The Word: And Yeshua, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. (Gospel of Mark 13:4-9)
The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again… Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously. (Isaiah 24:19-23)
Pointers for prayer: With Israel holding its general election on 17 March 2015 and the UK Parliamentary general election taking place on 7 May 2015, there is much to pray about regarding these two major events. Pray that the upright and godly would be voted in, and that Israel’s future and security would not be sacrificed for political gain.
- In the midst of continuing troubles within the Middle East, and especially with Christians being slaughtered by the Islamic group ISIS, please remain watchful and constant in your prayers, and continue to pray that the LORD God would place His Wall of Fire around both the Nation of Israel, its people, and around Christians in Islamic countries. Pray for encouragement, strength and perseverance for the Israeli people and please keep praying that ordinary Jewish and Arab people will have a desire for reconciliation and to live side by side in peace and harmony.
Witnessing the continued deterioration of the Arab Middle East
With the latest beheadings by the ISIS terrorist group, one wonders ‘what next?’ As reported on all Western Media channels, ISIS released another grisly beheading video on Sunday, this one showing the execution of 21 Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya. The Libyan parliament confirmed the deaths on Monday, when photos of the execution were published by an ISIS-affiliated magazine. But where did all this (i.e. ISIS) come from, and what are the overall intentions of this Islamic group? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, with few Western leaders seemingly not having any answers, and the Western Media constantly denying that it has anything to do with ‘real’ Islam. In December 2014, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that “he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal.” He stated, “We have not defeated the idea… We do not even understand the idea.” And in the past year, both US President Obama and the UK Prime Minister David Cameron have referred to the Islamic State as “not Islamic” – statements that I believe reflect confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
Before I go any further with this article, I need to clearly state that not all Muslims are in agreement with this ‘extreme’ form of Islam. I personally have an Arab Palestinian Muslim friend in Israel who is a lovely peaceful man and would strongly oppose the action of ISIS etc. I also know that a ‘moderate’ form of Islam practiced by many Western Muslims is not the hate filled religion that is practiced by ISIS, Hezbollah, and Hamas etc. etc. However I equally disagree that ‘all religions lead to God’. If one knew anything of the moon god that the founder of Islam worshipped, then any who embrace this ‘all religions’ theory would or should quickly change their mind. In truth and love, the true Church should today be rising up and taking this vital opportunity to reach out to their Muslim neighbours and share the good news of Jesus (Y’shua).
However, it would appear that the fragile structure of the Middle East has been held together for decades by monarchs and dictators, but as the desire for ‘freedom’ started to spread roughly four years or so ago, in what the world called the ‘Arab Spring’ – at the same time, a stronger Islamic message was and still is being preached from Tunis to Cairo to Damascus. The Arab Spring was a term used for the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests (mostly violent), riots, and civil wars in the Arab world that began on 18th December 2010, and spread throughout the countries of the Arab League and its surroundings. Since then, we have seen the Middle East change dramatically, and in my opinion – not for the better. The danger now is that all the Arab/Muslim countries could fall apart, or worse – explode.
Following Egypt’s uprising in 2011 that pushed Hosni Mubarak from power, the powerful military quickly stepped in to run the country. The Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged ‘Freedom and Justice Party’ (Hamas are part of the Muslim Brotherhood) took over, before the military retained control. More demonstrations were seen throughout Egypt as yet another ‘revolution’ took to the streets bringing chaos and showing that Egypt’s political process is really a diplomatic mess. Next door to Egypt, Libya too is a mess. Since Qaddafi’s defeat and murder at the hands of angry revolutionaries, Libya’s array of militias, tribal nobles and politicians have struggled to arrive at a consensus on how to take control of the country. And the biggest upheaval (putting ISIS aside for a moment) has been the conflict with Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
The regime in Damascus has been brutal, and thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, per opposition activist groups, vary between 129,000 and 295,000. On 15 January 2015, the United Nations put out an estimate of 220,000 that had died in the war. Yet much more is at stake here, especially if the use of chemical weapons (which Syria has) is used to its full potential. Without doubt, Syria is undergoing a long and bloody process of disintegration. Assad controls about a quarter of the country, including Damascus, part of Haleb in the north, the coastal strip and the Ansari mountains where the Allawites, his non-Muslim brothers, are to be found. Yet while thousands of people took to the streets in Paris, and again this week in Denmark (though nothing like what we saw in France), there have been very few demonstrations regarding the death toll in Syria or when ISIS are massacring and slaughtering everything in their wake in Syria, Iraq and now Libya with Christians being killed, extorted and ethnically cleansed.
In another Islamic nation, Iraq’s future is still very unclear. On the one hand, a somewhat stabilized political system has succeeded, but on the other hand, the country has not been able to stop the Islamic State jihadists (ISIS) from conquering a third of its territory, including Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq and its main oil industry centre. One wonders how the leaders of the US and UK really feel about their disposal of Saddam Hussein? Yemen is another country paralyzed by a regime infected with tribalism and by two armed and anti-establishment entities that are tearing the country apart: Sunni Al Qaeda and Shiite Houthis.
As mentioned, Libya is in a desperate state of civil war. Violence and reports of atrocities on both sides abound as the country continues to sink into the mire of blood, fire and tears. In the last four years, and don’t forget, these were the years that began with high hopes from the so-called “Arab Spring”, more than 100,000 people have been killed in the country, most of them in struggles, battles and disputes among tribal and familial militias. The Western Politicians really do need to learn the lesson that the overthrow of a dictator, as in the case of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar al-Gaddafi, commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi, can induce greater death and destruction than occurred under the dictators. It’s possible that someone should suggest that the West should stop trying to export our concept of democracy too. It simply doesn’t work in the Middle East, unless the nation is called Israel – where true democracy does exist.
So, Muslims are being killed by Muslims and Christians are being beheaded by Muslims; meanwhile over in Iran public hangings continue to gather apace with horrendous consequences for 100’s of activist bloggers and people who oppose the ‘moderate’ Islamist regime. Then there’s Turkey, Sudan, Somalia, North Korea, China, Burma, Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc., etc… human rights violators all, yet accompanied by an almost deafening silence from those who frequently demonise Israel for protecting herself against such groups as Hamas and Hezbollah.
And of course, Hamas, who knowingly and willingly use human sacrifices to protect their command and control centres and rocket launchers and ammunition dumps – every single action of which contravenes International Law and is categorically a war crime. When you look at it rationally, it’s hard not to believe that the United Nations are biased – as they only appear to condemn Israel, and the Middle East appears to be heading towards a time when a certain ‘man of peace’ (and I don’t mean the Messiah) – as prophesied in the book of Daniel might appear.
ISIS or Islamic state is of course possibly the biggest and most significant new phenomenon that occurred in the Middle East in 2014. Although the organization was founded ten years ago as Al Qaeda in Iraq, today it is challenging not only Al Qaeda but also the Middle East and the entire world. Here in 2015, everyone can see that ISIS presents a direct threat to any national order by threatening to conquer other countries and create alternative ‘governments’, as well as by serving as the source for jihadist ideas that use media networks, including social media, to spread the Jihad war throughout the world.
During the first half of 2014 ISIS succeeded in conquering a third of both Iraq and Syria, sparsely populated but oil rich areas. Qatar helped ISIS until it was forced to stop doing so in December 2014. Of course Hamas is also lavishly funded and operated by “the royal family of Qatar,” the politest way of describing the petroleum-rich emirate’s dynastic dictators. ISIS’s achievements are attributable to its ability to spread fear all around itself using horrific videos of beheadings, merciless shootings and the starving to death of tens of thousands of “heretics” – such as the Yazidi’s and Christians and it absorbs many of the Sunnis in conquered regions of Syria and Iraq into the ranks of its fighting forces, while thousands of volunteers from all over the world – both Muslims and prospective converts – join as well. Their Islamic ‘Jihadists’ have even come from Western countries such as the UK, and appear to be planning to fight the west and force it to follow Islam. And according to Wikipedia, the Islamic State’s ruler has adopted the name Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and appointed himself “Caliph”, ninety years after the Caliphate was abolished by Ataturk.
The Islamic State (ISIS) sees itself as an alternative to all the political agreements forced on the Islamic world by colonialist or heretic nations. ISIS erases borders set up by Britain and France and does not accept international law which it replaces with the most extreme form of Sharia law: beheading heretics, flogging ‘sinners,’ selling slaves in the open market and chopping off the hands of thieves. Amazingly, new volunteers join ISIS daily, and it intends to be with us forever while directly threatening the countries around it – Jordan, Lebanon, Iran and potentially Israel. This is why Iran is arming and supplying the Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga, in hopes the militia will succeed in dealing with the ISIS threat. However, with this new video released this week, ISIS have made, for them at least, an important and (for the world) a terrifying moment in the expansion of this terrorist group. Unlike previous ISIS videos, this one is said to be filmed outside Syria and Iraq, with 21 Egyptian Christians being slaughtered on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Libya. As the British News Channels were quick to point out on Monday evening (16 February 2015), the proximity to Rome is mentioned by the executioner. Suddenly, four years after the death of Gaddafi, Libya has once again become a national security issue for Britain and other countries. Suddenly, the whole battle seems a little too close to home. Will now the real Church awaken and raise its intercession? Or do we wait until ISIS is in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester?
Anti-Semitism at all-time high
After the killing of a Danish film director in the Saturday afternoon attack on a Copenhagen cafe and then a Jewish night guard at a synagogue, Denmark experienced its worst burst of terrorism in decades. Following the January rampage in Paris that killed 17 people, and police raids in Belgium a week later that the authorities said thwarted a major terrorist operation, Denmark became the latest European country plunged into what Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt described as “a fight for freedom against a dark ideology.” Following this, a journalist decided to test how safe the streets of Paris are for Jews – by wearing a religious kippah and filming the public’s reaction using a hidden camera. Zvika Klein, a reporter for Jewish news outlet NRG, silently walked in the city for ten hours wearing a kippah and tassels. After the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last month, where four Jews were murdered for their faith, he decided to record what life was really like for a Jew living in Paris. Posting the video on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AltyhmrIFgo), he wrote: “Welcome to Paris 2015, where soldiers are walking every street that houses a Jewish institution, and where keffiyeh-wearing men and veiled women speak Arabic on every street corner.” He walked through Jewish neighbourhoods, around the Eiffel Tower, and then through mostly Muslim neighbourhoods.
His report can be read here. He stated, “I was anxious over the hateful stares, the belligerent remarks, and the hostile body language”. Boys shouted ‘Viva Palestine’ and as he passes a group of youths, one remarks: ‘I’m joking, the dog will not eat you’. A young boy was shocked at his appearance in his neighbourhood stating, “What is he doing here Mommy… Doesn’t he know he will be killed?” Having been in touch with many Jewish friends in the UK, they too are telling me that they are starting to wonder if the time to move to Israel is upon them. It comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the mass emigration of Jews from Europe to escape the rising tide of anti-Semitic terror attacks.
A rousing speech by Netanyahu.
With Israel holding its general election on 17 March 2015 and the UK Parliamentary general election taking place on 7 May 2015, there is much to pray about regarding these two major events. Pray that the upright and godly would be voted in, and that Israel’s future and security would not be sacrificed for political gain. With this in mind, I came across this rather rousing speech on the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s official website (http://www.netanyahu.org.il/). Netanyahu states, “Often I am approached and asked by people from all around the word, how is it that a country so young, so small and surrounded by enemies on all sides, has been able to achieve so much in such a short time. When I think how to best answer this very valid question, I recall the story of my grandfather, Nathan (Netanyahu) Mileikovsky, who one cold day towards the end of the 19th century stood waiting in a railway station in the heart of Europe. He was joined by his younger brother Judah – just two young yeshiva students innocently standing and waiting. They were seen by a group of anti-Semite thugs, who suddenly ran towards them, waving clubs and screaming “Death to the Jews!” My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself… “Run Judah, run!” He then stood alone in the face of the gang hoping to slow them down and save his brother. They grabbed my grandfather and beat him senseless and left him for dead, and just before he passed out, lying in his own blood, he said to himself, “What a disgrace!” How is it that the descendants of the Maccabees are now lying in the mud, powerless to defend themselves…? “What a bitter humiliation…” At that very moment, he promised himself that if he survived that night, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people in their own land.”
Netanyahu went on to state, “I stand here as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel because my grandfather kept that promise. Here, in the Land of Israel, we have reclaimed something that the Jewish people have been deprived of for thousands of years, understanding of true and lasting security. Security so that we can stand tall and proud in a sovereign state of our own. Security so that we are able to strongly defend our nation with our own military forces. Security so that not only can we say we are surviving, but far more, we are thriving. Thriving as one of the most advanced and accomplished nations in the modern world. We are a nation and a people that desires peace, and our hand is outstretched in peace to all those who wish to accept it. But to our enemies, I say without hesitation: There is no rocket or weapon in the world that will defeat us when we are united in our firm belief, and in the very knowledge of our full rights to our land – the Land of Israel.” View the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgoQfMcA_ek (apologies if translation isn’t 100%).
(Middle East News Report Correspondent)
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio