The Word: ‘Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her, rejoice greatly with her…’ (Isaiah 66:8-10)
Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you [Israel] up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. (Judges 2:1)
Pointers for prayer: On Wednesday Israel remembered its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks. On Thursday we remember Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) – which celebrates the Declaration of Independence of Israel which was first read on 14th May 1948 by David Ben Gurion. Israel might be celebrating 67 years since its rebirth, but actually, the Land God gave to the Jewish people is 5775 years old. However, like never before, Israel still needs your prayers. Once again, this next 12 months could be pivotal. Please do continue to uphold Israel in your prayers.
- Throughout the world there is so much deception and lies spoken out against Israel. Whether it is groups who promote anti-Semitism, areas of the church that promote replacement theology, the media or political campaigns speaking out against the Jewish state. No matter what the issues might be, God is concerned for truth and so should we. Please continue to pray that the truth will be revealed and that lies and deception will be cast down, wherever they are found.
- We’ve said it many times, but the Lord has clearly outlined His purpose for Israel in His Word ~ the Bible. Israel and the Jewish people are to be a testimony to God’s existence, His character and His faithfulness. They prove that His Word is true. Please pray that this would become so relevant to the Church that we would see a fundamental change in the attitude of the Christian world towards the Jewish nation. Please also continue to pray that the LORD God would bless and use Israel for His glory and His Holy Name’s sake (Ezekiel 36:22)
- Please continue to pray for the Arab Nations too. As Muslims and Christians in Iran, Iraq and throughout other Islamic countries in the Middle East continue to suffer under the Islamic leaders and groups such as Isis, Hezbollah and Hamas, do pray that even now God would continue to give these people dreams and visions of who Yeshua (Jesus) is, and that they would find freedom from these oppressive Islamic groups. Pray too for the protection of Christians whose very lives are under threat. May the Lord God have mercy in these dark days throughout the Middle East.
As I mentioned in last week’s ‘Watching over Zion’, from April through to the end of May within the Jewish calendar, there appears to be a mass of feasts, festivals and memorial days. Having celebrated Passover from April 4th -11th (including the Feast of Unleavened Bread), we count off 50 days to Shavuot (Pentecost) on May 24th -25th. This commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It was at Shavuot that the Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) came down upon the Temple in Jerusalem during the early church (in Acts 2:1–4) hence the Christian church also celebrating Pentecost. But in-between these dates are four modern memorial dates, starting with Yom HaShoah on April 16th (International Holocaust Memorial Day); Yom HaZikaron on April 22nd (Israeli Memorial Day); Yom HaAtzma’ut on April 23 (Israeli Independence Day) and Yom Yerushalayim on May 17th (Jerusalem Day).
Last week Israel honoured Yom HaShoah. What other nation in the world would come to a standstill to mark 2 minutes of respect for the loss of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust other than Israel? In Israel all roads and whole motorways come to a standstill for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Could you imagine the UKs M1 or the London M25 coming to a standstill to honour a memorial? Actually, that’s maybe not such a good example as the M25 daily comes to a standstill with congestion – that’s why people call it the world’s largest car park! But hopefully you get my point. Watch this short video as Israelis marked this occasion:
On the fifth day of the second month (which in 1948 was 14th May), the Jewish leaders of Israel made their declaration from British rule, and the State of Israel was re-birthed. Under the occupation of the British, the Land was called Palestine, a continuation of the name ‘Palestina’ given by the then occupiers of the Land – the Romans (under Emperor Hadrian) in the 2nd Century AD, in an attempt to erase the Jewish heritage of the Land. In essence, the Roman insult worked, and even many within the world-wide church today are totally dis-interested or feel ‘Israel’ has little relevance to their ‘Christian’ faith. Many don’t even feel they need to challenge the lies brought forth by PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and still taught and proclaimed today by PA leader Abbas and other Islamists regarding Jesus being a ‘Palestinian’. Many Christians sadly neglect Paul’s warning in Romans 11 about ‘boasting over the natural branches’ – the Jewish people – and are completely unaware that they are actually ‘grafted in’ to the Commonwealth of Israel (…remember that at that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12).
Thankfully, God never goes back on His Word (Judges 2:1 / Psalm 105 etc.), and fulfilling many prophesies in Scripture, on that day in 1948, the Land was given back to its rightful tenant (for although the Land belongs to God, He made Israel the holder of the legal interest in this real estate) and the Land was re-named Israel or rather, went back to its original name (Matthew 2:20, 10:6), fulfilling Isaiah 66:8: ‘Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?’ The Hebrew language was also revived as Israel’s pure spoken language, preserved for 2000 years in the Scriptures – “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language…” Zephaniah 3:9.
Yom Ha’atzmaut is a modern holiday celebrating Israel’s independence in 1948. Israeli Independence Day is always immediately preceded by Yom Hazikaron – Memorial Day for the Fallen Israeli Soldiers. The message of linking these two days is clear: Israelis owe their independence–the very existence of the state — to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.
In Israel, other than the official ceremonies, the Jewish people celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut in a variety of ways. In the major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, night time festivities are focused on the main streets where crowds gather to watch public shows offered for free by the municipalities and the government. In rural communities, many people spend the night dancing Israeli folk dances or singing Israeli songs. During the daytime it becomes a public holiday as thousands of Israeli families go out on walks and picnics. The religious side of Yom Ha’atzmaut includes the day being marked with a recitation of Hallel (Psalms of Praise), similar to other joyous Jewish holidays, and with the reading of a special haphtarah (prophetic portion). Most ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel and abroad however have not accepted this ruling.
In the UK, many Jewish people, along with Christians who stand with Israel, remember Israel’s Independence Day. Celebrations are annually held on or around the fifth day of the month of Iyar, according to the Jewish calendar. Special matinee shows are held in some parts of the UK to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. Some events include dance demonstrations or choir performances, as well as speeches by leaders within the Jewish communities. The Zionist Federation is always involved in the big celebration in London (http://www.zionist.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/YH67-copy9.jpg). They are often themed in blue and white to honour the colours on Israel’s flag and feature modern pop music, particularly songs from Israel.
Shall We Now Remain Silent?
At the end of next month in May, and the first week of so of June, my wife Julia and I will be off again to Israel as it is the 30th anniversary of Christian Friends of Israel. I’ll be one of the speakers at the conference in Jerusalem, and the subject I’ve been given is ‘Christian Anti-Semitism: Shall We Now Remain Silent?’ So it’s a tough one to write, after all, Christian Anti-Semitism? Is it possible for someone to be truly born-again and be anti-Semitic? And what is the difference between anti-Semitism and replacement theology?
Many Christians will openly and rightly express horror at what happened in Nazi Europe during the Holocaust. They will see the attempted annihilation of 11 million Jews, and the actual murder of 6 million Jews as being an evil act on humanity. Yet many of these same ‘Christians’ will either turn a blind eye to events happening in Israel today, or worse, will speak out against the Jewish State and demand justice for the Palestinian Arabs. Is this not hypocrisy? Speaking of which, the residents of the Yarmouk “refugee camp” (which is actually, a Palestinian suburb of Damascus) have suffered attack after attack and severe lack of basic necessities since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. But recently, their situation became so much worse, when ISIS (Islamic State) entered the area and began massacring civilians. So why is it, that those who speak so loudly about Palestinian suffering remain silent over this issue in Syria?
Whether it is groups who promote anti-Semitism; areas of the church that promote replacement theology; the media or political campaigns speaking out against the Jewish state – no matter what the issues might be, God is concerned for truth and so should we. We must not remain silent. However, if you feel you can’t act by correcting anti-Semitism and replacement theology, then you can still act. You can pray. Praying is not just a secondary ‘add on’ – without true intercession – none of us would be able to operate. Today anti-Semitism has become anti-Israelism, or anti-Zionism.
Meanwhile, while Israel mourned its terror victims and fallen soldiers on Israel’s Memorial Day (Wednesday), the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, both headed by Mahmoud Abbas, continued to celebrate, honour, and present as role models those responsible for terror. According to reports by the Palestinian Media Watch, 14 terrorists who murdered a total of at least 160 people were honoured by the PA this month.
Mahmoud Abbas personally honoured 4 Palestinian terrorists. He cited “the first Martyr,” “the first [male] prisoner” and “the first female fighter prisoner,” all of whom he awarded with “decorations of military honour, in admiration of their militant pioneering role.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 17, 2015] He also honoured arch-terrorist Abu Jihad, who the PA credits with orchestrating attacks in which 125 Jews were murdered. Abbas was the patron of a rally held in Abu Jihad’s honour. Abbas “expressed his pride” in Abu Jihad “for his significant national role.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 3, 2015]
On many occasions over many years, Mahmoud Abbas has supported acts of terrorism, and although he’ll not declare this to an English speaking audience, what he states in Arabic to his own people is entirely different. However, at the same time, Israel’s Ambassador Ron Prosor has battled to expose this and many other issues at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). This is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. This week, Ambassador Ron Prosor told the UNSC, “Mr. President, Earlier this month, Jews throughout the world celebrated Passover which commemorates the liberation of the ancient Jews from enslavement and the birth of the Jewish nation. The Seder begins with the youngest child in the family asking four questions known as the “Ma Nish’tana.” The child is asking what has changed and why this night is different from all other nights. We answer the questions by recounting the story of how freedom triumphed over oppression. The lessons are as relevant today as they were 3,000 years ago.”
Ambassador Prosor continued, “For centuries, the Jewish people longed for, prayed for, and fought for the right to be free. Israel is the realization of those dreams – and Passover reminds us that we can never take these freedoms for granted. Since our last debate, the chaos in our region has only grown worse. Another nation state has been overrun by radical extremists. First Syria, then Iraq, then Libya, and now Yemen. The extreme elements in our region have displayed a level of barbarism that is shocking even by Middle Eastern standards. The situation has become so dire that – in a rare display of unity – the Arab leaders have joined forces. It should come as no surprise that they have lashed out with little regard for the consequences. The Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen have hit humanitarian aid convoys, hospitals, schools, and civilian neighbourhoods, and left entire families dead. And yet there have been zero Human Rights Council condemnations and zero calls for a Commission of Inquiry. If Jane Austen were writing about the United Nations today, her book could be called Pride and Prejudice, but a more fitting title would be Hypocrisy and Double Standard.”
Ron Prosor went on to state, “You would think that some of the Arab nations would demand justice. After all, the Saudi ambassador was quick to stand at the side of the Palestinian representative during last summer’s Gaza conflict and preach about civilian life. The truth of the matter is that when Israel is at the heart of a crisis, the Arabs don’t miss a beat. But when fingers can’t be pointed at Israel, some Arab nations are downright heartless… Today, I am here to tell you that unless this Council stops singling out Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, and starts focusing on the real threats in our region – nothing will ever change.”
Ambassador Ron Prosor then challenged the UNSC about what has changed regarding Iran and Hamas. He stated, “The answer is that Iran is more dangerous today than ever before. Make no mistake: Iran is not only a threat to Israel and it is not only a threat to the Middle East; it is a threat to the entire world. Iran is the engine of aggression behind the chaos in our region. It has armed Hezbollah, which today has over 100,000 missiles hidden in civilian neighbourhoods. Hezbollah is playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette. Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups surround Israel. There is Hezbollah in the Syrian Golan and Southern Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. The Iranian doctrine is apparent from Baghdad to Beirut and from Damascus to Sanaa; terrorists committing a double war crime – hiding behind civilians, while targeting civilians. As Iranian influence spreads, so does tyranny, subjugation, and terrorism. In the last four years alone, it has committed or ordered attacks in 25 countries on five continents. I’m sure the representative from Bahrain hasn’t forgotten the last time Iran meddled in his country’s internal affairs.”
Regarding his question about what has changed when it comes to Hamas, Ron Prosor stated, “Again, the answer is nothing. Hamas continues to abuse its people and wage war against Israel. Last summer, Hamas proved its utter disregard for the wellbeing of the Palestinian people. It hid its rockets in schools, fired missiles from hospitals, and used civilians as human shields. Today, Hamas is once again disregarding the needs of its people as it rearms and rebuilds its terror infrastructure. Earlier this month, Israeli authorities revealed that Hamas is using the Kerem Shalom crossing – the only humanitarian crossing into Gaza – to hide tons of dual-use items inside shipments of humanitarian goods. The smuggled materials are used to rebuild tunnels, reconstruct training camps, and manufacture rockets. Since Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has test fired over 150 rockets. With every test rocket launched into the sea, Hamas propels itself towards another conflict.” For my report from this issue with Hamas see my article in last week’s report: http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=24ece77f44e003a5b46a83ba1&id=ef47d7be12&e=2cb87f7a0c
As Ambassador Ron Prosor rightly concluded, it’s time for a change. The United Nations Security Council must do something regarding Iran and they must see Hamas for what it is and call it what it is – an internationally recognized terrorist organization. They must stop giving Hamas a free pass and start giving Israelis and Palestinians a chance for a better future. The full speech from Ron Prosor can be read on the ‘Independent Media Review and Analysis’ page here: http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=67044
(Middle East News Report Correspondent)
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio