Watching Over Zion - 27th July 2017

The Word: …Unless Adonai builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless Adonai watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain. In vain you rise up early and stay up late, eating the bread of toil -

for He provides for His beloved ones even in their sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be from God and not from ourselves.  We are hard pressed in every way, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Yeshua, so that the life of Yeshua may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

*   Pointers for prayer:  Please note: CFI is currently at the New Wine Festival in Somerset for two weeks.  Do pray for all of us working at this event.  Please pray that we would see the fruit for all the hard labour (Luke 13:18-19). Lift before the LORD the youth of our Churches, that the fire of God would stir up their passion for the LORD, and that revelation would burn in their hearts regarding Israel.  Pray that the many souls we challenge would seek the truth regarding God's purposes for Israel, that they would read the literature we hand out regarding the Jewish nation and the CFI ministry, and that many of the youth leaders and Pastors would bring their youth based ministries in line with the Word of God, giving sound teaching on this whole issue.  Do keep in touch with us via our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

*   We 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 may we 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.  Pray 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) 

*   Next week Israel will be mourning during the 9th of Av. As you read my report below, pray that in their day of mourning, the nation of Israel and indeed every Jewish man, woman and child would know the day of salvation, and know the awesome hand of the Lord upon them, to give them hope, peace and joy – even in this time of uncertainty.

Hard pressed in every way    Working in full time ministry is a touch call.  Working with a ministry that is called to Israel is even tougher.  I can remember the years in the late 80s to early 90s when I was Chairman of Romanian Children’s Aid in the north of England that I thought this was the toughest place to be.  By December 1989 the situation in Romania for the people of the land was very difficult. Years of harsh dictatorial rule, along with the ever increasing privation and austerity had produced an atmosphere that was ripe for change.  However, due to the very powerful communist tyranny and repression, not even the most expert and experienced diplomatic and foreign media observers foresaw the sudden overthrow of the Ceausescu regime. Following the uprising, the Romanian people started to dig their way out from under the heavy burden of the brutal dictatorship that had sapped their lifeblood for decades.  I remember the first time I went to Bucharest.  The city appeared to be really dowdy, dusty and chaotic, a downtrodden city consumed by a struggle for life.  I certainly wasn’t prepared for what I was about to witness.

By the time the St Laurence Hospice in Cernavoda had been built, I had been the chairman for the local appeal of Romanian Children’s Aid for some time.  Using many ways, we raised lots of money for this much needed project.  In Romania, the national currency, the leu, was nearly worthless. To buy anything of value one needed dollars.  I also remember that it was like ‘stepping back in time’, almost as if I was in some type of 40s war-time city.  Naturally, the biggest shock was when we toured the Orphanages that spilled over with unwanted children, many plagued with AIDS or other serious medical ailments due to the re-use of syringes and the generally shoddy health conditions, along with the infected cheap blood that had been brought in from the Africa’s. 

The horrors that Ceausescu had left behind could not be quickly swept under the ‘proverbial carpet’. The physical and psychological damage was huge and widespread, and helping babies and children dying with AIDS was heart-breaking.  Yet looking back, raising the need for help was relatively easy.  Show the church, or even the secular world photos of dying children, and the aid comes pouring in.  Tell the church regarding Israel… now that’s a tough ask.  As for telling the world, well, I think you get the picture.  On top of that, I never wanted to get involved with Israel… it was God’s calling upon my life that pushed me into it.  But it’s a tough calling!  Yet if it can be tough for me, what of the people of Israel? 

As the difficult day of the 9th of Av approaches, I pondered on just why many within the world hate the Jew, and just why so many also hate the nation of Israel.  Tisha b'Av is on Tuesday August 1st this year (actually it starts the day before as the sun goes down). Tisha b'Av (the 9th of Av) is a difficult day in the Jewish calendar to grasp.  On this date in history, the First Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC.   Five centuries later in 70 AD, the Second Temple was destroyed on the same day as the first - the 9th of Av. When the Jewish people rebelled against Roman rule, they believed that their leader, Simon bar Kokhba, would fulfil their messianic longings – even though their Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) had predicted the destruction of the second temple many years earlier (see Matthew 24). Of course many Jews did accept Yeshua as Messiah and birthed the first Messianic Congregations (or Churches), however many didn’t accept Him and looked to bar Kokhba, but their hopes were dashed in 133 AD as the Jewish rebels were brutally butchered in the final battle at Betar. The date of the massacre was again on the 9th of Av!

Sadly, trouble erupted on the Temple Mount again this past weekend as Arab Palestinians – mainly youth – clashed with Police.  Following the killing of Israeli Policemen, Israel put up metal detectors to check what the Islamic “worshipers” were carrying, however most Muslims refused to enter through the barriers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtQKnBOXLX0). Israel has since taken down the barriers and still most of the Arab Palestinians refuse to enter Temple Mount.  But what are the facts behind all this.  This week many more Israelis were killed, but was anything mentioned on the Western Media news channels? And when areas were covered, what critical facts did the media leave out? And why did some headlines make it look like there's no moral difference between the victims and the attackers who killed them? Well, Honest Reporting has been breaking down the events, the facts and the media failures.  In an excellent report they show just what has been going on – click here to view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryKeoZaipDs.

As you will have heard if you watched the Honest Reporting clip, another horrific terrorist attack took place in Neve Tzuf, a small Israeli town in the Judean Hills last Friday evening. What started as a family Shabbat dinner left a father, son, and daughter dead and a mother in critical condition after a teenage Arab Palestinian terrorist entered the home and began stabbing the family members while the children hid in a closet. Were it not for the miracle of an IDF (Israel Defence Force) soldier nearby who neutralized the terrorist, the incident would have been much more horrific than it already is.  The irony is that these poor Israeli Jews were killed and the rest of their family are grieving their loss, yet all the while, the Palestinian terrorist who murdered them is being nursed in an Israel hospital!   

Despite being the holiest site in Judaism, Jews and Christians are forbidden to perform any acts of worship on the Temple Mount, including uttering prayers, due to Muslim threats of violence. Visibly-religious Jews are scrutinized carefully by police and arrested if suspected of praying.  Where is the justice?

However, back to Tisha b’Av, more sad facts are also linked to this date.  According to records, the Jewish people were expelled from England in 1290 AD on the 9th of Av. Then in 1492, the Golden Age of Spain came to a close when Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand ordered that the Jews be banished from the land. The edict of expulsion was signed on March 31, 1492, and the Jews were given exactly four months to put their affairs in order and leave the country. The Hebrew date on which no Jew was allowed any longer to remain in Spain where they had enjoyed welcome and prosperity was the 9th of Av.  World War I that began in 1914 is also part of these statistics, as when Germany declared war on Russia, effectively catapulting the First World War into motion was on the 9th of Av.  And… it is said, the first gas chambers during the Holocaust in the Second World War were first put into use on the 9th of Av.  Understandably, the Jewish people mourn on this date.

Thinking of how the Jewish people mourn, my thoughts turned to how our duty as Christians is to love them, stand with them and pray for them.  What a shame much of the church spurns the Jews – specifically when it comes to Israel.  How true of the famous quote that states, ‘How odd of God to choose the Jews. But not so odd as those who choose, a Jewish God yet spurn the Jews!’  Feeling not unlike Solomon when writing his book of Ecclesiastes, I started to ponder more famous Jewish quotes.  Golda Meir, Israel’s first female prime minister, during a 1957 speech stated, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” 

On a similar theme, Benjamin Netanyahu in 2006 stated, “The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war.”  It was another Israeli Prime Minister, this time Yitzchak Rabin in 1993 that stated, “We, the soldiers who have returned from battle stained with blood, we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes, we who have attended their funerals and cannot look into the eyes of their parents, we who have come from a land where parents bury their children, we who have fought against you, the Palestinians, we say to you today in a loud and clear voice: Enough of blood and tears. Enough.” Sadly, the Arab world have not listened, nor learnt that they cannot oppose Israel without first opposing God (Zechariah 2:8). 

In pondering on the issue of the first gas chambers in the Holocaust being put into use on the 9th of Av, I’d like to include one last famous Jewish saying from the Mishnah that states, ‘Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.’ (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9). 

When horror on a grand scale is witnessed by simple human beings who have some form of humanity - a kindness or gentleness within their spirit - they often find it impossible to put into words just how they feel.  I remember one story from Major Leonard Berney as he tried to describe what he witnessed being one of the first Allied soldiers to enter the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp towards the end of the Second World War.  Major Berney stated that words could not describe the “absolutely horrendous” scenes which greeted him when he first drove through the gates of the prison camp in Germany on April 15 1945. In one interview I heard him trying to describe what he witnessed, he stated, “We'd all been fighting for months through Germany and we were used to seeing casualties and people being killed and maimed, but never had we ever seen anything like this. When we got there, there were said to be about 60,000 people in the camp, of which 10,000 were dead, and they were, in fact, dying at 500 a day.”  Major Berney went on to state, “The disease, the emaciation and the horrors that were there were absolutely indescribable.”  For the Jew, the 9th of Av is indeed a time to mourn.  

Please do pray that in their day of mourning, the nation of Israel and indeed every Jewish man, woman and child would know the day of salvation, and know the awesome hand of the Lord upon them, to give them hope, peace and joy – even in this time of uncertainty.

The cycle of Islamic violence     Just over four weeks ago, our son Matthew bought a brand new car – well he does work hard for Google so why not!  Two weeks later and some brainless thugs broke into it as it sat on the drive at our home.  They used a crow bar on the boot, smashed windows and left mud all over the inside as they tried, but failed to steal it.  You can imagine my anger!  But imagine this… imagine if Matthew was blamed for the incident due to it being “too much of a temptation for the brainless thugs” who couldn’t help themselves.  And actually, the Police were pretty useless coming to investigate two days after the incident as the car was being repaired in the garage!  Well that is something of how I see the scenario in Jerusalem. 

Even though Israel has removed the metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount, which were placed following a terror attack there on July 14, 2017, in which 2 Israelis were murdered, Abbas' Fatah Movement is still protesting against Israel's security measures and vowing to "thwart the Zionists' plans" with "our blood".  The text on image (below) states: "The surveillance and espionage cameras are a violation of freedom of worship.  Freedom of worship is limited by the intelligence cameras. With our blood we will thwart the Zionists' plans. #No_to_the_cameras" [Official Fatah Facebook page, July 25, 2017].  

According to the Palestinian Media Watch who have been reported the events of the past two weeks, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah leaders have encouraged the Arab Palestinian riots to escalate and encouraged the Palestinians to "rage" in Jerusalem. Israel placed metal detectors and security cameras at the entrances to the Temple Mount simply because three terrorists shot dead two Israeli policemen. While ignoring Israel's reason for installing these security measures to prevent future attacks on the holy site, the PA and Fatah leaders have presented this step as a "violation," claiming it is "a step on the way to establishing the alleged Temple."  PMW state that “This claim plays on the fears Palestinian leaders continuously are trying to sow among Palestinians that "the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger" of being destroyed by Israel.”  The media then distorts the truth, Israel gets the blame, and so the cycle continues.   So when I erect a security camera and spotlight, will the burglars and mindless thugs who smashed up my son’s car complain to the BBC that “it’s not fair?”  It’s a strange world we now live in!

CFIs YouTube Page    Many of you may know that CFI has various social media pages including Facebook and Twitter.  However, we also have a YouTube page which is currently being revamped.  I have been adding some new content (over 13 videos) of fairly recent talks etc. and a few from the Jerusalem 30th anniversary conference.  You can view it here https://www.youtube.com/user/isrelate/videos.  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 put 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. 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 the full version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X8WSEj2tEQ

David Soakell  

(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)

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

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