March 11th, 2011 by Guest Writer

By Stan Goodenough | www.stangoodenough.com | Originally published Feb 2011

My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war. (Psalm 120:6-7)

How do we pray concerning the Israel-Egypt peace treaty? Do we pray for it to be protected, upheld and perpetuated? For the majority who wish to see Israel live in peace with her neighbors, this question would seem a no brainer.

And yet, I cannot pray so readily for this.

Let me paint a picture:

A friend has contracted cancer that, unless caught in its early stages, will grow progressively more threatening to his life. On learning of the disease, you urge him to have the tumor removed, but he prefers to continue living as normal a life as possible, taking basic medication to numb him to the pain, and even help him forget he was ill.

The more time passes, the more perilous his condition becomes. He would carry on regardless, but a sudden turn of events forces him to reassess. While the attack on his body is set to intensify, he’s not ready to deal with it.

You have the chance to remind him that, had he agreed to it at the start, he would have undergone a painful but relatively straightforward procedure while his body was strong enough to survive. The passage of time and progression of the cancer has weakened him. Although it is still possible to save his life, he must have the surgery now.

Thing is, it’s no longer a small operation. What he requires at this point will be agonizing; the risks far higher. As his friend, you must choose whether to pressure him to go under the knife by telling him some unpleasant home truths, or allow him to continue in self-delusion as he drifts towards his date with doom.

“Everybody’s” pleading with him to, “for heaven’s sake, leave well enough alone! Anything is better than the alternative.”

But do we really believe this?

Let’s take a closer look at what this Israel-Egypt peace treaty really is: how it was drawn up, what it cost Israel to sign, how it has played out, what its effects have been, and where its perpetuation will lead.

The Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, and the Egyptian military dictator, Anwar Sadat, signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, known as the Camp David Agreement, in 1978.

In other words, it was signed between an elected representative of the Israeli people on the one side, and a military ruler representing no-one on the other.

The details – or more accurately – the parties to the agreement – were hammered together by the American president, Jimmy Carter.

As close advisor to Begin, the late Shmuel Katz, outlined in his book “The Hollow Peace,” (Dvir Publishing; Israel; 1981), Carter held a gun to Israel’s head and, wielding blackmail and deception, mercilessly pressured Begin into agreeing to the treaty terms – the tangible fruits of which were all in Egypt’s – and America’s – favor.

Sadat, who had his forces launch the aggressive wars of 1967 and 1973 with the intent of obliterating the Jewish state, was rewarded for his belligerence by being given the Sinai Peninsula (which was not Egyptian sovereign territory before), and by being universally applauded as a courageous peacemaker.

By relinquishing the Sinai, Israel lost access to sources of oil that supplied upwards of 60 percent of its oil needs. It lost the ultra-modern military airfields it had built in the Sinai, and the billions of dollars it had to spend building substitute airfields in the Negev.

Israel lost the strategic depth that protected it against another Egyptian onslaught. It lost the only way it had of ensuring Israeli ships retain free access to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. It lost the Jewish communities it had established in the Sinai – the process of uprooting them leaving deep scars in the Israeli national conscious and sowing seeds for civil disagreement and strife among Israel’s Jews.

And in the agreement Israel forfeited the possibility of annexing Judea, Samaria and Gaza, instead binding itself to negotiate with the Palestinian Arabs to give them self-rule in those areas to which they – the Arabs – had no prior historical claim.

The United States rewarded Egypt richly; over the ensuing years giving the country billions of dollars worth of modern and sophisticated weaponry, and training Egyptian soldiers and security forces. All the while Egypt’s army – twice as large as Israel’s – has been playing yearly war games in which it practices attacking and destroying the Jewish state.

Egypt, first under Sadat and then under Hosni Mubarak, lived up to nothing in return but a pledge not to launch attacks on Israel from Egyptian soil. That did not stop it from pursuing that other, political, war – delegitimizing the Jewish state and fomenting hatred of Israel at home and abroad.

While Israeli leaders frequently visited Egypt for consultations with Mubarak and his officials, the Egyptian ruler absolutely refused to reciprocate. His solo trip to Jerusalem was for the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Israeli tourists flocked with their money to Egypt, but Egyptians basically never came to tour Israel. The Mubarak-controlled media in Egypt regularly vilified the Jewish state and its Jewish citizens, while Israel’s free media almost always related to their southern neighbor in terms of being a partner in peace.

Meanwhile, included in the Carter-sanctioned agreement, with the American president’s full awareness and in fact collusion, was Egypt’s right to declare war on Israel if Israel should get into another conflict with any other Arab state.

As The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick told an audience in the Israeli capital last week, what has existed between Israel and Egypt for the last 32 years has been not a state of peace but a readily reversible ceasefire.

Apart from badly compromising Israel’s security at the start, when it was formulated and signed, the agreement led Israel to further weaken itself as the years, then the decades, went by.

Glick pointed out that Israel, lulled into sleepiness by the exciting ‘peace agreement,’ long ago stopped training its forces for desert warfare. It also stopped collecting intelligence on the Egyptian military. All the while, Cairo was building up its war machine – with a billion dollars in aid from the United States every year.

“Egypt received massive military assistance from the United States. Those forces – which are trained by the US military – have been training for war against Israel for the last 32 years… The Egyptian army is twice the size of the IDF. Nearly a million Egyptian boys come of call-up age every year.”

Egypt is not “just” anti-Israel; it is one of the most antisemitic countries in the world, warned the Post reporter.

It must be noted, Glick added, that the new military junta ruling Egypt, despite being under intense pressure from the United States to commit itself to honoring the Israel-Egypt treat, was willing to go no further than make a general commitment to all its international treaties.

This should not be overlooked.

So what do we have? Israel signed a treaty with an Egyptian strongman which, yes, helped keep the southern border quiet for 32 years, and enabled millions of Israeli tourists to visit the Sinai and enjoy its beautiful coastline. But it also led to Israel weakening itself strategically, relaxing its guard and effectively rendering itself less able to deal with a future Egyptian assault.

Meanwhile the Egyptian side massively modernized its military while uninterruptedly fuelling hatred of the Jews and their state. Egypt used its “credentials” (influential Arab state with Western-backing) to keep itself in the center of the “peace process.” From Cairo, Hosni Mubarak edged ahead with his anti-Israel agenda, encouraging American administrations and Israeli leftists to work against Israel’s security interests.

Many, mostly liberal, experts are decrying the “scaremongers” who believe that the Muslim Brotherhood will soon ascend to power in Egypt. The revolution there has been widely described as the birthing of democracy in the Arab world and therefore promising a better future for Israel-Egypt relations. But democracy and Islam are oil and water – they cannot be mixed, and Israel’s presence in the Arab’s Muslim midst can never be tolerated. It must be expunged.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while calling Israel-Egyptian peace a “cornerstone of Mideast stability” and “hoping for the best” has said that Israel must “prepare for the worst” in its relations with its southern neighbor. Leftist Israelis have torn strips off him for doing so, calling instead for an appeasing approach that would not risk heightening tensions between the two countries during this transition period.

What is best for Israel? What should we pray for? The survival of a peace treaty that strengthens Egypt – whose political future is at best uncertain – and keeps Israel weak – making its future survival uncertain?

Or do we pray for Israel to prepare for the possibility that Egypt will tear up the treaty and throw it away – even if Israel’s very act of preparation is used as a justification by Egypt to abrogate Camp David?

Should we pray for God to help Israel prepare for what the Bible foretells and Middle East geo-political reality confirms is on the way – a war the Jewish people don’t want, but which will be unleashed against her? And if, as the IDF is bolstered in the south and Israel moves to make up its deficit in intelligence on Egypt, the Egyptian side reacts by scrapping the treaty, so be it?

Latin scholar Vegetius said: Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace, prepare for war).

With the Israel-Egypt treaty, Israel has prepared for peace, but Egypt has has used it to gear up for war.

 

Stan Goodenough is a journalist and commentator, and 23-year resident of the State of Israel.

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June 10th, 2009 by Bryan Anthony

“For because of your trust in your own achievements and treasures, even you yourself will be captured; and Chemosh will go off into exile together with his priests and princes.” -Jer. 48.7

The Moabites were a people who lived in what we now know as Jordan, mostly making their abode along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Their kingdom was often in conflict with Israel, and the God of Israel had a long-standing controversy with them. The prophets testify to this controversy.

Moab, as it is addressed in the prophets, presents the picture of a people poisoned by the spirit of pride, independence, and arrogance. This oracle from the prophet Jeremiah gives them an undesirable promise, that because of their pride and self-sufficiency, they will be captured and even their priests and princes, along with their god Chemosh, will go off into exile. This is to say that even their most ‘divine’ authorities and royal potentates would be of no aid to them in the day of the Lord’s judgment.

One of the characteristics that marks Moab is that as a people, she has been casual and laid back to the point of neglecting the truth of her condition, and the reality of God Himself. Listen to this description the Lord gives of Moab:

“Moab has been at ease since his youth; he has also been undisturbed, like wine on its dregs, and he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, and his aroma has not changed.” (v. 11)

We may have commended Moab for its uniqueness and self-expression, for maintaining its distinctive cultural and religious qualities in the midst of changing times. But the Lord saw Moab as arrogant, non-pliable, and resistant toward Him. He saw them as vessels that had “not been emptied,” and though their “aroma has not changed,” the prophet indicates that the Lord is not pleased with the spiritual “smell” that Moab gives off. Hear the words of J.A. Thompson on this:

Moab is here compared with wine which has been allowed to settle down with its dregs and sediment to age and mature and improve its flavor. It had settled quietly on its lees and had never been disturbed by being poured from vessel to vessel. The picture is one of complacency. But this would soon change.

(J.A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah: NICOT; Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI: 1980, p. 705)

The Lord would not continue to endure the presence of Moab’s complacency, and the trust in her own achievements that she feverishly held onto would soon be toppled by the work of His hand.

“‘Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will send to him those who tip vessels, and they will tip him over, and they will empty his vessels and shatter his jars.'” (v. 12)

Can it be said that much of the Church is living on Moabite grounds? Trusting in our own achievements, proud and self-sufficient, vessels that have yet to be tipped over and emptied of the wine of this age?

What aroma are we releasing into the atmosphere? Forget the way you look in ministry or at some religious meeting. What about the aroma you release in your home… in the work place… in your neighborhood… at the grocery store, etc.? Are we filling the air with our religious opinions? Are we lacking a true expression of the love of God? Are we grumpy and crotchety when the sanctuary lights aren’t shining on us? Are we loose on sin, flatterers of men, or timid weaklings? Are we swept up by the same waves of entertainment, media, and fashion that move and jerk the undiscerning hearts of those who are walking in darkness?

How much of our upbringing and culture that is not of the flavor and aroma of God’s kingdom still lingers in our lives, and what excuses have we secretly made to permit that kind of a mixture? How often are we quenching the Spirit of God and going into modes of speech and conduct that are in keeping with attitudes which our culture may have always accepted and sanctioned, but that the Lord is not in harmony with?

“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” -2 Cor. 2.15

Are we functioning as vessels that have not been emptied, that are still filled with the wine of this age? Are we willing daily to be tipped over, emptied entirely, and filled with the Spirit of God Himself? I am convinced that the Church is in a mostly ‘Moabite’ condition, and before the final day comes when the rebellious ‘jars’ are tipped over and shattered, we need to tip over our vessels without reservation, that God may fill us with His own love and purity.

The Lord will only fill those vessels which have been tipped over willingly. The ones that remain upright, recalcitrant and resistant toward His heart and call, will in the last day be tipped against their wills, and shattered by His hand.

We need to be tipped and emptied of the wine of this age, that we may taste of the powers of the age to come. Having been filled with the Spirit of life, we will live and speak as vessels that have been fit to set forth the Son of God to Israel and the nations.

“Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.” -Is. 52.11b

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April 23rd, 2009 by Frank Turek

Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org

I like to strike up conversations with people I meet while traveling. Last Tuesday, on the way back to San Francisco airport, I asked the driver where he was from. “Jordan,” he replied.

In an effort to make a connection, I mentioned that I haven’t gotten to Jordan, but I went to Iran in 2006 and served in Saudi Arabia with the Navy twenty years ago.

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I’m a writer and a speaker. I co-authored a book defending the truth of Christianity called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.”

“I’m a Christian too,” he said. Then, just as we were pulling into the terminal, he asked, “What do you think about the Iraq war?”

With less than 90 seconds left in the ride, I quickly said, “I think it was the least bad choice we had. Saddam used WMD, invaded Kuwait, and then violated 17 straight UN resolutions and the cease fire. What other choice did we have in a post 9-11 world?”

He didn’t answer the question. Instead, he claimed that Iraq had nothing to with 9-11, and that we just should have gone after the bad guys in Afghanistan. He then said, “Jesus told us to love our enemies.”

Leaving the issue of 9-11 aside, was his inference correct? In light of what Jesus said about loving our enemies, should Christians be pacifists?

I don’t think so. In fact, sometimes the use of force is not only justified, it can be a dereliction of duty not to use force.

First, “loving your enemies,” like “turn the other cheek,” is a command for individuals in personal relationships. It is not a command for governments or for individuals put in grave bodily harm. As individuals we should pray for our enemies and “turn the other cheek” instead of returning insult for insult. Such behavior demonstrates supernatural love aimed at securing the offender’s conversion to Christ. But those commands do not mean that we have no right to personal self defense, nor do they mean that a nation shouldn’t protect its people from other hostile nations.

With regard to self defense, not only does the Old Testament affirm the right to self defense (Ex. 22:2), Jesus himself told his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus later told Peter “put your sword away” so Christ’s sacrifice would go forward and the scriptures would be fulfilled (Mt. 26:54). But the very fact that Jesus told Peter and the other disciples to buy a sword shows that its use for personal protection is appropriate. (By the way, Jesus never condoned the use of the sword as a means of religious conversion. It’s impossible anyway. Genuine conversion, by definition, is freely accepted. It cannot be coerced.)

With regard to war, the New Testament does not order newly baptized soldiers to get out of the military. Instead, John the Baptist told them not to abuse their power and to be content with their pay (Luke 3:14). Soldiers are needed because, as Paul pointed out in Romans 13, governments have a God-given responsibility to use “the sword” to protect their people from harm. In fact, Paul himself accepted military protection when he was in danger (Acts 22:25f), and Jesus affirmed the right of governments to impose capital punishment, saying that such a right was given by God (Jn. 19:11).

Second, “love your enemies” cannot mean that all use of force is prohibited because such an interpretation would contradict the passages just cited and result in absurd conclusions. It would be absurd to say that “love your enemies” means “allow them to kill your family.” How would that be loving to your family?

It would be absurd to say that “love your enemies” prohibits all wars. What about the war against Hitler? Not justified? Please. How would that be loving to the Jews or the countries overrun? (Notice that even my driver friend isn’t against all wars. He thinks that the war in Afghanistan is justified. But if “love your enemies” meant you could never use force, then how can Afghanistan be justified?)

With such an absurd interpretation, we couldn’t even have police protection, a court system, or prisons. Why believe that police can use force but not Armies? There’s not much of a difference. Police use force to protect people from enemies inside a country. Armies use force to protect people from enemies outside a country.

Without the proper use of force, we’d have anarchy, and innocent people would be hurt or killed. That’s why complete pacifism is not only unbiblical, it is a dereliction of duty. Individuals have a responsibility to protect themselves and their families from harm, and governments have a similar responsibility to protect their citizens.

Christians can and should, of course, oppose specific wars that don’t meet what theologians call “just-war theory.” As I mentioned in my last column, I believe the Iraq war is just. But I didn’t get enough time with my driver friend to hear his complete case against the Iraq war. Maybe he knows something I don’t, but it didn’t seem so.

One thing is for certain: Christians contradict scripture and common sense when they say no war or use of force can ever be justified. As terrible as it is, War is sometimes the least bad choice available. In other words, it’s not that Christians are for war; it’s that we’re against the alternative—the oppression and death of the innocent. And in a fallen world like this, sometimes the use of force is necessary to protect the innocent. Without it, we wouldn’t even be able to love our friends.

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