Prayer for the Palestinians in Israel?
In all the materials I have read over the years concerning various ways to pray for Israel, I do not recall ever seeing cited the verses I am about to share with you this week.
Most of us who pray for Israel on a regular basis are familiar with scriptures like, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper who love you” (Ps. 122:6). Or we are aware of the “title deed” passages, where God gives the land to Abraham or reconfirms the gift to his descendants.
If you read the promise God gave Abraham in Genesis 12 concerning the Land, you might notice that it was made unconditionally. It was not conditioned on Abraham keeping certain rules or laws. The “rules and regulations” section of Torah did not come until the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai under Moses’ leadership.
Over the centuries Israel as a nation had ups and downs in its relationship with the Lord. Times of faithfulness toward the Lord would be followed by a falling away from Him.
Then as the fortunes of Israel sank with her faith, inevitably the nation would hit spiritual bottom and come to her senses. Corporate repentance would bring a new start, and the cycle would begin again.
Israel was at one of those bottoming out points when the prophet Ezekiel wrote about his visions from the Lord. Around the time of Ezekiel’s ministry, Judah (the Southern Kingdom of Israel) was carried off into captivity to Babylon by Nebuchudnezzar, and some scholars think Ezekiel was carried off also. He lived into at least the first 20 years or so of the Babylonian captivity.
Much of the later chapters of the book of Ezekiel contain a series of visions about a new temple to be built in Jerusalem and about other matters relating to the resettlement of the Land after the exile to Babylon. It is as though God is repainting a picture of hope for the nation, saying in effect, “This captivity is not the end. My promises to you are still to be fulfilled.”
(That, by the way, is a good thought for all of us to hold on to at times of turmoil or catastrophe in our own lives. His promises to us have not changed!)
Near the end of chapter 47 of Ezekiel the Lord restates the boundaries of the Land (verses 13-21).
And then, in verse 22 He makes this statement, which just amazed me when I read it the other day. “It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who sojourn among you and who bear children among you.”
“The Lord goes on to say something almost more extraordinary: They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger sojourns, there you shall give him his inheritance.”
This is a statement to ponder, especially if you are a regular intercessor for Israel. What does such a statement mean in the context of the present-day situation in Israel?
It seems to be saying that even the Palestinians, who cannot in any way trace their heritage to the twelve tribes of Israel, should have an inheritance in the Land.
It’s not clear to me that the Lord is saying that anyone from outside Israel who chooses to live there should be given land there. What is clear at a minimum is that the children of those foreigners who sojourn in the Land should be given a portion along with the children of Israel.
Wow. That has implications for our prayers for Israel. Think about it. God is saying that somehow and in some fashion, Israel needs to make room politically and economically for people groups like the Palestinians who have sojourned in the Land for generations now.
I have never thought of that or seen that issue from a scriptural perspective before.
I’m not exactly sure how to use this scripture in prayer. But here is what I do know to pray.
Lord, show us Your heart in this matter. How does this scripture in Ezekiel affect the issues of our day in Israel? And how should we as soldiers in Your army pray regarding the resolution of the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis?
I know You will answer this prayer as we pray it from our hearts. And when You do, we will have the heart of our King in this matter and can pray it confidently.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Emphasis added.