More than 2,600 years ago, the prophet sadly noted, “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5). Jeremiah was rebuking many of his readers who were simply not prepared for battle, not ready for conflict, unprepared for warfare, out of breath and spiritually out of shape for the struggle at hand.
As war is being waged between the forces of jihad and the armies of the Jewish state, between Hamas and the IDF, some believers are plumb tuckered out. They are confused and panicking under bombardment – bombardment by the world media which overwhelmingly serves up jihadi-prepared platters of propaganda news clips about the battle. One wag has opined, “Would you like a little serving of news along with your propaganda?”
The body of Messiah for the most part has been anesthetized by centuries of anti-Semitism and Replacement theology, and its spiritual anti-virus software – those vital antibodies necessary for blocking a “spiritual DDOS” (distributed denial-of-service computer attack; www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-015) – are not in place nor are their weapons oiled and ready to fire.
Hamas’ main sugar daddies and ideological bed-mates Qatar and Turkey are applying pressure on the USA to force a ceasefire agreement on Israel which would bolster the Hamas terror group, preserve its weaponry, rocket launchers and terror tunnels, and throw open the Gazan gates – allowing an unimpeded flow of upgraded weapons into eager jihadi hands.
As the war against jihad enters its third week, IDF forces have been penetrating the built-up suburbs of eastern Gaza, engaging in house-to-house combat with Hamas fighters, discovering and destroying terror tunnels leading into Israel, and eliminating Hamas rockets and launchers. IDF casualties to date are 43.
- What are the main and plain issues in the war to date?
- Do the Scriptures shed any light on developments?
- How can we pray?
Tunnel of terror
Over 150 Hamas terrorists have been captured by Israel and are being interrogated. One extremely troubling piece of ‘ticking bomb’ intelligence has come out – plans for a mega-terror attack through these tunnels on or around Erev Rosh Hashana – the Feast of Trumpets, September 24. The links below include the breaking news in Hebrew, a scale map of three of the terror tunnels, and a report by Israeli Special Operations Forces Maglan about the situation on the ground.
The plans involved simultaneous infiltration of 20 groups of ten Hamas commandos each, 200 in total, wearing IDF fatigues and equipped for mass murder and kidnapping. This would have quite possibly been coordinated with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and accompanied by a massive rain of rockets and missiles across Israel.
The continued existence of these tunnels and the unrelenting terror plans of Hamas mean that any ceasefire established at this time would leave a clear and imminent danger (see http://en.alalam.ir/news/1609867 for a comparative American use) to the security of the state of Israel.
- Pray for the IDF Combat Engineers (the ‘Weasels’ and ‘Diamond’) – for divine discernment and success in discovering and neutralizing all the Hamas terror tunnels still functional
- Pray for Israel’s leaders to have God’s discernment as they respond to international pressure calling for a deceptive ceasefire
- Pray for the IDF airmen and soldiers who are actively hunting down Islamist terrorists, their tunnels, weapons storehouses and command centers
Balancing the tragedy of civilian casualties
The construction of the Hamas terror tunnels over the past years caused significant child casualties, according to the journal Palestine Studies. Hamas has had a “cavalier approach to child labor and tunnel fatalities…During a police patrol that the author was permitted to accompany in December 2011, nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels, where, much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies. At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials. Safety controls on imports appear similarly lax…” (www.palestine-studies.org/journals.aspx?id=11424&jid=1&href=fulltext).
In the past weeks Hamas has been inflating casualty figures, and concealing the amount of terrorists killed, according to analysts of Hamas’ own figures. This was also Hamas’ habit in 2009’s Operation Cast Lead.
“He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him” (Proverbs 26:27)
- Pray for protection and salvation for innocent Gazans who are caught in the crossfire
- Pray for the removal of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership from Gaza
When is a ceasefire not a ceasefire?
Israel has agreed to five ceasefires since Hamas began firing jihadi rockets at the Jewish state – Egyptian-brokered, U.N.-brokered, and Red Cross initiated. In every case, Hamas broke the ceasefire – either by firing during the ceasefire time or by refusing to hold fire immediately after the cessation of each agreement. The four other smaller Gazan terror groups (Islamic Jihad, the an-Nasr Salah ed-Din of the Popular Resistance Committees, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) all publically announced their refusal to accept any humanitarian ceasefire.
Hamas has insisted that Israel must withdraw totally from Gaza, that all terror prisoners in Israeli jails be set free, and that Hamas be permitted to freely import cement and iron as well as North Korean and Iranian weapons to resupply their own arsenals. These demands sound like Hamas is winning the battle it started. In actuality they are losing it, but are blustering with unholy hutzpah.
On the cutting edge with Qatar
Two pro-jihadi countries are Hamas’ main supporters – Qatar and Turkey. Major players like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are opposed both to Hamas and to its spiritual father the Muslim Brotherhood. The USA, however, considers Qatar a close friend, and has just signed an 11 billion dollar military weapons deal with that country.
Qatar contains the principal overseas headquarters of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), the sprawling al-Udeid Airbase near Doha. Qatar was a key staging ground for the invasion of Iraq, and it has played a key role in organizing, financing, and arming the opposition to Bashar al- Assad’s regime in Syria. At the same time, Qatar has been the home-in-exile for Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood and an ardent jihadist.
Five years ago after his visit to Qatar in 2009, Senator John Kerry said, “Qatar can’t continue to be an American ally on Monday that sends money to Hamas on Tuesday.” Since then, Hamas’s political leadership relocated from Damascus to Doha, Qatar’s capital city, where they live a luxurious life as they sacrifice their Gazan soldiers and children in waves of suicide attacks against Israel (www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4548202,00.html). Qatar still sends money to Hamas on Mondays and Tuesdays. And Qatar is still a gold-edged American ally.
- Pray for righteousness to characterize America’s diplomacy, and for it to make a decisive break with jihadi forces
The rest of the news
The Wikileaks cable traffic reveals another side of the Qatari-USA relationship – one that helps us to pray more realistically for the Middle-East.
US diplomatic cable traffic (Senator Kerry’s February 10, 2010 meeting with Qatar’s Amir Hamad bin Khalifa; www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2010/02/10DOHA70.html) explains:
- “Any negotiation has its limits, added Senator Kerry, and we know for the Palestinians that control of Al-Aqsa mosque and the establishment of some kind of capital for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem are not negotiable” (15 C)
- “The Amir said return of the Golan is important not just to Syria but also to Hizballah and Iran… Senator Kerry responded that the U.S. would accept a legitimate discussion of the Golan Heights” (17 C)
- “What is more, said the Amir, the U.S. needs to support Turkey’s mediation between Israel and Syria” (18 C)
- “Qatar is close to Hamas, emphasized the Amir” (23 C)
Senator Kerry’s February 24 2010 meeting with Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani (aka HBJ; http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10DOHA71.html) reveals:
- “HBJ underscored that it is a mistake to work with just one partner, Fatah, and ignore Hamas (5 C)
- “Simply put, answered HBJ, ‘Hamas does not trust Egypt and the Quartet enterprise.’ HBJ noted that since its inception the Quartet has been anti-Hamas and aligned with the interests of Abu Mazen, Egypt and Jordan” (13 C)
These are the days of jihad
Robin Mark’s popular “These are the Days of Elijah” has been sung with Celtic gusto in worship meetings across the world. His reference to Elijah’s ministry and the dry bones of Israel becoming as flesh may have been skipped over or misinterpreted by some, but the song does prophesy about YHVH’s holy zeal in establishing the greatest army (Ezekiel 37:10-11; Malachi 4:5-6; 2 Kings 1:12; 2:12) the world has ever seen – the reborn army of Israel!
Many believers feel antsy about imprecatory prayers – prayers which ask God to destroy the Jewish people’s enemies. It is easier for these people to relate to the believing sniper in Saving Private Ryan, or to a military chaplain in the American Civil War or World War II. Yet the Holy Scriptures do contain war psalms and war prayers. Four striking examples include Psalm 18, Psalm 120, Psalm 137 and Psalm 149.
In Psalm 120 the writer sadly states that many of Israel’s neighbors possess lying lips and a deceitful tongue. He knows that YHVH will respond to those enemies with sharp arrows of the warrior, and with burning coals. “Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, for I dwell among the tents of Kedar! 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 120:5-7).
In 1991 I was doing IDF reserve duty in Hebron during Gulf War I. Saddam Hussein was firing SCUD missiles at the Tel Aviv area (where my wife and kids were), and the missiles were flying right over my head. The Muslim inhabitants of Hebron were under curfew, but nevertheless they climbed up onto the roofs of their houses and screamed out “Ya Saddam, Ya Habib, udrub udrub Tel Aviv” (Arabic for “O Saddam, O beloved, utterly bomb Tel Aviv!”).
My seminary teachers had not taught me how to respond prayerfully to such situations. But the answer was not long in coming. I asked YHVH the Lord of the armies of Israel to reveal Himself to as many as possible of Hebron’s population. But as far as for those who were calling for the blood of YHVH’s people and for the death of my family, I gave God permission to do whatever He had to do.
YHVH describes the Jewish people in the following terms: “You are My war-club, My weapon of war; and with you I shatter nations, and with you I destroy kingdoms” (Jeremiah 51:20). It is not only in Navy Seals and Delta Force movies that such clear-cut challenges occur. They are occurring right here and right now in Gaza.
In Psalm 83:6-8 various mortal enemies of Israel are described as participating in a Last Days battle against the Jewish people in Israel – Edom, Ishmael, Moab, Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre, Assyria, the children of Lot. Today some of these countries have a quiet peace treaty with Israel (like Jordan and Egypt), while Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are actually in a state of war with Israel.
With these matters in the forefront of our minds, consider the following:
Though YHVH has great love for the peoples of the Middle East and also for the Arab world, However, He transforms into a roaring lion when the apple of His eye, the Jewish people, are threatened or attacked (Zechariah 2:8, 13; Joel 3:16).
It has been said that with two Jews, there are three opinions. Dialogue, debate, discussion – these are certainly part of the Jewish experience. In the Arab world there are also divergences of opinion. This is important to remember as one considers different Arab voices coming out of Israel, the Palestinian Authority region and the broader Middle East.
One interesting voice is that of a Muslim, Tarek S. Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress in Toronto, Canada. In an article “Stop the Jew-Hatred and Build Palestine” (The Toronto Sun, July 22, 2014; www.meforum.org/4758/stop-the-jew-hatred-and-build-palestine) he writes:
“Gaza could have become a showcase of Arab enlightenment and enterprise after Israel withdrew from the territory in 2005. It could have become a tourism haven and a crucible for learning and arts, science and technology. Instead, Gaza has become a one-party Islamic dictatorship under Hamas, dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel. Thousands of precious lives have been lost in this macabre display of hatred disguised as piety. It’s not just Israeli Jews that have been targeted for death. Palestinians opposed to Hamas have been massacred to consolidate its power. On Nov. 12, 2007 Hamas gunmen fired on a rally organized by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party inside a Gaza stadium, at an event held to commemorate the late Yasser Arafat. Many were killed. To the horror of the world, Hamas gunmen butchered Fatah fighters, throwing wounded men from the roof of a 15-storey building to their deaths…But who will tell the Palestinians to get off the path of self-destruction? Who will convince the Palestinian Islamists to stop dreaming of destroying Israel and start building the future of their own people?”
In another amazing interview, Dr. Tawfik Hamid (a former follower of Ayman al Zawahiri who was Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader and second in command of al Qa’eda; www.fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_terrorists/ayman-al-zawahiri) clearly and succinctly explains why Hamas and the Palestinian jihadi movement is on the path to self-destruction (www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0m3RghOcFo&app=desktop).
Another bracing voice is that of Arab Israeli Pastor Shmuel Aweida, who unflinchingly addresses pro-Hamas and anti-Arab positions in a balanced and biblical interview (www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/24779/Default.aspx).
There are also unbalanced and unbiblical voices, one of which is coming out of the Bethlehem Bible College. It is hard to know who exactly drew up the statement, as its authorship is ascribed to “Bethlehem Bible College’s board of directors, president, deans, faculty, staff and students – and the local committee of Christ at the Checkpoint.” That is a fair number of people and it seems in this case that with many Arabs there is only one opinion… (http://bethbc.org/news/statement-bethlehem-bible-college-regarding-current-crisis-gaza).
The statement does not condemn Hamas, does not refer to its Islamist genocidal charter, and does not refer to Hamas’ persecution of Christians in Gaza. But it does condemn Israel. It expresses shock only at “the unproportional (sic.) and inhuman response by the Israeli military.” It describes the Palestinian ‘liberation theology’ position as just, while intimating that those believers who support the restoration of the Jewish people to their state are contributing to “a culture of hatred and division.” They echo the political positions of Qatar, Turkey and Hamas when they state “We also believe that as long as the occupation of Palestinian territory and the siege of Gaza remain, the conflict will continue to escalate. To quote the manifesto again, ‘for Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.’ ”
It is important for readers to understand that there are Arab voices which speak from a biblical framework and have a warm heart for the Jewish people and their restoration. There are also other Arab voices who are the exact opposite. And there are voices in between as well.
- Pray for more Arab believers to receive a spiritual infusion from YHVH’s heart concerning His irrevocable gifts, calling and passion for the Jewish people. Pray for the healing of bitterness regarding Israel in many hearts, and for the raising up of bold local leaders who will bring blessing and not cursing on both their own people and the Jewish people as well
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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