Apr 6, 2008

Dispatch From The Golan Heights

By Joel C. Rosenberg

Israel begins largest emergency drill ever to prepare for war

(Golan Heights, Israel) -- Pray for peace, but prepare for war. This has been my theme over the past few years, but I have never felt the urgency to do both -- pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as the Scriptures teach us in Psalm 122:6, and make preparations to ship into the region at least $120 million worth of humanitarian relief over the next few years -- more than I do right now. The Palestinian foreign minister says he thinks a peace treaty with Israel can be signed by year's end. But war clouds are also building on the horizon -- particularly with Iran, Syria and Lebanon -- and no one is quite sure how long we have until the next conflict breaks out. As I write this, I am looking out over the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights and wondering just what the future holds. And I am not alone. Today, the Israeli government begins the largest emergency drill ever to get its citizens and first responders ready for what they fear could be coming soon.

"In face of increased tensions with Syria and Iran's efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, parts of the country will shut down later this week for what security officials say is the largest emergency exercise in Israel's history,"
reports The Jerusalem Post. "The drill, which is being organized by the newly-established National Emergency Authority, will start on Sunday and last five days....The first two days of the drill include security cabinet meetings -- led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- to simulate the effectiveness of the current decision-making process during an enemy attack. On Tuesday, sirens will sound briefly nationwide; the public is asked to use the time to locate the closest bomb shelter or protected room. Drawing from lessons of the Second Lebanon War and in preparation for Iranian nuclear bombs as well as possible chemical and biological attacks, the Israel Police, IDF Home Front Command, other military branches, all of the country's hospitals, the Fire and Rescue Service, Magen David Adom and other rescue services will participate in the five-day drill. Rescue services will simulate mass evacuations from 'hit zones' -- including chemical and biological attacks -- and hospitals will drill their ability to treat thousands of injured."

With me are nearly 200 evangelical Christian pastors and church leaders from more than 20 states, all participating in a
Joshua Fund "Prayer & Vision Trip" through the Holy Land. Over the past few days, we've been exploring the history of this beautiful country, the enormous challenges facing the Jewish State at present, and the prophecies that will shape Israel's future. We've taken these leaders to Caesaria and studied the Book of Acts together in the Roman Amphitheatre overlooking the Mediterranean. We've taken them to Har-Megiddo -- the mountain known as "Armageddon" -- as we studied the prophecies of Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation. We've taken them to Nazareth, as we considered the challenges of life for Arab followers of Jesus in the city and country where our Savior grew up.

Soon, we will head to Jerusalem for
the Epicenter conference (Thursday, April 10th), briefings by various Israeli leaders, and to do a food distribution project for the poor and needy in the Holy City and in towns and villages around the country. Please pray for safety and wisdom for us. But far more importantly, please pray that the Lord would pour out His blessings on the people of this land, and her neighbors. You and I may not be able to stop the war that is coming. But we can make a difference in the name of Jesus in the lives of those who are suffering today. We can show them unconditional and unwavering love. This is our Biblical mandate. May we take it seriously -- and soon.