Part One: Introduction to Government Authority
On this eve of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), 2004, I am stirred for the need to continue praying for those in government authority: in every nation of the world, and particularly for the President of the United States, and even more particularly for the prime minister of Israel.
I Timothy 2:1-2
“I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority….”
This would include the Pope, the secretary of the UN, business leaders, etc. It would include those we agree with and those with whom we disagree. As believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as the ultimate King, we recognize God’s sovereign rule over all governments, and current political leaders as those carrying out a temporary task, representing His kingdom with delegated authority.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God.“
Since Yeshua is both king of kings and the king of Israel, the US President (as the head of the strongest world power in our generation) and the Israeli prime minister (as “king of the Jews”) have a special role of representing His delegated authority on the earth; and therefore deserve special attention in prayer.
There is internal conflict in this hierarchy of governing authorities, since all humans have sinned and since the human race in general is in rebellion against God. Many political leaders are particularly headstrong in leading that rebellion.
“Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed (Messiah).“
We have a prophetic calling to support those governing authorities as they represent God’s righteous authority and to point out the errors as they move in rebellion. This requires discernment of spirit and a balanced knowledge of biblical principles. It also requires humility and fear of the Lord.
There is a mocking or ridiculing attitude that has been directed at both George Bush and Ariel Sharon, that to my view represents a rebellious spirit against the delegated authority of the Anointed Messiah. It is likely provoking the anger of God (Psalm 2:5-6).
We should have a healthy degree of respect when speaking of those two offices: the US President – whether it be Reagan or Carter, Clinton or Bush; and the Israeli PM – whether it be Rabin or Peres, Netanyahu or Sharon. That respect comes out of recognizing the divine authority their offices represent, and out of appreciation for the tremendous difficulty and responsibility that their jobs entail.
At this moment in history, when the US President has proclaimed boldly his faith in Yeshua, has stood for family moral values, and is waging a battle against world terrorism; and when the Israeli prime minister has fought against terrorist infrastructure, stood up against UN accusations concerning the security fence, and removed the corruption and coercion of the ultra-orthodox religious parties from the government; we ought to approach our prayers and evaluations of them with a keen reverence.
Part Two: Jihad
Feast of Trumpets, 2004, finds the world facing the great international evil of Islamic terrorism. This new wave of terrorism started at the feast of Trumpets 2000, when Arafat called for an Intifada (terrorist war) against Israel, and encouraged myriads of Shahids (suicide terrorists) to rise up against Jerusalem to “liberate” it. Note: the call for the Intifada came on the wake of Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, claiming his right as a Jew to visit there.
After the start of the Intifada against Israel at Trumpets 2000, came the Twin Towers attack at Trumpets 2001. By 2004, most of the countries of Europe and others around the world have tasted the bitter poison of suicide terror.
We need to realize that Intifada and Shahid are religious terms connected to the concept of Islamic Jihad. The act of suicide terror is a criminal act of murder. However this is more than crime in the classic sense of the word. Jihad is a religious war, purposely planned to convert the world to Islam, murder everyone who does not accept Islam, destroy Western civilization, humiliate any sites and symbols connected with Christianity and Judaism, and annihilate Israel as a nation.
While the Western world is just beginning to awaken to the dangers of terrorism, it has not yet become aware of the nightmare of total Islamic Jihad. That will require a greater paradigm shift.
Terrorists could come from any sector; however at this time, almost all of the terrorists in the world are Muslim. While every nation is a target of terrorism, Israel is by far the greatest target, and America the second. (Note: This reflects a reverse truth for the kingdom of God. Every nation has a divine destiny. As every nation has a destiny, particularly so does the United States, which is the country most identified around the world for “Christian” values. And by the same measure, how much more does Israel have a national destiny, since it is the place to which Yeshua will return to establish it as the center of the earthly Messianic kingdom.)
The attack of Islamic terrorism comprises a subtle temptation for the Western world. The underlying message is: “just give up all association with the Christian religion and all loyalty to the nation of Israel, and we will not attack you.” It is a battle for the soul of Europe and America – “just become totally liberal, secular and humanistic; succumb to the demands of Islam, and everything will be all right.”
Concerning Israel, it is a battle for physical existence. As one looks at a map of the Middle East, he sees Israel as a tiny island in the midst of an enormous sea of violent Islam, focused on its destruction. If Islamic Jihad combines with a yielding liberal humanism in the UN, we could be dangerously close to a situation where most of the nations of the world would unite in an attack on Israel.
Zechariah 12:9; 14:2; 14:12
I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem…
I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem…
The Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem…
These prophecies of a worldwide attack against Jerusalem (see also Joel 3, Ezekiel 38-39, Isaiah 13, Revelation 19, etc.) are the opposite of the purpose of the kingdom of God to bring all the nations of the world to Jerusalem in peace to worship the King in the government of the Messiah (Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:1-5, Ezekiel 40-48, Micah 4:1-5, Joel 3:18-21, Revelation 21-21, etc.)
Whether we like it or not, the world war of Islamic Jihad reflects the spiritual battles of the end times predicted two to three thousand years ago in the Hebrew Bible and the New Covenant Scriptures.
Part Three: Biblical Prayer Strategies
Praying for government leaders involves a wide range of biblical principles and strategies. Let’s list some of them:
- Priority to Pray for Government Leaders – I Timothy 2:1 – discussed in part one.
- For a Stable Society – I Timothy 2:2 – “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life”. Praying for government leaders leads to social reform.
- Enhance Conditions for Evangelism – I Timothy 2:4 – “who desires all men to be saved.” Some prophetic intercessors get so focused on one particular political or theological issue that they miss the top priority of the gospel going forward to reach unsaved people groups. Freedom to preach the gospel may be taken for granted in some countries, but for many people, religious coercion and political oppression make it very difficult to receive and grow in faith. Yeshua’s life and preaching comprised a constant challenge to the religious and political forces of His day. He “turned over the tables” of the religious, and represented a “king other than Caesar” to the politicians.
- For Unity – John 17:21 – “That they may be one.” Yeshua prayed this prayer for His disciples, yet the principle holds true for political factions as well. The group that you want to succeed needs your prayer to stay united. In the particular situation in Israel today, I support Ariel Sharon’s desire to establish a unity/ mainstream government, and to remove the extremists on either side.
- Division of Enemies – Luke 11:17-18 – “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation… If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” We pray for the division of demonic forces standing behind unrighteous social/ political movements. I pray to divide the demonic forces empowering liberal secular humanism, organized crime, satanic cults, mystic religious groups, prostitution, drugs, pornography, militant Islam, Islamic terrorist groups, and opposition to the gospel in orthodox Catholicism and Judaism.
- Angelic Intervention to help Army stop Terrorist attacks – Including Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and anywhere.
- Angelic Intervention to help Police stop Crime – Crime is a work of the devil.
- Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6:12 – “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities.” When fighting against Islamic Jihad, for instance, we understand that it is not only a matter of military weapons (II Corinthians 10:4), but of spiritual forces shaping public opinion. We are not praying against Arabs. We love Arabs as we love all people. When praying against rabbinic attacks against Messianic Jews, we are not praying against the rabbis, whom we love with all our heart (Romans 11:28), but against the spiritual blindness that would make them see us as evil (verse 25).
- Break Spirit of Rebellion against Godly leaders – Psalm 2 – discussed in part one.
- Bring World to Submission to Godly delegated authority – Romans 13 – discussed in part one.
- Improve Educational System – Deuteronomy 6:7 – “Teach them diligently to your children.” In every nation of the world, we must pray for improvement in the quality and content of the schools, for right discipline and moral values, and for the establishment of godly educational alternatives and supplements for our children. In Israel, unfortunately the school system has been steadily deteriorating for the past 15 years. Budgeted funds and disciplinary standards must be improved. I pray for the strengthening of Messianic schools in Israel, such as Makor Hatikva, and others, and for a variety of children’s educational programs. Children’s education today produces the leaders in politics, business and religion in the coming generation.
- Social Justice – Amos 5:15, 24 – “Establish justice in the gate… Let justice run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”This is a foundational mandate for a prophetic people. We need to pray for integrity in the government, righteousness in the court system, correct laws being passed. While we do not relegate the message of the Bible to a mere “social gospel”, a demand for social justice is an essential part of the kingdom of God.
- Economic Improvement for the Poor – Amos2:6-7, 5:12 – “They sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor… diverting the poor from justice at the gate.” We need to pray (as well as work for and give to…) helping the poor and needy in every society. We pray to get rid of unemployment, bribery, oppression of the poor, unfair banking and taxation procedures. We pray to lift the poor out of poverty, improve working conditions, and stabilize the economy. Woe to us if God’s financial blessing on our lives makes us uncaring toward the plight of millions and millions of poor and poverty stricken.
- Civil Rights and Self Determination – Exodus 23:9 – “And you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 15:15 – “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt.” Although so-called “civil rights” in the West has made a mockery of the issue and a cover-up for immorality, the real issue of civil rights is definitely a biblical and moral command. Although God has given the land of Israel to the Jewish people, we still need to be concerned for the Palestinian population to have their own self-determination. Although terrorists (along with any other type of criminal) lose all claim to civil rights, we as Israelis and Zionists still have to be concerned for the rights of the innocents among the Arabs. Although the Bible does not command democracy as the correct form of government, we are commanded to respect the rights of one another.
Part Four: Disengagement and Re-Deployment
Sharon’s current strategy is to disengage from Gaza, form a unity government and redeploy our economic and military resources more strategically. In light of the many biblical principles listed above, I believe we should support him by our prayers in those decisions. (Apparently, not only do I believe that, but so do a large majority of Israelis. In today’s Yediot, the largest paper in Israel, was published a survey indicating that 58% of the population is in favor of withdrawing from Gaza, 27% are not in favor, and 15% are undecided.)
Sharon has NOT said that he is in favor of withdrawing from all disputed territories; quite the contrary. He has fought terrorism more consistently than any other human being in history. He is claiming right to areas in Judea and Samaria where there are significant Jewish settlements. He is saying to withdraw from two areas: the isolated settlements in Gaza and northern Samaria, where it is strategically unwise if not impossible, to defend the citizens there.
II Samuel 10:9-10
“When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel’s best and put them in battle array against the Syrians. And the rest of the people he put under the command of Avishai his brother, that he might set them in array against the people of Ammon.”
Israel is in a position today of being surrounded by crazed Muslim fanatics on all sides. We are here to stay. We will fight to the death. Ultimately there will be a world war launched against us, and the Lord will protect us.
Yet we have to fight strategically and intelligently. If Sharon, perhaps Israel’s greatest general ever, says it is unwise to try to defend 8,000 settlers in Gaza in the midst of 800,000 Palestinians, and it would be better to redeploy them at a defensible border, I would be pretty slow to disagree with him.
Unfortunately, many well meaning Messianic Jews and Christian Zionists have been praying against Sharon. We can see the effects of those wrongly directed prayers (in my discernment) in weakening his position in the government.
If he is weakened, it will give greater leverage to the ultra-Orthodox within the government to reinstate their stealing of tax dollars and attacking religious liberty. If he is weakened, the position of left wing and right wing fanatics will be increased, causing more division and paralysis of the government.
Sharon’s plan will allow for the army to be better deployed to stop terrorist attacks on major population centers. It will allow for more police forces to be deployed against crime. It will allow for more tax money to be released to improve schools and create jobs. A more unified government will give greater strength to handle attacks internally and externally.
This is not a matter of whether or not to fight, but how to fight wisely. It is not a matter of giving back land, but of how to defend ourselves on the land we have. Sharon is not deceived into thinking that he has a partner for peace with Arafat – just the opposite: he has decided that Israel must redeploy unilaterally, assuming that there is no one within the Palestinian Authority at this time that can be trusted with negotiations.
The demand of the UN for Israel to give back land is an outrage (Joel 3:2). All the land belongs to our people by covenant with God (Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:8, 24:7, 26:3, 28:13, 35:12, 48:4). For a “world court of justice” in Hague to declare that building a security fence against terrorists is a violation of human rights, but say nothing against the terrorism is bizarrely illogical and immoral. So the terrorists have a right to kill us, but we don’t have a right to build a fence to stop the terrorists?
Yet we also have to avoid zealotry and fanaticism. We have to pray for responsibility in government. This demands a lot of discernment. Moses first asked the people to conquer Canaan and they refused. Then they demanded to attack when he said, “No.” This is the spirit of “Hormah” (Numbers 14:40-45). This same zealotry was found in Saul (II Samuel 21:2) and Joab (I Kings 2:5) in their stubbornness against the will of King David.
Let us be wary of the “Hormah” attitude. When our commander-in-chief says, “Attack,” let’s attack. When he says, “Redeploy,” let’s redeploy.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.