Prayer for Lebanon and Israel
©August 11, 2006 Asher Intrater
Inside reports from the Israeli cabinet tell of particularly tense meetings this week. The cabinet has twice postponed its decision to enlarge ground attacks to get control over southern Lebanon up to the Litani River. The reason for the postponement is to see if a proposed cease-fire agreement can be reached this weekend in the U. N. Most Israelis are frustrated (myself included) with the postponement, thinking that Israel would be in a better negotiating position if the army continues advancing. This is exacerbated by the fact that Hizballah of course is not limiting any of its attacks on Israel. Pray for Israeli government leaders to make the right military decisions.
France seems to be taking the lead in the cease-fire agreement, and has volunteered to send troops as part of a buffer zone in southern Lebanon. France has been a leader in anti-Israel sentiments in Europe and in compromising with Islamic extremists. On the positive side, France has had a long history of good relations with Lebanon and many Arab nations. Ironically this may give them a certain leverage to help negotiations. We need to pray for France. This is a window of opportunity either to do something right or do something disastrous. This weekend could be a redeeming moment for them, or a condemning one. Our prayers could make a difference.
A key player in the negotiations is Lebanon Prime Minister Fouad Seniora. Seniora was against Hizballah. However he was unable to disarm them and take control of his country. Unfortunately the destruction of the war has made him move closer to Hizballah in a reaction against Israel. Perhaps his love for the people of Lebanon will cause him to rise at this moment and negotiate a realistic settlement with Israel. This weekend could also be a redeeming one for him, or a condemning one. Again our prayers could make a difference.
The question here is not whether there should be a cease-fire; nor is it whether there should be an international force in southern Lebanon. Both of those items were part of Israel's goals from the beginning. Israel wants a peace agreement with Lebanon. The question is whether the agreement will include realistic security measures to disarm Hizballah, or at least reduce their ability to attack Israel.
I pray for Hizballah to be destroyed. However, the influence of Hizballah is not just on the terror against Israel, but on public opinion in Lebanon, and on public opinion around the world. Hizballah needs not only to be defeated militarily; the people of Lebanon need to gain control of their nation, and the influence of Jihad propaganda needs to be broken. The discussions this weekend at the U. N. are part of the confrontation of those "powers and principalities" (Ephesians 6:12), and of "strongholds of thoughts and arguments that have exalted themselves against God" (II Corinthians 10:5). The Israeli army cannot fight that part of the battle. That must be done by our prayers.
Part of our spiritual warfare is also us to repent of our own sins (Joel 2:17), to spread the gospel (I Corinthians 1:18-19), and to demonstrate an example of reconciliation (in this case, between Jews and Arabs – Ephesians 2:14). Let us continue to pray for the evangelical Christians in Lebanon. Here is a quote from one of the local pastors:
Sadly more people are becoming refugees everyday, even today new towns are being emptied because threatened. Where would these refugees end? The situation is very difficult. And for us we could say jokingly, "ministry is booming." We are overburdened with relief work to be done, relationships to maintain and people to reach with the gospel. I can testify that I have never seen the Muslim people so hungry for the gospel. Many stories I can tell but now I believe God wants to multiply this work and touch more people. We are already touching 1000 people in our area alone but it seems that God wants to touch more.
Let us pray for their relief work, for their evangelism, and for the church of "N. K." in southern Lebanon, which has been particularly caught in the midst of the fighting. This is God's Kairos time for Lebanon. Out of all these tribulations and birth pangs, may there come a revival and restoration of the nation!
My friend Eddie Santoro describes the "60" factor: There are about 60 times the number of people in the United States than in Israel; 60 times the number in Europe than Israel; 60 times the number in the surrounding Arab nations than in Israel. For example, the number of casualties so far in this war (130) seems relatively small, but it becomes an equivalent of thousands (7,800) if compared to the super powers around it.
Another factor is the economic one. Tourism, agriculture, and small businesses in the northern part of Israel have been severely damaged. Every day that the war continues is a crushing weight to the economy of the nation. The strategy of Nasrallah is that he is willing to have the Lebanese economy decimated if he can also do the same to Israel. ("The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy" – John 10:10.) The worldview of Jihad is that mass destruction on all sides serves its purposes.
Israeli army figures estimate that over 10 billion (!) dollars have been invested by Iran in weapons and military infrastructure for Hizballah.
This worldview of mass destruction was also demonstrated in the arrests yesterday in Britain. A terrorist cell had planned to explode ten (10!) U. S. airplanes flying out of London. They came up with a new demonic strategy of liquid explosives, which could be carried on the plane in soft drink containers, and then detonated from a device within a cell phone or computer. May the world wake up to the danger of Islamic terrorism! It cannot be ignored. It must be fought.
Many Christians are confused as to whether it is right before God to fight in a war. Salim Munayer, a Palestinian Christian scholar, recently gave a summary of the position of fourth century Church father St. Augustine. There are four criteria that indicate whether a Christian should fight in a war.
First, war is justified when it serves to protect innocent civilians from an invader. Second, the implementation of justice sometimes demands that we engage in war. Third, individuals do not have the right to carry out a war; this is the job of legitimate governments. Fourth, war must be carried out in the most just way, and not only with just cause.
For us as Jews, it seems a little simpler. When 300 million Muslims surrounding us desire to annihilate us, we have little choice but to defend ourselves. The history of Israel as recorded in the Bible is a long and detailed account of Israel's attempts to survive as a covenant nation – sometimes against our own sins and sometimes against the attacks of the Gentile nations.
Israeli reporter Eldad Beck in Berlin quotes German newspaper, "Bild,” reporting on Nazi documents that had been hidden in archives and now recently made public. One series of documents reveals that in May 1939, Hitler gathered a group of "Protestant" theologians to found the "Institute for Purifying Christianity from Judaism." They wanted to rewrite the Bible and Church theology to remove all reference to Jesus being Jewish. Why was that so important to Hitler? If it is so important to the devil to destroy the connection between Jesus and the Jews, so is it important to God to restore the connection between Jesus and the Jews.
Both Nazism and Islamic Jihad have as a primary doctrine the annihilation of the Jewish people. That is because God has covenanted with the Jewish people to preserve them (Jeremiah 31:36-37). This promise in Jeremiah is part of the prophecy of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). In other words, the same covenant that gives eternal life and forgiveness of sins to all Christians also guarantees the survival of the Jewish people.
The ancient Israelites would sometimes "fast until sundown" when facing a military challenge (Judges 20:26). Let us do the same until this conflict is resolved.
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