|Prayer Update from Israel - June 5, 2013|
Prayer Update From Israel (June 5, 2013)
1. "PRICE TAGS"
"Price Tag" is a form of lawlessness behavior which began amongst Jews living in Judea and Samaria a couple of years ago, and is now spreading within recognized borders of Israel itself. It originally described attacks by extremist Jewish settlers upon their Palestinian neighbors in retribution for governmental decisions with which they disagreed. These might include settlement freezes, demolition of illegally built outposts, etc.
At issue here isn't just that the settlers feel they have been wronged or slighted by the Israeli government, it is the fact that they are 'taking it out' on innocent Palestinian Arabs, who have had nothing to do with the Government's decisions. The attacks involve burning and desecrating mosques, torching automobiles, slashing tires, uprooting or burning olive trees, and defacing walls of private property with inflammatory and often racist graffiti. Generally, the graffiti will somewhere include the Hebrew words tag machir- "price tag", a parting shot to the Israeli Government, as if to say, "this violation of innocent Palestinian's rights is the 'price' you pay for your policies against us." These attacks are increasing against Arabs in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem and Jaffa.
More recently, attacks have crossed over to attacking Christian churches. Last week the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem and cars parked outside it were vandalized. "Christians are Apes" and other insults were spray painted in Hebrew on its walls, On one of the cars was the name of a settler who was stabbed to death in a terrorist attack last month, with the word "price tag" alongside. On another car was scrawled the name of an unlicensed Jewish outpost near Hebron torn down by Israeli soldiers earlier in the week. In February a Baptist-owned building housing several congregations in the center of Jerusalem was defaced with "price tag" and derogatory remarks about Jesus. Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke out against the racism and lawlessness behind such attacks and vowed to bring into implementation stronger measures to put a stop to them. It is thought that one such measure might be to classify such actions as "acts of terror".
With most of the world constantly attacking the legitimacy of their existence and calling for the dissolution of their communities, with a gloomy resignation by many in the government to an eventual necessity of that dissolution taking place, with hostile neighbors on every side - one may sympathize with the Settlers' feelings of bewilderment, alienation and abandonment. Yet rebellion against the governmental authority is not the answer. Nor will the venting of their anger by the perpetration of violence against their innocent neighbors ever bring about the "righteousness of God" (James 1:20), even they consider themselves to be His zealous followers. Such actions give legitimacy to the accusations of their enemies in the nations. Indeed, they appear dangerously akin to the actions by Simeon and Levi at Shechem, which Jacob cursed before he died: "Simeon and Levi are brothers; instruments of cruelty (Hebrew: hamas - See below) are in their dwelling place.Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel!" (Genesis 49:5,7).
*Against the spirit of anger, lawlessness and violence which is behind the "price tag" attacks by religious Jews in Judea, Samaria and within present-day Israel.
*For an effective strategy by the Israeli government to apprehend those individuals who are committing these acts and to bring them to justice.
*For the 'veil' to be lifted from the hearts of the religious Jews in the "Territories" - for revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - and of His Son and Messiah Yeshua, who has paid the "price" for their sin. He is the only Way to a future life of righteousness and prosperity for them and their families in their covenant land.
2. HAMAS -- THE VIOLENCE IS SPREADING
The Hebrew word hamas (the 'h' pronounced with a slight rasp in the throat) appears at least 38 times in the Hebrew Bible, from which it is most often translated 'violence' or "cruel violence." As we have pointed out in the past, it is by an interesting coincidence that the Arabic acronym for the radical "Islamic Resistance Movement" Hamas is pronounced and may be spelled in exactly the same way. This violence may be manifest as cruelty to one's fellow-man; and it may also refer to the violation and outrage of moral and civil law. What it does not mean is "use of force", which may be required in the administration of legitimate law and order in a society. (Yeshua himself used a whip to drive out merchants who were violating the spirit of His Father's Law in the courts of the Temple [John 2:13-15], yet Isaiah 53:9 makes clear that at His death, "He had done no violence--hamas".) Psalm 11:5 (NASB) informs us that "the LORD tests the righteous and the wicked and the one who loves violence (hamas) His soul hates." And Joel 3:19 speaks judgment upon Egypt and Edom (present-day southern Jordan) "because of hamas against the people of Judah."
The word first appears in the Bible in Genesis 6:11, 13, "The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And Elohim said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth." As we know, Yeshua taught that during the age preceding his return, conditions over the earth (Luke 17:26, 28) would be "as it was in the days of Noah" and "as it was in the days of Lot" - both characterized by the utmost in lawlessness and cruel violence.
It is hardly necessary to mention that the spirit fueling this condition is presently spreading rapidly over the earth, and nowhere more intensely so than in the Middle-East. A remarkably insightful analysis of one aspect of this was published Saturday in The New York Times (which may be accessed by 'googling' "As Syrians Fight, Sectarian Strife Infects Mideast"). The article points towards a wave of violence arising across the Middle East, spawned initially by the bloody war in Syria, which has left already more than 80,000 dead.
The killing is no longer just about supporting or opposing the government, or even about Syria. The Syrian civil war is setting off a contagious sectarian conflict beyond the country's borders, reigniting long-simmering tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites, and, experts fear, shaking the foundations of countries cobbled together after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire [i.e. following the close of WWI] ("As Syrians Fight, Sectarian Strife Infects Mideast": The New York Times [Online], 1 June 3013).
Thus, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi and Iranian Shi'ite forces are coming to the aid of the embattled President Assad (of the Shi'ite derivative Alawite sect), while Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are seeing this as a clear case of Shi'ites accosting their Sunni brothers in Syria, and preparing measures with which to go to their assistance. Meanwhile, all of this is serving to awaken Sunni-Shi'ite violence throughout the Middle-East, each seeing their faith as being attacked by the other.
Then, in Turkey during the past week and a half a major uprising seemed to erupt out of nowhere. It has already resulted in more violence than has been seen there in years, and of a different kind. According to one Christian source, over 240,000 people have taken to the streets - most of them young and opposed to what they see as growing religious coercion in the government. As in Syria, the demonstrations began peacefully, but soon turned violent. The protests have already spread to 61 of Turkey's 84 provinces, some 3000 have now been injured by government forces, and some have died. President Erdogan, promoted until now by western governments as "a democratic Islamist model that could be copied elsewhere in the Middle East after the fall of authoritarian leaders (while at the same time being adulated by much of the region's Muslim Arab community for his harsh stand against Israel), may be finding his own foundation shaking ("Second Turkish protester killed in anti gov't demonstration": REUTERS, 06/0-4/2013 10:43).
We are not attributing all societal upheaval to hamas, nor implying that there are not situations in which taking part in civil resistance to social injustice may be justified. But given the fallen nature of humankind, it takes a stronger, Holy Wind to resist the lawless winds of power, pride, the 'anger of man', and the desire for revenge which are generally blowing to steer it into violence.
Yet in the midst of the swirl of hamas-violence arising in the world, there is HOPE and a way of Life!
*Psalm 72:12-14 tells us that when the needy cry to God, He will rescue their souls, "He will redeem their life from oppression and violence (hamas)!" Indeed, David calls on the LORD to
*"Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred (hamas hatred). Guard my soul, and deliver me; Do not let me be put to shame, for I have placed my trust in You!" (Psalm 25:19-20). And in another place,
*"Teach me Your way, LORD, and lead me in a smooth path because of my enemies. Don't deliver me to the soul of my adversaries, for lying witnesses have arisen against me who breathe out violence (hamas). Oh - had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in a land of Life! (Psalm 27:11-13).
*The Scriptures above over Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs in Israel.
*That as violence continues to rise, Believers throughout the Middle East will entrust themselves to the One who guards their souls - that with the Shield of Faith, the fiery darts of violence and lawlessness will be quenched - that they will be strengthened and encouraged to move forward in the Love of God, shod in the Good News of the Shalom which comes in Messiah.