Though the mountains quake

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

I sat and watched as the news broadcasted some of the funerals of soldiers who were killed during operation “Protective Edge”. There was one funeral in particular which shocked me and I’m still having difficulty comprehending it. The fallen soldier’s mother recorded her last conversation with him, before he went into Gaza. He told her that the soldiers were ordered to write a note to their family – just in case. Just in case they didn’t make it out alive. Just in case they didn’t have another chance to tell their family how much they love them, how much they are thankful for them. Just in case they didn’t get a chance to tell them how they felt about going in, maybe one last time.

The mother played the recording of the conversation just before her son’s body was lowered into the ground. Her son’s voice could be heard explaining where he wrote that note and where to look for it – just in case. She then read the note, where the soldier expressed his love and gratitude to his family, his parents and siblings. He went on to say how happy he was and that he fought well. He also said, that if they are reading that, it meant that his career was finished.

The very thought of a soldier having to write a letter like that makes me shudder. I didn’t know that our soldiers were given that order. Young people, some as young as 19, have to stare death in the face, have to write farewell letters to their loved ones – just in case. Many probably believed that those will be their last words.

At the time of this post, 33 soldiers have been killed during the week that our soldiers entered Gaza during Operation “Protective Edge”. Thirty-three men who were fathers, husbands, sons, brothers and friends. Hearts all over Israel ache over their loss, over their sacrifices and service to their country.

The situation here in Israel is hard. As the missiles continue, our soldiers continue to fight, so that I would have the freedom to write this post safely. All who read this are being asked to pray. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, pray for our soldiers now in Gaza and in its outlying areas. Pray for wisdom for the government to know what to do and to have the courage to do what is necessary. Pray that those who fight against Israel will know there is a God in Israel Who is fighting for her. Pray for the people in Gaza who suffer from Hamas, for the believers there who are amidst a leadership who seeks their death. Pray for Hamas that there would be repentance there and their love of darkness would be replaced with a love of light and life. Pray for the families of the fallen soldiers, that God would comfort them as only He can.

To the believing soldiers, I say: don’t give up. You serve as a soldier in two armies – the Israeli army and God’s army, which is even stronger and more powerful. Your commander knows your needs and cares for you. Continue to be a light where you are. Share the Good News of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and everlasting life with your comrades in arms. It may be the only opportunity that they might have to hear the message. Some of you haven’t been home for a long time, more than you are used to. Your work cannot stop until it is finished. We know that you are tired, but He can renew your strength. We know that you grieve over friends who were killed and wounded. He is able to restore your soul and your joy. Trust in the Lord and lean on Him. He is with you in all your service and will see you through.

© Hannah Kramer

Mightier than oaks

“I destroyed the Amorite before them, though he was tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks. I destroyed his fruit above and his roots below. I brought you up out of Egypt, and I led you forty years in the desert to give you the land of the Amorites. I also raised up prophets from among your sons and Nazirites from among your young men. Is this not true, people of Israel?” declares the LORD”. (Amos 2:9-11)

The rapid chain of events that occurred since the kidnapping of the three Jewish teenagers escalated into a military operation called “Operation Protective Edge”. Much has happened since my last post. The day following the funeral of the three youths, a 16-year old arab boy was kidanapped and murdered by Jewish extremists. It was an unjustifiable, horrendous act, just like the murder of the three Israeli teens. The situation deteriorated from that point. Even though Hamas had been firing missiles into Israel on a regular basis, it stepped up its rocket attacks and expanded the target area to include not only residential communities in the south, but places in the middle of the country, from Tel Aviv along the coast all the way to Haifa. Jerusalem, said to contain the third holiest in Islam, was not exempt from Hamas’ rocket fire. The result of those attacks upon civilian population centers in Israel caused many to remain close to sheltered and protected areas, both while at home and while outside. Not all the missiles reach their target. About 25% of them are destroyed while still in the air by Israell’s anti-missile defines system called “Iron Dome”. This missile-intercept system has proven itself to be of great advantage to Israel and many have claimed that it not only saved their lives, but gives them a feeling of safety as well. Herein lies the problem.

I’m not at all against this system. Quite to the contrary, I think it is doing an excellent job and is a tremendous asset to Israel, particularly at this time. The problem I see with it is that ever since the present Opertaion started, people have been praising it, rather than, well…on God. That’s no big surprise. I didn’t really expect that many would give God credit for protecting Israel, but I did expect a few to. All over the news, people are applauding this system and saying what a “life saver” it is. Many take pride in it and mention how Israel is strong, how it can defend itself and how the army is strong and able to defend us. Only here and there someone would openly express praise and thanksgiving to God and give Him the credit for the miracles that have taken place so far in this latest war with the terrorist organisation, Hamas. Those who acknowledge God’s action in our midst are few and far between.

God brought Israel out of Egypt and provided for the people through their wandering in the desert for 40 years, meeting all of their needs. When they reached the land of Canaan, God destroyed the Amorites for them. The Amorites, who were “tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks”, were probably the strongest of the Canaanite people in the land. Yet, God destroyed them and gave their land to Israel. The words which Amos wrote are as true today as they were then. But, Israel has forgotten. We forgot we had the protection of One far greater than any “iron dome” – God! We forgot that He took down the strongest of the nations. We forgot that it was God Who gave us this land. We began to rely on our own strength. As it was then, so it is today.

Amos went on to say in the same chapter: “The swift will not escape, the strong will not muster their strength, and the warrior will not save his life. The archer will not stand his ground, the fleet-footed soldier will not get away, and the horseman will not save his life. Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day,” declares the LORD” (vs. 14-16). Why? Because of the sin of the Nation of self-reliance, instead of God-reliance. I am sorry to say that not much has changed since the time of Amos. Israel still relies on itself and on the strength of our military, as well as upon the accuracy of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. Only when in dire need, do we wake up and realize God is there to help. Only then do we call upon Him to act.

The Israeli Defense Forces (“IDF”) is trained well and is probably the most moral military in the world. But, instead of trusting in our “horsemen”, “archers” and “warriors”, we need to trust in our God. He is our help and our shield, a very present help in time of trouble. Undoubtedly, many of the missiles who should have hit their targets didn’t because God intercepted them and moved them out of the way. There is no other way to explain that only one civilian death occurred as a result of the more than a thousand rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel, headed for civilian population centres. As I read the verses of Amos, I saw in them a warning – a warning for Israel to turn back to God, now, and stop with its 21st century idol worship (of the Iron Dome), a warning that each person can receive individualy. We were not called out of Egypt to rely on our own strength, talents and skills. We were not given victory over enemies considerably greater in numbers than us, only to think “I am strong, so I can handle this on my own, I don’t need God”. If God cut down the mightiest of oaks as a lesson to Israel, we should, no, we must, remember that He can humble the proud. He did it to laymen and to kings alike, including Nebuchadnezer, until he lifted his eyes up to heaven and acknowledged God as the one true king and God.

This is a difficult time for Israel. Our successes could lead us to become proud. This is a time to act with humility, trusting that God would direct our steps and guide our paths.

Please, pray for Israel, that the eyes of our leaders would be opened to see that God is our protector, that He is far greater, tremendously more accurate and always more reliable than any “Iron Dome” defense system. Our trust and faith in God is absolutely essential if we are to become the nation that God wants us to be and intends for us to be – a light for the nations