The Word As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” And Yeshua answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains… But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24: 3 – 8, 36).
Without a prophetic vision, the people throw off all restraint; but he who keeps Torah is happy. (Proverbs 29:18 – Complete Jewish Bible)
Pointers for prayer: One of the purposes of the Scriptures that God has inspired is to give us hope. God wants us to know Him, and to overflow with the hope that only comes by a deep relationship with the Father God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though we look this week at many troublesome areas, we can still praise the LORD that He is in complete control, and only in Him is our hope.
Once again, as you read through this latest report please seek the LORD for a greater understanding of God’s prophetic word about the nation and people of Israel today. Pray earnestly for God to give many in the Church the burden to pray, leading to a greater understanding of the current situation within Israel and the Middle East. Please pray that your church may be blessed in blessing Israel, according to God’s promise (Genesis 12:3).
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 continue to pray for protection of the borders around Israel – especially from the constant threat of these terrorist regimes. And as large waves of Islamic refugees continue to flood Europe, please pray that innocent victims from the harrowing war-torn nation of Syria would be helped and that these people would be rescued and find peace. However, do pray that all the authorities would be on high alert to the potential of terrorists entering our nations under the disguise as refugees.
Syria… why now and why so late?
[Above photo by D Soakell]
For the past four and a half years, I have been covering on a regular basis in my reports the violent civil war in Syria. The unrest began way back in the early spring of 2011 within the context of what was then referred to as ‘Arab Spring protests’, with nationwide demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whose forces responded with violent crackdowns.
The conflict gradually morphed from prominent protests to an armed rebellion after months of military sieges. As early as April 28, 2011, I reported, “The turmoil in the Middle East is still at ‘high alert’ as we’ve witnessed the bloodbath in Syria as army tanks rolled into their cities. The US has warned its citizens to leave Syria, as the government of President Bashar al-Assad intensifies its campaign against what appeared to be peaceful protests. The state department also said some non-essential embassy staff and all embassy dependants would be leaving. The UK says it is working with its partners on measures against Damascus. The US is also considering sanctions… Reports state that more than 350 people have been killed in the violence since mid-March… The United Nations secretary general has condemned Syria for using tanks and live ammunition against protesters. Calling for an independent investigation into recent killings, Ban Ki-moon said Syrian authorities had an obligation to respect human rights. However, the UN Security Council members have so far failed to agree a joint statement. Just why this is the case is not certain, however had this taken place in Israel, I’m sure they would be in 100% agreement and demanding action taken against the Jewish State!”
Reading back on what I’d written then, I’m amazed that the UK stated way back then that it was working with its partners on measures against Damascus (though have done little since); that the US was also considering sanctions (yet did they carry this out?)… and that Ban Ki-moon and the UN appeared to do nothing but speak out a few mutterings.
The armed opposition in this war torn country consists of various groups that were formed during the course of the conflict, primarily the Free Syrian Army, which was the first to take up arms in 2011, and the Islamic Front, formed in 2013. In the same year of 2013, Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian Army. In the east, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL – now known as the feared ISIS ), a jihadist militant group originating from Iraq, made rapid military gains in both Syria and Iraq, eventually conflicting with the other rebels. By July last year (2014), ISIS controlled a third of Syria’s territory and most of its oil and gas production, thus establishing itself as the major opposition force. Fourteen months later in September 2015, with sources stating that the current total death count in Syria being at 230,000 plus 20,000 children being killed, the whole of Europe now appears to be panicking as thousands upon thousands are fleeing. As Germany and other European countries restrict their borders, refugees are growing increasingly worried.
Estimations from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) state that more than 350,000 migrants were detected at the EU’s borders in January-August 2015, compared with 280,000 detections for the whole of 2014. That 350,000 figure of course does not include the large number who got in undetected. The conflicts raging in Syria and Afghanistan, and abuses in the State of Eritrea, are major drivers of the migration. On top of this, more than 2,600 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this year, trying to reach Greece or Italy, the IOM states. How is it that the UN, and most European countries are still arguing about this major concern when it has been an issue for four and a half years? And as the Syrian refugee crisis continues to intensify, many questions need to be asked as to why wealthy Arab countries are not taking a substantial role in helping out?
In the past week the Arabic hashtag #Welcoming_Syria’s_refugees_is_a_Gulf_duty has been used on Twitter more than 30,000 times. Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees but it seems as if countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar have been watching from the side-lines. And yet while much of the world ignored the Syrian refugee crisis until recently, Israel has been helping those caught up in the civil war since the beginning. According to a report on YouTube, the IDF’s Deputy Surgeon General, Col Dr. Tarif Bader, talks about “lending a helping hand over hostile borders.” He explains that Israel, which of course shares a border with Syria, has treated more than 1,500 Syrians in field hospitals in the northern part of Israel. General Bader states, “For us it doesn’t matter if they were fighters or not… They are suffering people; they are our neighbours, even though relations between Israel and Syria are not a state of peace.” Published on September 10, 2015 the video can be viewed via ‘TheRebel.media’s Middle East correspondent Igal Hecht here:
According to a report on CNN today (Wednesday September 16, 2015) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is blaming Western nations for fuelling the refugee crisis by supporting opposition groups in his country’s bloody civil war. Assad stated, “If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists,” he said in an interview with Russian news organizations. “That’s what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees.” With this and many other issues currently happening, I will leave the rest of this WoZ update to reflect upon how we should perhaps be weighing up these events during the High Holy Days.
Weighing up the Days of Awe
At sunset last Sunday (13th September), millions of Jews started to observe Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the first of the High Holy Days. The two-day celebration, which began on the first day of Tishrei is marked with a number of traditions, but food, such as dipping apples into honey is one of the main customs that has lasted to the modern day. During this period, many families gathered for meals to celebrate the time of rebirth and a feast of traditional sweet, salty and savoury foods in the Jewish calendar. The foods will have been named in Hebrew to evoke blessings for the months ahead. Before partaking of the meal, the Jewish people recite the Hamotzi, the blessing over bread. It’s also called the Feast of Trumpets, and as I spoke at a meeting in the North of England, we marked the day with the blowing of the shofar.
At that meeting, I could have spent all night speaking on the Feast of Trumpets. Or, I could have spoken on the importance of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement which happens on September 23rd. Or I could have shared on Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles which starts on September 28/29 and continues on until October 4, 2015. Each of these feasts and festivals are highly important and bring the rich teaching that comes with the High Holy days. However, I really felt that what I needed to speak on was a message that might have been seen as a ‘wake-up call’ – as indeed it was to me. The reason being was down to what I felt the Lord had laid on my heart the Friday before. Being September 11th and with me being on a break from work, I had watched some history DVDs on the events of what happened on September 11th 2001.
Everybody who lived through 9/11 will no doubt remember exactly what they were doing at the time. I know I will never forget. I knew God had called my family and me to live ‘by faith’ and to put our trust 100% in Him when He spoke into our lives and when we stepped into fulltime ministry with Christian Friends of Israel on 4th July 2001. However, we also knew that had we not heard from God, or had we have acted outside of His blessing, we would have ‘sunk’ very quickly as I had handed in my notice with my job in the National Health Service (NHS) – for we had no savings; our son was only 6 years old and we had a mortgage to pay every month. Having returned from Israel, for the first two months we saw a few small miracles, but didn’t receive much financial help at all. Then on Tuesday 11th September 2001, I received a phone call from a local charity to say that they felt led to bless us with 12 months of funding. I knew this was God answering the call upon our lives. Within minutes of that call however, and before I could rejoice in our news, I received another phone call telling me to put the TV news on quickly… as the horrific events of a series of four coordinated suicide attacks upon the United States was happening. At the very same time as I was rejoicing over being blessed by God, 19 terrorists from the Islamic militant group Al-Qaeda had hijacked four passenger jets, crashing two planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City; both towers collapsed within hours. This was supposed to have been an event ‘that changed the world’. But what did it change?
Last week, I read an article in the Independent Newspaper stating the following: “Minority Christian groups have predicted the world will end later this month – when they say a ‘blood moon’ will bring about an apocalyptic meteor strike. Scientists say a ‘blood moon’ will occur on September 28, when the moon passes into the shadow of the earth cast by the Sun (a lunar eclipse) and appears dim and reddish. Some religious leaders believe that because this is the fourth consecutive lunar eclipse since April 2014, it is part of a “tetrad” – which foretells a meteorite destroying earth and the end of time.” Now, these ‘minority Christian groups’ that had allegedly predicted the world will end later this month may have of course been misquoted. But if the quote was correct, I would suggest that they read Matthew 24:36 (above) when Yeshua, speaking about the end times states, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
However, if we were to study what is happening today, and if we look at the Middle East – especially over the past few years – and with the thousands upon thousands of Islamic refugees flooding across Europe – then add the issue of Iran, Russia, the political upheaval in many nations and the crazy weather patterns across the globe etc., etc. it could well be that we are not too far off some end days event. However we need to be so careful when putting dates together with these events. However… what if? What if the world was to end later this month – when the ‘blood moon’ brings this strange event on September 28? Would you be ready? At my speaking engagement, I took the congregation through a rough ride of the terrible events of 9/11 imagining that they were there during those dark days. But are the days we are living in 14 years later no less dark?
I believe the High Holy Days are extremely important days within our calendar – and oh that the church would understand the relevance – yet with the days in which we are living in, shouldn’t we be applying the lessons of these feasts in our lives every day? Yes, I could have spoken on the importance of Yom Kippur, but shouldn’t every day be a day of living out what God has done for us through the atoning blood of Yeshua? And I could have shared on Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles – but surely if we know Yeshua as our Lord and Saviour, we should be able to Tabernacle with God every day. We have access to the King’s Throne Room! And I could have spoken on the Feast of Trumpets. Will it really be a year that is fruitful and sweet, or will it be one that reminds us of the battle we are in – that on the battlefield the Shofar was blown as a warning of trouble and also used as a call to seek the Lord. If you live in the UK I don’t know how you feel about Jeremy Corbyn being voted in as the opposition leader, but many believe that Britain is being judged as others welcome their newly voted Labour leader.
Saturday’s election of far-Left candidate Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party – succeeding Ed Miliband – has the U.K. Jewish communities worried about the repercussions for their community and their country’s relationship with Israel. According to a Jewish Chronicle poll conducted during the election campaign, more than 80 percent of Jews said they were concerned about Corbyn’s anti-Israel positions and affiliations with anti-Semites. In another article, this time featured in Algemeiner, they stated, “Corbyn had ties to Holocaust deniers and terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah – whom he referred to as ‘friends’”, and “Corbyn has been alienating and angering the Jewish establishment, which has traditionally voted Labour. A recent interview with Iran’s Press TV, during which Corbyn called the assassination of Osama bin Laden a ‘tragedy,’ only served to strengthen this ill ease.”
In Proverbs 29:18 it reads ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish… and in ‘The Message’ (not a translation but a paraphrase) it states, ‘If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.’ Well what is God revealing in these days of awe as thousands upon thousands of Islamic refugees pour into Europe?
What is God revealing when leading politicians share the same stage as Hezbollah leaders and stand hand in hand with Palestinian solidarity campaigners? What is God revealing when even the Church speaks out against Israel whilst supporting BDS campaigns yet ignore the fact that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has just built a new home with money from the EU for his starving people?
[Above right: Towering high – Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ new home]
If God has put a call upon your heart then it’s vital that you keep that ‘Vision’ fresh. And if God has put that call upon your heart regarding Israel, then know for sure that the days ahead are going to be tough. May I suggest that if you are reading this in the UK that you reflect over one of the last prophetic words Lance Lambert spoke out regarding the UK: http://www.lancelambert.org/prophetic.php/message/7/Prophetic-word-for-Great-Britain-Saturday-6-August
(Middle East Correspondent) Tweet me @David_CFI
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