Jack Taylor considers

PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE?

Readers may recall we looked a few months back at Gaza and Zephaniah (see link at foot of this article). The Gaza situation persists and the world at large has taken the side of ‘Gaza’ – and demonised Israel. So far, so straightforward, if sad.

What else does scripture have to say? What precisely does the Bible say about Gaza’s past, and its future? Is the present Gaza conflict part of End Time Bible prophecy? What about Psalm 83 – does this reveal something important about the current Gaza war?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT GAZA?

Sadly, most Biblical references to Gaza are about its wickedness, and how much they hate Israel and the Jewish people, and how God repeatedly sent His prophets to warn of Gaza’s impending judgment. The first time Gaza is mentioned in scripture it is described Gaza as part of the land occupied by the evil Canaanites:

“The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah…..” (Genesis 10:19)

Later, Gaza is described as the base camp of the Philistines, who constantly attacked and terrorizing the Jews of Israel. In the Book of Judges, chapter 1, the Lord directed the armies of the Israelites – specifically the armies of the tribe of Judah – to conquer Gaza, and they did. In Judges 1:18-19, we read:

“And Judah took Gaza with its territory and Ashkelon with its territory and Ekron with its territory. Now the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country.”

Later in Judges, of course, we read the famous account of Samson. Samson, admittedly, was a deeply flawed character. But God used him to go into Gaza and destroy their wicked leaders, even though it cost Samson his own life.

In Jeremiah 47, we see that one of the Pharaohs of Egypt conquered Gaza, beginning a very long and complicated relationship between Egypt and Gaza that remains uncomfortable to this day.

The Hebrew prophet Amos was told by God to write about the wickedness of Gaza and the divine judgment that was coming upon it.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘For three transgressions of Gaza and for four I will not revoke its punishment….So, I will send fire upon the wall of Gaza and it will consume her citadels.’” (Amos 1:6-7)

God also told the Hebrew prophets Zephaniah and Zechariah to warn of judgment coming to Gaza and its nearby Philistine cities.

“For Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon a desolation; Ashdod will be driven out at noon and Ekron uprooted.” (Zephaniah 2:4)

 “Ashkelon will see it and be afraid. Gaza, too, will writhe in great pain; also Ekron….Moreover, the king will perish from Gaza….” (Zechariah 9:5)

YET GOD LOVES …….

Messiah Jesus commands us to love Israel and her neighbours. He sends His servants to bring the Gospel to Gaza. Perhaps many Palestinians in Gaza will reject the Gospel. Some will receive Messiah as their Saviour and Lord. They need to be liberated from the slavery and oppression of Hamas. And from the slavery and oppression of Satan and sin.

Pray, too, for the terrorist leaders and members of Hamas – pray that God would convert them to Messiah before it’s too late. Former Muslim terrorists have come to Messiah and been radically changed. A former Hamas leader who used to be a terrorist was miraculously changed the entire direction of his life, turned him against Hamas, and used him to save many Israeli lives from Hamas terrorist attacks, including suicide bombers sent to kill them. God can do anything.

It’s our job to pray without ceasing not just for the rescue, salvation, healing, and blessing of Israelis, but also for God to do miracles in the lives of Palestinians in Gaza, including the leaders and foot soldiers of Hamas. “For,” as the scriptures teach us, “nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

DOES PSALM 83 TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT CURRENT GAZA WAR?

Some opine that Psalm 83 speaks directly. Others that it speaks more generally of the middle eastern situation and its attendant ancient hatreds of Israel. Psalm 83 might be regarded as an oblique commentary of demonic hatred in the heart of Hamas. (See our previous article on Hamas at the foot of this piece). If so, does it speak of a coming judgement against every member of Hamas – and every supporter of Hamas – who refuse to repent and give his or her life to Messiah Jesust?

Starting in verse one we read: “O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the nation of Israel be remembered no more.” (Psalm 83:1-4)

Here the Bible can be argued as highly relevant to today’s situation! In verses 6 through 8, we read exactly where these various enemies of Israel and the Jewish people live.

“The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites” – that’s southern Jordan and Arabia.

“Moab and the Hagrites” – that’s central and north Jordan.

“Gebal and Ammon and Amalek” – that’s Lebanon and Syria and the Sinai peninsula.

“Philistia” – that’s the Gaza Strip.

“With the inhabitants of Tyre” – that’s more of Lebanon.

“Assyria also has joined with them” – that’s Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

In this brief prophetic Psalm 83 – only 18 verses in English – God warns that people who live in these countries will hate Israel and the Jewish people. Why? Because they hate the God of Israel – the God of the Bible. That’s what the writer tells us. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he addresses God, “For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves” and “they make shrewd plans against Your people.”

REBIRTH NEEDED – THE ONLY ANSWER

Murderous plans. Genocidal plans. These mortal enemies of the God of Israel – including some of the Palestinian leaders and people in today’s Gaza, who connect themselves to the ancient Philistines – say, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.”  That’s precisely what Hamas wants.

I don’t believe that all Palestinians in Gaza agree with Hamas and want Israel to experience genocide, but clearly some do. Ultimately they will lose, albeit today’s United Nations seeks to justify Hamas against Israel. Collectively, this alliance (evil alliance?) are attacking the apple of God’s eye, refusing to acknowledge what God told Abraham in Genesis 12 – “those who bless you I will bless, but those who curse you I will curse.”  And what does the writer – led by the Holy Spirit – pray?

“O God, pursue them with Your storm.”

He asks God to bring fire upon them, and disaster, and humiliation, and shame. Why? Just so they will lose? No – so that they will repent and turn to the Lord. Look carefully at verse 16 – the writer brings for disaster to come upon all who seek to wipe Israel off the map “that they may seek Your name, Lord.”And again in verse 18 – “that they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.”

Amen. That is a Spirit-led prayer. And it’s going to come true. Join me in praying for Israel – absolutely – but also for the Palestinians of Gaza that they might turn away from their hatred and give their lives to Messiah Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

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Gaza and Zephaniah: https://christiancomment.org/2023/11/02/gaza-and-zephaniah/

Hamas: https://christiancomment.org/2023/11/02/hamas/

Palestine: https://christiancomment.org/2021/02/24/palestine-precisely-what-do-you-mean/