Israel Surrounded and Isolated – 1967 and 2024

The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you see?”

“I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.”

-Jeremiah 1:13

Today, Israel is in a precarious position: while we continue fighting an incredibly difficult war in the south with an enemy embedded in densely populated civilian areas in the Gaza Strip, the winds of war are blowing more fiercely from the north. Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist army which exerts de facto control over Lebanon, has been increasingly aggressive and provocative in its bombing against Israel’s north.

The Northern Threat

Hezbollah poses a much greater threat to Israel than Hamas. It is perhaps the most powerful terrorist army in the Middle East, and it is sitting on Israel’s northern border. Hezbollah manufactures and possesses a massive arsenal of deadly precision weapons, and, with the help of North Korea, it has invested in digging a vast network of terror tunnels considered much more dangerous than the Hamas tunnels in the Gaza Strip.

While it is much more powerful than Hamas, Hezbollah shares similar ideologies and modes of operation with Hamas: it openly states its goal to destroy Israel and does not care about endangering Lebanese civilians in achieving its war goals. Like Hamas, Hezbollah embeds its military infrastructures in populated civilian areas and stores weapons and deadly chemicals in schools, homes and civilian infrastructure all over Lebanon, including at the Beirut international airport.

Multi-Front War

Israel is in a dilemma and our enemies know it. For the past two decades, our top military commanders have been operating under the brilliant idea of turning the IDF into a “small and smart” army. Since the deadly October 7th attack, we have discovered what “small and smart” really means: the IDF is unable to fight on more than one active front.

In the 1948, 1967 and 1973 wars, Israel had at least three active fronts. Right now, military experts are saying that we cannot open a war with Hezbollah in the north while we are still actively engaged in fighting in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, they are saying that our troops are tired after months of intense fighting in Gaza and are not ready to jump into a war with Hezbollah in the north. Israel’s government is currently doing its best to come to a negotiated settlement in which Hezbollah withdraws from our northern border, and we both agree to fight on another day. Whether that will happen is anyone’s guess. What Israelis are left with is the feeling that the “boiling pot” in the north is tilting dangerously toward us, and a broader more catastrophic war with Hezbollah and Iran could break out at any moment.

But we are forgetting something important: we have faced and overcome, by God’s grace alone, much more dangerous, existential threats in the past.

Small and Surrounded

In 1967, Israel was a smaller, weaker and younger country than it is today. In May of that year, Egypt’s President Nasser evicted UN peacekeeping forces in the Sinai Peninsula, blocked the Straits of Tiran to cut Israel off from Red Sea commerce (an act of war), and deployed his troops on Israel’s southern border. At the same time, Syrian and Jordanian armies, in conjunction with Egypt, amassed on Israel’s eastern and northern borders. It looked as if Israel was poised on the eve of a multi-front invasion which it had no hope of overcoming.

A map from June 4, 1967 showing the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian forces gathered around Israel in imminent attack

International leaders warned Israel not to pre-emptively strike any of the Arab armies deployed on its borders, even though for months Nasser had been warning that they would wipe Israel off the map and throw all the Jews into the sea. Israel’s top military commanders were pushing for a pre-emptive strike, but the government was fearful and wanted to avoid war.

The Miraculous Outcome  

Finally, despite their fear and reservations, Israel’s government gave the green light for a pre-emptive strike. The result was nothing less than a jaw-dropping miracle: in six days, Israel prevailed over the armies of three of its most powerful neighbors against all odds. Not only that, it gained control of the Golan Heights (from which Syrian snipers had been constantly shelling Israeli farms), Judea and Samaria, and, most importantly, Israel’s capitol, Jerusalem.

Overnight, Israel went from being a small, weak country on the verge of annihilation to being the most powerful force in the Middle East – and not because it was receiving large amounts of the most modern armaments from its big brother, the United States. In fact, up until 1967, France had been Israel’s reluctant supplier of arms which it stopped just before the 1967 war. Israel’s startling victory was nothing less than God’s miraculous intervention – just like in 1948 with Israel’s miraculous War of Independence.

Victory in the Physical, Revival in the Spiritual

It is not a coincidence that right after Jerusalem came under Jewish control for the first time in over two thousand years a major revival broke out among Jewish youth in the counter-culture movement in the west at the end of the sixties and early seventies. Almost every major Jewish outreach ministry in existence today was established by Jews who came to faith in Messiah after 1967, including Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram who founded Tiferet Yeshua congregation.

The End-Time Northern Enemy

Ezekiel 38 gives a clear description of the antichrist [called Gog] leading his armies from the north against Israel, “a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate.” (Ez. 38:8) As horrible as the October 7th Hamas attack from the south was, we know that “[f]rom the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.” (Jer. 1:14).  The threats of a more dangerous and disasterous war coming from Iran through Hezbollah on Israel’s norther border has some wondering, “Is this that war?”  Ezekiel 38 which speaks of the antichrist coming against a re-gathered Israel gives us some clear indications that such a war is not immediately imminent:

 “

 In the latter years you [Gog] will enter a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and all now dwell securely…

You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will come against a tranquil people who dwell securely, all of them living without walls or bars or gates…”

-Ezekiel 38:8, 11

Right now Israel is at war, on high alert and ready for a potential strike or is actively preparing to strike its enemies pre-emptively. That is a far-cry from being “a land recovered from war”.  Furthermore, after the October 7th attack in which peaceful, unsuspecting villages and towns were intfiltrated by hoards of murderous terrorists, towns and villages all across Israel began establishing armed civilian guard units, something only border communities or settlements in Judea and Samaria had in the past – the opposite of the “unprepared” villages in Ezekiel 38 without defences. 

Additionally, the Apostle Paul gives us further context that the Day of the Lord – when Messiah Himself comes to judge the nations and defeat the armies of the antichrist in Jerusalem – will come at a time when people are saying “peace and security”. (1 Thess. 5:1-7) No one in Israel today would describe our current reality as either peaceful or secure.

A Possible Broader War and How to Pray

If Israel ends up going to war with Hezbollah\Iran in the coming months, it is possible that another “Six Day War” miracle could happen – a situation in which Iran and all of its proxies are defeated, ushering in a period of calm and, ultimately, grace – time for more Jews and Arabs in the Middle East to discover and choose to follow the true Prince of Peace!

We ask that you pray together with us that God will give wisdom and courage to our leaders to make bold decisions like He gave to Israel’s leaders in 1948 and 1967, and that He would pour out the Spirit of revelation on the Middle East unto a great harvest before the coming of the great Day of the Lord. That day will ultimately come, but it will not come upon us as believers “as a thief in the night” if we reamain awake, steadfast and sober like Paul exhorts us. Until that day, may we all have our hearts and eyes focused on Him to become light- and love-filled witnesses to His holy name!

 

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