The Word: In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelis came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord. The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. The portico at the front of the main hall of the temple extended the width of the temple, that is twenty cubits, and projected ten cubits from the front of the temple. He made narrow windows high up in the temple walls. Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms. The lowest floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits and the third floor seven. He made offset ledges around the outside of the temple so that nothing would be inserted into the temple walls. In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built. (1 Kings 6:1-7)
You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
According to Matthew 5, our light should shine from within! May both the Church and Israel display the various points of light that should shine from within us: the light of faith, the light of hope, the light of reconciliation, the light of love and the light of truth. Pray that true Christians would shine so strong with the light of the Lord, that it would break through any divisions within the Middle East; light up the lives of all who are depressed or living in fear; glow in a world of darkness – specifically in the regions where terror is reigning and inflicting injustice on people of different faiths. In a time of war, may our light bring peace. In a time of hate, may our light be a light of love. Pray that the Lord would help us to let our light shine that all people might see God’s goodness, mercy and power.
Please pray for those within Israel and throughout the world who plan evil against the Jewish nation. Pray for protection of the borders around Israel – especially from the constant threat of Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS. “He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)
Letting our light shine
(Above photo of the Temple Mount model in Jerusalem taken by and adapted by David Soakell)
In one of my ‘quiet times’ before the Lord last week, I had a strange encounter with the Lord as I prayed regarding the above Scripture from 1 Kings 6:1-7. It was as if I had been ‘pinned’ to the seat in the cottage where we were staying at during our time at New Wine. Having read verse 4 of 1 Kings 6, I pondered on what various other translations of this verse stated. In the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), it reads: ‘The windows he [Solomon] made for the house were wide on the inside and narrow on the outside.’ The ‘One New Man’ version that I was reading stated, ‘And for the House [The Temple] he made windows broad within and narrow on the outside.’ I thought about why this was included here. Then I checked out the commentary at the foot of the page and apparently, this was the sanctuary – the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The windows mentioned in verse 4 were opposite to normal construction, where the broader side is on the outside to let in more light. However here, in the Jewish Temple, the broader side is INSIDE to let the light of the LORD shine outward! Wow! Of course we read in many areas of the Scriptures about the light that shone from the face of Moses after his encounter with God; the time when the Tabernacle was filled with the presence of the Lord, and of course in 1 Kings 8 when Solomon’s Temple was complete that during the dedication of the Temple the priests couldn’t work due to the Glory of the Lord coming down. Can you imagine the light from this? And yet in the gospel of Matthew we are told, as included above, “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14).
Now the Temple was of course destroyed in AD 70, but before that we find Yeshua teaching us that ‘we are the light to the world!’ Then in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we read, “Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? You have been bought and paid for, so honour God with your body.” When we look at the Christian church today – especially in relation to how she treats the people and nation of Israel, can we really state that this is being put into practice? We are supposed to allow the light of God shine forth from within us! What a challenge.
In many ways, this is what CFI was trying to do as we witnessed to the ‘Church’ at the New Wine Festival (#nwunited15). Yet is this not somehow ironic, that we should need to witness to the church? As I stated last week, New Wine is a movement of churches working together to change the nation through a network of church leaders, National Gatherings, training events and resources. Their vision is a good one as they desire to see the nation changed through Christians experiencing the move of God in their lives. They want to see churches renewed, strengthened and planted, living out the word of God in every aspect of life, serving God by reaching the lost, broken and poor, and demonstrating the good news of the Kingdom of God to all. This vision is a really good vision, and so many Christians are really blessed by this, however, I would state that approximately 80% of the Church in the UK has no understanding of the importance of standing with the nation of Israel, or just why God is bringing back His Jewish people to the State of Israel.
(Above photo of the youth praying and laying hands on a Christian in the Army due to go to Afghanistan: Taken by David Soakell at New Wine 2015. Permission of all parties granted)
The majority of conversations and time sharing on what Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) do was good, encouraging and fruitful. But we are indeed living in a sobering time in history (specifically regarding Iran), but also regarding those within the church who would speak out against Israel from a political point of view. As I wrote last week, standing with Israel is not about politics, but is very much about the Word of God, yet the political ramifications are extremely important, relevant, if not demanding. The issue with replacement theology; the issue of being uninformed with the truth and the issue of the hallowing of God’s name (Ezekiel 36) are all crucial issues. However, if we continue to allow our nations to believe a lie, what will the future bring? Somehow we must pray that the true light would be seen, and seen to shine from those who do stand with Israel.
Iran – the dangers within
Iran is rarely out of the news – even more so since this recent crazy agreement by Obama and other world governing powers. It would appear though that President Obama doesn’t believe this latest move is dangerous. So the question many are asking is, are the Iranian government really seeking nuclear weapons capability and does this represent a threat to the world? Well it is my personal opinion that the Iranian nuclear issue is a present danger, not only to Israel but to the world – after all – what are they doing today? Well, for starters, Iran is widely recognized as the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism. Both directly and indirectly, Iran not only funds, but trains and arms groups that share the Islamic regime’s stated goal of destroying Israel and the West, as well as overthrowing regimes in Muslim countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia that don’t agree with their Islamic ideals. These groups include Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Al Qaeda. Since Israel’s defensive war against Hezbollah in 2006, Iran has replenished Hezbollah’s arsenal of artillery rockets, and has supplied more advanced anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles. At least 4,500 Hezbollah operatives have received intensive training from Iran. On top of this, Iran also provides support to insurgent groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan which have inflicted casualties on British, American, Australian and other forces.
Iran is today expanding its terror network beyond the Middle East, using Hezbollah and splinter groups of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to recruit and train what is known as ‘sleeper cells’ in foreign countries. The terror network that Iran has created and sustains, combined with the regime’s determination to become a nuclear power, is a serious international security issue and a growing global concern, with is why I believe Obama’s recent decision is both lacking in wisdom and dangerous to all – especially concerning the State of Israel, but also the rest of the world.
However, this week a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, Ahmed Al-Majdalani, has stated that Iran and the Arab Palestinians (PA) have signed an agreement for all-out cooperation. Al-Majdalani told Al Mayadin TV that both sides have also agreed on formation of a high committee for political, economic, commercial and cultural exchanges. He said the ‘Palestine condition’ had been discussed with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif and Iran voiced support for reconciliation of Palestinian groups and formation of the national unity government. Ahmad Al-Majdalani made the remarks on Sunday after meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister in Tehran. He added that the issue of ongoing tension between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, was also raised during the meeting and hoped that Iran can play a key role in ending the dispute.
During his visit to Tehran, Al-Majdalani also presented a letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He said that the letter from Abbas deals with the current situation in the Palestinian territories and the “Israeli assaults against our people and holy sites, as well as bilateral relations.” Meanwhile, the senior leader of Hamas, Khalil Hayyeh, has stated that the Islamic Resistance Movement maintains good relations with Iran, hoping that the Islamic Republic would continue its support given to the ‘Palestinian resistance’. Then speaking of the Egypt-Gaza relations, Hayyeh demanded the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border crossing permanently and unconditionally. “We hope that the Egyptians would alleviate the pressure imposed on Gaza, taking into consideration the security status in Sinai,” said Hayyeh (http://english.alresalah.ps/en/post.php?id=4781).
Needless to say, some politicians – including Obama would have you believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran is in possession of nuclear weapons or even working on a nuclear weapons programme. The Iranian government of course insists that its enrichment of uranium is ‘for domestic energy only.’ But what is the truth? Many sources state that Iran’s nuclear program is clearly intended to develop a nuclear weapons capability. During this past week, I have been looking back over many of the Watching over Zion reports I’ve written since 2001. As I keep them all on file, I simple put in a search for ‘Iran’. In doing so I remembered that for many years, Iran’s nuclear programme was kept a secret, however in 2002, Iran’s program was exposed. Since then, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly said that it cannot consider Iran’s nuclear program as entirely civilian, and in November 2011 it released a report stating there is “credible” evidence that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device.”
The Qom facility: This is one specific area that I believe needs much intercession. According to reports, Western intelligence agencies discovered (and Iran admitted to it), a secret facility in Qom that is designed for approximately 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium. Even Obama commented in the past that the “configuration” of the Qom facility is “not consistent with a peaceful nuclear program.” IAEA state that three thousand centrifuges are sufficient for producing quantities of highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, but not for fuel for nuclear power plants. Now this is important as Iran announced that it began moving centrifuges into the Qom facility some time ago, which is even deeper underground than the enrichment facility at Natanz. Additionally, it is suspected that the Parchin military base, located 20 miles from Tehran, serves as a major research and testing facility for the weapons component of the Iranian nuclear program. This Qom facility, which is very deep underground, would make it also impossible for Israel to send in its air force to bomb this area. Along with this, Russia are staging joint Naval War-games with Iran. The Iranian destroyer ‘Damavand’ and the Russian fleet of warships which had berthed in Iran’s Anzali port staged training exercises on Tuesday. For further reports on this subject click here. There is also a good report on The Iranian Nuclear Threat: Why it Matters here, and one from the Jerusalem Centre of Public Affairs here, along with What Iranian Leaders Really Say about Doing Away with Israel.
Should we be worried regarding Jeremy Corbyn?
I have pondered quite some time regarding whether this issue of Jeremy Corbyn potentially becoming the UK Labour Leader is something I should be including for prayer in these reports. After all, the whole subject is really controversial at the moment – but then again we deal with an even greater controversial subject in many people’s eyes – Israel! However, after many emails, a couple of phone calls and discussions with people at my meetings, I really feel that yes, we should at least be praying regarding this controversial politician. Today (Wednesday), I read in the Telegraph that the Labour party has been forced to extend the deadline for voter registrations for its leadership contest after the party’s website was crashed by thousands of supporters trying to sign up. The website experienced a total meltdown in the last few hours as Jeremy Corbyn made a last-minute call to his backers to support the party in order to vote for him. The results should be known soon. But how can I comment on this man without causing offence or jumping on the ‘anti- Jeremy Corbyn bandwagon? Well, I thought I’d let many of his supporters state the case for him.
One political blog page stated, “On Palestine, his record is clear: he was a campaigner for Palestinian rights long before the issue gained traction in mainstream debate. He regularly cuts through the perceived wisdom of the two-state solution approach and is an expert on the much neglected issues of Palestinian refugees, trade, water rights and intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Corbyn has consistently condemned the UK’s complicity in Israeli crimes. The MP also has vast experience on the ground in the region, making nine visits to Gaza in the past 15 years.” On the website for Intifada Voice of Palestine they state, “If Jeremy Corbyn wins leadership of the UK Labour Party, foreign policy could take a turn for the better”. They then go on to ridicule Tim Farron – “a born-again Christian and wears it on his sleeve”, and condemn the influence of the CMJ (the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People).
According to the Daily Telegraph Jeremy Corbyn is a friend to Hamas, Iran and extremists! In an article written by Andrew Gilligan on July 18, 2015 he writes, “Between 2004 and 2008, the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army militia, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, killed at least 70 British soldiers, not to mention thousands of Iraqi civilians. Last February, the man who might become the next leader of the Labour Party shared a platform with al-Sadr’s British representative. Jeremy Corbyn was helping Sayyed Hassan al-Sadr celebrate “the all-encompassing revolution,” the 35th anniversary of the ayatollahs’ takeover in Iran. In his talk, entitled “The Case for Iran,” he called for the immediate scrapping of sanctions on the country…” Well the sanctions on Iran have been (temporarily?) scrapped and Iran can happily work underground producing a potential nuclear weapon that would endanger not just Israel but the world entire. As for Jeremy Corbyn, my opinion does not matter… but there could be trouble brewing should he be elected as leader of the Labour party.
Further prayer needed for kidnapped Christians
Finally, as ISIS continue to threaten the Israeli border, news came in towards last week that ISIS have kidnapped dozens of Christians from a central Syrian town, and hundreds of families have had to flee. Initial information indicated that ISIS took the abductees to the historic city of Palmyra. Syria-based activists who monitor the group’s activity in the country said on Friday that ISIS had kidnapped more than 220 residents from Qaryatain after overrunning the town that is located in the central province of Homs. At least 60 Christians are among the kidnapped, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights–which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists—has said.
(Middle East News Correspondent)
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio