Watching Over Zion - 11th May 2017

Please note: This is an extra report; however, due to time away, hospital appointments and CFI festivals there will be no further reports until June 8, 2017. Apologies for any inconvenience.

The Word: To the faithful You show Yourself faithful, to the blameless You show Yourself blameless, to the pure You show Yourself pure, but to the devious You show Yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make Your saving help my shield, and Your right hand sustains me; Your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. (Psalm 18:25-36)

*   Pointers for prayer:  As mentioned above, due to time away on a short sabbatical, further hospital appointments and CFI festivals at the ‘Big Church Day Out’ and other engagements, there will be no further reports until June 8, 2017.  Please do lift before the Lord all the staff at CFI UK and CFI Jerusalem, and please remember our CEO, Jacob Vince, who is in Israel with the Jerusalem conference and tour.

*   God has a purpose for the nation of Israel. Israel's enemies also have a purpose. And so we must continue to press in with our intercession to fight this spiritual war in the heavenly realms. As terrorism is always a huge threat to Israel (and indeed the western world), let us battle on in our intercession regarding this issue.  Let us pray for great wisdom and discernment too for the times ahead.

*   Over the past few reports, we have been looking at North Korea, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the PLO etc. – all of whom are threatening Israel or attempting to remove the Jewish people from Israel.  As we continue to monitor these events and pray into these situations, may we know at all times that the LORD God is in complete control irrespective of what we see. Even so, please do continue to cry out to God for the situations many Israelis and Arab Palestinians find themselves in.  

The Battle belongs to the Lord   Twenty four years ago or so, I had the privilege to hear Dr. Bob Gordon teach on Isaiah chapter 6 (among many other teaching sessions).  His teaching has always remained with me and his legacy lives on.  Sadly, he died far too young and at a time when his ministry was at a peak.  I’ve never understood why, yet I do know God is still sovereign.  As I once again read the words of Isaiah this week, I guess in some ways Isaiah must have felt such pain and questioned God regarding the death of King Uzziah.   King Uzziah of Judah had a long and very distinguished reign, described in 2 Chronicles 26 and in 2 Kings 15:1-7 (Uzziah is called Azariah in 2 Kings 15). Uzziah began his reign when he was only 16 years old, and he reigned in Jerusalem for 52 years. Overall, he was a good king, and 2 Kings 15:3 says, he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.  Uzziah also led Israel in military victories over the Philistines and other neighbouring nations, and he was a strong king. He was also an energetic builder, planner, and general. 2 Chronicles 26:8 says, his fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt.  Sadly though, Uzziah’s life ended tragically. In 2 Chronicles 26:16 it states, “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the House of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.” In response, God struck Uzziah with leprosy, and he was an isolated leper until his death.  So in many ways, when we read the opening verses of Isaiah chapter 6, which states, "in the year King Uzziah died" is to say a great deal. Isaiah was no doubt greatly discouraged and disillusioned at the death of King Uzziah.  You can almost hear him asking, “Where was the LORD in all this? Where is God?”  This is a question I have asked of the Lord in the last few years of our ministry with Israel.

In many ways, and at many times, I hear a similar question being asked by the Church today regarding the modern State of Israel.  They will ask, “Where is the LORD in all this?"  They will argue that “Israel cannot be part of God's plan for it is largely a secular nation.  And what about the way its army behaves?  How can God bless them when they kill Arab Palestinians?  And how can Christians possibly support Israel when Jesus taught us to "love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)?”  Yet isn't the whole of the Bible God's Word?  What about controversial verses such as Psalm 144:1, where we read, "Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle..."?  Or what of part of the Psalm I’ve included above where we read, ‘He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze (from Psalm 18)?

By far, the greatest number of prophecies in the Bible concern the nation of Israel. In fact, many have said that if you want to know what time it is on God's clock, look at the nation of Israel, for Israel shall be the centre of attention in the fulfilment of Bible prophecies in these last days. Today we live in an age when the entire world is focused upon the tiny strip of land in the Middle East. But could God Himself defend Israel and cause Israel to be mighty in battle?  According to Scriptures He can, He has, and will do so again.  In the Scriptures, God helped Uzziah to lead Israel in military victories over the Philistines and other neighbouring nations.  We can also read of the many accounts where God blessed His people in battle... people like Joshua, Samson, and David etc.  The Word of God also states in Zechariah 12:8, "On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the LORD going before them."  Taken in context, this verse speaks about God defending Israel in a battle to come in the last days. Have we not seen this miraculously occur several times since Israel became a nation again in 1948? They were greatly outnumbered in key Arab-Israeli wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973. Yet Israel exists! Has not God seen to that?

The Word of God also declares that Jerusalem would be a burden to the entire world. Zechariah 12:2-3 states, "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about... And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces."  Today, Jerusalem is a burden that causes trembling for all the nations just as God foretold. What makes this prophecy even more remarkable is that when the prophet Zechariah spoke these words around 520BC, Jerusalem lay in ruins. But God said it would become the focus of the world's attention! Today, Israel has 0.01% of the world’s population, yet more than 35% of the United Nations resolutions have been passed concerning her!  In the end, all nations shall come against Israel. Zechariah 14:2 states, "I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it..."  One day, the Bible predicts, she will have no allies, and all nations shall be gathered against her. The media news will show you that we are on the road towards that battle.  In this, the 100th year since the Balfour Declaration, let us rouse ourselves all the more to stand firm in our calling, and uphold the Jewish nation before the Lord God – Who called that very nation into being.

When words have no meaning - Hamas and moderation!   According to CNN, Al-Jazeera and the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the Islamic Terrorist group Hamas now accepts a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines.  Many other papers including the New York Times called this move “moderation”.  But does this mean that Hamas now accepts the State of Israel?  Ah, well… actually, no!  According to Al-Jazeera, Hamas presented the new political document that accepts the formation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, without recognising the statehood of Israel, but states that the conflict in “Palestine” is not a religious one.  Regarding Israel, Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas stated, “We shall not waive an inch of the Palestinian home soil, no matter what the recent pressures are and no matter how long the occupation.” 

Back in February, Hamas named another top terrorist as their leader.  Yahya Sinwar now leads the terror group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, placing one of the Islamic terror group’s most hard-line figures in charge of operations in its core power base.   Yahya Sinwar was freed by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap –which proves that Israel should think long and hard before releasing these terrorists from prison.  The Hamas military wing, which controls thousands of fighters and a vast arsenal of rockets, has battled Israel in three wars since Hamas took control of Gaza a decade ago. 

The armed group is sworn to Israel’s destruction and has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks.  Sinwar was sentenced to four life terms by Israel in 1988 for a series of crimes, including his role as mastermind of the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers. During his final years in prison, he was the leader of the hundreds of Hamas prisoners held by Israel.  In 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to release Sinwar, along with about 1,000 other prisoners, in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who had been captured by Hamas five years earlier in a cross-border raid.  However, apart from Sinwar, Khaled Mashaal has been leader of Hamas and a supporter of violent campaigns against the Jewish state.  After the founding of Hamas in 1987, Mashaal came to lead the Kuwaiti branch of the organization. He moved from Kuwait to Jordan in 1991. Following the expulsion of the Hamas leadership from Jordan in August 1999, Mashaal lived in Qatar before moving to the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2001. He returned to Qatar in 2012 as a result of the Syrian Civil War.

In the Guardian newspaper, they wrote, “Hamas has unveiled a new political programme softening its stance on Israel by accepting the idea of a Palestinian state in territories occupied by Israel in the six-day war of 1967. The new document states the Islamist movement it is not seeking war with the Jewish people – only with Zionism that drives the occupation of Palestine.” See the full report here.  So I guess this is great news, right?  Well maybe not, because as ever, the western media failed to point out certain areas, as the Israeli Prime Minister pointed out, they forgot one small detail, and made it a complete distortion of the truth.  Hamas believes that “no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts. Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea. However, without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus.” Note – “from the river to the sea” – that means ALL of Israel.  The text of Hamas' Document can be found here: http://english.alresalah.ps/new/post.php?id=5586&t=Text-of-Hamas'-Document-

Speaking on this, Netanyahu stated in a video this week, “The new Hamas document says Israel has no right to exist. It says every inch of our land belongs to the Palestinians. It says there is no acceptable solution other than to remove Israel. So why does Hamas say there is a consensus for a smaller Palestinian state now? In order to destroy Israel later. They want to use their state to destroy our state. Is moving from calling for genocide of all Jews to calling just for the annihilation of Israel really progress or moderation?  Only if you have no standards whatsoever!  It’s bad enough Hamas lies to the world.  We don’t also have to lie to ourselves.  Hamas murders women and children. They have launched thousands of missile attacks at our homes. It brainwashes Palestinian kids in suicide kindergarten camps.  So, where does this hate-filled document belong? In the trash.”  To watch Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaWmk_B63YA

If Hamas are not ‘moderate’ what of Abbas?   It seems painfully obvious that Hamas have no intention of becoming a ‘moderate’ political group, and let’s not forget, Hamas are still officially recognised by the EU, Canada, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom as a terrorist organization.  But what of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority?  Well, this week the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has stated that a “moment of opportunity” could be within reach in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after he met political leaders from both sides during a trip to Israel.  According to a report in The Guardian this week, Justin Welby has held separate talks with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in which both spoke positively about the possibility of reviving peace talks in the coming months. Abbas had just returned from meeting Donald Trump in Washington.  Later, when meeting the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, Welby stated, “It does seem that internationally perhaps the planets are aligning. Perhaps a moment of opportunity is coming that may not repeat itself for a while.” Maybe Welby was just a big fan of 60s band ‘The 5th Dimension’ as his words did sound as if they’d been taken from their new age hit ‘Aquarius’ which states, “When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”    

In January 2016, and continuing through February 2016, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn did appear in a straight line in the sky, leaving many to wonder what it would mean when the planets align.  Well if people were looking for some sort of mystical piece of magic, then they will have been disappointed. As a ‘Christian’, and a religious leader, my hope is that Justin Welby’s comments about ‘planets aligning’ was just an expression of hope.  However, I do wish people in positions such as archbishops and other leading roles would actually learn to look at history and learn from it, along with realising the truth regarding Abbas' real desires. Could the archbishop not have challenged Abbas over the ways in which promotes terrorist attacks perhaps.  Nationalistically, the Palestinian Authority actively elevates violence as a valid and heroic means to achieve political goals, while “religiously” fighting and killing Jews has been presented repeatedly by PA religious and academic leaders as Allah’s will.

On the social level, the PA leader honours even the most loathsome of murderers, portraying them as heroes and role models.  An example of this is Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bus hijacking in which 37 Israelis were killed.  Abbas also has schools, summer camps, and many other events and places bearing names to immortalise and glorify Islamic terrorists. The success of the PA’s promotion of violence is readily evident. We need only look at what is being taught in PA controlled schools to see what is at the core of what the PA demand. http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=449

Time and time again, the Palestinians have been offered peace.  Arafat was offered peace many times and turned every offer into opportunities to attack Israel with terrorist intifadas.  Likewise, Abbas has also refused every offer of peace.  Meanwhile, Chairman Abbas and numerous other Palestinian Authority leaders have rejected the demands of Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and many other governments and legislators to stop the payments of salaries to imprisoned terrorists.  Following the demand made by Israel and just before Abbas' meeting with Trump last week, Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake announced Abbas' “absolute refusal.”  Karake stated, “The President Abbas emphasised his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasised his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).'” Yet these are terrorists who targeted civilians. Terrorists like Abdullah Barghouti who built the bombs that murdered 67 civilians at the Hebrew University, in cafés, and on buses.  Barghouti, who is currently leading the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike (though he is actually happily eating - https://vimeo.com/216392757 ), planned several attacks which makes him a cold-blooded murderer. Nonetheless, each has received nearly $200,000 in PA salaries.

Finally… Plan now to celebrate   A major event to celebrate the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration is to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 7th November starting at 7:30pm.  Through music, song, dance and drama the programme captures some of the key moments of early Zionism that laid the foundation for the recreation of the State of Israel in 1948.  Click here to download the flyer with more details.   

David Soakell  

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

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

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