The Word:  To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal? Says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

Yeshua spent His days at the Temple, teaching; while at night He went out and stayed on the hill called the Mount of Olives.  All the people would rise with the dawn to come and hear Him at the Temple courts. (Luke 21:37-38)

*      Pointers for prayer:   In this week’s report let us truly seek God’s voice as to what He is saying regarding the United Nations; UNESCO; the people and nation of Israel; the Arab Palestinian People; and the continuing troubles within Israel and the Middle East.  As we seek the Lord for His perspective, His thoughts and ways, pray that He will reveal all things in His perfect time. Ask the Lord to quieten your heart, so that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon each of us; and that the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord might enable us to truly intercede regarding these complex and difficult issues regarding all who oppose Israel (Isaiah 11:2).

*      Pray that as we approach 2017 – which I believe will be a huge significant year (with it being the Jerusalem 50th anniversary since reunification and the Balfour 100 celebrations) that we will be in the correct position (spiritually) to know how to intercede, and have wisdom and discernment for when to speak up and when to remain silent.  Pray that we would all truly ‘hunger for God’s Word’.   I believe that when we desire to seek Him with a greater hunger and anchor our lives upon the Word of God, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 1:1-3).  I might be wrong (O Lord let me be wrong), but I feel next year might be a tough year for Israel and for those who stand with her.  We cannot go into battle with blunt swords and doubt within our minds.

Lift up your eyes on high (Part Two)    Last week I asked ‘what is the connection and relevance between Chanukah and the gospels?  What is the connection between Chanukah and the United Nations?  What is the relevance between Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and Jerusalem? And can the festival of Chanukah really bring any hope?  These are some of the questions I hope to bring answers to this week and next.  

Trying to sift through the deluge of news each week to highlight a few areas that I feel we need to pray into is a tough ask.  With constant emails, news 27/7 and social media at our fingertips quite literally, we can often become bogged down and drained at the vast amount of information, and looking at websites for answers is not always the best option.  In many ways it’s a bit like when we need to seek advice for life-changing decisions, or guidance for a task at hand, how easy is it to seek the opinions of men/women first, instead of pressing in to the voice of God.  When it comes to life’s troubles, ministry matters, and workplace issues, it is, oftentimes, so much easier to talk things through with people we trust like our family, close friends, or church leaders than to wait on the Lord and give Him space in our lives to speak.  This does not mean that we should abandon wise counsel (the book of Proverbs constantly urges us to seek the counsel of many advisors, as reflected in Proverbs 15:22), but we can so easily miss the power of God in seeking men’s opinions first.  When we allow God to have the first say in our lives, it gives us the space to recognise and adopt God’s perspective in relation to our situations, away from the clutter of differing opinions from others and even our own. 

Selah is a word used seventy-four times in the Hebrew Bible—seventy-one times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk.  In the Bible it is almost always used as denoted by the Hebrew definition – as a pause such as at the end of a verse or the end of a Psalm. In modern times many believe it was originally a musical term placed to cause one to pause because 31 of the 39 Psalms that contain this word have a salutation “To the chief Musician”.  Some say it means to pause and meditate upon what one has just read or heard.  For me, when I read the word “Selah” I believe it means “think on this…” or “I need to ponder this”, and so, in the Scriptures, Selah is used as a literary technique to cause the reader to meditate on God’s word. 

Imagine it this way - Think on these few verses in the Bible (I’m sure you can find many of your own): When praying regarding the United Nations: ‘Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah. (Psalm 9:20)!  When we worry about the rulers of our nations: ‘Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. (Psalm 24:10).  Or when we are ill or too weary to face the battle any more: ‘But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me. Selah (Psalm 49:15)!  

So… let’s get back to two of my earlier questions:  “What is the connection between Chanukah and the United Nations, and what is the relevance between Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and Jerusalem?”   Well last year on the CFI 30th Anniversary conference and tour, I took some photos of the Temple Mount Steps on the southern wall in Jerusalem.  These monumental steps date back to Solomon’s Temple and of course Herod’s Temple, and Yeshua (Jesus) would have walked up these steps to enter the Temple Mount (Luke 21:37-38).  Now we all know Neil Armstrong - the first man to walk on the moon – yes?  Well Neil Armstrong said that walking on the southern steps of the Temple Mount was even more exciting than walking on the moon.  Why? 

When Neil Armstrong visited Israel in 1994, he asked his host if there was a place where - without any doubt - Jesus would have walked 2,000 years ago.  His host, Archaeologist Meir Ben Dov, and one of the excavators of the Temple Mount and southern walls in Jerusalem, answered that the southern steps were, for sure, the steps that Jesus would have used when He walked up to the Temple.  Apparently Neil Armstrong bent down and kissed the ground, saying that this was an even more exciting moment for him than walking on the moon.  If you were to go to Israel today and wanted to walk where you knew Yeshua (Jesus) would have walked, you would go to the southern steps.  That’s because the southern steps, which have been excavated in recent years, served as the main entrance to the entire Temple Mount complex.  And we know from Scripture that Jesus went to the Temple several times throughout His life.  

The Bible says that Jesus first visited the Temple as a child, when Mary and Joseph brought Him there to be consecrated to the Lord (see Luke 2:21-40). The family then came back to Jerusalem year after year, as was their custom, for the yearly Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41).  It was on one of these trips that Mary and Joseph lost Jesus as they were traveling back home.  After searching for Him for three days, they finally found Him, back in Jerusalem in the Temple Courts.  He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions (Luke 2:49).  Then as an adult, Jesus often taught crowds of people there at the Temple Courts.  The Bible clearly says in Luke 21:37-38, ‘that during the final week of His life: “Each day Jesus was teaching at the Temple, and each evening He went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear Him at the Temple.” Now of course, if what is happening today and being proclaimed by the United Nations, that the Temple Mount is not Jewish and is only Islamic – then these things that are recorded in the gospels can’t be true – as the Jewish Temple can’t have been there.  Thank God that we know the truth, and that UNESCO and the United Nations are wrong!  So let’s lift our eyes up on high. 

Yet at the same time, we need to tell them!  We need to write to our MPs and complain against the way the United Nations are unfairly criticising Israel.  Another example of this is seen in this YouTube video.  The UN's World Health Organization gave Israel its highest honour. So why did they also single out Israel for condemnation, while ignoring the whole rest of the world?

Are miracles still happening today?   The battle for the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur war took place in October of 1973. On October 6, three Syrian divisions streamed across the Purple Line and into Israel. The Israeli tanks were outnumbered almost ten to one. After crossing the anti-tank areas, the Syrians pressed home their attack and reached a point only ten kilometres from the Sea of Galilee. With almost no strategic depth, the Israelis somehow beat back the Syrian invaders and went on the offensive themselves. They drove deep into Syria and towards Damascus, stopping only after their heavy artillery came within range of the capital city itself.  Like the 1948 and 1967 wars, the Israelis miraculously won this battle.  Those who don’t believe in the God of Israel simply put this victory of Israel overcoming numerical inferiority down to their surprise of  attack because of superior gunnery, better manoeuvres, and better flexibility.  The same group state that the Syrians lost the battle because of an inability to mass and manoeuvre effectively. 

However, at one point, the Israelis were trapped within a massive minefield that blocked their way. They could not move forward, sideways of backwards, and so, as trained in these situations, they started to slowly dig around each individual mine which was time consuming and impossible.  Then a miracle happened.  Through the night, a violent wind erupted, causing all the IDF soldiers to crouch down and hide their faces.  Then the wind stopped, and the moonlight shone as bright as the sun.  The Israelis were then able to see that the wind had exposed all the mines, and the soldiers just walked through the mine field.  You can view this in the first three minutes of ‘Israel against the Odds’ here:    Last Thursday morning at 08.00 on the Golan Heights, another weather phenomenon occurred on the other side of the Syrian border, in the same place where ISIS had been attacking Israel.  A strange storm of what appears to be dust, cloud and rain did NOT cross the border fence into Israel. It sat like a barrier between ISIS and Israel. You can watch it here:    David Ben-Gurion once stated, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”  Indeed, it appears so!   Thank God that we know the truth.  So let’s lift our eyes up on high. 

More Palestinians killed, but media are silent   It’s all front page news when Israel kills Arab Palestinians – even though the majority of cases are done in defence or carried out due to terrorist attacks.  However when Israel are not involved, it appears no one cares.  This week a Palestinian man died in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis in what the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza described as an “accidental event.” However, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades - the armed wing of the Hamas movement - said the man was one of their fighters, and died while working in “resistance” tunnel in Khan Yunis.   The Palestinian Civil Defence also uncovered the bodies of four Arab Palestinians who were killed last week when a tunnel leading into Egypt in the northern Gaza Strip collapsed on them after the Egyptian army reportedly flooded the tunnel with seawater.  A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below ground, which are largely used for smuggling in the south and military purposes in the north.  In October, two members of the al-Qassam Brigades were killed in collapsed tunnels. 

Prayers answered but keep praying   In last week’s report I wrote on the recent fires that have devastated much of Israel around the Haifa region and various other areas of Israel, and put a call out for much needed rain.  Thankfully the fires are out, but the work to help those who suffered will go on for quite a long time.  Do keep praying about this situation and remember, we have a system at CFI that can channel funds to these areas of need. Click here - Help victims of the fires. 

However the weather in Israel has also become a lot colder meaning that snow is expected to fall on mountain peaks in the country’s central and Jerusalem areas, according to the Israeli weather forecasts. The largest amount of snow will likely accumulate in the Hebron and Gush Etzion regions – reaching heights of up to 15 to 20 cm.  This would be the third year in a row for Jerusalem to receive snow.  Much needed rain is also watering the land and heavy amounts of rain drenched the Galilee, the Sharon region and Gush Dan last week, causing the Sea of Galilee to rise slightly.  However the land still needs more rain, so do keep praying regarding this.

Make it right, or make it up?  The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) – an anti-Israeli organisation in England and Wales that uses the Palestinian people to promote its cause have been out launching its ‘Make It Right’ campaign in London this week.  One of my sources was at the meeting and wrote regarding this event.  The source stated, “A word of warning about deceptive anti-Israel and anti-UK literature set to appear at Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) events.  The movement’s newly launched ‘Make It Right’ leaflet is yet another attempt to delegitimise Israel’s existence.  The pamphlet speaks of historical wrongs but is way short of the truth as it lists key events over the last 100 years: the UK’s 1917 Balfour Declaration, United Nations’ (UN) 1947 Partition Plan, 1967 Six Day War, and the Gaza Strip blockade. It states: “… these dates are a reminder of the loss of sovereignty over their (Palestinian) land.””

My source commented stating, “Palestinian Arabs have never had sovereignty over the Holy Land or a capital there. Until World War One (WW1) the territory was under Turkish Ottoman Empire rule for 400 years. Before that a variety of foreign rulers prevailed. Rome had booted out many Jews from their historic homeland after their AD70 revolt… Not all Jews were exiled and some exiles later returned. PSC aims to sully the Balfour Declaration which offered hope to the persecuted Jewish diaspora. The Palestinian Authority indeed demands an apology from Britain for its issue.   The leaflet also highlights that 2017 will see “10 years of the blockade of the Gaza Strip.”  Yet the U.N. has ruled that Israel’s actions to prevent arms smuggling is allowable under international law. ‘Make It Right’ does not call on Gaza’s ruler, Hamas, to remove from its charter the demand for Jews to be killed wherever they are found… The leaflet calls for Western values of freedom, equality and dignity but where do we see this in Muslim countries or Palestinian Arab controlled areas?”

CFI back on Branch FM radio    Thank you to those of you who commented on my radio show last Thursday.  We had some positive feedback, however one listener did respond by stating, “I don’t think your listeners were getting a clear picture. It’s important to let your listeners know, there [is] a tradition stretching back two thousand years, in Palestine a community that is fully Palestinian and fully Christian, suffering at the hands of the Israelis…”  It turns out that this listener is part of a very anti-Israel group – Sabeel.  Do pray that these people will see the truth and that they would receive salvation through hearing the Word of God spoken out on this Radio station.   For those who missed the programme, you can listen to it (without the music) by clicking on the following link: David Soakell on Branch FM Radio (Dec 1, 2016)

Handel’s Messiah in Hebrew    As the traditional date of the birth of Yeshua is just around the corner, what better time to hear Handel’s Messiah?  This well-known musical composition, which presents the Gospel of Yeshua from His birth to His resurrection, has now been produced in Hebrew and is being performed in Israel.  In the next months, David Loden, known as the father of Modern Messianic Jewish Hebrew music in Israel, is preparing to perform Handel’s Messiah beautifully translated into Hebrew in the south of Israel where rockets and missiles are still a constant occurrence.  

Maoz Israel Ministries have been behind this project which features a highly professional choir of 22 singers, four Israeli soloists and an orchestra of 16.  Maoz sponsored concerts provided free tickets to the concerts for Holocaust survivors and the poor in southern Israel.  The concert was also put on in Beer Sheva for Holocaust survivors and soldiers of the Israel Defence Force (IDF).  This is a fantastic opportunity of hearing the Good News, as Handel’s “Messiah” presents the Gospel from the beginning to the end because it concentrates on the prophetic announcements of the Messiah and then presents their fulfilment in Yeshua.  To listen to an interview with the musical director for the production, David Loden, click here. 

David Soakell  

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

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, & Israel National Radio