Standing in the gap for Israel report 08/03

The Word:  He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.  When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. It shall be that fishermen will stand along the shore; from Ein Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. (Ezekiel 47:6-10)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: As we come before the Lord in prayer, and as CFI continues working at New Wine in Somerset, pray that the team would have great success and fruitful conversations.

israel flagmovingWe are living in a sobering moment in history that calls us, as believers in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), to take a stand with Israel. This is not about politics; this is about the Word of God, but the political ramifications are extremely dramatic. God is sovereign – so let us declare God’s sovereign power to accomplish all His purposes in Israel and the Middle East. Stand in prayer against those who would deny Israel’s right to its ancient homeland, and please continue to pray for the complete restoration of the nation of Israel.

israel flagmovingPray for a great revelation of Biblical truth to saturate the Arab world – especially with the Palestinian youth – along with those countries that are not ethnically Arab but Muslim – such as Iran and Turkey.  Pray that these Arab/Muslim countries would break free from the bondage of false religion and come to a place where the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God of Israel – would set them free (John 8:32)

The Dead Sea Fishing company

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One of the joys (amongst many) over this past week and a half at New Wine has been telling people about the amazing country that is Israel.  You’d be amazed at just how many Christians have no real understanding about the Land of Israel.  To help people to understand this subject, we have been playing a DVD called ‘Israel Aerial Odyssey’ a beautiful panoramic movie of Israel from the air. The DVD, which is filmed from a helicopter, takes the viewer on a wonderful journey that brings the story of Israel to life.  Stunning aerial photography uncovers the vast diversity to be found in Israel’s landscapes, history and archaeology.  This film conveys the experience of soaring through Israel’s sky, giving you an exciting new view of this fascinating, old-new land.

We also pointed out areas on a 3-D raised-relief map of Israel.  Children specifically enjoyed feeling the mountains and the valleys and finding the main towns and Cities which make Israel’s history.  This of course helped both children and adults get a better knowledge of the geography and landscapes of Israel.  It also helped them in understanding the geo-political problems of the region and the strategic importance of the topography.  You can buy the map from Christian Friends of Israel here.  However, it also provided me with the wonderful opportunity to talk about prophecy being fulfilled.  For those who haven’t been to Israel, and even those who want to return, a visit and even overnight stopover at Ein Gedi is a must.  Nestled between the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea, this desert oasis is one of the most fascinating places to visit due to its biblical references, historical roots stretching back over 5,000 years, and the Dead Sea itself.  Though I’ve been back to Israel many times in the last three years, Ein Gedi is one of my favourite places and the area successfully mixes modern tourism with the exciting historical surroundings to provide any visitor with a truly unique adventure. Ein Gedi dates back some 5,000 years to the first settlers who came to the area; archaeological remains from that time can still be found throughout the area and further afield.

There are many references in the Bible regarding Ein Gedi. It was named in Joshua 15:62 as one of the cities of the Tribe of Judah. Other Biblical mentions include King David, who took refuge there from King Saul (1 Samuel 24:1) and Song of Songs 1:14 mentions the vineyards of Ein Gedi.  Three years ago, I took my family to spend three nights at Kibbutz Ein Gedi.  This is one of Israel’s nicest kibbutzim and is located on a nearby hilltop overlooking the area.  The kibbutz has a botanical garden with plants and trees from all over the world.  Ein Gedi also has an international reputation as a health spa. Tourists from all over the world come there to take advantage of the hot springs, mineral waters, and mud baths, and to enjoy the desert climate, bathe in the healing waters of the Dead Sea, and breathe healthful bromide-filled air. But what many people don’t realise is that these Dead Sea waters could be about to disappear.

Ezekiel dead sea

Not only is the Dead Sea shrinking, but amazingly fresh water pools are forming around the Dead Sea.  This was one of the most popular conversations I had at New Wine with many Christians, and as CFI’s Robin Lane asks on the CFI Facebook page, “could this be Ezekiel’s prophecy coming true?”  Samantha Siegel posted on YouTube on July 21, 2016 a short film about the Dead Sea shrinking, along with the 5000 sinkholes that have opened up along it shores. But in fact life is stirring and new worlds are being born and fish are living by the Dead Sea.  So could this be prophecy by Ezekiel starting to unfold?  Check out the video here.

Back in September 2011, researchers sent a diving expedition into the Dead Sea, where they uncovered freshwater springs issuing from massive craters in the seafloor, along with a menagerie of microbes. Both finds were a first for the world’s saltiest body of water, which is also the lowest spot on earth.  The Dead Sea lies between Jordan and Israel, and its salt-heavy waters allow humans to float effortlessly on the surface — a phenomenon that makes the Dead Sea a popular resort destination, yet notoriously challenging for divers attempting to swim down into the water.  A research team from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University managed to dive down into the salty waters to confirm their suspicions that freshwater springs jet up from deep fissures in the seafloor.  So are we heading towards the days that Ezekiel prophesied?  According to the Scripture at the top of this report, there will come a day when a very great multitude of fish will swim in these waters, for they will be healed, and fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi and spread their nets (Ezekiel 47).  I’m not stating these days are now starting to happen, but it is certainly interesting.

Israel – the only true democracy with freedom of worship

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As I’ve mentioned above, Christian Friends of Israel UK have been (and still are) working at the New Wine Festival in Somerset.  It started on Saturday 23rd July 2016 and goes on for two weeks.  New Wine is a movement of churches working together to change the nation through a network of church leaders, National Gatherings and resources. The vision and desire of New Wine is to see the nation changed through Christians experiencing the move of God in their lives.  The New Wine Team long to see churches renewed, strengthened and planted, living out the Word of God in every aspect of life, serving God by reaching the lost, broken and poor, and demonstrating the good news of the Kingdom of God to all.  As I wrote in my last report, this vision is what every Christian should desire, and many Christians (approximately 30,000 delegates according to statistics) attend this two week event at Shepton Mallet in Somerset and are really blessed by this. However, approximately 80% of the Church in the UK has no understanding of the importance of standing with the nation of Israel, or just why God is bringing back His Jewish people to the State of Israel.  Many also have little understanding to the fact that Israel is the only true democracy within the Middle East.

The past week, we have had a good response with people coming on board to support our ministry; however it’s also good to chat with other organisations sharing their ministries at New Wine. Two Middle Eastern Ministries I personally support are Elam Ministries (http://www.elam.com/insight/reaching-iran) who’s stand is next to ours (their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ElamMinistries/?fref=ts). The mission of Elam is to strengthen and expand the church in the Iran region and beyond. Elam’s vision is that all the people of the Iran region would have the opportunity to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him as a disciple, and that Iranians would be instrumental in taking the Gospel to other Muslims. To achieve this vision, they train leaders for fruitful, effective ministry in the Iran region; Equip the Iranian church with Bibles and resources for evangelism and discipleship, and send the Gospel into the Iran region through trained evangelists, church planters and Christian media. Such is the openness of the Iranian people that wherever there is a witness to the Gospel, individuals, families and even communities are coming to know Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as Lord.  One thing we have noticed however is that when Iranians come to know the Messiah as Lord, they do not have any replacement theology within their doctrine and the majority support Israel. We have had lovely fellowship with the team from Elam, and their stand is next to ours in the marketplace.

The other ministry is SAT-7. SAT-7 seeks to fulfil Jesus’ command to “make disciples” among the troubled nations of the Middle East and North Africa. Through satellite television it enables the Church in the region – isolated, often small and facing many restrictions – to make known the love of Christ, to teach and encourage believers, and share a positive Christian vision for life and society – and this is done in the privacy of people’s homes.  SAT-7’s five TV channels cover the whole of the Middle East and North Africa, broadcasting in the major languages of Arabic, Turkish and Farsi, sharing God’s love with millions 24/7. Do pray for these two ministries.  However, as the world’s only Jewish state — also the only state with close to a majority-Jewish population — Israel is the only true democracy within the Middle East, and the only nation within the Middle East that allows freedom of worship – no matter what your faith is.  Despite its Jewish majority, Israel protects minority rights.  An important element of a free country is how it treats its minority citizens. Jews, who are a minority in every country but Israel, are particularly sensitive to this issue.

Israel has a multi-party political system in which numerous political ideologies are represented. Both Jews and Arabs serve in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and on the Supreme Court.  All Israeli citizens are eligible to vote. According to a report by Freedom House they state, “After Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, the Arab residents were issued Israeli identity cards and given the option of obtaining Israeli citizenship, though most chose not to seek citizenship for political reasons. These non-citizens can vote in municipal as well as PA elections, and remain eligible to apply for Israeli citizenship.” So not only do Israeli citizens vote, including the over 1.8 million Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, but non-citizens are also able to vote.  And talking of politics, with Mrs May becoming the second British Prime Minister (the first of course being Margaret Thatcher), the Brits might feel proud regarding this… however they weren’t the first nation to have a female Prime Minister, as Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, which proves Israel supports minority rights for women — it is ranked as the only free nation for women in the Middle East.

Israel also has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic, and Israel legally recognises 13 non-Jewish religious communities, the largest being Muslims with the second largest minority population being the Christian population.  In 1984 and again in 1991, Israel airlifted 22,000 Ethiopian Jews at risk in their native country to safety in Israel.  Now we can’t proclaim that Israel is a society with perfect harmony — there is some racism — but what country is perfect?  And at least Israel is addressing this issue through public policy and education/awareness.   And of course, freedom of worship is a high priority issue within Israel. Prior to Jewish control of Jerusalem in 1967, Jews were forbidden to pray at their second most holy site, the Western Wall of the destroyed Temple. The Temple Mount, which is the foremost Jewish holy site in the world, is currently controlled by Muslims and Jews are forbidden from worshiping there. Additionally, Jews are banned from visiting Saudi Arabia or living in Jordan. When Jews are accused of pursuing racist policies in Israel, the opposite is actually true: It is others who have pursued racist policies against Jews.  And so for those who bang the drum to boycott Israel with their BDS movements, maybe someone should tell them that actually, the following countries refuse to accept an Israeli passport, so Israeli citizens (including Arab Israelis) cannot visit Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Again, when we think of the outrageous lies that the ‘Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaigners claim, and the fact that they state Israel is an ‘Apartheid State’, it becomes even more outrageous nonsense when one considers the religious freedom within Israel.  But on top of this, today neo-Nazi parties are currently rising in Greece, Hungary, and the Ukraine. Poland and Denmark recently outlawed Jewish kosher meat. Bulgaria, France, and Hungary have seen large anti-Jewish protests recently. And the Scandinavian countries are working diligently to outlaw Jewish circumcision.  Also, with Europe currently being saturated with refugees fleeing Islamic countries, the majority of people don’t even realise that Israel has absorbed a great many persecuted minorities from around the globe, always welcoming them with open arms. These include refugees from former Soviet states, African refugees, and people with Jewish ancestry from countries all throughout the world such as India and Peru.  So without doubt, Israel remains the only free nation in the Middle East.

More on New Wine

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In closing this week’s report, I asked Julia to give her thoughts on CFI’s time at New Wine.  Julia Soakell writes, “New Wine was a place of divine appointments along with having loyal supporters meeting faces and names from the CFI publications they had read of and prayed for over the years.  Many were really pleased to see the CFI stand.  Some of the highlights included meeting up with Church of England ministers who had been on the last CFI clergy tours with CFI’s CEO Jacob Vince, and shared what a profound impact it had had on them in every sense, one sharing it had “transformed his thinking”. This shows that the prayer strategy of praying for key leaders and ministers is the prayer strategy God asks us to follow and wants to answer. The other key thing was that there are teenagers and young adults who have been brought up with sound Christian families, and great churches who really do have an understanding of Hebraic roots and the importance of Israel on God’s heart.  These are young people readying themselves for university life and potential teachers, politicians and parents in this next generation that need our prayers too (See the latest In Touch article ‘A Heart for a Generation’ (http://www.cfi.org.uk/intouch.php ).”

Julia continues, “There was great opportunities to chat with delegates who had been suspicious of Israel and ministries supporting her, fearful of being sucked into politics and wrong thinking and bias, who were able to chat without pressure or bias and went away willingly and with greater insight able to delve into literature about the scriptures supporting the ministry and mandate which CFI have – to teach the church and bless the Land and people of Israel.  Conversations also covered ways of established supporters becoming Church Links and Area Reps, and others who were encouraged that prayer groups would be available in their home towns where they could share and have fellowship with others with a heart for prayer for Israel.  It was also great to help people find books and resources from the stock we took that would help those who were so enthusiastic to learn more about the roots of our faith, the stand against anti- Semitism and other related subjects. These are books that are rare in Christian bookshops around the UK but regulars at New Wine know they will be able to browse from the CFI stall each year.”

Julia concludes, “One image that will stay in my mind is the young children approaching the stand and being “glued” to the TV screen showing Israel by helicopter – a little girl completely transfixed to the images of nature reserves and archaeological sites, beautiful vistas of the Dead Sea and the country where Jesus lived… this will stay in my memory a long time.   New Wine truly is a great annual opportunity for the message of the CFI ministry to be seen and clearly understood – a place of fun and family and excitement but also of believers who meet together and want to move on in their walk with God and many of whom saw as Divine appointments and an understanding growth of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob as a promise keeping God.”

David Soakell

(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

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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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