regarding planning and sending of terror. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) do counter-terrorist raids there on a regular basis, interdicting ticking-bomb terror squads on the basis of precious intelligence. Recently a top Israeli SWAT counter-terror operative was fatally shot in the back while his team was leaving Jenin following a successful raid.
At no point over the past two months did world diplomats call for any investigation of these jihadi slaughterers. Neither the European Union nor the United Nations (nor the US State Department) expressed anger, outrage or threats against Palestinian terror groups (Islamic Jihad or Hamas) nor against the Palestinian Authority (PLO/al-Fatah/al-Aqsa Brigades) nor against their main bankroller (the Islamic Republic of Iran).
All’s quiet on the Temple Mount
Hamas-catalyzed riots on the Temple Mount during Passover and Ramadan involved physical and murderous attacks on Israeli civilians and security personnel. These included knifing, Molotov firebombs, iron bars, rock and cement block throwing, and physical blows. These riots were conducted on the Temple Mount (where Solomon’s Temple once stood), with attacks launched from within the Muslim mosque structures, where weapons were stockpiled and then used. Israeli police gingerly and valiantly tried to keep those sites open and safe for Muslim, Jewish and Christian pilgrims, but time and again were forced to close access temporarily as violence overwhelmed the platform. But rather than condemn Islamist violence, the Jordanian, European and American leaderships accused Israel of instigating the violence and condemned the Jewish state out-of-hand, with little accuracy or fairness.
A dual-citizen Arab TV reporter for the Qatari al Jazeera network, Shireen Abu Akleh, was fatally shot in the early hours of May 11 in Jenin as she stood next to Islamist terrorists during an Israeli counter-terrorist operation. Her TV station immediately announced that she was deliberately shot by the IDF in cold blood. Whereas the Israeli Duvdevan Special Ops team involved was sparing and accurate in their firepower, the jihadi forces in Jenin shot wildly and without discipline, firing full magazines while running, and not having clear visuals of the targets in question. One Arab video show a terrorist happily shouting out that an Israeli soldier had been hit and was on the ground, whereas in that firefight no Israelis were injured. Only an al Jazeera reporter was killed.
The Palestinian Authority (nominally in charge) refused to allow a joint autopsy of Abu Akleh where Israel would have been allowed to also examine the ballistics involved. Such a joint autopsy would have gone a long way to settling who had fired the fatal bullet. The Palestinian side preferred to spread a new blood libel against Israel rather than to get to the bottom of the matter.
To top it all off, the Catholic funeral of Abu Akleh was commandeered by Islamist terror forces; the reporter’s body was pulled out of the hearse, draped with a PLO flag, and marched from St. Joseph’s hospital toward a Jerusalem cemetery. The marchers shouted anti-Israel chants while attacking Israeli security forces. When Israeli police attempted to return the coffin to the hearse as per the family’s original request, a full scale riot erupted, dutifully recorded by world media. Gazan Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar immediately accused Israel of murdering the reporter ‘twice over,’ once in Jenin and a second time at the funeral.
Washington announced that it was “deeply troubled” by the funeral-associated riot, while the European Union said it was “appalled” by Israel’s “unnecessary force.” The spin-doctors of jihad had quickly managed to turn their inadvertent killing of a TV reporter who had been in the wrong place and at the wrong time, into a media body-blow against the Jewish state, with a sympathetic chorus of Western leaders joining in off-key harmony.
The call on YHVH to roar against His enemies
Asaph concludes Psalm 74 by beseeching YHVH to pro-actively bring dishonor on Israel’s enemies:
- May the oppressed person not return dishonored. May the afflicted and the needy praise Your name. Arise, God, and plead Your own cause! Remember how the foolish person taunts You all day long. Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries, the uproar of those who rise against You, which ascends continually.
The nations may roar in rebellion against the God of Israel, but the Scriptures focus on YHVH as the One whose roar is to be feared: “For I am YHVH your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – YHVH of armies is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).
The God of Jacob is not only the Great God who roars; He is the Great God who stills all other roarings:
- “God of our salvation, You who . . . stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations” (Psalm 65:5-7)
- “The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered. He raised His voice, the earth quaked. YHVH of armies is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah!” (Psalm 46:6-7)
- “For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal limit, and it will not cross over it. Though the waves toss, they cannot prevail. Though they roar, they will not cross over it” (Jeremiah 5:22)
As we face the rabid roaring of the nations, we can have confidence knowing that “YHVH roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But YHVH is a refuge for His people, and a stronghold for the sons of Israel” (Joel 3:16-17).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for the leaders of the world, especially in the West, that the God of Israel would grant them revelation and discernment – so that they will not be swept into further deception and judgment
- Pray for Israel’s leaders, that that the God of Israel would grant them revelation and discernment to know how to respond with God’s wisdom and strategies to the snares of the enemy
- Pray for the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, that they would be physically protected from Islamist terror in all its multifaceted forms
- 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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