By Christine Darg
Various news reports indicate Hamas seems to be losing control of the dozens of terror cells in the Gaza Strip. According to a report by Khaled Abu Toameh, there is growing evidence that the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] — known as “The Islamic State” — has begun operating in the Gaza Strip.
Abu Toameh stated that Israeli and Palestinian Authority security sources are convinced that followers of ISIS in the Gaza Strip are responsible for some of the recent rocket attacks on Israel. Hamas seems to be losing control over the dozens of terror cells belonging to ISIS and other jihadi groups.
Pray for security cooperation between Israel and Egypt, because both have a common interest in preventing the Islamists from exporting their terrorism beyond the borders of the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, what does Bible prophecy have to say about the Gaza Strip, which is a continual thorn in the side of Israel?
The region known as Gaza belonged to the ancient arch-enemies of Israel called the Philistines but was part of the territory apportioned to Judah (see map). Gaza, or Azza in Hebrew, was a city on the southern coastal plain of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel, today Medinat Yisrael, or the modern nation State of Israel.
In Biblical times, Yehovah gave this Holy Land as an eternal covenant that can never be broken to the Children of Israel (the descendants of Jacob). Albeit highly contested by the Islamists, the deed of trust to Eretz Yisrael is documented in the Bible: Gaza was captured and conquered by the tribe of Judah: “Also Judah took Gaza with the regions thereof, and Ashkelon with the regions thereof, and Ekron with the region thereof.” (Judges 1:18), and it was included in the allotment to Judah’s tribe (see Joshua 15:47).
Here are a couple of other Scriptures that mention this troubled area on the coastline:
“The Philistines took [Samson], and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza.” (Judges 16:21)
“[Hezekiah of Judah] smote the Philistines even unto Gaza …” (2 Kings. 18:8)
Today the ancient Philistines no longer exist; however the term rendered “Palestine” is literally, “the land of the Philistines,” and is translated as such in Scripture. Furthermore, the Bible uses Philistines as an End-Time idiom meaning the Palestinians. Isaiah 11:14 declares that Israel shall “fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines [i.e. Palestinians] toward the west [i.e. Gaza]…” Some Bible prophecy teachers therefore apply Isaiah 11:14 to current operations, although the Jerusalem Channel is not didactic concerning End-Time prophecy. [Others apply this prophecy to the Millenium rule of Messiah, when Jesus returns.]
We can safely say that prophecy in general has the potential of more than one fulfillment; and sometimes it is safe to say that “prophecy is pattern.”
Israel continues to make incursions into Gaza, in retaliation for the many rockets that are fired daily from Gaza, and so it could be said that this prophecy of Isaiah 11:14 has more than one fulfillment.
Bible prophecy indicates there is an End-time Philistine power that God allows as an agent to goad Israel. The Isaiah 11 passage speaks of the Philistine power to “the west,” which includes the territory currently occupied by the Palestinians.
Until Messiah returns, we can expect the Palestinians to continue their role as latter-day Philistines (thorns in Israel’s side) until Great King David’s Greater Son returns and smites the kingdoms of this world (see Daniel 2:44).
The name Palestine is derived from Philistia. Joel 3:4-5 is also a pertinent passage of prophecy:
“… what have ye to do with me, O Tyre and Zidon, and all the coasts of Philistia [i.e. Palestine]? Will ye render me a recompense? And if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head …”
This is a reference to Gentile powers united against the God of Israel. “All the coasts of Philistia,” or the Palestinians, seek a recompense—containing the idea of revenge. Why? Although Scripture does not say specifically what is their beef, we can speculate that it is retaliation for the Jews’ Law of Return and for Jewish re-emergence in the Land. Palestinians are angry for disinheritance and because of the Islamic doctrine of hegemony. Islam is convinced it will regain all of the Holy Land.
In Bible days, the Philistines were thorns in Israel’s side “designed” to bring the Israelites back to God. But whenever they cried to God for deliverance, he always sent a deliverer! What should our response be today? As believers, it is our duty to preach the Gospel, to support merciful humanitarian causes of all who are suffering amongst Palestinians and Jews, to fast and pray to hasten the harvest of souls and the return of THE Deliverer (Yeshua).
But on Mount Zion will be deliverance;
it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance.
People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau,
and people from the foothills will possessthe land of the Philistines. (Obadiah 1: 17, 19)