AN OPPORTUNITY TO INFLUENCE
"...those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines."
(Obediah 1:18 ESV)
It had been a wonderful tour. Ten days of riding, walking, seeing, touching, singing, eating, and learning in The Land. Hearts were full. The scriptures were alive with new meaning. Each day it seemed that emotions could not possibly go higher, still, a new apex was realized. We had ascended. Now, this was our final day and we were traveling from Tiberias to Mount Carmel.
As we traveled through the foothills, with microphone in hand, our sensational guide and co-leader, Rabbi Moshe Rothchild, made a somber plea, "You've come to Israel....you've been impacted by what you've seen....please, don't let it stop here....go home and share Israel with your world."
His words, "share Israel with your world" and our path through the foothills that morning reminded me of something from the Book of Obediah.
In his short book, the prophet speaks of the destruction of Edom (Esau--Gen 36:1) for
his bitter mistreatment of G-d's people and of a day in which all nations will be judged and rewarded on the basis of how they have treated Israel. Then, he concludes his chapter with a few lines regarding the restoration of Israel and the future kingdom of Messiah.
However, it was something in the 18th verse that had come alive to me that morning, "those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines."
You see, the word Shephelah, meaning "low," is often translated in the English versions of the Bible as "lowlands," "foothills," or "plains." The term actually refers to a region in Judea that is approximately 12 miles wide and 27 miles in length.
Because of its position between the coastal plain to the west and the Judea Mountains to the east, this narrow straight has always been of great importance. First, contact between the people of the mountains and the people of the plains would naturally occur in the foothills which lay between the two groups of people. Secondly, to the ancient world, the valleys of the Shephelah created a natural corridor and served as the only logical trade route through the region.
Whoever controlled the Shephelah dominated the relationship between the two peoples. Thus, this is the geographic setting and significance of most of the Philistine-Israelite conflicts in the Bible.
Therefore, these foothills served as the debating ground between the Philistines that controlled the passage and the Israelites of the mountains. Notably, it was here that Joshua fought and prayed for the sun to stop its course, David slew the Philistine giant named Goliath, Sampson had his battles with the Philistines, and the good King Asa conquered a million-man army.
More recently, in Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the main road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which passes through this region was constantly under Arab attack. Here, Israel suffered some of her bloodiest defeats.
As we were passing through this very place, the Shephelah, Moshe's words were burning in our hearts, "don't let it stop here....go home and share Israel with your world."
This was a defining moment. A defining place. A response was necessary.
As the passengers on the bus considered the plea, there was a sober silence that seemed long. Then, one-by-one, heart-felt commitments came forth throughout the entire bus, "Count me in...I want to help!"
GOD RAISES UP CHAMPIONS
In that the Israelites had not taken possession of the coastal plain as God wanted, they exerted little influence on the rest of the world and the Philistines were persistent in dealing misery to Israel. In response, God raised up heroes like Jonathan (1 Sam. 14), Samson (Judg. 13-16), and David (1 Sam. 17).
God's victory through these biblical champions established the dominance of His values and preserved His plan for the salvation of the Jewish people and, ultimately, the world.
THE "SHEPHELAH" OF OUR TIMES
Today, both the Jewish and Christian communities can learn valuable lessons from this place of conflict. First, like the Philistines of biblical times, there are enemies that are aggressively seeking to separate G-d's people from His promises. In order to garner support and gain strength, they work to banish G-d and His Word from the eye of the secular world. "Out of sight, out of mind," you might say.
These Philistine-like attacks will continue to be effective and deadly if they go unchallenged! Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
Whether it be an issue of The Land promised to the Jewish people or any other, we are called by G-d to TEACH His values, laws and precepts....to become the front-line of those who would influence the world.
Secondly, in these last days, G-d is raising up CHAMPIONS for Israel! As in the biblical times, men and women are sensing the call of G-d to become a part of what G-d is doing. There is no question but what opposing views will clash. However, if we avoid the battle and withdraw to the mountains, we have no impact on the world view of either Israel or the G-d we serve.
Thirdly, by acting on the plan of G-d, WE WIN!!! The words of Obediah are prophetic and ring true.... "those of the Shephelah SHALL possess the land of the Philistines."
Do you what to become a part of what G-d is doing to "influence the world" today? Do you want to champion the cause of G-d and share in the VICTORY over the enemies of G-d and His people?
Perhaps, you're thinking, "But, I'm no Jonathan, Samson, or David." HOWEVER, YOU CAN BE!!!
By joining forces with TeachISRAEL, you are taking your place on the front-line of world influence!!! G-d has raised up TeachISRAEL for such a time as this...and, He has made this your opportunity to Champion His cause!!!
Thank you for your faith, encouragement, and tremendous generosity.....
.....TOGETHER, VICTORY IS CERTAIN and we WILL influence our world!!!