As 2008 comes to close, it’s time for a week of happy memories with family and friends. Here in Israel, however, Christmas is just another day. Apart from Israel’s tiny Christian community, there are no special celebrations, family gatherings, trees or twinkling lights. The people are intensely focused and are making preparations, it is true, but in Israel the preparations are for war – courtesy of Islamist firebrands Hamas and Iran.
The Prince of Persia – more than a video game
The Bible tells us that demonic forces are organized in governmental or military-like formation (see Isaiah 24:21; Daniel 4:35; Romans 8:38; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16; 2:15; 1 Peter 3:22). One of the clearest biblical descriptions of strategic-level spiritual warfare is found in Daniel 10:12-20. The prophet describes a demonic principality called the Prince of Persia (sar Paras, in Hebrew, verses 13, 20) who actively influences the physical ruler of Persia (modern day Iran). The biblical worldview is that high-level demons oversee and influence world superpowers (see also Daniel 10:20, where the prince of Greece, the next superpower, is described) and are in turn overseen or ruled by the prince of all demons (Matthew 12:24; John 12:31) – Satan himself (Revelation 12:9).
Not only ancient Persia and the Greek empire of Alexander the Great were overshadowed and influenced by demonic powers. The Bible’s perspective is that all the superpowers and mighty kingdoms of this world are influenced and overshadowed by spiritual forces of great wickedness – what author Frank Peretti has labeled “this present darkness” (see Jeremiah 25:15-33; Zephaniah 3:8; Luke 4:5-6; Revelation 11:15).
Though this perspective may be revolutionary to some, the Bible pulls no punches here. Once again, the plumblines are obedience to the God of the Bible and honor for His Jewish people. Psalm 2 sees mankind’s history as a long list of kingdoms and superpowers who are in rebellion against God and who act hatefully toward His Jewish people. To put it another way, the psalmist’s prayer is “Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge You, on the kingdoms that do not call on Your name; for they have devoured Jacob and destroyed his homeland” (Psalm 79:6-7).
The stark biblical facts are that every superpower which inflicts harm on the Jewish people isn’t acting in a spiritual vacuum. The burning of the Talmud in Paris (1242 AD), the Clifford’s Tower massacre of York’s Jewish community (1190 AD), the Nazi mass murders, the closing of the doors to Jewish Holocaust victims by the USA, Canada and the UK in WWII – all of these historical actions have dark spiritual roots.
As we speak, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s manic efforts to develop nuclear weapons in order to destroy the Jewish state are one more clear and present danger. This present darkness is inspired and overshadowed by the same Prince of Persia as found in Daniel 10:13, 20.
At the moment, the nations of the world are caught in molasses, responding to Iran’s actions without any great urgency. Some voices in the US are deeply concerned. But Israel’s concern goes way beyond deep. It is existential.
There is a biblical principle of urgent importance here, especially as we seek how to respond to these challenges.
For Daniel the prophet, the key to this heavenly vision revolved around two things:
➢ Daniel was repenting for the sins of his Jewish people and humbling himself through prayer and fasting (Daniel 10:2-3, 12),
➢ Daniel was seeking God about the physical welfare and spiritual survival of the Jewish people (10:14, 21).
These two prayer focuses are still central to a balanced end-time last days revelation of God’s strategies on Planet Earth.
Hamas and jihad – the popular choice
The next Middle Eastern limited war is just around the corner and undoubtedly will be broadcast live on all the major networks in prime time. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will be attempting to destroy significant elements of the leadership and rocket squads of Hamas (the acronym of Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, translated as ‘The Islamic Resistance Movement.’ For deeper background see newsletters February 2006, June 2007 at www.davidstent.org).
Originally established by Osama Bin Laden’s revered teacher Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, Hamas is spiritually linked with the Muslim Brotherhood – a world jihadi group closely associated with the Nazis in World War II. In another jarring connection with the Prince of Persia, we note that Hamas receives much of its military and financial support from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Here are some quotes from the official Hamas Charter (1988): “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it … The Islamic Resistance Movement…strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine … Allah is our goal, the Prophet our model, the Qur’an our Constitution, Jihad our path and death for the cause of Allah our most sublime belief”.
To restate the obvious, Hamas is not a movement that “one can do business with,” as British Prime Minister Chamberlain once said of Adolf Hitler. Hamas is zealously committed to violent jihad, to the physical destruction of Israel, and to the establishment of an Islamist dictatorship over every inch of Israeli territory (as well as over the entire globe).
Hamas won a democratic election in Gaza with a solid majority. It truly represents its own people. And its people are daily firing rockets, mortars and missiles into Israel’s civilian farms, villages and cities. Over the past three years, since Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip under Ariel Sharon’s oversight, over 8,000 rockets, mortars and missiles have been fired by Gazans against Israel. On one recent Saturday alone (December 20, 2008) 36 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel.
The worse it gets, the better it is
Back in the late 1960’s I became aware of one aspect of Communist revolutionary strategy. According to this worldview, the economic kingdoms of this world are moving in a pre-ordained evolutionary march toward world communist government. However, since the working classes do not yet grasp or understand this, they may actually be content with their lives and unwilling to engage in violent acts to bring down their own governments.
The revolutionary solution is to engage in terror operations which will actually make life harder for the workers! By committing acts of violence against the capitalist governments, this will move those governments to “show their true colors” as they attempt to suppress the revolutionaries and limit civil liberties for all. In the short term the workers will experience greater suffering and oppression. Through that suffering (so the theory goes!) the workers will decisively recognize that capitalism has an evil face and that the revolutionary cause should be supported.
This may seem like twisted logic to some, but one must grasp it in order to understand the very similar strategic logic of Bin Laden, Hamas and al Qa’eda.
Bin Laden was actually counting on and hoping for a US counter-strike in Afghanistan after 9/11. He believed that this American invasion would radicalize the Islamic world against the West and increase support for world jihad. For more on this, see Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (Brassey’s, 2004, Michael Scheuer). Scheuer was a CIA analyst who headed the Counterterrorist Center’s Bin Laden station ‘Alec’ from 1996-1999. Though Scheuer lionizes Bin Laden and is heavily prejudiced against Israel, some of his analyses regarding jihadi strategy are spot on.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas is applying this strategy of “making it worse to make it better.” They are hoping that a constant barrage of missiles and mortars falling on peaceful Israeli farms and towns will trigger a massive Israeli invasion of Gaza – which will in turn increase the sufferings of Gaza’s population and force them even more solidly into the arms of the jihadi camp. Hamas also hopes that the surrounding Islamic nations will jump on the jihadi bandwagon, and that a worldwide Islamic holy war uprising will result.
➢ Pray for the leadership of Israel – that the God of Israel will give them clarity, strategy, courage and discernment (2 Kings 6:8-12)
➢ Pray for the Israeli civilians in rocket range of Hamas mortars and rockets (Qassams and Grad rockets, capable of reaching Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Beersheva).
➢ Pray for Gaza’s leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15)
➢ Pray for the civilian population of Gaza, many who support the terror – that God in His mercy would reveal Himself to many as their Savior and Prince of peace (Jonah 3:8-9)
➢ Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1)
➢ Pray for the struggling tiny community of believers in Gaza, some who have been tortured or martyred by Islamists in recent days
➢ Pray for the Jewish believers in the Negev area bordering on Gaza, some who contend with daily rocket attacks
No news is bad news
You may wonder why the constant shelling and rocketing of Israeli towns and farms – the prelude to the next Gaza war – is not getting much Western media coverage. The answer is simple. Western media puts the spotlight on what sells. They do not offer in-depth or balanced coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict. When they mention it, usually it is in the context of “strike and counter-strike” or “tit for tat”. As a result their audiences are left unprepared, not able to comprehend the nature of the conflicts to come.
Pray for your media organizations, that both leaders and reporters would receive God’s heart for Israel, and would embrace His views about the Middle Eastern jihadi movements.
“Whom the gods would destroy they first tempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict” (Irving Kristol)
As America is about to experience a changing of the guard, pray for this great country. There are many voices (some are even Jewish and Israeli) which are pressuring the President-elect to make the dividing up of the land of Israel and of Jerusalem a national and urgent priority. Let’s remember the above-quoted words of American political philosopher Irving Kristol, and pray that the God of Israel would grant great clarity, spiritual perspicuity, wisdom and the courage to do what is right in God’s eyes, to President-elect Barak Hussein Obama as he enters the Oval Office.
In Messiah Yeshua, a Light for revelation to the Gentiles and the Glory of His people Israel (Luke 2:32),
Donations can be sent to:
FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES
BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA
Donations can also be made on-line (by PayPal) through: www.davidstent.org