“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace”
Psalm 29:11 (NIV)
Do you get the sense the world is spinning out of control? I know it feels that way to me. Every day a new crisis or reason for worry seems to spring out of nowhere.
That’s why I’m so thankful we know God is in control. He isn’t taken by surprise or overwhelmed by circumstances. Even when we are surprised or overwhelmed, the Psalm above says that He gives us strength and peace. I don’t know about you, but I can always use more of both.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, especially as we look at the news coming out of Israel, I encourage you to ask the Lord for strength and peace. Pray strength and peace for yourself, your family, friends, neighbors, region, and an extra measure for Israel and the Jewish people. God will hear you.
If you want more encouragement in these chaotic times, please take a look at our daily devotional series Hope In The Midst.
Now, let’s take a look at where God’s strength and peace are needed right now in Israel.
COVID-19 CASES INCREASE ACROSS ISRAEL
On Sunday, Sigal Sadetzky, the head of health services at the Health Ministry, told Israel’s parliament that the country is seeing the start of a second wave of the pandemic. Over the last month the government took steps to reopen the economy and roll back restrictions.
“We had a long period of more than two weeks with a calm of less than 20 infections a day, and it started to climb and climb, and now we are seeing close to 200 new sick people a day,” Sadetzky said, according to The Times of Israel.
“What characterizes the wave we are seeing now is that it’s across the country. We don’t really know how to identify at-risk groups,” she said.
FULL LOCKDOWN COULD RETURN IN ISRAEL IF INFECTION RATE DOESN'T DROP
Late last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israelis that the government will have to reimpose the lockdown if social distancing and other preventive measures aren’t practiced to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
"I have good news and not-so-good news. The good news is that our economy is picking up pace," Netanyahu said, according to Israel Hayom, an Israeli national newspaper.
"The not-so-good news is our community spread levels," he continued, referring to the recent increase of COVID-19 infections within Israel. "We are seeing the start of a climb, and the reproduction number [the time it takes for cases to multiply] is 10 days. If this continues, we will have to reintroduce the lockdown measures."
On a positive note, Israeli researchers have identified short amino acid sequences – often referred to as the “building blocks of life” – that could help develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
The other big news story in Israel continues to be the potential West Bank annexation – including how the international community is responding as well as the Palestinian Authority (PA).
This is the headline of an op-ed piece written last week by United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba for an Israeli newspaper:
Annexation will be a serious setback for better relations with the Arab world
The ambassador said he wanted to speak directly to the Israeli public. His piece in Ynet News included these words:
“A unilateral and deliberate act, annexation is the illegal seizure of Palestinian land. It defies the Arab – and indeed the international – consensus on the Palestinian right to self-determination.”
He continued, “It will ignite violence and rouse extremists. It will send shock waves around the region, especially in Jordan whose stability – often taken for granted – benefits the entire region, particularly Israel.”
Indeed, news earlier this week said that Jordan’s King Abdullah II refused to speak with Netanyahu over the phone. He also wouldn’t specify a date for a meeting requested by Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
A Jordanian official told Ma’an the refusal came because of Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in July, according to The Jerusalem Post.
At the same time, it seems the PA is struggling with it’s response to Israel concerning the potential annexation, as evidenced in this headline:
Palestinian leadership struggle to rally public against annexation
Last week, the PA coordinated a public rally in Manara Square to protest the annexation, but could only gather about 200 people. Around the same time, there was a well-attended protest of the PA's decision to cut the salaries of many of its government employees.
The fact that West Bank citizens will take to the streets over the economic crisis but not annexation indicates a lack of confidence in the leadership.
“The disconnect between the leadership and the public is worsening and what happened at Manara is a symptom of it,” said a longtime member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, according to Haaretz.com, the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel.
LET US PRAY TOGETHER
Join me in praying for God to give His people strength and peace in the days ahead. Please pray with me for:
- The infection and death rates from COVID-19 to decline in Israel and around the world
- Significant progress in developing a vaccine against COVID-19
- Wisdom for leaders in Israel, the Middle East and our world – that they would seek God’s will and what is best for their people
- God’s direction concerning the West Bank and the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians
- Jewish people to seek their Messiah Jesus so they can find strength and peace in Him