Gaza
A Modern Hanukah
by haRold Smith
from Jerusalem, Israel


TODAY - ISRAEL IS AT WAR.

A six-month truce expired this week in Gaza with the democratically elected terror organization Hamas sending over 70 rockets into southern Israel on Wednesday through Friday. At 11:00 am on Saturday, December 27, the Israeli Defense Force retaliated by firing about 40 missiles at targets inside Gaza, destroying several Hamas compounds where the perpetrators were suspected to be.

Sources in Gaza report at least 155 killed, 270 injured by waves of Israeli Air Force planes which destroyed Hamas security headquarters in Gaza City, as well as compounds, police stations and ports across the Gaza Strip. Several Hamas commanders were killed in the bombardment. Hamas and other Palestinian factions have ordered its "fighters to avenge Israeli attacks." The Israeli military spokesman said the Gaza operation is "just beginning." An Israeli official said all Air Force planes had returned safely to base but the operation carried out in response to the terrorist attacks would be expanded and intensified if needed. The entire region was placed in a state of emergency and Israeli police forces began pouring in. The IDF has opened a war emergency room. Magen David Adom's medical aid service is on its highest alert level.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' Damascus-based political bureau, said his organization would retaliate. "We will defend our women and children by any means necessary. All the options are open," he said. Senior Islamic Jihad figure Khaled el-Bash told Al-Jazeera that the IDF strikes "mean war - Israel has declared an open war on the Palestinian people. This never would have happened had it not been for the Arab states' silence. We will never surrender in the face of planes and tanks," he said. Hamas said a new wave of suicide terror attacks is underway.

To the South, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Egyptian parliament, Dr. Mustafa El-Fiqi, said that "Israel is an aggressive country which poses a danger to all the nations in the region�its aspiration may not stop at the Gaza Strip and may stretch to Egypt. Egypt has tried to stop the rocket fire and the Israeli operation but to no avail. The claims that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is closed are false � it is open for humanitarian aid and 60% of the aid going into Gaza goes through it; but every county must guard is borders."

Israel In the North, sappers defused 13 rockets inside Lebanon pointing at Israeli cities. The rockets were disarmed shortly before their timing devices would have launched them against Nahariya and Maalot. Military sources quote Israeli northern command officers as reporting that on the night of Dec. 25, eight rocket launchers were found ready to fire in Wadi Hamoul, 5 km from the Israeli border. This dry river bed was used by Hizballah to bombard Nahariya and Maalot in the 2006 Lebanon War. The cluster was made up completely of the latest Iranian launchers capable of double-loading, so that eight launchers could fire 16 rockets.

Israeli military sources are certain that Hizballah handed the rockets to Hamas terrorists at the Ain Hilwa camp in south Lebanon and guided them to the exact launching site for hitting the two Israeli towns. Their point was to demonstrate that Hamas could hit Israel with rockets not just from Gaza but also from a second front in Lebanon in the event of an Israeli military operation against Hamas.

It is quite compelling that we are witnessing these events transpire in the middle of the Jewish observance of Hanukah, which is a celebration of another time in which this God of Abraham arose to defend His People in such a miraculous way that could not be denied, causing the people to turn back to their God.

The word "Hanukah" actually means dedication, and refers to the rededication of the temple on 25 Kislev 165 BC, after it had been desecrated by the Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus attempted to force his own Greek culture and pagan religion on the people of Judea, going as far as to erect an altar of Zeus in the Holy Temple, and even sacrificing a pig on the altar. Of course, the Jewish people were outraged, and staged a successful rebellion led by Judah Maccabee. (You can read about this in the book of Maccabees). That the Jews were able to defeat this overwhelming force was a miracle in itself for they were outnumbered hundreds to one. It was a long struggle taken over three years and incurred many acts of self-sacrifice to achieve.

As soon as the war was over, the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple. According to the Talmud, when the temple was being restored, there was only enough oil found to light the Menorah to last for one day, and yet, by some miraculous provision of God, the oil lasted for eight days - long enough for a new batch to be secured. Afterward, they held a service of dedication - the first Hanukah! By the time of Yeshua, Hanukah had become a regular holiday, as is mentioned in the Gospel of John 10:22: "And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication (i.e., Hanukah), and it was winter."

Menorah The course of events of overthrowing a seemingly insurmountable force followed by the prolonged lighting of the Menorah caused the entire nation of Israel to fall on their faces and re-embrace their God, acknowledging that these miracles could only have come at His Hand. Today, with the world clamoring for the destruction of Israel from every corner, Israel once again finds herself in the Hands of the One True God who has sworn to defend her (Jeremiah 31:35-36 click on highlighted reference for the scripture).

There are many who believe we are now on the brink of the Gog-Magog invasion, precipitating the Armageddon war described in the Book of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation.

I do not know if these are those events - they could be. I do know that it is through Israel's very vulnerability that God will rise to keep the covenant He made with Himself in Genesis, that it could not be broken (Genesis 22:16). This whole region is a powder keg poised to ignite with the slightest agitation. With Israel now engaging Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the north has already stated they will jump into the fray. Syria (who is the principal intermediary between Hezbollah and Iran) will most certainly use the distraction to activate the troops they have been building along Israel's border to the east for the past months to try to retake the Golan. Once this fracas begins, the other Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon) will be forced into the fight, not wanting to be accused after it is over of not helping their Arab brothers. Then, of course, Iran will be more than willing to launch what arsenal she has ready, already showing a willingness to supply and equip her proxy in the area, Hezbollah - which will bring the US and Russia, China, India and Pakistan to the forefront of engagement (today, the forces of war seem to be pushing these latter two nations to the brink).

This scenario is not only possible, but plausible. From what the Lord has been showing me, however, is that before Gog-Magog, there must be a time of peace. If you study Ezekiel 37-39 very carefully, verse by verse, then all the conditions described therein have not yet been fully met for the ultimate invasion from the North. It says Israel must be living in peace and security, with unwalled villages, etc., indicative of a country that has placed all of its foes at bay and is at rest. If ALL the events of chapters 36 and 37 must precede chapters 38-39, then we should also expect a dramatic and massive spiritual revival here in Israel first. If Ezekiel 37.9-14 is read closely, this has not happened yet. We are still waiting for those dry bones to come fully alive - seemingly, the next big event that has to happen here in the Land. If the Bible verses are to be followed in context, one after the other without jumping all around then, in my humble opinion, what is happening now is probably just a very serious precursor for the big event, which could still be some years away. The destruction of Damascus, a terrible and still future calamity for them, as indicated in Isaiah 17 could happen almost anytime now and probably BEFORE we ever get to the Gog and Magog scenario of Ezekiel 38-39. Time will tell....

But, consider that, if a time of great peace and prosperity is to exist in Israel, as mentioned, it would mean that Israel had taken on her enemies - and prevailed. This would result in leaving a very bitter taste in the mouths of her vanquished foes and their allies, particularly Russia who is increasingly investing in everything anti-American and, by extension, anti-Israel, here in the Middle East. That kind of a defeat would foment a hatred and a jealousy within them to cause them to be looking with even more intensity to avenge that loss, thus setting the stage for that major invasion from the North.

My sense is that there is going to be war here and very soon, but when the dust clears Israel will be, if not THE superpower of the world, at the very least among the two or three that are - and, unfortunately, America will not be one of them (already we are witnessing the weakening of the USA as a deterrent to Russia's ambitions in Georgia, Venezuela and elsewhere around the globe). The newly elected American administration has already made it convincingly clear that it will pursue a policy of pushing Israel to give up her Land. So radically swift, impressive and undeniable will be the Lord's intervention on Israel's behalf in defeating her attackers that it will be reminiscent of times in history past when He has rescued her and will engender a turning of the hearts of the people of this Land to the Lord (70% of which are considered to be secular Jews) to receive this massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit prophesied of old. (Ezekiel 39:29).

For all who love Israel, let our prayer be, "Amen, Lord. Let it be so."

"I shall lay your cities waste, And you shall be desolate. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live,� says the Lord GOD, �I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you." Ezekiel 35:4-6