By Rick Ridings
Rumors of wars seem to be a Middle East staple. Since at least 2008, Iran has been threatening to wipe Israel from the map as it works build a nuclear program (Jaseb). Now, an 18-month civil war has destabilized Syria, said to posses 1,000 tons of chemical weapons (“Obama warns”).
Our region has been on the verge of war for years, but I believe the LORD has delayed the conflict. In 2009, the LORD gave me two visions in which I saw Israel’s enemies, portrayed as witches, sharks and wolves which were pushed back after intercessors cried out to God. I saw a clock, which moved back from 5 minutes before midnight to 10, then 15 minutes before midnight. (see “Prayer for Israel in a strategic time”, March 2012).
The purpose of the delay was to allow houses of prayer to be established throughout the Middle East. These regional intercessors will shine a light in the darkness and pull open the doors of heaven. (see “A vision of a ‘Gideon’ victory in the Middle East”, April 2012)
Since 2009, we are in relationship with five houses of prayer in Turkey, three in Lebanon, two in Egypt and two in Dubai. In Israel, in addition to the several houses of prayer in Jerusalem, we know of others established in Tel Aviv, the Galilee and the Golan.
Even when God pushes the clock back, it does not stop but continues to move forward. So time has marched on. We must be like the sons of Issachar and discern the times and the seasons (1 Chronicles 12:32).
I have not had the freedom to pray against war, but neither do I sense that this will be a major, end-times war such as is described in Ezekiel 37-38 or Zechariah 12-14. What I do sense developing within the next few months is more like a Psalm 83 scenario where a regional confederation menaces Israel.
In the midst of this, I’m hearing three exhortations from the LORD:
- Strengthen the borders.
- Build up gaps in the wall.
- Prepare for harvest.
A level of war for God’s glory
In Exodus 14, God uses the attacking Egyptians to bring glory to His name and to secure the trust of Israel. The LORD said:
“I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” … And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. (Exodus 14:17-18, 31 NIV)
A series of visions the LORD has given me over the past several years speak to that strategy of God. (see “A vision of a ‘Gideon’ victory in the Middle East”, April 2012). In a vision in February 2012, I saw that the LORD made a protective wall of the blood of Jesus and the positioned angels with their shields and trumpets invisible to His enemies in order to lure them into a trap.
Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon continue to threaten Israel, as do elements within Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rants (Jaseb) almost quote Psalm 83:4 (NIV):
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
It could be that soon, God may allow a level of war to glorify himself in Israel and among the nations.
Strengthening the border
In 2011, on the anniversaries of the establishment of the State of Israel and of the Six-Day War, Palestinian refugees and activists stormed the land borders of Israel. The rush was particularly thick from Syria on these nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) and naksa (Arabic for setback) days. I believe they were trial runs to test Israeli defenses.
The LORD has also highlighted to us the coastal border of Israel, the Mediterranean Sea. The new government in Egypt is allowing Iranian war ships through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. Most recently, Egypt refused to inspect an Iranian ship laden with weapons for Syria (Haaretz). Also, Egypt will reportedly buy two attack submarines from Germany (Miller).
Pray that the Messianic body in the Land will rise up to intercede for Israel. A major group of messianic pastors recently called for three days of fasting and prayer on September 22-24. Specifically pray Psalm 28:5-6, which in part says that the LORD will be “a source of strength to those who turn the battle at the gate.” (NIV)
Keep praying that the blood of Jesus and His angels would continue to protect the borders, praying Psalm 29:3 (NIV):
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.
Build up the gaps in the walls of protection
It is vital to fill in the voids in the walls of protection, in our own lives as well for Israel. We are told to “not let the sun go down on our wrath lest we give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
While the LORD has set watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6) he expects the watchmen to repair the gaps.
Twice the LORD says in Ezekiel that the prophets were not doing their job of wall building. In Ezekiel 13:4-5, He says that the walls need to be repaired so they will “will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD.” (NIV)
In Ezekiel 22:30, the LORD says he was seeking for someone to stand in the gap so that he could show the nation mercy. It doesn’t say fill the gap but stand in it, and in Hebrew it literally means to become the wall, “on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it” (NIV).
Once standing in the gap, it is vital to hold the position.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. – Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)
The enemy knows the importance this, so he will try to discourage us in an effort to move us from our position. It is essential to be where God has called each of us when He calls, without envy or jealousy of when and where others may be called to stand.
Pray that Israeli believers would stand up as a priesthood to confess the sins of Israel and thereby build up the wall.
Prepare for the harvest
As Israel prepares for potential war, it also has been preparing the past month for the fall feasts – the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feasts of Tabernacles).
In the month preceding these holy days, it is traditional to read Psalm 27 every morning (Wikipedia). In the psalm, David is reaching for God’s presence, His teaching and His mercy. Appropriate to the current rumors of war David also confesses his confidence in the LORD’s protection:
The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. (Psalm 27:1-3, NIV)
I sense the LORD saying that he will allow the shaking of warfare and that it will bring in a harvest.
A pastor in Louisiana, during a prayer time for Israel, saw a vision of missiles hitting the Land. However, every place a missile hit, a mature stalk of wheat sprouted.
So how do we prepare for this? Not by panicking or running away, nor by forcing our positioning on others . Each of us needs to be where God’s wants us to be. We need to be listening and trusting in His timing… and waiting. David reminds us:
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14, NIV)
Rick Ridings is co-founder and co-director a Succat Hallel, a 24/7 worship and prayer center in Jerusalem, Israel.
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“Elul.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 August 2012. Web. 9 September 2012.
Haaretz, wire services. "Report: Egypt turns down U.S. request to inspect Iranian arms ship on way to Syria." Haaretz. Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd. 26 August 2012. Web. 4 September 2012.
Jaseb, Hossein and Dahl, Fredrik. “Ahmadinejad says Israel will ‘disappear.’” Reuters. Thomson Reuters. 3 June 2008. Web. 30 August 2012.
Lappin, Yaakov and Keinon, Herb. "IDF rebuffs ‘Naksa’ rioters trying to cross Syrian border." Jerusalem Post. Palestine Post Ltd. 6 June 2011. Web. 4 September 2012.
Miller, Elhanan. "Our German subs are none of your business, Egyptian navy tells Israel." The Times of Israel. 3 September 2012. Web. 4 September 2012.
“Obama warns Syria chemical weapons use may spark US action.” BBC. British Broadcasting Corp. 21 August 2012. Web. 30 August 2012.