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HomeOpinionOpinionIsrael’s crossroad: sword or the Lord — Charles Gardner

Israel’s crossroad: sword or the Lord — Charles Gardner

 

TEL AVIV: A soaring tribute to Israeli hi-tech innovation, but does God get the glory? (PHOTO: Charles Gardner).

 

With all the threats Israel is now facing, it is perfectly understandable that they should be sharpening their swords as they prepare for the worst the enemy can throw at them.

A strong defence force is certainly necessary. But an even more serious danger is that they should rely on the power of their weapons, or indeed on their own strength of will and character, along with their growing expertise in military innovations.

It is dangerous because it demonstrates that they are relying on what the Bible refers to as “horses and chariots” rather than on the Lord who called them, as his chosen people, to be a light to the Gentiles.

For it is only when we trust the Lord with all our hearts and not our own understanding that God will give us the guidance we need in order to tread the path for which he has destined us. (See Proverbs 3.5f)

As one who loves Israel, I am not blind to the fact that many of its citizens lead a sinful lifestyle. This is no reason to withdraw support for the beleaguered nation, but they do need to repent of their waywardness and godlessness.

As they have done so many times in their long history, they have absorbed the ways of the world around them – and so we witness political correctness here as elsewhere, most starkly seen in a defiance of sexual morality.

But they are the people of the Book, who gave the world the Bible, the 10 Commandments and Jesus himself. God is saying: Do not wait until you are overrun by enemies before you turn back to the Lord, who called you out of slavery in Egypt with a mighty hand. He urges you to trust him now!

That said, thousands of Jews gathered to pray for rain at Jerusalem’s Western Wall on December 28 in response to the call of Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel – and God has clearly answered with an abundant outpouring, coming with such force that it has caused flooding in places.

DAVID COUNTRY: Yad HaShmona, in the Judean hills, not far from the Valley of Elah where David defeated Goliath. (PHOTO: Charles Gardner).

I very much hope that we are seeing the beginnings of a turning to God in Israel, and the fact that a Government minister has initiated a call to prayer is quite amazing, and hugely encouraging.1

I can’t recall why, but my wife and I were discussing Israel’s sin, and whether God’s judgment was inevitable, before turning to our daily reading which is our habit every morning. We use the Every Day With Jesus notes of the late Selwyn Hughes which focuses on a theme over a two-month period drawn together by a variety of different Scripture passages.

So we opened the little book and found that the text for the day was Hosea 14.1-3: Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall. (v1) It goes on: Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses…” (v3) For Assyria, perhaps we should read America.

The Lord was clearly in on our discussion and had a ready answer! Bear in mind that the prophet was concluding his book which pictures Israel as an adulterous wife who repeatedly runs after other men, breaking the first commandment that we should have no other gods in our lives.

Self-reliance is thus the worst of sins because we put ourselves in God’s place and we are saying we can live without him; that he is redundant. This is gross idolatry, and we must repent of it.

Notice, however, that in spite of their serial adultery, God has not forsaken Israel — He has not divorced the one he loves. He loves her with an everlasting love (Jer 31.3). He has entered into a covenant relationship which cannot be broken. But we should not abuse His great faithfulness.

The recent archaeological find near Tel Aviv, suggesting human activity in the area half-a-million years ago, did not exactly excite me. Far more edifying was the August 2015 find in Gath, a city once occupied by Philistines who plotted against the Israelites, their sworn enemies, and the home of the infamous Goliath!

The huge gates uncovered by archaeologists2 were thought to be indestructible. But in an extraordinary battle in the Valley of Elah, a young man who trusted in the Lord brought down their giant leader with a single stone, proving indeed that the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1.25).

Goliath defied the armies of Israel, but David responded: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17.26) And he taunted the giant: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Sam 17.45)

Like other nations, Israel needs to seek forgiveness from God for succumbing to the ways of the world as well as for their outright disobedience to his commandments. We need to move from independence – the great sin of the age – to reliance upon God.

Isn’t it time we heard Israel’s leaders say, with great clarity and in defiance of political correctness, that we do not trust in sword or spear or javelin, nor even on our allies, but in the name of the Lord Almighty?

1David Soakell of Christian Friends of Israel in his Watching Over Zion newsletter, 11 January 20182Archaeologists unearth the gate to Goliath’s hometown, Times of Israel, 5 August 2015.

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About the author

Charles Gardner, 67, is a former Assistant London Editor of the South African Press Association, working for them in Fleet Street throughout the late 1970s before moving to Yorkshire, where he has lived for the past 37 years while working in various senior editorial capacities for a number of newspapers. He has also launched several Christian publications. Born in Cape Town, Charles grew up in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, and was educated at St Andrew's College, Grahamstown. He is married to Linda, 59, who teaches Christianity and Judaism in primary schools, and has four children and nine grandchildren.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Evn Perach says:

    Who appointed Charles Gardener as a judge of Israel? Things happen in Israel according to Elohim’s planning and the behavior of Israelis has nothing to do with it.

  2. Frans Henning says:

    I don’t think the intention was to judge Israel, (or any one else) I would rather see it as correction and guidance. It does not go for Israel alone. I for one will put my name in the article and heed to the warnings given by the writer. Not to mention nations that have turned very far from the true word of God. We became so new world orientated that we trust our own judgement and guidance above that of our Almighty God. My request is that we should all pray for Israel,( without judging) also for each and every so called self proclaimed child of God. I put my name on that prayer list ,then I will add South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and many more as I need to get in line with the true Word. Lets not be ashamed to correct each other and pray for salvation.