Holy war: Israel and Iran trade scriptural barbs

The battle is not only in Gaza, but also in the heavens. Israel’s enemies understand this, and Netanyahu hinted that he does, too.

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: Hamas, Islam, Bible

“Remember what Amalek has done to you,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel on Sunday during a press conference regarding the war against Hamas. “Our soldiers who are fighting today are part of a legacy going back 3,000 years, starting with Joshua Ben Nun.”

The reference to Amalek was not lost on Hamas or its Iranian overlords, who howled that Bibi had effectively declared a holy war against them.

Anti-Israel media in the Middle East pointed to the rest of the Bible verse cited by Netanyahu:

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” (1 Samuel 15:2-3)

King Saul failed to fully obey God and utterly destroy Amalek, allowing that evil nation to survive and later plague the Jewish people. Since biblical times, all arch-enemies of Israel have been likened to Amalek, because even though they were not all direct physical descendants, the spirit behind them was and is the same.

The same day as Netanyahu’s press conference, Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah published a short video clip that included part of a verse from the Koran:

“So when the [time of] promise came for the first of them, We sent against you [Israel] servants of Ours – those of great military might, and they probed [even] into the homes, and it was a promise fulfilled.”

The passage is from Surah Al-Isra (Surah 17) and deals with Allah’s punishment of Israel and the Jews, promising a day when the forces of Islam will defeat the Jewish people and enter their homes in order to “establish the word” of Allah.

For Israelis, it was a clear taunt after the horrendous attacks on Israelis’ homes in southern Israel by the jihadists of Hamas.


A spiritual battle

For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Paul’s words to the Ephesians are often read solely through the lens of “church ministry.” But this truth manifests also in the dealings and conflicts between people and nations.

The war in and around Israel is a religious war with a very real spiritual background. The evil that we witnessed on October 7 is not human.

Israeli officials and media commentators had trouble defining the nature of those who committed the atrocities in southern Israel, opting for labels such as “beasts,” “monsters,” and “Nazis.” But even those rang insufficient. That’s because, as Paul explained, the terrorists who brutalized Israeli men, women and children on that accursed Shabbat were animated by “spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.”