Standing in the gap for Israel Report (09/06)

~ September 06, 2017 ~ (Elul 15, 5777)  

The Word:  Thus says Adonai: “The people surviving the sword found grace in the wilderness— where I gave Israel rest.” “From afar Adonai appeared to me.” “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again I will build you, so you will be rebuilt, virgin Israel!  Again you will take up your tambourines as ornaments, and go out to dances of merrymakers. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria—planters will plant and use them.  For there will be a day when watchmen will call out in the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Arise, let us go up to Zion, to Adonai our God.’” For thus says Adonai: “Sing aloud with joy for Jacob! Shout with the chief of the nations! Proclaim, give praise, and say: ‘Adonai, save your people, the remnant of Israel!’ Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and I will gather them from the ends of the earth—among them the blind and the lame, the pregnant together with she who is in labour with child. A great throng will return here. With weeping and supplications they will come. I will bring them, leading them to walk by streams of water on a straight path where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is My firstborn.” Hear the word of Adonai, O nations, and declare it in the distant islands, and say: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather and watch over him, as a shepherd does his flock.’ (Jeremiah 31:1-9 Tree of Life Version)

Pointers for prayer: Please note; this is my last report until September 28, 2017. As you read through this week’s report please pray in line with the Word of God over these issues.

Please pray for the Christian Friends of Israel UK Tour (details below) and the annual CFI conference due to take place on Saturday 22nd & 23rd September at Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne. Pray for travelling mercies and a good response by all attending.

Please seek the LORD for a greater understanding of God’s prophetic word about the nation and people of Israel today. Pray earnestly for God to give many in the Church the burden to pray, leading to a greater understanding of the current situation within Israel and the Middle East. Please pray that your church may be blessed in blessing Israel, according to God’s promise (Genesis 12:3).

The Watchmen

[Above picture created by D Soakell]

As mentioned in the prayer pointers, due to a UK Tour (see below) this is my last report until September 28, 2017.

As I was reading the above Scripture of Jeremiah 31, the Hebrew for ‘Watchmen’ jumped out of the pages.  Most of you who are in touch with Israel know that Believers in Y’shua, or ‘Christians’ in Israel are called “Notsrim” by the Israelis. The word ‘watchmen’ in Hebrew is the same word – Notsrim. It is amazing! I’ve known this for such a long time, yet reading it in context of Jeremiah 31 really spoke to my ‘inner man’.  Could it be that this word within this prophesy of Jeremiah 31 is speaking about these days.  “For there will be a day when Notsrim will call out in the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Arise, let us go up to Zion, to Adonai our God’”.  But where exactly is this hill country of Ephraim?  Well, the hill country of Ephraim played host to much of the Hebrew Scriptures (what the church refers to as the Old Testament). The term would come to encompass much more than just the boundaries of the tribe of Ephraim. In fact, the name Ephraim came to represent much more than simply the tribe, but also the entire northern kingdom of Israel.  Oftentimes Israel and Ephraim are used interchangeably. The Biblical description of the boundaries of Ephraim can be found in Joshua 16.

This stretch of land, approximately 55 miles in length and 30 miles in width, is tucked within the Western Mountains of Israel. These mountains range in height from 1,500 feet to 4,000 feet in altitude and today it forms part of the so-called (and misnamed) “West Bank”.  The Mediterranean Sea and the Yarden (Jordan) River were within easy reach of the tribe of Ephraim, opening it up to trade and commerce from both land and sea. Major roadways dissected the land, namely the Central Ridge Route, which ran from Beersheba in the south all the way through to Shechem.  I’ve driven up and down this road on many occasions. From Hebron in the south, Jerusalem, Beit El (Bethel), Shiloh and Shechem all lay close to this road in Biblical times, as indeed they do to this very day. The Central Ridge Route connected the north and the south, and Ephraim sat straddled in the middle.  The hill country of Ephraim is also known as Samaria, and it starts with the Gilboan Mountains. These mountains are approximately 1,600 feet in height. Near Beit El, the mountains rise more than 3,300 feet. It was at Beit El that Jacob dreamt his dream (Genesis 28).  Soft sedimentary rock make up these mountains, with Wadis criss-crossing the land (a Wadi is a gully created by erosion over many years, where water flows down in the rainy season). The Wadi Farah was used by Abraham to crossover into Canaan, near Shechem.  In the south of this area was were the tribe of Ephraim lived.  Here, a harder limestone resisted such erosion and formed an isolated plateau, 3,000 feet high with steep slopes on both sides.  I love walking over this area of land as the air is so clean.  The plateau stretched from Shechem to Beit El.

[Above photo: David Soakell at Beit El, Israel]

It was upon this plateau the tribe of Ephraim thrived. The Central Ridge Road ran along this plateau, connecting Shiloh, Bethel, and Mizpah.  The soil here was very rich, and the Ephraimites took advantage of this, producing abundant and ample crops. These people farmed the valleys and built terraces on the hillsides. Ample supplies of wheat, barley and olives were produced in the hill country of Ephraim. The tribe of Ephraim sat atop a fertile plateau, steeply sloped and protected on each side. Its allotment was well defended by nature. The area was also known for its vineyards and orchards.  In fact the tribe of Ephraim occupied some of the most famous land in all of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Moses’ blessing of Joseph in Deuteronomy 33:13-17 speaks of the tribe of Ephraim’s land. Ephraim and Manasseh are mentioned together, and included in the blessing of Joseph.  This area is the very heartland of Israel.  Of course, if we think of Israel (Jacob) as the man he originally was; and if his heart and lungs were removed, would he live?  No… of course not!  Yet this area is the ‘heart and lungs’ of the nation of Israel.  This is just one of many reasons why the nation of Israel today needs to hang on to this important Biblical area.

Last week, it appeared that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally made up his mind regarding a ‘two-state solution’.  Netanyahu told thousands at an event in Samaria, “We came back here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the Land of Israel.”  Addressing a special ceremony last week marking 50 years since the liberation of Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu vowed never to allow the uprooting of a Jewish community in the Land of Israel.   The “Lights of the Jubilee” event, organized by the Samaria Regional Council, took place in the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria and was attended by thousands of people.

Alluding to the Scriptures Netanyahu stated, “This is the inheritance of our forefathers, this is our country.  We came back here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the Land of Israel. We uprooted settlements, and what did we get? We got missiles,” he said, referring the Israeli disengagement from Gaza. “That will no longer be the case….In defiance of those who want us to uproot — we will deepen our roots, build, strengthen and settle.”  Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, said, “The prime minister spoke about not uprooting settlements and I want to say — do not uproot the rooted, but if you did, then replant that which you uprooted.” He added that the Israeli government must build “more neighbourhoods and more new settlements.”  An official Israeli government ceremony marking 50 years of the establishment of Kfar Etzion will take place in that community on September 13, 2017. Kfar Etzion, which was destroyed by Jordanian forces in 1948 during the War of Independence, was the first Jewish community to be rebuilt after the Six Day War.

Why the double standards?

As I was putting this report together, I retweeted two posts I saw on Twitter  to both my Twitter page and my Facebook page.  The first was by Mark Regev‏, the Israeli diplomat and civil servant, and the Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom since April 2016.  Mark (@MarkRegev) tweeted, “#OTD [On this day] 1972 Palestinian terrorists seize & murder 11 Israeli Olympians. Fatah, President Abbas’ party, still calls perpetrators heroic. Shame!

At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uploaded a video to his official YouTube account stating that Palestinian “children should be taught to love and respect, not to hate and kill.”  Coinciding with the first full day of classes in Israel for the 2017-2018 (5778) school year, the prime minister lashed out at the Palestinian Authority’s means of educating hate to children through the instalment of statues of terrorists throughout the Palestinian territories.  In the video, Netanyahu guides viewers through an imaginary walk to and from school with a seven year-old Arab Palestinian girl named Fatima and her mother.  Throughout the hypothetical walk, Fatima and her mother passed by several statues erected in the past year.  After asking her mother by each statue who they are dedicated to, the seven year-old’s mum explained that each of the statues are in memory of people that killed Israelis.  “Fatima doesn’t deserve to be brainwashed with this hatred. No child does,” the prime minister stated in the video.   Netanyahu finished his message by asking, if “There are so many great champions of peace to dedicate statues to, Why do Palestinians constantly choose to honour mass-murders?.”  You can watch the video here:

At the same time, one has to wonder why there is a special United Nations agency that only serves so-called Arab Palestinian refugees, who receive massive amounts of aid while real refugees receive far less?  According to an article in Ynet News, a so-called Arab Palestinian refugee receives quadruple the amount of aid that a real Syrian, Iraqi or African refugee receives from the United Nations, according to a study conducted by the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) in Herzliya.  The study, reported by Israel’s Ynet news, shows that in 2016 the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides assistance solely to Arab Palestinian refugees, spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spent only a quarter of that, $58 per refugee, on non-Palestinians.  Of course, what these statistics don’t show is that a large number of so-called Palestinian refugees are in Jordan, the land created as Arab Palestine!

UNRWA recently released its annual financial report, which stated that in 2016 UNRWA employed some 30,000 people, while the World Refugee Agency, which handles tens of millions of refugees worldwide, employs only 10,000 people.  The Arab Palestinians are the only group of refugees with a special UN agency dedicated to their cause.  So come on United Nations… once again a demand for the truth is needed – why the double standards?  Read the full Ynet news report here: https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5008515,00.html .

Israel prepares for war with Hezbollah

While the world rightly watches and fears the worst over North Korea, and while Iran, another potential nuclear threat watches how the West responds to North Korea, Israel prepares for war with a very close enemy.  According to sources, the Israel Defence Force (IDF) has launched a large-scale exercise in preparation for a potential war with the Shi’ite Hezbollah terrorist group that continues to pose an imminent danger to Israel’s security.   The IDF launched its largest exercises in years on Monday evening, starting with a series of drills involving thousands of soldiers, along with civilians disaster response and security agencies, meant to simulate a conflict with Hezbollah.

The two-week exercises, which have been planned for several months, will include simulated evacuations of civilians, missile strikes on civilian and military areas in the Galilee and defence against commando raids, among other scenarios. The drills are code-named “Operation Meir Dagan” after the legendary former chief of the Mossad intelligence agency.  At the same time, US ambassador Nikki Haley sharply criticised the UN peacekeeping commander in Lebanon, saying he is “blind” to the spread of illegal arms and reiterating a call for the force to do more about it.  With the peacekeeping mission up for renewal next week, the United States has been pressing to step up efforts to tackle what Haley describes as a “massive flow of illegal weapons” to Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon, where neighbouring Israel has long complained the militant group operates with impunity.  But the peacekeeping commander, Maj Gen Michael Beary, pushed back on US and Israeli criticism. The Irish general said his force has no evidence of weapons being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the area, and that “if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it”.  But Haley said there is plenty of evidence including Hezbollah’s own boasts and Beary displayed “an embarrassing lack of understanding of what’s going on”.  “He seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind to what Hezbollah is doing,” she said, adding that his view of the situation “shows that we need to have changes” in the mission.  Read a full report in the Jerusalem Post here.

Revamped promo video

A few weeks ago I mentioned that CFI has various social media pages including Facebook and Twitter.  However, we also have a YouTube page which I’ve been working on of late.  I have been adding new content of fairly recent talks etc. and a few from the CFI 30th anniversary conference in Jerusalem.  You can view it here youtube.com/c/CFIUK.  However, my son Matthew and I have also been working on a promo show reel video which lasts just over 4 minutes.  The first half shows various photos that I have taken around Israel.  Then it goes on to show various areas of the CFI UK ministry which I have compiled.  Matthew then created the video and added music (the music was provided free of charge by Beat Suite – a Recording Studio were Matthew used to work for before he moved to Google).  We created the show-reel to show off the beauty of the land of Israel and to briefly demonstrate the work CFI do here in the UK. However, this has been revamped last week and updated with some new photos and place names.  We hope you’re blessed by us sharing it.  Please click on the CFI YouTube page and give the video a ‘like’.  You can watch this new version here:

A Season to Shine on Jerusalem

Prayers and support would be really appreciated for the upcoming UK Tour of the CFI Jerusalem Directors, Stacey & Kevin Howard as we tour and speak in many areas of the UK.  Stacey Howard is the International and Executive Director of Christian Friends of Israel – Jerusalem.  Having raised 3 children over 20 years of marriage, and laying down her own bookkeeping company, Stacey and her husband Kevin entered back into study at Christ for the Nations in Dallas Texas, where they completed degrees in Theology and receiving their ordination in 2007.  While always connected to the nation of Israel through biblical study as well as through her parents Ray and Sharon Sanders, co-founders of CFI – Jerusalem, God had now laid the calling of Israel upon her directly.  Oftentimes, following a calling can be costly. Stacey and Kevin left behind their careers, home and family to move to Jerusalem to begin the journey that God had prepared for them.  Kevin Howard is also an ordained minister and graduate of Christ for the Nations.  Kevin left a 25-year career in broadcast television production to follow the call of God on their lives.  Kevin is the Director of Technology for Christian Friends of Israel Jerusalem with oversight of its Radio and TV programming, IT Development, Social Media, Graphics production and so much more.  Stacey and Kevin have spoken worldwide, teaching the church of its responsibility to Israel and the Jewish people.   Come and hear Stacey and Kevin on the following UK dates, speaking on just how this ministry in Israel is seen as ‘salt and light’ and why they feel today is a ‘season to shine on Jerusalem’.

  • Friday 15th September: St Hugh’s Church Hall, Emerald Road, Luton, LU4 0ND. 7:00pm.    
  • Saturday 16th September: Hasbury Methodist Church, Hasbury, Halesowen, B63 4SL. 7:30 pm.
  • Sunday 17th September:  Dewsbury Revival Centre, West Park Street, Dewsbury, WF13 4LA. 6:30pm.
  • Tuesday 19th September: New Life Family Centre, Low Grange Avenue, TS23 3DP 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 20th September: National Christian Outreach Centre, Riggs Road, Perth, PH1 1PR. Scotland.  7:15pm.
  • Friday 22nd September & Saturday 23rd September: CFI Annual Conference, Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne, BN21 1UE.  Details: https://www.cfi.org.uk/events.php
  • Sunday 24th September: New Life Church, High Street, Old Woking, Surrey GU22 9BX. 10:00am.
  • Monday 25th September: West End Christian Action Centre, West End, Eastleigh SO30 3HN. 7:30pm.
  • Tuesday 26th September: The Vine, Mill Farm, Stanford in the Vale, Faringdon SN7 8NP. 7pm.
  • Wednesday 27th September: River of Life Church, Hartcliffe, Bristol, BS13 0PT. 7:30pm.

 

David Soakell

(Middle East Media Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/

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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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