Our last newsletter (sent out in early August) sought to clarify the real strategic, democratic and biblical issues surrounding the Israeli government’s evacuation and retreat from Gaza and Northern Samaria. The goal was to correct misinformation about events in Israel, and to present more accurate information from an Israeli, Hebrew and Messianic perspective about facts on the ground.
This present newsletter asks the question – what is the prophetic import of events going on in Israel today?
Signs and weathermen
An ancient Indian proverb cautions care when using one’s finger to point something out. A passing onlooker may end up focusing on the finger, and may totally miss the object to which one was pointing!
In Matthew 16:1-3 Yeshua warns that it is possible to be aware of current events while at the same time to totally miss what these events are prophetically pointing to. Even a weatherman can miss the significance of a coming storm! “When it’s evening, you declare that tomorrow will be good weather, because the sky is reddish. And in the morning you announce that there will be nasty weather today, because the sky is red and overcast . . . You know how to discern tomorrow’s weather, but you don’t know how to discern the signs of the times”.
What significance should be drawn about the disengagement from Gaza and Northern Samaria? Is the lesson to be learned simply a call to good citizenship, that Israel’s citizens should obey their Prime Minister without question – as it were, a unique Israeli exercise in upholding the democratic form of government? Or is the disengagement a prophetic wake up call to Israel and the nations – a decisive prophetic line in the sand which has now been crossed, with international and eternal consequences?
The prophet Samson ended up “eyeless in Gaza.” It is our prayer that, with Israel’s recent departure from Gaza, the eyes of the prophets and the eyes of the Jewish people who are all called to be prophets would be opened more clearly and that we would all prophesy with even greater accuracy and devotion to Yeshua (see Psalm 105:15; Num.11:29)!
A retreat by any other name
The forced evacuation of Jewish Israelis from Gaza and parts of Northern Samaria is the first and only case in Jewish history of Jews uprooting other Jews from their homes and synagogues, and then destroying those buildings – all in order to hand over portions of their divinely promised land to enemy forces (the uprooting of Yamit under Ariel Sharon’s supervision in 1982 and its handover to Egypt probably should also be included). It is also the first case of the Israeli army retreating from terrorist forces. And it is actually the third time in the modern era that Israel has abandoned territory promised by God to Israel. In 1956 Israel abandoned Gaza due to US and Russian threats (It was later retaken by Israel in June 1967). On July 1 1994 Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin handed over Jericho to Yasser Arafat, an event shepherded and promoted by former President Bill Clinton. Today Sharon’s unilateral retreat has been euphemistically called a “disengagement.” But even in Hebrew, a retreat is still a retreat.
This past week Israeli TV has broadcasted non-stop live and on-site, covering all aspects of the evacuation. Israelis have been bombarded with a marathon of sound bites and “eye bites” – Jews removing other Jews from their homes, farms and synagogues. The pictures, especially footage of bulldozed homes, have broken the hearts of many Israelis, while others have responded to the tragic evacuations with cold sneers and derision. While some Israeli hearts are responding to this tragedy with tenderness, other hearts are hardening and refuse to hear their brother’s cry rising up out of Gaza’s soil.
Some modern Israelis find it embarrassing and difficult to relate to the sufferings, exiles and pogroms that have characterized Jewish history among the nations. They don’t want to think of their people as having been victimized, and so they avert their eyes and their hearts when forced to consider such issues. It may be shocking for some to discover that certain Israelis cannot or will not see the parallels between the suffering of Gaza’s Jews and the suffering of the Jewish people in Europe and the Arab world. Nevertheless it is heartening to know that many other Jews are finding tears on their cheeks and softening occurring in their hearts. Please pray that God will have His way with many Israeli hearts, tenderizing them and causing them to seek for Messiah Yeshua’s face amidst the pain.
Here are some fleeting descriptions of scenes that flashed across Israeli TV screens this week.
Jewish children in Gaza
A small tot steps outside his house, unaware that his parents are about to be removed, and shyly hands out tiny cookies to the soldiers waiting to enter. A three-year old riding out of his home on the broad shoulders of an IDF officer asks with a big smile, “Are we going out for a fun ride?” Another three-year old girl runs over to an IDF commander (who has just explained to her parents that they are about to be evacuated) and gives him a big kiss and an even bigger smile. A small class of eight-year old boys chants Psalm 130 as soldiers wait to evacuate them from their schoolroom (“Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord! Hear my voice!”)
Grown men crying in Gaza
As the army and police announce to Morag resident Yuval Unterman that he need to evacuate his home, he quietly rips his shirt (a sign of Jewish religious mourning) and stands wordless in front of the soldiers. As the shammash (synagogue attendant) opens the Netzarim synagogue ark where the Torah scrolls are housed (in order to remove them and evacuate them as well), he staggers and buries his face in his hands, shaking with sobs. Tekoa Rabbi Menahem Fruman, known for his heart-to-heart dialogue with neighbouring Arab communities near Bethlehem, tenderly removes a Torah scroll from the Neve Dekalim synagogue, his long wispy white beard wrapped around the scroll, crying. He walks slowly out of the synagogue, his face creased with agonized tears. A Holocaust survivor, dressed in his original prison camp uniform, kisses soldiers who have come to evacuate him, and leaves his home weeping.
Soldiers showing incredible restraint and kindness in Gaza
One of Israel’s most respected and decorated soldiers, Colonel Erez Tzukerman, commander of the famed Golani Brigade, quietly listens as a Gaza resident (a former soldier under his command) weeps and shakes at the fact that his commander and brother-in-arms is evacuating him from his own home. Erez nods his head in understanding, does not react or defend himself as he is yelled at, and then embraces the soldier as they cry together.
A 25-year old commander quietly listens to the Fitusi family explain all the terrorism they have endured, read aloud a letter that the six-year old daughter has written to be read to the soldiers, and then slowly walks out the door to prepare for the family’s evacuation. A five-year old boy comes over to him. The commander crouches to talk with him, kisses him on the head and ask quietly, “Do you hate me?”
IDF Southern Command General Dan Harel and Southern District Police Chief Commander Uri Bar-Lev openly weep in different Gaza synagogues as their own forces get ready to evacuate the buildings of praying Jews. Soldiers carrying a “hilltop youth” out of a yeshiva in Homesh, Northern Samaria lay him down gently on the ground and then hug him. He gets up and runs over to the Torah scroll being evacuated and kisses it, weeping. A young woman soldier who has just evacuated a family from their home goes behind a bus (where she can be alone) and begins to groan and wail deeply over what she has just seen.
One soldier told me that he wandered around one of the abandoned towns after the evacuation and saw over a hundred hungry abandoned dogs and cats; empty houses ghost-like in their stillness, with chocolate milk still on kitchen counters, freshly made bread barely taken out of open ovens, food still on the tables, half-empty fridges – as if the Rapture had just taken place.
The lives of those evacuated have been severely shaken. Many have left homes that up to four generations have lived in. For many, their communities were all that they have ever experienced. They are now for the most part living in temporary housing or crowded into hotel rooms, awaiting the outcome of slow government bureaucratic processes.
Pray that God will use the pain to point this people’s hearts to Himself. Pray for their resettlement to the east of the Gaza Strip, and for the daunting physical needs involved. Pray for the soldiers who have taken the brunt of evacuating Gaza’s Jews. Pray that God will speak to them in their hearts and use the residual pain to open their hearts to him, to ask questions that only He can and will answer.
A pre-bar mitzvah prophecy
Back to the Israeli television broadcasts this week: In the living room of one of the families about to be evacuated, the father asked his oldest son if he had anything he would like to tell the commander evacuating him. The boy quietly opened his Bible to Amos 9:13-15 and chanted in sing-song Hebrew the ancient words of the prophecy. As we watched in our own living room, tears streamed down our cheeks. Hear the words of the prophet:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares YHVH, that the plowman will overtake the one who is reaping, and he who treads out the grapes will overtake the one who is sowing seed. And the mountains will drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring back My people Israel from captivity, and they shall rebuild the destroyed cities and inhabit them. And they will plant vineyards and drink the wine, and will eat the fruit of those vineyards. And I will plant (Israel) upon their own land and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given to them, says YHVH, your God”.
This pre-bar mitzvah boy prophesied a mouthful. God is in the process of bringing His people Israel back to their promised land of Israel. Over the past 150 years the Jewish people have been rebuilding destroyed cities and have even planted new towns in the pristine desert sands (as in the case of Gaza’s communities). As this river of restoration flows (the Hebrew word for restoration is tikkun), as the process expands, more Jews return, more destroyed towns are rebuilt, and the Jewish people once again finds itself at home in its own land.
Bumps in the ‘restoration road’
But there are bumps in the restoration road. This happens in every struggle and in every process of taking back from the enemy what had been stolen. Opposition and attack sometimes briefly slow down the process. The evacuation of Gaza and four villages in Northern Samaria is one such bump in the road. This is a setback and a cause for grief and mourning. The fact that Jews have been used to inflict this on other Jews is also a tragic surprise.
But the evacuation of Gaza is not the reversal of the process of restoration. It is a grievous road bump on the way. As Michael Freund said recently. “This is hardly the first setback we have suffered on our long and sometimes torturous return to Zion, and it is almost certainly not the last” (“Jewish Gaza will be rebuilt”, Jerusalem Post, Wed. August 17, 2005, p.14).
The Jewish people will never again be decisively exiled from their land, as one or two embittered and disgruntled Messianic preachers have been arguing for. Though there is definitely a sifting and a purification coming for the nation of Israel, it will not entail the full exile of Israel nor the full evacuation of Jerusalem (see Zech.14:2b). The return of the Jewish dry bones in Ezekiel 37 is described by God Himself as occurring in unbelief. But God is not caught off guard by this spiritual fact. Indeed, He is the One who is causing the people of Israel to return to the borders of the promised land – including to the Gaza Strip.
It is important to remember that the process of restoration cannot be smoothly charted as if it were part of some American engineering manual, even a Messianic Jewish engineering manual! The process of restoration is not easily condensed into an efficient and scientific linear equation, a four-color flow chart or an intricate time-line. Such a computerized approach to the restoration process is probably more Hellenistic than Jewish, more fatalistic than prophetic, more mechanistic than mystical.
God is a multi-tasker
The truth is that God is capable of doing more than one thing at a time and, in fact, God works in precisely such a multi-faceted way. He has determined to bring His people back to the land of Israel even in unbelief, to establish them in their land even in unbelief, and to cause them to grow into an amazing and world-perplexing people even in unbelief.
All that is lacking for Israel is the breath, the Ruach, the Spirit of God. When YHVH pours out His Ruach of grace and supplications (Zechariah 12:10), we the people of Israel will mourn, we will repent, we will embrace our Messiah Yeshua, we will come alive as a mighty army (Ezekiel 37:10) and we will move under God’s feet as His divine threshing sledge bringing judgment and blessing to the nations (Isaiah 41:15; the Hebrew word for this sledge is morag, one of the names of the evacuated Gaza communities)
God’s process of restoration is cyclical – He brings His people back to the same land from which they were originally exiled and evacuated. He is moving simultaneously to establish physical restoration and spiritual restoration in the bodies and spirits of the same Jewish people who once rebelled against Moses’ authority and David’s dynasty. God’s river of restoration continues to flow over the Jewish people and into their hearts, even though there are occasional eddies, side pools and backwaters. And God will use the pain and the agony created by this evacuation to open Jewish hearts to His own heart, and to bring Israeli hearts into a right relationship with His own heart.
The exile and public agony of Gaza’s Jews has sadly occurred, but this momentary light affliction has not stopped the process of Jewish restoration to and in the land of Israel. It has not reversed the flow of the river of restoration. Indeed, it has opened the door to one of the last days’ most significant prophecies regarding the restoration of Israel and the judgment of the nations.
Three Big Prophetic Events
Two momentous prophetic events have occurred in the last 25 years.
According to Bob Jones, a prophetic brother, World War Three began on October 6 1981 with the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat by Islamic jihadi forces (led by Ayman Zawahiri, now Osama Bin Laden’s second-in-command). This rise of an armed and fanatic army of Islamic world jihad indicates that world jihad will figure prominently in the coming battles of WWIII.
On September 11 2001 another prophetic brother James Goll was told by the Lord to turn on his TV immediately. As he watched planes crash into the World Trade Center, God told him that “the time of the hunters” had begun. This term refers to Jeremiah 16:16-18, a prophecy of a worldwide season of anti-Semitic persecution which will purify the Jewish nation as well as fully bring them back to their ancestral homeland of Israel. This prophetic word re-emphasizes that growing world-wide anti-Jewish persecution will now be linked to anti-Israel strategies and Islamic jihadi terrorism.
The third event, the time of dividing up the land of Israel, is kicking into high gear in front of our eyes, and it is the evacuation of Gaza which has proved to be the alarm bell. A little bit of background is necessary here.
The Arab and Islamic world has been actively trying to wipe out the Jewish State of Israel since the late 1940’s. The PLO has made the destruction of Israel its organizational strategy since its inception in 1964, whether by direct armed attack or by ‘the plan of stages’ – whittling off pieces of Israel through diplomacy, until direct military attack can be decisive. The nations of the world, and in particular the USA, have also been advocating a political process which would divide up the biblical land of Israel. The organization known as the Quartet (composed of the USA, the European Union, the UN and Russia; see www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2003/20062.htm) has been pushing since 2003 for what it has euphemistically labeled “a performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at … a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
Since unimpeded access to Islamic oil is essential for Western economies, and since oil access is also connected with progress on dividing the land of Israel, it has become a clear policy goal of oil multinationals, Saudi Arabia, and allies in the US State Department and C.I.A., to push for strategies to make this dream a reality. Two books which throw light on these strategies are: “The Secret War Against The Jews: How Western Intelligence Betrayed the Jewish People” by John Loftus and Mark Aarons (www.john-loftus.com) and “Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude” by former C.I.A. Middle East case officer Robert Baer. Loftus and Baer are commentators for the FOX Channel.
It is to be assumed that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has already run into these international and strategic hardball pressures. There is place for much compassion here. What would you do if you were Israel’s PM, you did not believe the Scriptures and you needed to simultaneously fend off US pressure, terrorist attacks and impending legal action against yourself (possibly) and your own children (certainly) for illegal campaign funding?
It seems that Sharon hoped that he could gain world sympathy by a unilateral disengagement while simultaneously freezing world pressure against further withdrawals. But US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently popped that balloon on August 18 2005 in a NY Times article with Joel Brinkley and Steven R. Weisman. She “offered sympathy for the Israeli settlers who are being removed from their homes in Gaza but also made it clear that she expected Israel and the Palestinians to take further steps in short order toward the creation of a Palestinian state. ‘Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing,’ Ms. Rice said in an interview. But she added, ‘It cannot be Gaza only.’”
In a recent TV interview here in Israel, former Consul General of Israel in New York Alon Pinkas stated that, with the evacuation from Gaza, “the US has seen the victory of its 38 year old policy”. American Rice and Israeli Pinkas dovetail in agreeing that the evacuation of Gaza was a long standing US policy goal, and that the continuing division of the biblical land of Israel is an ongoing US strategic goal.
So the evacuation from Gaza is not taking place in a vacuum. At this point, with the exile of the Jewish remnant from the Gaza Strip and from parts of Northern Samaria, the world has now entered into the period which can be called “the time of the dividing up the land of Israel.” The first fruits have been seen globally on television this past week. It is unfortunate that the US is one of the prime movers in this dividing process.
This season will involve intensified world focus on and preoccupation with forcing Israel to retreat from other portions of the biblical heartland. It will involve political, economic and military pressure. Two decades ago an internationally respected prophetic brother prophesied that the USA would face another oil embargo when a man named Abdullah would become King over Saudi Arabia. Abdullah acceded to the Saudi throne on August 3 2005. The economic pressures against Israel will also include oil embargoes against the USA and other countries – Islamic oil weapons crafted to weaken connections between those countries and the state of Israel.
We have been warning about the immediacy of this biblical scenario for nearly 12 years. What is sobering is that in the first round of this battle, Israel has been pressured into evacuating portions of its own lands..
What will eventually develop according to the Scriptures:
- There will be concerted effort on the part of enemy Arab nations to occupy all of the land of Israel and to destroy the Jewish state. The enemy will be characterized by murderous spite, derision and hate-filled joy (Ezekiel 36).
- All of the nations mentioned in this future pan-Arab attack described in Psalm 83 are presently Islamic. Look for a jihadi Islamic context in this future war against the Jewish state.
- Based on Ezek.38-39 this coming jihadi invasion of Israel will be decisively defeated.
- The nations of the world will continue to attempt to divide the land of Israel and will finally use military force to achieve this goal. This will result in severe judgment on those nations and the return of Messiah Yeshua (Joel 3:1-3).
- In pursuit of the above strategy the nations will invade Israel and divide Jerusalem, expelling or evacuating Jews from East Jerusalem while allowing them to remain in West Jerusalem. This evacuation will directly catalyze the return of Messiah Yeshua (Zech.14:12-3).
In light of these biblical scenarios, we encourage you to keep God’s strategies and prophetic plans close to your heart. We encourage you to pray for your country – that it would bless and protect Israel and the Jewish people, and not turn against them. We encourage you to intercede for Israel’s protection and salvation. We encourage you to reach out to Jewish people around you and to share the good news of their Messiah Yeshua’s life, atoning death and amazing resurrection with your Jewish friends and acquaintances. We encourage you to prepare for the coming wave of anti-Jewish persecution, terror and future holocaust. How will you be able to save Jewish lives and protect them as they return to their promised land?
Thanks for reading these words and for chewing on them. We bless you and thank you for your friendship, prayers and support. They mean a lot to us!
In Yeshua, Israel’s Messiah and the Light of the world!
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