Please note: Due to the CFI conference & preparations, plus time away on leave, this will be my last report until 17th September 2015
It is The LORD who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless… Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:22-31 NKJV)
In the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the capital, that Hanani, one of my kinsmen, came out of Y’hudah with some men; and I asked them about the remnant of Judeans who had escaped the exile, and about Yerushalayim. They answered me, “The remnant of the exile left there in the province are in great distress and are held in contempt, the wall of Yerushalayim is in ruins, and its gates have been completely burned up.” On hearing this answer, I sat down and wept; I mourned for several days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:1-4)
Pointers for prayer: As we continue to stand in the gap for Israel, do continue to pray regarding Iran’s terrorist proxies – Hezbollah, Hamas and the PLO groups. Please pray for protection of the borders around Israel – especially from the constant threat of these terrorist regimes. As mentioned, I feel we need to pray for the protection of the borders of Israel, but specifically for the strengthening of the borders. Remember too that one of the borders is the coastal areas of Israel – so do pray for protection of these areas too. In many ways, with Isis on the Syrian border; Hezbollah on the northern; Hamas in the west and of course Iran becoming a real threat, it would appear that God is forcing Israel into a corner where they need to call out as a nation to Him.
The first chapter of the Book of Nehemiah introduces the book bearing his name as a resident of Susa (Shushan), the capital of the Persian Empire. Today, Susa is called Shūsh in Iran! When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down more than a half-century after the completion of the rebuilding of the temple, he “sat down and wept,” fasting and praying before God (Nehemiah 1:4). Implicitly, he was formulating a plan to remedy the situation in Jerusalem. Compare this to the words of Ezekiel 22:30, where God ‘sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.’ Pray diligently that God would build up the gaps in any of Israel’s vulnerable areas – and that He would raise up more intercessors and more people to stand with us in the days ahead. Pray also that Believers in the Land would also cry out and pray for the harvest of Believers in Israel.
The Desert Winds
Speaking about ‘The Divine in the human’, Duncan Campbell once said: “In God’s creative plan, man holds a unique place, distinct in this respect that he alone of God’s creation is capable of God-consciousness. This consciousness is as much a part of the human spirit as any other fact of the human being”. The consciousness of man is awakened 100 fold when the spirit of man is born-again (John 3:3-7). If this is so, and we have the Word of God as a direct guide to God’s promise of the restoration of Israel… why is it that a large percentage of the church appears to be asleep, and why are even some parts of the Church opposing the acts of God regarding the people and Nation of Israel? Do you ever feel oppressed in this battle? Do you ever feel that those who stand up for Israel are losing the battle? If so, then thank God that He is in control.
I can remember some time ago after I spoke at a conference, a man gave me a ‘word’ stating, “you are flying… I sense you are like a bird in mid-flight… Where your ministry is, God is the wind and you are flying on that wind.” At another conference the following week, again after I’d spoken, the Pastor said to me, “I believe you are flying…” Yet if I was being truthful, I feel most times as if I’m walking through treacle. Yet, due to the stories that my Dad always told us when we were kids – that when our relatives came to the UK our name was changed – these ‘words’ really spoke to me. I’ve mentioned it before in these reports that after doing lots of research, along with tracing my family in the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, I discovered my family name ‘Soakell’ was originally a Russian Jewish name spelt ‘Sokel’ – Russian for small eagle or falcon. The ‘el’ in Hebrew of course means God (Isaiah 40:30, 31). Sokel – a small eagle on the wind of God?
The problem is, often I can’t feel the wind, and I don’t feel as if I’m flying. Rather, as mentioned, it’s as if I’m walking through treacle. Following this, someone I know shared a ‘picture’ that they felt the Lord had given of a ‘compass in the middle of a chart pointing in every direction with wind blowing from the face of the Lord’. The word given was “There’s nowhere in the world that I cannot send My Spirit – but you can stop it. I want to send that spirit where I want it to go not where you want it to go… I may send you where you didn’t expect to go, but I will fill you with the gift that you didn’t expect to be filled…” You know, I never wanted to be involved with Israel – God clearly called me, and three times I rejected that calling before eventually realising I could run away no longer. I mention this in my talk from the CFI Jerusalem conference. To listen to it you can click here. At the moment, I feel as if God has blown on my wings and carried me out into a desert wilderness. However, as a friend of mine told me last week, “A desert is a good place – that’s where God trains his special forces… so don’t apologize for being there since you didn’t get there yourself, God sent you there, so welcome to the Divine Desert Camp.”
Regarding the ‘Desert being a good place – as that’s where God trains his special forces’, I like that,
and I’ll certainly remember it! It reminds me of two years ago when I was taken through the Negev desert in an army jeep to meet up with some Arab Bedouins serving in the Israel Defence Force (IDF). They were out there training as they had just joined the IDF! And yet some people insist that Israel is an Apartheid state? Like those who are extremely vocal against Israel and stand with their BDS signs (boycott, divestment & sanctions), when we tell them that Arab Christians, Arab Bedouins and Druse join the IDF, they simply refuse to believe it. All this opposition can of course wear you down, yet regarding this calling we all have ‘to Israel and the ministry of CFI’, we all need kingdom eyes; we need to see through God’s eyes and look for the opportunities that God will bring us and to trust Him. To see through Kingdom eyes, to behold the unique place that God has called us to is vital in our calling with CFI, and to battle through the difficult times I’m sure we all will face.
A rather large dilemma.
Talking of those who oppose Israel and support the BDS campaigns, I wanted to include this report last week, however space didn’t allow, but there is currently a serious dilemma for ‘Israel boycotters’ as scientists have made a breakthrough regarding HIV. In 1992, I had the privilege to drive a truck all the way from Middlesbrough, via Essex, through Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary and into and through Romania. This was the second time I’d been to a small place called Cernavoda where we had built a hospice. Three years earlier, in December 1989, the situation in Romania was very difficult. Years of harsh dictatorial rule, along with the ever increasing privation and austerity had produced an atmosphere that was ripe for change. However, due to the very powerful communist tyranny and repression, not even the most expert and experienced diplomatic and foreign media observers foresaw the sudden overthrow of the Ceausescu regime. In the late 1980s, Romania faced large sums of children and babies with HIV/AIDS due to Ceausescu buying cheap blood from Africa. Up until this time, I had no real understanding of life in Romania; however that was soon to change when Ceausescu was executed in the uprising, and the horror of Romania’s orphanages was revealed to the world via the media channels. The biggest shock was when we toured the Orphanages that spilled over with unwanted children, many plagued with AIDS or other serious medical ailments due to the re-use of syringes and the generally shoddy health conditions, along with the infected cheap blood. The horrors that Ceausescu had left behind could not be quickly swept under the ‘proverbial carpet’. The physical and psychological damage was huge and widespread.
You will no doubt remember the scenes from when news of this broke on the TV screens. Images of Romania’s babies with AIDS shocked people throughout the world, almost every one of Romania’s orphanages and children’s hospitals provided a heart rending need to provide help from the Western world. And at the same time, each of them continued to bear witness to the grisly legacy of the Ceausescu regime. Well imagine, if back then, rather than just building a hospice, we had found a cure for HIV? Would the world not have sat up and applauded? Well, today scientists in Israel have announced a breakthrough in HIV research, a development that will leave Israel boycotters with their latest ethical dilemma. The team from Ben-Gurion University say their finding will result in a “revolutionary diagnosis and the key to the clinical solution that will prevent infection with HIV and will destroy the deadly virus.”
According to a report on i24News, Dr Ran Taube of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics at the southern Israeli university said his team has discovered similarities between HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS) and leukaemia. Conducted in collaboration with Dr. Uri Rubio of Soroka University Medical Centre, the research aims both to stamp out AIDS and to slow the progress of a rare mixed-lineage leukaemia mostly occurring in children. The number of HIV-infected individuals still rises every year, so if Israel has found a potential cure, what an awesome work this would be. Unfortunately a certain group of scientists from outside Israel will not be collaborating in this effort to develop a vaccine that would rid the world of HIV. According to reports, since 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions on the grounds they are “deeply complicit” in the oppression of Palestinians. Those supporting the campaign, which includes backers of the BDS campaign, believe in the “general overriding rule” that, “all Israeli academic institutions, unless proven otherwise, are subject to boycott”. This is the sick society that prevails much of our world today. Can you imagine the outrage if back in 1990 I was to have held up a sick dying child with only weeks to live due to having full blown AIDS but to only declare, “sorry, the child has to die, as the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel won’t let us develop the cure”?
UK – Iranian relations and the security of Israel
Last Monday, August 24, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who was in Tehran to re-open the British embassy there, suggested that the current Iranian government under President Hassan Rouhani has shown a more “nuanced approach towards Israel” than the leadership of the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Well that wouldn’t be very difficult to achieve to be perfectly honest, but has the new Iranian government really shown a subtle difference or distinction in their expression towards Israel? Well, not according to a senior Iranian official, who on the following day (Tuesday) called for Israel’s annihilation and rejected the claim by Hammond that Iran’s government has changed its stance towards the Jewish state. Hussein Sheikholeslam, a foreign affairs adviser to Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani, told reporters on Tuesday, “Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan,” the Fars News Agency reported.
The reopening of the British Embassy in Tehran caused an immense number of police cars and special security stationed all around the area of the Embassy. The last time there was this kind of security presence was in the turbulent aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential elections. Philip Hammond was the first British foreign secretary to visit Iran in the past 12 years. Steps toward the embassy reopening have been taken for over a year. Rouhani’s meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the UN General Assembly last year, the first encounter between an Iranian president and a British prime minister since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, was considered a significant step toward improvement of ties and re-establishment of embassies. But taking into account the real threat that Iran still publically expresses against Israel, along with the potential world-wide threat of Iran becoming a nuclear super-power, should the UK be even making these ties with Iran and re-opening their Embassy in Tehran?
One wonders at the purpose of this recent move by Britain to re-engage its relationship with Iran, along with the sanctions that have been lifted by the Obama lead deal recently. The Iranian government is still one of the foremost, self-proclaimed enemies of the West and one of the most serious threats to stability in the Middle East. Their extreme interpretation of Islamic law – which threatens and imprisons thousands of Iranian Christians – and its anti-Western philosophy, which inspires the rise of Islamic extremists across the world, is still of a huge concern to state the obvious. Iran is one of the principal state sponsors of terror, proudly delivering weapons to Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists and providing safe haven for many international terrorists, including senior al-Qaeda leaders. Moreover, according to sources, Iranian agents have acted to perpetrate anti-Western and anti-Israel terrorist attacks in more than 20 countries around the world. Iran also continues to develop its arsenal of long range missiles that have the capability of reaching Israel, parts of Eastern and Southern Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and American bases in the Middle East.
But above all these concerns, the most menacing threat Iran poses to international security is the harnessing of nuclear energy, after all, what are Iran’s real intentions? Iran steadfastly continues to deny that it has or has ever had any desire to obtain nuclear weapons, notwithstanding prior confrontations with inspections, data, secret facilities etc. etc. Rather, the Iranian regime claims that it wishes to retain significant nuclear enrichment capabilities for entirely peaceful and legitimate energy production needs. But with people like Hussein Sheikholeslam openly revealing their intentions to wipe Israel off the map, who can really trust them? And do Iran’s missiles not tell a different story?
Many emails I’m receiving, along with information I’m getting from my sources state that some within Israel are getting rather nervous. When we take into account the huge windfall of money that will flow into Iran, then through Iran to terrorists around the globe due to the results of the “Nuclear Deal” John Kerry has negotiated, along with the now rather ‘strained relationship’ between Israel and the US, many questions are being asked. Some are even asking whether God is forcing Israel into a corner where they will need to call out as a nation to Him. Others are wondering if this upcoming fourth blood moon on September 28 – considered by rabbis to be an omen for Israel that will also be a super moon seen over Jerusalem – has any dark conations. Whether rightly or not, others wonder what will be at the end of the Jewish Shemitah Year on September 13th and the beginning of the Jubilee Year on September 28—both very significant in Biblical prophecy. I have no desire to make any predictions, and wisdom calls us to refrain from over dramatizing events. However, we surely must remain alert and ready for action on our watch-towers.
The Christian Friends of Israel UK 30th Anniversary Conference is almost upon us. This is being held on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th September at the Kings Centre, 27 Edison Road, Eastbourne BN23 6PT. The speakers will be Dr. R. Kendall Soulen from the States and Rick Ridings from Jerusalem, Israel. I will be leading the worship on guitar along with our son Matthew on drums and two other great musicians, and there will be a full CFI UK bookstall and resources available.
If you haven’t got a registration form already, you can download one. Click here to download the brochure or click here to download the booking form. Alternatively, you can contact our Head Office on 01323 410810 and ask them to send you one. Please do complete the form now and send it in.
(Middle East News Report Correspondent)
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio