The Word:   Command the Israelis to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israeli’s for the generations to come. (Exodus 27:20-21).

“Now it was the Feast of Dedication [Chanukah] in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Yeshua (Jesus) walked in The Temple, in Solomon's porch. Then the Judeans surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Yeshua answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me.” (Gospel of John 10:22-26)

Then the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”  Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (1 Kings 18:36-39)

*      Pointers for prayer:  As I’ve mentioned above, this will be my last report of 2015.  My next report will be out on 7th January 2016.  I will be trying to have some time out during this period, however, as many of you know, we have had some sad news of late and we will need to attend two funerals too. Please do pray for all concerned.  Please also uphold in your prayers all who are involved with Christian Friends of Israel.  As we move into 2016, pray that the Lord would strengthen and anoint afresh all the Staff, Trustees, Area Reps, Volunteers, Prayer Warriors and supporters both here in the UK, along with our CFI Jerusalem office and team, and the many International Reps.   Pray God’s favour and blessings upon each of us, as we continue to try to be faithful to our calling.

*      At the time of writing this, we are half way through Chanukah.  Please lift the people and Nation of Israel before the Lord and a

*      As Israel continue to face terror attacks, a prayer by M. Basilea Schlink really spoke to me.  May this prayer inspire you also: “Everlasting, Almighty God, from all the nations of the world You have chosen Israel to be Your very own.  You chose them not for their numbers, as they are one of the smallest nations, but because they are dear to You; and because You love Your people You cannot bear to see them in such great suffering. We cry to You, for You are a Father.  Look upon Your people, Your children.  See how they are oppressed on all sides. Even when they have done no wrong, they are given the blame.  Protect Your people, deliver them from their enemies. Kindle in the hearts of Your people the flame of hope in the darkness now engulfing them.”  

Keep the lamps burning      As you read this report, Chanukah will be over half way through.  It started on Sunday, December 6 and ends on the evening of Monday, December 14, 2015.  As I mentioned in last week’s report, sadly the same 'spirit' of Antiochus IV lives on today, and it lives in the many terrorist groups such as Hamas, the PLO and Hezbollah who continue to attempt to wipe Israel and the Jewish people out – along with other Islamic extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Isis and al Qaeda.  Only this week, Al Qassam website (Members of Hamas political bureau) Fat'hi Hammad called on Fatah Movement to stop negotiations and co-ordination with Israeli authorities and to cancel the ‘Oslo accords’, not that the Oslo accords actually mean much these days.  During an Islamic Palestinian festival, which is called ‘We will redeem Al-Aqsa with our souls’, Fat'hi Hammad pointed out that Palestinian women took to Gaza’s streets in support of resistance options during Israel’s last conflict in Gaza.  The leader in Hamas hailed the ongoing Palestinian uprising, saying that ‘Jerusalem Intifada’ will “continue till achieving its aims.”  “Gaza is ready more than any time to unite with West Bank and occupied Jerusalem,” he stressed.  He went on to state, “We will not abandon any inch of Palestinian land and we'll never give up on any of our rights.” 

What could be of great concern for Israel is that the Gaza-ruling terrorist group Hamas is currently hosting a meeting with ISIS, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.  According to the report, Shadi Al-Mani’i (also known as Abu Mus’abi) commander of Wilayat Sina, ISIS’ Sinai branch has met with heads of Hamas’ military wing to discuss expanding cooperation between the two terrorist organizations.  Al-Mani’i has been wanted by Egyptian authorities for years and was even targeted in a failed assassination attempt last May. He has been accused of masterminding a number of terrorist attacks on Israelis, among them the 2011 attack on Route 12, in which nine Israelis were killed, and the firing of rockets at Eilat.  His visit to Gaza reflects the strengthening of ties between ISIS and Hamas. According to Israeli and Egyptian intelligence, Hamas has already been using its tunnels to smuggle advanced weapons to ISIS in the Sinai, which have been used in combat against the Egyptian army.

Just before the first candles were lit for Chanukah in Jerusalem last Sunday, yet another Palestinian Arab terrorist carried out stabbings and a car attack in the Romema neighbourhood of Jerusalem.  The terrorist was finally shot by an IDF soldier, but not before the terrorist had stabbed three Israeli’s  Needless to say, the media reported it as ‘another Palestinian killed in the latest troubles with Israel’.   Without doubt, much prayer is needed – especially regarding any ‘collaboration’ between Isis and Hamas.  Indeed, we need to pray for a miracle, that the mind-set of the Arab Palestinians would be changed, and that they would desire to live in peace with Israel.

Chanukah is of course a time to celebrate miracles. The holiday commemorates two major miracles which took place in the time of the Maccabees: the miraculous victory of the tiny Jewish army over the vast Syrian-Greeks and the miracle of the small vial of oil which burned for eight days when it should have lasted only one.   The Festival of Lights is indeed a celebration of the victory over all pagan and anti-Semitic forces – the victory of the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece!  Was it prophesied?  Well check out Zechariah 9:13 and see what you think!  It was 175 years before the Messiah would be born in the Jewish town of Bethlehem. Israel had a Temple and authentic, registered descendants of priests serving in the sanctuary according to the Torah (or law) of Moses.  After the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided among his leading generals. In time, the King of Syria sought to impose not only his rule, but also his beliefs over the Land of Israel. In doing so, with the collaboration of many powerful people, known as Hellenists, he cruelly tried to crush every expression of religious freedom. He turned the Holy Temple in Jerusalem into a shrine to his idols and contaminated its sacred vessels.

Under the leading of Judah Maccabee, after three years of fighting, in the year 165 B.C the Jews defeated the Syrian Greek army, despite having fewer men and weapons… does this sound familiar?  Well think of the wars in 1948 and 1967 in Israel that the IDF were victorious in.  Of course, the IDF do come under a lot of world criticism, but are the IDF an oppressive force that targets innocent Palestinian civilians and commits war crimes? Colonel Richard Kemp, who was the commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, was in Israel during its war against Hamas in 2014, and analyses whether Israel's military is ethical, evil, or somewhere in between. Watch his report here:

Back to Chanukah… Once the Jewish army regained the Temple area, they purified the Temple and set up a substitute Menorah. Then came the miraculous event that is celebrated with the holiday of Chanukah.  The Syrian-Greeks had contaminated all of the holy olive oil — except for one vessel, containing a one-day supply.  Miraculously, this burned for eight days, until new oil could be made and brought to the Temple. In commemoration of that miracle, the eight-day festival of Chanukah was proclaimed.  And so today, we use a nine candle stick Menorah to celebrate Chanukah ~ eight candles for the eight days, and the middle candle is the servant light.  There is an important lesson here. The Jewish people did not proclaim a festival to commemorate military and political victory — their joy was at being able to inaugurate the Temple service again, and this is what is celebrated to this day.  And of course if we read the gospels, we know that Jesus celebrated Chanukah (John 10:22-26).  Chanukah is all about miracles and Jesus (Yeshua) wanted the people of His day to see His miracles and believe in Him as a result. His miracles point to His divine and messianic identity. In this way Jesus personifies the message of Chanukah: God actively involved in the affairs of His people. Chanukah reminds us that God is a God of miracles, not just of concept and religious ideals. He has broken through into human history and continues to do so today.  And oh how we need to see breakthroughs today – especially within Israel who continually face the oppression of terror attacks.

As I was praying regarding Chanukah, I read 1 Kings 18 during my Bible study, and verses 26 to 29 really spoke to me.  Here we read how the people cried out to Baal - the false god.  It states, “So they took the bull given them and prepared it.  Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted… At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.”  This is interesting especially when we consider what happens in certain Islamic traditions.   Ashura marks the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, the revered Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq 1,300 years ago.  Ashura, which in Arabic means “tenth,” falls on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, which this year began October 15, 2015.  The Islamic calendar is lunar, so the date of Ashura can vary depending on sighting of the moon. 

Shiite Muslims observe Ashura through rituals such as self-flagellation and re-enactments of the martyrdom. Many travel to Karbala in Iraq, where Hussein was killed, as a pilgrimage on Ashura. Most observers march through the streets chanting and hitting themselves in the chest. Some use whips and chains — or cut themselves on the forehead — to ritually punish their bodies.  Although I would caution you that it is unwise to do so, there are plenty of Images for Ashura on Google (or the many other internet search engines).  As Allah is a ‘moon god’, could the worship of Baal be connected?  Now obviously, there are many versions of Baal throughout the Middle East, but one version – Ba’al Hammon was a fertility god and he has been variously identified as a moon god and as Dagan, the grain god. Interesting?

Taking into account the victory that was won during Chanukah and today’s battle for the Temple Mount – which sparked this current uprising from the Arab Palestinians, I recall how Rick Ridings spoke some time ago regarding the conflict we see for the battle for Jerusalem.  He stated, “In Jerusalem, the battle is for the Temple Mount, and on the Temple Mount, the battle is for who will be worshipped on the Holy hill.” 

Speaking on Isaiah 14:12-14, Rick Ridings read, “‘How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High…’”  Rick asked, “Where did Satan say he wanted to rule from?  Satan says he will also sit on the mount of the congregation… this is the Temple Mount.”  Indeed, today the place of worship to the moon god allah stands on the Temple Mount and of course Jews and Christians are simply not allowed to pray or even read the Scriptures in this place.  Much of the uprising and the recent terror attacks and stabbing of Jews have been over untrue allegations about the Israeli government stating they would change the ruling regarding the Temple Mount.  But what does God say about this place?  He states: The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple...  And He said to me, Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever… (Ezekiel 43:5-7).  There will be much warfare over this place, hence the need to keep praying for Jerusalem – especially throughout Chanukah.

In Job 42: 2 we read, ‘I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” In Isaiah 14:27 we read, ‘Adonai-Tzva’ot has made his decision. Who is there that can stop Him? He has stretched out his hand. Who can turn it back?’  In connection with the restoration of the Temple service from the Chanukah period, and comparing it to today’s battle regarding the Temple Mount, terrorism and Israel, I believe the battle we are seeing has only started.   However, all the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained. Terrorism cannot stop it. ISIS cannot stop it. Hamas cannot stop it. Hezbollah cannot stop it. Abbas's PA/PLO cannot stop it. Al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood cannot stop it. The Syrian and Iranian regime cannot stop it. The BDS campaigns cannot stop it.  Death itself cannot stop it!  Why? Because: "God remembers His covenant forever, the promise He made, for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.” (Psalm 105: 8-11). All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained. And God has ordained that the land of Israel will belong to Israel until He wraps up history.  So with this in mind, keep the lamps full of oil, and keep your lamps burning for the Lord, and in intercession for the nation of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital. 

Chanukah at the Brandenburg Gate    Trying to steer away from ‘bad news’ to end this year’s WoZ report, I felt this next item was well worth a mention.  Last Sunday evening, on the first day of Chanukah, the annual lighting of the first candle in Berlin took place at the Brandenburg Gate, one of Germany's most important symbols.  As I watched the video, I had to smile as the ‘cherry picker’ lift took the Rabbi high up to light the Chanukiah.  I was hoping by the time he reached the top that the open flame he was carrying wouldn’t get blown out by the wind – only to discover a man was with him with a blow-torch!  Talk about being prepared!  I’m not so sure if that is what Yeshua meant by keeping your lamps full of oil.

The torch used to light the menorah was lit by children of Syrian refugees together with Jewish children from the community, which I thought was a lovely touch of ‘harmony coming togther’. The menorah itself, which is considered to be the biggest in Europe, was lit by the German minister of culture, Professor Monika Grütters, and Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, rabbi of the Berlin Jewish community.   Two thousand people, most of whom are members of the Berlin Jewish community alongside non-Jewish residents of the city, attended the event, an ongoing tradition.  In what was a very moving speech, Professor Monika Grütters stated, “Seventy years after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camps and 50 years after the establishment of German-Israeli diplomatic relations, Jewish life in Germany has been restored to its rightful place.”  She went on to say, “It is very symbolic that here at the Brandenburg gate – which symbolizes Germany's greatest moments on one hand and its darkest on the other – we celebrate Chanukah together.”

Even though understandably, the ceremony was in German, listening to Rabbi Teichtal was still emotional as I could make out most of what he said.  Rabbi Teichtal stated, “Just weeks ago we witnessed the Paris terrorist attacks, spreading darkness and fear all around us, but this night we are here to say that light shall prevail over darkness and tyranny. Our presence here is a message which shows that peace and tolerance are stronger.”  To view the short film of this, click here:

Thank you for all your support, prayers and blessings throughout 2015.  May we continue as one into 2016.

David Soakell  

(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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