The Word:  I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion... For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord — in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 116:1-10, 18, 19 NIV)

As Yeshua left the Temple and was going away, his talmidim came and called his attention to its buildings. But he answered them, “You see all these? Yes! I tell you, they will be totally destroyed — not a single stone will be left standing!” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the talmidim came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that you are coming, and that the ‘olam hazeh is ending?” Yeshua replied: “Watch out! Don’t let anyone fool you! For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. You will hear the noise of wars nearby and the news of wars far off; see to it that you don’t become frightened. Such things must happen, but the end is yet to come. For peoples will fight each other, nations will fight each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various parts of the world; all this is but the beginning of the birth-pains...  many false prophets will appear and fool many people; and many people’s love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah. But whoever holds out till the end will be delivered. And this Good News about the Kingdom will be announced throughout the whole world as a witness to all the Goyim. It is then that the end will come. (Matthew 24: 1-14 CJB)

*   Pointers for prayer:  Please bring before the LORD God the issues I write about this week and encourage others to join us in this important battle regarding Israel, the Middle East and the current turmoil in the world.

*   I have often mentioned this in the past, but I believe this is so important for us to grasp – and specifically for the Church, in that The Lord has clearly outlined His purpose for Israel in His Word – the Bible. Israel and the Jewish people are to be a testimony to His existence, His character and His faithfulness. They prove that His word is true. Pray that He will bless and use Israel for His glory (Ezekiel 36:22) 

*   Pray for those in authority.  Israel’s leaders face a spiritual battle as well as a physical one, and need our help. Pray for the leaders to be guided by God and to govern according to the principles of His Word. Pray too for righteous leaders to be raised up for the Arab Palestinian people who will truly care and work for their own people’s welfare.

Watching the signs of the times    Last Monday night we had a great night of fellowship in Sunderland in the North East of England as I was invited to speak once again on behalf of Christian Friends of Israel.  The message I took was a challenge and the theme was, “Your King Is Coming” - this is something that I believe the Lord has been impressing upon my heart.  Now I’m not stating that the end times are upon us and the Messiah is going to return tomorrow, however these days are rather troublesome and with the Middle East breaking up all around, anything could happen.  Syria is imploding as Russia continues to bomb what is already a hugely devastated and blood soaked land. Isis continue their satanic murderous ways as they once again increase their threats against anyone who is not demonised by their Islamic ideology.  Then of course we have the problem of the sanctions being lifted from Iran, which means they appear to be free to do whatever they want regarding nuclear issues, and with North Korea once more flexing its muscles by sending alleged “satellite’s” into the blue skies above, that curiously looked like long-range rockets, the days do appear to be getting darker.   However, as I shared my rather heavy message with the Wearside folk, it was a message to challenge me first and foremost, and if any of the good folk that attended were stirred up by the message, then that was a bonus.  As I said, the Messiah might not be returning any time soon, but shouldn’t we be living our lives as if these were indeed the last days – which – who knows they might be – and who knows, Yeshua might return quicker than we might realise. 

I recently heard a preacher being challenged about whether he had denied the resurrection of Jesus had actually happened or not.  This was due to some controversial topic the preacher had been speaking on.  At one point in the proceedings someone asked him if his theoretical position led him to denying the Resurrection of Christ. This question allowed him the opportunity to communicate clearly and concisely his thoughts on the subject, which I’m going to repeat here.  At first, I was horrified at the preacher’s response, until I realised exactly what he was saying: The preacher said, [quote] “Without hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think… (Are you shocked? Well don’t be, but do listen clearly as to why he stated this).  The preacher then said, “I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, I deny the resurrection of Christ each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.  However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, I affirm it when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, I affirm it when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.”  So he wasn’t stating that he personally denies the resurrection of Christ, but sadly his life’s actions denied or affirmed it.  This is so important in our lives as Believers in Yeshua (Jesus).  Think about it… your life style might be the only gospel that your neighbours get chance to see or hear.  What is your lifestyle and the way you speak and act saying about the heart of what you believe?  As I’ve already stated, I clearly pointed out at the meeting I spoke at, that the message was for me first and foremost, and if any of the congregation got stirred up by the message then that was a bonus. The Lord might not return for some time yet, but surely we should be living our lives as if these were indeed the last days and that Yeshua might return tomorrow… or even tonight, and the way things are developing throughout the world, we need to pray into these ‘signs’.

Another issue that I wrestle with is, when we are ‘watching the signs of the times’ how do we deal with the difficult issues we see?  Do we get anxious and worry about our future? Do we start beating our church ministers/Pastors around the head demanding they wake up and start teaching important issues relating to Israel and the end times (which incidentally, is not the best way to get your minister on board with the issue of Israel)?  Or do we just shrug our shoulders and end up burying our head in the sand?  Or… do we pray for wisdom and discernment in how we should deal with these difficult issues and use the information for our intercession (after all, this is what these weekly reports are for)?

Without doubt, the world does appear to be groaning under the weight of so much conflict.  North Korea has restarted a plutonium reactor and could have stockpiles in weeks, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said.  This comes days after North Korea launched a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.  The US, South Korea and even China say the rocket launches are aimed at developing inter-continental ballistic missiles.  North Korea has carried out several nuclear tests in the past, which is most disturbing.  North Korea’s official statement was of course that it had put a satellite into orbit on Sunday, but the United States and its allies see the launch as cover for Pyongyang's development of ballistic missile technology that could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon.  Washington sought to reassure its allies South Korea and Japan of its commitment to their defence after the launch, which followed a North Korean nuclear test.  Many sources are reporting that the rocket the North Koreans call the Unha-3 was probably the most advanced version of their Taepodong missile. It appears, from the location of Sunday’s splashdown zones, that the launcher has a range of 10,000 kilometres, the same as that of the 2012 version.  Some have taken comfort that the North Koreans have not improved the reach of their missile, but that would be a mistake. “This test launch took less time to set up and was conducted more covertly than any other launch in North Korean history,” notes North Korea analyst Bruce Bechtol, in comments circulated to many news agencies on Sunday.

Up to now, the North’s longest-range missile was never much of a weapon. It required weeks to transport, assemble, fuel, and test before launch. The calculus was that the U.S., in a wartime setting, would have plenty of time to destroy the launcher on the ground.  The North Koreans in fact tested their new 80-ton booster, which they have been developing for at least two years. It is almost certain Iran has paid for its development, and what’s more, sources state that the North Korean nuke is capable of hitting the U.S. and even that the weapon could be resold to Iran.  Israel has condemned the North Korean ballistic missile launch that was carried out in contravention of its relevant international obligations. Israel regards North Korea’s repeated provocations with profound concern and calls on the international community to prevent any further violations, which clearly pose a threat to international peace and security. 

Meanwhile, the pressure upon Israel for them to relinquish more ‘land for peace’ and allow yet another Islamic state to be birthed in the Middle East – this time in Judea & Samaria – is steadily increasing. And though world attention is finally upon Syria – after there appeared little interest in the first five years of the conflict – due to the increasing flood of the refugee problem - the world’s politicians are at least speaking about the crisis.  But is it enough?  Has there really been sufficient outcry regarding the horrors we are witnessing?  And imagine the world condemnation if Israeli raids on Hamas in Gaza had killed 1,400 Gazan Civilians? The UN would be issuing ‘war crimes’ against the Jewish state. So why is there so little condemnation about Syria? How is it that Russian raids can kill 1,400 Syrian civilians, and the UN don’t speak out?  Where is the great leader - Ban Ki-moon – with his condemnation of this action by Russia?

Ban Ki-moon visits London   The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, spoke in London at a conference on Syria and stated that actions must be "totally different" if a solution to the conflict is to be found.  He also stated that the situation in Jordan, which is struggling to cope with 1.2m refugees, was "untenable".  The leaders of Germany, Kuwait, Norway, the UK and the United Nations hosted the “Supporting Syria & the Region 2016” Conference in London, bringing together over 60 countries, international organisations, business, civil society, Syrians and people affected by the conflict to agree a comprehensive new approach on how they respond to this crisis.  As Syria enters the sixth year of this conflict in which widespread violations of International Humanitarian Law continue, the humanitarian situation is worse than ever before. With more than 250,000 people killed, 1.2 million injured and 6.5 million people displaced, there are now 13.5 million vulnerable people inside Syria alone. Over 4.5 million refugees from Syria have fled to neighbouring countries particularly Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.  Of course ISIS has further exacerbated this situation making life inside Syria even more desperate and putting further pressure on Syria’s neighbours. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have shown their generosity in hosting refugees but their communities are under considerable strain as basic services are overstretched.  Very little, if anything at all, has been done by oil rich Saudi Arabia.  Israel on the other hand continue to help their ‘enemy’ in amazing ways – more on that shortly.

However, in an article written by Ban Ki-moon (on Jan. 31, 2016) in the New York Times on the current uprising by the Arab Palestinians, I was appalled to read the UN Secretary-General’s comments on Israel.  As one of my Facebook friends commented, “There has always been a "double-standard" when it comes to the Jews. There are other contested territories around the world, but for some reason people continue to point the finger at Israel. It doesn't matter how much more land Israel gives away; it will never satisfy the Palestinians or the other Arabs living in the Middle East.”  Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an American Orthodox rabbi, author, TV host and public speaker was outraged at the comments by Ban Ki-Moon.  Rabbi Boteach stated, “This column by Ban Ki-Moon is a disgrace. Notice he condemns Israel's "occupation".  He has nothing to say about China occupying Tibet, Turkey occupying Cyprus. He is always singling out Israel. He does not acknowledge that Israel conquered Judea and Samaria in a defensive war of annihilation. He does not admit that 97% of all Palestinians are under PA control, not Israel, and that ‘settlements’ account for 7% of West Bank.  He has nothing to say about Syria murdering 250k Arabs.  He has nothing to say about Palestinian suffering resulting from Abbas' kleptocracy and theft, abolition of elections, becoming a dictator. He has nothing to say about Abbas literally supporting Palestinians terrorists and their families or how Israel was rewarded for its withdrawal from Gaza with 10k rockets. The bias against Israel in this piece is glaring and obvious.”  To read the article by Ban Ki-moon click here.

IsraAid in action again    Two weeks ago, I was back doing a radio show to speak about Christian Friends of Israel. This is a regular feature I do about every six weeks in a one-hour talk show on Branch FM Radio in Dewsbury.  We have had excellent feedback not just from people listening to the show on radio in the local area of West Yorkshire, but also worldwide, as the radio shows can be heard on the internet.  This in itself is an amazing blessing as Dewsbury have a very high Islamic population; the largest Islamic university in Europe and in sections such as Savile Town (a suburb of Dewsbury), they even have Sharia law.  Yet in the middle of the town is this Christian Radio Station, which is connected to a large Church there, and is part of the legacy of our former CFI Area Rep – Brain Taylor – who sadly passed away two years ago. The subjects I’ve covered so far have been very challenging to the listener, and Israel and the ministry of CFI have been covered in great detail, along with plugs for the CFI websites and social media. The show goes out at different times over a few weeks, so hopefully we are getting plenty of coverage.  To listen to highlights from the latest programme, click here.

Last October I took CFI Jerusalem’s Sharon Sanders who was interviewed by Michael.  As you will hear if you click on the above link, this time my son Matthew joined me and among a variety of discussions we spoke on IsraAID.  IsraAID was founded in 2001, and is a non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to providing life-saving disaster relief and long term support. For over a decade, Israel has provided teams of professional medics, search & rescue squads, post-trauma experts and community mobilizers.  They have been first on the front lines of nearly every major humanitarian response in the 21st century.  This amazing work from Israel has been helping people all over the world overcome extreme crises and has provided millions with the vital support needed to move from destruction to reconstruction, and eventually, to sustainable living. 

In over a decade, IsraAid have responded to crises in 31 countries, reached over 1,000,000 people, distributed over 1,000 tons of relief and medical supplies, trained more than 5,000 local professionals, and mobilized over 750 staff, volunteers, and professionals (among them 156 doctors and nurses and 100 therapists and social workers). Some of the countries Israel have helped include Haiti, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda, South Korea, USA, Jordan… and even the UK with the recent floods.   Well, as I have reported on numerous occasions, every day, thousands of refugees from Syria arrive by boat on the shores of the Greek island of Lesvos, hoping to find a new start in Europe. But did you know, waiting for them on the shore is a rescue team of doctors and nurses, both Arab and Jewish, from the Israeli humanitarian organization IsraAid?  This is something the Western Media won’t report; however, you are able to watch the latest work from IsraAid in the following video:  As the Mishnah states, ‘To save one life, is to save the world entire’.

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