Monday, August 14, 2006

ISRAEL’S ENEMIES: Anger, envy, hatred

While Israel’s enemies crow about battling the Jewish nation to a negotiated standstill in Hezbollahstan—a.k.a. Lebanon—we’ll see who has the last laugh.

Today we revisit the remarkable prophecy in Psalm 83, as well as a word from the prophet Ezekiel. From The Middle East Conflict by Stephen P. Adams, Alpha Books, 2003 (with permission):

Israel continues to be surrounded by enemies. Scripture also indicates dire consequences for Israel’s enemies. God identifies them by name in a remarkable passage: “They devise crafty schemes against your people, laying plans against your precious ones. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us wipe out Israel as a nation. We will destroy the very memory of its existence.’ This was their unanimous decision. They signed a treaty as allies against you—these Edomites and Ishmaelites, Moabites and Hagrites, Gebalites, Ammonites, and Amalekites, and people from Philistia and Tyre. Assyria has joined them, too, and is allied with the descendants of Lot.” (Psalm 83:3-8, NLT)

These are Arab peoples associated with specific places in the land of Israel and its immediate neighbors—Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Today they would be called Palestinians. It shows how ancient are the hatreds. The Edomites, for example, descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, provoked God’s anger by refusing to allow the Israelites to pass through their land (southeast of the Dead Sea in modern Jordan) on their way to Canaan.

More than 3,000 years later, re-gathered Israel encountered the same sort of hostilities from descendants of these same peoples and was compelled to fight a war for independence—not from a colonial power, but from its neighbors. The ancient hatreds continue to this day in the ongoing hostilities of terrorism and Intifada.

A Word from the Prophet

The prophet Ezekiel foresaw a future time when the ruined cities of Israel would be re-inhabited by the Jews and the desolate land would become fruitful again. He also declared God’s wrath against the Edomites and others for their violence against Israel, promising great punishment. “Your continual hatred for the people of Israel led you to butcher them when they were helpless, when I had already punished them for their sins. … For you said, ‘The lands of Israel and Judah will be ours. We will take possession of them. …’ I will punish you for your acts of anger, envy, and hatred. … My jealous anger is on fire against these nations, especially Edom, because they have shown their utter contempt for me by gleefully taking my land for themselves as plunder.” (Ezekiel 35:5, 10-11, 36:5, NLT)

In turn, the prophet warned, these people would be dealt with in the same fashion. God promised them “a bloodbath of your own.” (Ezekiel 35:6) This may refer to a slaughter that is yet to come or possibly even to the recent bloodshed in ongoing Arab-Israeli hostilities.

If we had to guess, we'd bet on God having the last laugh.


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