GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL (PSALM 20:1-2)
BY CHARLES E. MCCRACKEN
YOM HAZIKARON—ISRAEL MEMORIAL DAY
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion . . .
Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. Today, we as people of biblical faith honor the memory of fallen Israeli soldiers and the innocent victims of terrorism around the world by taking a brief look at familiar and lesser known accounts of God’s protective intervention.
Familiar Ancient History
A familiar story God’s intervention on behalf of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and His sovereign preservation of the Jewish people is a fact of history taught in nearly every primary Sunday school class. But, anyone traveling southwest of Jerusalem along Highway 38 can easily miss the geographical site.
There is no monument, no shrine, not even a roadside marker. Yet, three thousand years ago on the broad plain near modern day Azekah Junction, the dramatic encounter between the youth David and Goliath occurred.
Looking down over the Elah Valley, it’s not hard to imagine David running toward the Philistine enemy—a giant named Goliath. Hailing from a renowned family of giants, Goliath had bullied King Saul and his army every morning and evening for the last 40 days.
Observing David approaching, the giant uttered yet another taunt of intimidation:
“Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks? Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” (1 Sam. 17:43-44).
Without flinching, David countered,
“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:45-47, emphasis added).
Rushing toward the giant, David loaded his sling. Seconds later, the stone met its mark bringing the towering giant crashing to the ground. The battle was over.
Neither the strength of the opposing army or Goliath’s size intimidated David.
David understood what everyone else missed that day—the battle belongs to the Lord.
Not-so-familiar Modern History
Despite the passage of more than three millennia since this historic event, little has changed.
On May 15, 1948, the day after the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel and without tanks, heavy artillery, planes or an official army, the fledgling nation was forced to defend itself against the simultaneous invasion of the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, explicitly stated the purpose for the consolidated attack while bragging,
“This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” (1)
With God’s help and to the surprise of the world, Israel emerged victorious. All but one of Israel’s hostile neighbors signed armistice agreements, but Israel’s battle for survival was far from over.
Suez Crisis – 1956
Although first to sign an armistice agreement with Israel in 1949, Egypt maintained an openly hostile attitude toward Israel.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Muhammad Salah al-Din taunted, “The Arab people will not be embarrassed to declare: We shall not be satisfied except by the final obliteration of Israel from the map of the Middle East.” (2)
These were not idle words.
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser began immediate preparation for another confrontation with Israel by importing arms from the Soviet Union. Nasser also initiated a campaign of provocation by blocking all Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal and refusing to remove the blockade when ordered to do so by the UN Security Council. Moreover, Fedayeen (suicide fighters) were dispatched to execute attacks inside Israel’s borders.
While the signed armistice agreements prohibited new hostilities by paramilitary forces, when Israel retaliated, the UN Security Council condemned the newly reborn state, rather than the Egyptian aggressors.
Tensions mounted with the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran in the Gulf of Aqaba, and reached a critical point when Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956 effectively blocking Israeli shipping through the canal.
On October 14, Nasser made clear he had no intention of seeking peace with Israel and ten days later signed a tripartite agreement between Egypt, Syria and Jordan effectively placing himself in command of all three armies.
With the threat of imminent attack from Egypt, unrelenting terrorist activity by Egyptian Fedayeen and the debilitating blockade of Israel’s shipping, Israel preemptively attacked Egypt on October 29, 1956 with the backing of Great Britain and France. The battle lasted 100 hours; and, when the fighting ended, Israel held the Gaza Strip and the fortress at Sharm al-Sheikh that strategically guarded the Straits of Tiran.
Threatened by sanctions, expulsion from the UN and discontinued U.S. assistance, Israel was pressured to withdraw from the areas conquered without obtaining any concessions from Egypt.
After the war, the activities of the fedayeen were assumed by a loosely knit group of terror organizations that ultimately became known as the Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO.
The Six Day War – June 5-10, 1967
In 1967 only 18 years after Israel’s War of Independence, a combined army of hostile neighbors once again threatened to annihilate the fledgling state.
Abdul Nasser, president of Egypt crowed,
“We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.” (3)
President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq verbalized similar sentiments declaring,
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy, which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear — to wipe Israel off the map.” (4)
In a defensive war against the combined forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordon, Israel miraculously emerged victorious regaining the Golan Heights, the Negev and the city of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount. A military correspondent for the secular Haaretz newspaper summarized the war saying, “Even a non-religious person must admit this war was fought with help from heaven.” (5)
God’s intervention is poignantly illustrated in the capture of the stronghold of Sharm el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
Israel’s strategy was to capture the fortress using a combined airborne and naval assault. The naval force arrived before the other assault units and immediately reported, “There is no one here to fight!” (6) The night before, the Egyptian army had given the order to fall back to the Suez Canal and Sharm el-Sheikh was evacuated. The stronghold was taken without a shot fired.
The Yom Kippur War – October 6-25, 1973
In 1973 on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated attack against Israel.
Only a few Egyptian officers were aware that the “exercises” in which they participated were actually a prelude to war. Despite the fact that world leaders predicted Israel’s defeat as inevitable, the tiny nation of Israel once again emerged as the victor with its borders intact—surviving yet another war of annihilation.
The accounts of those on the battlefield graphically tell the story of God’s protection.
At the start of the Yom Kippur War, a seemingly unstoppable battalion of Syrian tanks bound for Tel Aviv mysteriously came to a halt north of Tiberius and suddenly surrendered to the Israeli army without a fight.
In another instance, a commander found that he and his men were in a minefield on a dark, moonless night. Crawling on hands and knees and using bayonets to locate mines, the company was not only vulnerable moving at a crawl, but also running out of time. After one soldier uttered an anguished prayer, a violent wind began blowing the sandy topsoil away exposing the location of thousands of landmines. Just as suddenly, the wind stopped allowing the unit to move forward to their objective in safety. (7)
Even at the highest level of government, God’s preservation is evident.
Biographer Roger Stone records,
“In an airlift known as Operation Nickle Grass, 567 missions were flown to deliver 22,000 tons of supplies. An additional 90,000 tons were delivered by sea. . . Later in her life, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir would admit that upon hearing of the airlift during a cabinet meeting, she began to cry.” (8)
After an impassioned plea from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, President Richard Nixon arranged the airlift of United States military supplies enabling Israel to continue fighting in the face of overwhelming odds.
Numerous accounts of God’s intervention during the First Gulf War have been documented—like the time when Iraq launched 39 scud missiles that rained down on Israel and only one person died from a heart attack as a result.
Or, how suddenly on the first day of the war, drenching rain and high winds from the southwest persisted for the next six weeks. The weather was also credited by U.S. military sources as the reason chemical weapons were not used against Israel since the wind would have driven the chemical agents directly toward Iraq threatening the safety of Iraqi citizens. (9)
During the 2014 conflict with Gaza, Operation Protective Edge was employed to defend Israel’s citizens from continuous rocket attacks from Gaza. There were many stories demonstrating God’s care for Israel.
One such account appeared in the digital edition of Israel Today reporting an unnamed Hamas commander who was questioned about the inability of “Gaza-based militants” to hit their targets. In response, he is said to have exclaimed, “We do aim [our rockets], but their God changes their path in mid-air.” (10)
Corroborating God’s ability to change the course of Hamas missiles, an Iron Dome battery commander recounts the terrifying moment when a missile from Gaza was screaming toward a densely populated area of Tel Aviv.
In his own words, the commander explained,
“We fired the first [interceptor]. It missed. Second [interceptor]. It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident. Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that . . . sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!’” (emphasis added). (11)
Despite attempts by hostile neighbors seeking Israel’s annihilation, the modern State of Israel’s 69-year history is a testimony of God’s intervention to protect and preserve His ancient people.
Facing giants seeking her destruction today, Israel can trust the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This truth is unmistakably obvious. Israel is an anomaly inexpiable outside the reality of divine intervention.
1) David Barnett and Efraim Karsh, “Azzam’s Genocidal Threat, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2011, 85.
2) The Suez War, Jewish Virtual Library.
3) The Six Day War, “CAMERA: Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
5) Miracles In the Six-Day War: Eye Witness Accounts, Arutz Sheva.
6) Martin Gilbert, Israel: a History (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008) 387.
7) Against All Odds:Israel Survives. (American Trademark Pictures, 2011).
8) Roger Stone with Mike Colapietro, Nixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall, and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2014) 399.
9) Roslyn Baily, Miracles During the First Gulf War.
10) Iron Dome Operator: God Moved Missile We Couldn’t Hit, Israel Today, Aug. 3, 2014.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1) Nighttime view of Israel from space. By NASA Earth Observatory [PD-Hubble], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Sculpture: David and Goliath. Composed of sterling silver and mounted on anthracite, this sculpture was a gift of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to President Gerald R. Ford. By (Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
3) Defenders of Kibbutz Negba, Israel War of Independence, August 30, 1948. By Zoltan Kluger [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
4) The President and Mrs. Nixon, with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in evening attire, March 1, 1973. By Robert L. Knudsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
5) IDF officers shield a 4-year-old boy, protecting him with their own bodies during a Hamas rocket attack, 15/7/14. By Israel Defense Forces from Israel (Operation Protective Edge) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios