Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Israel. It is his first as president (he visited as senator in 2006 and 2008). While there are photos of Obama in a kippa (yarmulke) at the Western Wall, he will not visit the Jewish holy site this time. As the Times of Israel said:
In a visit as high-profile as US President Barack Obama’s Wednesday-to-Friday stay in Israel, every stop on the itinerary is laden with political significance. So, too, every location left out.
Similarly, the New York Times said:
Mr. Obama is confronting the reality that in a land so freighted with symbolism, any place he chooses to visit, or not visit, can strike a nerve.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel
talk before their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, March 5, 2012.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Columnist Jeffrey Goldberg says, “One of the reasons Obama is traveling to Israel next week — the first overseas trip of his second term — is to correct the impression, partly created in Cairo, that he doesn’t understand Israel’s history, and has no feeling for the underlying justice of its cause.”
A recent poll by Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University — as published in the Times of Israel — shows that a majority of Israeli Jews don’t trust Obama to protect the nation’s interests.
All that aside, I encountered two really good perspectives today on how to pray for Obama.
Rick Ridings, director of Succat Hallel worship and prayer center in Jerusalem, said one of the intercessors there prayed for God to deal with the pride in Obama’s heart when he visits to Jerusalem. Ridings encourages intercessors to pray for a spirit of the fear of the LORD (the beginning of wisdom, Prov. 1:7) — that he would humble himself before the LORD. (Ridings reminds us, too, that if we’re going to pray that, we have to allow the LORD to work in our own lives in that way.)
Twice in the New Testament, we are told that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, I Peter 5:5). Humility — from the people and leader — is what is required for God to shed His grace on us.
She begins, “As Barack Obama prepares for his first trip to Israel as president, I hope when he gets there he sees what I saw.” What did Parker see?
I saw the great hope of my Scriptures come alive right before my eyes, and I was left exuberant and confident that the God of truth and justice is still speaking today.
In the words of the Psalmist: “When the Lord brings about the return to Zion, we will have been like dreamers. … Then they will say among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them, The Lord has done great things for us. We will then rejoice.” [Psalm 126]
Yes, let us pray that Obama have a heart of humility before the LORD and that the reality of God’s faithfulness and the truth of His Word — concerning Israel, among other things — be made apparent in the reborn and thriving State of Israel.