In a spiritual warfare battle, the tongue is the most critical weapon. Scripture tells us, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21 - NKJV) When we face situations that defy the will of God, we must speak God's truth to overcome the forces of the enemy. I can think of no better example than when Jesus identified Himself to the Roman soldiers who came to arrest Him. Rich Renner writes about this in his book titled, Paid in Full.
The first time God identified Himself He was speaking to Moses on Mount Horeb or Sinai. "God replied to Moses, 'I Am Who I Am.'" (Exodus 3:14 - NLT) By using the name "I Am," God was describing His eternal power and unchanging character. He identified Himself as the ever-existing God. Jesus was to use these words several times, and they are record in the book of John.
In John 8 we read of an encounter that Jesus had with the religious leaders. They ask Him a pointed question in verse 53. "'Who do you think you are?' Jesus replies, 'Your Father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; He saw it and was glad.'" (Verse 56) They responded, "You are not yet 50 years old, and you have seen Abraham!" (Verse 57) Jesus blows them away with His response: "Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!" (Verse 58) The leaders picked up stones to stone Jesus, but He slipped away because His time to die had not yet come.
"I Am" is the Greek words "Ego Eimi." John recorded several statements of who God made Him to be: "I am the bread of life." (6:35) "I am the light of the world." (8:12) "I am the gate for the sheep." (10:7) "I am the good Shepherd." (10:11) "I am the resurrection and the life." (11:25) "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (14:6) "I am the vine and my Father is the gardener." (15:1) Each of these images gives us a partial picture of who Jesus is.
At The Last Supper, Jesus was speaking to His disciples and said, "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am." (John 13:19) After this statement, He tells the disciples that one of them will betray Him. Jesus was to identify Himself this way again when Judas came to betray Him with a band of Roman soldiers. The disciples were with Jesus in the olive grove called Gethsemane when He was confronted by the armed soldiers. Judas greeted Him with a kiss, which was to be the sign that He was the one to be taken away. The story continued: "Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?' 'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'I Am,' Jesus said...When Jesus said, 'I Am,' they drew back and fell to the ground." (John 18:4-5)
The words Jesus spoke were "Ego Eimi," "I Am," the very words that God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. The soldiers were to learn that by a mere word, Jesus could overpower them. Jesus made it clear to them that He could not be taken by force. After this, He willingly surrendered to the troops as they were picking themselves up from the ground.
Jesus is for us The Great "I Am." His promises come with power. The problems we face can be knocked to the ground, like the soldiers, through the mighty promises of God. We must boldly affirm who we are in Christ. Speaking the truth of God's Word brings the Lord's power and authority into every situation.
Every four years we experience a leap year which means that we have 366 days in the year instead of 365. It actually takes 365.242190 days for the earth to orbit the sun. Without the adjustment, the seasons "drift." So, one day is added to our calendars at the end of February. The Hebrew calendar also has a leap year. However, it is necessary for their calendar to have an entire month added to it so that their holidays fall in the proper season. The Bible makes it clear that the first month (Nisan) is to occur in the spring and the seventh month (Tishrei) during the fall harvest. In addition, since the Hebrew calendar is lunar, and our calendar is solar, the leap year helps correct the imbalance between the two calendars. There are seven leap years every nineteen years in the Hebrew calendar.
The last month on the Hebrew calendar is Adar. Since this is a leap year, we have an extra Adar month. Though Purim is celebrated during Adar II, we should still connect to the aspects of this month during Adar I. Adar means strength. God tells us in Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youth grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." (NAS) What a promise!
Earlier in Isaiah 40 it explains that all creation should make a way for the Lord as His Word "stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8) He comes to comfort His people and assures them of this: "Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him." (Isaiah 40:10 - NAS) The chapter goes on to rejoice in the characteristics of the Lord that include the truth that He made all creation, and that justice, knowledge, and understanding are His. Verse 18 asks an important question: "To whom will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?" (NAS) "Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars. The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name. Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing...Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired; His understanding is inscrutable." (Verses 26 and 28 - NAS)
God gives strength to us through joy. As it says in Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is our strength.” This word was given to God's people after Ezra the priest read the law to them. Verse 12 of Chapter 8 tells us that all the people "celebrated with great joy, because they understood the words that had been made known to them." Since God is the Word (John 1:1) this explains Psalm 16:11. "...In Your presence is fullness of joy." (NAS)
Isn't it wonderful that during this leap year we can focus on having two months of strength and joy? Being in the Lord's presence is the key to both gifts.
Shevat, the eleventh month on the Hebrew religious calendar, usually occurs during January and February on our calendar. Its name has an interesting origin in the Akkadian language. The Jews became familiar with it while they were in captivity in Babylon. Its meaning, to strike, refers to the heavy rains that pour down during the month. The constellation in the sky during Shevat corresponds well with the meaning of the month's name. It is Aquarius, the water bearer. The first time Shevat is mentioned by name in the Bible is in the book of Zechariah, Chapter 1, Verse 7: "On the 24th day of the eleventh month, the month of Shevat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah..."
Occurring in the middle of this month is what the Jews call Tu B'Shevat or The New Year of Trees. Thus, Shevat is known as a month of renewal, rebirth, revival, and regeneration. The New Year of Trees occurs on the fifteenth day of this month and is considered a minor holiday in Israel. Dried fruits are always on the menu for this celebration. Also, placed on a plate would be the fruit of the seven species mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Jews that celebrate Tu B'Shevat are reminded of their duty to care for the natural world.
Shevat 15 was the original date when tithes from fruit trees were to be given to the priests. Rabbis determined that fruit which blossomed before the 15th of Shevat would be called produce of the previous year. The fruit that blossomed before this date was produce of the rains from the previous year and should be tithed along with the crops of the previous year. The New Year for Trees date is also used for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. According to Leviticus 19:23-25, the fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years. On the fourth year, the fruit must be given to God. By the fifth year, one may eat the fruit of their trees.
It is significant that the Bible talks about the way humankind should be rooted and grounded and that through the cultivation of strong roots of faith, we can produce fruit for the Kingdom of God. Both Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Psalm 1:3 instruct us to be like trees "planted by streams of water, which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither..." The purpose of a tree is to provide fruit to bring life to others. We also have been blessed to be able to give our spiritual fruit to others so that they can grow in Christlikeness.
Hope is given to the people of Israel and all of us who are grafted into the family of God through the words of the prophet Jeremiah. "In those days and at that time, I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; He will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it is called: ‘The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’” (Jeremiah 33:15,16)
How exciting it is that we have been grafted into the olive tree to share in the nourishing sap from the root! (Romans 11:17) We are called to be trees "planted by the water that never fail to bear fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17:8) In addition, we are called to be "...oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." (Isaiah 61:3) Let's celebrate this month of Shevat by rooting deeply into the soil of the Lord's truth so that we bring forth fruit and display His righteousness.
"Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning...Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come." (Exodus 27:20,21) This command from the Lord is repeated in Leviticus 24:2-4. "Command the Israelites to bring you the clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually...Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. The lamp on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord must be tended continually."
Keeping the light burning was the main responsibility of the priests in the Levitical tribe. We can well imagine the horror of the Jews when their Temple in Jerusalem was taken over by Antiochus Epiphanes and desecrated. Antiochus demanded loyalty to the Greek culture from the Jewish people. He went as far as to erect a statute of himself in each town in Israel and demanded the Jews to bow down and worship it.
A family of Levitical priests called the Maccabees, led by Mattathias, refused to comply, and began a revolt. Guerrilla warfare was waged for several years beginning in 167 BC. Through their hard-fought battle, the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks and retook Jerusalem and the Temple. Since the altar had been defiled by the sacrifice of a pig, they removed all of its stones and built a new one. Then, they set about to relight the seven-branched menorah with only one day of oil remaining. To their delight, it burnt for eight days, the length of time needed to cure a fresh batch of olive oil. This victory has been celebrated ever since at The Festival of Hanukkah, which is also called The Festival of Lights.
Actually, Hanukkah means Dedication, as the Jews rededicated the Temple and its service to God. Since the lampstand remained lit for eight days, Jewish families light their miniature menorahs that now have eight branches plus one additional elevated branch in the center. The center candle, called The Shamash or Servant, is used each night to light the other candles. This tradition has significance for those who are Christians. There is symbolism in this ceremony that may be missed by those who do not know Messiah, Yeshua. The center candle represents Him. Is it not fitting that the Shamash lights all the other candles? Let us also remember that the number eight stands for new beginnings and sanctification. As the Servant of the Lord, Jesus is the Light of the World. He is the one who illuminates everyone. As the eternal flame that does not go out, He continues to light one candle at a time until all of us are lit.
Jesus celebrated Hanukkah as it tells us in John 10:22. It was during this festival that he declared His divine identification. Since the physical Temple no longer exists, Believers in Jesus have become the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19), each illuminated by the Shamash. During this season of Hanukkah, we must rededicate our temples through the burning of our oil and the shining of our lights. It is the oil of the Holy Spirit that ignites our lights. "...Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Our oil supply is unlimited and will keep our flames burning brightly in our hearts endlessly.
According to Romans 11, the Church has been grafted into the Olive tree. (representing Israel) Thus, we "share in the nourishing sap from the olive root." (Romans 11:17) It is the root of this olive tree that supports us. This being the truth, would it not follow that when Israel is at war, the Church must also be at war? Ephesians 2:13-15, 18 explains: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace...For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."
It is a fact that Satan hates what God loves. He stations demonic principalities over every region. Since Israel and the Church are one, what impacts one impacts the other.
As I awoke on Saturday morning, Holy Spirit placed a song on my mind" "Onward, Christian Soldiers." It was written by Sabine Baring-Gould, a Church of England minister who was inspired to write this song so that the children of his church could sing it while marching from village to village. He writes that the entire song came to him within 15 minutes. The text for this hymn became an inspiration to Christians around the world. It is one to use while taking on our responsibilities of advancing the cause of Christ. It is a battle cry for the Church and Israel.
Verse 1: "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before! Christ the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see His banner go!"
Refrain: "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before!"
Verse 2: "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God; brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we—One in hope and doctrine, one in charity." (Refrain)
Verse 3: "Onward, then, ye people, join our happy throng; blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King—This thru countless ages men and angels sing." (Refrain)
During this season, we must "Be alert and of sober mind. Our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because we know that the family of Believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering." (1 Peter 5:8, 9) Our battle tools are two-fold: Prayer and Worship. Let us use them on behalf of Israel and the Church. Victory has already been won at the Cross of Christ. Our job is to manifest it.
A recent letter from Mitch Glaser, President of Chosen People Ministries, touched my heart. Referring to the brutal attack on the Jews in Israel by Hamas, he expressed his desire to be thankful to God even though he is grieving deeply. I quote Mitch: "It is hard to believe we are entering the season of Thanksgiving. It seems so inappropriate to be thankful at this moment in time. I will admit I am having trouble thanking God in light of these last several weeks. I know the apostle Paul wrote, 'In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.'" (1 Thessalonians 5:18 - NKJ)
"These are my people," Mitch continues, "a nation called by the Sovereign and all-powerful God for His holy purposes." He asks some challenging questions: "How can we come to grips with what happened and be thankful? How can we keep ourselves from being consumed by hatred and a desire for vengeance? How can we be grateful during this season of Thanksgiving in light of these tragic events? The answers are all the more elusive because of the graphic nature of the crimes appearing so often on social media, the news, and websites replaying the horrors, not letting us forget...Yet, I know God wants me to be grateful—not for what happened, of course—but for His grace and mercy we find on the path of suffering."
As I reflect on the raw truths shared by Mitch, I recall the wisdom that is shared by Elisabeth Elliot in her book, A Path Through Suffering. She explains that the meaning of suffering can only be understood in the context of The Cross. We must pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. (Luke 14:27) We must look to Him for the next grace that we need in life. We can stand on the promises of God. Elisabeth encourages us: "We have our Father's promise, linking the pain to an unimaginable glory: 'If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.'" (2 Timothy 2:12)
God desires for us to become more Christlike. Suffering was a landmark of Christ's life. The Psalmist writes, "Show me Your ways, Lord. Teach me your paths." (Psalm 25:4) Our time on earth is designed to help us know Christ more so that we grow up like Him. When we share in His sufferings, we increase in our understanding of Him and our intimacy with Him. Willingness to praise the Lord in our sufferings makes us Kingdom partners with Him so that we demonstrate His life and love to those around us.
When we go back to Mitch's original questions about giving thanks while we suffer, we must look at our situations from both an earthly and heavenly perspective. Is it possible for us to look at suffering as a divine opportunity? Let us visit the foot of the Cross and remember the suffering of Jesus on our behalf. Here is the opening to thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and praise lead to worship. And, when worship is offered in our pain and suffering, it rises to the throne of God in heaven as sweet incense. Because it is offered sacrificially, this form of worship draws the Lord near to us. The intimacy we then have with Him is without comparison. Heaven is a place of peace and joy, so sacrificial worship can only take place on earth. Thus comes our opportunity!
God understands our suffering. He sent His Son as a Redeemer. Somehow the Lord will redeem our trials and afflictions so that His glory falls. Like Mitch, I am grieved and overwhelmed with sorrow for the agony of the Jews in this hour. However, God has not left us without a remedy. We have the gift of prayer so that we can lay our burdens at His feet. He is the one from whom we draw breath. As our Shepherd, He restores our souls and leads us on paths of righteousness for His name sake...He is with us. His rod and staff comfort us. He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies...Surely goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23 – NIV)
Benjamin was the only son of Jacob born in the Promised Land. He and his tribe were ninth in the marching order of Israel, and they marched with the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. (Joseph's sons) As an accomplished warrior, part of Benjamin's job was to help train the next generation in the skills of warfare. Their responsibilities included protecting the Holy Things from the Tabernacle while Israel was on the move. What an important assignment! The church could certainly use warriors like those from the tribe of Benjamin to defend our faith and holiness unto the Lord in the midst of our battles.
Since Benjamin marched ninth with Israel, he is associated with the ninth month called Kislev. This year Kislev begins tomorrow at sundown. When we look back to the history of Kislev, we can glean wisdom on how to live during this month. Benjamin is an example for us. He had two seemingly contradictory words spoken over him, but, in God's economy, they work together. Benjamin's father, Jacob, saw the warrior in him. He prophesied: "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours his prey; in the evening he divides the plunder." (Genesis 49:27) Moses saw a different side of Benjamin. "Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders." (Deuteronomy 33:12)
Through God, peace and rest can come upon us even in the midst of warfare. I believe that the war being fought by the Israelis is necessary. Hamas has violated Israel's peace, and it will not be restored until the enemy is destroyed. Israel must be on the offensive. Their peace comes in knowing that their mission is a necessity, God is with them, and once their objectives are met their future will be more secure. Praise God that other nations are supporting Israel and assisting them with resources for the battle.
Is it not fitting that even the constellation in the sky during this month of Kislev is the archer Sagittarius? Benjamin's descendants were skilled archers as it tells us in 1 Chronicles 8:40 and 12:2. They were adept warriors ready for battle. Some of the members of this warrior tribe included Saul and Jonathan, Mordecai and Esther, and the apostle Paul.
According to what took place during the month of Kislev, how can we live to fulfill our own destinies? First, we must realize that our God-given destinies will always be challenged. The enemy does not want us to succeed and has developed strategies to keep us from prospering. We must look at the ways the devil has tried to trip us up and developed a war strategy to overcome him. There is power in the Word of God. Let us stand on His promises and declare them for all to hear. Let us remember the Lord's faithfulness. Praise is also a powerful weapon that we need to use.
Below you will find verses from Psalm 89. (Verses 8, 14, 15, 20-24, 33-36) Let us use them to declare victory in our battles against the enemy: "Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You...Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You...For You are their glory and strength...I have found David My servant; with My sacred oil I have anointed him. My hand will sustain him; surely My arm will strengthen him. The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him and through My name his horn will be exalted...I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness. I will not violate My covenant or alter what My lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by My holiness--and I will not lie to David--that his line will continue forever, and his throne endure before Me like the sun." God wants to see us live in victory. Make this Scripture personal, and declare it!
The Bible tells us that without a watchman a city was in in big trouble. The watchman's responsibility included watching over a city to protect it and to sound the alarm when danger came near. A watchman today looks much different from one 2,000 years ago, but his most important watch remains the same—during hours of darkness. What does that tell us about today?
We have just seen a complete disaster in Israel because someone was not watching at their post. While I know that watching the movements of the enemy today is much more complicated than it was in the days of the Bible, cities and states and countries need to maintain a network of individuals who have their ears to the ground to ascertain the plans of enemies and terror groups who want to destroy peace. It appears like the Israelis had a sense of false peace that led them to neglect their duties as watchmen. How else could Hamas have moved into the quiet villages on the Gazan border in such force to torture and kill families and destroy their homes on the Sabbath?
Two places in the book of Ezekiel say that this prophet was "appointed as a watchman for the people of Israel." (Ezekiel 3:17 and Ezekiel 33:7) God said to Ezekiel, "...When you hear me speak a warning, give them my warning." (Ezekiel 33:7 - TPT) There was no room for error in Ezekiel's call. God said to him, "If I bring war to your nation, you must select a man and post him as a watchman. When he sees the enemy coming to attack, he must sound the shofar to warn the people. If the people hear the warning but pay no attention and the sword overtakes them and kills them, they will bear the responsibility for their own deaths...If, however, the watchman sees the enemy approaching but has not blown the shofar to warn the people and the sword overtakes them and kills a single one of them, even though that person was a sinner, I will still hold the watchman responsible for that person's death." (Ezekiel 33:2-6 - TPT)
As Christians, we have promises from God to watch over us. Here are a few of them: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." (Psalm 32:8) "The Lord watches over all who love him..." (Psalm 145:20) "...He who scattered Israel will gather them and watch over His flock like a shepherd." (Jeremiah 31:10)
Those who know the Lord are expected to respond by watching for Him. "My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises." (Psalm 119:148) "But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord; I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." (Micah 7:7) "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) "What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" (Mark 13:37)
The prophet Isaiah warns of a time when darkness will cover the earth: "See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness over the peoples..." (Isaiah 60:2) In our day we see dark agendas in government, education, business, and even in some churches. This is the hour for us to take on the mantel of the watchman on the wall. As it says in Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." We must be vigilant in prayer, in the Word, and in righteousness. This is our hour to sound the alarm to those who need to hear the truth. Our call is to stay alert to God's promptings and to respond according to His instructions.
Every year the observant Jews read what is called the Torah Portion or "parashah." (The five Books of Moses) The first five books of the Bible are divided into 54 sections to be read over the course of one Jewish year. The cycle begins the day after the completion of the fall feasts. It is called Simchat Torah or Rejoicing in the Law, and on this day, the final Torah readings take place.
The custom of reading Torah started at the time of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews. In the book of Nehemiah, we are told that Ezra the Scribe wanted to ensure that the Israelites would not go astray. This is what led to the beginning of the weekly system for all Jews to read Torah. My Jewish calendar has the Torah Portion for each week printed on the Sabbath day. The reading on the second week after the Hamas attack on Israel is Genesis 6:9 through 11:32. It encompasses the story of Noah and the flood.
As one who follows the Jewish feasts and monthly festivals, I am fascinated by the way the Scripture readings correspond with them. But nothing could have surprised me more than the way last week's readings about Noah and the corruptness of those around him could have been talking about what is happening in Israel today. I listened to a recent teaching by Rabbi Jason Sobel, a messianic rabbi who appears on the TBN channel. His teaching entitled "Unlocking Hidden Connections in Scripture” was so enlightening. He points out how the Torah Portion from last week not only spoke of events from 2,500 years before Christ, but also of today.
In Rabbi Sobel’s teaching, the key to unlocking our comprehension of God’s Word was through knowing the original Hebrew. The Rabbi read Genesis 6:11. "The earth was corrupt before God; the earth was filled with violence." (The Complete Jewish Study Bible) Genesis 6:13 is a more detailed explanation of what is about to happen. "God said to Noah, 'The end of all living beings has come before me, for because of them the earth is filled with violence. I will destroy them along with the earth.'" (The Complete Jewish Bible) What is intriguing about these two verses is that the Hebrew translation for the word "violence" is Hamas. Hamas has several meanings that include violence, lawlessness, and an anti-Christ spirit. We can see the timelines of God’s Word for today.
The Torah reading is also meaningful to those who connect it with the eighth month on the Jewish calendar. We are in that month, called Cheshvan, right now. The number eight signifies revelation and new beginnings. The Great Flood began on Cheshvan 17 and ended the following year on Cheshvan 27. Rabbi Sobel teaches that the flood was like a ritual bath or mikvah for the world.
I believe that God wants to cleanse the earth again. How this will happen is a mystery; however, we see in Genesis 6 that Hamas grieves the Lord. God's intention for His people is that they live in peace and fellowship with Him and one another. Violence/Hamas has poked the “apple of God’s eye.” The Israelis are in the forefront of a battle for their lives, but God is not unaware. Let us pray for the destruction of Hamas through God's intervention, a cleansing of all people, and a spirit of the fear of the Lord to fall upon us. Our awesome God is holy and tells us to be holy as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:15) He knows the details of every part of our lives and gives us signs, through His Word, which are meant to show us how engaged He is with our lives. Peace can only come to the world as those who live in it trust their lives to our Messiah.
We can read in the book of Genesis what the Lord told Rebecca after she asked Him why her twins were struggling with each other inside her womb. "The two sons in your womb will become two nations, and the two peoples within you will become rivals. One people will become stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." (Genesis 25:23 - TPT) This is exactly what happened. Esau, being the first born of Jacob and Rebecca, should have gotten the majority of the family inheritance, a superior position in the family, and his father's blessing. However, he made an unwise decision! He allowed his hunger and desire for physical comfort to cloud his good sense and sold his birthright to Jacob for a pot of lentil stew.
When Esau despised his birthright, he forfeited his right for the family blessing. Later, by not acknowledging that he made a mistake and blaming Jacob for his losses, he compounded his problems. Then he made a vow: "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob." (Genesis 27:41) Even though Jacob and Esau reconciled years later, the vow took root and, along with bitterness and rage, it traveled in Esau's bloodline. We see a manifestation of this murderous spirit in Esau's grandson, Amalek.
Before the death of Christ on the Cross, the only way to stop a vow would have been to kill the person who made it. Knowing this fact brings clarity to God's instructions to the Israelites to kill those who carry this murderous spirit. The Amalekites reared their ugly heads by attacking the Israelites as they escaped from Egypt. Afterward God instructed the children of Israel: "...You shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!" (Deuteronomy 25:19)
Because God's instructions were not completely followed by the Israelites, they dealt with the Amalekite spirit over and over again. We can read about it in the story of Gideon, Saul (who saved the life of Agag, the Amalekite king), and King David at Ziklag. In light of the events of today, we see this murderous spirit as it continues to be transmitted to the descendants of Esau. The vow that was taken by one man, and never renounced, continues to manifest and attack anyone who dares to cross them.
What can Christians do to help pull down this stronghold? First, we must be aware of what comes out of our mouths. Any vow that agrees with the kingdom of darkness (made based on a negative judgment) will have negative repercussions for our lives until we renounce it. We cannot allow the seed of our bad decisions to take root. We must accept the blame for our bad behaviors and take responsibility for our decisions. This means confession and repentance before God so that He can restore us.
Second, there may be the fruit of an unwise decision in our own generational lines that is showing itself in our families. Our repentance needs to take place on behalf of our bloodline by the renouncing of any vow. We should declare death to the Amalekite mindset. Quick repentance is beneficial for us and those around us. Breaking agreement with this spirit of death needs to be done for ourselves and our descendants. We should ask the Lord to fill the areas emptied with a spirit of love, peace, gentleness, and self-control. Praise God for His restoration and redemption.
Sadly, we have a sea of people in this world with the Amalekite spirit. It is showing itself through terrorism, torture, destruction, and murder. Our prayers can make a difference. We can go before God on their behalf and ask Him to enlighten them and reveal the sin they carry. We can also ask for mercy for them. Prayer can change everything. Praise the Lord that He died for our sins and wants all mankind to be saved.
Joan E. Mathias