It was on this day in 1957 that Israeli forces, bowing to international pressures, withdrew from the Gaza Strip and the Sharm El Sheikh area along the Gulf of Aqaba. This was the first such withdrawal because, as we know, the IDF had to re-enter the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War in June of 1967.
Israel remained there and built thriving, prosperous settlements until 2005 when, again bowing to international pressures and the insistence of Ariel Sharon, Israeli settlers were forced to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. This last withdrawal, however, is distinguished by the fact that IDF soldiers were sent in to forcibly remove these Jewish people from their homes and their synagogues.
Why did this happen? Well of course, it was to bring “peace” to the region. We have seen just how well that worked out; put plainly, it has been proven to be a farce. There are Scriptures that, I believe, speak directly to and specifically about this ongoing feud between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In Ezekiel 35, the God of Israel said:
“Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword… Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,’ although the Lord was there, therefore, as I live,” says the Lord God, “I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them (Ezekiel 35:5, 10-11)
God directs this particular prophecy toward a group of people referred to as Edom, who are the descendants of Esau. Another passage recorded in the book of Amos informs us that Edom’s hatred toward Israel is perpetual, ongoing and it even specifies that Gaza will be brought to destruction because of this hatred. Here is the text:
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they took captive the whole captivity to deliver them up to Edom. But I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza which shall devour its palaces…” Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever. But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.” (Amos 1:6-7, 11-12)
So, considering we opened with a discussion about Israel in regard to the Gaza Strip and the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, why refer to these passages about the descendants of Esau? According to Ezekiel 35 and the continuation of the prophecy in Ezekiel 36, God speaks to those who are contending for the land of Israel, saying that it doesn’t belong to Israel. God identifies those people as Edom. Yet another prophecy in the book of Obadiah’s declares that Edom will be judged once and for all because of the violence committed against their brother Jacob. By the way, the Hebrew word translated here as “violence” is hamas. It just so happens that the Palestinian terror group, Hamas, began and is based in the Gaza Strip. In other words, the people that today’s world refers to as the Palestinians appear to be identified in the Bible as “Edom.”
What does all of this information have to do with you and me? It seems that, in the long term, it is useless to try and appease those who hate you and wish to destroy you. Likewise, it’s useless to try and please those who, for their own interests, take the path of least resistance and compel you – maybe even force you – to make “peace” with those who want to destroy you. And why would want to compel you to do such as this? It would seem so that their world can be the way they think it should be.
As God’s people, we must strive to please our Father in Heaven even if everyone else is displeased. In so doing, we should not be driven by disdain for others but, if possible, seek peace with our neighbor in humility. However, seeing peace doesn’t equate to appeasement and especially if that means we must compromise what our Father has told us to do. We should never cater to the whims of those who are the enemies of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We should be determined to obey Him and faithfully represent Him and His characteristics. Oftentimes, that will require us to demonstrate mercy towards those who despise us and strive to have peaceful relations with them. Yet, God never instructs us to appease those who seek our harm or defy His purposes. The world will, no doubt, exert pressure in an effort to provoke us to compromise but, as we’ve seen throughout history, appeasement never brings true peace. Furthermore, as we’ve seen throughout Israel’s history, the God of Israel has always shown Himself mighty and ready to deliver His people when the pressure was the greatest.
Most of us have experienced this kind of pressure and will again in the future but we mustn’t acquiesce to what we know isn’t right. Our Father in heaven is watching, perhaps even waiting to see if this type of pressure will cause us to capitulate. With His help, that’s not going to happen. We will have to be tenacious about His Will if we’re going to endure until the end. The Father will use those who do not buckle even when the greatest of pressures come. He will uphold those who do not concede to the whims of the world, but cling to Him faithfully. Don’t concede defeat to the one who wishes to destroy you. Submit to the will of the Father and let Him handle the rest.