PRAYER UPDATE FROM ISRAEL JANUARY 30, 2017
MOUNT ZION FOLLOWING THE WEEKEND RAINS
The slopes (which had burned last summer) are greening (see Psalm 147:8 below!).
Saturday was Rosh Hodesh Shevat, the beginning of the 11th month in the Hebrew calendar.
This month is mentioned by name in Zechariah 1:7, after which the prophet is told by an angel to proclaim:
Thus says the LORD of Hosts, “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and ZION…I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem…My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort ZION and again choose Jerusalem…For I will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.”
1. THANKSGIVING FOR RAIN
“Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains (Psalm 147:7-8).
“Let us now revere YHVH our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest” (Jeremiah 5:24).
“Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in YHVH your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month” (Joel 2:23).
We notice that in our Update exactly a year ago (same Torah portion Bo), we gave thanks for rain in Israel. This past weekend we were blessed with two days of strong rains in Jerusalem, and again we are thankful! It has not been an abundant rainy season in Israel; the Former Rains came late, after the fires last fall. The start of the 1st month (Nisan), heralding the “Latter Rains” (see Joel 2:23 above) is exactly two months away.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY:
* That Israelis will realize the need of rain, and call on the Lord of Harvest to send it.
* That the Lord will have mercy on His land…and release waters from heaven—especially in the northern Galilee, which has been under drought conditions for several years.
* That the Sea of Galilee, as well as the several aquifers which are scattered about the land would be filled.
2. DAVID’S SLING
This week it was announced that the joint Israeli/U.S. missile defense system known as “David’s Sling” is nearing completion. It will bolster the central tier of Israel’s over-arching multi-layered defense system. David’s Sling is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium to long-range rockets and cruise missiles fired at ranges of 40-300 kilometers. It would be particularly effective against the arsenal of longer-ranged rockets and missiles held by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. Other tiers of the system include the Arrow, to defend against long-range ballistic missiles (reachable from Iran), and Iron Dome, for use against shorter-range rockets (Gaza and parts of Lebanon). Tests conducted over the Mediterranean during the past week intercepting advanced missiles fired by F-15s proved successful. All tiers of the system are expected to be in place within the next two years; making it probably the most sophisticated system of its kind in the world.
With the David’s Sling segment set to be operational in Israel soon, it was announced this week that the Israeli and US governments are already “vetting” potential customers to whom the system might be sold. Interestingly, the one country especially mentioned in the Israel news media as a possible buyer of the system is Poland. Two weeks ago, Israel hosted a visit by Polish President Andrzej Duda. There are presently friendly relations between the two countries; during the President’s visit, he and our own President Rivlin expressed the desire that relations be enhanced at all levels.
We are grateful for the “cutting edge” God has given Israel in the realm of technological expertise—including that needed to provide for her defense in a world of many enemies, both close at hand and far away. However, we also believe it critical that we remember how David, going out from the Israeli army to face the giant Goliath, equipped himself, yes, with his sling and five smooth stones—but his trust was not centered in those! Rather, he came out “in the name of YHVH of Armies, the God who puts Israel’s army in array”—and a fervent knowledge that “YHVH does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is YHVH’s!” (I Samuel 17:45, 47)
* That God will prepare and array Israel in all she needs for her physical defense in the season ahead. That His blessings rest on all the countries whose expertise and resources are voluntarily joined with her in assistance to that end.
* That the Lord raise up men and women in Israel’s military who will be strong and valorous in their fields—yet also be aware of Who’s power and favor must really be behind Israel’s victories over her enemies. Pray for men and women of faith who will have a zeal that ultimately “all” shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear (or sling or stones or missile, or rocket, or technological superiority), but “the battle is the LORD’s!”
* That the relationship between Israel and Poland would continue to be strengthened. For 1000 years the largest concentration of Jews in the world was in that land. There is reason to believe that God is doing a work in bringing these two peoples into a close alliance again. A wonderful museum has opened in Warsaw, chronicling Poland’s historical relationship with the Jews. Also, we have reports from a number of sources that the Holy Spirit is moving strongly in the Roman Catholic Church there—and that one of the first fruits of this move, among those who are yielding to it, is the awakening of a strong love for Israel!
3. THE FIRST TO COME TO THEIR AID . . .
Thursday night was storming, and in the hills of Samaria, a few miles north of Shilo, an Israeli bus traveling from a nearby settlement veered into a guardrail, broke through and plunged down the 230 foot embankment, coming to rest on its top. This is in an area of the contested “Territories” with communities of both Jews and Palestinian Arabs, but which is patrolled and under the oversight of Israel. A Palestinian family witnessed the crash from their home; they immediately called police, then tore out of their home, down the hill to render aid.
When police, ambulances and troops arrived to help, there were the Arab family members down in the ravine in their pajamas in the pouring rain with flashlights trying to extract survivors and help those who were wounded. Working together, all were pulled from the wreckage, and taken up to the road where a medical helicopter was waiting. Two were dead, seven others wounded. A Captain medical officer at the scene credited the quick work of the Palestinian family with saving lives.
One observer commented how the “complex reality” of the region was underscored by the arrival of troops to assist. They had been part of a brigade a few kilometers away in hot pursuit of a Palestinian terrorist who during the previous 24 hours had carried out two shooting attacks. When word of the accident reached them, they decided to split up so that some could come assist. When they arrived at the bus, there were members of a Palestinian family working in the rain to administer aid to Jewish settlers trapped under the bus.
When word of the accident was written up in Israeli newspapers, it was with a kind of wonder at the grace shown by this family to Jews in distress. “Palestinian Family was First to help Bus Crash Victims, Call Police” read one headline; “Palestinian Family saves Israeli lives in Nighttime Bus Crash” read another. There is great distrust and hostility between Arab and Jewish communities in this area. The name of the family wasn’t given—likely to protect them from reprisals by their own neighbors for daring to offer kindness to Israelis in distress.
We are touched by the actions of this “Good Samaritan” family—in the heart of modern-day Samaria. It is so essential that we realize, for all the contention and hatred roiling in this most-contested place on earth, that God’s merciful Spirit of grace is working, crossing through borders and ethnic and religious walls. And “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
* Blessing upon the “nameless” Palestinian family which came to the aid of the stricken Israeli bus. Pray that the light of God’s Grace will shine into their lives, and illumine them on the path He has for them.
* A capacity in Israel to see one’s “neighbor” beyond ethnic lines, even, when possible, beyond the lines drawn in active regional conflict. That we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, whoever they are—because God does. That we must not depersonalize the souls of those on “the other side.”
* For the Spirit of God in kindness to draw Palestinian Arabs into revelation and the salvation of the One who loves them, who is the Savior of the World. When this happens, may it not be they more than any others who will be able to provoke their Hebrew neighbors to the jealousy Paul speaks of in Romans 10 and 11. So that All Israel shall be Saved!
–Martin and Norma Sarvis