By Tom Brennan
For most of us it’s hard to imagine how our Israeli brothers and sisters can live normal productive lives and still face the fact that they are literally surrounded on all sides by enemies or possible enemies. Israel has been defending itself from attack and invasion by well equipped and organized armies since its birth. Even with the almost innumerable attacks from Gaza by Hamas rockets over the years and most recently, we often wonder from our safe and secure homes just how any population that is so productive and resilient can keep going. To be sure, Israelis admit to frustration and anger at not being left alone. But they also place their country’s survival at the front of their to-do- list and report for duty when called up for service. How can a nation of such a variety of people and peoples, Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox Jews, secular Jews, Christian Arabs, Muslims, Druze and other citizens unite and call this Land their own and defend it over and over again and do so tirelessly? The Apostle Paul used the word “perseverance”.
Paul was not from the Israel of the 1st century. Rather he was from Tarsus in Asia Minor to the north, today’s Turkey. He settled in Jerusalem to study under the master Gamaliel as a disciple. Gamaliel accepted no slackers in his company, Paul was a man on the rise. Paul’s biography as he stated in one of his letters was the epitome of a man destined for great things. He has all the right connections and references. In Tarsus he no doubt was familiar with the athletic endeavors of the well to do residents. Foot races often are used to describe that attitude that is needed to succeed in following the Way. Eyes on the prize, a single minded attitude that puts the goal ahead of the pain in the muscles and lungs, a focus that does not look to the left or to the right only at the finish line. A distracted runner in a race will not win, all concentration and energy must be sacrificed to one goal: winning the prize and doing the best job of it in the process.
Today as we read and hear of the latest aggression against Israel and the determination of its leaders and soldiers to protect all its citizens from attack we wonder how anyone can withstand the continuous alerts, security warnings, the groups that fill the media with threats and the often shaky support in public from “friends” that could undermine the confidence of anyone. The answer is Biblical: “ as I was with Moses, so shall I be with you”. And for emphasis, Paul adds “I have run the race”. The inner strength of Israel is found in the Bible and as Christians we need to look there for guidance. Thank you Israel for your incredible example of perseverance and fortitude in face of almost overwhelming opposition and threat from enemies near and far.Share this page with your friends
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