“Let them be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.” Psalm 129:5
Scattered about the modern city of Jerusalem are small stone memorials. You’ll find them on sides of cafes, city shops, and above the street corners. Most have a small red colored flame, decorating the right side. They also include the names of various people.
These memorials are placed by the city, in honor of the terrorist victims who lost their lives there. The red flame represents a burning candle. It symbolizes the word found in Proverbs that “the soul of man is the candle of the Lord” (Pr. 20:27). This yahrzeit candle reminds people of the fragility of life and encourages them to embrace it and those they love. A common “toast” in Jewish society is “L’chaim”: “To life.”
Living in Jerusalem is to be confronted with hatred, face to face. You can feel it, hear it and even see it. It assaults all the senses. This has been a city victimized by hatred. It has suffered missile attacks, suicide bombings, rock throwings and riots. The nation of Iran is currently threatening to devastate Jerusalem with nuclear weapons. Jerusalem, the city of peace, is beset by hatred.
It is more than a conflict between Islam and Judaism. Jerusalem ignites the passions in men’s souls. This city has suffered invasions and destruction. It has known political turmoil, cultural divisions and religious violence. It is above all a spiritual war. The devil is contending for Jerusalem.
The Old Hatred
The LORD God reveals to Ezekiel that the root source of the problem is “the old hatred” (Ezek. 25:15). It is a generational animosity, beginning with Esau’s hatred towards Jacob for stealing his birthright. This abhorrence is in the blood. It is passed down from father to son and mother to daughter. A hatred so fierce against the children of Israel, it is “perpetual” (Ezek. 35:5). A harvest of hatred: year after year, decade after decade, century after century. A generational curse, handed down from father to son and mother to daughter.
This hatred is nurtured in the young, sometimes before they can even speak. They are taught, for it is incubated in them by their parent’s curses, words, songs and actions. They find it in their religious education as well in the school books. Hatred is a way of life, brother against brother and both of them against you. Those who rebel are given hero status and martyrs funerals when they perish. Hatred is a force that consumes, always demanding revenge.
Haifa port inspectors seized thousands of dolls in 2015, which had a raised hand holding a rock. These dolls were hidden in a shipment destined to the Palestinian Authority. Custom declarations stated that the container originated from the United Arab Emirates and contained clothing, rugs and plastic products. The dolls were clad in keffiyehs, and wore scarfs decorated with the colors of the Palestinian flag. A picture of the Dome of the Rock was also attached to the figures. The words “Jerusalem is ours” and “Jerusalem, we are coming” were written on an attached card. Port officials believe the dolls were part of a campaign to incite violence among the P.A. children.
The Hebrew language identifies this ancient hatred as being eyvah. It means: “to be an enemy, or hostile.” The word describes the friction between the serpent and the woman (and her seed). Close to this interpretation is the Hebrew word sane. It too means “to hate” but violently. It is the desire to have no contact or relationship with another. This is the word the Psalmist uses to describe those who ‘”hate Zion” (Ps.129:4).
This is the state of Jerusalem today. Although the city is united, those who live on the Arab side have little contact with the Jewish side. Nor do those who reside on the Jewish side communicate with the sons of Ishmael. Love unites but hate separates.
“Let them be confounded”
The authorship of Psalms 129 is unknown. Some scholars attribute it to David while others feel it was written during Israel’s Babylonian captivity. All agree that this psalm was probably written during a time of trouble, or persecution or war which was afflicting the Jewish people. The writer was appealing to God to intervene, as He had done in former times. His prayer was that all the haters of Zion would be put to shame. Let them be driven into confusion, for pursuing such evil. David’s prayer is an expression of faith. “Rise up O God,” he is praying, “Defend your people.” “Make haste” he cries “O God to deliver me… Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: Let them be turned backward, and put to confusion that desire my hurt” (Ps. 70:2).
King David in praying this Psalm is reminding God of His dwelling place, and is placing the obligation on the LORD to defend it. During modern Israel’s many wars, conflicts and seasons of terrorism, the rabbis have publicly recommended that people appeal unto God with this Psalm, as well as others. It is a plea for deliverance and a strong prayer for God to act quickly to save Israel.
The hill that David originally captured and made into his city, was first called Zion. Later it referred to Mt. Moriah and the location of the Temple. Gradually Zion came to mean all of Israel and its people. The Book of Hebrews refers to Mount Zion as part of “the city of the living God, and the heavenly Jerusalem.”
Zion is no mere name. God repeatedly declares that it is He “who hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell for I have desired it” (Ps. 132:13-14). Speaking to the prophet Joel, the LORD proclaims: “So shall you know, that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy and there shall no strangers pass through her anymore” (Joel 3:17). John sees the Lamb “standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His father written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).
From Saul to Paul
The LORD though does answer prayer in ways beyond our comprehension. The Book of Acts speaks of Saul “making havoc of the church.” Yet in the midst of his evil intent, the LORD intervened and struck him down. He encountered Jesus and found his life changed. Saul, now Paul was delivered from hate, becoming “a chosen vessel”, to speak the Lord’s name “before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
While some may look to God for a mass deliverance through armies being struck down, the LORD looks to touch the hearts that “know not what they do.” He is seeking Sauls to deliver them from hatred, especially hatred of His people.
From Bomb Maker to Bible Teacher
The Jerusalem Post published a story, during one of the “intifadas” or uprisings against the Jewish citizens. It was entitled “From bombmaker to Bible Teacher.” Raja Salameh, grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem and became a Fatah terrorist at age 25. A backslidden Catholic, he learned to make explosives and carry out attacks against Israel’s Jewish population. Raja was responsible for training others in this deadly expertise. His hatred of Zion ruled his life.
Then, he became involved in drugs. He became so addicted that even the Palestinian Authority rejected his services. A loving Dutch woman named Ms. Bleeker got to know him and invited this drug addled terrorist to a prayer meeting. Here he realized that he needed to change his life. The church he was attending then sent him to a Christian center for recovering addicts near Haifa. Here Raja likes to say, God gave him “a new heart.”
Today, Raja is much older, and loves Jesus fervently. He can be found in Jerusalem’s old city where he runs “The Good Samaritan Center.” Here, not far from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, he cares for the city’s elderly Christian Arabs. Raja is also trying to reach the Old City’s Arab children. This time, instead of showing them how to make bombs, he is teaching them about Jesus and the Bible. Raja also holds inter-denominational services in his center and says “It is Jesus that brings us together.”
If God can pull Raja out of a pit of hatred and darkness, then let us pray for others that hate Zion with a demonic rage. Pray that their hands for hatred and evil be bound. Pray that they be delivered from this “perpetual hatred.”
Redeemed from the Curse
Christ came to set men free. He came to deliver the captives and those who are bound, by hated, revenge, unforgiveness, grudges and blood lusts.
Hate is manifested in many forms. Unforgiveness of others is really hate. Grudges are also expressions of hatred. A grudge murders relationships between people, and has been compared to being like a cancer inside of you. It destroys God’s purpose for all of us to live in unity. The worst form of hatred is revenge. It has been called a raging abscess that will poison all your thoughts and actions. Philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon once said, “In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon. ”
Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, counseled his listeners to “resist not evil.” Godly behavior is found not in demanding “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” but in presenting the other cheek after being hit on the right side. In other words, seek to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you.” The believer who follows Christ must “pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.” The reward earned in practicing such behavior, is nothing less than becoming “children of your Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 5:44-45).
A Word from the LORD
I am not a god of hatred but a God of Love. My name is Love. My nature is love. I am rich in mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. I created the world in love. I sent my Son to it in love, and I redeemed you in love.
A man that hates walks in darkness. A man that hates finds it difficult to love, and is difficult to love. A man that hates rejects me, for I am love. Prisons are filled because of hatred. Hatred divides, smothers and kills. Cain murdered Abel because of hate. Only I can banish hate. My forgiveness removes hatred from men’s spirits, for again I am rich in mercy, and not punishment.
Pray like David prayed: “Search me O Lord and see if there is any wicked thing in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23a-24). Allow my presence to come within you. I will set you free. Allow me to envelop you in my love. My presence in you will drive out all spots of wickedness. Let me soften the hardness of your heart. Let me break the curses that drive you towards murder, hate and rage. Ask for my presence. Pray for my presence.
My servant Paul said that he was the “worst of all sinners” yet I forgave him and used him. Use my name to set those captive by hatred free. The demons recognized who I was, and submitted. I released the man possessed with a legion of demons and they fled at my command. Pray for those in darkness, so that I can bring freedom to their souls.
My righteousness is of me, it shall not cease for I am a God of justice. I stay wickedness (Ps. 125:3), I confound evil. Those who hate Zion, I seek after with a vengeance. They shall perish and be as chaff in the wind. My angel shall chase them (Ps. 35:5). My word to those who pursue evil is to turn away from your wicked ways, while there is still time and I will forgive your sin (II Chr. 7:14).
Follow my two greatest commandments and you shall enter into my house: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. And love thy neighbor as thyself.
Zion is my house. Zion is my city. Zion is those who are my holy people. Zion is where you will dwell with me in eternity.
Lord, as we meditate on those who live to hate, let us pray the words of John and live to love:
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he inGod. And we have known and believed that love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (I Jn. 4:7-16).
“Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate” (Ps. 34:21).
“Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me; fight against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help, Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation” (Ps. 35:1-3).
“Thou shall arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea the set time, is come” (Ps. 102:13).
“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Pr. 6:16-19).
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I Jn. 3:15).
Jerusalem, Lest I Forget Thee by Gene Little
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