By Arlene Bridges Samuels
Seven thousand air miles may separate us, but the United States and Israel are adding another layer of friendship and cooperation to our already robust relationship. As our nations face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Israeli and American scientists are racing together on a research speedway to track down a cure.
While fear plagues millions during this unprecedented crisis, the U.S., Israel, and the rest of the world hope for an end to this baffling virus. We in the Christian community occasionally seesaw between fear and faith ourselves. Awaiting a vaccine, we can steady ourselves, our families, friends, and nations with prayer.
We target our prayers toward Israel in particular. We owe them a debt of profound gratitude. Jewish scribes served as vessels for the legacy of the Scriptures. Our Christian faith was built on the foundation of ancient Judaism. Our historic bond with the Jewish people and the faith of Judaism persists in modern times. This is why so many Christians in the U.S. are deeply devoted to standing with Israel and the Jewish people.
Recently, the online news magazine ISRAEL21c carried an article mentioning that some Israeli companies have research centers in both Israel and the United States. The Times of Israel reports that a U.S. firm developing a vaccine indicated that Israel could be used as a location for human trials since their COVID-19 infection rate is rising. The CEO of one of 13 Israeli companies researching a variety of cures has stated, “We believe humanity needs a toolbox of different solutions for COVID-19.” Like many Christians, I would not be surprised if Israel discovered the first cure or curb for the virus. It fits into Israel’s established reputation as the “innovation nation.”
Panic has erupted, however. Thousands of Israelis have been rioting in Tel Aviv. They have been demonstrating near Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence due to their dissatisfaction with his crisis management. While scientists log untold hours in laboratories, angry voices are bouncing off the ancient and modern walls of Israel in hot debate. Last week, Netanyahu urged the demonstrators, “Don’t drag the state into anarchy, violence, and destruction of property. Don’t drag it into attacks on police; they’re doing their job.”
Peaceful demonstrators are also demanding answers: “Will my children return to school?” “What about my business?” “I miss synagogue services!” “Tourism is gone!” “I was laid off from my job!” “We need more money!”
Early this week, Israel’s President Rivlin traveled north to Haifa to meet with medical, business, and civic leaders. His remarks are sobering. “The coronavirus is teaching us all a lesson in humility. … Here we are facing a tiny virus that has shut down, to one extent or another, life as we know it.” With Israeli hospitals already at 100% capacity, he added, “The doctors, nurses … and team members are on the front line. I know that even in normal times, you are overworked. … You have borne an extraordinary burden.”
Israelis’ challenges and their leaders’ comments sound all too familiar. We walk in their shoes, yet with one colossal exception—Israel not only fights the COVID-19 virus; they are also fighting a decades-long terror virus. On three of Israel’s borders—with Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria—COVID-19 has not stopped terrorists from building their vast arsenal of weapons to destroy the Jewish state. The border has been “hot” for months. A firefight broke out Sunday when Hezbollah terrorists crossed into Israel. In southern Israel, civilians are still suffering post-traumatic stress after more than a decade of terror attacks, invasion tunnels, and rockets from Hamas in Gaza.
With challenges on so many fronts, what prayers can we offer for our Israeli friends?
Here are some very specific ways you can pray for Israel this week:
- Pray for the nation and people of Israel as they continue to face the serious threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Pray for Israel’s brilliant researchers and innovators to forge breakthroughs that can provide ways to stem the tide of this pandemic.
- Pray that God will enable all branches of the Israeli military to remain vigilant. Ask God to reveal every plot against the Jewish state from terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon, and Iranian troops based in Syria.
- Pray that the Jewish people will renew their hope and their ancestry, recalling that for centuries God has “redeemed them, summoned them and says, ‘You are mine.’” To this day, God has preserved a Jewish remnant.
Beyond that, we need only open our Bibles to Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT):
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Together, who knows how far the United States, Israel, and the God of all nations can go?
Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. By invitation, she has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit twice. She hosts her devotionals on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.