June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 12

DAY 12 – THURSDAY, JUNE 21: SOUTHERN BORDER CROSSING INTO ISRAEL, RED SEA, TIMNAH, EIN BOKEK/DEAD SEA

With Sammy’s wake-up call, we arose out of our private tents for breakfast. After packing up the bus, we said goodbye to the Wadi Rum desert enroute for the Israel border. The day would be a warmer, with temps in the afternoon in the low 100s.

Rabin Border Crossing / Coral Beach – Red Sea

Coral Beach

Coral beach, Elat

It took about an hour’s drive to reach the border with Israel. This southern border crossing is called the Rabin Border, named after the late Prime Minister. The crossing went smoothly. 57 of us crossed in about 75 minutes! We were met on the Israeli side by Shlomo and Eli (our guides) and our Israeli drivers.

Upon packing up, we drove to Elat and to Coral Beach. Many went swimming the Red Sea. The fish, coral, and deep blue color of the water was remarkable! The underwater world of God’s creation is also beautiful!

Timnah

Tabernacle Model

The Tabernacle Model at Timnah

Driving north we arrived at Timnah. This was an ancient Egyptian copper mine back in the days of the 14-12th centuries BC. We drove around to the other side of Timnah to the full-scale replica of the Tabernacle. The dimensions are 150 x 75 feet. We were guided by a Messianic believer who shared the details of the Tabernacle as well as the many ways in which Christ fulfilled the Tabernacle. We read from Hebrews 9. Before leaving Timnah, we also saw Solomon’s Pillars, with some in the group hiking up and around this unique stone cliff.

Yovata

Continuing north we stopped for a late lunch at Yovata. This is a dairy kibbutz in southern Israel that has some of the best ice cream!  We enjoyed the many flavors they offered!

Ein Bokek/Dead Sea Hotel

Dead Sea

Southern end of the Dead Sea (at Ein Bokek)

About two hours north is the hotel city of Ein Bokek. It is located on the southern end of the Dead Sea. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner and a free evening. Some also floated again prior to dinner in the Dead Sea and/or in the hotel pool filled with Dead Sea water. 

DAY 13 – FRIDAY, JUNE 22: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, QEIYAFA/ELAH VALLEY, GEZER

This will be our last full day!

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June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 10

DAY 10 – TUESDAY, JUNE 19: ALLENBY BRIDGE, BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN, MT. NEBO, MEDEBA, MACHAERUS, PETRA

Today we left Jerusalem and drove to the border with Jordan. The weather was again predictably sunny and comfortably warm, Wirth highs around 90.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

Bethany beyond the jordan

The view from “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” back to Jericho in Israel

It took about 50 minutes to drive to the Allenby Border Crossing. From departing Israel to completing the passport process in Jordan, the whole crossing took about two hours. On the Jordan side we met our guides, Sam and Wa’el. Driving just a short distance we arrived at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. We walked down to the Jordan River. Jesus was baptized in this area (John 1). In the days of the OT, Elijah also was taken to heaven here (2 Kings 2). We also read from Joshua 3 about the crossing of the Jordan River.

Mt. Nebo

Mt. Nebo

The view of the “Promised Land” from Mt. Nebo

Driving up the mountains of Moab, we arrived at Mt. Nebo. On the way we were delayed because of the car on fire on the side of the road. The view from on top was very good. We could clearly see the Dead Sea, Jericho, and even the taller buildings in Jerusalem! We read from Deuteronomy 31, 34, and Joshua 1. Moses died here and handed the leadership over to Joshua. His words, “Do not be afraid or discouraged…” reminded us to trust in God even though we do know know what tomorrow may bring. Nearby we stopped at a mosaic school and store. Handicapped people learn to do mosaics here. We also saw a replica of the Medeba Map, a mosaic map dating to the 6th century AD.

Machaerus

Machaerus

Machaerus

About an hour’s drive from here is Machaerus. This was first a Jewish-Hasmonian palace-fortress built by Jannaeus in about 100 BC. Later Herod the Great rebuilt it as one of his palace-fortresses. It would late serve as a fortress by Jewish rebels in the First Revolt (66 AD). Climbing to the top the view of there Dead Sea and the Judean Desert to the west was amazing! On top we saw the palace where John the Baptist’s head was brought (Matthew 14) as well as a few Jewish miqve (ritual baths).

Drive to Petra

Returning close to Medeba, we drove on the Desert Highway to Wadi Musa or the city of ancient Petra. It is located in the area of ancient Edom. The drive took about 3.5 hours. We stopped once on the way for snacks and bathrooms. We checked in to our very nice hotel, enjoyed dinner together, and then retired for the evening. We are excited to experience Petra tomorrow!

DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20: PETRA, WADI RUM

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June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 5

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, JUNE 14: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

Today was a day for primarily focusing on the life and ministry of Jesus. We spent the entire day around and even on the Sea of Galilee. It was also a day that was back to a normal June weather day here in Israel, with full sun and highs in the 90s.

Arbel

Arbel and Sea of Galilee

Arbel and Sea of Galilee

Our first experience was Mt. Arbel. About 35 climbed to the top (800+ foot ascent), while others bussed around and approached the top from the other side. Among the hikers was an 84 year old named John. Incredible effort!  On top we could see much of the NW corner of the lake below. Jesus must have experienced the top of Arbel as well.

Yardenit / Jordan River

Baptism Jordan

Baptism at Yardenit

Driving to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, our next stop was Yardenit. 42 in the group entered the waters of the Jordan River. 40 reaffirmed their faith and commitment as followers (talmidim) of Jesus, while two in the group proclaimed their faith in Christ for the first time. It was a special time for all!

Magdala

Magdala

Magdala 1st century synagogue

We returned to the NW corner of the lake and visited Magdala. This recent excavation revealed a 1st century synagogue. Jesus must have taught here, even though it is not mentioned in the Gospels. The synagogue is quite small and modest, holding only about 50-60 people. The city was destroyed in 66-67 AD by the Romans.

Chorazim

After a great “fish lunch,” we drove to Chorazin. This was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus for their unbelief in Yeshua/Jesus. The ruins are from the 3rd century AD. While in the synagogue here, we read from Matthew 23, which references the Moses’ Seat. 

Capernaum 

Synagogue Capernaum

Capernaum synagogue

Down on the water’s edge is Capernaum. While the ruins are not overly impressive, the 5th century AD synagogue is! Below this one is the 1st century one Jesus taught in. Sitting on the synagogue’s stone benches, we read from Mark 1,2 and 9; Luke 7 and 8; and John 6. Jesus performed many miracles here. He also taught here with authority (s’mekah). Here, we also saw the octagonal 5th century AD church. Some went down to the shoreline of there lake. This was where Jesus called His first disciples.

Ancient Boat / Sea of Galilee Boat Ride

We returned to Nof Ginnosar where we saw a 1st century wooden boat. It was extracted out of the mud of the lake in 1986. Sailing in our own boat, we enjoyed a time of worship and reflection. We read the two storm narratives (Matthew 8 & 14) and considered Jesus our ultimate source of peace!

Mt. of Beatitudes 

Beatitudes

The Mt. of Beatitudes

Our last stop of the day was to the Mt. of Beatitudes. Also located on the NW corner of the lake, we walked partially down the slope where we sat on some rocks. We listened to the reading of Matthew 5, first in Hebrew, and then in English. We were invited to seek first (Mt. 6:33) and live out these kingdom principles and to be the salt and light of the world.

We return to our hotel at 7 pm for dinner and a free evening.God blessed us with a great day again!

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, JUNE 15: KINNERET CEMETERY, BETH SHEAN, JERICHO, DEAD SEA, JUDEAN WILDERNESS, JERUSALEM

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June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Days 1 & 2

DAYS 1 & 2 – SUNDAY-MONDAY, JUNE 10 & 11: DEPART FOR & ARRIVE IN TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

Welcome to Israel

Welcome to Israel sign at the Ben Gurion Airport

Our day of departure finally came! The group of 82 that God has brought together used primarily three flights, with some flying to Israel on their own. All the flights went well with the unfortunate exception of part of the group flying out of Chicago. Because of the delay of their flight, 14 in our group missed the international flight. We hope they are able to be re-scheduled in a timely manner.

Jaffa

Jaffa Tel Aviv

Jaffa and Tel Aviv beach

The rest in the group arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport in the Lod/Tel Aviv area. Arriving at various times and meeting each other, we loaded up the two buses after the usual passport and luggage procedures. with sunny skies and temps in the mid 80s, we drove to Jaffa/Joppa, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv (600,000 people). We walked the alley-ways, read from Jonah 1, and Acts 9 & 10, and enjoyed our first great view of the Tel Aviv coastline.

Hotel/Med Sea

Med Sea sunset

Sunset on the Med Sea

Arriving at our hotel just north of Jaffa in Tel Aviv and right on the shoreline, some enjoyed a nap while others enjoyed a swim in the Med Sea. The water was very warm (about 80), the sane was white and soft, and the waves were beautifully rolled in.

We enjoyed dinner at 6:30, followed by an orientation meeting to help prepare us for the trip ahead. We met out on the beach and enjoyed a marvelous sunset on the Mediterranean Sea! Following the meeting, some enjoyed a stroll on the promenade, while others retired for the evening.

It was a long day but we’re excited to be here in Israel, the land of the Bible! We pray for a timely arrival of the rest of the group!

DAY 3 – TUESDAY, JUNE 12: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS

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Revival of the Nation of Israel

Israel’s History

1948 Newspaper

The Statehood of Israel declared in May, 1948

Israel has a remarkable history. From the days of Abraham (e.g. about 2,000 BC when God promised the land to him and his descendants), to the days of Joshua, David, Solomon (and the 1st Temple in Jerusalem), Jesus (and the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem), and through the next 2,000 years of history, God has guided, directed, and protected our Jewish friends! Since 1948 when Israel became a State, this tiny country continues to flourish despite, as we like to say, being a “beautiful house” (e.g. country) in what can be a “very lousy neighborhood” (e.g. populated by enemies like Hamas to the south and Hezbollah to the north, etc…and a number of regional Arab countries who despise Israel’s successes). To be sure, Israel has revived the land on many levels – from the revitalizing of the actual land, to being a world leader in high tech, to the development of medical advancements. Israel is blessed by God and is being a blessing to others!

map of israel

Map of Israel (Judea & Samaria are in green)

While the ministry of Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours (BIMT) and all of the study tours and teaching we offer focus primarily on making as many biblical connections as possible (e.g. through archaeology, historical geography, and the customs and culture of the Bible), one cannot help but appreciate God’s hand upon the modern State of Israel. By the end of WWII in 1945, Hitler killed 6 million Jews, depleting the Jewish world population by about half. Seventy years ago now in May, 1948 when Israel became a State, the Jewish population in the land was a mere 600,000. Today with 6.3 million Jewish citizens (and about 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel, something most people don’t know), Israel is a growing the leading country in the region.

Animated Video

A good friend of mine just shared with me a relatively new video about modern Israel. It is produced by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign AffairsIts animated portrayal of Jewish history over the last 2,000 years (and more specifically since 1948) uniquely communicates both the challenges as well as the forward progress of the country of Israel. It is done in a refreshing way that brings a certain reality about Israel forming and now flourishing as a nation.

Here is the video:

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Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days

Last week Israel just observed two days that play a significant role in the life and culture of their country. Established just 70 years ago, the State of Israel remembers their fallen soldiers one day, and then the next they celebrate their Independence Day. On back-to-back days, Israelis go through a wide spectrum of emotions. To be in Israel during these two days is quite remarkable and moving.

Yom Ha’Zikaron

Israel’s Memorial Day is called Yom Ha’Zikaron. It is not a day of picnics, fun, and fireworks. Rather is a solemn day of remembering those who gave their lives for their country. Only one TV station plays through the day. It is a continual stream of honoring and remembering fallen soldiers. To honor these fallen, an alarm is sounded simultaneously throughout the country for one minute. This happens once in the evening and again the following morning. As the siren pierces the air and penetrates the heart, even all traffic comes to a halt as everyone stands in silence.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut

The following day is Israel’s Independence Day called Yom Ha’AtzmautUnlike the solemness of the previous day, this day is a day of joy and celebration. This year Israel celebrates 70 years since May of 1948 when they were recognized as an official country. The Ha-Tikvah (Israel’s national anthem) is once again sung (as also on the eve of Yom Ha-Zikaron).

Ha-Tikvah

The words of Ha-Tikvah were written in 1886 by Naphtali Herz Imber, a poet originally from Bohemia. The melody was written by Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Moldavia. Ha-Tikvah means “the hope.”

The following are the words of Israel’s national anthem:

As long as Jewish spirit
Yearns deep in the heart,
With eyes turned East,
Looking towards Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope of two millennia,
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

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Israel’s Growing Population

From our friends at United with Israel, the following article features a new update on the growing population in Israel. It is quite amazing! For the full article, go HERE.

On its 70th Independence Day, Israel can be proud of its booming population and thriving economy.

By: United with Israel Staff

Tel Aviv

The coastline of Tel Aviv

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) released its traditional statistics report on the citizens of Israel in honor of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, which is celebrated this year on Wednesday night and Thursday.

Israel boasts 8,842,000 citizens, more than 10 times as many as the 806,000 at the time of the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.

On Israel’s 100th birthday, in 2048, the CBS estimate that Israel’s population will grow to about 15 million citizens. According to CBS projections, Israel’s population will surpass 10 million some time between 2025 and 2030.

The Jewish population stands at 6,589,000 million, 75 percent of the entire population. Israel’s Arab citizens constitute 20.9 percent of the total population, numbering approximately 1,849,000. Non-Arab Christians and other religious groups constitute 4.65 percent of the population.

1948 Newspaper

The Statehood of Israel declared in May, 1948

Since last year’s Independence Day, Israel’s population grew by 163,000, constituting a 1.9 percent growth, including 177,000 newborn babies; 41,000 people have died.

Israel’s population is young in comparison to other Western countries. Children up to the age of 14 constitute 28 percent of the population.

Israel welcomed 28,000 new immigrants. Some 3.5 million people have made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) since 1948, making up 42 percent of the total population.

About 75 percent of Israel’s population is Israeli-born – known as “sabras” – half of them second-generation. In 1948, only 35 percent were sabras, and their numbers have since more than doubled.

In 2018, over 70 years after the Holocaust, the largest Jewish population lives in Israel. This figure represents 43 percent of world Jewry.

Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, is the most-populated city, with some 882,700 residents – almost 10 percent of the population.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem at night

In 1949, Israel had merely 500 cities and towns. Today, it boasts over 1,200.

In 2018, over 70 years after the Holocaust, the largest Jewish population lives in Israel. This figure represents 43 percent of world Jewry.

Israel boasts 63 academic institutions, as opposed to only two in 1948.

Israel was the 11th happiest country in the world in 2017, the fifth consecutive year Israel received this high ranking, after reaching 14th in the first 2012 report. Israel came out ahead of the US, Germany, Japan, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Britain, Brazil, France and Mexico.

According to data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, over 93 percent of Israelis say they are happy or very happy with their lives.

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The Meaning of Sukkot

Sukkot / Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot at western wall

Sukkot celebration at the Western Wall

The week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot (or the Feast of Tabernacles) is upon us! Coming just after Yom Kippur, the most solemn time in the Jewish calendar year, Succot is a time of joy and celebration. It just started just last night in Israel.

With permission, I am sharing an excellent article written by a Messianic ministry called One For IsraelThe article is called The Meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles. What I appreciated about the article is the Christocentric connections the author makes between Succot and the life and ministry of Yeshua/Jesus.

Here is the article:

The Meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles

sukkot celebration

Sukkot celebration

The Feast of Sukkot is one of my favourites. All of God’s feasts are full of creativity and wonder; treasures and promises. But in Jewish literature, Sukkot is often simply called “THE feast”. The biggie – no other clarification needed. Three times a year, all of Israel were supposed to make the trek to Jerusalem for Passover and Shavuot in the Spring, and then Sukkot in the fall. Sukkot means “shelters”, “booths”, or “tabernacles”. This is a feast in which God instructs his people to set about making a temporary shelter or booth to camp out in for a week. As a kid I loved making dens, and Sukkot is a bit like that. But why in the world did God want us to make dens?

Why build a booth?

In his creative genius, seen not only in the natural world around us but also in the law that God himself dictated, we can see that God also knew how effective building a shelter would be to provoke thought. He knew that this activity would help remind people of the journey that they had taken with him through the wilderness. That time of desert wandering was where the nation was forged once and for all as a community of faith, following the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Their tents were only temporary – they were traveling towards a more permanent home, where they could live with their God.

The rabbinic prescription for these dens has become quite intricate, but in essence, there must be at least three walls (made of wood or material, usually) and the roof must be made from natural materials like palm fronds, so that you can see the night sky through the gaps. These shelters are to remind the people of Israel about the time they journeyed through the wilderness in temporary shelters, picking up and moving on as necessary. For the week, people are supposed to eat in their sukka, and even sleep in them, if they’re feeling crazy! They are usually decorated with seasonal fruits and produce, and it’s a fun family activity to build a sukka and decorate it together. Nowadays, of course, you can buy ready-to-build sukkot, like tents or portable cabins, and decorations are in the shops all ready made to add the finishing touches.

A time for sharing and fellowship

It is traditional to invite guests each night of the week long feast, to share and enjoy the sukka together – to extend hospitality, friendship and stories. It is a time to celebrate the fruits of the harvest, and to rejoice, giving thanks for all God has given us, and give back to God in return. Deuteronomy 16:13-17 says:

succa or booth

The Succa or “booth”

 

“You shall keep the Feast of Booths for seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your wine press. You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose:
at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths.
They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.

The Lord outlines his instructions about this feast three times, in Leviticus 23, Numbers 29 and Deuteronomy 16. It is a time that he wants his people to recognise what they have by offering food from their harvest, and it is a time when he has commanded his people to REJOICE! God wants us to go through this process of remembering, gathering, thanking, giving, and rejoicing.

Can we be joyful on command?

Perhaps it seems strange to you to be commanded to rejoice, but the Bible does indeed command it many times. Can we just “switch on” this emotion? First of all, rejoicing is an act, rather than an emotion, but secondly, there are certainly things that we can do in order to position ourselves to be filled with joy.

Thankfulness

As we reflect upon all the good things in our lives, and count our blessings, we inevitably find we have much to rejoice about. I have a habit of writing a list of thanks every morning in a lined notepad, and make sure that I get to the bottom of the page before I stop! The notepads vary in size, but the discipline is a good one to get into. I have heard it said that recalling just 5 things that you’re grateful for each morning will have a signficant affect on your outlook. Another exercise is to go through the alphabet, one letter at a time, thinking of something to be grateful for beginning with each letter. You get the idea. Being thankful takes a bit of concerted effort at the beginning, but becomes more and more natural, the more we do it. And the more we maintain an attitude of gratitude, the more joyful we will inevitably become.

Be full of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit naturally produces the fruit of joy in our lives, and all the more so, when we are willing to let him fill us completely. God loves to give us his Spirit, and the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). In fact, we are commanded in Ephesians 5:18 to be full of the Holy Spirit. How do we do that? Yeshua’s answer in Luke 11 is simple: Ask! Yeshua assures us that the Father is eager and ready to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. However, when we are “full of ourselves”, we cannot be full of the Spirit. We must be willing to give the Spirit more space, control and authority in our lives. When we are full of sin, pride, fear and so on, our ego gets in the way, but we can come before God, confess our sins, receive his forgiveness, and invite him to take first place again by faith. Our prayer can be, “Less of me and more of you, Lord!”

Joy comes from obedience

It is said that if you are feeling grumpy, just the act of similing repeatedly can improve your mood. In a similar way, a rabbi’s advice to a man who was struggling to love his wife was to do the acts that he would do as if he did love her, and that in time, the feelings would inevitably follow. The famous Jewish sage, Rambam, said that if he had 1000 coins to give, he would rather give 1000 men one coin rather than 1000 coins to one man, because the repeated act of giving 1000 times would make him into a more generous man. Our actions can become habits, which can then influence our heart. In this same way, we can rejoice before God; thanking him, worshiping him and rejoicing even when we don’t feel like it, but if we continue to obey his command to rejoice, eventually our hearts will truly become filled with joy.

Fellowshipping with God

We have each come a long way, and been on an adventurous journey, like the Israelites. It’s a good time to reflect on God’s goodness and provision along the way, and to remember how he brought us through the difficult times, the deserts, in our lives. And the glorious thing about Sukkot is that it also points towards God’s desire to dwell with his people. His provision is not merely physical (although we have much to be grateful for on that account) but he has also not held back his only Son, just so that we can live together with him for eternity.

Sukkot celebrationWe can have fellowship with God because he came down to earth as a man, and tabernacled among us. He became flesh and blood, visible and touchable, God incarnate, living among his people on earth, and though his Spirit now lives, or tablernacles, in our lives if we will invite him in. Yeshua says; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  (Revelation 3:20) Here’s how Yeshua’s best friend put it:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes… that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:1-4)

And hundreds of years beforehand, Zechariah prophesied this very event:

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell [tabernacle] in your midst, declares the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people.
And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.” (Zech 2:10-11)

Sukkot also points prophetically towards Yeshua’s second coming, and the ultimate end of all things, when God will dwell among us, and we will live with him forever. What a reason to rejoice!

(Share with permission – October 4, 2017)

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Jerusalem IS Israel’s Biblical Capital!

Jerusalem Embassy

The plot of land in Jerusalem designated for years now for the future US Embassy

The present discussion whether Jerusalem should be defined as “Israel’s capital” has been quite captivating. However to be perfectly honest, this discussion has also been quite disappointing, to say the least. Although one cannot escape this being at least in part a political issue, to me it primarily an historical issue and ultimately is a biblical one.

Now I usually try and stay away of political issues in my blogs and in social media. However, at least some political observations must be made here. Thus, within politically circles, I must confess that I continually am appalled (but of course not surprised like most of you I suspect) by anti-Semitic world organizations such as United Nations, Unesco, the Arab League of Nations, etc… who do not consider Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The outright hatred and scorn against the tiny State of Israel trumps (no pun intended) everything else. At the same time and to be perfectly honest (and this may upset some of you), I am equally very troubled to hear our present US Administration disclose their intentions to not move the US Embassy to Israel’s capital of Jerusalem. I hope I am wrong on this observation, but for now it appears that no move is imminent.

US Embassy Israel

The US Embassy is presently in Tel Aviv

Listening to primary sources these last few days about not moving the Embassy to Jerusalem signals not only a huge broken promise to the US voter this past November, but it also serves as a slap in the face of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East. Of about 210 world countries where the United States recognize without hesitation their declared capital, Israel is the only country whose capital is not recognized as legitimate. Simply, to not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (where, by the way, the Kinesset, the Prime Minister’s office, and all the Israeli government buildings are located) is a big-time betrayal in every respect. Today, the United States only have their consulates (two of them, one in west Jerusalem and the other in east Jerusalem) in Israel’s capital. The Embassy is in Tel Aviv. We pass it on each and every tour I lead.

This means at this point of Trump’s presidency, it appears as if nothing has changed in decades. Every recent president has made endless campaign promises to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, but have always fallen short of acting upon the promise. So once again, the tragic and a-historic statement that “no state has sovereignty over Jerusalem” wins the day. Such a statement is based on false historical assumptions (e.g. namely about the historicity of the so-called Palestinian people and the even bigger myth that Israel occupies and even settles land that is not theirs). This is so very disappointing to me. But in today’s world, truth just doesn’t matter any more. Only fiction and false narratives/news does. Tragic!

In a recent Conservative Review article (by Jordan Schachtel, May 17, 2017), it was said that “by proclaiming that ‘no state has sovereignty’ over Jerusalem, the Trump administration finds itself in a position that is wholly rejected by a bipartisan consensus of congressional leaders.” Schachtel writes, “The Jerusalem Embassy Act, which was originally passed in 1995 by an almost unanimous consensus in Congress, calls for the United States to move its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Even more appalling was the statement made by certain congressional leaders refer to the Western Wall of the 2nd Temple (the most holy place for Jews today) as not being part of Israel. What? Even the spokesperson for the White House yesterday fell short of recognizing the Western Wall as “part of Israel.” Really? Respectfully, but are you kidding me?  At least I hold out hope that when the President himself plans to visit the Western Wall on May 22, that he declares loud and clear something different.

South wall excavations in Jerusalem

The Southern Excavations of the Temple in Jerusalem

But let’s change direction and talk about the historical and the biblical issues. The historical roots of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel goes back 3,000 years. It goes back to the days of King David when he captured the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5). Jerusalem would become such an important part of “biblical Israel” that it is even mentioned slightly over 800 times in the Bible. Parenthetically, I must also say that Jerusalem is not even mentioned once in the Koran. From ancient times, Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital city. Yet in today’s environment it is seemingly wrong to bring up anything that is anchored in the historical, let alone the biblical. Yet the truth of Scripture clearly states that Jerusalem was the Jewish capital until 70 AD when the Romans destroyed it.

Yet I suppose part of the acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is connected with how one views what happened in 1948. It was in May of 1948 that Israel became a Jewish State, with David Ben Gurion the first Prime Minister. While it was only a small portion, relatively speaking, of the historic land given to modern Israel (“biblical Israel” consisted of lands in Judea, Samaria, and even on the east side o the Jordan River according to the land given by God to the 12 Tribes), the Jewish State now has land they could call their own!  Even though the United Nations trimmed dramatically from the League of Nations declaration in 1920 the amount of land Israel should have, Israel at least had some land.

The ISraeli flag

The Israeli flag

Was 1948 the fulfillment of biblical prophecy? I personally believe that 1948 revealed the beginning stages of the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan for not only His people, our Jewish friends. Like clay in the potter’s hand, God is shaping and molding ethnic Israel in the last days for His glory and honor. Yet even more exciting, God is also shaping the world for a redemptive purpose as well. There is coming a day when the whole world will gather in Jerusalem and recognize the coming of God’s redemption (Zechariah 14). In fact, this will come about when the Messiah stands on the Mt. of Olives. We, of course, believe that this Messiah will be none other than Jesus when He returns.  But it will be Jerusalem where this all unfolds for the world to see! How glorious!

In the meantime, we are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).” I also believe we should pray for boldness for world leaders (including our very own president) to recognize the historic and biblical roots of Jerusalem for the Jewish people.

Pray for the peace of JerusalemPolitically, I do hope and pray that not only the US Embassy, but the embassies of many other countries move to Jerusalem. I am thankful for those in leadership positions on both sides of the aisle who boldly support Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be much more than symbolic. Specifically, such a move would be in recognition of the historical and biblical roots of our Jewish friends! It would recognize Israel’s biblical right to exist!

 

 

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Urgent Message About Sunday’s Gathering of 70 Nations

Un resoutionThis is a very important word from our friends at Bridges for Peace here in Jerusalem. It concerns this coming Sunday’s gathering of 70 nations in Paris, France. They will be discussing and perhaps finalizing the anti-Israel UN Resolution 2334 condemning Israel.  Yes, this is a political issue. But more than this, many view this as a prophetic issue relating to the nations gathering together to single out Israel. Simply put – the lack of peace in the region has nothing to do with Israel building so-called settlements on the so-called West Bank. This is a convenient excuse for the historical reality of Jewish right and presence in the land for the last 3,000 years! Rather, the lack of peace has everything to do with the Palestinian Authority not willing to agree to Israel’s existence and wanting to completely drive every Jew into the sea, bringing a complete end to the Jewish State. It’s really as simply as this.

This update is shared by Rev. Cheryl Hauer. I met with her and other Bridges for Peace staff about 4 months ago in Jerusalem. She shares a good and insightful word!

Pray for the peace of Israel!

Christians Cannot Let Israel Stand Alone Against the Nations

Thursday, 12 January 2017 |

Israel is facing very real and imminent danger to her very existence; if ever the intercession of her Christian friends was critical it is at this very moment in history. This Sunday, January 15, 2017, has the frightening potential to join the ranks of those historic days that are known as “dates that will live in infamy,” specific anniversaries of events that altered the course of history with often disastrous results. Representatives from 70 nations will convene in France to “breathe new life into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

However, Israel, her Christian friends and her allies in the US Congress view the event as a sham forum whose purpose is to force Israel to accept a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority. Coming on the heels of UN Resolution 2334 which condemned Israeli “settlement” activity as illegal, and demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the ‘occupied’ Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem,” there is little likelihood of any outcome other than the vilification of Israel and global support for the formation of two states based on pre-1967 “borders.” The US Congress has passed its own resolution, by an overwhelming majority of both parties, demanding the revocation of 2334.

bridges for peaceThere has been much speculation that lame duck US President Barack Obama and his administration were the force behind Resolution 2334, and in a staggering change in policy, the US abstained rather than voting against it at the UN Security Council. Out-going US Secretary of State John Kerry will not only be present at Sunday’s conference, but is making the diplomatic rounds, meeting with leaders of the UK, Germany and Switzerland. In a speech a few days after the passage of the anti-settlement resolution, Kerry outlined again his plan for Mideast peace which Israeli leaders have called “an absolute disaster for Israel.” The speech served only to further inflame the already seething distrust between the soon-to-be-gone US administration and Israel.

There is further concern that the outcome of the Paris initiative will become another resolution to be brought to the UN Security Council next week, potentially securing international support for the implementation of Kerry’s plan just a few short days before President-elect Donald Trump, and his very pro-Israel team, takes office. The results of such an outcome would be devastating, not just for Israel but for the entire world.

Many Christians and Jews worldwide think it no coincidence that there are 70 nations on the guest list for Sunday’s event. Seventy has long been the number that represents all the nations of the earth, based on the lineage of Noah in the Torah (Gen.–Deut.). Thus, they say, we may well be seeing the fulfillment of yet another prophecy as “all nations” are coming out against Israel.

As those who call upon the name of the Lord, we have been set apart as watchmen on the wall for Jerusalem, as those who would fight for Israel in the heavenly realms. As Israel faces the wrath of the nations, it is critical that Christians unite in prayer, calling upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to deliver His people from this evil attempt to destroy them. For decades, many Christians have been reaching out to Israel and the Jewish people, working to build relationships of sincerity and respect. We have acknowledged that the Church failed in its mandate to support God’s chosen people during the Holocaust, turning a blind eye to the horror that was befalling them and there are 6 million reminders of that failure. Let us not make that same mistake again! We have promised our Jewish friends that they can count us. Let’s make good on that promise. Pray as often as possible and with great diligence between now and Sunday evening. Join with us and a powerful global army of believers as we storm the gates of heaven, trusting our God to deliver His people once again.

Rev. Cheryl L. Hauer

International Development Director,

Bridges for Peace

Jerusalem

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