From Martin & Norma Sarvis’s 7 July PRAYER UPDATE
1. A SPIRIT OF VIOLENCE RELEASED IN THE LAND.
“Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; let your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; They are more than the hairs of my head; Therefore my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me! Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who seek to destroy my life; Let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor who wish me evil. Let them be confounded because of their shame, who say to me, “Aha, aha!” (Psalm 40:11—15).
Israel is currently reaching the end of a week of the most violent turmoil it has experienced in many years. Last Monday evening June 30th … word broke that the bodies of the three teenage boys Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, who had been abducted on June 12th,had been found— murdered. They had been hitchhiking (the only way for many to travel in Judea and Samaria), had been lured into a car by two Hamas agents dressed as religious Jews and playing Hebrew music on the radio. After realizing that they were being kidnapped, one of the boys in the back seat used his cellphone to softly send a message to the police. The call was unfortunately considered a hoax and not taken seriously until after the boys were discovered missing. Later analysis of the call (which had remained connected) revealed a shout as one of the Hamas terrorists noticed the phone, followed by what is now recognized to have been gun shots—then groans…later laughter and singing by the abductors, an exultant call to their Hamas superiors gloating that they were “bringing him three.” None of this was yet known to the public on Monday night—just that these children of the nation had been discovered in a shallow grave north of Hebron; although Israel had for weeks continued to hope, they had in fact been dead from the beginning. Such tragedies have an immediate and overwhelming effect on this tiny nation. The country goes into mourning, a huge pain settling down over the land. As we walked that night on the promenade near our home, one felt the stunned dismay, people murmuring to each other in low voices—in a small open building a group of religious Jews had gathered spontaneously to chant prayers. The next day the nation’s leaders met with the families to express their condolences; thousands attended the funerals on Tuesday evening (the parents had decided that they should be all buried together in Modi’in). But the deep grieving would not be allowed to run its course—within an hour after the funerals, another murder, equally heinous, but this one by Jews, would have taken place in Israel.
“Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land…and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me…”
“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty (Hebrew: hamas) are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honour be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slaughtered men…Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is remorseless…” (Genesis 34:30; 49:5-7).
Tuesday evening 17-year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted from outside his home next to a mosque in East Jerusalem. An hour later his charred body was found in the Jerusalem Forest; he had been burned alive. Suspicions that this was a vengeance attack by Jews would be confirmed on Sunday when Israeli authorities arrested six members of an outlawed far-right group, three of whom have, as of this writing, confessed to the murders. The funeral for Mohammed on Friday (the first Muslim day of worship since the start of Ramadan on 28 June) released a fury, which quickly spread in riots from East Jerusalem, to outlying areas—and thence to Israeli Arab communities in the north of Israel and Bedouin villages in the south. In Qalansawe, masked men blocked roads and went car-to-car asking if the drivers were Jews—those who affirmed it were taken out, attacked by the protestors and their cars set alight. On Thursday in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem, ten policemen were wounded in attempts to quell the rioting. Shortly thereafter a film was uploaded onto YouTube in that town, purporting to show Israeli Border Police savagely beating a masked and handcuffed rioter. The film quickly went viral, sparking outrage in the nations and bringing a quick demand from Washington for an investigation. The victim was said to be Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15-year-old American cousin of the Arab boy who had been murdered two days before. If the accusations prove accurate, the officers’ actions were outrageous and despicable and they must be disciplined. It was an isolated incident, certainly not typifying the normal behavior of Israel’s police—but the swollen bruised face of the lad appearing on the front of electronic news services around the world, would serve nevertheless to lend credibility to the popular stereotype of Israel as a mighty militaristic hulk which continues to enforce brutal subjugation upon poor oppressed people whose only defense is rocks and slingshots bravely wielded by children.
On Monday morning, after the confession of Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s murderers, Prime Minister Binyamin phoned [the deceased boy’s father] Hussein Abu Khdeir to offer his condolences, “I want to express my shock, and the shock of all Israeli citizens, at the heinous murder of your son…We acted immediately afterward to locate the murderers, and they will be brought to justice…We reject all cruel behavior, and the murder of your son is heinous and cannot be accepted by any human being.” But the match has been laid to the tender, and Israel is presently on the brink of erupting into flames.
Meanwhile, Hamas forces in Gaza have taken advantage of the situation and been raining rockets on Israel’s southland for the past six days, in some cases striking homes and a factory. Early Monday afternoon the first rocket landed on Beersheba.
Israel is presently in great danger. There is fear in some that we could be on the brink of another Intifada (uprising). If the missiles continue to rain from Gaza, we may soon be forced into send in ground troops. Nerves and emotions are exceedingly on edge. Muslims have entered their holy month of Ramadan (28 June), during which they neither eat nor drink throughout the days. Ramadan comes from a root which means “a scorching heat or dryness”—meant to assist in purging one of sins. There are powerful spirits at work during these days of fasting. It is a time of concentration by many on passages in the Koran—and of course one of the tenets of that book and its successors is the despising of the Jews. The violence is stirring emotions and awakening racist feelings also in Israeli Jews. There have been isolated instances of attacks against Arabs. Shortly after discovery of the bodies of the three boys, a large crowd of religious Jews surged from the gate of the city towards the Old City, assaulting Arab workers found along the way, until confronted by police. This does not typify all Israelis—but the fact that it exists in the fabric of a large and growing sector of far-right Jews cannot be dismissed. In such times, without the aid of a different Holy spirit, Jew and Arab alike find themselves at the mercy of forces of violence from without and the emotions of fear, anger and despair within.
A DIFFERENT SPIRIT!
We find it in the sovereign and purposeful mercies of God that the ELAV conference was scheduled for this Saturday, Sunday and Monday! As Israel finds itself in the throes of violent, racial unrest, the Lord has brought a remnant of some 900 mostly Jewish and Arab teens and young adults together to seek his face in unity. . . .
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