At stake in the current Egyptian turmoil is the survival of Israel. For thirty years, a peace treaty between those two nations has prevented chaos. The success of that treaty has been largely due to Hosni Mubarak, the embattled leader of Egypt. Now Mubarak is on the skids. His own people want him out. To them, his time in power has not been a blessing. His has been an internally brutal regime. His vice president was head of intelligence and in charge of the “rendition” program for three U.S. administrations, including the current one. Torture has been commonplace in Egypt as it has been in many Mid-East nations. Corruption is de rigueur.
Now it appears that Mubarak & Company are soon to be out of power and new elements will fill the vacuum. The question is who will those elements be? Will Egypt repeat the experience of Iran when the Shah was forced to leave the country? Within a month, freedom was crushed and brutal Shariah law was imposed under the Ayatollah Khomeini. It has continued ever since.
The only power bloc in Egypt, apart from its army, is the Muslim Brotherhood, an avowed enemy of Israel. It was the Brotherhood that murdered Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar Sadat because he signed the peace treaty with Israel. A leader of that group has already advised his followers to “prepare for war with Israel.” The Brotherhood expects to seize power in Egypt one way or another. If and when it does, the peace treaty will be toast and Israel will be in the crosshairs.
Egypt will not be the only enemy Israel has. She is surrounded by enemies: Syria, the Palestinians, Iran and its terrorist group, Hezbollah in Lebanon and others. Jordan too may chime in. Long before the tribes of Ishmael became Muslim, they hated Israel. Even in Ezra’s time, it was Arabs who opposed the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.
In the days when David and Asaph were still writing psalms, Israel’s enemies were breathing out fiery threats. Asaph prayed fervently to God about the danger: “Keep not silent, O God; do not be quiet and do not be still, O God. For lo, Your enemies are in an uproar; and those who hate You have lifted up their head,” Psalm 83:1-2.
It is important to note here that Israel’s enemies are the enemies of Israel’s God, Yahweh. “They take crafty counsel against Your people, and plot together against your hidden ones,” verse 3. The enemies of Israel plot together against God and his chosen people. God and his people are inseparable.
Israel’s enemies said then, and they say now, “…Come and let us cut them off from being a nation, so that the name Israel may be remembered no more,” verse 4.
In spewing out venom towards Israel, these enemies have in reality expressed hatred toward God himself, “For with one heart they have plotted together; they have made a covenant against You…” verse 5. And who are these plotters?
“…Edom…the Ishmaelites [Arabs]…Moab…the Hagrites…Gebal…Ammon [Jordan]…Amalek…Philistines…Tyre [Lebanon] and Assyria,” verses 6-8. [Google “Assyrian Web sites – you’ll find all kinds.] These are nations that have surrounded Israel in historic times. All have hated Israel (and often each other). It’s a blood-thirsty history. So how did Asaph and Israel pray against their enemies?
An Imprecatory Prayer
In the face of multi-nation hatred and threat, Asaph prayed, “Do to them as unto Midian, as unto Sisera, as unto Jabin at the brook Kishon who perished at En Dor; they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb; yeah all their princes like Zebah, and like Zalmunna; who said, ‘Let us take for ourselves possession of the pastures of God’” verses 9-12.
Israel is God’s land. Asaph sees Israel’s enemies as God’s enemies. He wishes to see their unburied bodies covering the earth like dung. Then he wishes for them to dry up and blow away, “O my God, make them like the whirling dust. As the fire burns a forest, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest, and make them afraid with Your storm,” verses 13-15.
Modern Israel knows well the fury of a forest fire – it recently experienced the largest fire in its 3500 hundred year history on Mt. Carmel, Elijah’s mountain. Asaph prays for a fiery end to Israel’s hate-filled foes.
A Better Solution
While Asaph may wish for the defeat of God’s enemies, he has a higher end in mind. “Let them be confounded and troubled forever; yeah, let them be put to shame and perish; so that men may know that Your name is the Lord, that you alone are the Most High over all the earth,” verses 17-18.
Israel’s enemies do not yet acknowledge that YHVH is God – the one true God. As God said through the prophet Isaiah, “I am the Lord, and there is none else. There is no God besides Me…(Isaiah 45:5).
What will happen in the days and months ahead in Egypt and throughout the Middle East is anyone’s guess. If the Muslim Brotherhood finds its way into power in Egypt, or elsewhere, it is unlikely to relinquish it. It may say it believes in democracy, but if it does, it will only be one time – long enough to gain power. The Brotherhood is an Islamist party that would impose upon Egypt Shariah law. As I wrote at the beginning of this column, one prominent member of the Brotherhood in Egypt has already warned of war with Israel.
We’d all like to see peace, order and democracy in the war-torn Middle East, but we will have to see a lot more war and suffering before any of that occurs. Study Isaiah 19 — it’s about Egypt. Note especially the last four verses. Egypt will eventually come to acknowledge the one true God. Until it does, we can pray the imprecatory words of Psalm 83 on Israel’s behalf. We can pray for Israel’s protection, survival and victory for “…He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep,” (Psalm 121:4).