The Word: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. (Psalm 51:7-12)
My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along. For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)
Pointers for prayer: As we continue to monitor events in and around Israel and pray into these situations, may we know at all times that the LORD God is in complete control irrespective of what we see. As the nation of Israel prepares for Passover, may we ‘walk through any troubled waters’ with them. May we be seen to carry them on our prayers, asking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for blessings to be bestowed upon Israel, and that God in His mercy, would “cleanse them with hyssop”, that they would know the Passover Lamb in whom they seek.
Irrespective of what people think and what the UN and politicians declare, the Lord has clearly outlined His purpose for Israel in His Word. Israel and the Jewish people are to be a testimony to His very existence, His character and His faithfulness. In essence, they prove that His word is true. Pray that God will bless and use Israel for His glory (Ezekiel 36:22). Please continue to pray against, what are very anti- Israel decisions and resolutions by the United Nations. Pray that justice would be seen and anti-Israel hypocrisy would be banished from within the UN assembly. Pray for the leaders in every sphere of life against any form of injustice and pray that truth would be seen to be acted upon according to the principles of God’s Word rather than man’s corruption. Pray too that the Church would desire to be a blessing, and not a curse to the people and nation of Israel.
Preparing for Passover
[Above photo taken by David Soakell: Our Passover table]
The rain was falling heavy again through the night where we live, and as I watched our patio in the back garden starting to flood again, I wondered how long it would be before these ‘winter’ days would finally be over? In some areas of the UK it looks as if spring- time is well underway. However, many Brits are still well wrapped up in winter clothing as this week, the rain has been heavy in many parts, with the cold wind still blowing. Even so, this is still my favourite time of the year. I love the spectacle that comes from the sunny looking daffodils; however, sadly they are so short lived and quickly look forlorn. The good news though is that the apple and cherry blossom is upon the trees and really wonderful to see again. The sunshine of course helps, and we even had some rather warm days as early April got under way, alas only to return to the wintery cold. But of course with spring comes the festival of Passover, which will once again soon be upon us. Passover (Pesach) is of course the eight-day long celebration that begins on the night of the fifteenth day of the month of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar. Passover in 2016 begins in just over one week’s time, on the evening of Friday, April 22 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 30. Of course with Easter being so early this year, many people within the church seemed to get confused as to why Israel was celebrating Purim when normally Passover and Easter are approximately at the same time (which makes sense when Yeshua and the disciples celebrated Passover just before the Crucifixion).
The Feast of Passover is of special significance of course. By it, we are celebrating how GOD delivered His chosen People, the Jews from slavery and bondage in Egypt and brought them out to the Promised Land ~ the Land of Israel. By this, Christians too should be able to celebrate this wonderful Biblical feast as they celebrate their freedom from their own “Egypt” i.e. life in slavery to sin before being saved. In the same way that the Jewish People were saved by the blood of the Passover lamb being put on the door frames of their homes, we have been saved by the blood of the Passover Lamb, Jesus (Yeshua), the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sin of the world. In the above Psalm (51:7-10) King David states, “Cleanse (or purge) me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” As those who stand with Israel, may we pray that the Lord would indeed renew a steadfast spirit within us, as we continue on ‘the battle front’ with our support for the people and Nation of Israel.
Interestingly, though nothing can substitute the blood of the Messiah Yeshua, being ‘cleansed with hyssop’ as in Psalm 51, can be very beneficial. At Passover, hyssop (of which parsley is often substituted) represents life. Hyssop is a bushy, evergreen plant and was once widely cultivated for medicinal use. But why be cleansed with hyssop? Why would the Psalmist use this plant in association with cleansing? Well, hyssop can be used as a tea which can be used for poor digestion and lung problems, coughs due to colds, nose and throat infections, mucous congestion in the intestines, flatulence and jaundice. Hyssop also can be used as a wash for burns, bruises, and skin irritations, and as a gargle for sore throats or chronic catarrh. And of course, at Passover, hyssop was dipped in blood on the doorposts of the doors so that the plague of the death of the firstborn would pass over the homes of the Jews in Egypt. Apparently, if one applies the crushed leaves of hyssop directly to bruises or to wounds, it cures infections and promotes healing, you see, God made everything in His garden for a purpose. Why then are we so quick to run off to the doctors? I wonder though… would hyssop also cleanse the mind? If so, maybe we should be praying that the cleansing touch of hyssop would touch the mind-set of those who hate Israel, and of those within the United Nations who pour out such condemnation upon the only true democracy within the Middle East, while ignoring so many nations that have terrible human rights issues.
As mentioned earlier, at the moment the trees here are starting to look full with apple and cherry blossom. Hope is around the corner – and we have to hang on to hope – for with God, there is always hope. With God, there is always a way forward; with God, Israel will flourish and be secure and those who support her will gain their strength when the battle is hard. May we strive to battle on in our stand with Israel as Passover preparations start to get under way in the days to come.
Are we making progress?
In these strange days of ‘political correctness’, it is all too easy for man to shun the Word of God. We can label it with whatever name we wish, whether it be scepticism, cynicism, unfashionable ideas, myth, or just simple unbelief. In many ways, we can expect the world to laugh at our faith ~ only occasionally might they admire it. The problem comes however when, those who embrace the Christian faith, then argue that their theology is correct even when it contradicts the very Word of God they’re building their faith upon. In the New Testament, in 2 Timothy 3:16, it is written, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction…” I can remember quoting this scripture to a minister once when defending the work of Christian Friends of Israel, only for him to reply, “Oh yes, but you don’t believe that do you?” Then we wonder why the sheep go astray!
CFI UK’s founder and former UK Director, Derek White once stated, “The preservation and continuity of the Jewish people to this present day is an outstanding and inexplicable miracle of world history. God gives as the reason for this miracle his own, eternal, unchanging covenant and nature (Malachi 3:6). When God says ‘everlasting’ he means just that… This emphasis centres round one issue: the ownership of the land of Canaan. The prophetic passages predicting Israel’s end-time restoration stress Israel’s ownership of the land. The biblical emphasis on Israel’s ownership does not diminish, but rather increases with the passage of time. (See Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 36:24; Amos 9:15.)” The question is, do we believe this, and if so, are we willing to stand up and be counted? Are we willing to become ‘unpopular’ with our friends? Are we willing to go against the tide of liberalism, replacement theology, the BDS campaigns and unbelief? If we are, then we need to stand together, encouraging one another, and prayerfully supporting each other. As support for Israel diminishes (Zechariah 14:2), may we remain faithful, both to the nation of Israel, those who are on the frontline supporting Israel, and to our LORD and His Word. In many ways, these battles can be tough – it often feels like the mountain we are climbing is a few hundred metres too high. But in all of this, are we actually making any progress? As we continue to stand with Israel, the battle and opposition appears to increase.
As I mentioned in last week’s report, according to the United Nations, the most evil country in the world today is Israel. On March 24, 2016, the UN Commission on the ‘Status of Women’ finished its annual meeting in New York by condemning only one country for violating women’s rights anywhere in the world. Out of all the nations that it should have condemned, where women suffer from serious human rights violations, the UN decided that Israel is the worst country in the world for allegedly “violating the rights of Palestinian women.” This outrageous decision by the UN has continued to alarm many people even throughout this week. Many groups have been asking the same questions that I asked last week, such as ‘Have Israel been guilty of beheading and stoning people? Have Israel been found guilty of bombing civilian airports, burning churches, raping women and children, stabbing civilians, or axing people at prayer?’ No, of course not, these horrors are however regularly committed in many of the Islamic nations, or by Islamic terrorists.
One has to also seriously question why one of the world’s worst human rights offenders is leading the U.N. human rights panel – Saudi Arabia – a country that continues to severely restrict freedoms of expression. Saudi authorities continue to arrest, prosecute and imprison human rights defenders and government critics. They torture detainees and use unfair trials with some resulting in death sentences. Women face discrimination in law and in practice and are inadequately protected against sexual and other violence, and the authorities use the death penalty extensively. This week, Honest Reporting also spoke out against the United Nations in a short video called ‘UN-believable’. Again it highlights much of what I reported last week, but is well worth watching. Click here to view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af7darB5-KE
Thankfully, I can include here some good news. First of all, as you’ll remember from a few weeks ago, I reported on financial assistance being given by the UK Government to the Palestinian Authority that either goes direct to Islamic terrorists in Israeli jails or frees up other funds to be used for supporting terror and paying terrorist salaries. If you missed this report, then you can read it by clicking here. Today I received an email from the UK Government stating that Parliament is going to debate the petition we have signed – “Stop spending a fixed 0.7 per cent slice of our national wealth on Foreign Aid” (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125692). The debate is scheduled for 13 June 2016. Once the debate has happened, I will try and include a video and transcript of the proceedings.
The other bit of good news is that not all British politicians are against Israel. Take for example Michael Andrew Gove, a British Conservative politician and the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath. He recently spoke out against the growing anti-Semitism and spoke out against those who oppose Israel. His encouraging speech can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNcGOaATtc&feature=youtu.be
Hamas Tunnel Expansion & Explosions
[Above photo: Hamas terrorists in Gaza tunnel. (photo credit:REUTERS)]
As I reported last week, various sources have stated that Hamas are continuing to expand its tunnel network in the Gaza Strip. Israeli security sources said the Hamas regime was upgrading tunnels as well as building deeper passages from the Gaza Strip. According to the latest Israel Radio report, the Hamas terrorist organization invests hundreds of thousands of dollars each month in their tunnel digging activities. According to the latest reports, the newly built tunnels contain electricity as well as communications to enable the rapid flow of smuggled weapons from Sinai to Gaza. Hamas employs more than 1,000 operatives to excavate underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip. According to reports, Hamas pay each operative engaged in the process some 300 to 400 dollars a month.
Hamas also heavily invests in smuggling building materials, including raw materials and excavation machinery from Egypt and Israel. To prepare for a possible future incursion with Israel, the Palestinian terrorist organization’s elite unit carries out drills practicing different scenarios simulating offenses in the tunnels near the border fence with Israel. However, several Palestinians have been killed in recent months in tunnel collapses in Gaza. One report cited Israeli officials as saying that the funds Hamas uses to invest in rebuilding its network of underground passageways could instead be used to construct neighbourhoods in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this week, Israel temporarily suspended the delivery of cement to Gaza’s private sector after it discovered that Hamas was siphoning the material, which is intended to build houses. Needless to say, if Israel refused to send any further supplies of cement, they would be condemned by the entire world’s pro-Palestinian supporters, along with the media and the United Nations.
The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) monitors the flow of cement into Gaza to ensure that Hamas has not used it to construct tunnels to attack Israel, and yet this simply appears not to be working. On Friday however, COGAT posted on its Arabic Facebook page that it suspended the transfer of cement to Gaza because some deliveries had been diverted by Imad Elbaz, the deputy director-general for Hamas’s economics office. The Hamas deputy political bureau chief, Ismail Haniyeh, vowed in February that his group will never stop digging tunnels and upgrading rockets in preparation for attacks against Israel. However, as Hamas continue to build tunnels, many Arab Palestinians are being killed with tunnel collapses and explosions within the tunnels. Official reports from Gaza described the various collapses in recent months as “work accidents” or being caused by flooding from heavy rains; however there are many who believe Israel is responsible. As reported last week, on March 14, 2016 another Hamas tunnel collapsed in Gaza City near the Israeli border. And as I write this report, news is breaking that three more Arab Palestinians have just been killed in further Gaza tunnel collapses, however according to sources in Gaza, the terrorist group Hamas has imposed a complete media blackout on the details of the incident.
Israel conference in Perth, Scotland
For those who may be able to attend, my wife Julia and I will soon be in Scotland as we have been invited as speakers for Christian Friends of Israel to a conference in Perth. We would love for many Israel supporters in Scotland to come, however we would hope many ‘non supporters’ would also come to learn about the whole subject of Israel. Our CFI Perthshire Scottish Rep – Donald MacDougall has organised the conference for Saturday 23rd April 2016 (10am – 4pm). Both my wife Julia and I (CFI UK) are speaking, along with Helen Mears (Streams in the Dessert) who works with the elderly in Israel, and Pat Frame (Ezra) who helps with Aliyah to Israel will also be speaking. I will also be leading the worship.
So, if you are in Scotland, or the Borders of Scotland/England, do come up for the conference on ‘Standing in the gap for Israel’. The venue is the National Christian Outreach Centre, Riggs Road, Perth, PH1 1PR. For booking information telephone 01738 639792. Do pass the conference information on to people you may think might be interested, and we do hope to see as many of you there.
(Middle East News Correspondent) Tweet me @David_CFI
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio