By Rick Ridings
Just two days before President Barack Obama arrived in Israel, the 33rd government of Israel was sworn in.
Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud-Beytenu faction unsurprisingly received the most votes in the January 22 election. What was surprising was the narrow margin of victory and the rise of political newcomers Yair Lapid with his left-center party Yesh Atid and Netanyahu’s partner-turned-rival Naftali Bennett with his pro-settler Jewish Home party. (1)
It took six weeks of intense negotiations, but the three parties with distinct political positions plus much smaller Hatnuah – led by left-leaning Tzipi Livni – finally agreed to partner in Netanyahu’s coalition. (2)
The Essence of Good Government
Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;
clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
In your majesty ride forth victoriously
in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies;
let the nations fall beneath your feet.
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.” – Psalm 45:3-7 (NIV, emphasis added)
In Psalm 45, the psalmist is talking about Messiah, who is the essence of good government. Jesus (Yeshua) is the standard of perfect government. He is the only wise King, the best measure of what good government should look like.
From this passage we see four keys to good government:
As Netanyahu’s new government goes forward, we should pray these qualities for him and his leadership.
Several years ago, during an intercession time in Succat Hallel (our 24/7 worship and prayer center in Jersualem), I felt the Spirit tell us to proclaim an earthquake into foundations of the government of Israel and to proclaim that corruption would be exposed and rooted out. More specifically, I even felt the LORD say that we needed to pray that then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would be exposed for corruption and rooted out.
I try very hard not to pray political opinion. There was a previous prime minister – Ehud Barak – whom I would have loved to pray to be rooted out, but God didn’t tell me to do that. Even though I wanted to, the LORD said, “That’s just your opinion. It’s not mine. I have put him there for a specific season.”
I sensed the LORD say Barak would negotiate to the point of almost dividing up the Land and then the offer would be rejected. That’s just what happened. (3) I believe God used that to show some in the nations that there was not – in their terms – a true peace partner in the Islamic Palestinian Authority.
God is like a master chess player. He is always many steps ahead of us.
Back when Olmert was prime minister, I asked the leader of our government prayer watch about proclaiming this earthquake into the politics of Israel, and he confirmed that. Twenty minutes later, we had a physical earthquake here in Jerusalem. We took that as confirmation to keep on praying in this direction over the next months.
Soon thereafter, there was one corruption exposed after another. (4) After many months, Prime Minister Olmert was finally forced to resign. It looked very possible that left-wing Livni would take his place (5), but the LORD had us pray that instead, Netanyahu would take Olmert’s place.
We did not pray that because of my political opinions. The leadership at Succat Hallel was also in agreement that we should pray this. By God’s grace, Netanyahu was eventually put into office. (6)
When we were praying for elections this January, I felt the LORD say to pray that Netanyahu would continue to be prime minister but to pray that he would lead out of a spirit of humility and not out of pride.
At first, many of us were surprised about the January election results. However, as I began to pray about it, I began to realize God was saying, “I am answering your prayer, and I am allowing him to be humbled.”
After a long six weeks of building his coalition, I see and hear a new humility in Netanyahu. We also need to pray that the new leaders in the coalition will lead in humility and not in pride, after having done so well in the election. We need to pray that they esteem Netanyahu’s experience, as some of the newcomers are very inexperienced.
Pray that this will be a strong, long-lasting coalition (in Israel, sometimes a coalition has fallen apart quickly, forcing new elections) so it will be able to face Iran and other challenges coming against Israel.
One of the highlights of Netanyahu’s previous term was his reestablishment of a Bible study in his home for government officials. (7) There is now a Bible study in the Knesset as well, reportedly initiated by center-left Yesh Atid. (8)
Pray for those in the Knesset, that a hunger for the Scriptures would cross all party lines. Pray that the light of revelation would come as Knesset members read the Word, and that it would be a guiding lamp to them (Psalm 119:105).
Part of truth is going by what the Word of God says, not popular opinion. Pray for an alignment with God’s Word, that world opinion will not rule over Israel but rather God’s Word.
In Ezekiel 36, God said that He would bring His people back from all the nations and plant them on the mountains of Israel. Guess where the mountains of Israel are? They are almost entirely in Judea and Samaria. The modern name given to that area is the West Bank.
The world media says Israel has no right to be there. However, God said he would settle His people on the mountains of Israel. That is truth.
That truth, however, does not excuse unjust actions. We need to pray that God will give grace to settlers, that they would not react in a spirit of vengeance and do unjust and unrighteous things. We need to pray that truth will come to light and prevail – truth that the areas in which they live are not occupied territories but disputed territories.
Under international law, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Judea and Samaria were given to the Jewish people by the Balfour Declaration of 1917 (9) and the San Remo Resolution of 1920 (10). Under these international resolutions, the Mandate of Palestine west of the Jordan River, including what is now called the West Bank, was given to Jewish people in recognition of their historical rights to the Land.
The whole of the British Mandate for Palestine – including Transjordan east of the Jordan River – was not a nation but a “geopolitical entity under British administration.” (11)
The Romans gave the name Palestine to the land of Israel when they threw the Jews out in the early second century. They did this in contempt for the Jews, renaming the region after their ancient enemies, the Philistines. After the Roman Empire, Palestine was part of various empires until after World War I, when the British were assigned control of the region. (12)
This year’s surprising election results are encouraging because all three major coalition partners – Likud, Yesh Atid and Jewish Home – believe very much that Judea and Samaria are disputed territory rather than occupied territory. Yesh Atid is considered center-left and partly secular, so a pro-settlement position from their leader, Yair Lapid (13), is radical, even in Israel. With it in the coalition, it is harder for the nations and the international press to accuse the government of being extreme, right-wing and ultra-religious.
Israelis have been clamoring for justice in many areas over the past several years. There have been protests about high food prices, high housing prices, government subsidies and military exemptions for yeshiva (seminary) students, equal rights for Arabs and much more. (14) Israelis are hungry for justice.
Netanyahu’s coalition partners Yesh Atid and Jewish Home both successfully ran on a platform that most Orthodox men need to serve in the army with the rest of Israelis. I believe that’s right.
Those two parties also said there needs to be affordable housing for young families in this Land so that they won’t leave for other countries because they cannot afford to live in Israel.
I know of a lot young messianic Jewish couples that have left Israel because they simply could not afford to live here. Yet they are called here. What a shame.
Pray for provision for housing and living expenses for young families and for poor people immigrating to Israel.
I would not want Netanyahu’s job. To work with a coalition this diverse is going to take amazing wisdom. I believe if he will walk in humility, God will give him the wisdom he needs. I believe he is now walking in a new humility that the LORD can honor.
Our trust is not in politics. It is in the LORD. Still, Israel is called to be a light to the nations, showing the nations of the world the government of God through the way Israel is governed. Let us pray that Israel’s government be increasingly characterized by truth, humility, righteousness and justice.
- Psalm 45:3-7 – Keys to good government: truth, humility, righteousness and justice
- Psalm 89:14 – Righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne
- Psalm 119:105 – Guiding lamp of God’s Word
- Zephaniah 3:11-12 – Removal of the proud from Jerusalem, leaving the meek and humble
- Numbers 23:23 – Proclamation that there is no effective witchcraft against Israel and her leaders
- James 4:6, I Peter 5:5 – God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble
- Psalm 2 – Only He will reign on Zion
Israel government leaders
- Benjamin Netanyahu – Prime minister (will also hold the Foreign Ministry until the end of Avigdor Liberman’s trial)
- Yair Lapid – Finance minister
- Naftali Bennett – Economics and Trade minister (he also holds the Religious Affairs portfolio and is responsible for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs)
- Tzipi Livni – Justice minister
- Moshe Ya’alon – Defense minister
- Gideon Sa’ar – Interior minister
- Uri Ariel – Housing minister (15)
For a complete list of ministers, visit “Members of the new Israeli government” at TimesOfIsrael.com.
- Cantor, Ron. “The Cantor Comment: The Dramatic Israeli Election.” Maoz Israel Blog. Maoz Israel. 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “Knesset approves Netanyahu’s new government, ministers sworn in.” Times of Israel. 18 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “Camp David 2000 Summit: Reasons for impasse.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 17 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “Ehud_Olmert: Corruption and bribery criminal investigations.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 24 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “Tzipi Livni: Kadima leadership and prime minister-designation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 18 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “Benjamin Netanyahu: Likud leader and opposition leader” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 21 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- Keinon, Herb. “Netanyahu re-establishes PM Bible class.” Jerusalem Post. Palestine Post Ltd. 10 Dec. 2011. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “New Knesset Bible study group off to strong start.” Israel Today. 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “Balfour Declaration.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 21 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- Mitchell, Chris. “San Remo’s Mandate: Israel’s ‘Magna Carta’.” 25 April 2011. Video, web. 23 March 2013.
- “Mandatory Palestine.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 21 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- “Syria Palestinia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 23 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- Keinon, Herb. “Analysis: Lapid: A presentable face to the world?” Jerusalem Post. Palestine Post Ltd. 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
- Harris-Gershon, David. “The protest may change Israel forever.” Jerusalem Post. Palestine Post Ltd. 4 Sept. 2011. Web. 23 March 2013.
- Kalman, Aaron. “Members of the new Israeli government.” Times of Israel. 18 March 2013. Web. 23 March 2013.
This article was first published by Reform Prayer Network and is published here with permission of the author.