George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (The Life of Reason, vol. one, 1905). Hegel added, “What experience and history teach is this – that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it” (Georg Wilhelm Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of History, 1832).
The Apostle Paul brings a more hopeful historical perspective when he comments, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did … These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Cor.10:6, 11). As history speeds up before our very eyes, we want to heed the warnings God is sending us, and apply the wisdom that can be gleaned from history for the situation at hand. Specifically we need to ask God what we can learn from all the happenings surrounding the recent war in Gaza.
The Ebenezer Principle
Eli was priest of YHVH at Shiloh. His two sons Phineas and Hophni oversaw and administered the sacrifices at the Tent of Meeting. The Scriptures say that Eli’s sons were wicked men, that they had no regard for YHVH, and that they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt. They violated the letter and spirit of the Mosaic Covenant and set themselves up as a higher authority. Their father Eli rebuked them saying, “‘If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against YHVH, who will intercede for him?’ His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was YHVH’s will to put them to death” (1 Samuel 2:25).
Eli’s desire to honor his sons more than fearing the Lord led to the collapse of his own priestly dynasty, the destruction of Shiloh as a spiritual center, the death of his two sons in battle and the “Ichabod” capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines. The boy prophet Samuel gave his first prophetic word to Eli in fear and trembling, speaking in the name of YHVH: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family – from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible and he failed to restrain them. Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering’ “ (1 Samuel 3:11-14).
Eli’s lack of due diligence in disciplining his sons caused another terrible tragedy – 30,000 brave Jewish soldiers were slaughtered at the Battle of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 4:1-10), barely one kilometer away from today’s Baptist Village and Tel Aphek. According to writer of 1 Samuel, a leader’s sin in Israel can have disastrous and heartbreaking consequences – not only for himself, but also for his people.
Bulldozing The Bulldozer
General Ariel Sharon (known in Israel as “the bulldozer”) was an Israeli war hero whose fierce and bold brand of warfare brought Israel back from the brink of defeat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He established Unit 101, the basis for what later became Sayeret Matkal (Israel’s Delta Force). He later served as Defense Minister and Prime Minister.
When Sharon became PM on January 28 2003, he was known for his Joab-like ferocity in defending the people and land of Israel. His life’s work was based on the same principles as his campaign promises – no withdrawal from Gaza, the West Bank or any part of Jerusalem; no negotiations with the Palestinians as long as terror continued; and a strong counter-terrorist military and intelligence response to Islamic jihad operations against Israelis.
Nearly one year later Sharon did a complete turn around. At the Herzliya Conference on December 18 2003 Sharon announced his intention to unilaterally withdraw Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip; to evacuate all Israeli settlements from Gaza and also four other small settlements from a diminutive section of the northern West Bank. Since Sharon had been elected on a platform diametrically opposed to these moves, his own Likud party insisted that his radical new plans be brought to a party vote. Eventually three separate votes were taken, and each time Sharon’s will was blocked by the will of his party’s majority. Sharon then created a new breakaway party called Kadima, while holding onto the reins of power. He pushed through a retreat from the Gaza Strip, using the IDF to accomplish this. This was especially painful for many, since the Israeli army’s mandate is to protect and defend citizens of Israel, not to evacuate them by force from their homes.
What caused Sharon to execute such a drastic turn-around, one that flew in the face of his entire military and political career? According to two senior Israeli reporters (Raviv Drucker of Israel’s Channel Ten and Ofer Shelach of Yediot Aharonot), PM Sharon (who at the time was under many criminal investigations) was well aware that the left-leaning media would look more kindly on former rightists if they pushed for compromise with the Palestinians. Sharon’s push for disengagement was a desperate attempt to get the press on his side and so avoid getting indicted for various illegal transactions. Channel Two correspondent Amnon Abramovitz then said that PM Sharon should enjoy the protection of pro-disengagement forces, and should be treated like an etrog (a fragile citron fruit used in ceremonies during the Feast of Tabernacles). To sum up, according to left-leaning Israeli political commentators PM Sharon retreated from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in order to gain a temporary postponement from being hit with criminal charges.
Sharon’s attempt to cover his own sins led to two tragedies for the Jewish people – Israel exiting Gaza, and the jihadi Hamas terror organization taking over Gaza. One can say that the recent war (Operation Cast Lead) finds some of its spiritual roots in PM Sharon’s reckless and misguided misdeeds. Even as the sins of Eli led to defeat at the Battle of Ebenezer, so did the sins of Sharon lead to the rise of Hamastan and the necessity for Operation Cast Lead.
On Thursday Israeli newspapers revealed that Prime Minister Olmert told Senator George Mitchell (Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East) that he had offered a secret peace deal to the Palestinian Authority which would involve the forcible evacuation of 60,000 residents of Judea and Samaria; a nearly full retreat to the 1967 borders; and an internationalization of Holy Places in Jerusalem. In a scenario that looks like history repeating itself, PM Olmert has also been under more than a handful of criminal investigations over the past 3 years.
➢ Pray that the God of Israel would limit the damage done by Prime Minister Olmert through the harmful negotiations described above.
➢ Pray for the incoming Prime Minister of Israel who will be elected on February 10 – that he would be instructed and guided by God on these issues.
9/11 and the Saudi connection
History repeats itself in another area – Saudi Arabian threats against the USA in order to turn American policy against Israel.
The first of these two events transpired between May and July 2001, when Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Aziz (now King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia) instructed his Ambassador Prince Bandar Sultan to communicate his grave displeasure with America’s support of Israel. In particular Abdullah was infuriated by Israel’s counter-terrorism efforts against Islamic jihadi terror groups, and by American refusal to condemn Israel’s anti-terrorism policies.
Deciding that America did not “get the hint”, on August 25 Prince Bandar told the Saudi Chief of Staff General Bin Muhayya to cancel Saudi Arabia’s high-level strategic military review with America’s top brass.
Then, on August 27 (www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2002/02/10/saudi-leaders-anger-revealed-shaky-ties/a570bab2-c7c4-4111-b9bc-c03a3cab5ce2/) Prince Bandar delivered a message to President Bush from Crown Prince Abdullah which said, “A time comes when peoples and nations part. We are at a crossroads. It is time for the United States and Saudi Arabia to look to their separate interests”. The message continued, “Therefore the Crown Prince will not communicate in any form, type or shape with you, and Saudi Arabia will take all its political, economic and security decisions based on how it sees its own interest in the region, without taking into account American interests anymore because it is obvious that the United States has taken a strategic decision adopting (Israel’s) policy”. Unspoken (though anonymously leaked at the same time) were threats of drastic cuts in oil supply to America or even an oil embargo; turning to other countries for weaponry; and no intelligence cooperation regarding jihadi terror groups and plans.
Less than two days later, a two-page Presidential letter was winging its way back to Riyadh, held tightly in Prince Bandar’s hands. President George W. Bush had for the first time ever officially committed the United States to establish a Palestinian state – to divide the land of Israel – and was planning to announce this sea-change in US policy on September 24, 2001. The weekend of September 8, 2001 saw Saudi and U.S. officials discuss how the revolutionary announcement would be publicized – would Colin Powell publicize it first, or would President Bush, or perhaps both? Final decisions were put off to the next week.
Prince Bandar recollected that “the happiest man in the world that night, on Monday night, was Bandar bin Sultan. I was in the [indoor] swimming pool [of my McLean residence], smoking a cigar. I gave myself a day off because I worked the whole weekend. I had been to Saudi Arabia . . . out with the [Bush] response, back with our response. I worked on the weekend up to 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the morning. . . . I worked all Monday. And I said to my office, Tuesday I’m taking the day off.” But Tuesday was 9/11.
The terror attack on September 11 2001 which destroyed the Twin Towers was carried out by 19 Saudi citizens. The resulting confusion and American crisis forced a rescheduling of President Bush’s Palestine policy change. The announcement was postponed until Bush’s Rose Garden speech of June 24 2002. The principles were then further established by the international “Quartet” on April 30 2003 in what is now known as the “Road Map”.
The connection between America’s official decision to divide the land of Israel and the most serious terror attack on U.S. soil is sobering.
➢ Though there are many other factors which also influenced the tragedy of 9/11, God’s warnings about cursing Israel and dividing His land in Genesis 12:3, Joel 3:1-3 and Zechariah 14:1-3 call us to serious prayer for the leaders of our nations.
The Turki Trot
In a historical repeat of Abdullah’s 2001 threats to the USA, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal published an op-ed in London’s Financial Times on January 22, 2009 entitled “Saudi patience is running out”. Al-Faisal was Director General of the Kingdom’s Intelligence Service for 24 years, and has served as Saudi Ambassador to London and Washington.
Here are some quotes from this article.
➢ “Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.”
➢ “If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact – especially its ‘special relationship’ with Saudi Arabia – it will have to drastically revise its policies vis-à-vis Israel and Palestine”.
Prince Turki lists what is required: a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank; the recognition of an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capitol; a return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel (basically, an event which would lead quickly to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state).
Prince Turki concludes, “So far, the Kingdom has resisted these calls (for jihad against Israel), but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain … Eventually, the Kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel.” He then prays that President Obama will have the resolve “to rein in the murderous Israeli regime”.
The parallels between Prince Turki’s threats in 2009 and King Abdullah’s threats in 2001 are striking. There is no question that Saudi Arabia is applying pressure, trying to manipulate America into cursing Israel big time.
➢ Pray for President Obama and his advisors – that God will give them a different spirit, and guide them safely through these Saudi minefields into being a blessing to and for Israel according to Genesis 12:3.
Perverting the Holocaust
Seventy years ago Adolf Hitler began his genocidal attack on the Jewish people. From ghettos to killing pits, from gas chambers to crematoria, Nazi Germany focused with a religious zeal on incinerating the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8). For the most part the nations of the world showed either indifference or cold-heartedness to the Final Solution. Only after the war did some measure of shame push the nations into voting for the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel.
Thirty years passed, and slowly the theme of the Holocaust began to surface in films, plays and literature. Children were taught ethical lessons based on the Holocaust, and Holocaust Remembrance Days became part of most Western European official calendars. Nevertheless, the rise of neo-Nazi and skinhead movements in Germany and throughout Europe continued to grow apace. Anti-Jewish attacks became commonplace in France and the former Soviet Union, with Muslims being the religious grouping most likely to engage in these attacks. The cooperation of European Islamist and radical leftist movements in spearheading anti-Israel demonstrations gradually became part of the political scenery.
Operation Cast Lead was greeted by this coalition with huge and often violent anti-Israel demonstrations, which were directed against Jews as well as Israelis, and which took perverse delight in using Nazi terminology to describe Jews and the Jewish state. For the first time since WWII violent European street demonstrations called for the destruction of Jews and the Jewish state, accusing Israel of carrying out a Holocaust on Gazan Arabs. Verbal attacks on the Jews have included threats to gas Jews, taunts calling the Jewish people Nazis, descriptions of Israel as a Nazi state, and equating the Star of David with a swastika.
The Swedish city of Lulea’s municipal board and local church cancelled a planned Holocaust Memorial Day because of anger toward Israel over the Gaza war. In Barcelona the Cataluña government canceled a public commemorative service remembering the Holocaust. A city official stated that “marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian holocaust is taking place is not right”. Instead, the city council decided to have a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people, inviting Leila Khaled, a PFLP terrorist (according to European Union definition). The Socialist mayor of Campozuelos, also in Spain, canceled Holocaust Day and replaced it with Palestinian Naqba Day, mourning the establishment of the state of Israel.
It is astounding to see how those who condemn Nazi attacks on the Jewish people so quickly end up repeating Nazi sins by targeting the Jewish state and the Jewish people for vilification, attack and destruction. Though calling themselves anti-Nazis, those who engage in such attacks against the Jewish people and their state are blindly repeating Nazi sins, bringing judgment on their cities and nations according to Genesis 12:3 and Zechariah 2:8. The irony of Nazi-like groups attacking Jews and calling them Nazis is LSD-like in nature; it strongly pushes the boundaries of commonly understood reality further into worlds unknown.
The Fellowship of Firemen and Arsonists
During WWII many Western statesmen and politicians who were anti-Semitic suggested that their Jewish populations were making too big a thing about Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. They also accused their Jewish constituents of panicking and blubbering, while simultaneously suggesting that the Jewish people “had it coming” and were to blame for any attacks that the wider Gentile populace might bring upon them. These leaders tried to establish a “moral equivalence” between the Jewish victims and their anti-Semitic attackers.
It has become commonplace for the UN and world media to fall into this same historical black hole, creating a false moral equivalence between Islamist terror and Israeli counter-terror police operations. The oft repeated term is “cycle of violence”, and the feeling communicated is “Here they go again, blaming each other and killing each other. A plague on both their houses, but a special plague on the Jewish part!”
There is a world of difference between the terrorist who wants to destroy all unbelievers in general and Jewish people in particular, and the soldier who is willing to sacrifice his own life to prevent the terrorist from killing innocent civilians. To place them on the same moral playing field is as intellectually honest as stating that firefighters and arsonists are basically the same, since they both deal with fire!
A recent example of such moral equivalence is found in Senator George Mitchell’s 2001 Report on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which main conclusions were recently repeated in his December comments in Tel Aviv. In both cases he said that Israel and the Palestinians were both guilty: Mitchell called upon Palestinians to make efforts to prevent terrorism, while calling upon Israel to no longer live in the West Bank.
In truth, what is actually required is that Palestinians both stop all terror and also recognize that Jews have a right to live anywhere in their own land. If terror has been chosen as a Palestinian strategy to get Jewish people to move out of parts of the biblical land of Israel, then Mitchell’s policy of moral equivalence, of forcing Jews to move out of parts of their biblical land is actually aiding and abetting the Palestinian terror strategy. No good or blessing can come to America through such a strategy, from a God’s eye perspective.
Prophets Asleep At The Wheel
Zechariah 1:7-17 describes the vision of the myrtle trees – a fat and prosperous world that couldn’t care less about the spiritual and physical state of the Jewish people. “All’s well, and all’s peaceful,” is what all the nations say, turning a cold shoulder and an even colder heart to the Jewish people in their time of need (see also Jeremiah 25:31; 30:17). In verse 15 YHVH states that He is very angry with the nations that feel secure, because through their indifference and cold-heartedness they have only added to Israel’s calamitous situation.
In the Western world, certain streams of the prophetic movement may have something in common with Zechariah’s vision of the nations among the myrtle trees. When daily prophecies abound which focus on personal fulfillment and financial success, while the Scriptures that prophesy revival, restoration and blessing for Israel are allegorized and applied prophetically only to the Church, a corrective is needed. And over the past weeks when Israel’s life has been threatened by war, what is needed is not a steady stream of “feel-good” prophecies. Serious calls for intercession or divine protection need to go out.
We praise the Lord for such groups like Mike Bickle’s IHOP (www.ihop.org), Jobst Bittner’s TOS (www.tos.info), Don Finto’s Caleb Company (www.calebcompany.com), James Goll’s Encounters Network (www.encountersnetwork.com), Jane Hansen’s Aglow (www.aglow.org), Chuck Pierce’s Glory of Zion International (www.glory-of-zion.org), Joel Rosenberg’s Joshua Fund (www.joelrosenberg.com) (and others – this is only partial list) who have taken a courageous stand in intercession, prayer and more – for Israel and for Messianic Jews. But the need is very great; the laborers are few; and many are otherwise preoccupied..
The prophetic movement is still in its infancy, and too often it is more concerned about personal peace and prosperity than in Israel, the biblical apple of God’s eye. In time and as the result of intercessory groanings, that maturity will come. In time the prophets of the nations will receive a deeper revelation about God’s passion for Israel and about the urgency of the hour. In time the prophetic movement will grapple with the scriptures referring to Israel and will accept what they teach. In time the prophetic movement will communicate God’s heart and strategies for Israel and the nations with greater accuracy, honesty and humility.
➢ Pray for more leaders of international prophetic streams to receive clearer Bible-based revelation about God’s heart and strategies for His people Israel.
➢ Pray that these leaders would become bold and courageous in their preaching and teaching about the need for the body of Messiah to bless, pray for, stand with and evangelize the Jewish people and their state.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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