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Special Reports

A Fresh Start in South Africa

In early December, when summer begins in South Africa, I made my first overseas trip as ICEJ’s VP for International Affairs. My purpose there was to strengthen the local team and meet with many old friends of the Embassy. South Africans were among the founding members of the ICEJ and the country has always played a key role within the ICEJ by supporting our work and sending people to work in Jerusalem and volunteer at the Feast.

In recent months, we had to make some changes in the South African ICEJ branch, so I decided to go to answer any questions in this regard. I introduced the new team, led by the National Director Vivienne Myburgh, daughter of the late Johann Greef and former head of the South African branch. Meetings were organised in Durban, Cape Town, Nelspruit and Pretoria. There was a lot of goodwill, healing, willingness to move forward, and a friendly time of fellowship after the meetings. One of the highlights was a lunch for all former board members and founding members, including the first Executive Director of ICEJ Jerusalem, Johann Luckhoff. It was a good time of restoration.

We also met with local representatives of the Jewish Zionist Federation and with the Israeli ambassador. I appreciated the level of trust and cooperation our people had with these organisations. The Jewish community in Cape Town even organises an event specifically for their Christian friends. It was there that we witnessed the historic declaration of President Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The visit marked a new beginning for the branch by establishing many new contacts in different segments of South Africa’s diverse population. I have no doubt that the new team will be able to quickly restart the work and bring back South Africa to the place it deserves, as one of the strongest supporters of Jerusalem.

I Regret Nothing

God is bringing the Jewish people up from their lands of slavery and bringing them to their promised land of Israel. Aliyah is a dream for many Jews around the world, and yet living out that dream brings many trials that need to be overcome. An essential and efficient way to full immersion into Israeli society is through absorption centres. This is where the ICEJ steps in to help support these new Jewish immigrants.

On February 14th, ICEJ AID led a group of 30 visitors from ICEJ Germany to the Ye’elim Absorption Centre in Beersheba, where they heard powerful testimonies from new immigrants. One impactful story was that of a young Russian Jewish father, who within one year of moving from Russia to Israel with his young pregnant wife, became a father, learned English and Hebrew, was trained in IT and received an offer to work at an IT firm in Israel. He explained, “My family and I would not be where we are today without all of the help and support from this programme. What can I say? I regret nothing.”

The director of the Ye’elim Absorption Centre, Morris Cohen, shared his gratefulness to the ICEJ for continued partnership in helping thousands of new immigrants, “Thank you to the ICEJ. It’s because of your generosity that we can carry out many different programmes for the immigrants from all around the world.” The IT training for new immigrants is funded by the ICEJ, and amazingly the success rate has been 100%. We have helped train approximately 30 IT programmers every year for the past five years, and every single one of these new immigrants has a job!

God is continuing to move powerfully in bringing the Jewish people to their promised land of Israel. It is our joy and honour to be a part of what He is doing, and we invite you to join us in this beautiful work by helping these new immigrants fully integrate into their new homeland!

To support this powerful work of immigrant assistance, please visit: int.icej.org/aid/immigrant-assistance

ICEJ Prayer 2.0

A wave to travel the world!
In recent years, God placed a vision in my heart that never left me but returned again and again. I saw in my spirit the globe with its different continents. As the earth rotated and the sun rose on the different continents, I saw the border between day and night like a wave of fire circling the earth. Wherever the sun was rising, people were waking up, seeking the Lord. I saw a wave of prayer that circled the earth every day: 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. I saw a prayer movement that rises in the morning, prays for Israel, prays for revival and prays for their own community and their own needs. It was a wave of prayer that circled the world at every new dawn, and which grew into a powerful tsunami of prayer. I get excited whenever I think about it.
 
 
A blessing for Israel at 70!
I do believe there is no better date to launch this initiative than when Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary. The prayer wave will be our birthday gift to Israel, and it can be your birthday gift to Israel, as well! Imagine thousands of people around the world standing with Israel every day in prayer. Prayer is the most powerful support you can give to Israel, so please consider joining us.
 
 
A new focus on prayer
In the past seven years, God has been directing our attention more and more to the power of prayer. In 2011, we started what became the Isaiah 62 prayer initiative. It started with our staff’s Monday morning devotion on January 3rd, 2011. I drove to the office prepared with what I thought to be an inspiring New Year’s message, when I felt God telling me, “Forget your sermon, you need to pray.” I will never forget this prayer meeting. God’s spirit was directing us to pray for the Arab world, so we prayed for revival in every Arab country and for God to remove the mask from Islam to reveal its true face. God’s presence felt so tangible in that meeting, and we experienced touching upon something special. We called upon our branches to join us to pray and fast for the rest of January. As the weeks passed, we saw news emerging in the Arab world and saw pictures of demonstrations on Tahir Square in Cairo, Egypt, which soon swept over the entire Middle East. I don’t want to infer in any way that all this started just because of our prayers alone. We know that millions of Christians prayed decades before us for the Arab world, but I did feel that God was telling us, “I am going to do something in the Middle East, and I want you to be part of it.” God gave us the incredible privilege to actively participate in what He was doing in the world.
 
 
Over the years, we have seen many direct results of our prayers. Two years ago, Ethiopian Aliyah was in a deadlock and government experts told us that it would take years for the government to allow the Ethiopian Jews to come home. We felt led to pray according to Isaiah 43:6. In faith we spoke to the south, “Do not keep them back!” Within less than a month, the breakthrough came and the green light was given for the remaining 9,000 Ethiopian Jews to return home to Israel. A government official told me: “It is a miracle. I never thought this would be possible!” But our God is a prayer-answering God.
 
 
God’s healing touch
In past years, our senior leadership has faced major health challenges. Danny Meka from India not only survived a gas explosion, but God answered our prayers and within weeks he was miraculously restored from severe body burns to complete health. Our UK director suffered a major aneurism, and his wife was told to bid him farewell. But God answered our prayers, and David Elms is alive and back in ministry. Whenever he comes to the hospital for a check-up, the doctors welcome him saying, “Here comes the miracle man!” I also experienced my own miracle when doctors gave up on me. The Lord gave me my life back through an operation that surgeons in Israel told me was impossible to carry out.
 
 
Just a few weeks ago, we prayed for a public matter in Israel, and the answer came in a news report during our prayer meeting.
 
 
Through many more experiences, we have learned that God is a prayer-answering God and that nothing is impossible for Him. We just need to connect with Him in faith, in prayer and in trusting Him for the impossible.
Many before us have experienced the same.
 
 
Praying men of God
John Knox, the Scottish reformer, famously prayed, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” His prayers were seen as so effectual that the Queen of Scotland reportedly said, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the armies of England.”
 
 
George Mueller, father of over a thousand orphans in Bristol, experienced over his entire lifetime the supernatural provision of God. When facing a financial challenge, he would not tell anybody except God. He trusted God to be a faithful provider and father for the orphans. He left behind a legacy that inspired millions of Christians around the world.
 
 
Rees Howells, a child of the Welsh revival, saw countless answers to prayer during his ministry. His school in Swansea was particularly used by God during WWII, through interceding strategically for Europe, which then seemed lost to Hitler’s Blitzkrieg.
 
 
John Hyde, the ‘Apostle of Prayer’, saw amazing breakthroughs in India, where he served during his short life. The late British Bible teacher, Derek Prince, reports in his book, “Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting”, how he experienced prayer to impact historic events like WWII in North Africa, the establishment of Israel 70 years ago and the struggle for independence in Kenya. Prayer is a powerful force. 
 
 
James, the brother of Jesus, says: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) Of James himself, Church history informs us that he had thick-skinned knees, “like a camel”, because of the many hours he daily spent on his knees in prayer.
 
 
The next level of Isaiah 62
Fervent prayer has become a dynamic part of our weekly staff routine, and since we started the Isaiah62 Prayer initiative in 2011, prayer has become an important global component of our work. Today we have prayer warriors, individuals and groups in over 120 nations who pray with us around the world. Even in nations that are hostile to Israel, people are interceding with us. In countries like Germany and the USA alone, we have over 100 prayer groups in each country. In China, we are privileged to be part of a huge nationwide prayer network. Only God knows how many people pray with us around the world. Today, by the grace of God, we are virtually represented in every time zone of the world by prayer partners standing with us.
 
 
Now, we feel the Lord is leading us to take this initiative to the next level. We feel God wants us to move from a monthly initiative to a daily prayer force. Therefore, we want to ask you to join us. I believe this will not only bless Israel, but it will also bless your life, family and ministry. You are invited to join us either through a daily or a weekly commitment.
 
 
Our vision is to cover the world with a wave of focused prayer that circles the globe every day. We will specifically be praying for Israel and the nations, and it will be like a wave bringing a new level of blessing to Israel, to the nations and to your life!
 
 
Every morning, as the sun rises, an army of prayer warriors will rise to seek God regarding His purposes in the world and for Israel. We will give God no rest day and night, until He establishes Jerusalem as a praise on the earth. This is a noble cause to be involved with, so please prayerfully consider joining us in prayer wherever you are.
 
 
Here is how it works:
We have chosen a two-hour window for prayer in each time zone of the world. This time window is between 5 - 7 am every morning, no matter the season. During this time, we ask you to commit to pray with us for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to one hour or more. These are the options:
 
 
YOUR COMMITMENT
 
A) DAILY PRAYER PARTNER: You (and your prayer partner/group) commit to pray daily with us for 30 mins or more at any given time between 5 - 7 am your local time.
 
B) WEEKLY PRAYER PARTNER: You (and your prayer partner/group) commit to pray once a week or several days a week with us for 30 mins or more at any given time between 5 -7 am your local time.
If you want to join this global prayer wave, please send an email to: prayerwave@icej.org or sign up at: www.icejprayerwave.com
 
 
When you join this prayer movement, the ICEJ will provide you with weekly “Prayer Wave Updates” from Jerusalem. The prayer requests will be strategic prayer points on how to pray for Israel, both for matters regarding national importance and for the local body of Christ. In addition, we will pray strategically for nations around the world as the Lord leads, and we will also ask you from time to time to pray for matters related to our work in Israel.
 
 
For this purpose, we have commissioned a special, full-time person here in Jerusalem, who will coordinate the global prayer agenda with his team, and his name is Joshua Gooding. Joshua has served as the "ICEJ prayer coordinator" since March, and he is working closely with me and the senior leadership team. Please keep him in your prayers together with the entire ICEJ team here in Jerusalem.
 
 
My prayer is that by the end of the year this prayer wave will be 24/7 and that it in the years to come becomes a powerful and unstoppable tsunami of prayer that sees many answers to prayer and brings forth God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven”.
 
 
I look forward to hearing from you.
 

Jürgen Bühler
 

Gather Around the Table

Gather around the table to hear about this special Passover Seder meal, Ethiopian style! The ICEJ helped 1,308 Ethiopian Jews return to Israel this past year, and it was our great joy to help them celebrate their very first Passover Seder meal here in the land of Israel. The Charuv Absorption Center in Beersheba held a pre-Seder meal for the new Ethiopian immigrants to teach them how to celebrate the biblical feast of Passover. The ceremony was not just a part of the absorption centre classes but was also a time to celebrate the fact that the dream of living in Israel had finally come true.

Entering the room dressed in their traditional Ethiopian clothing, the new Ethiopian immigrants excitedly sat down at the tables that were already prepared with the Passover Seder elements. Several guests and sponsors expressed their joy for these new immigrants. Rabbi Menachem Waldman explained, “As you saw in Gondor last year, still 8,500 Ethiopian Jews are waiting, but be sure that all of them will come. Why do I say this? Because it isn’t a decision of the prime minister or government ministers, it is a decision of God. God’s voice comes to the ears of the Jewish people wherever they are and to whomever is listening, and they come to Israel.” ICEJ’s VP of Operations Barry Denison also encouraged these new immigrants by saying, “The ICEJ has been praying for you to return to Israel, and seeing you here today celebrating your first Passover in Israel is an answer to our prayers.”

The Ethiopian children also had a special Passover celebration, which allowed them to interact and learn more about Passover. They enjoyed tasting each of the Passover elements, singing the songs, dancing and playing games.

After the ceremony, an Ethiopian family invited us to their home for a real taste of Ethiopia. Their hospitality was astounding as the women prepared and served us fresh Ethiopian coffee that was roasted, ground, brewed and poured right before our eyes. They also prepared homemade popcorn and injera (a type of flatbread). It is beautiful to see that the Ethiopian immigrants are learning Hebrew and integrating into the Israeli culture while not losing sight of their Ethiopian roots, which add to the unique flavour of Israeli society.

The ICEJ is honoured to be a part of not only helping the Ethiopian Jews return to the land of Israel, but also helping them integrate into their new home. A young father and recent Ethiopian immigrant said, “It is amazing to see that such big organisations care about us, notice us and want to help us.” Thanks to your generosity we were able to bless well beyond a thousand new immigrants with meals to help them gather around their very own Passover Seder table for the first time here in Israel!
 

Fire of God in India

India is a vast subcontinent with a population of more than one billion. Our branch was established about four years ago with Pastor Dany at the head. Many have heard about the miracle restoration he experienced after a gas explosion in his home. The blast totally demolished the building, and it is a wonder that he and his family escaped alive. Nevertheless, he suffered severe burns all over his body. When he lay in pain in the hospital bed, he had a vision of Jesus who asked him, “What do you want me to do?” Pastor Dany started with a small request to be able to move his finger. Contrary to doctors’ predictions, he walked out of the hospital just nine days later with his skin completely restored. Dany wrote a book about his healing, which made him well- known all over India. Thus, what Satan meant for destruction, Jesus turned into life and blessing.

The work in India is flourishing. Dany has built a network of over 120 volunteers in 25 of the 29 Indian states, with regional representatives who are mostly pastors. For my visit, he organised meetings in six states for more than 550 pastors. In addition, there was a meeting for Indian leaders, including a former member of the central government, a deputy speaker of the parliament and other politicians.

Even though India's Evangelical Christians only make up a few percent of the population, they still number between 30 and 50 million born-again believers. One city on the shores of the Bay of Bengal is a testimony to the long Christian tradition in that area. The Apostle Thomas is said to have reached India, and his tomb can be visited today in the city of Chennai. The famous words of Thomas, “My Lord, my God”, are inscribed in large letters for everyone to see.

Pastor Dany is building a stable branch with great potential, so no wonder the devil wanted to kill him. Let us continue to pray for a revival in India. May the fire of God, not that of the enemy, descend on these precious people and turn their hearts to the God of Israel.

ICEJ Delivers Cyrus Award to Guatemala President Jimmy Morales

On Wednesday, 16 May, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem delivered its new Cyrus Award to President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala in honor of his nation’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its Embassy to the holy city. President Morales was in Jerusalem that day to officially open the new Embassy of Guatemala in the Malha neighborhood. The Christian Embassy has established the Cyrus Award as a special honor bestowed on those national leaders who distinguish themselves by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and by moving their embassies to the city, out of respect for its historic status as the center of Jewish national, religious and cultural life and aspirations.

“We are thrilled that the nations are finally starting to come back up to Jerusalem, with the United States and Guatemala in the forefront”, said ICEJ President, Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “It is wholly appropriate that we give due respect to those national leaders who have shown courage and moral leadership by initiating this historic return to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

The Cyrus Award was created following the historic declaration of U.S. President Donald Trump in December 2017 to grant de jure recognition to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the American Embassy to the holy city. This principled decision challenged the decades of unfair treatment of Israel by the international community as the only nation in the world denied the sovereign right to designate the city of its choice to serve as its capital and seat of government. The Cyrus Award also will be presented to President Trump in the near future.

In 1950, the newly reborn nation of Israel chose Jerusalem to be its capital, reflecting the deep attachment of the Jewish people to the city ever since King David made it the capital of his united Israelite kingdom over 3,000 years ago. In the ensuing millennia, Jerusalem gained universal spiritual significance and today is revered by billions of people of faith worldwide. Yet only the Jewish people have ever made Jerusalem the capital of their national life and central to their identity as a distinct people.

The Cyrus Award is named after Cyrus the Great, the founding monarch of the Persian Empire who is remembered today for his tolerant attitude and actions towards religious and ethnic minorities within his vast kingdom. His humane decrees toward these minority communities were exceptionally unique in the ancient world, and are preserved to this day on the renowned Cyrus Cylinder now proudly on display in the British Museum in London. This exceptional archaeological treasure, which was discovered in 1879 underneath the foundation of an ancient Babylonian temple in Iraq, contains the decree of King Cyrus to allow religious minorities within his realm to rebuild their temples and reclaim their religious heritage.

The Bible documents this noble legacy as well, and even presents Cyrus as a prophetic figure decades before his rise to power. His edict charging the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the “house” of the “God of heaven” is recorded in Second Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-8, among other passages. Indeed, Cyrus not only allowed the Jewish people to return from exile to rebuild Jerusalem and their holy Temple, but he also provided funds from the royal treasury to support these endeavors.

Thus, the Cyrus Award is a special distinction reserved for worthy leaders of nations who show solidarity with the Jewish people by respecting their eternal bond with Jerusalem through their official recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. The award itself is a replica in gold of the prized Cyrus Cylinder, specially crafted by noted Israeli artist Sam Philipe.

When the last thirteen national embassies left Jerusalem in 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was founded as a permanent expression of Christian solidarity with Israel and particularly with its capital of Jerusalem, in recognition of the ancient Jewish attachment to this city. From its headquarters in Jerusalem, the ICEJ now oversees a worldwide pro-Israel Christian movement with established branch offices in over 90 nations and a reach into more than 170 countries worldwide.

Building A Strong Base

What makes an army strong? The answer seems obvious: superior combat power that defeats the enemy. But how is that combat power generated? If tanks and kit can’t get to the front line, the IDF’s combat power is diminished. If wounded soldiers are not evacuated and treated with the best care possible, soldiers’ motivation to take risks is lowered, and they might not fully recover to fight another day.

The City of Bases is a recent desert bloom south of Beer Sheva. This huge complex houses schools for various combat service support functions, e.g. the IDF’s School for Medicine, School for Logistics, and the School for Military Police. At any given time 3,000 recruits and cadets are undergoing training and educational activities at this desert base.

Without these combat service support functions, an army will quickly suffer exhaustion and dysfunction. Yet, the City of Bases contains one more educational unit that lends essential strength to the young men and women protecting Israel, and which has always been part of the IDF’s fighting spirit.

Yad Vashem’s spiritual and ethical components
The moral fibre of an army, which is a combination of why and how it fights its battles, is indispensable. If an army cannot fight with honour and integrity, it loses the deeper underlying battle. This is why Yad Vashem so highly prioritises its moral contribution to military education.

At the City of Bases, Yad Vashem has a small but innovative teaching space for Holocaust education. However, the Holocaust itself is only part of the context. The main purpose is to equip and build Israel’s young men and women at arms into morally and ethically excellent soldiers and individuals. The school’s dictum: “The Image of Man in the Shadow of Death” testifies to this. One might see this as denoting a dark sentiment, but it is an effort meant to maintain human dignity and identity, both in oneself and in one’s perception of the enemy. Educational activities focus on core ethical questions related to power and ethics, empathy and basic humanity, which alert students to the pitfalls and dangers of wielding power over others. Studying the Nazis’ decision-making process and acts of dehumanisation helps students understand the need for empathy, even with enemies.

Widening the reach – increasing the impact

To better teach and accommodate the many thousands of students that pass through the City of Bases, Yad Vashem hopes to construct a new building. This new, expanded and enhanced learning centre will help ensure that the IDF continues to excel as the moral and ethical army that has won all Israel’s victories since 1948. This is why the ICEJ and the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem wholly support the project to expand and enhance Yad Vashem’s educational centre at the City of Bases.

Build a strong ethical base for young Israeli soldiers and maintain the IDF’s call to moral excellence by investing in Yad Vashem’s new educational centre.

Visit https://int.icej.org/yvs_school to give your vital donation.

Coping with PTSD

“The Boat is Sailing” is a unique programme that helps people with PTSD by using sailing as a rehabilitative and therapeutic tool. It was developed by Yoav Ben David, a former POW from 1973, who personally dealt with PTSD. For many years Ben David searched for a way to cope, and he discovered that sailing in a team can boost the rehabilitation process. “The participants come to know that their disability need not deny them exhilarating new experiences in unfamiliar settings, such as in the open sea,” Ben David says. “They learn to take responsibility for others and to deal with challenging situations as well as working in a team. They are also encouraged to share their traumatic experience among programme participants.”

A research study conducted by the Ministry of Defence in 2009 showed that this programme rehabilitates individuals with PTSD much better than any other traditional treatment. “The participants find a reason to live, wake up in the morning, engage in work and interact with other people. It also gives them the motivation to integrate into life and society again,” says Ben David. Sixty participants meet once a week in six small groups for sailing sessions to learn about the sea, symptoms of PTSD, and sailing skills. Participants can later become counsellors and guide new members in this activity.

One of the participants, Yotam, experienced a terrorist attack that killed many soldiers at the bus stop where he was waiting with many others to return to his base. Yotam doesn’t recall much, except that someone stopped him when he walked down the road drenched in blood. Shock and trauma affected him so deeply that he withdrew from all social contact and was unable to cope with daily life. Very slowly, through the "Boat is Sailing" programme, he began to find a way to deal with his PTSD. His small group gives him the strength to carry on despite the ongoing emotional challenges that he continues to face every day.

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 copy today!
 

The Christian Role in Israel

As the people of Israel celebrate the 70th anniversary of the nation’s modern rebirth in 1948, they are looking back with great respect for all those who worked to establish the state and then fought bravely to secure victory in the War of Independence. This includes a number of Christian figures who played key roles in Israel’s founding seven decades ago.

Christians impact the UN Partition Plan
The passage of the UN’s Partition Plan for Palestine on 29 November 1947 paved the way for Israel’s independence, with the help of some unheralded Christian friends.

With Arab-Jewish clashes mounting in Mandatory Palestine, the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was sent in summer 1947 to conduct an inquiry and propose a solution. The committee members were impressed with Jewish advances in the land. But they refused to meet with the 250,000 Jewish refugees in displacement camps across Europe, until the saga of the refugee ship Exodus ’47 unfolded. The vessel was packed with 4,500 desperate Holocaust survivors, and was attacked by British forces as it approached the coastline.

Rev John Grauel, a Christian sympathiser with the Zionist cause, volunteered as the only non-Jewish crew member and witnessed the British assaults on the Exodus off Haifa. He rushed to Jerusalem and gave compelling testimony before the committee; how the ship was rammed seven times, then boarded by armed sailors who shot and clubbed to death defenseless boys.

“The Exodus had no arms,” Rev Grauel insisted. “All they fought with were potatoes, canned goods, and their bare fists.” The refugees eventually were returned to Germany. The tragedy stretched out several months before a worldwide audience, fuelling the committee’s growing sense of its humanitarian mission.

Rev William Hull also impacted UNSCOP that summer, especially the Canadian delegate, Justice Ivan Rand. Also from Canada, Rev Hull had ministered in Jerusalem since 1935 and knew first-hand of the injustices visited upon the Yishuv by British and Arab alike. Over dinner one evening, Justice Rand listened to Hull’s views and later admitted their encounter clarified his understanding of the dispute and gave him new appreciation for Zionist endeavours. Justice Rand was a respected member of the committee and, since Canada was part of the Commonwealth, his anti-British leanings held great sway. He took a firm position that Britain had unfairly restricted Jewish immigration and land purchases.

Guatemalan Ambassador Jorge Garcia-Granados, a revered Christian diplomat on UNSCOP, understood the real meaning of the Jewish return. In The Birth of Israel, Granados writes of UNSCOP’s enthusiastic welcome in Tel Aviv that summer, “I contemplated the enormous mass of humanity filling the square and overflowing into the streets… still applauding, still cheering… It was then that I first really realised what the coming of our committee meant to the Jewish people. We held in our hands life or death.”

The majority of UNSCOP recommended ending Britain’s role in Palestine, partitioning it into separate Jewish and Arab states with economic ties, and placing Jerusalem under an international trusteeship. The UN Partition Plan (Resolution 181) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 29 November 1947 by a vote of 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions.

The Jewish Agency accepted this decision, but the Arabs launched an armed resistance to the plan. By the time the British Mandate ended on 14 May 1948, Arab-Jewish fighting had resulted in a de facto partition of Eretz Israel and the Jewish people were poised to declare the rebirth of their ancient nation.

At 4:00 pm on May 14th, Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion addressed the crowd gathered inside the Tel Aviv Art Museum. In declaring the new state of Israel, he proclaimed that its moral and legal foundations had been laid by “the Balfour Declaration, the UN Partition Resolution, the sacrifice of the Zionist pioneers, and the torment suffered by Jews in recent years”.

Later that day, the UN met in New York to consider last-minute Arab proposals designed to avert impending Jewish statehood. In the midst of the debate, the US delegate went to the rostrum to officially confirm that President Harry Truman had just given de facto recognition to the new State of Israel at 6:11 pm. Despite stiff opposition from both his Secretary of State and Defense, Truman was steeped in the Bible and swayed by compassion for a beleaguered minority people. Moments later, Ambassador Garcia-Granados, once a member of UNSCOP, arose to announce Guatemala as the second country to recognise the new state.

Christians defend the new state
The outnumbered Jewish forces under Ben-Gurion’s command now awaited the expected invasion of armies from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. The leaders of the Haganah, or Jewish Underground, had been trained to fight by British officer Orde Wingate during the Arab uprising of the late 1930s. A staunch Christian Zionist, Wingate had taught his officers to always command from the front, not the rear – a doctrine still followed by the IDF to this day!

During the ensuing War of Independence, the Jewish forces in the land were joined by some 4,700 volunteers from 59 countries who came to help defend Israel. Most were Jewish veterans of World War II, but there were also around 200 Christians who joined them, including many of the pilots in Israel’s fledgling air force. These courageous volunteers came to be known as “Machalniks”, and they brought invaluable fighting skills and experience to the newly-formed Israel Defense Forces.

One of the most notable Christian Machalniks in 1948 was Tom Derek Bowden, also known as Capt David Appel to his Jewish troops. Bowden had begun his military career as a cavalry officer in Mandate Palestine, serving under Wingate in a counterterror unit. Then in World War II, he was back in the region fighting with Allied forces in Syria, where he was badly wounded in the same battle in which his sergeant, Moshe Dayan, lost his eye. During these times in the Land, the affable Bowden made many Jewish friends and even dated a local Jewish girl. This would later cost him when fighting near the end of the war in Holland.

Switching over to a paratrooper brigade, Bowden took part in the battle of Arnhem, where he was wounded once more and captured by German troops. After a daring escape, he was recaptured and searched by SS guards, who found letters on Bowden from Jewish friends in Palestine. So he was sent to the Bergen-Belsen death camp for a month, where he was forced to carry Jewish corpses for burial in open pits.

Bowden later recalled that the experience changed his life. As the war ended, he left the British army. But when he heard about the Arab threats against Israel in May 1948, he rushed by boat and plane to Haifa to join the battle. Because of what he had witnessed at Bergen-Belsen, Bowden said he simply felt compelled to come defend the Jews from another attempt at annihilation.

At first he joined the 7th Brigade in the battle for Latrun. He was in charge of a unit of Polish Jews who had just arrived from the refugee camps in Europe, and without knowing their language he taught them how to handle rifles by hand gestures. He also took part in the forging of the Burma Road to Jerusalem and continued with the brigade as it battled its way through the Galilee.

With the armistice of 1949, Bowden was asked to start a parachute school. As company commander and chief instructor of Israel’s first parachute regiment, the 72nd Battalion, Bowden brought army surplus parachutes from England and made four jumps “before breakfast every day”. He also wrote Israel’s first training manual for the paratrooper brigade, which went on to fame in the 1956 Sinai Campaign and the 1967 Six-Day War.

Today, Derek Bowden is 96 years old and resides near Norfolk, England, with his wife Eva. He is the last-known living Christian Machalnik from the 1948 war and remains proud that he was the first Christian commander in the IDF. During a recent courtesy visit by ICEJ-UK national director Rev David Elms, Bowden also affirmed that it was his Christian faith and compassion which motivated him to go defend the new nation of Israel at its rebirth.

 

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