But the tables will be turned as the Lord raises his standard!

by Charles Gardner.

LONDON, March 13, 2024 – The exponential rise of anti-Jewish feeling in the wake of the Israel-Gaza war grows ever more alarming – until we recognise that God is at work.

For the prophet Isaiah wrote that “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight.”1 (Isaiah 59:19, Gateway Bible)

And my Hebrew-English Tanakh then adds: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion…” What began as a disaster will end in glory as the God of Israel triumphs over his enemies.

Here in the UK, we hear of ‘no-go’ areas for Jews – and even for Gentiles as friends of ours out shopping for an upcoming family wedding had to carefully plan their route through London to avoid pro-Palestinian marchers. And in a counter-protest last weekend, an Iranian man was initially arrested for carrying a placard saying ‘Hamas is Terrorist’ – which just happens to be the official government definition!

Jew-hatred has even penetrated the hallowed halls of Cambridge University where a portrait of Arthur Balfour was desecrated. As Foreign Secretary, the one-time Prime Minister penned the famous 1917 promise to prepare a homeland in Palestine (as it was then known) for the Jewish people, the proudest moment of his career by his own definition.

This was in accordance with the covenant God made with Abraham: “To your descendants I will give this land, from the Wadi (river) of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates…” (Genesis 15:18).

So the Hamas-supporting chant of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has turned the truth of God on its head by effectively saying ‘We are not having it your way, but ours’.

It is also a declaration of intent to destroy the nation of Israel, reminding us of past threats such as that of the Persian antisemite Haman who sought to rid that empire of its Jews, casting a lot (or Pur) for the day on which the planned holocaust was to take place.

But he made a rope on which to hang himself and the tables were turned as Queen Esther’s intervention saved her people, inaugurating next week’s annual celebration of Purim.

King Herod followed in Haman’s wake some 400 years later with the slaughter of the innocents at Bethlehem designed to prevent the Jewish Messiah from procuring our salvation.

Then came Hitler and his henchmen with more murderous intent, this time leading to a genuine holocaust, but the Jews survived, nonetheless. For out of the ashes came the miracle of modern Israel.

But the God-haters won’t give up. Renewed efforts to wipe out his chosen people now come from Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the Ayatollahs of Iran.

For all this, of much more significance than guns, rockets and bombs is the fact that what we are witnessing is spiritual warfare on a grand scale. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12).

At the heart of the battle is idolatry, which is really the reverse of what God would have us do. So, in the Garden of Eden, Adam gave in to Satan’s temptation by effectively saying, “Not your will, Lord, but mine be done”, later reversed by the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, who said: “Not my will, but thine be done.”

And now “From the river to the sea” is reversed to mean the breaking of God’s promise (which he will never do).

Idolatry is the forbidden worship of other gods – which is whatever we put before love of our Maker including our ambitions, the pursuit of wealth, possessions, success, and comfort. If we lay such idols on the altar of our worship, we will pay dearly for it, perhaps by sacrificing our marriage, our health, and our peace of mind.

But if we worship the true God who has revealed himself in Christ, we will discover that he has already sacrificed himself to free us from the fear of death and enable us to live fulfilled lives at peace with one another.

So when the enemy comes in like a flood, expect the Lord to manifest his presence among us. I can’t help noticing a new wave of interest in Messiah among Jewish people.

Jews for Jesus report that since the start of the war on October 7th, Israeli requests for the Hebrew New Testament have more than doubled.

We hear of the testimony of a young man from Tel Aviv who set out to explore the New Testament, with the result that the Lord captivated his heart. He repented of his sins and invited Yeshua to be Lord of his life. (He had never been to church or even met a believer before that – now he wants to be baptised).

Amidst all this, many have become aware of the extraordinary Presence praise phenomenon involving Dutch Christians taking to the streets to worship the Lord and, at the same time, pray for embattled Israel.

In a time of turmoil for the world, they can be heard singing I will not fear when darkness falls, His strength will help me scale these walls… or When winter fades, I know spring will come and You are my rock in times of trouble.

Explaining why they do it, Wim Hoddenbagh, their leader, referenced the way the prophets of old used the weapon of worship to bring down enemy strongholds. It was the answer to Paul and Silas in prison, to David hiding from his persecutors; why Jericho fell and why the godly kings of Israel sent worshippers out to battle ahead of the soldiers!

It is time to build an altar of worship to God, he said. For the battle is not ours, but His!

1This sentence is mysteriously left out of some translations or, in the case of the New International Version, is included in a footnote as an alternative rendering of the text.