On the eve of the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, which is a time of rejoicing for the children of Israel who have blessed the God of Israel for preserving and identifying with them as His people, the news has been full of the deal made with Hamas to release the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, after more than five years of being held captive without ANY visitations deemed lawful and ethical under conventions legislated by world bodies, such as by the Red Cross under the Geneva Convention.
For his release, Israel has agreed to release more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners who have been involved in terrorist attacks on Israel and her citizens and friends. All are happy for Gilad and for his family; many are concerned at the price paid and the risks involved.
I am reminded of Jacob, who was reminded of his name being changed to Israel, when he was confronted with once again meeting his brother Esau/Edom, after about 20 years from their last encounter. Jacob was rightly afraid of his brother’s intentions, and it took a wrestling match with the Angel YHVH, who crippled Jacob in his own strength, to enable Israel to go forward. We read all this in Genesis chapters 32 and 33.
When Jacob finally saw Esau, Jacob bowed down seven times. Then the mothers and the children all bowed down before Esau. For all the fear, Jacob saw in Esau’s face the Face of God — a human being created in the image of God, just as he was. The LORD was teaching Jacob/Israel that it was not his own righteousness, nor Esau’s unrighteousness, which was at issue, but rather the righteousness of God to whom both needed to be reconciled. Jacob was looking for favor in Esau’s eyes — to see God’s Face.
It is clear from the account at this meeting, and from the after-history of both peoples and nations, that Esau/Edom never accepted that the Land of Canaan — the Promised Land — belonged to Jacob/Israel by the sovereign choice of YHVH God as an integral part of the covenant promises to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
The State of Israel today cares, in general, about the value of life. Her heritage comes from the living God of the living, even in her unbelief and rebellion against Him. Without normal common sense, she is risking her future peace and security by releasing murderers for a lone soldier who was captured and certainly mistreated — at the very least psycologically.
With fear and trembling — and a mixture of faith and bravado — the Israeli government and the Jewish people are once again ‘bowing down’ to their “brothers”, who are still not reconciled to the land being Israel’s, and who are still determined in their spirits to kill and wipe out Israel from being a nation.
Israel does not have a clear conscience, because deep inside they also know that they are not just in all their dealings, and even deeper inside, God has left His own wound for the Jewish people’s responsibility and guilt in the crucifixion of their brother — Yeshua/Jesus, the first-born Heir of God’s vineyard.
Could it be that the Holy Spirit, in God’s dealings with His people even in their blindness and hardness of heart, is working in Israel what Messiah Jesus is requiring from His Church/His Body with eyes open and from a willing heart?:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”
Israel is forever being blamed as a scapegoat, and unjustly required to apologize and to accept blame for so many of the world’s troubles. These accusations come from those with a bitter root and a murderous grudge, envying what is not theirs, and threatening any one who would hold them to account. Their hatred is so obsessive that manifests itself in this: if we can not have it, neither will you.
For all this, the Holy One of Israel calls His people to a different standard as HIS witnesses. If one in covenant with Him thinks that someone has something against them, it is for that one to go to the ‘possibly’ offended person and ask forgiveness. Israel’s right to exist is from the one true God, but not in her own right: it is CHRIST who died to confirm the promises of God, and He is long-suffering in His love to get them to return back to Him, even through their fear of losing all. Such an unequal exchange — one for the many — may be a one-off event, and the war continues until the coming again of the Messiah Jesus, the LORD of Hosts.
The true Face of God is seen in the Person of Jesus Christ, and through His willing submission to the Father’s will, peace is obtained by all who believe.