The promises of God to Israel are as good as done, (in that they are sure). For “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" Num. 23:19
Heaven and earth will pass away but His words, will by no means pass away. Matt. 24:35
But it is this very confidence, that we have, that can lead us into a ‘laid back’ attitude in prayer regarding Israel’s security and current struggle against its enemies (too numerous to list here).
I have often found a ‘breezy’ attitude among our dear Christian friends who care deeply for Israel and God’s restoration plan for her. It is not uncommon to hear Christians dismiss Israel’s foes lightheartedly citing scriptural precedents and events where God powerfully intervened on Israel’s behalf to save her from her enemies. (See Joshua 10:10-11, 2Chronicles 20, Isaiah 37:36-38)
This kind of attitude unnerves me, to be honest.
There have been times when Israel’s future lay in the balance; such as in 1973, in the Day of Atonement war. So desperate was the leadership, that Moshe Dayan repeatedly “used a phrase that he would repeat in the coming days to the dismay of all who heard him. “The Third Temple,” he told Peled, “is in danger.” (“The Third Temple was a metaphor for the modern state of Israel.”) 1
Having lived through this war, and having tasted that war as a reserve soldier, I can tell you that I cannot and will not take Israel’s existence for granted.
“To envision a failure of the air force on top of a failure of the intelligence services would be pushing imagination to the point of perversity. Even more difficult to imagine was Egyptian infantry stopping Israeli armor. If anyone of these scenarios became a reality, it would pose a major challenge. If all three became a reality—meaning neutralization of the IDF’s intelligence, air force, and armor—Israel faced catastrophe.” 1
There was a failure on all of those three factors. This happened for many reasons which we cannot go into, but the reality was that Israel had failed to prepare for such an existential war that it was facing. Presumption, arrogance, misguided thinking all blinded Israel’s leaders, both political and military, which put Israel in grave danger.
One would think that Israel learned its lesson once and for all. Not true! We have, in the past, also underestimated Hezbollah as a ragtag enemy that could easily be dispatched, and we have minimized Hamas as well.
None of this is meant to depress us or discourage us, but rather to awaken us to earnest in prayer. We must battle in prayer for the Word of God to be fulfilled. We must contend with God in the same manner that many of those who have gone before us have.
In all the biblical events cited above, in which God intervened, earnest prayer was an active ingredient. Joshua prayed while fighting a battle, Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed in the midst of a siege, Jehoshaphat's prayed in the midst of an invasion. Earnest prayer was lifted to the Lord in the face of a real and present danger. None of these men presumed God would ‘do something’ just because they were God’s people, or because they were God-fearing, God seeking and God-loving men. They prayed and God answered!
Modern day examples of earnest prayer battles abound. Just read “Rees Howells Intercessor”, or, “Samuel Rees Howells, A Life of Intercession: The Legacy of Prayer and Spiritual Warfare of an Intercessor.”
Interestingly that book recounts the prayer battle the Bible College engaged in, during the Day of Atonement war.
“In October 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (as the nation was in solemn contemplation), there was a surprise attack on Israel from her neighbours, who were heavily armed with military technology from the Soviet Union. Samuel called the College back to prayer as the Holy Spirit led through another spiritual conflict characterised by many great miracles. After the great victories of this intense spiritual struggle, Samuel aged sixty-one celebrated the triumph of their intercession, as he read reports of the battle to the College. “In the Yom Kippur War, with Egypt’s greater numbers they should have been in Beersheba within twenty-four hours. The Arabs had more weapons and better weapons. In the early stages of the war, three out of every five Israeli jets were shot down. Israel suffered terrible causalities. Then Egypt crossed into Sinai, and the Syrians took much of the Golan Heights. Egypt and Syria should have beaten Israel.” Then Samuel praised the Lord for answered prayer. “If God hadn’t intervened in the Sinai Desert and if He hadn’t intervened in the Golan Heights everything would have been over. With the arms at the Syrians disposal, they should have been in Tiberias at the end of the first day. Who saved that nation? It was the Lord!” 2
Thank God for those intercessors. While Israel was fighting for its life, the intercessors were fighting for Israel in the heavenly realm. God did intervene; the Day of Atonement war ended with an amazing victory, but we should not forget the huge cost of life for that victory. The failure of the leadership in Israel prior to the 73’ war, was dangerous and extremely costly in human lives and materiel. In the same way, abandoning prayer, or praying without a true sense of the need, or without an understanding of the seriousness of the situation will prove costly.
God is sovereign, but that should lead us into intercession not into presumption. God is sovereign, but he looks for intercessors (Isaiah 59:16, Isaiah 64:7)
We should be as watchmen who are left to guard, to watch and pray while the rest of the city is asleep. We should continually lift Israel and her leadership, before the Lord that they should be awake and make ready to face all eventualities.
May the Lord stir your heart, awaken it both to the promises but also to the dangers Israel faces today. And may you be led to give yourself to intercession and prayer.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
PS: I highly recommend all three books mentioned above. The Yom Kippur War by Abraham Rabinovitch has been recently updated to include information that was recently unclassified.
1 Abraham Rabinovich. “The Yom Kippur War.”
2 Maton, Richard A.; Paul Backholer; Mathew Backholer. Samuel Rees Howells, A Life of Intercession: The Legacy of Prayer and Spiritual Warfare of an Intercessor