Dear prayer partners,
In recent weeks, Israel has faced a renewed round of rocket attacks from Gaza, which means we have been kept busy organising emergency assistance for communities on the front lines. Although a cease fire was reached, residents and security teams near the Gaza border remain on alert as we wait to see if it remains quiet. This has been an especially difficult time for them, as the escalation actually began several days before the rockets started flying due to waves of incendiary balloons which set fields ablaze that were ready for harvest.
Conversations with friends in Israel and abroad highlighted both community resilience and an underlying stress and spiritual heaviness. The question of how to respond in such times of uncertainty and conflict sent me to the Scriptures searching for lessons learned by God’s people in previous battles.
Coming into the land, Joshua was commanded to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6-9). The following verses point out that being strong and courageous included obedience to and meditation on God’s commandments (not the latest 24/7 woeful news in the media). It meant deciding not to tremble or be dismayed, but rather to trust the Lord to be with them in battle. The Word is clear – their success depended on this response.
When King Jehoshaphat faced war with Ammon and Moab in 2 Chronicles 20, he received the same command: “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v 15). The courageous, practical example of Jehoshaphat is an apt one for us today when we face trouble. The Scriptures say that he fasted and prayed alone and corporately. He remembered God’s might in times past and acknowledged His greatness. He had faith that God would deliver them and acknowledged His good gifts. Most importantly, King Jehoshaphat acknowledged that he was unable to fight this battle without God’s help. Having sought guidance from the Lord, he obeyed it and saw the salvation of God.
Yet, it is all too human to lose focus on the Almighty in times of trouble. In fact, focusing on our circumstances or our own ability to deal with them (or lack thereof) can cause us to lose courage. This is what happened when the spies returned from traversing the Promised Land (Numbers 13). They had been commanded to go up and possess the land, yet they lacked faith or the will to obey because they focused on how weak they were compared to the giants and their fortified cities. Worse, they accused God of bringing them out of Egypt to kill them. In doing so, they negated God’s miraculous works on their behalf and sought to return to Egypt where slavery awaited. The result was death (immediately for the faithless spies) and futile wandering in the Wilderness for the rest. That generation did not get a second chance to step into the good purpose and destiny God had for them.
As we focus on biblical truth and become partners with the Lord to fulfil His purposes in the earth, faith and courage arise. The truth is that the eyes of the Lord are always on this land – “from the beginning, even to the end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:11-12). Indeed, “The eyes of the Lord are always toward the righteous and his ears are open to their cry…” (Psalm 34:15).
Thank you for your ongoing prayers for Israel in this time of political instability and societal unrest. In times of turmoil, we may not always understand or see the fulfilment of things promised, but we can take courage and rest knowing that His promises are sure.
He is good and He is always at work!
Nicole Y. Yoder
Vice President of Aid & Aliyah
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem