The Word: Adonai showed me two baskets of figs set before the Temple of Adonai. It was after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had taken away into exile Jeconiah son of King Jehoiakim of Judah and the princes of Judah, along with the craftsmen and smiths from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe, but the other basket had very bad figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad. Then Adonai said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” So I said, “Figs—the good figs are very good, but the bad are very bad, and cannot be eaten, they are so bad.” Then the word of Adonai came to me, saying, thus says Adonai, the God of Israel: “Like these good figs, so will I regard the exiles of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place to the land of the Chaldeans, as good. I will set My eyes on them as good. I will bring them back to this land, and I will build them up and not pull them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. Then I will give them a heart to know Me—for I am Adonai—and they will be My people, and I will be their God. For they will return to Me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:1-7)
Pointers for prayer: God will use a remnant and even ‘the remnant of the remnant’ but we must join together, united in prayer to pray for the nation of Israel and pray also that the United Kingdom comes back to God.
Having returned from the New Wine 2017 festival, please 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 challenged at New Wine would seek the truth regarding God's purposes for Israel, that they would read the literature we handed 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. Pray also that we will reach many people of various ages through our Twitter and Facebook feeds, along with our YouTube page.
Please continue to 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)
Good figs and rotten figs During my Bible study this week, I read through the book of Jeremiah. By chapter 24 I’d read the section of the two baskets of figs. According to the vision, one basket had very good figs and the other had figs that were so spoiled they could not be eaten as they were rotten. According to my concordance, judgment had come (and was to continue) upon Judah as a whole, but it would also be upon the entire nation, and all would feel the pain of it. Yet that did not mean that everyone in Judah was the same in God’s eyes. Some were like the good figs – and were essentially sent out of Judah to Babylon for their own good. Judgment upon a nation or community means that all suffer, even those who may be individually innocent of the sins that brought God’s judgment. What God said to Jeremiah through the two baskets of figs means that even when all suffer under a national judgment, God still knows the difference between those caught up in the judgment and those who brought down the judgment. We might have expected that those first carried away captive would be the worst in God’s eye, yet Jeremiah delivered the surprising message that the first to be taken were the good figs, not the bad figs.
At present in the UK there is much need for prayer – so much so that Dovetail Shalom Ministries, along with David Hathaway and Dennis Greenidge, are calling for a National Day of Prayer for Great Britain; for Theresa May, Brexit, unity of the UK, and for the nation to turn back to God and His Word – the Scriptures - along with praying regarding Britain’s connections with Israel. They have booked the Emmanuel Centre in Marsham Street London (Westminster SW1P 3DW) for Friday September 8, 2017. The meeting starts at 10.30am and finishes at 8.00pm. It will be a day of prayer and fasting. According to their mandate of a ‘call to prayer’, they state “Time is running out and prayer is essential at this critical time. Following all the recent disasters our nation is in distress, being torn apart as never before. So we need to come together as His body to pray, to humble ourselves, repent and plead for God to have mercy to heal our land.” What is interesting here is that on September 8th 1940, it was also the National Prayer Day that led Britain to victory in the Battle of Britain - exactly 77 years ago! We’re currently in the Hebraic year of 5777.
As I was pondering on this, I reflected on where the UK church stands in its relationship towards God’s covenant with Israel. For all those within the church who teach ‘replacement theology’ or ‘fulfilled theology’, are they not opposing the very Word of God and therefore potentially responsible for bringing further judgement from God upon the UK? Having spoken to many people at New Wine last week, it was interesting (and encouraging) to hear many state they supported our ministry and stood with Israel. However, throughout the UK, we would estimate that 80% of the ‘church’ is completely ignorant of the issue of Israel, simply because they are not being taught from their leaders. So how do we change this, and how can we get the message of the truth out? Well in many ways, this is why it is so important that ministries like Christian Friends of Israel are involved in festivals such as New Wine.
One of the areas we have helped people during this past two weeks at New Wine has been telling folk about the amazing country that is Israel. You’d be amazed at just how many Christians have no real understanding about the Land of Israel. To help people understand this, we were playing a DVD over and over called ‘Israel Aerial Odyssey’ - a beautiful panoramic movie of Israel from the air. The DVD, which is filmed from a helicopter, takes the viewer on a wonderful journey that brings the story of Israel to life. Stunning aerial photography uncovers the vast diversity to be found in Israel's landscapes, history and archaeology. This film conveys the experience of soaring through Israel's sky, giving one an exciting view of this fascinating, old-new land. We also pointed out areas on a 3-D raised-relief map of Israel. Children specifically enjoyed feeling the mountains and the valleys and finding the main towns and Cities which make Israel’s Biblical and modern day history. This of course helped both children and adults get a better knowledge of the geography and landscapes of Israel. It also helped them in understanding the geo-political problems of the region and the strategic importance of the topography. You can buy the map from Christian Friends of Israel here. Along with this, there was a lot of interactive stuff going on, initiated by Matthew Soakell. Using a large ‘Twitter’ frame, he encouraged people to stand with Israel by tweeting a photo of them standing behind the frame. Many people got involved – even one of the speakers – Simon Ponsonby – and were happy to have their photos on CFI’s Twitter page and Facebook wall.
When we look at the Christian church today – especially in the UK, and especially in relation to how many view the nation of Israel with a lack of interest, thinking it’s irrelevant to their faith; being suspicious over those who stand with Israel; and some even hating what they deem as “a political accident”, one has to wonder at how we have got to such a place as ‘not even being concerned’ regarding the whole issue of Israel. It certainly is a challenge. And in many ways, this is what CFI was trying to do as we witnessed to the ‘Church’ at the New Wine Festival. Yet is this not somehow ironic, that we should need to witness to the church?
For those who are unaware of what New Wine is, here is a brief description. It is a movement of churches working together to change the nation. And indeed, their vision is a good vision as they desire to see the nation changed through Christians experiencing the move of God in their lives. They want to see churches renewed, strengthened and planted, living out the word of God in every aspect of life, serving God by reaching the lost, broken and poor, and demonstrating the good news of the Kingdom of God to all. This vision is so important, and so many Christians are really blessed by this. Yet how is it that approximately 80% of the Church in the UK has no understanding of the importance of standing with the nation of Israel, or just why God is bringing back His Jewish people to the State of Israel?
The majority of conversations and time sharing on what Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) do was good, encouraging and fruitful. However, we did still come across those who opposed the very fact that we were standing for Israel. One such gentleman approached me, appeared to pick up and quickly look at every book we had in the resource area. All the while he was smiling – yet this was more a cynical smile rather than one of joy. He finally turned to me and declared that he “could not agree with one single book” that we stocked. I wanted to ask him why, yet he hurried off before I could pursue his thinking. As I looked down at our stock, the David Stern Bible was in clear sight. So he couldn’t even agree with the Bible?
We are indeed living in a sobering time in history, and as stated, regarding those within the church who would speak out against Israel, are they not also bringing judgement on our nation from God Himself? As I’ve wrote many times in the past, standing with Israel is not about politics, but is very much about the Word of God, yet the political ramifications are extremely important, relevant, if not demanding. The issue with replacement theology; the issue of being uninformed with the truth, and the issue of the hallowing of God’s Holy Name (Ezekiel 36) are all crucial issues. However, if we continue to allow our nations to believe a lie, what will the future bring? Somehow we must pray that the true light would be seen, and seen to shine from those who do stand with Israel.
Further terror attacks but life goes on For anyone who knows the daily life of Israelis, one will quickly realise that no matter what the enemy will attempt, Israelis refuse to let trials, terrorist attacks and even war stop them from doing what they do best – getting the most out of life. I remember when one of my favourite café’s was blown up by a Hamas suicide terrorist attack, that no sooner had the debris been cleared, building work took place, and within a short space of time the café was re-opened and packed out with Israelis.
On Tuesday evening this week, sirens were sounded again in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon in response to a rocket attack from Gaza. One rocket landed in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, an IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed. The sirens went off in Ashkelon at 8:55 p.m., indicating an incoming missile, however 20 minutes later more sirens were heard in Kibbutz Zikim, near the Gaza border. Israel holds Hamas, which rules Gaza, responsible for any missiles or other attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip. Thankfully no injuries were reported.
In Israel, Palestinian Arabs visit, work and receive a lot of help and medical services throughout Israel and some even enter the so-called “right-wing settlements” of Israelis on a daily basis without fear or any incident. In contrast, Jews entering Arab areas can quickly find themselves in danger of a “lynching” by large Islamic Arab mobs. Sometimes, danger is even found outside Arab villages, when Arab Palestinians block nearby roads with burning tyres or other obstructions and attempt to pull Israeli Jews out of their cars when they are forced to stop. One such incident was recorded on Israel Channel 2 News over last weekend and shows a near victim narrowly escaping a violent lynch mob that suddenly formed near the Jewish community of Tekoa, south of Jerusalem. You can view it here, or on my personal Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/David_Soakell
Battle weary but with sword still in hand As I shared with one lady at New Wine, when I first knew that God had laid Israel upon my heart, which was back in late 1984, I didn’t want to know this ‘calling’ and I actually rejected the calling three times. Israel was the last thing I wanted, and though accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as my saviour, I ran from the Lord regarding His people. After a period of time of taking Bibles to what was then the Soviet Union, and then helping and working in building a Hospice in Romania, I finally realised that God was calling me to repent. In 1995 I became an Area Rep for Christian Friends of Israel, and went full time with CFI in 2001. However this calling has never been easy and I have to confess that of late, I’ve struggled with the battle of defending Israel. However, in truth, Israel does not need defending, and God certainly doesn’t! And yet many, who stand with Israel, like me, find it rather ‘draining’. A sense of despair accompanies the experience of ‘defending’ Israel. The bias media, the ignorance (which includes much of the church), the post-truth era, makes it nearly impossible to win an argument that shows favour and support of Israel.
In my last report two weeks ago, I wrote about the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av) which commemorates the destruction of the Temple - the same holy site UNESCO refuses to acknowledge has any Jewish connection – amongst other areas. This theft of Jewish heritage, which is part of an overall attempt to destroy Israel, was instigated by the Arab Palestinians who, quite hypocritically, then also look to Israel for goodwill. Amazingly, on the very day of the 9th of Av last week, I learned that the long-time Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, the build-up of scar tissue, which makes the lungs stiff. However when in need, Erekat, like the rest of the Arab Palestinian leadership, with their vitriolic and malicious efforts to destroy Israel, look to the Jewish state of Israel when it comes to saving their own lives. And so Erekat turns to Israel and her amazing medical care in his hour of need. This venomous anti-Israel spokesman is now hoping Israeli surgeons can successfully provide him with a replacement lung, most likely taken from a Jewish Israeli donor. Yet at the same time, his fellow leaders are training their youth to kill Israelis.
While we spent time with the thousands of Christian families at New Wine, and while summer camps for children are in full swing around the world, the Palestinian Authority in the so-called ‘West Bank’ and the Hamas terror group in Gaza are busy running special terrorist training programs for Arab children, which includes military exercises, the use of weapons, and lessons in abducting Israeli soldiers. The ultimate objective of these summer camps, besides training and indoctrination, is to act as an auxiliary force in a future confrontation with Israel. The graduation ceremonies from these summer programs include the use of live ammunition, explosions, and staged abductions of Israelis. Educating Palestinian youth to see terrorist murderers as role models is also the Palestinian Authorities policy. In keeping with this ideology, Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah is currently holding a summer camp for youth named after terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi.
Dalal Mughrabi led the most lethal terrorist attack in Israel's history, known as the Coastal Road massacre, in 1978, when she and other Fatah terrorists hijacked a bus on Israel's Coastal Highway, murdering 37 civilians, 12 of them children, and wounding over 70. The PA’s Ministry of Culture endorsed Fatah’s camp with an official visit to the camp, while the official PA daily noted that camps such as this “place an emphasis on creating an educated and aware generation.” There’s more on this story here.
CFIs YouTube Page Finally, in case you missed it two weeks ago, 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 new content of fairly recent talks etc. and a few from the CFI 30th anniversary conference in Jerusalem. You can view it here youtube.com/c/CFIUK. 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
(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/