Please note: This is the last report for a few weeks. The next report will be out on October 6, 2016
The Word: Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2: 1-6)
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, ‘What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble – burned as they are?’ …But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:1-2, 7-9)
Pointers for prayer: O that the nation of Israel, along with the true church would sit up and take on board the awesome words from the Word of God in Nehemiah. The Jewish people were in a mighty battle to secure Jerusalem. The enemy mocked; the enemy lied; the enemy fumed and became so angry, and the enemy plotted together to oppose the Jews. But God’s people prayed! And having prayed, they took action. As you read through this week’s report please pray in line with the Word of God over these issues.
Do continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel. Pray too for all those who stand with Israel. There is nothing more that the enemy – Satan – wants than to wipe out the nation of Israel, along with those who stand with her.
Please also pray for all ministries standing with Israel – but especially Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) in the UK, and the International office of CFI in Jerusalem. Pray too for the Christian Friends of Israel annual conference due to take place on Saturday 17th September at Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne. We hope to see you there – details are at the end of this report.
Standing firm on the walls of Jerusalem
As I mention above, this is my last report for a few weeks. The next report will be out on October 6, 2016.
This past couple of weeks, my family have been ‘de-cluttering’ our home. My mam used to always say, “If you want a job doing, give it to a busy person”. Well we are currently organising two conferences with CFI, and much more besides, that one has to wonder at our sanity in getting home from the office (late most evenings) to then de-clutter certain areas of our house! But we simply needed to make space and have too many music CDs, DVDs, books; photographs, and 30 years of other items. Music CDs of course can be made into MP3s and stored on computers/iPhones etc. Photo’s likewise can be scanned and stored with the thousands of other J-peg photos on the PC (and back-up systems). Books… some we like and keep, while many go to charity shops along with many of the DVDs. The problem that all this brings of course is ‘memories’. Not that memories are bad – in fact it’s been the opposite. The photos brought much laughter and expressions of shock at hair styles etc. as we looked back over the years. I even found treasured memories of our son as a baby, and an old Norwich football shirt from when he was 5 or 6-years-old (he’s 21 now). But it also caused me to revisit a few books that I’ve not looked at for years, such as ‘Philistine’ by Ramon Bennett – first published 21 years ago (a nice light read – ha) and Lance Lambert’s ‘Jacob I Have Loved’ – one of my favourites.
‘Jacob I have loved’ is far more than a mere biblical overview of the story of Jacob – it is an outstanding illustration of God’s desire to utterly transform our fallen inner nature. Here beholds one of the bible’s great mysteries. The amazing truth is that Jacob’s name has not been lost in the debris or ‘clutter’ of human history, nor has it been forgotten, as have so many other names. Incredibly, it is forever linked with God. Jacob’s (Israel’s) story is an integral part of the history of divine redemption and this book is about the power of God to transform a human life. And oh how we need God to transform us. Did you know however that God calls Himself specifically the God of Jacob twenty one times (e.g. 2 Sam. 23:1; Psalm 20:1; 46:7; 81:1; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2)? Lance Lambert reveals that the name of Jacob is eternally linked with the name of God, with the eternal purposes of God, and forever entwined with the people of God – namely Israel. And that is why those within society – whether it be the Islamic world or the western world’s liberal thinkers – are in great danger of bringing the wrath of God upon themselves when they persist in opposing the nation of Israel – whether with words, action or violence. Worse however, are those who profess to be ‘Christian’ and yet oppose and slander the name of Israel.
[Above photo is of a painting by Gustav Bauernfeind showing Jews praying at the Western Wall. Gustav Bauernfeind lived 1848-1904]
In Ramon Bennett’s book ‘Philistine’, he writes, “There is a powerful rallying cry for Muslims – Al Quds – Jerusalem! And down through the ages that cry has been used to rally the “warriors of jihad – from Mohammed’s use in the 7th century to Saladin’s in the 12th to Arafat’s in the 20th.” We could of course add Abbas, Hamas and all the BDS supporters to the list. Ramon Bennett continues, “Six days after signing the Peace Accord, Arafat called for a jihad to liberate Jerusalem. The following extracts are taken from [Arafat’s] speech in a Johannesburg mosque: “The Jihad [Islamic holy war] will continue, and Jerusalem is not [only] for the Palestinian people, it is for all the Muslim nation… Our main battle is Jerusalem. Jerusalem – the first shrine of the Muslims. …I have to speak frankly, I can’t do it alone without the support of the Islamic nation… you have to start the Jihad to liberate Jerusalem… What they are saying is that [Jerusalem] is their capital. No, it is not their [Jews’] capital. It is our capital. It is the first shrine of the Islam and the Moslems.” Bennett states, “Could Arafat’s intentions be made any clearer?” Of course Arafat’s legacy lives on in Abbas and the statements of many others including Hamas and Hezbollah etc. And so, as we have been reflecting over the past three weeks from the book of Nehemiah, nothing has really changed since the days of Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites etc. etc. in Nehemiah chapters 1 to 4. This week however has seen some largely disturbing undercurrents coming from various politicians, as you will see below. With all this in mind then, let us stand firm, with the Word of God as our sword, and continue to be, as Watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6-7, 10-11).
Blowing his own Trumpet?
I was rather surprised to read this week in an ‘Israel Today’ article that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has warned that “if he is not elected America’s next president, it will spell doom for Israel.” The article stated, “The Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama Administration “is going to destroy Israel — unless I get elected. Then Israel will be just fine,” Trump said at a campaign stop in Cleveland.” The article then went on to state that, “While a majority of Israelis still hold fond memories of Bill Clinton, and therefore support Hillary, many fear the Democratic candidate would push Israel to make dangerous concessions to her enemies. And there is little hope that she’d get along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” But are we not missing something here?
I realise God often uses the most unlikely candidates to achieve His purposes, but the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to be emotionally blackmailing the potential Jewish American vote by stating that “if he is not elected America’s next president, it will spell doom for Israel.” Should Israel or indeed the USA be taking notice of Donald Trump? Or should they take note of Psalm 2 where we read, “Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? God terrifies them in his wrath, He rebukes them in his anger and The LORD scoffs at them. The One enthroned in heaven laughs…”! I do not want to get involved in the American political bandwagon that is vast becoming an ugly war of words between the two leading candidates for president, but surely Trump can’t be serious regarding Israel, right?
Question Time brings unanswered questions
In a week that brought Donald Trump’s warning “if he is not elected America’s next president, it will spell doom for Israel,” there was also a very interesting programme on BBC’s Question Time last Thursday evening. The BBC Question Time showdown in Oldham between Labour leadership candidates Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith promises to be a heated climax in the high-stakes election, and indeed it was, though it appeared that neither Corbyn or Smith were able to unite the party.
At 9pm, an earlier time than the political programme’s normal broadcast, both potential leaders clashed on many issues. I was however concerned over two areas. The first was when Owen Smith denied he had ever said that he would negotiate with the Islamic terrorists group ISIS, only for David Dimbleby to point out he definitely did. Smith said he “absolutely didn’t” claim we should negotiate with the terror group. Smith went on to state: “I didn’t say we should negotiate with Isis. I absolutely didn’t say that.” He then repeated the words “what I said was… the chances are we’d never be able to negotiate with Islamic State”. But Dimbleby read out the words Smith had used at an earlier BBC programme which stated: “At some point, for us to resolve this, we will need to get people round the table.” This was met with laughter and boos from the audience. However Corbyn then said he would never negotiate with the Islamic group Isis. But this left Tweeters with long memories confused, as they recalled Corbyn had said in January 2016 that he would open “diplomatic channels” with Isis.
At the time, Corbyn told The Andrew Marr Show such channels were maintained with groups like the IRA. “The British government maintained a channel through the IRA all through The Troubles. I don’t condemn them keeping a back-channel to the Taliban … I think there has to be some route through somewhere,” he said. Later, Corbyn also seemed to imply that Isis was a terrorist group but Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t. It was all very confusing.
On anti-Semitism, Smith claimed people around Corbyn were encouraging people with anti-Semitic views to join Labour. He said: “I think Jeremy [Corbyn] has not been strong enough in speaking out against anti-Semitism … Under Jeremy’s leadership we have seen people coming into Labour from the hard left of politics who are bringing in anti-Semitic attitudes … Some of the people around Jeremy are encouraging it. There is absolutely no doubt.” Jeremy Corbyn strongly objected, saying that Smith’s claim was unfair. “I have spent my life opposing racism in any form, as have you,” he told Smith. If you have a BBC licence, you can watch the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07vcy7q/question-time-08092016
What I found rather nauseating was that Jeremy Corbyn stated that he thinks anti-Semitism is wrong yet publically has stood with the Palestine Solidarity Campaigners, the PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah. In May 2016, Corbyn vowed to continue talking to terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah. Only four months ago, the Labour leader refused to denounce the terrorist groups in the wake of calls from Jewish leaders, the Israeli Ambassador and members of his own party to distance himself from those with anti-Semitic views. Yet on the BBC Question Time programme Corbyn stated he does not support Hamas. However he has referred to the organisations as “friends”, despite both Hamas and Hezbollah being declared terrorist groups by the EU and America.
Writing in the Telegraph, Israeli member of Knesset Tzipi Livni warned that Britain must denounce anti-Semitism “for the sake of its own core values“. Mark Regev said: “You’ve had too many people on the progressive side of politics who have embraced Hamas and Hezbollah. Both of them are anti-Semitic organisations, you just have to read Hamas’ charter and it’s like chapters straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I’d ask the following question: if you’re progressive, you’re embracing an organisation which is homophobic, which is misogynistic, which is openly anti-Semitic, what’s progressive about that?” Regev added that the left is “in denial”. In another article, this time in the International Business Times, UK Edition, it stated, “Israel became a battering ram in the fight for the soul of the Labour Party… The question of Israel and Palestine has always divided the left. The article, written by the International Business Times’ Dave Rich states, “If today’s Labour Party appears to be reliving the 1980s… then it should be no surprise that attitudes to Israel, Jews and Zionism have become part of the argument about where the party is heading. Support for the Palestinian cause might be relatively common across the left nowadays, but it only made an appearance in Labour Party policy in the 1980s. Labour supported Israel’s creation in 1948 (as did most of the left) and was generally pro-Israel thereafter. But in the 1980s, the rise of the Labour Left brought with it radical ideas about the elimination of Israel that had previously existed only on the radical fringes of left-wing thought.” The article then goes on to make startling revelations about Ted Knight and Ken Livingstone, respective leaders of Lambeth Council and the Greater London Council. Read the full story here.
On Israel’s northern borders
Apart from the continued threat of Isis being very close to Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights, Israel have proved that they are taking Hezbollah’s threats seriously with Israel performing mass evacuation drills of civilians near the Lebanese Border this week. The IDF (Israel Defence Force) demonstrated on Tuesday that it takes seriously Hezbollah’s repeated threats to “take over the Galilee” with a massive drill aimed at evacuating civilians under attack near the Lebanon border. Described as “the biggest drill of its kind until now,” Col. Eyal Forman, chief medical officer in the IDF Homefront Command, said the exercise was driven by war threat scenarios involving Hezbollah forces crossing the border and getting to the Israeli communities. In addition to the rocket and missile threat, Col. Eyal Forman said “the coordinated, cross-border attacks by infantry was something that has become more obvious in the last few years… This was definitely a lesson from Lebanon II, because then people mostly evacuated themselves to safe areas. We realized we needed to support them and be more active in this regard,” Forman said.
For more than five years, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly threatened to take over northern Israel by force. In one of his earliest threats Nasrallah said: “I’m telling the fighters of the Islamic resistance to be ready for the day, should war be forced upon Lebanon, where the resistance’s leadership will ask you to take over the Galilee.” Do continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel.
Shimon Peres hospitalized after stroke As I was compiling this report, news was breaking that former Israeli President Shimon Peres, the 9th President of Israel is in a medically induced coma after suffering a severe stroke on Tuesday evening. Peres is 93 years old and had a pacemaker implanted only last week. Shimon Peres has been a leader in the Jewish world since before the modern State of Israel was founded, and is deeply beloved by the Israeli people. Do pray for Shimon Peres.
CFI UK Conference – This weekend!
By way of a reminder, the Christian Friends of Israel annual conference is due to take place on Saturday 17th September at Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne. This year the guest speakers are David Pawson, a well-known Bible teacher and Christian Zionist, and Werner Oder, the son of a Nazi war criminal and now pastor of a church in Bournemouth. My son Matthew (drums) will be supporting the worship team of Paul, Zyg and myself once again, and of course there will be other ministries involved along with an extensive CFI book stall. We hope to see as many of you as possible – do spread the word. For full conference details click here: http://www.cfi.org.uk/downloads/CFI%20Annual%20Conf%202016%20Web.pdf
(Middle East News Correspondent)
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