Inside View May/Jun 2017
Does God fight for Israel? When Israel triumphs over multiple Arab armies attacking on multiple fronts, it certainly seems that God fights for Israel. Such was the case in 1967 when Israel won a humanly improbable victory in the miraculous time frame of less than a week.
That wasn’t the first time Israel faced insurmountable odds. The day after declaring independence on May 14, 1948, Israel was attacked by five Arab countries. Vastly outnumbered by a well-equipped, well-trained Arab military, Israel’s small militia somehow prevailed. God fights for Israel.
In 1967, Israel knew its Arab neighbors were planning a war against it. Their goal was the same as in 1948: to annihilate the Jewish state. As the enemies amassed along Israel’s borders, Israel was again outnumbered. The war began on June 5 and ended June 10. It is a mistake to think that because the war was short, it was an easy fight. Many valiant men on both sides died. But in the end, Israel not only defended itself, but also gained control of the Sinai to the south, Golan Heights to the north, and much of biblical Samaria and Judea.
The crown jewel of the victory was Jerusalem. For the first time in more than 2,500 years, Jerusalem was again under the sovereign control of a Jewish nation. God even gave back to Israel the Old City, where the Temple once stood. It reminds us of the biblical days when God fought for His people.
In Exodus 14, when the Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, Moses said, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (v. 14). God parted the Red Sea and dried the seabed so Israel could cross to the other side. He then used the water He had held back to drown the mighty Egyptian army.
Unfortunately, this was a lesson the Israelites soon forgot. When they feared entering the Promised Land because mighty people lived there, Moses declared, “Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes” (Dt. 1:29–30).
When Israel prepared to enter the land 40 years later, Moses commanded the priests to remind the army, “Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them [the enemies]; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (20:3–4).
In his farewell address to Israel, Joshua said, “One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you” (Josh. 23:10). In Judges 7, Gideon, with merely 300 men, defeated the Midianites who were “as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude” (v. 12). God had the Midianites kill each other.
When Assyrian King Sennacherib’s army surrounded Jerusalem and demanded Israel surrender or die, Judean King Hezekiah encouraged his people to be strong and courageous and not to fear: “With him,” said Hezekiah, “is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chr. 32:8). Sure enough, during the night, “the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land” (v. 21).
These great victories by God’s hand bear similarities to Israel’s victory in 1967. How could such a small nation survive the onslaught of so many Arab armies that were better equipped, better trained, and far more numerous than the army of Israel? There is only one reasonable explanation. As in the days of Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and Hezekiah, God is still fighting for Israel.