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Isaiah 19 Highway

When the Arab Spring began in 2011, no one expected the changes that we are now witnessing in the Middle East. Generally speaking, revolutions are not difficult to start; finding people who are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, specifically in this region, is not a problem. When the current uprising in Syria started, people were fairly certain that conflict would not end any time soon. However no one expected that over half of the population of this nation of 17 million would be displaced and more than 200,000 killed.

With the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ancient Christian communities in and around Mosul in northern Iraq (ancient Nineveh) and those in northeast Syria were forced to flee to southeast Turkey and into Iraqi Kurdistan. When a key battle took place between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State forces in 2014, people displaced from Kobane also joined these refugees. This increased the already large number of refugees in Turkey to almost 2 million since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil war.

In short, the Middle East has not seen this scale of refugee crisis since the First World War, which interestingly enough is part of the reason we are in this situation today. Understanding what happened in WWI is essential to understanding why the Middle East is in upheaval today.

Nevertheless, followers of Jesus who are serving God in the midst of the refugee crisis have an unprecedented opportunity to reach those in greatest need of hope with messages of the Messiah’s grace and truth, unlike any time in the last 100 years. The situation, humanly speaking, is hopeless and the tragedy, overwhelming. But it is precisely during these times of darkness that the light shines brightest (John 1:5).

Many Bible readers are now taking encouragement from a portion of scripture in the book of Isaiah, specifically chapter 19, where God speaks of a highway of worship and reconciliation that encompasses people who were formerly enemies but were becoming a “blessing in the midst of the earth” (Is. 19:24). During 2014-2015 teams of young people from Israel and the nations have traveled this “ancient highway” to provide aid to the refugees, encourage long-term Christian workers serving in the region, and support local churches with a message of hope, especially for those living in the shadow of death.

In subsequent ministry trips to the Kobani region in southeastern Turkey, teams bringing aid also led discipleship schools for Kurdish women displaced by the war. This was accomplished by partnering with local Kurdish believers who also serve other refugees. Two new churches have been established in the city of Suruc, made up of mostly young people of Muslim background. Other teams traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to bring aid to Yazidi refugees displaced from Sincar Mountain and living in camps in the Dohuk region.

Our ongoing relationship with a focused group serving out of Israel to these nations, called ‘Derech Avraham’ (Abraham’s Journey), has allowed us at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to meet with Christian and governmental leaders from these regions to pray for and support them during this time.

 

Here are some practical points to guide your prayer group:

1.   Jesus taught that in the end of days the wheat and weeds would grow together, signaling a time of both tremendous evil and a promised harvest. As a result, it is important that we pray according to Scripture for“the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38). It is a simple prayer, but one of great importance at this time.

2.   Pray also for protection and boldness for both the local Christian leaders and the international Christian workers, as well as the entire Christian communities in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq. The needs are overwhelming and reaching out in love to these refugees is a fulltime job. We hear daily testimonies of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus, but it doesn’t end there; they need to be discipled in their faith.

3.   Winter is the most crucial time to pray for the refugees in both southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Many of them live in abandoned buildings, temporary shelters or even tents, none of which are suitable housing in winter, which can also be very harsh in this region. Pray for the aid to reach these camps in time.

4.   Finally, the sense of hopelessness is pervasive, especially with the Islamic State forces advancing as close to some of these camps as 20-30 kilometers (about 15 miles). When both Turkey and Russia joined the conflict, the situation became even more complicated. As a result, massive numbers of the refugee population began to flee to Europe. Pray that God would meet them either on the way or in their host countries in the West.

In The Potter's House

The ICEJ Prayer Initiative

Throughout time and history, nations and individuals influence God’s hand as he forms their lives and destinies in His created world. Their choices determine their experience while journeying through this life, as well as where they will end up after their last breath has been breathed on earth. The response from the heart towards the Lord our God determines the future – both in time and eternity.

We are now in the year 2016 and in the light of God’s Word we want to evaluate, discuss and see what lies ahead for us as nations. This will equip us to pray according to the will of God and He will hear us (1 John 5:14-15). 

Molding a vessel

The word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah to go down to the Potter’s house, since there He would open Jeremiah’s ears and cause him to hear a timely word from God’s throne (Jeremiah 18). So the prophet entered the house and began watching the potter making vessels out of clay. If a vessel became marred while the potter was working at the wheel, he began again and turned it into another shape, however the potter saw good and fit.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” God was reminding Jeremiah of His sovereignty: As Creator, He alone has absolute power over human beings who are His creation. He shapes us as He wishes and He is not accountable to us. This overwhelming sovereignty of God to be able to form and shape individuals and nations is our hope here on earth!

“It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom.9:16). We don’t rely on our own works, but can rest securely at the center of His good will. In other words, even when we are weak and sinful, we simply turn to Him who is sovereign and respond to Him in faith – it is fully within His grasp to take an impossible situation and make life well again.

The gracious and awesome God

Even the nations, their corporate life and destiny can change and be renewed. As the Lord continued speaking with Jeremiah in the Potter’s house, He reveals His principles and ways of dealing with the nations. The heart’s response towards God plays a major role in how or for what purpose the vessel in the hand of the divine Potter finally and eventually will end up. (Jer. 18:7-10). We are told how obedience to God’s truth will produce blessing and how disobedience to His voice will bring judgment and destruction.

Through the prophet’s word, God was warning the people that without repentance and turning from their evil ways as a nation, judgment would soon befall them. He also said, however, that with one turn of the hand and the wheel He could alter the shape of the clay, make it anew to completely transform their impending judgment into a wonderful blessing (Jer. 18:7-8).

Unfortunately, the people did not repent and disaster came in 586 BC when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed the Jerusalem Temple and took the people into exile. When we see any nation with an unrepentant heart and rampant evil, this example should remind us to warn the people, offer the message of repentance and point to hope. Thanks to Prophet Jeremiah we know how to pray for a nation in danger of impending judgment.  

Israel, God’s people

Because of His loyal covenantal love, the God of Israel has promised a glorious salvation for His chosen Jewish people. After regathering them home from four corners of the earth, He has promised to cleanse them from all filthiness, give them a new heart and cause them to walk in obedience towards Him! (Ezekiel 36:24-28) Israel as a nation shall be restored spiritually and will be saved within their ancient homeland! (Rom. 11:26-27)

But for this to actually happen, the modern day Israeli people need to repent from their unbelief and sinful lifestyles. This is inevitable, since God Himself has already promised to pour out His Spirit to move them and to give them the gift of repentance (Zech. 12:10, Acts 5:31). So we know what to pray on behalf of Israel.

Middle East: Syria and Iran

We also want to pray for other nations in the Middle East, since they are foretold a terrible judgment and even more tragic disasters unless they repent. Syria is among those nations.

The catastrophe in Syria has caused extreme and indescribable suffering for its people and it is still continuing. With the USA, Russia and Iran’s involvement, the death toll in the area shows no decline. Only a change of heart and mind, repentance and returning back to the ways of the Creator will stop the current insanity and shame of human behavior in its sinful and unrepentant state in Syria. Let’s pray fervently on behalf of the suffering Syrian people, their leadership, the rebel groups and the world leaders involved.

Iran is emerging from isolation after signing a nuclear agreement with the West. Now attention is focused on business relations, especially in the oil and airline industries, but world leaders are not publicly addressing the need for the Iranian leadership to cease threats to Israel. According to the New York Times (from Dec 19, 2015), Iran is also in the grip of a seven-year drought that shows no sign of breaking and many experts believe this may be the new normal. Even a return of past rainfall levels might not be enough to avert the water crisis. Without repentance, a very difficult and sad route is ahead for Iran.

But there is a God in Heaven who has all power on earth. In the midst of all this chaos, grassroots revival among the Iranians is strong! Millions have come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and are also blessing Israel as a result. Intercede with us for Iran, as the revival continues and spreads to other nations in the Middle East!

 

ISAIAH 62 PRAYER CAMPAIGN

As prayer warriors, we do have a say in the future fate of our nations. The response from the heart of the people to their God determines their path. Let’s pray together for Israel and her neighbors!

We invite you to join the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem in the global movement of prayer by using the Isaiah 62 monthly prayer points whenever you pray corporately or individually. Pray with us on the first Wednesday of every month as intercession resounds around the globe throughout the day.

Sign up online: www.icej.org/Isaiah62

Watchman, What Of The Night?

 “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” The watchman said, “The morning comes, and also the night.” (Isaiah 21:11–12)

“Watchman, what of the night?” is the desperate cry for help which was heard in the times of Isaiah the prophet. Israel had just witnessed the rise of the Assyrian Empire, one of the most ruthless empires in recorded history. Their influence rapidly spread through the entire ancient world and was even at Israel’s doorstep. In this time of trouble, when violence and lawlessness increased, the desperate cry to the watchman became: “What about this increasing darkness in our world? What is happening to us? Watchman, do you have an answer for us?”

This cry for help and clarity is also heard today, as we enter the year 2016. Dark clouds are everywhere. In the United States, the church finds itself in a battle for the very soul of their nation. Europe has been inundated by an unprecedented flood of more than one million mostly Muslim refugees. At the same time a new level of terrorism descended on France while Germany entered into the New Year with high-level security threats from Islamic terrorism.

The economic success story of the European Union is endangered not only by the Greek national crisis but also the combined pressure of escalating terrorism and an influx of refugees. If we look at Africa, we see an increased presence of the radical Islamist groups like Boko Haram. The Middle East remains in a state of severe instability; not only are Iraq and Syria falling apart before our eyes, but we also see instability in other countries like Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is being released by the West from its economic sanctions, while continuing to utter threats and incite violence against Israel and the USA. At the same time the European Union is issuing a labelling law against Israel, the only democracy in the region. All Israeli products from so-called “occupied territories” are expected to be labelled and are thus under the scrutiny of the boycott. While the USA continues to withdraw as an ordering world power, Russia, China and Turkey have quickly filled the resulting power vacuum in the Middle East.

In short, our world is undergoing significant changes, which will dramatically alter world history and future events. The result is insecurity - even within the church. As in the time of Isaiah, “Watchman, what of the night?” is the desperate question many people have in their hearts today.

The Morning comes!

However, what is far more intriguing is the brief answer offered by Isaiah’s watchman: “The morning comes, and also the night.” This surprising response was contrary to natural laws or any human experience. Never did the night and the morning arrive at the same time. The watchman seems confused and not able to make up his mind which is coming, the night or the day. 

Regardless of how illogical this answer may sound, it is the answer given by God to the people throughout history. Oftentimes, as circumstances grew darker and darker, suddenly the morning star announced divine hope and redemption. The pages of the Bible are full of hopeless situations, where it appeared darkness was spreading, unchallenged and ever increasing. But it was precisely at that point when the greatest triumphs were then achieved.

All seemed hopeless when the Midianites harassed the nation of Israel, when the strongmen Goliath and Haman each threatened the people of Israel, or when the Army of Egypt descended upon the Jews, without a means of escape at the shores of the Red Sea. It was exactly at that moment, when all hope was gone and night came like a flood, that godly men cried out, “The morning comes!”

The Morning Star

One of the names referring to Jesus in the Bible is the “bright and morning star” (Rev 22:16). This tells us that no matter how dark it is around us, if Jesus lives in our hearts, there is always hope for a breakthrough.

The morning star is often seen as a glaring light in the dark sky, announcing the imminent arrival of the dawn. There is something unique about the morning star. Since ancient times the planet Venus, which is the brightest of the night luminaries, was referred to as the morning star. But surprisingly enough, Venus is not only considered to be the ‘morning star,’ , but at certain times of year it is also the ‘evening star,’, announcing the approaching night. Isn’t it amazing that the very same sign in the sky can be both the herald of the approaching night and also the harbinger of the coming morning?

In my experience there are two types of Christians who, although they both read the very same Bible, have very different perspectives. Many Christians – often western – read the prophecies of the Bible about the future and see a rather devastating message of darkness, gloom and decay awaiting the church and the world. However, if you visit some home churches of China you would hear a completely different message. A brother from China recently told me: “In China we are so excited, because the prophetic word promises us that the whole earth will be covered by the knowledge of the glory of the Lord like the waters cover the sea!” He clearly was expecting global revival!

Not long ago we visited a large church movement in Nigeria, which is actively training young Christians in prayer and academics to become the future leaders of their country. In some Latin American countries, like Guatemala, more than 50% of the population have become born-again believers. These are churches filled with hope for what God can do!

In other words, some believers are evening star Christians some are morning star Christians. Reading the same Bible, some see mainly darkness approaching, while others are full of hope. The truth is that the watchman saw both. He was enough of a realist to see the night coming but the first response that passed his lips was to announce the coming morning dawn.

The God of Hope

We need to remember that one of the three main trademarks of the church is to bring hope (1 Cor. 13:13). Hope does not disappoint (Rom 5:5) and provides an anchor for our souls (Heb 6:19). God is called a God of hope (Rom 15:13), which means He identifies His own character with hope. Therefore, we should never give up our confession of hope (Heb 10:23). No matter what the newspapers, political pundits and even end-times experts might be telling you, never give up your hope!

The answer that the watchman gave some 2,700 years ago in the time of Isaiah is still valid today: “The morning comes and also the night!” Yes, darkness is spreading across the world in many places. The world is shaking and insecurity is increasing on many levels. But there remains one rock that cannot be shaken and that is the Kingdom of God!

I was greatly encouraged by the extraordinary story of Rees Howells in the book “The Intercessor.” In the midst of Europe’s darkest hour, when Hitler’s armies were advancing on every level, a group of 100 intercessors gathered together at a Bible college in Wales. They prayed strategically not only for the downfall of Hitler, but also declared victory over Nazi Germany when they appeared to be invincible. The two main inspirations which motivated Howells were his understanding that the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to go to “every creature” and the return of the Jews back to their homeland was imminent. Therefore, he concluded, it was impossible for Hitler to succeed in his operation. In one of the darkest chapters of European history, Howells could see the morning star, even though his hope was deferred for several years.

As the Babylonian, Egyptian and Assyrian threats pressed in against the Kingdom of Israel, the prophet Isaiah brought a message of incredible hope. In a time when huge international players threatened the sovereignty of his homeland, with moral decay spreading throughout Israel, Isaiah found hope in the promised Messiah. “The government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…” (Isaiah 9:6–7) Supreme authority in heaven and on earth is given to Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul understood that every “throne, dominion, principality and authority” (Col 1:16) is under His sovereignty and needs to serve His purposes.

Kingdom expansion

But Isaiah saw something that excites me even more. He not only revealed these powerful attributes of our Saviour, but also boldly stated that His Kingdom is in an endless mode of expansion and growth: “Of the increase of His government there is no end.” Therefore, it did not surprise me to hear from a friend in Lebanon that in the midst of ISIS causing havoc in the name of Islam, the churches are full of men with long beards and women in hijabs who are seeking Jesus. They also reported that a wonderful move of God is taking place among Muslim refugees.

From another mission leader we heard of underground church growth even in Saudi Arabia and in Iran, where an historic revival is taking place. My son who attends a Bible school in Germany reported a few weeks ago that in one evening service at their camp nine Syrian refugees gave their lives to Jesus! A pastor from Berlin shared with us also that several churches in his city are packed with refugees coming to Christ.

It is true that at times God will shake a nation, and even our lives, in order to accomplish His purposes. The prophet Haggai foresaw a great and final shaking which will come “once more” over the entire world and even the heavenlies. But the ultimate outcome will be that, in the midst of these troublesome times, God builds His temple: “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, […] and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. […] ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts …” (Haggai 2:6–9) The apostle Paul also saw the church as triumphant, greeting her bridegroom as a beautiful and spotless bride. True, some will give in to pressure, temptation and the attractions of this world. But it is the grace of God which can carry us through and make us overcomers!

No darkness can stop the Kingdom of God! On the contrary, often it is darkness that He uses as His vehicle to come to our rescue (Ps 18:4-12). The prophet Daniel saw that even in a time when unprecedented trouble and darkness comes “…such as never was since there was a nation,” there will be those “who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:1-3)

Therefore, as times grow more difficult, this is not a time to despair but to strengthen our foundations on that which cannot be shaken. The only unshakable entity is – and will be – the Kingdom of God, so it needs to be our top priority. Let us surrender completely to our King and set our priorities right where they need to be. His Kingdom and His righteousness need to be our highest aspiration. Its expansion can be expected even in our times; there is hope for the church in every nation. Since the morning comes to break every darkness, make a resolution today to be a morning star Christian. 

ICEJ Expresses Grave Concerns Over EU Labeling Laws

The head of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) today expressed grave concerns about the EU’s directive demanding that all products from disputed Israeli territories be labelled, a move that he said would “undermine economic co-existence” between Palestinians and Israelis and “harm those working towards peace.”

“This labelling law will only divide Israelis and Palestinians further,” said ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler ahead of an ICEJ-sponsored symposium on the labelling law due to take place in the European Parliament in Brussels in early December. “Co-existence is better achieved by establishing factories and business partnerships in areas where Palestinians and Israelis live side-by-side.”

“This highly-politicized directive will only end up hurting those it claims to help,” Bühler continued. “All the evidence indicates that the businesses being targeted employ tens of thousands of Palestinians and contribute to the well-being of all those living in the affected areas, both Jews and Arabs alike.”

“What’s more, it’s a one-sided law that unjustly singles out Israel for condemnation and violates the rules of World Trade Organization. Why is the EU unwilling to issue similar directives for goods originating in northern Cyprus or the Western Sahara, territories illegally occupied by Turkey and Morocco? It’s a double-standard,” declared German-born Bühler, “similar to discriminatory laws passed in Germany in the 1930s.”

"If the EU really wants to promote peace they should stop penalizing those Israelis and Palestinians who are working together to make a living. Instead, they should provide greater incentives for them to forge deeper bonds of co-operation, without using labelling laws which could further the anti-Israeli propaganda that is sweeping Europe.”

“It is time that the European Union lived up to its own core values of free trade and open borders rather than seeking the expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria and the impoverishment of Palestinians who currently work alongside them,” Bühler added.

The upcoming symposium on the labelling law will take place in Brussels on the 2nd of December in cooperation with MEPs and representatives from dozens of ICEJ branches throughout Europe. It will call upon members of the European Parliament to invest in joint-ventures in Judea and Samaria to foster economic co-operation, stability and peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.


Israel Buyer's GuideIsrael Buyer's Guide
The ICEJ has launched an initiative aimed at combatting the BDS campaign and assisting Israeli businesses in reaching the vast Christian market worldwide.
Brussels SymposiumBrussels Symposium at EU Parliament
Please pray with us that this strategic gathering in early December would bring a voice to the European Parliament that will help and benefit the decision makers in Brussels.

ICEJ Tribute to Lance Lambert

The global leadership and family of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem note with sorrow and profound respect the passing of our friend and fellow labourer in ministry, Lance Lambert. An accomplished and beloved Bible scholar and teacher, Lance will be missed by those of us who remain even as he is being received with great joy in his new heavenly home.

Lance Lambert passed away on Sunday (10 May) at age 84 in Jerusalem. He was one of the most distinguished Bible expositors of his generation, and one of its most adept leaders of intercessory prayer for Israel, the Middle East and the world.

Until recent years, Lance enjoyed a worldwide itinerate ministry. Born in 1931, Lance grew up in England and met the Lord at age 12. He entered the school of African and Oriental studies at London University to prepare for the Lord’s work in China. He studied Classical Chinese, Mandarin, Oriental Philosophy and Far Eastern History, but the revolution closed the door to his entry into China.

In the early 1950′s, Lance served in the British Royal Air Force in Egypt, where he learned many principles in intercessory prayer. He later founded Halford House Christian Fellowship in Richmond, England.

Having discovered his Jewish ancestry, Lance became an Israeli citizen in 1980. His father and many members of his family had died in the Holocaust.

Lance was noted for his eschatological views, which placed him in the tradition of Watchman Nee and T. Austin-Sparks. He wrote numerous books on prayer and Israel, including The Uniqueness of Israel.

We had the privilege of engaging with Lance Lambert and benefitting from his rich teachings at the Feast of Tabernacles and other gatherings in Jerusalem and elsewhere. In fact, he was a key figure in the founding of the Christian Embassy at the very first Feast in 1980.

Lance was a man of great humility, faith and discernment, and a prophetic teacher of great insight and authority. We will always remember him as well for offering the fervent, effectual prayers of a righteous man, which assuredly availed much in God’s Kingdom.

The family of Lance Lambert have expressed to us their desire that any gifts in his honour from the ICEJ’s global following should be directed to projects to assist needy Holocaust survivors in Israel and to help Jews making aliyah to Israel from distant lands. Thus, any donations should be made payable to the “ICEJ” with the notation: “Given in honour of Lance Lambert”.

Assist Needy Holocaust Survivors Help Jews Make Aliyah

With complete trust in the sure mercies of our Lord,

Juergen Buehler

Dr. Jürgen Bühler
Executive Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

 

This Generation's Battle

Exodus 17 tells how Amalekites, descendants of Esau’s grandson, attacked the children of Israel in the desert of Sinai during their exodus from Egypt. This unprovoked attack was especially serious and the Israelites battled all day, only achieving victory at nightfall.

In response to this demonstration of cruelty, the Lord told Moses that he would blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. Moses later recounted: “the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16). Amalek’s attack on the children of Israel was now a perpetual war between him and the God of Israel.

Amalek was not just a foe, but a genocidal one, so in Jewish tradition the Amalekites came to represent the archetypal enemy of the Jews present in generation after generation. It is interesting to note that some one thousand years later, in the book of Esther, the arch villain Haman was an Amalekite who led the plot to kill the Jews.

The Longest Hatred

This evil pursuit of the Jewish people has continued for millennia, which is why historian Robert Wistrich calls anti-Semitism "the longest hatred." Every time this genocidal hatred seems to be dying out it reinvents itself with a different look and a different name. But the goal is always the same: to rid the world of the Jewish people.

In the ancient world, classical anti-Semitism was a clash between pagan rulers, who demanded obedient homage, and their Jewish subjects, who would only worship and obey the God of Israel. The Jewish people could not bow down to earthly leaders, and were bound by the Sinaitic Law to certain behaviors and observances that set them apart and incurred the wrath of their rulers.

Religious anti-Semitism

After the rise of Christianity the problem did not go away. It is a travesty that anti-Semitism was then found in the heart of Christian Europe. Indeed, in the annals of those who persecuted and hated the Jewish people are professing Christians. Space does not permit a full treatment of this sad story, but centuries of state and church-backed denigration, persecution, forced conversions, and expulsions actually paved the way for the Holocaust.

Proof of this is found in the fact that Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic writings were published and distributed by the Nazis in order to justify their anti-Jewish laws and eventually their extermination program. Hitler admitted as much when he told two Catholic Bishops who questioned his policy that “he was only putting into effect what Christianity had preached and practiced for 2000 years.”

Racial anti-Semitism

The form of anti-Semitism found in Nazi ideology was not based on religion, however, but on racial theories about the superiority of the Aryan race. Whereas Christianity had sought the conversion of the Jews, and state leaders had sought their expulsion, the Nazis sought the “final solution to the Jewish question,” the murder of all Jews and their eradication from the human race.

The good news is that these older forms of anti-Semitism are socially unacceptable in the 21st century. Religious bigotry and racism are frowned upon and are antithetical to the prevailing ideologies of globalism and secularism.

Political anti-Semitism

The bad news is that Israel, a Jewish nation-state, is also antithetical to both globalism and secularism. Therefore, the modern form of anti-Semitism that has found a stronghold and large-scale acceptance today is political. It is against the Jewish state and is called anti-Zionism.

There is still religious anti-Semitism, but this time it is found throughout the Muslim world and is responsible for the genocidal rhetoric emanating from Iran. Muslim anti-Semitism, however, is tolerated by anti-Zionist Western leaders who blame it on Israeli policies.

Not all criticism of Israel can be considered anti-Semitic. However, criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitic when it delegitimizes the state and questions its right to exist, when it uses anti-Jewish rhetoric and stereotypes or compares Israelis to Nazis, when it judges Israel by a different standard than for any other nation, and when it becomes an excuse to attack local Jewish individuals and institutions.

During the 2014 war in Gaza, a defensive war on Israel’s part to prevent further missile launches from Hamas, there were attacks on synagogues and Jewish citizens in France, refrains such as “Jews to the Gas” in Germany, the use of swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations, and anti-Semitic caricatures in newspapers and social media.

While America is a safe-haven today for Jews fleeing Europe, low levels of anti-Semitism here should not be taken for granted. As American Christians, we should take every opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, attending their Holocaust remembrance events, and teaching our children to recognize anti-Semitism and take a stand against it.

This generation’s battle is not so much with the Amalek of old, and its pagan, Christian or racial anti-Semitism, but with the Amalek of today—the rabid anti-Israel movement that demonizes the Jewish people and nation while excusing Muslim anti-Semitism.

This one is on our watch, and it is our responsibility to stand against it.


Susan Michael is the US Director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and creator of IsraelAnswers.com. The ICEJ is bringing Holocaust education to Christians worldwide through its partnership with Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial.

Unmasking the Real Obama Doctrine

After six years of a presidency riddled with one foreign policy blunder after another, Barack Obama sought to defend his record on the international stage in an “arranged” interview last week with administration apologist Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

“You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities,” Obama explained.

That formulation is woefully vague and fails to distinguish Obama in any way from any past American president, which is what a “doctrine” should do. It certainly lacks the distinct resonance of Teddy Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Yet it is consistent with a defining statement Obama made to the foes of freedom in first inaugural speech: “[W]e will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Even so, six years in and we are still trying to figure out where President Obama is trying to steer the course of world affairs. The reset with Russia, the shunning of Europe, the anticipated pivot to Asia – where have they taken us? Does he really have a clear direction? Or are we witnessing a hopelessly random series of events that has left the world twisting in the wind, with the Middle East in particular caught in an utter free fall.

Obama’s regional score card is one of unmatched ineptitude. His withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan were predictably premature, risking all the American capital and blood invested there. Libya was liberated from a ruthless dictator only to descend into tribal and jihadi chaos. He has overlooked every anti-Western antic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, while bullying Israel and berating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at every turn.

In Egypt, he threw loyal ally president Hosni Mubarak under the bus in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, and then cut off aid to Cairo when the masses demanded the overthrow of his successor, Mohamed Morsi.

The Saudis watched in shock and are looking for support elsewhere. In Syria, he has dithered between toppling President Bashar Assad for using chemical agents against his own people and preserving his regime as a bulwark against the brutalities of Islamic State (IS). He boasted of Yemen as a model for fighting terror only to see it overrun by a radical proxy militia of Iran. And he has bent over backwards to placate Tehran in pursuit of an elusive deal that is most assuredly setting off a nuclear arms race in a Middle East already in flames.

In short, Obama has alienated allies and coddled enemies all the while chasing some goal that has yet to be clearly identified.

Were these deliberate steps that unwittingly led to anarchy? Or is it a case of unprecedented incompetence? Some analysts say this folly flows from his leftist ideology, which views Western societies as still tainted by the evils of colonialism.

Others focus on his apparent desire to achieve an historic American rapprochement with Iran following the disastrous breach of 1979. These are valid points, yet they fail to adequately explain why Obama has been willing to appease the ayatollahs with their apocalyptic dreams, while estranging and even endangering traditional American allies in the region. There has to be something deeper driving him.

My own take is that Obama is indeed motivated in part by a leftist worldview but also by a religious outlook that is best described as Chrislam. This is an emerging theological viewpoint which sees both Christianity and Islam as equal paths to God and equally valid sources of moral precepts, and Obama has developed his own unique brand of it.

Obama professes to be a Christian and I accept that. But one cannot ignore the fact that he also grew up in an Islamic culture and that it is still part of what shapes his identity and mindset. As a result, he has demonstrated more concern as president for defending Islam than any of his predecessors in office.

Sure, president George W. Bush was quick to proclaim Islam a “religion of peace,” but that was a pragmatic policy statement aimed at pacifying the Muslim world during times of immense global tensions.

In contrast, Obama has gone well beyond any prior administrations, even stating in his Cairo speech in 2009 that: “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

So not just a policy but a presidential duty to defend Islam! And in carrying out this new duty, Obama not only has repeatedly defended Islam as a morally equal faith but also has used those occasions to point out flaws in Christianity. And while past Christian generations did err in brandishing the sword in the Crusades and in using the New Testament to try to justify the enslavement of black Africans, this president has gone so far as to actually question the moral integrity of certain Christian scriptures. In doing so, he has crossed a line that no Christian should countenance.

Obama’s inclination to shield Islam from criticism runs so deep, he even feels compelled to pronounce who is a Muslim and who is not. As a Christian, it is not my place to say who is a Muslim; that is for them to decide. And the most basic tenet of Islam, extending to every stream of the faith, holds that if one professes: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” then you are a Muslim. I have to accept that and no doubt this is the profession of every wretched warrior fighting today for IS or al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. Yet for some reason, Obama insists otherwise.

So we have an American president saddled with a distinct burden to defend Islam even at the expense of Christianity, not to mention long-defined American interests abroad.

That is more closely what I would define as the Obama doctrine, thus distinguishing him from past presidents.

Arriving at the heart of his real agenda, I would submit that Obama’s enduring cultural identity with Islam and concern for its perception and welfare has motivated him even to hope for the healing of its deepest rift – the centuries-old bitter schism between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam.

This would mean that Obama saw his rise to the Oval Office as a unique opportunity to try to set into motion a process which would lead to a repair of the historic breach between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam, largely as a means to stabilize the notoriously volatile Middle East.

His chosen Sunni partner for this venture was the Muslim Brotherhood and his Shi’ite partner was none other than Iran. If successful, the two sides would have mutually defined their respective spheres of influence and worked toward a more peaceful regional configuration. It is just that events have overtaken him, Obama’s strategy is in shambles, and he has been taking a lot of his frustrations out on Israel, and especially Benjamin Netanyahu.

Setting his sights on Iran as his Shi’ite partner was a given, as there was no other suitable alternative. But why bank on reaching such a polarizing nuclear deal requiring major compromises with such an untrustworthy regime? In one of his last public appearances before his recent passing, Yehuda Avner – the esteemed adviser to five Israeli prime ministers – offered up a valuable insight into Obama straight out of one of his biographies.

In one chapter, Obama recalls his days as a community organizer in south Chicago and his tactics for resolving violent flare-ups on the streets. He first sought to identify the worst thug among the various gang leaders and go to him first in a bid to bring him over to the good side. You threaten him a little, you massage his ego, you offer him something, and you slowly restore calm, all the while ignoring the other parties involved.

This insight alone goes a long way towards explaining Obama’s six years of careful engagement with Iran and his benign neglect of those regional allies most threatened by Tehran’s renegade nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood was Obama’s preferred Sunni partner because it was:

1) An organized, ascending political force with a broad regional network of national chapters and authentic Islamic credentials.

2) Not overtly anti-Western in its rhetoric; its leaders were more patient about achieving their long-term goals and could dress up in suits and ties and go to American and European universities to understand us better, but never to assimilate.

3) Not overtly tied to the Western powers and therefore untainted by their colonial baggage, unlike Mubarak or the Saudi royals; such US-backed oppressive regimes were now out of vogue.

4) More open to reconciliation with Shi’ite Islam than other potential Sunni partners, such as the Saudi monarchy or Egyptian generals, and certainly more so than such radical Sunni groups as al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

On this last point, the spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has a record of hostile pronouncements toward Shi’ite Muslims, but he also signed on to the Amman Statement of 2005 which was a major declaration by leading Sunni and Shi’ite clerics that recognized the Shi’ite scholars in Qom as one of the eight accepted “schools” of Islamic jurisprudence. In other words, Qaradawi signaled his willing to consider Shi’ites as fellow Muslims, paving the way for a possible historic reconciliation.

President Obama, in turn, signaled his desire to partner with the Muslim Brotherhood during his famous Cairo speech – an overture not so much grounded in what he said there but in the “optics” surrounding that ground-breaking event.

Although Arabists in the US State Department had been cultivating a relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood for years, they never openly displayed it in a way that challenged Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who considered them mortal rivals. But Obama changed that by instructing his team to seat the movement’s leaders on the front row of the auditorium at Cairo University, an unusual site for the speech in the first place as it normally should have been delivered in the Egyptian parliament.

Offended, Mubarak begged out of attending the speech, citing the death of his grandson two weeks earlier.

This undermining of Mubarak occurred several years before the upheavals of the Arab Spring reached Tahrir Square and finally toppled him. But it legitimized and energized the Muslim Brotherhood and helped pave their way to power. With Mohamed Morsi ruling over Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood regime ensconced in Turkey, two of the major Sunni states were set up for Obama’s grand vision of rapprochement with Iran, and more could be expected to follow. During his lone year in office, Morsi even hosted senior Iranian officials in Cairo – breaking the 30-year diplomatic freeze imposed by Egypt since it blamed Iran for playing a role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.

But then the wheels started coming off.

The shockwaves of the Arab Spring rolled through Cairo once more and the generals were back in power. Other nations were rocked by its turbulence – Syria, Iraq and now Yemen. The Muslim Brotherhood has been left with Ankara and Gaza. And Obama is left holding a very suspect deal with an exultant Iran.

The problem with this plan was not only its enormous risks for a far-fetched reward, but the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood – while not openly anti-West – is still endemically anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, and it ultimately aspires to a global caliphate.

These are traits that it shares with Iran, as well as with IS. So why Obama should have been considered it a palatable partner will now be up to history to judge.

 

Republished with permission by The Jerusalem Post; www.jpost.com


David Parsons serves as Media Director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. He is an attorney, minister and Middle East specialist who was also a contributing editor for ‘The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition’ for seven years. He lives with his wife and son in Jerusalem.

What Framework Agreement?

The first thing to note about the framework agreement is that there is no framework agreement. Though an announcement was made at the end of recent talks in Lausanne that a so-called framework agreement had been reached with Iran over its renegade nuclear program, nothing was signed by the negotiating parties. This amounts to a verbal agreement – one might call it a gentleman’s agreement were there any trust to be shared between the parties. The fact is that stark differences have emerged between Iran and the US over their respective interpretations of what was supposedly agreed.

Furthermore, Iran has since gone so far as to openly contradict key elements of the US fact sheet as being nothing more than “lies” and “deceptions”. While claiming that there will be no restrictions on either enrichment activities or on research and development, Iran is also stating that all sanctions relief will be immediate, and there will be no inspections of any military sites.

Obama’s wish list

The framework agreement now appears to be not much more than a wish list of what US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hope to convince the Iranians to sign on to before June 30. What was celebrated by team Obama as a major diplomatic achievement has quickly descended into a face-saving game of political spin, with the Americans and Iranians attempting to convince their national constituencies that their respective version of the framework is the real one.

Worth noting is that while Obama and Kerry have defended the Iranian backlash as nothing more than political posturing due to Iran’s national “pride”, Ayatollah Khameini has gone so far as to accuse the Americans of being “deceptive” and having “devilish” intentions.

Why was it issued?

One might rightly question why the Obama administration issued such a patently flawed framework agreement where apparently no agreement existed? None of the other P5+1 parties to the negotiations, or Iran for that matter, saw the March 31 deadline for a framework agreement as one that could not simply be rolled into the June 30 deadline for a final deal. The Russian Foreign Minister even left Lausanne before negotiations were completed.

What is clear though is that Obama was facing significant pressure from the US Congress in the form of new sanctions bills on Iran should no progress be shown at the negotiating table by the 31st of March. Obama managed to persuade top congressional leaders to hold off on any voting until after the Lausanne talks concluded.

Amazingly, instead of Iran facing the pressure of new sanctions, Obama’s negotiating team then lost all leverage and it was Iran which gained the upper hand as the US team desperately pressed for an agreement to show Congress some progress had been made.

Is this really a choice between war and peace?

Obama and Kerry have even admitted that the framework agreement is not the basis for a “good” deal, since it clearly doesn’t achieve the objective of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program. All it does is attempt to put the entire program on hold for 10 years, leaving inspections to do the job of ensuring Iran does not break out to a nuclear bomb long before that.

The mantra repeated by the Obama administration in defense of their approach is that this all comes down to a simple choice between war and peace. We are told that critics of the framework deal like Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and key Members of Congress only see war as the sole alternative to resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis, while people of goodwill like the Obama administration are presenting the only viable alternative, which is the framework agreement.

Meantime, Netanyahu has made clear that his preferred alternative is more pressure on the ayatollahs in order to reach a “better deal” with Iran.

While it is true that Israel itself does not have much leverage to change Iran’s nuclear ambitions other than the threat of military action, the international community as a whole does have the ability to bring Iran to heel. In this regard, Iran only came to the negotiating table once the world, through the United Nations Security Council, adopted a series of six unanimous resolutions placing sanctions on Iran and demanding that it totally dismantle its nuclear program. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is squandering the advantage these resolutions gave to the P5+1 powers in the talks with Iran.

Sanctions are the one peaceful option that Obama has opposed, then accepted, and now opposed again. And in his latest opposition to tighter limits on Iran, Obama turned the threat of new sanctions from Congress in Tehran’s favour.

The final irony is that without the real threat of renewed sanctions, all the West is left with is the threat of force against Iran if they do not acquiesce. As if to hit home this point, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced on April 11 that the US had successfully developed a whole new generation of bunker busters for use on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Worst case scenarios

Should Iran actually agree to a comprehensive deal by the June 30th deadline which reflects the US version of the framework agreement, the Obama administration would assuredly hail this as an historic achievement. The problem is that such a deal would leave the West with little option other than military strikes should Iran go rogue again. With Obama admitting that over the course of the deal Iran’s breakout time will be reduced to months, that would not leave enough time for the international community to take concerted, effective multilateral steps to block Iran from going nuclear.

Where to now?

Netanyahu has consistently rejected the notion that there is no alternative to a bad deal with Iran. A solid majority in Congress, many Democrats included, seems for the most part to agree with him.

Iran's intransigence and rejection of the US version of the framework agreement might actually be presenting an opportunity for the West to do a reset. Rather than working in opposition to Congress and Israel, the Obama administration should come to an agreed strategy with them and with its allies abroad on what the goals are with Iran and how to get there now. This revised strategy will likely require the threat of more sanctions and isolation of Iran with a firm timetable for them to agree to dismantle their nuclear program.

A good deal is achievable. Iran’s nuclear program can be dismantled, and yes, it can be done so peacefully. But, it all depends on the next move of Western leaders.
 


Daryl Hedding serves as Strategic Development Director for Jerusalem and Deputy Director for the US Branch of the ICEJ. He has been involved in the ministry since 1998 when he started a 3 1/2 year tenure at the ICEJ's headquarters in Jerusalem. Since then, he has served in a number of capacities and currently resides in Murfreesboro, TN, with his wife and two childen..

The War Against the Jews

"The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in the twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” - Mark Twain

The war against the Jews has been waged from the dawn of history and is relentless until this very day. It is a saga of great proportions and significance though many fail to see it or appreciate it. It has one goal in mind and that is the liquidation of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The world wants a new world order that is “Juden rein” (free of Jews). The attempt to murder the Jews has taken many forms including open hostility and wickedness as we witnessed in the Second World War; although, unable to achieve this end by conventional war, in recent years this attack against the Jews has been political and very often couched in the language of peace and political intrigue. It is waged according to a narrative that is inaccurate and pure myth but one that is accepted in most circles as truth. Just the idea, for instance, of Israeli occupation of Arab lands is totally untrue but accepted everywhere. The Palestinians never ever had a state in history and the ground they claim for a state was in fact occupied for centuries by the Ottoman Turkish Empire and then illegally by the Jordanians from 1948 to 1967. Before that from 1917 onwards it was mandated to the British Empire as a consequence of the First World War. Indeed the restoration of the Jewish state in 1948 came into existence by the will of the international community expressed through the United Nations but previously ratified by the San Remo Agreement of 1922. Of course these facts mean nothing to those who seek only the destruction of the Jews and Israel.

Collaborating with Evil

Today Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah and all their fellow travelers are fully committed to the liquidation of Israel. This fact is not hearsay or rumor, no it is enshrined in their charters and confirmed by their statements; made frequently in the Arabic speaking press. The school books and TV programs for children in the Palestinian Authority and in Gaza, and indeed all over the Arab world, constantly demonize the Jewish people and Israel and thereby incite their impressionable minds to hatred. In addition, all over the Muslim world the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are routinely printed and distributed and regarded as fact even though this work has been discredited as a forgery and sadly the most read book on contemporary political history is Hitler’s, “ Mein Kamph.”This too is on public record and all of this can be verified by a visit to the website of Palestinian Media Watch, MEMRI and Amazon books. It’s all out in the open for all to see. The Jews are likened to pigs and apes and suicide attacks against them are glorified as the ultimate goal in life! Those who carry out this goal are honored by having streets and squares named after them in Palestinian towns and cities and it is believed that they have instant access to paradise accompanied by erotic pleasures.

This same radical Islamic menace collaborated with Hitler in the hope that his triumph would also bring about the complete annihilation of all Jews. He came close but thank God was defeated and yet today the world community expects Israel to sit down and make peace with “Hitler!” That is, with people who fully embrace his vision and seek to complete it. Hamas and Fatah now have a unity agreement that, according to the Hamas leadership must go further by pursuing the total destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews everywhere.

All of this is the backdrop to the awful events unfolding in Europe today and as we have now witnessed especially in France in terms of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the hostage taking and slaughter of Jews at the Hyper Cacher super-market. Intimidated by their large Muslim communities the Europeans have tolerated attacks against Jews for years but because liberal politicians deny the sinister goals of the Islamists they have largely turned a blind eye until now.

The events in France have now awakened the appeasing Europeans to the fact that they too are the target of Jihad and in the end, like the Jews, are just infidels that have to be subdued or killed! The warning signs were always there and yet these were ignored because they came for the Jews first and no one really cared but now they are coming for everyone and I fear that it could be too late for Europe. The Jews, however, have a homeland to go to that is thriving and secure; in spite of the rough neighborhood in which it is situated. The State of Israel is their refuge and now the 11th Aliyah is about to take place. Hundreds of thousands of Jews will leave Europe and even England and go home to their ancestral dwelling place; the hills plains and valleys of Zion.

Just seventy odd years after the Holocaust the Europeans have again betrayed the Jews. This is sobering indeed and the events now unfolding in the Ukraine are just as troubling. Jews are being targeted for the misfortunes of the Ukrainians as that country is progressively being invaded and conquered by Russia. Will the west stand up and stop this aggression? The answer is no. So, the Jews will leave and go home. Thank God!

Sadly, a world without a moral compass and unable to identify evil is therefore pressurizing Israel to make what would be a suicide pact with a new version of Nazism! Many of the nations pushing for this would not do it themselves but somehow it is good enough for the Jews! One has to wonder why all this is happening? Are these people stupid, just ignorant or is there another agenda being followed? Or, maybe still there is a spiritual reality behind the War against the Jews!

The God of Israel

Given that the very essence of sin is rebellion against God, not only in terms of where He is and what He is but also who He is, it is therefore not surprising that anything that reminds a rebellious world of God will also be attacked. This is the nature of sin that lurks in the heart of every human being.

If then this God calls into existence a people to reflect His character and take His name one can expect this people to be the target of rebellion or evil. From the very day of Israel’s calling and close association with the only true God this war began and it has never stopped. It separates and divides the world and as long as the Jew exists it will rage. It is a desperate war and, if it were not for the faithfulness of God, the Jews would have vanished a long time ago.

This is the answer to Mark Twain’s question in the quote above. The war against the Jews is in fact a war against God Himself!

Note the first four verses of Psalm 83:

“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from Being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no More.”

It is to be noted that the enemies of God strike out against Him by making War Against the Jews! This war will then not stop until the evil in the human heart has been overcome by redeeming love or destroyed by judgment! Needless to say, the honour and existence of the only true God is at stake in this war and thus Israel will never be destroyed because God Himself, the God of the Bible, has vouched safe her existence! This is the promise of His word.

We, however, are invited to “show our colors” by standing with and praying for Israel. In this we don’t work for God but with Him against those who, from generation to generation, pursue the “War Against the Jews.” Like Corrie Ten Boom, Raoul Wallenberg, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and many others of the Second World War era, we will help the Jews go home by supporting the “Great Return” or Aliyah of the Jews to Israel. We may be few in number as they were but we are on the right side of history as they also turned out to be.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is well placed to meet this challenge as it has through the decades. Its very dynamic Aliyah Director, Howard Flower, is in the forefront of this great endeavor and he needs all the financial assistance he can get to help the Jews of France and Europe go home to Israel. He is certainly the ICEJ’s spear-head in the war against anti-Semitism and you can join him.

 

 


Rev. Malcolm Hedding is a spokesman for the ICEJ and also serves on its the international board. He was executive director of the ministry from 2000- 2011.

Hope In The Land of Giants!

The story of the Jewish people is unlike any other history of a people group known on the earth. First, their very birth was a miracle, because both Abraham and Sarah were well past child-bearing years when the promised son, Isaac, was conceived.

Their survival through 4,000 years of enslavement, wanderings, exiles, and attempts at annihilation is also miraculous. None of the other small people groups from the Genesis story exist today because one exile alone is enough to wipe out a people group.

The Jewish people not only survived, but have now returned to their ancient homeland after 2,000 years of exile. “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? … shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children” (Isaiah 66:8).

Only God could have written this story! He promised all of this thousands of years ago, and today He is fulfilling His promises to the smallest detail. The outcasts have returned to their homeland, the desert is blooming, and children are once again playing in the streets and speaking the ancient tongue of the prophets—Hebrew.

Miracles Don’t Come Easy

Israel’s return to her land, of course, has not been easy. It was literally out of the ashes of the Holocaust and the sand of the desert that the Jewish State was formed. Victims of the Holocaust arriving in Israel were sent straight to the frontlines of war with five Arab armies. They were completely outnumbered and under-armed. Most of them could not even speak Hebrew. Only God could have brought about the victory of Israel in the 1948 Independence War.

Israel has now survived an average of one war for every decade of statehood. Despite the drain this has put on the economy, Israel is now leading the world in innovation, technology, medicine, science, and agriculture!

While we love hearing these stories, and being reminded of the miraculous, the truth of the matter is Israelis are getting very tired of the ongoing saga of war that they and their children have to live. The summer of 2014 was a particularly sobering one.

Sobering Summer

Israelis just want to be left alone and to live in peace. For this reason, many of them had become proponents of withdrawing from the West Bank and establishing a Palestinian state there. The pressure had been so strong in that direction that even the right-wing Prime Minister, Netanyahu, had to voice support for the Two State Solution due to its popularity with the American Administration as with the Israeli public.

But Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s incursion into Gaza this past summer, has changed all of that. The Israeli left has realized that Israel must maintain security control over the West Bank for the foreseeable future. The previous withdrawal from Gaza did not result in peace but rather, a state governed by a terrorist organization, ongoing threats of missile attacks, and the occasional need for Israeli incursions into Gaza to destroy missile launchers and foil plans for major terrorist attacks inside Israel.

They now admit that a withdrawal from the West Bank would not only be more of the same, but a situation that is far worse than containing the little Gaza Strip.

Shocking Levels of Anti-Semitism

This summer also brought about another sobering awakening. The Israeli people were shocked at just how strong anti-Semitism is in many places. During the Gaza war one of the most popular Twitter hashtags was #HitlerWasRight.

Anti-Israel demonstrations were marked by racist and genocidal rhetoric, some of it indistinguishable from Nazi slogans. Synagogues were attacked and individual Jews were threatened and physically assaulted.

Israelis felt fear, anger, and despair. The only glimmer of hope came from the messages of support by Christians from around the world. For this reason, the ICEJ organized and participated in rallies in a number of countries to be a voice of hope and encouragement to the Jewish people.

Strategy for Facing Giants

As Joshua and the Israelites prepared to take possession of the land of Canaan, God spoke to Joshua and told him to do two things. One was to meditate on the Law and to observe it, because then his way would be prosperous and he would have success.

Secondly, He reminded Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The God of Israel knew it would not be easy then, and He knows it is not easy now. He knew that Joshua needed encouragement then, just as the people of Israel need it now. This is why He has raised up the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to be that voice of hope and encouragement they so desperately need.

The Giants in 2015

The people of Israel are facing numerous serious threats in 2015. An Israeli NGO recently released an independent report on poverty in Israel that shows a growing number of Israeli households are under threat from food insecurity and other poverty related issues. Approximately 31.6% of Israel’s population, including almost one million children, is poor. Many of these children do not get sufficient food to eat and sometimes go without receiving proper medical treatment.

Another serious threat facing Israel is the loss of its close cooperation with the United States. At one of her most critical moments in history, Israel cannot count on America to “have her back” and coordinate international pressure to stop the Iranian nuclear program. It is looking more and more like Israel will stand alone against a nuclear Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran is also accelerating the arming of Hezbollah and Hamas with rockets and missiles, in an attempt to circle Israel from the north, south, and east. In addition, the Islamic State (ISIS) has gained a presence near the border with Israel on the Golan Heights and has declared that their flag will fly over Jerusalem as well as Mecca and Medina.

Giving Hope and Strength to Israel

When we look at this situation we feel much like Joshua did as he undoubtedly thought about the giants in the land God had told him to enter. The people of Israel need their friends to stand up and be counted. Now is not the time to shrink back in fear but to realize that we, like Israel, need to be obedient, strong, and courageous.

This is the hour when the ministry and voice of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is needed. Israel’s Christian friends can help confront the giants of poverty, anti-Semitism, and western apathy. It will require donations, activism, and informing others. Most importantly, it will take persistent prayer that never gives up, and gives Him no rest until His work is done and He has established Jerusalem as a praise in all the earth (Isaiah 62:6-7).

 


Susan Michael serves as the US Director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

 

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