Israel at War - A Snapshot
by Avi T., Associate Pastor, Tents of Mercy Network

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness!" (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Israel blossoms in crisis. After over a month of rockets, numerous violated cease fires, and 64 fallen Israeli soldiers, the southern border is still insecure. However, as a nation, Israel is witnessing almost unprecedented solidarity and unity. Operation "Protective Edge" began on the 17th of the Hebrew month Tamuz, at the dawn of "the days of dire straits." This season is traditionally associated with turmoil and destruction caused by disunity and hatred within the nation. The destruction of the temple happened at the end of this time period, on the 9th of Av. So there was some concern. Yet Israel stood as one nation, united in love and support.

In addition, Israel witnessed her brave children serving in the IDF without any thought for their personal well-being, endangering themselves on behalf of their fellow citizens living within range of rocket fire. One of more than 60 soldiers who gave their lives was Shai Kushnir, a young man from our congregational community (story on pg. 6). Hamas sent their children and women to the forefront of the conflict and hid behind the weak. Israel sent its strong to protect the weak. Hence Israel lost men of valor while Hamas caused the death of their own children and mothers.

United in thanks
And there is more. How can one explain thousands of indiscriminate rockets fired at innocent civilians missing their targets? It is not due only to Israel's "Iron Dome" technology, but thanks to the Dome of Heavenly protection undergirded by the fervent prayers of Yeshua's followers around the world. It is clear to all who have eyes and ears, that this battle bypasses the logic of the mind. It is as much a spiritual battle as a physical one.

Once again the hearts of the people of Israel are being pushed toward utter dependence on God. Our intense identification and intercession with our threatened people echoes the situation described in II Chronicles many centuries ago. King Jehoshaphat reigned in Judah in that time, and the meaning of his name was "the LORD will judge." In spite of having an army of over 1 million, he did not put his trust in weapons and soldiers. When a large enemy alliance advanced on his territory, he gathered the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and prayed out in desperation:

"O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? ... 'If disaster comes upon us - sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine - we will ... cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.' And now, here are the people ... coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." (II Chronicles 20:6-12)

Avi, Andrey and a grateful soldier
The Tents of Mercy Network of congregations joined together in this prayer. We also sought a way to tangibly stand with our nation. Early one morning, the two of us, together with a few other men from our congregation left the quiet, peaceful northern region of Israel, traveling south to bring material, emotional and spiritual encouragement to Israeli soldiers stationed near Gaza. We listened intently to radio broadcasts all the way down, to hear radar-triggered warnings of incoming Hamas rocket fire toward this town or that, in case we needed to find cover. Then suddenly we were there, within sight of Gaza and it's rockets. That was not all. At least ten Hamas attack tunnels had been dug surreptitiously hundreds of meters into Israeli territory. We felt the surreal sense of being nearly helpless before a dual threat that could come without warning from above, or from below, in the form of terrorists suddenly rising from the ground beneath our feet. It was a very unsettling feeling, and one which tens of thousands of soldiers and residents have been experiencing for weeks now. Our journey was repeated again the following week. Both times we were able to distribute a van load of supplies. The soldiers, young men and young women, were visibly touched and extremely thankful. And we were not alone. Millions of Israelis came together to encourage our soldiers in many different ways.

After each visit, we drove back north, breathing more freely with every added mile between us and Gaza. Though distant from the sound of rockets, our hearts remain united with those under fire and we continue to keep our eyes on God - trusting in His ultimate salvation.

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