Some Thoughts on Warfare

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A rocket from Gaza hits an apartment building in Sderot, southern Israel (Photo: Israel Foreign Ministry)

Anyone who follows this website will be aware that in the past week, Israel has been on the receiving end of over 2,500 incoming rockets and missiles, most of them fired from the Gaza Strip and a small handful also fired at us from southern Lebanon and Syria.  At the same time, we’ve also been experiencing riots in many cities which have featured communal clashes between Arabs and Jews, something that we have not seen in Israel (except of course in Jerusalem) for many decades and which most people here find to be much more unsettling even than the incoming rockets.

Another dimension where Israel is under pressure is the angry protests taking place on the borders with Lebanon and Jordan. These protesters don’t pose a kinetic threat to Israel, but in the internet age, videos of them could help build momentum for anti-Israel protests and increased diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel around the world.

It is indeed a very frightening situation and as I’m sitting here writing this, there’s no apparent end in sight. 

On the other hand, as former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon said in a speech a few years ago, Israel’s 1948 Independence War never really ended. It has merely gone through different stages including periods of relative quiet and calm which have inevitably ended in flare ups of various intensity. I wasn’t there when Ya’alon gave that particular speech, but I’ve heard many similar speeches by him and other members of Israel’s political and military leadership and I believe that this view is shared by most, if not all of them, along with a fatalistic belief that it is unlikely that the 1948 War will end anytime in the foreseeable future.

It is useful, in this context, to remember that the Crusaders established a kingdom in this country for a bit less than 200 years, from 1095 to 1271, but were eventually driven out and Islamic rule was re-established here. While most Westerners (including most Israelis) are only very vaguely aware of these historical events, most Arabs are VERY aware of them and take inspiration from them. In other words, they believe that because their ancestors drove out a group of non-Arabs/Moslems once before, even though it took almost 200 years, the same thing can happen again. Few people realize the importance of this historical narrative in fueling the current conflict.

Here’s what I think about all this.

The word “war” appears 457 times in the NASB translation of the Bible, but ironically enough, the passage which most often comes to my mind when I think of war doesn’t include that specific word. I am speaking of Ephesians 6:12, which says; For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The kinetic wars against Israel that you see on your screens and the diplomatic, legal, economic, political and cultural attacks on this country that come from all over the world and have increased exponentially in the internet age are all, as General Ya’alon said, a continuation of the 1948 conflict. 

But they’re much more than that.

Lucifer the Devil, aka “Satan” or “the Enemy” hates the Jewish People and the Jewish State of Israel because he hates the Human Race and he knows that God has plans and purposes to redeem and save the Human Race, which He loves, through Israel and the Jews. 

The Enemy hates everything God loves, and for this reason, the Enemy stirs up hatred against Israel and the Jews (and the Church of Jesus Christ, because we also have a role to play in the redemption and salvation of Humanity) and attacks these things relentlessly through whatever means and using whatever tools, ideas, ideologies, methods, etc. are available, whether it’s a rocket fired at Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip, a stone thrown by a Palestinian teenager at a bus traveling down route 443 through Samaria, the attempted ground invasions of Israel which occurred during the 1948, 1967 and 1973 wars, or a hostile tweet about Israel from some clueless Hollywood celebrity. These attacks come in the form of negative (and dishonest) reviews on Trip Advisor about restaurants and tourist attractions in Israel. They come in the form of efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel. The list goes on and on.

These attacks on Israel in the physical, political, diplomatic, economic and cultural domains are merely manifestations against attacks by the Enemy against the Human Race, directed at what he correctly perceives as the lynchpin of God’s plans and purposes to save the Human Race.

So where does that leave me and you?

We are called to participate in God’s plans and purposes by, among other things, engaging in spiritual warfare against the Enemy and his demonic host. The primary weapon we have in this battle is prayer, and the best way to pray is according to the Word of God.

There are so many verses in the Bible which include blessings for Israel and the Jewish People, and also for the Body of Messiah. If you feel led to pray for Israel and the Jewish People, but you’re not sure how, you can’t go wrong by praying these passages of Scripture.

You should also pray for Israel’s enemies. Pray that God will reveal to them the futility of their plans to harm what the Prophet Zecheriah called “the apple of God’s eye.” The great Bible teacher Derek Prince once said that “the kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of darkness and most of the people who are in it don’t know that they’re in it.”

I believe that’s true, and I believe we need to pray for those people who are trapped in darkness, usually without even knowing it, to come to know the truth, and that it would set them free.

That is the best thing you can do to support Israel during these dark and terrible days.

If you’re sending money to Israel, contacting your elected officials to tell them you want them to support Israel, arguing with strangers on social media about what’s going on in Israel or whatever, I won’t tell you to stop doing those things. But I will tell you that praying into these issues is far more important, and far more effective at getting at the root cause of the problem, instead of just treating the symptoms around the edges.

May God give us all the courage, wisdom and strength we need to do what He has called us to do in this difficult season of warfare and conflict.