Standing in the gap for Israel Report 10/01

HBB001The Word:  The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. (Psalm 27: 1-6)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: Traditionally, Psalm 27 is recited at the service of the Feast of Tabernacles. As we come before the throne of grace during this festival, may we boldly approach the Lord for His blessing upon the nation of Israel. As the Jewish nation celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles, may they know the Lord’s hand upon them.  (Psalm 27:5)

israel flagmovingAs you read through this week’s report please pray in line with the Word of God over these issues. God promises to bless the people of Israel if they live according to His Word. We can see God’s blessing upon much of the Land of Israel today ~ we need only look at how the dessert has blossomed this past 67 years, and the way Israel has done amazing things throughout their short history of being back in the Land.  However, there are many areas within Israel that we know need prayer.  Pray that the heart of the nation of Israel would indeed seek to observe carefully all God’s commandments, not out of duty, but out of desire.  May they desire to be a blessing even to their enemies (which they often are, yet goes unreported).  Likewise, pray that we, the Church would be faithful to the Lord God, and seek also to be a blessing to Israel.

Being covered by His Tabernacle

Sukkoth 2015By the time you read this report, the Feast of Tabernacles (outlined in Leviticus 23: 33-43) will be well under way (it started on 28/29th September through to the 4th October).   For Israel and the Jewish people, this seven-day festival commemorates the years that the Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land – Israel, and celebrates the way in which God protected them under difficult desert conditions.  The Feast of Tabernacles is also known as Sukkoth or the Feast of Booths.  The word Sukkoth means huts (some translations of the bible use the word booths), and building a hut is the most obvious way in which Jews celebrate the festival.  A number of Christians also join in with this festival as witnessed every year in the International Christian Embassy’s celebration in Jerusalem.  Some Christians actually believe that this was the time of Messiah’s (Christ’s) birth when Jesus (Yeshua) came to “tabernacle among us.”  If so, he might have been conceived around Chanukah/Christmas ~ the light of the world!

Chanukah of course means ‘festival of lights’ and Yeshua is the Light of the world. Add nine months from Chanukah and you are close to the Feast of Tabernacles [Remember, our Gregorian calendar is different to the Jewish calendar.  Tabernacles can fall in September to early October]. Yeshua is also called Emmanuel (God is with us) in Scripture, and so if the Messiah, Yeshua, was born during this “Holy Day” period, then it brings out a fascinating thought.  Just as the booths represented temporary dwelling places, the Messiah was made manifest in a temporary dwelling (His earthly body) as He came to tabernacle among us (John 1:14). The symbolism of Tabernacles may ultimately be fulfilled when He returns at His second coming to again tabernacle among us as King of Kings and millennial ruler from Jerusalem, to finally provide a “Sabbath Rest” for all mankind and the earth (Zechariah 14:16,17). The Feast of Tabernacles could therefore be a culmination of God’s purposes in time and space to unite all things back under the Sovereignty of God and His anointed King.

Tabernacle with us – on the CFI UK tour

CFI Conf Jerusalem 2015 aAs many of you will be aware, 2015 is the 30th anniversary of Christian Friends of Israel.  So far we have had the Anniversary International Conference in Jerusalem followed by the Israel tour.  Then at the beginning of September, we celebrated the anniversary with the CFI UK annual conference in Eastbourne.  Next up, we will be on the road with CFI Jerusalem’s Sharon Sanders for a Speaking
Tour.  The theme of the tour is, ‘Israel and the Coming Kingdom: The Holy Spirit in the Land Today’ and is on from the 16th to the 28th October 2015.

Sharon Sanders is the co-founder of Christian Friends of Israel – Jerusalem, and Sharon and her husband Ray are celebrating 30 years of ministry in Jerusalem.  Sharon received her early Christian education in a the Methodist church.  Theological studies began with 2½ years at the Good News Teaching Centre, followed by 2 years of schooling at Christ for the Nations Bible College where she obtained a Ministerial Ordination.  She continued her studies as a student of Derek Prince and Lance Lambert for nearly 20 years, then worked together as a research partner with an Orthodox Rabbi for 18 years. She is presently enrolled at Hebrew University studying the ‘Jewish Background of the New Testament’.  Sharon has been a frequent speaker in 55 nations and has a unique ability to help Christians understand the complex history and modern life of the Jewish nation of Israel.  Living among the Jewish people for a lengthy time has given her many insights into Jewish relations having gone “beneath the soil” in Jewish life.  We would love to meet you on the tour and have you ‘tabernacle’ with us a while.

DSC_4944Sharon Sanders will be speaking at Welcome Baptist Church, Heathfield (TN21 8EQ) on Friday 16th October, then on 17th October at Tuckton Christian Centre, Bournemouth (BH6 5NG); Sunday 18th: New Life Church, Old Woking (GU22 9BX); Monday 19th: St Mary’s Church Hall, Luton (LU1 3JF); Tuesday 20th: Central Methodist Church, Blackheath (B65 0EH); Wednesday 21st: St.Martins Hall, Preston (PR2 9TP); Thursday 22nd: Dewsbury Revival Centre, Dewsbury (WF13 4LA); Saturday 24th: Beit Yeshua Conference, Gateshead (NE11 0AN – full day conference 10:00 am–5:00 pm); Sunday 25th: morning – One Life Church, Middlesbrough (TS6 9AE); then on the evening at Kirkhill, Chirnside, Scottish Borders (TD11 3XH); Tuesday 27th: House of Prayer, Fishergate, Norwich (NR3 1SE); Wednesday 28th: Vineyard Church, Brentwood, Essex (CM15 9SE).   Full details can be obtained via Christian Friends of Israel on 01323 410810.  A5 flyers are also available.

Bethlehem Church burnt in act of arson?

As mentioned above, during this – the 30th anniversary of Christian Friends of Israel – we started our celebrations with the International Conference in Jerusalem followed by the Israel tour.  During the first week, we were welcomed by Senior Pastor Dr Naim Khoury who spoke with our tour group at his First Baptist Church in Bethlehem.  Having been under a lot of attack from the Islamic Palestinians in the past, the Pastor spoke of the price that is often paid to serve the Lord – especially in this region.   This Baptist church has been growing in numbers over the past few years and the youth ministry is also growing rapidly. To see a YouTube clip of one area of their youth work, click here:

They rely on much prayer and support from the Believers who visit the Church, especially as they stand with their bold statements of proclaiming the gospel to the Muslims.  Back in 2012, they were even bold enough to erect a huge banner stating that Jesus (Yeshua) came and died for all.  You can watch part one of this short video here, and part two here.  The Bethlehem Baptist Church’s website can be found at .

When I first heard the news that a church had been attacked and burnt, I immediately started to pray for Pastor Naim Khoury’s fellowship, however the attack was upon another church – the St. Charbel church, also in Bethlehem, which was set alight, suffering extensive damage.  Of course if this had been an attack on a Mosque, I believe we would have heard about it by now.  I’m convinced the Palestinian Authority President Abbas would have been on all our news channels pointing fingers at Israel and the Western Media would have been stating that this is why many people should be demanding a ‘Two-State solution’.  Needless to say, this attack was ‘only’ on a church, and so the mainstream international media, the United Nations, world governments, and just about anyone engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear uninterested.

An Arabic-language Christian news source reported that the Palestinian police were investigating this incident however they were leaning toward ruling the fire an accident.  Christians in Bethlehem however are stating that this was no accident and insisted it was an act of arson by Salafi Muslim extremists.  Earlier this summer, a fire broke out at the Church of the Multiplication (of the Loaves and Fish) on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The perpetrators were believed to have been Jewish extremists –though no proof was ever found – yet the suspected arson made headline news around the world.  So why hasn’t this attack in Bethlehem been news worthy? Is it due to the fact that Jews couldn’t have been involved?  Once a predominantly Christian town, Bethlehem today has a Muslim majority that plays host to groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  Sadly Jews are not welcome in Bethlehem.  In fact, had Jesus have been born in Bethlehem today, He would have been looked upon as a ‘Jewish Settler’.

Father Gabriel Naddaf, the Nazareth-based priest encouraging local Christians to integrate as part of the Jewish state, demanded in a Facebook post the “denunciation of the burning of the holy St. Charbel Church at the hands of Palestinian extremists.”  He also criticised the Palestinian Authority for its “incompetence” in protecting Christians and their Church buildings.  To view the photo of the source click here.

More rocket attacks and violence in Israel

red alertWhilst at home attempting to relax last night (Tuesday) two rocket attack warnings sounded via my tzeva adom (Colour red) alert on my cell phone – it certainly does make one jump – though nothing like when it’s happening in front of you! The rocket attacks were on Ashdod & Ashkelon.  The attack was captured on a cell phone by one of my Facebook contacts which can be viewed here.   One of the rockets fired from Gaza fell short and landed in Gaza. Hamas then evacuated all their buildings and training camps fearing Israeli retaliation following the rockets fired from Gaza at Israel.  Israeli forces launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning, the Israeli army said.  The Israel Defence Force (IDF) said in a statement that Israel’s war planes “targeted four terror sites” in Gaza.  Witnesses and Palestinian security sources said four training camps for Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, were hit in the strikes.  They were empty at the time, and no one was injured.  Three of the camps are located in Gaza City and the fourth in the north of the coastal enclave.  The rockets fired from Gaza late Tuesday were intercepted by Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ defence system, and thankfully caused no injuries or damage, the army said.

Meanwhile, during these Jewish High Holy Days, the nation of Israel has been on high alert throughout from Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and now Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles).  And Israel have needed to remain alert, especially with rockets being fired from Gaza, but also with many locations in Judea and Samaria witnessing clashes between hundreds of Arab protesters and IDF soldiers throughout the past few days.  Islamic demonstrations were witnessed in Ramallah, where protesters threw petrol bombs, laid down burning tires and threw stones.  More riots took place in Hebron, Tulkarm and near Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.  Seven Arabs were injured by rubber bullets on Tuesday as Israeli forces pushed back a rally outside Ramallah in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and of Arab security prisoners.  Islamic demonstrators also marched from the centre of Ramallah to the Jewish town of Beit El (Bethel). Israeli forces fired tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets in response to a planned attack by Arab Palestinians.

Palestinian Arab ProtestsThe PLO Executive Committee member Wasil Abu Yousef urged the international community to stop Israeli what they class as “restrictions and violations at Al-Aqsa,” which is actually only a proposal to permit Jewish people to pray along the perimeter of the Temple Mount compound, in an arrangement similar to the regulations at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. A general strike across the Arab Palestinian Areas saw stores closing for two hours in ‘solidarity’ with what the Arab Palestinians proclaim as a “threatened mosque”.  The IDF have confirmed that around 300 Arabs marched near Beit El, with Israeli forces using riot dispersal means before firing rubber bullets at the “main instigators.”

Moving further north in Israel, and problems still persist on the Syrian border.  The IDF have been on high alert for some time on the Golan Heights and this week Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz stated that Israel does not want to see Russian troops on the Golan Height and is concerned about the positioning of Iranian ground troops in the neighbouring country.  Opening of a direct ground front with Iran is the last thing Israel want. Yuval Steinitz stated that the world powers must “ensure the Iranian army stays in Iran. We should not see Iranian army divisions in Syria.”  He went on to state that Israel has no official position on the fate of Assad as it’s an internal Arab civil war, but added that “the war against Sunni terror [ISIS] can’t come together with support for Iranian Shiite terror.”

During his press interview on Monday following his UN speech, Russian President Vladmir Putin said, “We need to respect the interests of Israel, but are concerned about its [Israel’s potential] attack’s on Syria.”  Russia’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday approved that Russia’s armed forces would be used abroad.  The decision includes only the use of the Air Force and does not foresee any ground troops operations, Kremlin Administration Aide Sergei Ivanov said on Wednesday. “We’re talking exclusively about operations of Russia’s Air Force, as our president has already said, the use of armed forces on the ground theatre of military operations is excluded. The military goal of the operations is exclusively air support of the Syrian government forces in their fight against the Islamic State,” Ivanov said.  Syrian President Bashar Assad has turned to Russia with a request for military assistance, according to Ivanov.

Mahmoud Abbas Promised ‘Bombshell’ a dud

1175457_161787454017050_1367775540_nPresident Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority was scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, and the message of Abbas was alleged to have been going to be spectacular.  One report in the New York Times stated, “Politicians usually try to set low expectations – and then exceed them – for a big speech or debate, but Mr. Abbas has laid down the gauntlet by promising “a bombshell.””  Had this have happened, all those proclaiming ‘The end of the world is nigh’ due to the blood red moon spectacular on Monday night would have been congratulating themselves for such prolific prophesy fulfilled theories.  As it turned out, Tuesday dawned as most mornings do, with problems a plenty, yet the horses of the apocalypse were still firmly tethered.

Analysts had speculated that Abbas might be announcing his long-threatened resignation, declare the official cancellation of the Oslo Peace Accords that the Arab Palestinians signed with Israel in the 1990s, or call an end to security coordination with Israel.  This bombshell by Abbas turned out to be a planned announcement of a Palestinian state ‘under Israeli occupation.’ However the ‘bombshell’ that Abbas had threatened he was going to drop on the United Nations didn’t even materialize.   Barry Shaw, writing in the Gatestone Institute stated, “If one person can stand at the UN and unilaterally declare a state, I advise the leader of the Kurds, the Catalans, the Druze and any other ethnic groups that feel entitled to have their independence to make their way to the building and do so… If one really wants to help the Palestinians, one will try to help rid them of their corrupt and repressive leaders; not reinforce them. The Palestinian people deserve better than this.”  To read Barry Shaw’s full article click here.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, & Israel National Radio


About David Soakell

Believer in Yeshua (Jesus). In full time ministry work. Passionate about Israel, and publishes a weekly Middle East News Report.
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