During the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, tensions rose dramatically in Jerusalem, culminating in riots on the Temple Mount and violence between Jews and Palestinians in the nearby neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah. A handful of Palestinian families are being evicted from properties in Sheik Jarrah originally and lawfully owned by Jews. In response to the evictions, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for a violent uprising.
On May 10, which was Jerusalem Day, Islamic terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad began launching rockets into Israel. As you recall, Jerusalem Day is an annual celebration of Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem. Since then, almost 1800 rockets have sent Israelis running for shelter in cities and villages across much of the country. Seven Israelis have died and dozens more have been wounded or lost homes. (It is impossible at this time to accurately count casualties on the Gazan side.)
Hamas operates largely with the weapons supply, and under the direction, of Iran. The past days’ terror attacks are likely intended by Iran, in large part, as retaliation for recent Israeli strikes against Iranian interests. A second goal is to draw Israel into war in order to weaken the Jewish state militarily, economically, psychologically, and perhaps most importantly, in the courts of world opinion. (Concerning international condemnation against Israel on the issue of “moral equivalency,” and Hamas’s propagation of fake news against Israel–often at the expense of Gazan civilians—Sandra’s books Why Care About Israel? and Why Still Care About Israel? give documented details.)
The current, escalated war has been dubbed “Operation Guardian of the Walls” by Israel and “Sword of Jerusalem” by Hamas. The names are revealing. Israel is strictly on the defensive, seeking to guard and protect the country. In contrast, Hamas (with Iran) wants to overthrow and annihilate Israel, staking out Jerusalem as the capital city of a regional or global Islamic califphate (empire). At its core, this is a battle concerning who will be worshiped and rule the nations from Jerusalem.
As rockets rain down on Israel, Arab Israeli citizens have begun rioting and vandalizing mixed Arab-Jewish cities across the country, including Jerusalem. The official reason for the internal upheaval is to show solidarity with the Palestinian families threatened with eviction from Sheik Jarrah. In practicality, many are simply releasing pent up anger and hate toward the Jews. According to the mayor of Lod, which has suffered much violence, “All of Israel should know this is a complete loss of control… This is unthinkable. Synagogues are being burned. Hundreds of cars set alight. Hundreds of Arab thugs are roaming the streets… Civil war has erupted…”
Many feel that relations between Jewish and Arab citizens within Israel are being set back decades. Sadly, some extremist right wing, religious Jews are responding with random violence against Arab Israelis. Lacking a functioning government, the country itself is beginning to feel out of control.
Where is this conflict headed and what could be its outcome? The points below address these questions, with suggested prayers and Scriptures. They are not listed in order of importance, but in a manner that facilitates understanding of the situation.
- Timing of Major War.According to the Scriptures and publicized Israeli intelligence, this war is likely a precursor to a greater one in the near future. For many years, Iran has made known its goal of destroying the Jewish state and establishing an Islamic Caliphate across the Middle East, perhaps even globally. Iran is currently allying in greater ways with Turkey and Russia and seems postured as a likely actor in the war described in Ezekiel 38:1-39:16. Moreover, as this letter is being written, it appears Iran may have ordered its proxy terror group in Lebanon, Hezbollah, to enter the fray. Military engagement by Hezbollah could be a game changer and very severely threaten Israel.PRAY that the war prophesied by Ezekiel will take place only in God’s timing, for He sets the times and seasons. (Daniel 2:21) May any demonic attempt to foment a major, regional war prematurely be quelled in the name of Yeshua.
- Middle East Alignments. We have written that the Abraham Accords would be used by God for good, especially for the spread of the Gospel in a manner that would lay a foundation for the future fulfillment of Isaiah 19:19-25. The enemy, Satan himself, is not pleased with this prospect.PRAY for the fulfillment of God’s heart’s desire in the Middle East to soften both Jews and Arabs to the Gospel and rebuild their ancient family ties through the blood of Yeshua. Pray that war would not disrupt what He desires to do at this phase of Israel’s restoration between Arabs and Jews. (Psalm 33:10-12; Isaiah 19:19-25)
- Israel’s Covenant Restoration. Both the Scriptures and post-biblical history reveal that God’s covenant restoration of Israel, which is connected to the coming Messianic Age, is viciously contested by His enemies at every turn.PRAY and proclaim the fulfillment of this promised restoration as the Jews return to the land and to the Lord, for His Name’s sake. (Ezekiel 36:1-37:28; Jeremiah 31:31-37; Daniel 9:18-19)
- Sheep or Goat Nations. God is watching how nations respond to the Jewish people in their time of trouble and need. Matthew 25:31-46 describes how He separates and judges sheep nations from goat nations, based on their treatment of the Jews. Around the world, when Israel is at war, a wave of anti-Semitism is typically released at an ever increasing level. How will your nation respond?PRAY for your nation to respond rightly toward Israel at this time. Pray also for the response of the United States, which still retains considerable influence in the free world. Pray against the rise of anti-Semitism internationally. Pray for the United Nations and other international bodies to choose rightly regarding Israel.(Genesis 12:3; Obadiah 1)
- Israeli Government. We find ourselves at war without a properly functioning government and with internal, widespread lawlessness. We know our government ultimately rests on the shoulders of Israel’s only true King, Messiah Jesus. But the present situation pleads for us as citizens of a democratic state to unify and cooperate with Him in the appointment of godly and effective human governance.PRAY for Israel’s current military and political leaders and security forces according to 1 Timothy 2:1-4, that we may live peaceable and holy lives, for God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. Petition heaven for our leaders: unity, supernatural wisdom, clear communications, godly discernment, accurate and strategic intelligence, and protection. (Romans 13:1; Proverbs 21:1; Psalms 89:29-40, 110:10)
- PRAY for protection of innocents, as God sees and defines them on both sides. (Psalms 91, 121, 27:1-3, 124:1-8)
- PRAY for Israeli soldiers, many of whom are just teenagers, that they be protected, anointed rightly for battle, and operate in the fear of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 20:1-4; Psalm 18:29-40) May they lean on Him as their defense. Pray for Messianic believers in the army to shine as lights to their fellow soldiers.
- PRAY for Israeli civilians: protection, peace and healing for those, especially children, who are traumatized psychologically and physically by relentless sirens, running to shelters, personal injuries, property damage, and losing loved ones. In their distress, may they experience God’s comfort and salvation. (Isaiah 40:1-11; Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 103:13) Pray for mercies of divine strength and courageous dependence on Him. (Isaiah 41:8-16)
- PRAY for unity between Jewish and Arab believers in Israel, Gaza and the PA. Petition heaven that this war will not divide us, but rather unite us in love. (Psalm 133; John 17:21) Pray for our protection, peace, strength and boldness to shine as lights in the darkness. Pray that Israeli and Gazan intercessors would be greatly strengthened to battle in persevering prayer. (Psalm 149:6)
- PRAY for peace, forgiveness and justice between Israeli Arabs and Jews who do not yet know Yeshua, that hate, anger, violence and terror would be quelled and any demonic schemes for civil war abated. (Psalm 122:6-7; Psalm 133)
- PRAY for swift victory. (Psalm 129:5) Pray for victory, as God defines it, that furthers His kingdom purposes for both Israel and Gaza with minimal bloodshed. May this war serve to expose the evils of Islam, the Iranian threat, and hidden motives of nations postured against Him. What the enemy intends for evil, pray that God will use for good, that His kingdom come and will be done. (Genesis 50:20, Matthew 6:10) May He be glorified, despite the inevitable tragedies associated with war, as we exalt the Captain of the Armies of Heaven. (Psalms 2, 83, 110:2; Proverbs 21:31.)
- PRAY for us personally. We plan to return to Israel May 31. We have been blessed to have never personally encountered terrorism or war, so returning to a war zone will be a new experience for us. Thank you for praying for us as we trust the Lord and seek to follow His leadership. And know that your every prayer counts.