The ninth day (tisha) of the month of Av is a traditional Jewish day of fasting, in remembrance of a series of disasters in Jewish history, particularly the destruction of both the first and second Temples (586 BC, 70 AD) in Jerusalem, and the exile from Spain (1492 AD). Some years ago, while the last Lebanon war was at its height, I traveled to the north with my oldest son Yehezkel for a day of fasting and intercession “on location”.
On Wednesday night we participated in a joint prayer meeting at the Carmel Assembly with leaders from all over Israel, including Eitan Shishkoff, David Davis, Yossi Ovadia, Daniel Yahav, Tom Hess, Yosef Hadad, Hanan Lukats, Shmuel Awaida, Claude Ezagouri, John Meyers, Wayne Hilsden and Ari Sorkoram. What beautiful unity and intercession took place! We read from Joel 2, and “wept between the porch and the altar” (Joel 2:17). Facing the war caused us to rise to a new level of purity and maturity.
Our spiritual warfare is both external and internal. On the outside we fight against jihad from Muslim fanatics. On the inside we fight against carnality and worldliness among ourselves as believers. They are two different fronts of the same battle. Fear and lust are both enemies of God. David had to face the terror from Goliath on one side and the lust with Bat Sheva on the other. The spiritual weapons of God are needed for both.
On Thursday morning we traveled up to Acco. Guy Cohen led us on a tour of Katyusha damage sites. At one point the sirens went off and we moved into a nearby bomb shelter. After that we helped distribute food packages to the bomb shelters in the poorer sections of Acco, dealing with the emotional pain, frustration and hopelessness of the people. Shortly afterwards, a series of bombs fell here killing four civilians and injuring many others.
From Acco we traveled up the coast and prayed at the Lebanese border by Rosh Hanikra. Then we moved along the border road. There was artillery fire all along the way. The shelling was particularly intense at the border town of Za’arit. Just across the border from there a Hizballah anti-tank missile killed 3 Israeli soldiers in a Merkava Siman 3 tank.
As we moved back along the northern Galilee towns, we came to a beautiful “double” town, stretching on the two sides of the highway, called Ma’alot-Tarshicha. Ma’alot is a Hebrew name (for the side that the Jews live in) and Tarshicha is an Arabic name (for the side that the Arabs live in). As in many Galilee towns, there are very good relations between the two groups. A few minutes after we passed through, another Katyusha landed killing 3 Arab teenagers.
This day marked the heaviest fighting in the Lebanon war, in which 12 Israelis were killed (4 soldiers, 3 Arabs and 5 Jewish civilians), and yet in which the Israeli army also succeeded in gaining control of the entire “security strip” in southern Lebanon. It seemed to us more than a coincidence that some of the heaviest attacks followed our path of prayer and intercession.
Spiritual warfare and military warfare are connected together. In the book of Revelation there is a lot of warfare and a lot of praise. There is more worship in Revelation than in any book other than the Psalms. We are to be praising God all through the period of the tribulations, shakings, and conflicts of the end times. The very presence of the emerging “Bride of Christ”, pure and glorious, infuriates satanic forces (Revelation 12). That Bride is the focal point around which both the judgments and the tribulations take place.
We are to praise God that His judgments are righteous and true (Revelation 15 and 16). Our praises are part of the spiritual climate that brings about the judgments of God in the end times.
This day also marked almost bizarre statements, one from Nasrallah in which he threatened to bomb Tel Aviv, and one from Iranian President Ahmadinejad, speaking at the 56 member Pan Islamic conference in Malaysia, stating that the solution to the Middle East problem was the “destruction of the State of Israel”.
Someone remarked that if the Muslims all put down their weapons today, there would be no more war. If the Jews put down all their weapons, there would be no more Israel.
The spiritual warfare can also be seen in the international press, some of whose reporting has become so biased (notably the British BBC, and a variety of French media) as to seem to be a cover up for Islamic propaganda. On the other hand, ironic as it now seems with hindsight, both President Bush and Prime Minister Blair issued statements that any peace agreement must include security measures blocking Hizballah from further armament.
Much of media criticism against Israel at the time was for the Lebanese civilians who were killed. While all Israeli leaders have expressed grief at innocent casualties, the same question must be asked for then as for civilians in Gaza in more recent years: why were they in the same building with missile launchers? How did they get there? Either they were moved into the missile launching site, or the missile launchers were moved into where they lived.
That this battle is spiritual can be seen from the fact that Nasrallah referred to Hizballah soldiers as “the army of Allah”. They see the spiritual aspects of this war. They’ve just got the wrong God. Ultimately this is not a battle between Israel and Islamic Jihad. It is a battle against the God of Israel and His Messiah.
We see Yeshua as the Commander of the Armies of the Lord when the heavens open and He returns as a conquering king (Revelation 19:11-15). He is the same Commander who confronted Joshua before the battle of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). He has never changed. (The word for eternity in Hebrew, “Netsach”, is the same root for victory, “Nitsachon”. God gives us eternity and victory.)
It was that Commander who died on the cross for us to offer us reconciliation. He offered us a “year” of favor before the “day” of vengeance (Isaiah 61:2). He is coming back as the king Messiah and glorious Son of God to destroy all the nations that have rebelled against God’s authority (Psalm 2). This aspect of the gospel – being a kind of “military confrontation” – cannot be overlooked.
I believe that the curse and punishments of Tisha B’av have been turned away. This year thousands of Christians joined together in prayer with the Jewish people. A “reproach” has been taken away, both from Israel and the Body of Christ. We are at a crucial time both in spiritual and military warfare. A remnant of faith is rising up in every nation with new unity, purity and authority.