THE DAY AFTER ANNAPOLIS
As the world stumbles on in a drunken stupor to soon celebrate the beginning of another calendar year, the birth pains of the Kingdom of God continue to intensify all across the earth. And though it appears that the recent “Peace Summit” in Maryland concluded with a political “whimper,” its ramifications and perceived accomplishments have ratcheted up the Middle East drama another notch higher than it was a week ago.
We would like to thank everyone who earnestly prayed during this historic event, and we have no doubt that God’s will is being accomplished even as the days grow darker. As this summit has demonstrated, Israel is not only the thermometer, signifying the spiritual climate of the world; rather it is also the thermostat, the trigger in the hand of God as He guides this age toward the fullness of the harvest and the coming of His Kingdom.
THE BIG PICTURE
In spite of the humanistic spirit prevailing at that “Peace Summit,” we can understand the logic behind the “reasonable thinking” guiding its architects and participants. At the same time we recognize that their agenda is a far cry from God’s design and ultimate purpose for the Middle East. Israel’s secular leaders, bound by international resolutions and pressured by the main power players, are facing the increasingly complicated task of maintaining security over millions of disgruntled and hostile Palestinians. Consequently, in their estimation, they are doing the right thing in gradually retreating back to the 1949 borders of “Israel proper” which were drawn before the historic 1967 war.
Never mind that those borders were barely defensible. Never mind that not one Palestinian commitment along the long and twisting road of terror spotted “negotiations” has ever been fulfilled as promised. Never mind that everyone knows that Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), does not have the backbone or the military strength to keep his fledgling government in power or deliver on his commitments, the first of which is to dismantle the terror organizations and stop the terror propaganda.
WHAT OF THE LAND?
As Israel’s political leaders are considering handing off most of Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem to Palestinian hands, one wonders if God will ever restore the land of Israel to its intended purpose and ownership. Of course He will! God will restore the territory to peace and prosperity as He has promised, even as He will restore the people to Himself. However, we must recognize that the land in itself was never the issue or the problem; rather the land is the backdrop to the core subjects God is pursuing.
The scriptures clearly indicate that the territorial integrity and geographic conditions of the Promised Land were always reflective of the heart of the nation, their faith in God and their obedience to His word. In other words, the possession and condition of the Land of Canaan has always been a reflection of the nation’s relationship with God. The land is a reward, not a precondition to nationhood. The truth is that territory alone, as much as we love the land and are called to husband it, apart from divine favor and grace, will never provide the security or prosperity Israel longs for so desperately.
Still, the security issues attached to the giving away of Judea and Samaria to an unreliable, weak and abusive Palestinian entity are very grave. For all practical purposes, should these lands be handed over, the PA will lose those territories to Hamas in the near future turning the West Bank into another Gaza. Much hangs in the balance these days. Watch and pray.
WHAT TOMORROW HOLDS?
A joint Israeli/Palestinian statement was published at the end of the Annapolis summit reiterating both sides’ commitment to bringing resolution to the conflict by the end of 2008 while authorizing the US to serve as a final arbiter in the ensuing negotiations. Both sides agreed to carry out the negotiations and comply with the principles set forth in the original US ‘Road Map’ plan as a blueprint for the final agreement, as follows:
“The parties also commit to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based Road Map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issued by the Quartet on 30 April, 2003 and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism led by the United States to follow up on the implementation of the Road Map.
“The parties further commit to continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the Road Map until they reach a peace treaty. The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the Road Map. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the Road Map, as judged by the United States.” End quote. Those who carry America in their hearts should realize that this statement alone places the US in a very precarious position that requires much prayer.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has appointed a NATO veteran to serve as the military point man determining both sides’ performances during the coming months. Retired Marine Corps General James Jones, who served until 2006 as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, will fill these shoes. Jones, whose official title is ‘Special Envoy for Middle East Security,’ will report directly to Rice. Keep him in your prayers as his position carries tremendous authority and responsibility.
HURDLES TO LEAP OVER
There are a number of very serious difficulties that the negotiating parties will have to overcome if any progress is to be accomplished:
First, both the Israeli and Palestinian governments are on shaky ground. Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, faces a very strong nationalistic right-wing camp that will NEVER go along with returning strategic lands and portions of Jerusalem to an unreliable Palestinian government. The Palestinian President Abbas, on the other hand, is weak. Hamas, which competes with him for the loyalty of the Palestinian population, is controlling not only Gaza but is also gaining a strong presence in the West Bank. Today, the only force keeping Abbas and the PA in power is the presence of the Israeli military. What will happen when and if they withdraw?
Secondly, most of the permanent status issues still loom as strategically insurmountable obstacles and unbridgeable chasms. These compounded issues include the difficult issue of the “Palestinian refugees,” Jewish access to holy sites in the West Bank and in Jerusalem, control of air space, sharing water resources, Palestinian economic responsibility, and much more. Each one of these issues alone can trip the entire process and bog down the negotiations for months and years.
Thirdly, the Road Map marginalizes the tremendous impact and influence of radical Islamic elements across the Middle East. Israel will soon have to deal with Hamas in the south and possibly Hezbollah in the north; how will these “small wars” affect the peace process? And as crisis breaks out in the region, we are very likely to see Israel pulling back from the political process and resorting to a ‘lower risk strategy’ of continuing the ongoing assistance to the Palestinian national institutions while putting on hold the notion of actually permitting a sovereign Palestinian State. That, as the reader may imagine, will not go over well with the US or the international community who traditionally hold Israel responsible for any quagmire in the Middle East.
Fourthly, the commitment to “reach a final status agreement” by the end of 2008 is an admirable goal, but essentially unrealistic given the complexity and gravity of the issues at hand. Israeli security experts question the ability of the Palestinian government to enforce even the first phase in the Road Map which calls for the full ending of terror in the Palestinian territories.
This stage calls for the complete dismantling of all terror infrastructures before further steps toward final status can take place, and it will be General Jones’ judgment call whether this and other commitments have indeed been met. If he turns a blind eye to Palestinian terror perpetrated against Israel, then America will be held accountable to a greater measure according to the Word of God, saying, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2. Let those who love America pray the Word which says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.
THE GOOD FRUITS OF HUMILITY AND PRAYER
In light of the historic, controversial and dangerous implications of the Annapolis “Peace Summit,” orthodox leaders in Israel invited the public to attend a special national prayer meeting at the Western Wall. This was a timely and godly move as the population is increasingly feeling the tremendous international pressure and great peril that these days hold.
One of the organizers of the prayer service described the event, saying, “The feeling of despair that has overtaken some of the public has not escaped the eyes of the rabbis who called for the prayer service. But while this feeling can lead to a dead end and to a sense of helplessness, it can also be an opening for a new type of genuine and mature turn to God; to a taking of responsibility from a new, pure angle. It could be that out of this tiredness, we will come to the realization that it’s not we who control the situation. We sometimes think that if we act, protest, settle the Land, teach, and do all sorts of things, that everything will be OK.
“But today, we are coming to the Western Wall with humility, awe, and serene faith. We return the ball that has been repressed in our hearts for the past two-plus years, and that is threatening to choke us, to our Father in Heaven. We plead with Him that He will show us the way, and that we can be partners with Him in our Redemption. We want to work with Him, to sanctify His Name.” End quote.
It is in the heat of the furnace that the pure gold is refined. In the same way, God’s Spirit is drawing many in Israel to Himself during these times of distress and danger. Watch and pray as the salvation of Israel draws near.
THE END OF THE MATTER
Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible, while the Koran has not even one reference to the holy city. For more than 2,000 years the people of Israel have been praying daily for Jerusalem, breaking a glass in each wedding ceremony to remember the destruction of her Temple, and maintaining a portion of a wall in their homes unfinished because the city is not yet fully restored. In hope against hope, for more than 2,000 years, Jewish worshipers have prayed “next year in Jerusalem” at each Passover celebration.
No other people on earth are biblically exhorted with these words, saying, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” Psalm 137:5-6. And while others may pretend to ascribe significance and display undying zeal towards the City of God, only the sons of Israel are forever bonded to her destiny of sorrow, warfare, comfort, and great glory.
The coming days must be covered with your prayers. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, May peace be within you. For the sake of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.” Psalm 122:6-9.
As a practical expression of your faith, you may want to offer support to Israeli Messianic Believers through our ISRAEL FUND which targets those persecuted for the Faith, individuals and families who are “people of excellence,” and those with hearts to do great things with God as He establishes His testimony in Israel during these turbulent times. For more information contact us at the address below.
ONE NEW MAN CALL is a faith ministry supported by friends of the Ephesians 2:14-15 vision of Jew and Gentile dwelling as one in God’s Olive Tree. To learn more, to support this ministry, or to provide direct financial support to Messianic Believers in the land of Israel, contact us at the address below. Thank you.
In His grace,
REUVEN AND MARY LOU DORON
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One New Man Call
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Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org