Understanding War in Israel: Biblical Sessions

with Rabbi Jason Sobel


Shalom.” This profound Hebrew word takes on even greater significance in light of the horrific events currently unfolding in Israel since October 7th, 2023 a day that will not be forgotten.

King David’s most well-known Psalm, the 23rd, mentions going through the “valley of the shadow of death.” This phrase certainly captures the experience of Israel today. Today we are grateful for the hope that awaits us in the next (inspired) line: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner’s comments on this verse are encouraging: “God’s promise was that when we had to face the pain and unfairness of the world as we inevitably would, we would not have to face it alone, for He would be with us.” And so we pray that a palpable sense of that shepherding presence would wash over Israel today. The God who personally knows the pain of unjust loss is eternally present to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The Jewish People // A History of Persecution

The Jewish people have suffered tremendous persecution, from the pogroms of the 19th century (state-sponsored riots against the Jewish people in Eastern Europe) to the genocidal the Holocaust of Nazi Germany.

I lost most of my family during the Holocaust. My grandmother had to decide who she was going to save: her parents or her brother, his wife, and their newborn baby. She rescued her brother and the newborn baby. The Nazis murdered he mother and father in transit. The Jewish people have never stopped feeling the trauma of the Holocaust. Even to this day that pain is still real. It echoes throughout history.

Read more about Rabbi Jason Sobel

In nearly every generation, there have been attempts to wipe out the Jewish people—from Haman in ancient Persia to Hitler in 20th-century Germany. These campaigns were not only demonic, but they were also irrational. Haman wanted to destroy the Jewish people because of his wounded ego. With defeat looming, Hitler diverted critical resources away from the military to kill more Jews. These decisions were not logical because they were demonic. Antisemitism is demonic. And Satan consistently attacks the Jewish people for at least three reasons:

  1. Western Civilization was built on Judeo-Christian moral principles, namely, the Ten Commandments. According to the Old Testament, if you annihilate the Jewish people, you make God a liar and invalidate Scripture. Satan wants to destroy the foundation of a culture the Lord has used to spread the gospel globally.
  2. If you can’t get to someone directly, you go after their family. Satan knows God loves the Jewish people in a unique way. He can’t hurt God, but he can get to the Jewish people, God’s people.
  3. Messiah is not coming back until Israel says “BARUCH HABAH BSHEM ADONAI!” —“Blessed be He who comes in the name of the Lord, Yeshua, as the Messiah” Psalm 118:26. Theoretically, if you could destroy the Jewish people, you would either delay the Second Coming or prevent it altogether.

The significance of the Nation of Israel is nearly impossible to overstate. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most loved and respected Jewish voices of the 20th century, famously said, “Israel enables us to bear the agony of Auschwitz without radical despair, to sense a ray of God’s radiance in the jungles of history.”

We continue to pray and work so this light shines brightly until the Messiah returns and establishes His Kingdom!

Prayer at the Western Wall / Kotel Jerusalem

Our partners on the ground in Israel need our support. We are standing beside them in these challenging times—offering our prayers AND financial aid.

How to Pray for Israel

Pray that God protect the innocent: Whether in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, or an abortion clinic, God hates the shedding of innocent blood. Innocents were (and are!) deliberately targeted by Hamas. Innocents are dying on both sides. Pray that God would protect them.

Pray for truth to be revealed and received: At this point Hamas has already created and spread a number of distinct blood libels* against Israel and the Jewish people. Pray that God would make the truth undeniable. Pray the lies will be rejected in the minds and hearts of the world.

Pray for the economic well-being of Israel: The Israeli economy was hurting before this war broke out. Since its start, the Shekel has continued to lose its strength. The tourist industry has come to a grinding halt. Israel is a net exporter, and our ports are essentially closed.

Pray for courage: Our soldiers need courage to face this unspeakably cruel enemy. The civilian population also needs courage. Thousands are trying to flee or have fled, and fear has paralyzed the nation. On what would normally be a busy workday, the streets look as empty as they do on Yom Kippur.
Pray for comfort: Israel is struggling with its own internal refugee crisis, as hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from both the Northern and Southern borders. There is room in hotels to house the evacuees due to the lack of tourism. However, the war still puts incredible stress on the people, and especially the displaced children.

Pray for emotional well-being: It is impossible to describe how much low-grade/background stress this crisis causes. Schools are closed across the country. Peoples’ jobs are shut down. It feels like a COVID level lock down, not because of a new and unknown virus, but because of the real and daily threat of rockets, and the lack of adequate bomb shelters in shopping malls, workplaces, and even many schools.

Pray for physical well-being: We are a nation at war, and with the daily rocket attacks every citizen feels that personally. When a siren sounds, depending on where you live there is as little as 8 seconds to get to shelter. That mad rush itself induces injuries. Also, we are experiencing temporary shortages in various staples due to closed ports and general disruptions.

Pray for peace: There is a biblical injunction to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (see Psalm 122). Pray for physical peace. Pray for cessation of war. Pray for emotional peace. The people of Israel need peace on every possible level.
Pray that God would oppose Hamas and all its schemes: As hard as this may sound, right now Hamas is winning. Their goal is to seize total control of Palestinian governance, and to incite the region to war against Israel with the hope of wiping Israel out. Whether through their attacks or Israel’s response on the blood libels that they are releasing, right now Hamas is being very successful in achieving its goals. We need the God of Israel to act mightily and to oppose Hamas on all levels, mightily.

Pray for the cause of the gospel: As cliché as it may sound, Jesus and the regional revival prophesied in Isaiah 19 is the only answer to what is currently happening. Our spiritual enemy is using all of this unrest and violence to undermine the gospel in the minds and hearts of the people. Pray that the Holy Spirit will advance the Good News of Yeshua miraculously.

* Historically, a “Blood Libel” is the allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially Christian children, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals. The Palestinian allegation that Israel bombed the hospital in Gaza is being called a blood libel.

Verses // Praying for Israel

// “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19 NKJV)

// “Had Adonai not been on our side,
when men rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us alive,
when their wrath burned against us.” (Psalm 124:2-3 TLV)

// “Our help is in the Name of Adonai,
Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8 TLV)

// “For Adonai will not forsake His people for His great Name’s sake, because it has pleased Adonai to make you a people to Himself.” (1 Samuel 12:22 TLV)

// “Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.” (Psalm 55:17-18 NKJV)

// “Hear the word of Adonai, O nations,
and declare it in the distant islands,
and say: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather
and watch over him, as a shepherd does his flock.’” (Jeremiah 31:9 TLV)

// “The Lord also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel.” (Joel 3:16 NKJV)

// To You, Adonai, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in You I trust,
so I will not be ashamed,
and my enemies will not gloat over me. (Psalm 25:1-2 TLV)

// On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set watchmen.
All day and all night, they will never hold their peace.
“You who remind Adonai,
take no rest for yourselves,
And give Him no rest until He establishes
    and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7 TLV)

// “Behold, the Keeper of Israel
neither slumbers nor sleeps.
Adonai is your Keeper.
Adonai is your shadow at your right hand.” (Psalm 121:4-5 TLV)

Prayer on the Southern Steps Israel

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