- Now it came about in the days of Ahaz . . . that . . . the king of Aram and . . . the king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it . . . Ahaz’ heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake from the wind. Then YHVH said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz . . . and say to him, ‘Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted . . . [But] if you will not believe, you certainly shall not last’” (Isaiah 7:1-7).
The history of the Jewish people is that of a small people living in a small land, surrounded by superpowers – juggernauts who were often less than friendly.
- YHVH did not make you His beloved nor choose you because you were greater in number than any of the peoples, since you were the fewest of all peoples, but because YHVH loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, YHVH brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
Our calling as a nation was (and remains) to love the God of Jacob with all our heart and soul, and to obey His word:
- “And now, Israel, what does YHVH your God require of you, but to fear YHVH your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve YHVH your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep YHVH’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:11-13; see also Romans 11:29)
This national calling, if followed by the Jewish people and by all the superpowers of the world, would make for a healthier planet. But when neither Israel nor the nations love the God of Jacob with all our heart and soul, bad stuff happens. The Hebrew prophet Jeremiah makes this graphically clear:
- “Israel is a scattered flock; the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has gnawed his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 50:17).
“Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone – Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon” (Bob Dylan, Neighborhood Bully)
Many people in the modern era have failed to draw biblical conclusions regarding how modern superpowers operate. Some feel that the messages preached by the Hebrew prophets only applied to ancient Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece – but surely modern France, Britain and America are a totally different ball game? These enlightened Christian superpowers would surely not make the same mistakes as Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar or Ahasuerus, would they! But that would be a faulty conclusion, one that brings with it earth-shaking negative consequences:
- For YHVH of armies says this: “After glory He has sent me against the nations that plunder you, for the one who touches you, touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8)
- “Therefore, all who devour you will be devoured, and all your adversaries, every one of them, will go into captivity. And those who plunder you will become plunder, and all who plunder you I will turn into plunder. For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds, declares YHVH – because they have called you an outcast, saying: ‘It is Zion; no one cares for her.’ This is what YHVH says: Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings. And the city will be rebuilt on its ruins, and the palace will stand on its rightful place” (Jeremiah 30:16-18)
Many of those who believe what the Bible teaches, understand that the Hamas jihadis and their national backers in Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran are only seconds away from the fires of judgment (see 2 Peter 2:4-9). We would base that conclusion on Hamas’ horrific demonized slaughter, torture, rape and kidnapping of innocent Israelis.
But what happens if YHVH (who is also the God of these slaughtered Jewish people) decides to cast His net farther out, and haul in a hell-bound catch made up of those who publicly cheer for Hamas, and who also call for Jewish genocide? What if the God of the Jews decides to throw His net out even wider, and fill His net of judgment with the superpower leaders and activist politicians whose geopolitical strategies in the past have allowed Hamas to survive the IDF’s attacks so that they can rise from out of their jihadi tunnels once again, to continue the jihadi slaughter of the Jewish people?
- Now YHVH saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice [for Zion]. And He saw that there was no one, and was amazed that there was not one to intercede. Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head. And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped Himself with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, so will He repay – wrath to His adversaries, retribution to His enemies! To the coastlands He will deal retribution! (Isaiah 59:15-18)
Morphing the news
One of the most strategic issues facing Israel at this point in the war, is superpower pressure (which would include the UN, the EU, Russia, China, the U.S.A, and assorted Middle Eastern nations) attempting to force Israel into a ceasefire before Hamas is decisively crushed. Some of these bodies are attempting to get the superpowers to boycott and sanction Israel, to force an arms embargo against the IDF and thus prevent them from resupplying. Hamas is pulling all available strings to spin the world media narrative, morphing world perception into re-interpreting the war as an attack on ‘a victimized Palestinian people now being ruthlessly slaughtered by a cruel and bloodthirsty IDF.’ Those – even evangelicals – who post pictures in line with Hamas’ talking points are actually virtue-signaling, unwittingly pushing the Hamas narrative at the expense and survival of the Jewish people.
What follows is an unpacking of some superpower pressures on Israel in the not-so-distant past. These examples reveal that it is of vital importance to be praying for your country’s leaders as well as the leaders of the Jewish nation – that God’s heart and strategies will be held to and carried out.
Diplomatic and public pressure – starting in Gaza but ending in Jerusalem
On November 5, 1956 Soviet Premier Bulganin and President Khrushchev threatened Israel with nuclear attack if it did not withdraw from the Sinai. Not to be outdone, the Republican administration of President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles told Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban that if Israel did not withdraw, all U.S. military and civilian aid to Israel would be cut off, the tax-exempt status of all American organizations that provided aid to Israel would be removed, and that the United States would not oppose the expulsion of Israel from the UN (see ‘The Iron Wall,’ Avi Shlaim, 2000, p.181).
According to a recent article “U.S. had emergency plan for attacking Israel in 1967” (Amir Oren, Ha’aretz), the Joint Chiefs of Staff had established a battle plan to stop Israel from expanding westward into Sinai or eastward into the West Bank (also not to allow Arab forces to cross the armistice lines of 1948-49). Strike Command (STRICOM – then headed by General Theodore John Conway; the Command was annulled in 1971) was asked in Cable No. 5886 (May 20, 1967) by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to refresh emergency plans for US military intervention in an Arab-Israeli war. The Six Day War began and ended so suddenly that U.S. contingency plans could not be carried out.
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh notes that when Secretary of State James A. Baker III was being sworn in (1989), one Republican White House aide joked that every Secretary of State left that office hating Israel. Baker reportedly replied, “What if one started that way?” Just before Baker became Secretary of State, he took a TIME magazine journalist on a turkey hunt. There he said, “The trick is in getting (wild turkeys) where you want them, on your terms. Then you control the situation, not them. You have the options. Pull the trigger or don’t. It doesn’t matter once you’ve got them where you want them. The important thing is knowing that it’s in your hands, that you can do whatever you determine is in your interest to do.” When asked if he was referring to turkeys, Baker said “No,” flashing a brief, fleeting smile. “I mean Israel . . . ”
In his recent autobiography Bibi: My Story, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu recounts how U.S. President Bill Clinton had called to congratulate him on his June 1996 election victory. “Bibi, I’ve got to hand it to you,” he chuckled. “We did everything we could to bring you down, but you beat us fair and square.” Netanyahu explains: “He wasn’t telling me something I didn’t know, but here was the president of the United States admitting without batting an eyelash to a brazen intervention in another country’s elections. Clinton’s frankness was refreshingly politically incorrect.”
Just before (and also during) the traumatic disengagement process of August 2005, Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made it crystal clear that Israel’s borders must shrink – beginning with Gaza. “Because the real point about Gaza is not to stop with Gaza. The President has been clear, we’ve been clear with the Israelis that it cannot be Gaza only” (Shannon, Ireland, June 17, 2005) “We must all focus on the disengagement as our best chance to reenergize the roadmap . . . Because we’ve said many times that this is not Gaza only; this is the first step on a process that is outlined. The roadmap says how we get to final status, it says how we get to a Palestinian state” (Ramallah, West Bank, June 18, 2005).
Speaking in Ramallah on October 15 2007 Secretary of State Rice said: “Frankly, it’s time for the establishment of a Palestinian state” . . . “A two-state solution is “absolutely essential for the future, not just of Palestinians and Israelis but also for the Middle East and indeed for American interests.” One day before Rice’s statement, on October 14 2007 Israeli Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai had met with the Secretary of State in Jerusalem. He told her that the status of Jerusalem must be taken off the agenda of the Annapolis conference. According to Yishai’s office, Rice responded that “the time has come to deal with issues that we were afraid to touch for many years.” (JP Oct 15 2007 p.9 “As Rice arrives …”).
In this light, the latest comments by Pope Francis on Italian TV RAI line up with the U.S.A., the EU, and others: “The war in the Holy Land scares me . . . The only solution to the conflict is two states for two peoples” (see Joel 3:1-2).
- What Gaza has become – a battleship for Hamas aimed at the heart of Israel – is a direct result of U.S. and international pressure on Israel’s leaders.
During his 2008 primary, Barak Obama told Jewish leaders in Cleveland: “There is a strain within the pro-Israel community, that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel, and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel.” Obama was pushing for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank), and its replacement by Yasser Arafat’s PLO/PA pro-terror organization. His goals were the opposite of Israel’s ruling coalition led by Netanyahu. Obama was advocating for the platform of the Israeli political wing which had recently lost the elections.
He was advocating for Palestinian control over the West Bank, an area where, according to latest surveys, 66% of the Palestinian public does not believe that Israel as a Jewish state will survive to 2048; 66% are in favor of forming local armed terror groups opposed to the PA; 58% of its Arab inhabitants would vote Hamas into office, and where 58% support “armed confrontations and intifada” against Israel. Creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank (which is UN, EU, US, Egyptian and Saudi policy) would mean turning that region into another Iran-supported jihad base against the Jewish state – as Gaza is today. That would be the result of current Western pressure. The fruit of these pressures is manifestly visible in the events of October 7 – the Gaza Envelope jihadi pogroms of Hamas against Israeli kibbutzim and farms.
At the start of the Obama administration in 2009, as Netanyahu was facing pressure to endorse a two-state solution and resume negotiations with the Palestinians, Biden told Netanyahu he would serve as his backchannel ally. “You don’t have too many friends here, buddy. I’m the one friend you do have,” Biden told Netanyahu during a meeting at the official vice president’s residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory.
In private White House discussions between PM Netanyahu and POTUS in 2009, Obama told Bibi: “I expect you to immediately freeze all construction in the areas beyond the 1967 borders. Not one brick!” Bibi responded, “Barack, half of Jerusalem’s residents live beyond those lines. That alone includes almost two hundred thousand people. Do you expect us to stop building in neighborhoods like Gilo? These are integral parts of Jerusalem, like Georgetown is part of Washington.” “That’s exactly what I mean,” said Obama. “Not one brick, anywhere. Gilo, too.” As the two prepared to leave the Oval Office, Obama told him: “You know, people often underestimate me. But I come from Chicago, where I had to deal with tough opponents.” Netanyahu said that Obama’s words gave the clear message that Bibi was being treated “as a minor thug in the neighborhood.”
On October 28, 2014, noted journalist Jeffrey Goldberg quoted “a senior Obama administration official” as calling Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a ‘chickensh*t’ (slang for ‘worthless coward’): “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars . The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states . . . The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon. He’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.” A second official leaked that it is now “too late” for Netanyahu to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying that “a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic” meant that Netanyahu “ultimately . . . couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger” with regards to launching a possible preemptive strike to forestall Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Goldberg concluded his column with a series of threats from the Obama administration to Israel: first, that the administration will allow Palestinian actions at the UN that will “isolate Israel from the international community,” and second, the administration will “make explicit” America’s vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement – a vision diametrically opposed from Netanyahu’s vision. Thoughtful critiques of these leaks are found here and here.
In May 2021, President Biden pressed the Israeli leader to swiftly agree to a ceasefire to end the May 2021 Gaza war: “Bibi, I gotta tell you, I’m coming under a lot of pressure back here . . . This is not Scoop Jackson’s Democratic Party . . . I’m getting squeezed here to put an end to this as soon as possible.” Reference here is oblique, but nevertheless referring to Congresswomen Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley (known as ‘The Squad’) – the spearhead of an anti-Israel group among American Democrats. That year, eight Democrats voted against funding for the replenishment of Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome defense system, and 16 Democrats opposed a Resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. A recent Pew Research survey showed that 53% of Americans who identify themselves as Democrats hold a negative view of Israel.
The U.S. Administration is on record as opposing Israeli control of Gaza, yet has no clear endgame as to how Hamas can be removed from Gaza. The strategic ambivalence here is astounding. The pressure being brought to bear on Israel to bring forward its own endgame is breathtakingly hypocritical..
The U.S. has stated that now is not the time for negotiations between Hamas and Israel, but that can come later on.
- On October 24, 2023 US President Joe Biden hinted that he could support a Gaza ceasefire if Hamas released all the hostages it seized from southern Israel on October 7. During a White House event, a reporter asked him, “Is the United States supporting a hostage for a ceasefire deal?” Biden responded, “We should have a ceasefire.” He then corrected himself: “Not a cease fire. We should have the hostages released and then we should talk,” Biden said.
- On October 30, 2023, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stated, “We do not believe that a ceasefire is the right answer right now . . . We do not support a ceasefire at this time.”
- Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated on October 30, 2023 that “People who are calling for a ceasefire now do not understand Hamas. That is not possible.”
But Israel has clearly stated that there will be no ceasefire with Hamas – either they unconditionally surrender or they are destroyed:
Netanyahu stated unequivocally, also on October 30, 2023:
- “I want to make clear Israel’s position regarding a ceasefire. Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas. After the horrific attacks of October 7, calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen . . . Israel will stand against the forces of barbarism until victory. I hope and pray that civilized nations everywhere will back this fight. Israel’s fight is your fight because if Hamas and Iran’s axis of evil win, you will be their next target. That’s why Israel’s victory will be your victory. But make no mistake, regardless of who stands with Israel, Israel will fight until this battle is won, and Israel will prevail”
- Quoting a verse from the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, Netanyahu told the crowd, “There is a time for peace and a time for war. This is a time for war – a war for a common future. Today we draw a line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism. It is a time for everyone to decide where they stand”
A new article in Politico reveals two senior U.S. administration officials discussed with POTUS Biden the likelihood that Bibi Netanyahu has limited time left in office. Whether or not this is true, a leak of this nature calls to mind Bill Clinton’s candid disclosure that the U.S. administration is quite comfortable exerting behind-the-scenes pressure to appoint and demote national leaders – whether in Iran in 1953 or in Israel of 1996 and 2023. POTUS Biden has conveyed that sentiment to Netanyahu in a recent conversation, according to anonymous administration sources, suggesting (perhaps in ‘Godfather’-like tones) that he should think about lessons he would share with his eventual successor. Politco notes that the POTUS and his foreign policy team are trying “to work with, and diplomatically steer, the Israeli leader.”
In Biden’s October 2023 trip to Israel, he urged Netanyahu not to widen the war (i.e., not to do a military incursion into Gaza’s Hamastan) and to prioritize a two-state solution (i.e., re-establish the pro-terror Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which would quickly collapse into a Hamas jumping-off point into Israel). This last point was publicly stated on November 1, 2023 by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, during his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee: “At some point, what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to have governance and ultimately security responsibility for Gaza.” This statement marks the first time the Biden administration has publicly declared its desire for the PA to return to the Gaza Strip, after coyly hinting about this idea to regional partners since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
Politico states that “Biden aides already are engaging an array of other Israeli politicians — some in power, some not — on the war effort. According to the two senior administration officials as well as the current and former U.S. official, those talks have also provided a way to gauge the thinking of various Israelis who might take the helm of the country. While Biden administration officials have offered public declarations of solidarity with the Israeli government during the current crisis, aides are also trying to get ahead of what Netanyahu’s downfall could mean for the future Israeli-U.S. relationship . . . Netanyahu hasn’t been a favorite of the Biden team. His increasingly hardline positions over the years have upset Biden aides who still support creating a Palestinian state. With an eye toward the future, U.S. officials are talking to Benny Gantz, a member of the current unity government; Naftali Bennett, a former prime minister; and Yair Lapid, an opposition leader and former prime minister, among other Israeli figures, the former official said.”
“Even the best-case scenario for Israel in this war would not likely keep Netanyahu in power,” said Hagar Chemali, a former National Security Council and Treasury Department official in the Obama administration. “I still believe Netanyahu is on his way out because Israelis are already publicly questioning whether he is really the right person, not just to win this specific battle against Hamas, but the broader war for a peaceful and secure Israel.” Bibi has been elected and re-elected as PM; he has served longer than any other Prime Minister, even longer than Ben-Gurion. Yet U.S. State Department officials, speaking anonymously, seem to have greater insight and discernment about what Israelis think, than do Israelis themselves.
The term ‘banana republic’ was first found in print in 1904, describing Central America social and political realities. This term can be a pejorative word used to describe a servile oligarchy that aids and supports a stronger power (or superpower) for various forms of kickback. America’s realpolitik toward Central American banana-producing countries has often been characterized with this term.
History shows us that, when Israel attempts to reclaim its God-promised land and its biblical borders, or when the Jewish state’s IDF attempts to decisively crush its enemies, it is then that various superpowers step in to reign in Israel from achieving those goals. It may have been Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in 1956 and 1973, or American orders to Israel to stand down or retreat in 1991, 2006 and 2021. In 2021 POTUS Biden made many calls to PM Netanyahu during May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls. During their fourth phone call, on May 19, 2021, Biden was unhappy that Israel was insisting on completing the administering of a death-blow to Hamas. “Hey, man, we are out of runway here. It’s over!” said Biden. Times of Israel reports: “Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire two days later. The longtime Likud leader was replaced one month later by a short-lived unity government headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.”
How should we then pray?
As IDF tanks are rolling in Gaza, here are some bullet points to be praying about:
- Pray for victory for the IDF as they dismantle Hamas HQs, tunnels, mines, commando teams wherever they are located – even beside mosques and schools or under major hospitals
- Pray for clarity of strategy, purpose and resolve for Israel to achieve the total and unconditional surrender of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and their total removal from Gaza
- Pray for Israel’s leaders to withstand international pressure so that Hamas can finally be removed from its cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza
- Pray for minimal loss of life on Israel’s side and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
- Pray for God’s strategies and leading regarding how to deal with Hezbollah, and for the God of Jacob to hold back regional war if possible, involving Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Turkey, the Yemenite Houthis and other superpowers
- Pray for revelation and clarity to be imparted by the God of Israel to the world political and intelligence community who have not yet understood what jihad is all about and are fogged as to how to deal with it decisively
- Pray for the physical rescue of the at least 242 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas
- 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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