We walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7 KJV)
Living by trusting God rather than by what we see is something for which we strive as Christians. Living in Israel quickly teaches you that listening to the Holy Spirit or leaning on your own understanding can be a matter of life or death.
Thank God, there is peace in most of the nation at this time. Still, there are rockets falling in the south just about every week. And this week started with a bang at the intersection of Israel, Egypt and Gaza when members of Global Jihad attacked an Egyptian border station, stole two armored vehicles and blasted their way through the border fence into Israel. The Israel air force destroyed the armor vehicle before it could get to Israelis who live nearby (yes, there’s a kibbutz sandwiched between Egypt and Gaza).
A family I met at the Elav youth conference lives near Beer Sheva and happened to be near the southern border the day before the attack. Here is their account.
By Amber and Daniel Pierce
Amber: While exploring our new country, we have faced many realities about this region and the Middle East. First, sometimes it’s hard to realize how small Israel really is. Most of the time as we are driving on a major highway it feels pretty big, but if you get lost for just a few minutes you could end up in Ramallah [headquarters of the Palestinians Authority] or at the border of Gaza. I have been venturing out on my own lately to attend a prayer meeting in Tel Aviv. I took a wrong turn on the way home from one of the meetings last week and ended up at a very intense looking military checkpoint. I found a way to turn around without having to drive through, which felt like a very close call. It was the checkpoint that leads you to Ramallah.
A few days later, Daniel and I were driving from Ashdod, which is south of Tel Aviv on the coast of Israel. Daniel and I were talking and lost track of focus on the road. Immediately, we were stopped at the military border crossing to Gaza. To me, Gaza is like never-land. I always said I would never go there on purpose! A few days after coming so close to Gaza, we decided to go back and really have a look. Avner, a friend, gave us directions to a lookout point, which put us only a few hundred yards from the City of Gaza. We were so close that we could even see the Mediterranean Sea on the other side of the city.
When we asked Avner if he thought it was safe for us to go, His response was, “I suppose you won’t have any trouble today.” Thank God he was hearing the LORD on that day! Amazing how there was no trouble that day because the next day was very different. Mortar shells pounded the area and the roads that we had been on were shut down. God’s timing is everything. Had we been there one day later, we would have been in the crossfire.
Gaza City as seen from an overlook in Israel. (Photo courtesy of the Pierce Family).
While we were there things looked calm in Gaza, but my spirit didn’t feel calm. I felt like I was looking into hell. My heart was beating so fast and my body was responding in a way that you would normally respond to immediate danger.
Daniel: As Amber explained, we felt that the LORD released us to go to the border of Gaza on Saturday. While in Israel, the Holy Spirit has often prompted us to go to certain areas of the country and seek his heart for the various regions. In our travels, we have been to all of Israel’s borders and inside the West Bank on occasion.
Gaza represents an extremely militant area both in the physical and spiritual realms. It is still the Islamic month of Ramadan, which adds a whole new level of spiritual warfare to the atmosphere. Earlier in the month of Ramadan, we visited some friends in Jerusalem and stayed near the Temple Mount. You could literally feel a thick tension in the air.
On Sunday afternoon, the imminent attack that Amber felt in her spirit became a physical reality in Gaza! Israel’s military carried out an air strike that killed a terrorist in Gaza around midday. In the evening, a group of Global Jihad terrorists, operating out of Sinai, attacked an Egyptian military base on the border with Israel. After killing 16 Egyptian soldiers, the terrorist’s stole two armored vehicles and drove them through the security fence into Israel. A second Israeli air strike stopped the vehicles before the terrorist could make any attempt to attack civilians. Simultaneously to this incident, dozens of mortar shells were fired at Jewish communities near Gaza, and road number 232 that we had traveled on Saturday was shut down due to the fighting.
Sometimes living in Israel feels like a crash course in spiritual warfare. If the LORD has taught us anything its how close spiritual and physical warfare can be. God is teaching us to listen to His voice and know when He has released us to move forward!