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Commentary

An Israel On The Rise

It has been 70 years now since Israel was miraculously reborn as a nation back in her ancient homeland. In that time, the Jewish state has faced many wars, terror attacks, rocket barrages, economic boycotts and other attempts to strangle the young nation. She also had to absorb several million new immigrants, many penniless refugees of conflicts and forced expulsions. Yet despite all these challenges, Israel is a nation on the rise.

Israel remains on an ever upward trajectory because of God’s favour, and the resiliency and determination of her people. Yet, some still expect the Jewish state to go through one last dark period of divine judgment and annihilation during the ‘Great Tribulation’ before they are finally reconciled to God.

However, the Bible assures us that Israel has already been through the worst of God’s dealings with them during their times of uprooting and exile, while their future back in the land is now bright and full of hope (Isaiah 60). No doubt, Israel will face more troubles ahead, but the Lord will deliver her out of them all (Isaiah 31:5; Joel 2:32; Zechariah 14:3). Rather, the troubles and tribulation still to come are all about God’s humbling and judging of the nations to prepare the way for Jesus to come take up the throne of his father David in Jerusalem. This was the teaching of Jesus himself in his Mount of Olives discourse, found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.

The Eschatology of Jesus
The context of these parallel passages is that Jesus has just predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. His closest followers ask him when this will occur, and what is the sign of his coming and of the end of the age? Now we think they are asking about what we now refer to as the “Second Coming”. But they had no idea yet about the return of the Lord after many long centuries in heaven. They did not even know about his Ascension yet. Rather, the disciples wanted to know when and how he would present to the entire nation the proof of his divine authority and credentials as the promised Messiah. And they expected this to trigger the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom within their lifetime.

So Jesus is confronted with a serious challenge. He must completely reset their prophetic timetable while preparing them for the tough times just ahead. He knows that the Temple will soon be destroyed and that many long centuries of exile await the Jewish people. The Luke version, in particular, sets out two very clear and distinct times of tribulation and judgement – one for Israel in the days when the Second Temple was destroyed and the Jews were forced into exile; and a second one for the nations at the end of the Gentile age. The first would begin in their lifetime, while the latter would only occur after Israel’s judgment and exile is over. After all, judgment begins in God’s house first, among His people, before the unrighteous nations are judged. (1 Peter 4:17)

Judgment on Israel
The first period of judgment foreseen by Jesus involves God’s wrath upon Israel, which began in the lifetimes of his earliest followers and led to the sacking of the Temple and the scattering of Israel. Jesus is speaking straight from the “curse” spelled out by Moses – in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 – should Israel turn their backs on God. He knew that the Father had prescribed exactly how He would punish Israel for her sins, and it is through sieges on their cities that get so bad the Jewish people turn to cannibalism, and it ends in their exile among the nations. In his farewell message to the Israelites, Moses also warned that “many evils and troubles” would surely befall the people due to their rebellious nature (Deuteronomy 31:17, 21), resulting in long and painful exiles from the Promised Land. He added that this was not a matter of “if” but “when”.

This manner of divine judgment then becomes a common thread throughout the Hebrew prophets. For instance, it appears in Jeremiah chapters 30 to 33, in Ezekiel chapters 5 and 37, and in Zechariah 13.

The Lord describes the severity of the judgment which would come upon Israel in the first century by saying, “I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again...” (Ezekiel 5:9) This prompts Jesus to warn, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matthew 24:21) The Apostle Paul later proclaims that “wrath has come upon them to the uttermost”. (1 Thessalonians 2:16) Again, these passages describe the worst that God would ever do to the Jewish people, and they all pivot around the violent expulsion and long exile of the Jews from their land beginning in the first century.

Yet it all finally ends in a national restoration of Israel back in the land that ultimately gives way to her spiritual restoration as well. History testifies that all this has taken place over the past 2,000 years of Israel’s violent uprooting and scattering to all nations. And the firm promise of God is that we are now in a time of His great favour and restoration for Zion. This is an irreversible process, and nothing can stop or interrupt it. (Jeremiah 24:6, 31:28, 32:41; Amos 9:15)

Judgment on the Nations
The second period of judgment involves God’s humbling and correction of the nations. Here again, Jesus knew that God prescribes in Scripture exactly how He will finally judge the nations at the end of the age. And he points to the Flood of Noah as the model for this, saying, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37) Yet this global judgment will not be by water but by fire this time! The New Testament is clear that Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth as examples of the fiery judgment that awaits the world at the end of the age. (see, for example, Luke 17:28-30; 2 Peter 2:5-6; Jude 7).

Conclusion
When we read the prophetic teachings of Jesus in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, there is a tendency to cram every bad thing spoken of in these chapters into the end times. But we can actually check off the worst things predicted there for Israel, since they have already been fulfilled in their long and difficult uprooting and exile from the land. Instead, the focus of God’s wrath still to come will be on the growing rebellion among the rest of humanity, and Jesus instructed us to look to the “Days of Noah” as the paradigm for what lies ahead. For in it lies the key to unlocking the timing of “the coming of the Son of Man”. (Matthew 24:37-39)


You can read an in-depth explanation on the Flood model in David Parsons’ new book Floodgates. Order your book today!

The Miracle of Israel's Rebirth

The modern-day rebirth of the nation of Israel seventy years ago is such an unprecedented act in world history, and is considered an outright ‘miracle’ in the most classic sense of the word. That is, it could only have been achieved by divine intervention.

This is especially true in light of the uniquely dire circumstances under which Israel’s re-emergence among the family of nations took place. The prophet Isaiah alludes to these travails when he asks: “Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labour, she gave birth to her children.” (Isaiah 66:8)

In 1948, the Jewish people were still reeling from the tragedy of the Holocaust. The enormous scope and depravity of the Nazi genocide against the Jews was still being uncovered, and two-thirds of European Jewry had been gassed or gunned down en masse. Most of the surviving remnant were on the brink of starvation, and few wanted to return to their homes. They knew their neighbours had never really accepted them, and likely never would.

Such calamities were nothing new for the Jews. For centuries they had faced pogroms, blood libels, forced conversions, expulsions and other forms of religious persecutions, yet this was the lowest point. The racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis had reduced them to sub-human status as if they were vermin slated for extermination. As a people, the Jews felt they had reached a dead end.

The prophet Ezekiel spoke of such a time when Israel would say as a people: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” Yet God declared that all was not lost. At their lowest moment, He would assuredly “cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:11-12)

The great miracle of Israel’s rebirth in May 1948 was that it happened just three years after the Holocaust ended. From the ashes of the Shoah, the Jewish people suddenly arose and re-established sovereignty in their ancient homeland. At their time of greatest weakness, they were empowered in a way that had alluded them for centuries, and it was nothing less than the resurrection power of God at work.

Even more astounding is the fact that Israel faced another very serious threat of annihilation as it was reborn. When its founding leader David Ben-Gurion declared independence for the Jewish state on 14 May 1948, it was immediately attacked by five invading Arab armies. These Arab forces were armed, trained, and in some cases even commanded by officers from some of the world’s major powers. In contrast, the international community placed an arms embargo on the fledgling state of Israel, and only one small nation – Czechoslovakia – dared defy it by supplying weapons to the desperate Jewish fighters. In many instances, frail Holocaust survivors arriving from Europe were thrown straight into battle without even shoes on their feet. Arab leaders had vowed to “drive the Jews into the sea”, but somehow Israel prevailed.


THE FOLLOWING year of 1949, the United Nations voted to admit Israel as a full member state during a time when numerous nations were securing their independence and joining the international community. Many nations were also born out of the widespread suffering of the First and Second World Wars, therefore there was great sympathy for these nations, as well as Israel. Although, Israel stands out for the way it overcame the greatest odds and rewrote history.

The Jews are the only people who have been thoroughly uprooted from their homeland to then return to that same land and re-establish their national sovereignty. You could search far and wide and still not find another people who have managed to do this even once, and yet the Jews have done it twice! What makes this all the more remarkable is that the Bible, which they gifted to the world, told us all this was going to happen before it came to be. The Scriptures declared beforehand that there would be two scatterings and two returns of the Jewish people – first from Babylon and then from all the nations of the earth.

It was this very Bible that kept the Jews together as a people during their long centuries of exile. This same Bible planted in them a prophetic hope of return and national restoration, which became the driving force that brought them back – quite literally – from the grave.

The Apostle Paul relies on these prophetic passages when he speaks of a promised future restoration for Israel in the Book of Romans. He teaches that even Israel’s scattering had a redemptive purpose for the Gospel to go out to all nations and thereby reconcile many to God. Yet when it finally comes time for Israel’s ingathering, Paul says we can expect no less than “life from the dead!” (Romans 11:11-15). That is, the resurrection power of God will still be at work in the earth when the Jewish nation is finally restored in their ancient homeland.

We live in a day when we have witnessed these things coming to pass. Seventy years after Israel’s miraculous rebirth causes us to question: Will we align with those who are trying to put the Jewish people back in their graves? Or will we be among those who are found rejoicing in the incredible way God has brought the nation of Israel back to life?

The great parallels of Passover

The great theme of the Bible is the fall and sinful nature of humanity and then God’s provision of atonement and reconciliation for humankind through Christ, the Redeemer. Sin has separated us from God, but God’s gift in the resurrected Lord has brought us back near to Him.

Temple sacrifices
The purpose of the animal sacrifices and ordinances of service and worship to God in the Tabernacle of Moses in the desert, and later on in the Temple in Jerusalem, was to provide a way of escape for the Israelites from the wrath of God towards sin into His favour, protection, life and blessings.

Again and again among the Israelites, humanity’s failures, imperfections and sins were transferred onto innocent animals to save and preserve human life. The guilty man had to bring an innocent animal to the priest, who then slaughtered it and let the man go free. The punishment for sin – death – was thus removed from upon the guilty person and transferred to the innocent animal, which by God’s command had to carry the consequences of humans breaking the holy law of God.

The blood of the innocent animals was constantly covering the altar, for the Lord had said: “I have given it (the blood of the animal sacrifices) to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)

The great warning of God had been: “If you sin, you will surely die.” However, men did sin, and death did have to take place – but it was the death of an innocent animal whose blood was poured out instead of the guilty man himself. When God saw the blood, it was always the sign for Him that His righteous requirements had been met, justice had been performed and the price for man’s iniquities had been paid. God was now free and just when placing His blessings and protection upon His righteous ones!

The ultimate sacrifice
The purpose of Temple service and the constant reading of the Holy Writings among the Israelites were also to teach and raise the expectancy in the hearts and minds of His holy people for the ultimate sacrifice to come. This ultimate sacrifice would be more than a blood covering for their sins, more than a reminder of their sins – it would take their sins away and their sin-consciousness would be changed into a consciousness of righteousness (Psalm 40:6-8, Hebrews 10:1-22)!

This ultimate and final sacrifice would be the fulfilment of all the sacrifices in the Law of Moses, would be a once and for all sacrifice performed just once, and the place for it would be in the holy mountain of the Lord – in Jerusalem (Luke 13:33)!

 “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
(Exodus 12:13)

 "Indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
(1 Corinthians 5:7)


The Lamb of God
The true Lamb of God would arrive upon the scene and His name would be “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. He would be called “Jesus” (Yeshua or “salvation” in Hebrew), for He would save His people from their sins (Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1:21)! And Jesus, our Lord and Messiah, truly did come and gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice for his own people during the celebration of Passover. And not only for his own Jewish people but for the whole world…

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Passover
The story in the whole Bible where the God of Israel has portrayed the power of the blood of Jesus in a narrative form – and concealed it from the notice of hardened hearts – is the historical exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

Every family in all Israel had to take a lamb – a lamb without blemish for each household – and then kill it at twilight (Exodus 12). The shed blood of the innocent lamb was then to be taken and put on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses. For the Lord had proclaimed: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Exodus 12:13)

Every family living in the land of Egypt – both among the Egyptians and the Israelites alike – was in danger of having death enter into their household to rob their first-born sons. The judgment of God was about to fall on the land of Egypt because of their idol worship. We can read in the book of Ezekiel that the Israelites in Egypt also had fallen into the same snare and temptation of idol worship and thus death was about to fall upon their families alike (Ezekiel 20:7-10). But God provided a way of escape for His own people!

The penalty of death and the judgment of God could be transferred from their families onto an innocent lamb slaughtered on their behalf. Someone had to die as the consequence of their sins. But this someone was not one of their own family – not the firstborn, not the father nor the mother – but a male lamb. The sins and resulting death of each Israelite family were transferred and laid upon the lamb, and the life and innocence of the lamb was transferred upon the family. The lamb died – and the family, including the firstborn, lived!

When the angel of death was then passing through the land of Egypt destroying life among the Egyptian families, whenever he saw the lamb’s blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts of the Israelite families, he passed over. Death had already come! The destroyer then did not come into these houses to strike them a second time and the families inside were in complete safety!

Only the Israelites had been told to act in this manner. The instructions for saving their lives had come through the mouth of Moses and they had heeded the word of the Lord – and they lived! The punishment for their idol worship and sins had been laid on the lamb and the families were forgiven because of the blood.

This proved to be life-saving knowledge from God spoken through the mouth of Moses, who faithfully had delivered the word of God to them (Exodus 12:21). Then the elders and each family in turn had just as faithfully passed on the word from one family to another – and so the whole nation of Israel had been warned, instructed and as a result had been saved!

Remember: “Indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” Our death and hell was transferred onto him on the cross, and his life and righteousness was transferred upon us through his resurrection. When we believe, his life is in us and the life we live is his and we will never die! (Galatians 2:20, John 11:26)

The Good News
The message of the Passover lamb from Moses’ mouth spread among the hundreds of thousands of Israelites in two weeks’ time. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died on the cross as our Passover lamb has also been taken to millions of people and to the four corners of the earth in two thousand years!

The truth about His death, burial and resurrection from the grave has been preached and believed on in the nations! Whoever believes and heeds this life-saving knowledge which was in the mouth of Jesus our Lord, surely shall be saved from eternal death, hell and destruction! Jesus says: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54)

Life for your family
There is a great Saviour and Redeemer, a Mediator between God and man – the man Christ Jesus! There is life, protection and blessing for your whole family – it is in his blood!

Rev. Juha Ketola is an ordained minister who serves as International Director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org

I Will Do A New Thing

As we enter the New Year, we are in the midst of a twelve-month period that is rather unique in Israel’s modern history. During this year-long span, we are celebrating a remarkable series of anniversaries. It all began in May 2017 with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, and it ends in May 2018 with the celebration of Israel’s 70th year of independence. Never in my lifetime can I recall a period with so many remembrances of key historic events related to Israel’s rebirth. They also are significant markers for the Church and the nations. This includes:

50 years of a reunited Jerusalem
70 years since the UN plan for a Jewish state
70 years since Israel’s independence
100 years since the Balfour Declaration
100 years since Gen. Edmund Allenby liberated Jerusalem from Ottoman rule
120 years since the First Zionist Congress in Basel convened by Theodor Herzl
150 years since Sir Charles Warren discovered the ancient City of David

Now each of these numbers bears a certain biblical significance.

Fifty years – the Jubilee
The biblical Jubilee encompasses a fifty-year cycle. According to Leviticus 25, every 50th year was to be a year of Jubilee. If an Israelite landing on hard times had to sell his land or even his own self into servitude, then the 50th year represented a year of good news and renewed favour. All his original inheritance would be returned to him and he would regain his freedom. It is indeed a season of God’s favour (Isaiah 60:1ff; Luke 4:18ff), when God restores unique blessings to His people.

In modern times, Jerusalem has gone through a whole sequence of these jubilee cycles over the past 50, 100 and 150 years, indicating that there is a divine pattern of restoration and release operating over the city of God.

Seventy and 120 years – a lifespan of completion
Seventy years represents a significant timespan in the Bible. Moses gives 70 years as the lower limit of a human lifetime (Psalm 91:10). It was the period for which Israel was exiled to Babylon. Thus they spent an entire lifespan in captivity. Then after 70 years, God remembered His promise of restoration and the Jewish people began returning to their homeland under Ezra and Nehemiah.

The prophet Daniel saw that 70 weeks were determined for Israel and Jerusalem to complete their divine purposes (Daniel 9:24ff).

The period of 120 years represents the upper limit for a human lifespan. In the times of Noah (Genesis 6:3), God gave humanity 120 years to live. Moses also died exactly at this age, and no biblical figure has ever reached this age since.

Thus, both 70 years (for the State of Israel) and 120 years (for the Zionist movement) represent a season of completion and accomplishment.

The Jewish year
The Jewish calendar long predates our Gregorian calendar and counts the years since Adam’s creation. According to Jewish tradition, these amazing jubilees have occurred in the Jewish year 5777 which then turned into 5778 at the last Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) last September. Seven is always a number of completeness. God created the world in 7 days. Jesus said that we are to forgive 7 times 70, representing complete and total forgiveness. The number 777 is one of ultimate completion. The first day of the week is also the eighth day. Jesus rose on the first day of the week from the dead and ushered in a new season. The passing from 5777 to 5778 thus indicates a new season has started.

A new Jubilee season
In general, it is wise to be careful not to over-emphasise the symbolism of numbers. The concentration of anniversaries with highly symbolic numbers, however, do bear a message for Israel and the nations.

The period of 50 years speaks of restoration and return of that which belonged to its original owner. We see this Jubilee cycle in operation over Jerusalem, as key events related to the city have lined up in exactly 50-year intervals, each ushering in a new season for its rightful owners. The discovery of the ancient City of David by Sir Charles Warren brought excitement to the Russian Jewish community and led to the very first wave of Aliyah from Russia in the years following. Allenby’s liberation of Jerusalem together with the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago brought a new season to Jerusalem’s inhabitants and laid the foundation for the state of Israel. And of course, the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 meant the biblical Old City was back in Jewish hands for the first time in almost 2000 years.

It is therefore no surprise that again, at this year’s Jubilee, another landmark of restoration has occurred for Jerusalem. The decision by the United States to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel finally affirms what the Knesset decreed back in July 1980 in the Jerusalem Law – that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the state of Israel. This recognition was unduly withheld by the international community until now, leaving Israel as the only nation in the world not given the right to choose its own capital. As the prophet Zechariah foretold, Jerusalem became like “a cup of drunkenness” for the nations of the world.

But this latest move by the US Administration represents a new level of international recognition for Jerusalem. It is a ‘game changer’ in the way nations will deal with Israel in the future. Other nations are expected to follow suit, yet at the same time it also will result in new levels of hostility by others. In any case, this move will significantly strengthen the historical connection of the Jewish people to their national capital. It also underlines that the biblical principle of the Jubilee is still in operation today.

A new season coming for Israel
As we mark during this coming year the 70th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth as a nation, we also can look forward to a new season, a new level of prophetic fulfilment for the nation of Israel. The general idea of 70 and 120 year cycles is that a season has been completed and now something new can be expected. The prophet Isaiah repeatedly declares a new season coming to Israel: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19 [see also Isaiah 42:9; 48:6]).

Over the past 120 years, God has already opened an exciting new chapter for the Jewish people. The headline for this chapter was “Restoration”. A poor, agricultural pioneer state has become the start-up nation that is today a world leader in medical and scientific research and can compete in innovation and efficiency with Silicon Valley or any other hi-tech region of the world. Israel also experienced a number of seemingly hopeless wars and emerged as the unexpected winner. Today it is uncontested in its neighbourhood militarily and has recently become even a strategic partner for Sunni Arab nations against the growing threat of Iran and its proxy terror militias.

Now as we enter this new season, we can expect an even deeper level of restoration. It will continue to strengthen the national and physical restoration of the Jewish State. Yet at the same time, especially after the US recognition of Jerusalem, we can expect a ‘new thing’ that goes beyond the natural and political realm. We do know that one of the greatest outstanding promises God gave to the Jewish people is that of a spiritual restoration for Israel. Almost every Hebrew prophet who foresaw the Jewish physical return to their homeland also foresaw a spiritual return to God on a national scale.

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land … I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; … I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, …” (Ezekiel 36:24–27; [see also Isaiah 44:3; Zechariah 12:14; Jeremiah 31:31ff]).

According to the Apostle Paul, this also means the release of an unprecedented blessing to the entire world. “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15; [see also v. 12]).

Israel’s revival will release a new level of blessing and resurrection life among the nations. We already saw the past 120 years, since the Zionist dream took shape, the greatest Christian revival this world has ever seen. In particular, over the recent decades since Jerusalem’s reunification we have seen dramatic growth in the evangelical churches of the Global South. Today, Church growth experts assess the evangelical movement has well over 600 million believers. What a spiritual revival in Israel will mean for the world is beyond imagination.

Battles and judgement ahead of us
New seasons for the believer, new levels of glory and spiritual depth, are often preceded and accompanied by seasons of battle and even suffering.

The birth of the Zionist movement was triggered by a severe wave of anti-Semitism in Europe, including pogroms in Russia and the Dreyfus Affair in France. The state of Israel was established out of a fierce battle in 1948, and Jerusalem was reunited during the Six-Day War. Both of these wars appeared to be hopeless battles for Israel, as most military experts did not give the small Jewish nation much chance of survival either time.

Yet any new level of divine restoration always results in loss for God’s enemies. Satan will do anything to contest and stop this new season. That there is now opposition to the latest developments on Jerusalem should not surprise us. Both for Israel and the Church, it means we must not just prepare to receive the great ‘new things’ from heaven, but also brace for a new wave of opposition and struggle.

Paul states: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) There will be seasons of victory but they might come at a price. Jacob’s encounter with God was a fierce battle, and he came out victorious yet also limping.

The season we are entering will see further breakthroughs for Israel and deeper levels of authority and God’s glory in the Church. But it will be accompanied by global shakings and battles that are unprecedented.

Therefore as we enter this new year, we should steady ourselves for new challenges ahead but at the same time expect great new things from the Lord. God encourages us to dream His dreams. While the world might shake, God is at the same time building a kingdom that cannot be shaken. The restoration of Israel will gather greater momentum, leading to the promised outpouring of His Spirit. And we can also expect an overcoming Church entering into a new season of holiness, authority and blessing.

Let me suggest the following action points for you to consider:

• Get behind what God is doing in the Church and in Israel. Ask the Lord what His purpose is for your life and find your place in God’s kingdom. This will be the most fulfilling life you could ever live.
• Make sure that your foundations are solid and unshakable. Be part of a church that builds your life and faith, and challenges you to believe for greater things and to walk in holiness before the Lord.
• Spend daily time with Lord, praying and reading His word.
• Carry the armour of God and use it! Our battles will increase and they are “not against flesh and blood but against spiritual principalities…” Be equipped for the days ahead!

As we enter into new and exciting seasons, let us together carry out great exploits for our King! 

‘New Things’ for Israel and the Church

As we enter the new year, we are in the midst of a twelve-month period that is rather unique in Israel’s modern history. During this year-long span, we are celebrating a remarkable series of anniversaries. It all began in May 2017 with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, and it ends in May 2018 with the celebration of Israel’s 70th year of independence. Never in my lifetime can I recall a period with so many remembrances of key historic events related to Israel’s rebirth. They also are significant markers for the Church and the nations. This includes:

50 years of a reunited Jerusalem 
70 years since the UN plan for a Jewish state
70 years since Israel’s independence
100 years since the Balfour Declaration  
100 years since Gen. Edmund Allenby liberated Jerusalem from Ottoman rule 
120 years since the First Zionist Congress in Basel convened by Theodor Herzl
150 years since Sir Charles Warren discovered the ancient City of David

Now each of these numbers bears a certain biblical significance.

Fifty years – the Jubilee

The biblical Jubilee encompasses a fifty year cycle.  According to Leviticus 25, every 50th year was to be a year of Jubilee. If an Israelite landing on hard times had to sell his land or even his own self into servitude, then the 50th year represented a year of good news and renewed favour. All his original inheritance would be returned to him and he would regain his freedom. It is indeed a season of God’s favour (Isaiah 60:1ff; Luke 4:18ff), when God restores unique blessings to His people.

In modern times, Jerusalem has gone through a whole sequence of these jubilee cycles over the past 50, 100 and 150 years, indicating that there is a divine pattern of restoration and release operating over the city of God.

Seventy and 120 years – a lifespan of completion

Seventy years represents a significant timespan in the Bible. Moses gives 70 years as the lower limit of a human lifetime (Psalm 91:10). It was the period for which Israel was exiled to Babylon. Thus they spent an entire lifespan in captivity. Then after 70 years, God remembered His promise of restoration and the Jewish people began returning to their homeland under Ezra and Nehemiah.

The prophet Daniel saw that 70 weeks were determined for Israel and Jerusalem to complete their divine purposes (Daniel 9:24ff).

The period of 120 years represents the upper limit for a human lifespan. In the times of Noah (Genesis 6:3), God gave humanity 120 years to live. Moses also died exactly at this age, and no biblical figure has ever reached this age since.

Thus, both 70 years (for the State of Israel) and 120 years (for the Zionist movement) represent a season of completion and accomplishment.

The Jewish year 

The Jewish calendar long predates our Gregorian calendar and counts the years since Adam’s creation. According to Jewish tradition, these amazing jubilees have occurred in the Jewish year 5777 which then turned into 5778 at the last Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) last September. Seven is always a number of completeness. God created the world in 7 days. Jesus said that we are to forgive 7 times 70, representing complete and total forgiveness. The number 777 is one of ultimate completion. The first day of the week is also the eighth day. Jesus rose on the first day of the week from the dead and ushered in a new season. The passing from 5777 to 5778 thus indicates a new season has started. 

A new Jubilee season

In general, it is wise to be careful not to over-emphasise the symbolism of numbers. The concentration of anniversaries with highly symbolic numbers, however, does bear a message for Israel and the nations.

The period of 50 years speaks of restoration and return of that which belonged to its original owner. We see this Jubilee cycle in operation over Jerusalem, as key events related to the city have lined up in exactly 50-year intervals, each ushering in a new season for its rightful owners. The discovery of the ancient City of David by Sir Charles Warren brought excitement to the Russian Jewish community and led to the very first wave of Aliyah from Russia in the years following. Allenby’s liberation of Jerusalem together with the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago brought a new season to Jerusalem’s inhabitants and laid the foundation for the state of Israel. And of course, the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 meant the biblical Old City was back in Jewish hands for the first time in almost 2000 years. 

It is therefore no surprise that again, at this year’s Jubilee, another landmark of restoration has occurred for Jerusalem. The decision by the United States to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel finally affirms what the Knesset decreed back in July 1980 in the Jerusalem Law – that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the state of Israel. This recognition was unduly withheld by the international community until now, leaving Israel as the only nation in the world not given the right to choose its own capital. As the prophet Zechariah foretold, Jerusalem became like “a cup of drunkenness” for the nations of the world.

But this latest move by the US Administration represents a new level of international recognition for Jerusalem. It is a ‘game changer’ in the way nations will deal with Israel in the future. Other nations are expected to follow suit, yet at the same time it also will result in new levels of hostility by others. In any case, this move will significantly strengthen the historical connection of the Jewish people to their national capital. It also underlines that the biblical principle of the Jubilee is still in operation today.

A new season coming for Israel

As we mark during this coming year the 70th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth as a nation, we also can look forward to a new season, a new level of prophetic fulfilment for the nation of Israel. The general idea of 70 and 120 year cycles is that a season has been completed and now something new can be expected. The prophet Isaiah repeatedly declares a new season coming to Israel: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19 [see also Isaiah 42:9; 48:6]).

Over the past 120 years, God has already opened an exciting new chapter for the Jewish people. The headline for this chapter was “Restoration”. A poor, agricultural pioneer state has become the start-up nation that is today a world leader in medical and scientific research and can compete in innovation and efficiency with Silicon Valley or any other hi-tech region of the world. Israel also experienced a number of seemingly hopeless wars and emerged as the unexpected winner. Today it is uncontested in its neighbourhood militarily and has recently become even a strategic partner for Sunni Arab nations against the growing threat of Iran and its proxy terror militias.

Now as we enter this new season, we can expect an even deeper level of restoration. It will continue to strengthen the national and physical restoration of the Jewish State. Yet at the same time, especially after the US recognition of Jerusalem, we can expect a ‘new thing’ that goes beyond the natural and political realm. We do know that one of the greatest outstanding promises God gave to the Jewish people is that of a spiritual restoration for Israel. Almost every Hebrew prophet who foresaw the Jewish physical return to their homeland also foresaw a spiritual return to God on a national scale.

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land … I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; … I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, …” (Ezekiel 36:24–27; [see also Isaiah 44:3; Zechariah 12:14; Jeremiah 31:31ff]).

According to the Apostle Paul, this also means the release of an unprecedented blessing to the entire world. “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15; [see also v. 12]).

Israel’s revival will release a new level of blessing and resurrection life among the nations. We already saw the past 120 years, since the Zionist dream took shape, the greatest Christian revival this world has ever seen. In particular, over the recent decades since Jerusalem’s reunification we have seen dramatic growth in the evangelical churches of the Global South. Today, Church growth experts assess the evangelical movement has well over 600 million believers. What a spiritual revival in Israel will mean for the world is beyond imagination.

Battles and judgement ahead of us

New seasons for the believer, new levels of glory and spiritual depth, are often preceded and accompanied by seasons of battle and even suffering.

The birth of the Zionist movement was triggered by a severe wave of anti-Semitism in Europe, including pogroms in Russia and the Dreyfus Affair in France. The state of Israel was established out of a fierce battle in 1948, and Jerusalem was reunited during the Six-Day War. Both of these wars appeared to be hopeless battles for Israel, as most military experts did not give the small Jewish nation much chance of survival either time.

Yet any new level of divine restoration always results in loss for God’s enemies. Satan will do anything to contest and stop this new season. That there is now opposition to the latest developments on Jerusalem should not surprise us. Both for Israel and the Church, it means we must not just prepare to receive the great ‘new things’ from heaven, but also brace for a new wave of opposition and struggle.

Paul states: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)  There will be seasons of victory but they might come at a price. Jacob’s encounter with God was a fierce battle, and he came out victorious yet also limping.

The season we are entering will see further breakthroughs for Israel and deeper levels of authority and God’s glory in the Church. But it will be accompanied by global shakings and battles that are unprecedented. 

Therefore as we enter this new year, we should steady ourselves for new challenges ahead but at the same time expect great new things from the Lord. God encourages us to dream His dreams. While the world might shake, God is at the same time building a kingdom that cannot be shaken. The restoration of Israel will gather greater momentum, leading to the promised outpouring of His Spirit. And we can also expect an overcoming Church entering into a new season of holiness, authority and blessing.

Let me suggest the following action points for you to consider:

Get behind what God is doing in the Church and in Israel. Ask the Lord what His purpose is for your life and find your place in God’s kingdom. This will be the most fulfilling life you could ever live. 

Make sure that your foundations are solid and unshakable. Be part of a church that builds your life and faith, and challenges you to believe for greater things and to walk in holiness before the Lord.

Spend daily time with Lord, praying and reading His word. 

Carry the armour of God and use it! Our battles will increase and they are “not against flesh and blood but against spiritual principalities…” Be equipped for the days ahead!

As we enter into new and exciting seasons, let us together carry out great exploits for our King!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wake-up call for America

On Saturday, August 12, I was honored to speak at Yad Vashem’s Graduate Event for those who have completed their Christian Leadership Seminars in Israel. It was encouraging to see the commitment to fight anti-Semitism from Christians of different denominations and continents around the globe.

Yet, it was surreal and frankly disturbing to see later that same day the breaking news on TV screens as I walked through Washington-Reagan airport. Violent scenes were broadcast live from Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis were brazenly out on the streets of America displaying all their race-based, anti-Semitic hate for the world to see.

Only days later, ISIS carried out a terrorist attack in Catalonia, Spain, using a van to kill more than a dozen innocent men, women, and children, and injure over 100 more. The Chief Rabbi of Barcelona responded by declaring that the Jewish community in that region is doomed. He cited the authorities’ reluctance to clamp down on radical Islam as the driving force behind growing anti-Semitism in Europe, leaving Jewish communities vulnerable across the continent.

Until now, Americans could draw some comfort from the fact that the growth of anti-Semitism in the United States has been significantly slower than in their European counterparts over the last two decades. Many are not surprised to see how increased immigration to Europe from Muslim nations has resulted in a troubling rise in anti-Semitism and now also jihadist attacks.

But, Americans should be surprised by what they see developing in the United States at present. On display in Charlottesville was more than just two sides battling over the future of Confederate statues. There is something more sinister at work here and, as in Europe, it is unfortunately the Jewish community that stands to suffer.

Two Opposing Ideologies

The neo-Nazis marching with their swastikas and Hitler salutes exhibit classic anti-Semitism. Based on race and white supremacy, this ideology is easy to recognize and has been fully rejected by the nations of the West. It incongruously casts Jews as sub-human while accusing them of some grand, evil scheme to control the world, especially through Communist ideology.

On the other side from the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville was the opposition group mostly made up of Antifa (which stands for anti-fascist action). Born out of the 1930s when the Nazis and Communists were struggling for power in Germany, the modern Antifa movement has its roots in opposing the brown shirts while also associating with more Marxist/anarchist ideologies. Closely linked to the Black Lives Matter movement today, these groups are also anti-Zionist. This means they reject the desire of Jewish people to return to their homeland, viewing Zionism as race-based colonialism that profits at the expense of the local, indigenous people, in this case the Palestinians.

Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitic

Detaching the Jewish people from the land God bequeathed to Abraham and his descendants some 4,000 years ago achieves two insidious goals. First, it removes the Jewish people’s historical connection to the land, turning them into invading foreigners that must be repelled, thus legitimizing all means to cleanse “Palestine” of their presence. Second, it denies the Jewish people their identity as a nation with a place to live in this world, relegating them to the status of permanent wanderers at the mercy of all the other nations who choose to host them.

This is at its core anti-Semitism. It is just cloaked in a veneer of modern political correctness. But there should be no tolerance for such discrimination. The last century should have taught us that dangerous ideologies such as Nazism or Communism can have disastrous outcomes, with Jews usually paying the higher price.

Their Alliance with Muslim Anti-Semitism

Just as disturbing should be any ideology that embraces both classic and new anti-Semitism, rejecting the legitimacy of both the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Despite the refusal of the Western media to acknowledge it, the recent spate of vehicle attacks in Europe originated as a tactic of Palestinian terrorists seeking to kill innocent Jewish civilians in Israel. Their goal is to destroy the Jewish state as it exists today. Their strategy follows the Algerian playbook, where a small Islamist insurgency was able to overthrow a much larger colonial power, France. And for the last 100 years, they have aligned with any ideology that will serve this end.

When the Nazis rose to power, the Jewish people were already taking steps to reconstitute their state in the land of Canaan. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, opposed the Jews and so made his way to Hitler where he joined his cause with that of solving “the Jewish problem.” He swiftly became a popular voice in support of the Nazi Holocaust against European Jewry, even recruiting an SS company in Bosnia which slaughtered 90 percent of Bosnia’s Jews.

Given safe haven by Egypt after the war, Haj Amin el-Husseini became the mentor of Rahman Abdul Rauf el-Qudwa el-Husseini, the Egyptian-born leader of the PLO better known to the world as Yasser Arafat. Committed to the destruction of Israel, Arafat not only favored the use of attacks against “soft targets,” he literally innovated the tactic of using civilian airline hijacking as a terror weapon.

Nazi ideology has permeated Islamic thought since World War II with Hitler’s Mein Kampf remaining a staunch favorite in Middle-Eastern countries, while Holocaust denial has been given state-sanctioned prominence. The current leader of the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed in his 1982 dissertation that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was hugely exaggerated and Zionist collaboration with the Nazis was the real cause for the genocide. He received his PhD from Lumumba University in Moscow.

It’s no secret that Communist Russia worked closely with the Palestinian Liberation Organization in support of its conflict with the Jewish state, especially after Israel severely humiliated the Soviet Union’s Arab allies in the 1967 Six- Day War. A recent release of Cold War documents even seems to suggest that Abbas was himself a KGB spy.

In their over-arching quest to defeat Israel and the Jewish people, the Islamic world has proven itself willing to work with two opposing evils, Nazis and Communists, because the ideologies of both are committed to at least one common goal: the destruction of God’s chosen people.

Wake Up, American Church

As the Apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12, this battle is ultimately not against flesh and blood but against spiritual principalities and powers. We should not be surprised then to see the same spirits of deception and destruction manifesting themselves in Virginia as they do in the Middle East. Our challenge is to discern the spiritual meaning of these events and to take heed.

In a continent that has virtually outlawed any Nazi identification, the Jews of Europe still face an uncertain future. The leaders there are unable or unwilling to correctly identify and confront another anti-Semitic threat now hidden in the anti-Zionist rhetoric of Islamic extremists and their leftist collaborators.

The church in Europe failed the Jewish people during World War II, and it is failing them again today. This should be a lesson to the church in America. We still have time to discern what is happening and then take action to ensure we do not fall into the deceptive trap that is being laid.

What happened on the streets of Charlottesville is a wake-up call.

Anti-Semitism and its twin, anti-Zionism, must not be allowed to take root in America. Sadly, support for neo-Nazis and for Antifa is growing as people line up in defense of either side. The church, however, must stand up in defense of the Jewish people and the State of Israel at this time. May the Lord give us all the courage we need for the battle ahead.
 

- by Daryl Hedding, US Deputy Director

Remembering the Exodus

The year 2017 is filled with anniversaries of key moments in Israel’s modern history. Foremost among them are the 50-year Jubilee celebrations of Jerusalem being reunited under Israeli sovereignty in June 1967, and the centennial ceremonies marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. But a third important event which happened 70 years ago will be remembered this July 18th with the dedication of a special memorial to the Exodus ’47, otherwise known as “the ship that launched a nation.”

The Exodus was an old, rickety steamer originally built to traverse the shallow, calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay. But in 1947, she was refitted by the Jewish underground to carry thousands of Holocaust survivors on a desperate voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to break the British blockade and reach the shores of Mandatory Palestine. When the British navy attacked the ship just offshore, the tragic fate of her passengers grabbed world headlines and played a central role in the rebirth of Israel the following spring.

When the Exodus left port in France seventy years ago, she was heavily laden with over 4,500 tattered Jewish refugees who had survived the Nazi genocide and were determined to reach the Land of Israel. But the British had imposed a naval blockade to stop such refugee ships from reaching Palestine, and the passengers knew that, if captured, they would all be sent back to Europe. So the Haganah underground invited a sympathetic American Methodist minister, Rev. John Stanley Grauel, to join the voyage as a reporter who would be free to tell the story of what was about to transpire.

As the overcrowded vessel approached the Israeli coast in the dark of night, a British fleet of six destroyers and a light cruiser closed in. They first sandwiched the Exodus between two destroyers, trying to crush her aging hull. After seven such ramming attempts failed to sink the vessel, British troops armed with machine guns and bully clubs stormed aboard. The defenceless Jews put up what resistance they could. Three were killed and almost 150 injured.

Despite their gallant efforts, the ship was seized and towed to Haifa port, where all of the Jewish passengers were arrested and eventually sent back to Germany.

Yet the British could not apprehend Rev. Grauel, since he was a non-Jew and a US citizen. Instead, he was placed under house arrest at a hotel in Haifa. But this happened to be the very hotel where Western journalists were staying to cover the visit that summer of the UN Special Committee on Palestine, and Grauel began telling the visiting reporters about the brutal ordeal at sea. Then late at night, he was quietly whisked away by the Haganah and smuggled past roadblocks into Jerusalem to tell the UNSCOP committee itself about what had happened.

The UN committee had been holding hearings that summer in order to recommend a solution to the “Palestine problem.” But the eleven-nation commission was refusing to meet with Jewish war refugees still held in displacement camps in Europe. Yet when Grauel described first-hand the British assault on the unarmed refugees aboard the Exodus, it had a profound impact on the committee members.

“The Exodus had no arms,” Grauel told the UNSCOP panel. “All they fought with were potatoes, canned goods, and their bare fists.”

The plight of the Exodus passengers stretched out several months before a worldwide audience, fuelling the committee’s growing sense of its humanitarian mission. Until then, most of its members were leaning against partition and the creation of a Jewish state. But after Grauel pleaded their cause, the committee agreed to visit the camps in Europe to speak directly with Jewish war refugees, who were nearly unanimous in their desire to go to Palestine. Before long, the majority of UNSCOP members concurred that the Jewish people needed a state of their own.

Thus, the testimony of a Christian minister about the British attack on the Exodus became the turning point in UNSCOP’s shift towards accepting Jewish statehood. Grauel would later write of that fateful moment on board the ship, saying it felt as if he were witnessing the battle of “Concord and Lexington… I just knew I was watching the rebirth of a nation.”

Indeed, the well-known journalist Ruth Gruber, who witnessed the commandeered boat docking in Haifa, described the Exodus ’47 as “the ship that launched a nation.”

The vessel remained tied up in Haifa harbour until a mysterious fire burned her to the waterline in 1952. The ship was towed out to deeper waters and sunk. Today, there are markers to her in Italy, France, Germany and Baltimore, Maryland, but ironically there has never been a marker or memorial to the Exodus ‘47 in Israel.

That will be rectified this July 18th when Israeli officials, Jewish and Christian leaders, and the last Exodus survivors will gather at the Haifa Port terminal to dedicate a special sculpture and historic marker in memory of her courageous passengers. The effort is being spearheaded by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be there as well to mark this historic occasion. Besides paying respects to the brave Jewish refugees on board the Exodus, the ceremonies will duly note the key role of Rev. John Stanley Grauel in her story. Seventy years after her voyage helped birth the nation of Israel, the Exodus ’47 will finally receive her due.

ICEJ Statement on UNESCO Vote

We are utterly dismayed that UNESCO has adopted once again a scandalous resolution denying any Jewish connection to the holy sites in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, including the Temple Mount.

The resolution omits the traditional, biblical names of sacred Jewish sites, calling them by alternative Muslim names only. This is tantamount to rewriting history and stripping these sites of their 4,000 years of Jewish and 2,000 years of Christian connection. We, as Christians, are deeply concerned that the wording accepted by an international body intends to eradicate any Jewish and Christian bonds to these holy places.

This represents a calculated insult against the Jewish people and an affront to two billion Christians worldwide who know full well that as a faithful Jew, Jesus regularly visited the holy Jewish Temple on this site, taught there, and was zealous for its calling as a “house of prayer for all nations.”

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is now hosting over 5,000 Christians from nearly 100 nations for a Christian celebration of the biblical Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Their presence in this city to mark a Jewish festival at this time demonstrates the historic continuity between our respective faiths and the special place Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in particular hold for Jews and Christians alike. So on behalf of these Christian pilgrims and the millions more they represent back in their home countries, we want to affirm to the Israeli public that we respect the Jewish reverence for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and we will stand with you in confronting this devious assault on the historic sites in Israel.

The ICEJ had already activated our national branches over recent weeks to work towards changing the wording of this disgraceful UNESCO resolution. And you can rest assured that we will never forget Jerusalem! (Psalm 137:5-6)

Dr. Jürgen Bühler
ICEJ Executive Director

Statement on the Passing of Shimon Peres

The leadership and family of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) joins with the people of Israel in mourning the passing of Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres.

He had a tremendous impact in shaping this nation over his long and distinguished career of public service, which spans the seven decades of Israel’s modern history. From the start, he made valuable contributions to Israel’s vibrant democracy and to the nation’s defense. He was one of the first to recognize and promote Israel’s potential as a hub of technological achievement. And his relentless pursuit of peace and acceptance for Israel earned him admiration and accolades worldwide, including the Nobel Prize for Peace.

His passing marks the end of a generation of pioneering leaders who founded the modern state of Israel and secured its future. No doubt, his legacy will continue to bear fruit for the nation in the decades to come.

The ICEJ would like to encourage Christians around the world to stand with Israel in prayer at this time of mourning.
 

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.

 

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