From the quiet this morning till my writing, you would never know that the night saw an unprecedented barrage of rockets on the city of Beersheva.
From 2:30 till 3:30 a.m. about 100 rockets were targeting the area – including where many Bedouin live and work – air raid sirens wailing and everyone seeking shelter in their bomb shelters or other safe areas. Although we have experienced attacks during the night before, never have there been so many at one time.
This is part of the improvement – along with distance and accuracy – that Hamas, etc., in Gaza have been working on for the last seven years, while Israel and the world have been somehow unaware or else unresponsive. The incredible Iron Dome anti-missile system cannot cope with such an onslaught, not to mention that there are a limited number of very expensive missiles in the multitude of Iron Dome systems spread around the country. Praise to God for protecting our city, as there are no reports of any serious damage or injuries or deaths!
For the first time, also, Israeli Arabs (mostly Bedouin) here in Beersheva demonstrated and fought against Jews right near Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka Medical Center. They were flying Hamas flags and denouncing Israel! This is bound to have a bitter after-taste among the population mix here in the City of Abraham.
The street leading into our neighborhood was blocked yesterday by the police because of the disorder. Many Bedouin work and study in Beersheva, and the hospital has many doctors, nurses, and patients who are Bedouin. The Islamist movement has radicalized too many of them to prove themselves “good Muslims,” at the expense of being trustworthy “good neighbors.”
There are others who can give you more detailed information than I, but here is my brief take on the background to our present situation:
The ever-present conflict in Israel between the Jews and the Arabs goes back to the family feud between Ishmael and Isaac, and between Esau and Jacob. It has to do with YHVH God’s choice/election of Abram/Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel for His covenantal purpose of redemption, both of human beings, and of His own sovereignty over His creation in its entirety. It actually goes back to the time when Lucifer rebelled over, I believe, God’s “choice” that man and woman created in His likeness and image would rule with Him over the Earth, and not Lucifer or the angels. And again when the LORD accepted Abel and his offering, and rejected Cain and his, although offering Cain the way back, which Cain rejected. The issue is the inheritance of not only the Land of Canaan/Israel, but of the entire Earth and all created beings and things.
The aggrieved parties have never accepted God’s “right” to do what He will, and have blamed both Him and those whom He has chosen; God has declared a truly “holy war” against Satan/rebellious Lucifer and all the angels and humans who have taken the aggrieved side as justified in their everlasting resentment. This also manifests itself in the Jewish people’s resentment and hatred of the chosen Heir, Yeshua/Jesus, to be the King of Israel as the son of David, with whom YHVH also has a covenant promise to bring to fulfillment. As the firstborn chosen people, the Jews cannot grasp God’s adoption of Gentiles who believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah into His goodness and glorious future, equal heirs with those Jews who also believe.
The re-establishment of the sovereign State of Israel is an intervention by God to fulfill His prophetic words towards the judgment of the nations and the glorious return of the Lord to establish once-and-forever the Kingdom of God on this Earth, centered in Jerusalem, and beyond into the New Heavens and New Earth for eternity. For those whose hope is in Jesus/Yeshua, this is good news; for those who oppose or otherwise do not care, this is a “woe,” a catastrophe that must be fought at any cost. Islam takes up that challenge, and stirs up the unrepentant flesh for fighting a losing battle and war, blindly thinking that they are doing its god’s will, which they are. But his will is not YHVH God’s will! Yeshua came to save sinners from every people group and nation, and this must remain our focus through to the end of the raging wars.
Ramadan, the Islamic Muslim holy month, in which they fast during the day, but eat at night more that month than they consume during any other month of the year, is a month-long period which drifts each year to a different time period. The Islamic lunar month never adjusts to the sun, as does the Jewish calendar. The Christian calendar is set by the sun, to which the Jewish Israeli calendar adjusts, being lunisolar. The sun rules the day; the moon the night.
This year’s Ramadan concludes today. Ramadan prayers always lead to outbreaks of violence against the Jews here in Israel. The spirit of Islam is not the same as the Spirit of Christ/Messiah. The annual celebration of the capture and “reunification” of Jerusalem by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 was celebrated this past Sunday evening and Monday. It is celebrated according to the Jewish calendar, rather than the Western calendar, which remembers that remarkable day as being in June. On the one hand, the Muslims claim that Jerusalem is their city, being wrongly captured and occupied by the Jews. On the other hand, the Jews celebrate the repossession of their heart and capital since the time of King David 3000 years ago. Read Psalm 137 to realize that for the Jewish people, Jerusalem is a love song (think “Jerusalem of Gold” by Naomi Shemer), while the Muslims threaten destruction to a city that they claim is theirs and holy.
This volatile mix, plus the lie that the Israeli government is attacking the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, stirs up the murderous envy and unredeemed hatred towards the very presence of Jews in this land, and of all that it represents to the truth of the one, true, living God, and of His Anointed One, who died and rose again, for the forgiveness of sins of all and any who will repent and believe! (The ultra-religious Jewish leaders always falsely claim that the Messianic Jews kidnap teens and children to baptize them and make them Christians as their way of stirring up the passions to attack and vilify believers. If it were true, there would be reason for the attacks; same as in the case of the Muslims against the Jews and Israel. But neither ploy is true.)
The brouhaha over the evictions of Arab tenants from home in the neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah is a complicated legal matter, going back to Turkish Ottoman Empire times. I am familiar with this sort of thing with some properties owned by a Christian group in parts of Jerusalem. Evictions are never easy or “good,” but the cause of eviction is a legal matter firstly, a humanitarian one secondly. The property owners have a just claim here. Given the dynamics, even if they should “win” their case once again, the price might be very high. To “lose” the case will also exact a serious blow to the rule of law regarding property rights. Nothing is ever “easy” here in the Holy Land of perpetual conflict! Come, Lord Jesus!
Rockets started pouring down on Israeli towns around the Gaza Strip area already on Sunday night, all through the night. It intensified the next day. Rockets were even fired for the first time towards Jerusalem, and to cities in central Israel. They are not accustomed to such assaults. By such action, and especially by a barrage of rockets towards the greater Tel Aviv area, including Ben-Gurion Airport, Hamas – the terrorist governing entity in Gaza – was essentially declaring and inviting war with Israel. Israel has responded, but I believe, having been totally unprepared for the huge numbers of rockets at Hamas’ disposal and the overwhelming numbers that weaken the superb defense system, that is the Iron Dome.
Israel always boasts that they are ready for any attack, whether from Gaza, or from Hezbollah in Lebanon, or from Syria, or from Iran. This current situation shows that that is not so. The God of Israel wants His people to repent and put their trust and hope in Him. He wants Christians to do the same, even while taking the gospel to whosoever – including to Jews and Arabs. YHVH will still show that He is God Most High, but He will also require that His own people want Him to be their God and King, whom they have outwardly rejected since the days of Samuel the Prophet and of King Saul. By His own zeal, He will do it, and He will rule over them! Praise the LORD!
There are many believers and congregations along the Gaza envelope, such as in Sderot and Ashkelon just beyond. They have been subjected to these threats and attacks for a very long and wearying time. Please keep them all in your prayers, as well as the salvation of many Arabs and Jews in the region. The gospel is the message we have been given, whatever the existential threats to our comfort and peace.
This is the message of Shavuot/Pentecost: Jesus died for everyone; all are sinners needing forgiveness and God’s imputed righteousness; the Holy Spirit gives us power to be faithful witnesses to the truth of who Jesus/Yeshua is. All who repent and believe in Him are united into one Body – firstfruits of the final harvest – which we need to strive to maintain, especially in such times when natural impulses want to rise up from the dead and hinder the Holy Spirit in us from ruling over our thoughts, words and deeds.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.