The Word: Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Israel is our refuge. Selah (Psalm 46: 8-11)
“Go outside, and stand on the mountain before Adonai”. Right then and there, Adonai went past. A mighty blast of wind tore the mountains apart and broke the rocks in pieces before Adonai, but Adonai was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake, but Adonai was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, fire broke out; but Adonai was not in the fire, and after the fire, a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
Pointers for prayer: As we often mention in these Reports, 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. Pray that He will bless and use Israel for His glory and His Holy Name’s sake (Ezekiel 36:22). As a poll below shows, Palestinians (in the PA controlled territories) are the greatest supporters of ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the region among age 15-34 year old Arabs. Please pray that God will frustrate the plans of the Islamic nations regarding His own Land. “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm. The LORD foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:8-11)
Please continue to pray that the Word of God would reach the Palestinians and the Arab/Islamic World. Pray for groups such as Elam Ministries who take the gospel to the Muslims in Iran and for people like Dr. Hormoz Shariat, a former Muslim and came to faith in Messiah Yeshua (see below).
Seeking God in the storm
Since the New Year of 2016, two people have given me the same word. Now when anyone gives me a ‘word’ that they believe is ‘of the Lord’, I generally ask them to write it down first so I can look at it later. When two people give the same word, I tend to listen. If three people give that same word, I tend to think, “God must be trying to tell me something… why didn’t I listen to the first two already?” Over the Christmas period, I actually took two weeks off from my ‘work’. I don’t normally class my job as ‘work’ as it’s a ‘ministry’… ‘a calling’… and I love this privilege of ‘working’ in this place. But it can get tough, and I’m aware we all need a break. Sadly over the ‘break’ I came down with a heavy cold which ended up on my chest and I spent two weeks plus coughing most nights without much sleep. Maybe it was the dark shadows under my eyes that prompted the first person to tell me to be ‘still and know God.’ I looked at that person and thought, ‘Be still??? You have no idea have you… I’ve got a pile of work to get through… I’ve no time to be still…’ But who do I think I am that Mr oh-so-busy hasn’t time to be still and listen to the Lord? Yet God is often gentle and gracious. On Monday evening this week, I spoke at a meeting in the North East of England. Afterwards, another person approached me and said, “You know, you need to be careful in your busyness… be still and know God…” Hmm… okay… maybe He is telling me something!
In last week’s report I mentioned that whilst most of the world was celebrating the New Year for 2016, 10 Israelis were injured and 2 more Israelis were murdered in Tel Aviv by a Radical Muslim Terrorist. Israel sadly woke up to 2016, the same way they said goodbye to 2015 – with the continuation of shocking terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians. In many ways, as I reflected back over that report, and indeed over the last 12 months, I thought about all the horror stories that I have reported on, not just last year, but over the last 15 years since I started writing these weekly reports. I have to admit, that I do get tired of writing about the evil we see in this world and the constant threat from Islam and other areas that Israel faces on a daily bases. Throughout the past 15 years if it’s not been Yasser Arafat it’s been Mahmoud Abbas; if it’s not been Khaled Mashal it’s been Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; if it’s not been Hamas, it’s been the Palestinian Authority or Hezbollah; if it’s not been al-Qaeda it’s been ISIS or some other evil monstrosity. I’ve often yearned to escape all this depressing news, longing for a warm sunny beach with beautiful clear sea lapping around my feet and the ability to think of nothing but nice things. Of course, I always wanted a beach ministry, but knowing how God works with me, He no doubt would have sent me to Gaza (J). But if I can struggle with this whole battle of Islamic terrorism, imagine how hard it must be for the Israeli’s! But this is my calling, and Israel too as a people and nation have a calling. I have no desire to do anything unless God is in it, and He is centre. And that is my prayer for the people of Israel.
Another people too are getting sick of all this bad news and terrorism. And no, it might not be who you think it is! It’s actually many of the Muslims themselves. The recent violent and fanatical actions of the Iranian regime and the leadership of the Islamic State are, according to various sources, causing millions of Muslims to rethink whether they want to be part of such a religion, and many of them are turning to the Christian faith and putting their trust in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). According to Dr. Hormoz Shariat, who is a former Muslim and came to faith in Messiah Yeshua himself in the early 1980s, there is ‘a move of God’ happening today in some areas of the Islamic world. Due to what many are seeing as ‘horrific evil’ and the cruelty of the Iranian and ISIS leaders, these actions are causing confusion among many Muslims and drawing them to consider the claims of Yeshua (Jesus Christ).
I have heard many stories from friends I have in Elam Ministries that have stated similar testimonies and have heard of many Muslims who are having dreams and visions of Jesus and coming to faith. However to hear Dr. Shariat’s story that Muslims are coming to faith because they are sick of seeing what ISIS and the Iranian leaders are doing is indeed amazing and encouraging. Dr. Shariat states, “A growing number of Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus Christ because of the actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and ISIS. They are asking questions, wondering if Islam could really be true. This is a major spiritual breakthrough. For a person raised in the West where approaching any issue logically and objectively is the norm, this fact may not be appreciated. “Question Everything” is a cultural virtue in the West. But Muslims living in the Islamic world are not allowed to question their faith at all. Those who do are considered weak in their faith, and sometimes are punished by lashes. Muslims are oppressed by a spirit of fear. They are afraid to read the Qur’an objectively, or even ask sincere questions about it. Islam is based on total obedience to Allah, without asking any questions.”
Dr. Shariat continues, “First, these Muslims start thinking the Islamic leaders in the region are not really “True Muslims” – This is often the first reaction of Muslims to the Iranian Government and ISIS. Muslims look at what IRI and ISIS do and say: “Islam is good and perfect; it is these extreme leaders that are the problem. They are giving Islam a bad name. What they do is not true Islam.” Next, they start wondering, “What is True Islam?” — Both the Iranian regime leaders and ISIS leaders claim that what they do is based on Qur’an, and examples from the life of Prophet Mohammad. They certainly claim to be true Muslims. They challenge all Muslims by saying “What is it that we do that is outside Islam?” This challenge causes Muslims to take another look at the origin of their faith—that is, the Qur’an and the life of their Prophet Muhammad—in order to disprove IRI/ISIS actions and prove that Islam is true and good. Then they suddenly realize, “The leaders of Iran and ISIS ARE true Muslims!” A growing number of Muslims who take up the challenge of disproving the actions of the leaders of Iran and ISIS come to a shocking conclusion that what those leaders are doing actually IS true Islam. They realize that Iran’s and ISIS’s leaders are not fanatic Muslims, but deeply committed and faithful Muslims. At this point, they begin to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam itself – This is the start of their rejection of Islam and becoming open to other ways of thinking and Christianity.” You can read more about Dr. Shariat here.
I remember Rick Ridings speaking at a recent Christian Friends of Israel conference telling a similar story of how a former terrorist of Hezbollah turned up at Succat Hallel in Jerusalem asking for forgiveness from the Jewish Believers in Yeshua there for his past actions against the Jewish nation and that he was sick of killing. There are many more stories now emerging from various places which give us great encouragement and hope to keep praying regarding this whole situation in the Middle East. In 1 Kings 19:11-12 (above) it states that a mighty blast of wind tore the mountains apart and broke the rocks in pieces before Adonai, but Adonai was not in the wind. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is not the god of the Muslims. Allah is after all a moon god. Neither has God created the man-made wars in the Islamic Middle East, but God will use these times to speak to people in a ‘still, small voice.’ “Come, behold the works of the Lord,” states the Psalmist in Psalm 46: 8-11, “Who makes wars cease to the end of the earth… Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Israel is our refuge. Selah.” That is indeed most worthy of pondering on and allowing time out to see God in the bigger picture!
Polls, surveys and faulty maps
Having spent a large section of this report on what I believe is essential good news – after all, we all need to be encouraged – we now turn our attention once again to the darker side of the Middle East. One of my sources sent me a PDF file this week from a survey of Muslims in eight Arab countries of their attitudes towards ISIS and other terrorist groups. What my source didn’t state, or perhaps didn’t even realise, was that the map that was included in the PDF has erased Israel with, yes you’ve guessed it, ‘Palestine’. Is this really what the 99.9% of the Arab Middle East think of this tiny slither of land known as Israel? Possibly! I’ve included an online version of the PDF and map below.
In the survey, the poll found that the Palestinians (in the PA controlled territories) are the greatest supporters of ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the region among age 15-34 year old Arabs. The survey was carried out by during October and November of 2015, by Zogby Research Services (ZRS). They conducted face-to-face polls, surveying 5,374 Muslims between the ages of 15 and 34 in eight Arab countries: Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and what they claim to be ‘Palestine’. The ‘Futures Initiative’ at Tabah Foundation commissioned ZRS to explore the attitudes of the Muslim younger generation. You can read the full report (should you wish, but is very lengthy) here: http://mmgsurvey.tabahfoundation.org/downloads/mmgsurvey_full_En_web.pdf
The better news was that a growing number of Israeli Arabs actually recognize Jewish rights and claims to the land of Israel, according to the latest monthly ‘Peace Index survey’ conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. The poll’s third question asked respondents whether they “agree or disagree with the claim that the Jews’ historical, religious, and cultural bond to the land and the Palestinians’ historical, religious, and cultural bond to the land are equally strong.” Naturally, 92.8 percent of Jewish respondents agreed that Jewish claims to the land are stronger than those of the Palestinians. However, 41.3 percent of Israeli Arabs also agreed with the statement that the Jews’ historical, religious, and cultural bond was stronger to the land than Palestinians.
Israel helping the floods situation in UK
As all my UK readers will know only too well, Britain has been pummelled of late with various storms. I often wonder where the names are made up but if you are called Eva, Desmond or Frank, you may be getting blamed for this mess. Storms Eva and Desmond brought widespread flooding in the north of England in December 2015. Just south of where we live, on Boxing Day, Eva left York underwater, with Leeds and Manchester among the other regions hit. My beloved Cumbria was hardest hit by Desmond before Christmas and turned the Lake District into almost one large lake. Storm Frank then battered parts of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving more severe floods in its wake. Scotland bore the brunt of that storm with hundreds of homes evacuated in the Borders towns of Dumfries, Hawick and Peebles. However, did you know that parts of the UK have had help from Israel?
[Above: Pooley Bridge, Cumbria – where once stood the bridge – now smashed in the floods]
I wanted to cover this story last week, however the news was just coming in as I’d finished my report and I’d ran out of space. However I was pleased to see that the Daily Mail had picked up the story last week, and I had of course received reports from my friend Or Nehushtan, the Israeli Shaliach of the Leeds Community and Northern UK Jewish Agency for Israel and UJIA.
Now we are all well aware of Israel being first to get aid and other forms of help to various parts of the world when disasters happen. Israel has a long-standing tradition of extending aid to alleviate hunger, disease and poverty, as well as in the wake of natural disasters and terrorist attacks beyond its borders. Israel was the first response team after the devastating Haiti earthquake. They have decades of humanitarian assistance and capacity building in Africa. Though hardly ever reported, Israel offer emergency medical aid and transfers into Gaza, and the Israeli government and its people show exemplary levels of humanitarian aid, both internationally and locally. Although this is two years old already, this very short film clip by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) shows just how in the last 26 years (28 now), Israel has sent out (more than) 15 aid missions to countries struck by natural disasters. Immediately upon arriving to these countries the IDF doctors set up field hospitals. Click to view:
However, did you know that an Israeli humanitarian aid agency had flown a team into Britain to help people flooded in the north of England? IsraAID flew in a team to help rebuild homes and distribute supplies in Leeds after the city was flooded in a Christmas deluge.
West Yorkshire residents in the flood-affected areas of Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Kirkgate in Leeds have been helped by the Israeli disaster relief charity that flew in last week. The Israeli volunteers worked to repair homes and distribute blankets and food in the worst hit areas. Shachar Zahavi, IsraAID founding director, said: “Our volunteers are assisting with the current efforts and using our experience in such disasters to work out what more we can do.” Team leader Navonel Glick said, “The people were shocked when they realised the men were from Israel. It was hard for them to process, because although other people had travelled from neighbouring towns to offer help, when the victims realised we had actually travelled from Israel they couldn’t believe it. Suddenly they started to grin from ear to ear and then the reaction was, ‘Wow! Really? From Israel. You truly came to help us from Israel?’” The delegation have become heroes, with people pointing to them as they walk through the streets. Many have approached them to shake hands and express their gratitude. Or Nehushtan stated, “IsraAid, who helped the victims of the floods in Yorkshire, are currently in Scotland. These guys go wherever they needed the most, but there is still a chance they’ll come back to Leeds before finishing their work here in the UK.” To find out more on IsraAID, click here: http://www.israaid.co.il/
Finally… Israel continues to seek cure for HIV
Following on from a story I covered in 2015, further reports are emerging that Israeli researchers are optimistic that the cure for HIV is just around the corner. Israeli scientists discovered a peptide, a ‘short chain of amino acid monomers’, which allows multiple copies of DNA into HIV cells. This leads the cells to self-destruct. Tests conducted on human cell cultures showed the destruction of all HIV cells and the cultures remained clear after several weeks. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system, and if left untreated causes AIDS and eventual death. Having worked in the past with children in Romania dying of AIDS, I know how important this work is. With this recent discovery, however, the disease might become completely eliminated and many lives could be saved. Researchers in Israel are optimistic that this treatment will be able to help those who are infected with HIV. If all goes according to plan, this treatment will be tested on humans within the next few months.
(Middle East Correspondent) Tweet me @David_CFI
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio