I am without words to describe last week's despicable violence and acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on innocent Israeli citizens. The depravity of this group whose goal is to destroy Israel is beyond comprehension. Hamas leaders and the leaders of nations that align with them are praising their savagery and gleefully exhibiting the horrors of their behaviors. We have no moral equivalence to their acts of brutality.
How do we process the emotions that rise within us? I was drawn to read the Scriptures that talk about Gaza. Let us begin with the definition of Gaza-"Stronghold." This is the oldest city of the Philistines. The Old Testament is filled with stories of how the Israelites had to battle this ungodly people group. We are all familiar with the story of David as he fought the Philistine champion named Goliath. But, why did David have to fight the Philistine?
When God gave the Israelites the Promised Land, He instructed them to drive out every inhabitant of the land. Then He gave them this warning: "If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live, and then I will do to you what I plan to do to them." (Numbers 33:55-56) We see in Joshua 11:22 what transpired when Israel fought their battles. "No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod did any survive." God's warning was not heeded, and the disobedience of the Israelites has come back to haunt the people of Israel.
Let us also look at what has been happening in the spiritual realm. At one time, Satan was the chief praiser of God. It was his position, along with legions of angels, to worship the Lord. However, his pride got in the way and he, along with one-third of the angels, was expelled from heaven. War between Satan and God has been taking place ever since. Whatever God blesses, Satan curses. When God chose the Israelites to be His treasured possession, Satan began a rampage to destroy them. When God gave the Promised Land to His people, Satan started a campaign to eliminate the Israelites from this land. Remember that it was the tribe of Judah that received Gaza as their inheritance. This is the very tribe of Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus already defeated Satan in His death and resurrection, but the battle to destroy the Apple of God's eye continues.
A combination of the above factors has kept the Jews in a constant battle with the forces of evil. There was a time when the Philistines, who occupied Gaza, captured the ark of God. God sent plagues and tumors to those people for seven months until they returned the ark. God is aware of the evil that is trying to consume His people—Christians and Jews. The prophet Amos has somethings interesting to say about Gaza. "For three sins of Gaza, even four, I will not relent. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom, I will send fires on the walls of Gaza that will consume her fortresses." (Amos 1:6, 7) Do you think we may be seeing this prophecy being played out?
Our modern-day Philistines, Hamas, have great hatred for our Prince of Peace. Their brutality extends to the Palestinians who are living under their thumb. Hamas terrorists hide behind civilians and shoot their rockets into Israel from schools, hospitals, and private homes. Unfortunately, many in the younger generation have bought into the lies that Hamas has spread around the world. Their false ideologies and anti-Israel rhetoric have seeped into our institutions of higher learning, the halls of governments, and the United Nations. We must educate our children and grandchildren on the truth of Scripture and the history of Israel. We must teach them that they will find their refuge in God alone.
How do we battle? "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, on the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (Gaza) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Put on the armor of God described in Ephesians 6. Use the sword of the Spirit (The Word of God) and pray.
Below you will find some prayer suggestions:
Joan E. Mathias