By Stan Goodenough - Jerusalem Newswire - August 14, 2005
Our Father in heaven,
A long time ago, after You had chosen Israel to be Your special treasure, calling her the apple of Your eye and establishing her to be a nation set apart, You were forced, by her sinful behavior, to turn Your face from her.
You had told her through Moses that her persistent rebelliousness would eventually drive her from the light of Your countenance into the shadow of death.
You had warned them, through Samuel and the other prophets, that the day would come when You would not accept their sacrifices; You would not spare them nor have pity on them. Though they cried in Your ears with a loud voice, You would not hear them.
Though You warned them repeatedly, they would not hear You, so You stopped hearing them.
Everything happened just as You said it would. For You are a holy God, righteous in all Your ways.
You delivered them up to be harmed by all the kingdoms of the earth, and sent the sword, famine and pestilence after them.
For millennia Your people wandered this globe, finding no rest for the soles of their feet. Despised and rejected everywhere, they tasted the bitterness of Your cup. Daily, weekly, year after year, their prayers ascended to the heavens, falling on ears now closed to their cries.
How endless those centuries must have seemed to You, heavenly Father. How You must have longed to unstop Your ears and turn back to Your own.
At last, You chose to do so, and a new day finally came.
It was in the mid-1800s that the first glow of Your turning countenance began to penetrate Israel’s long night, slowly at first, but with increasing strength, driving away that interminable darkness and bringing a promise of hope and light to the remnant that had survived.
As it always does, the darkest moments battled against the dawn as, in a desperate attempt to defeat Your purpose, Your enemies tried to rob You of Your firstborn and deprive You of the reunion You have ordained.
In their frenzy and hatred they destroyed six million. But they could not destroy Your plan.
Thousands of years ago, You primed Your “alarm” to go off at a pre-determined time.
When that set time came You promised that You would gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth, bring them back, and plant them in their own land.
You would take possession of Judah as Your inheritance in this land, and would again choose Jerusalem.
LORD God of Israel,
It has been over 100 years since You began to turn Your face back towards Your land; to lift up Your countenance again over the nation of Israel.
Clearly, Your ears are no longer closed to the cries of Your people. You heard them in the Pale of Settlement, You heard them in Warsaw and in Auschwitz, and You have been bringing their sons and daughters back to their homeland again.
The darkness that has so long clung to this land and its people now rages against Your light. But just as the blackest night cannot snuff out a candle, so this darkness cannot quench that light. Your Light shines in the darkness. And Your Light will overcome it.
O God to Whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! How long will You hide Your face from Your people? You have struck them so hard, LORD. For a brief moment You have hid Your face from them. It has been a long moment. Your wrath has been painful upon Your people.
You have promised to have mercy on Israel with everlasting kindness. You have promised to take the cup of affliction out of their hands and put it into the hands of those who have been afflicting them, making them drink of it.
You have kept Israel through everything and You have brought them back.
Still their enemies are out to kill them. The nations continue to rage and plan their demise. All the gentiles today stand gathered together against You and against Your Chosen ones.
Yet Your people are still expecting miracles; still trusting You to intervene, still believing, as they put it, that “something is in the air.”
“G-d forbid,” they say, that the “Disengagement” will take place. Will You, Almighty One, forbid it? Or is it in Your sovereign plan to allow this to take place?
Your ways are not our ways, and we defer to Your sovereignty.
But – as long as there is hope; as long as the axe has not fallen, we will continue to join our prayers to theirs, crying out O LORD for You to roar from Zion, to bare Your holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; that the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God – Israel’s God.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all their troubles.
We pray, with confidence, knowing that You will keep the rest of Your promise. We believe Your ears are open and that You do hear their prayers. We believe that You will rise up and have mercy on Zion; that the set time has come.
Remember the promises You made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Remember Your commitment to bring the remnant back to their land, and keep them here as a Shepherd keeps His sheep; that no one will be able to make them afraid. Remember Your promise to draw them with cords of love, to not leave one of them among the nations. You can do all this, for You are God.
And on behalf of Your people, we who believe in You and trust in Your Word, say this blessing over them:
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give You His peace.