Daniel and three young companions were among the scores carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies. They were snatched from their homes and families, and we are not told if any family members survived the battle and ransacking of Jerusalem. The young men would be forced to endure whatever trials and degradation faced them. Despite the circumstances surrounding these four young men, they did not relinquish their faith in Jehovah.
These Hebrew boys from noble, nurturing families had been accustomed to being in a warm and caring atmosphere. They were homesick and unsettled, and things would only get worse. Their familial protection had been stripped from them, and they were at the mercy of a pagan king and his minions. Yet God had not forsaken them; their training had not abandoned them; their faith in Jehovah was secure. They would be faced with trials and demands that would challenge their beliefs. Would they remain faithful?
One of the first tests to which Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would be subjected was over the food provided to them. The king had ordered that they be fed from his table with food that was not allowed under the Law of Moses. The three young men were determined not to eat the food offered to idols and petitioned the Babylonian official to allow them to partake of only vegetables and water. With reluctance, the keeper agreed. The resolve of the young men and their obedience to God’s law won them the respect of the official, of Nebuchadnezzar, and of God. They had passed the first test with flying colors, but a more difficult test lurked around the corner. How would they handle a life-threatening situation?
Nebuchadnezzar was not unlike many in the public eye today: He began to believe his own hype, his own public relations fantasies. As his ego grew, so did his desire to erect a statue that would reflect his untold wealth and power. His artisans loosely based the design of the image on a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had experienced, the meaning of which Daniel had interpreted. The king opened the doors to his vast storehouses of golden treasure to provide the materials from which the idol was to be made. It is entirely possible that some of the golden vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem were included in those melted and used to fashion the commanded graven image.
The Chaldeans worshiped a number of heathen deities, but nothing as brilliant and magnificent as the statue that rose up from the plain of Dura. It was said to be 90 feet tall and nine feet wide—probably with an appearance much like an obelisk. Nebuchadnezzar was elated with the statue when it was completed and issued an edict to the people of Babylon: The graven image was to be dedicated as an object of worship, and all would display their consummate devotion by bowing down before the idol:
Now, Daniel and his friends had cut their teeth on the laws of God, specifically the Ten Commandments. The tenets and precepts of God’s law were deeply ingrained in the minds and spirits of those young men. The first and second commandments are very specific: You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make any graven image. And even though their lives were threatened, those Hebrew children would not bow down.
The time has come for Christians everywhere to stand up and “Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly” (Joel 2:15). There is a gap, a breach to be filled, and a price to be paid. Dedicated watchmen are needed on every wall. God’s Word is rife with examples of intercessors who prevailed against the Enemy, the prayer warriors of Hebrews 11 who subdued kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, set armies to flight, raised the dead, and secured the promises of God—all through faith in God and prayer!
Daniel put his life on the line by praying three times a day despite the king’s order to abstain. Prayer is a priority we cannot and must not overlook. Israel’s, and indeed America’s, future hope lies in the hands of prayer warriors, those who will take up the banner and commit to prayer. It is not the last resort; it is the first step in winning the battle against the evil that stalks this world today.
If Daniel prayed and mighty angels were sent to do battle against demon spirits, so can you and I. Since Daniel lived in the Babylonian Empire, it is quite possible that the prince of Persia he fought in the spirit was one of the same spirits at work today to bring death and destruction. Regardless of which spirits are now involved or how many there are, the clarion call goes out to God-fearing people everywhere to man the battle stations and fight the war in prayer. Just as America has been forced to take the war on terrorism to the battlefields of the nations that sponsor it, we must take our fight to the battlefield in the spiritual realm to defeat the demons that sponsor it.
We must take the battle to the Enemy and defeat them through prayer in the name of Jesus! Prayer is the only exploit that takes hold of eternity. It is the action that touches heaven and moves earth. It pierces the heart of God, turns the head of God, and moves the hand of God. For a Christian, it is not the last resort; it must always be the first line of defense! Through prayer, we must do everything possible to overthrow kingdoms of darkness, shut the mouths of the lions of terror, and quench the flames of hell by the power of almighty God! How you and I respond to God’s call will determine whether we succeed or fail.
When President Donald Trump arrived in Jerusalem for Israel’s 50th anniversary, Friends of Zion had billboards erected around the city declaring, “Trump, Make Israel Great” and “Trump is a Friend of Zion.” Little did anyone realize how much this president would do for Israel. Not only did he recognize Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but he also shut down the PLO office in Washington, stopped the funding of the PA through the Taylor Force Act, and closed the consul in Jerusalem. He has now removed the anti-Israel declaration calling Judea and Samaria Bible lands “settlements,” with the announcement from the U.S. State Department that it will no longer use the term “settlements” to describe Judea and Samaria, a term employed by the UN.
Most Christians or Jews in America grew up reading the Bible that recounted the history of Judea and Samaria. They read of Hebron (Kiriath Arba) where Abraham purchased land in which to bury his wife Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as Rebekah and Leah, were also buried there. It was David’s first capital where he was also anointed as king.
Bethel is a place name often found in the Bible. It was the site where Jacob dreamed of seeing angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven. It is in the heart of what is called the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria.
Why is this a big deal? Because it has, for thousands of years, been Bible land. It was never illegal. The promises read by Christians and Jews were that God gave it to Israel and called it an “eternal covenant.” Regrettably, Jew-haters are able to use the land to mobilize support in their favor, resulting in the loss of life for thousands of Jewish people for no reason other than they were Jews and wanted to live in the Bible land. The United Nations refers to this as “occupied territory” and demands that Israel relinquishes it.
Among the most powerful groups in the United States are the pro-Israel Evangelicals and the Orthodox Jewish community, which consider these Bible lands, not “settlements.” They also believe the promise to Abraham from Genesis 12:3: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Harry S. Truman is in history books for one reason above all; he recognized the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948. Donald Trump continues to make history. For both Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians, Trump is fulfilling prophecy and paving the way for the coming of the Messiah.
Bible-believing evangelicals consider the support of Israel a biblical mandate. Regardless of contrary opinion, we do not believe Israel has to offer an excuse for its existence. Israel lives today as a right! A right that has been hallowed by the Bible, by history, by sacrifice, by prayer, and by the yearning for peace!
“I will restore the captivity of my people, Israel…I will plant them in their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land, which I have given them, says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:14-15).
We believe one of the reasons America has been blessed over the years is because we have stood with Israel. This promise is taken from Genesis 12:3: ‘I will bless them that bless thee.’ And so, for biblical reasons, first and foremost, we support the State of Israel. For humanitarian reasons, we support the Jewish people. For historical reasons, we believe that the Bible land belongs to the Jewish people.
Israel and the United States are not separate and distinct; we are one. We share common ideals and common democracy. What unites us across the ocean and brings Jew and Christian together is the recognition that Israel is a nation that is a manifestation of what America was and is.
America has a strong interest in the Middle East. We believe that the nation of Israel is the key to that interest because of our common bonds, our common values, our common beliefs in social justice, and the godly principles on which our two countries were founded. Israel is the firewall between radical Islam and the West.
Prayer is as essential as air and water if we are to maintain a spiritual life of constant contact with God. If we don’t make that connection, no matter how sincere our intentions, we will not see a change in the circumstances of our life. We must pray! James 4:2 tells us: “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask” (emphasis mine).
During a dark hour of Israel’s history, the Assyrians demanded heavy tribute from King Hezekiah. In response, Hezekiah stripped the Temple of its gold and silver in order to meet that demand. Still, that was not enough; the Assyrians mounted an attack against the city. When King Hezekiah was informed in a letter from the king of Assyria that Israel would be destroyed if the demands were not met, he took the letter to the Temple. There, in the presence of God, he spread the letter on the altar and prayed:
O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. . . . Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone. —2 Kings 19:15–16, 19
God answered the king’s prayer with an overwhelming victory! The Bible says the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. In great gratitude for God’s mercy, Hezekiah cleansed, repaired, and reopened the Temple of God. Worship to Jehovah was restored, daily sacrifices were resumed, and the Passover Feast was again celebrated by the nation of Israel.
Years earlier, when King Solomon had prayed at the dedication of the Temple, God revealed himself and His plan to Solomon with great power:
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” —2 Chronicles 7:12–16
Isaiah encouraged the Israelites with: “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’” (Isaiah 58:9). King Solomon prophesied that a national revival would come to Israel. It has yet to occur, but when that renewal does come, it will certainly be through the power of prayer. You and I can help usher in that renewal through prayer.
Prayer is an essential part of the life of a Believer. But just what is prayer? It has been described by some as practicing the presence of God. By others, it is defined as the abandonment of self-reliance and the admission of our need for and our total confidence in Jehovah. We humble ourselves, let our petitions rise heavenward, and release our faith and hope in almighty God. Through prayer, mere man can touch the heart of God.
When you have a great need in your life, circle it with prayer. What does that mean and how is it accomplished? It is a metaphorical circle that allows you to focus on a particular need or needs according to Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Prayer is not an attempt to manipulate God into our way of thinking. It is not trite, repetitious, ritualistic, or showy.
Author and pastor Dr. Paul Chappell defines prayer this way: “Prayer is not a show nor a ritual. Prayer is you speaking directly to the Creator of the world about your deepest needs, desires, and burdens. It’s expressing your thankfulness for His goodness. It’s your privilege and honor as a believer.”
In the Old Testament, God uses one of the most captivating images in the Bible, a watchman. What does that have to do with prayer? How can we learn about prayer by studying the watchman? The prophet Ezekiel delivers a cautionary word of warning from Jehovah in chapter 3, verse 17: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.”
In chapter 33, Jehovah repeats His instructions to the prophet. The metaphor is drawn from the earliest days of agricultural societies when posts were erected overlooking crops to provide a tower for a watchman. The towers were designed to offer a view of thieves—man or animal—who would ransack the ripening harvests. For many, the harvest was a matter of life and death, of having food for the coming winter or starving. The men who were appointed as watchmen were crucial to the survival of his village. The same was true of cities.
During times of impending attacks, watchmen would scour the horizon for invaders and then sound the warning to alert inhabitants to approaching danger. The city gates would be closed and barred, and defenders would take their positions on the battlements. Just as a watchman warned the people of a coming enemy and was, therefore, the first line of defense, intercessory prayer warriors are the first line of spiritual defense for our nation and our communities.
What happens when the watchmen fail to do their jobs? The prophet Ezekiel gives us insight: “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood” (Ezekiel 33:6). A watchman cannot be apathetic; indifference will suffocate our faith. It must be replaced by steadfast prayer in order to revive our spiritual lives. Nothing is more important to God than prayer! God will do nothing without prayer. It is the fuel that moves the engine of humanity.