Strategic Prayers and Update for Middle East
1. Gaza - This week Hamas completed its military take over of Gaza, driving out the last forces of the PLO (Fatah) and the Palestinian Authority. The PLO is now strengthening its hold on the West Bank. The situation has created virtually two sub states: Hamas-stan in Gaza and Fatah-land in the West Bank. The spiritual, religious, military, economic, diplomatic, and political implications of this split are far reaching (Psalm 122:6).
First of all, one must have pity for the average family living in Gaza. Their situation is dark in every way. As far as Israel is concerned, a Hamas take over in Gaza raises the possibility of increased armament. On the other hand, Gaza will be relatively cut off from Israel and the rest of the world. Also, the demands for contiguous territory for the Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza become rather irrelevant (Luke 11:17).
If the split enables Abu Mazen to solidify control in the West Bank, it may give the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank a much better position for receiving aid from Europe and for negotiating with Israel.
Why would Hamas fight the PLO and take over Gaza? It seems to me that Hamas felt that the PLO was not aggressive enough in the Islamic and Jihad agenda. Hamas does not want to negotiate with Israel. It wants to fight Israel. Its world view is centered on seeing Israel as the Zionist-satanic enemy. (While the Palestinian Authority is also Muslim, their primary motivation is nationalist aspirations for a Palestinian state.) In other words, Hamas is so filled with hatred for Israel that it is even willing to kill other Palestinians and ruin their own quality of life for the sake of fomenting a terrorist agenda against Israel.
2. Peres - Shimon Peres was elected this week as the ninth president of the State of Israel. In many ways, he is the last of the founding fathers of the state still remaining active on the political scene. (He first served as David Ben Gurion's assistant). At the age of 84, he is likely to fulfill only one 5-year term in office. The position of president in Israel is defined as a "non-political" role. The job is designed to be of figure head and statesmanship. While Peres' political agenda and career has been disputed both on the left and on the right, most of the Israeli public view him as a man of integrity who will represent the nation well. His predecessor, Moshe Katsav, is currently under investigation for sexual harassment while in office.
3. Iran - This week Persian ex-Muslim evangelist Reza Safa visited Israel. His primary ministry is a satellite television broadcast into Iran. He gave a very hopeful report on the increase of the gospel there. He holds that the majority of the Iranian people want to get out of Islam and get rid of Ahmadinajad's regime. Reports claim that upwards of a million (!) Persians are currently believers in Jesus, including top government leaders and former Muslim religious leaders. He believes that a continued positive presentation of the gospel there will result very quickly in a total change in the political and spiritual situation in Iran (Isaiah 19:23).
4. Barak - Ehud Barak (former prime minister and military leader) was re-elected to head of the Labor party in Israel, replacing Amir Perets. Perets, elected primarily as a labor union leader, was blamed and ridiculed for his role as defense minister during the recent second Lebanese War. Barak will likely resume the position of defense minister, strengthening the army and stabilizing the current government coalition, for the time being. This realignment gives a relatively mature and stable balance of power between the three largest parties, Labor (Barak), Kadimah (Olmert) and Likud (Netanyahu). This is the first moment of even relative calm in the Israeli government since the war last summer (I Timothy 2:2).
5. Archbishops - This week a small number of Messianic leaders in Israel had the opportunity to join in a two hour round table discussion with 11 of the top Catholic and Greek Orthodox archbishops, priests, and scholars. They represented the top leadership of the older religious institutions in the Middle East. Our view point on scriptures, prophecy, and their present political implications were extremely different; the discussion was polite and self-controlled. At the same time a common love of Yeshua and a common desire for God's love to touch both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples was clearly evident. Their willingness even to meet with us represents a potential breakthrough for the kingdom of God to reach higher and wider levels of society in the Middle East (John 17:21; Matthew 6:10).
6. Evangelism - Thank you for your continuing prayers and support for the ongoing work of Revive Israel in evangelism, discipleship, prophetic praise, congregational planting, and strategic financial giving (Acts 1:8). We praise the Lord for "H," an Israeli professional, from a traditional Jewish background, who prayed with us this week to repent of his sins and commit his life to the lordship of Messiah Yeshua. He had been shared with previously by some other Messianic Jews. Last week, one of our staff members gave him a copy of Rick Warren's book in Hebrew. This week he came to a Bible study we were hosting, and then told us he wanted to know how to have that kind of personal relationship with God; one that comes from inner faith and not religious rituals.
7. Summer Conferences - These next few weeks our Revive Israel team and staff will be involved in ministering at some important conferences, including: One Thing international youth rally; Foursquare leadership conferences (led by Jack Hayford); tour from Youngi Cho's church in Seoul; Katzir/Souled Out Israeli teen conference; La Higuera conference for Spanish speaking Christians. Truly, we see the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah 2, in which the nations will come up to Jerusalem and the Word of the Lord will go out from Zion (Isaiah 2:1-4).