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Commentary

Wake-up call for America

On Saturday, August 12, I was honored to speak at Yad Vashem’s Graduate Event for those who have completed their Christian Leadership Seminars in Israel. It was encouraging to see the commitment to fight anti-Semitism from Christians of different denominations and continents around the globe.

Yet, it was surreal and frankly disturbing to see later that same day the breaking news on TV screens as I walked through Washington-Reagan airport. Violent scenes were broadcast live from Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis were brazenly out on the streets of America displaying all their race-based, anti-Semitic hate for the world to see.

Only days later, ISIS carried out a terrorist attack in Catalonia, Spain, using a van to kill more than a dozen innocent men, women, and children, and injure over 100 more. The Chief Rabbi of Barcelona responded by declaring that the Jewish community in that region is doomed. He cited the authorities’ reluctance to clamp down on radical Islam as the driving force behind growing anti-Semitism in Europe, leaving Jewish communities vulnerable across the continent.

Until now, Americans could draw some comfort from the fact that the growth of anti-Semitism in the United States has been significantly slower than in their European counterparts over the last two decades. Many are not surprised to see how increased immigration to Europe from Muslim nations has resulted in a troubling rise in anti-Semitism and now also jihadist attacks.

But, Americans should be surprised by what they see developing in the United States at present. On display in Charlottesville was more than just two sides battling over the future of Confederate statues. There is something more sinister at work here and, as in Europe, it is unfortunately the Jewish community that stands to suffer.

Two Opposing Ideologies

The neo-Nazis marching with their swastikas and Hitler salutes exhibit classic anti-Semitism. Based on race and white supremacy, this ideology is easy to recognize and has been fully rejected by the nations of the West. It incongruously casts Jews as sub-human while accusing them of some grand, evil scheme to control the world, especially through Communist ideology.

On the other side from the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville was the opposition group mostly made up of Antifa (which stands for anti-fascist action). Born out of the 1930s when the Nazis and Communists were struggling for power in Germany, the modern Antifa movement has its roots in opposing the brown shirts while also associating with more Marxist/anarchist ideologies. Closely linked to the Black Lives Matter movement today, these groups are also anti-Zionist. This means they reject the desire of Jewish people to return to their homeland, viewing Zionism as race-based colonialism that profits at the expense of the local, indigenous people, in this case the Palestinians.

Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitic

Detaching the Jewish people from the land God bequeathed to Abraham and his descendants some 4,000 years ago achieves two insidious goals. First, it removes the Jewish people’s historical connection to the land, turning them into invading foreigners that must be repelled, thus legitimizing all means to cleanse “Palestine” of their presence. Second, it denies the Jewish people their identity as a nation with a place to live in this world, relegating them to the status of permanent wanderers at the mercy of all the other nations who choose to host them.

This is at its core anti-Semitism. It is just cloaked in a veneer of modern political correctness. But there should be no tolerance for such discrimination. The last century should have taught us that dangerous ideologies such as Nazism or Communism can have disastrous outcomes, with Jews usually paying the higher price.

Their Alliance with Muslim Anti-Semitism

Just as disturbing should be any ideology that embraces both classic and new anti-Semitism, rejecting the legitimacy of both the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Despite the refusal of the Western media to acknowledge it, the recent spate of vehicle attacks in Europe originated as a tactic of Palestinian terrorists seeking to kill innocent Jewish civilians in Israel. Their goal is to destroy the Jewish state as it exists today. Their strategy follows the Algerian playbook, where a small Islamist insurgency was able to overthrow a much larger colonial power, France. And for the last 100 years, they have aligned with any ideology that will serve this end.

When the Nazis rose to power, the Jewish people were already taking steps to reconstitute their state in the land of Canaan. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, opposed the Jews and so made his way to Hitler where he joined his cause with that of solving “the Jewish problem.” He swiftly became a popular voice in support of the Nazi Holocaust against European Jewry, even recruiting an SS company in Bosnia which slaughtered 90 percent of Bosnia’s Jews.

Given safe haven by Egypt after the war, Haj Amin el-Husseini became the mentor of Rahman Abdul Rauf el-Qudwa el-Husseini, the Egyptian-born leader of the PLO better known to the world as Yasser Arafat. Committed to the destruction of Israel, Arafat not only favored the use of attacks against “soft targets,” he literally innovated the tactic of using civilian airline hijacking as a terror weapon.

Nazi ideology has permeated Islamic thought since World War II with Hitler’s Mein Kampf remaining a staunch favorite in Middle-Eastern countries, while Holocaust denial has been given state-sanctioned prominence. The current leader of the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed in his 1982 dissertation that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was hugely exaggerated and Zionist collaboration with the Nazis was the real cause for the genocide. He received his PhD from Lumumba University in Moscow.

It’s no secret that Communist Russia worked closely with the Palestinian Liberation Organization in support of its conflict with the Jewish state, especially after Israel severely humiliated the Soviet Union’s Arab allies in the 1967 Six- Day War. A recent release of Cold War documents even seems to suggest that Abbas was himself a KGB spy.

In their over-arching quest to defeat Israel and the Jewish people, the Islamic world has proven itself willing to work with two opposing evils, Nazis and Communists, because the ideologies of both are committed to at least one common goal: the destruction of God’s chosen people.

Wake Up, American Church

As the Apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12, this battle is ultimately not against flesh and blood but against spiritual principalities and powers. We should not be surprised then to see the same spirits of deception and destruction manifesting themselves in Virginia as they do in the Middle East. Our challenge is to discern the spiritual meaning of these events and to take heed.

In a continent that has virtually outlawed any Nazi identification, the Jews of Europe still face an uncertain future. The leaders there are unable or unwilling to correctly identify and confront another anti-Semitic threat now hidden in the anti-Zionist rhetoric of Islamic extremists and their leftist collaborators.

The church in Europe failed the Jewish people during World War II, and it is failing them again today. This should be a lesson to the church in America. We still have time to discern what is happening and then take action to ensure we do not fall into the deceptive trap that is being laid.

What happened on the streets of Charlottesville is a wake-up call.

Anti-Semitism and its twin, anti-Zionism, must not be allowed to take root in America. Sadly, support for neo-Nazis and for Antifa is growing as people line up in defense of either side. The church, however, must stand up in defense of the Jewish people and the State of Israel at this time. May the Lord give us all the courage we need for the battle ahead.
 

- by Daryl Hedding, US Deputy Director

Remembering the Exodus

The year 2017 is filled with anniversaries of key moments in Israel’s modern history. Foremost among them are the 50-year Jubilee celebrations of Jerusalem being reunited under Israeli sovereignty in June 1967, and the centennial ceremonies marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. But a third important event which happened 70 years ago will be remembered this July 18th with the dedication of a special memorial to the Exodus ’47, otherwise known as “the ship that launched a nation.”

The Exodus was an old, rickety steamer originally built to traverse the shallow, calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay. But in 1947, she was refitted by the Jewish underground to carry thousands of Holocaust survivors on a desperate voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to break the British blockade and reach the shores of Mandatory Palestine. When the British navy attacked the ship just offshore, the tragic fate of her passengers grabbed world headlines and played a central role in the rebirth of Israel the following spring.

When the Exodus left port in France seventy years ago, she was heavily laden with over 4,500 tattered Jewish refugees who had survived the Nazi genocide and were determined to reach the Land of Israel. But the British had imposed a naval blockade to stop such refugee ships from reaching Palestine, and the passengers knew that, if captured, they would all be sent back to Europe. So the Haganah underground invited a sympathetic American Methodist minister, Rev. John Stanley Grauel, to join the voyage as a reporter who would be free to tell the story of what was about to transpire.

As the overcrowded vessel approached the Israeli coast in the dark of night, a British fleet of six destroyers and a light cruiser closed in. They first sandwiched the Exodus between two destroyers, trying to crush her aging hull. After seven such ramming attempts failed to sink the vessel, British troops armed with machine guns and bully clubs stormed aboard. The defenceless Jews put up what resistance they could. Three were killed and almost 150 injured.

Despite their gallant efforts, the ship was seized and towed to Haifa port, where all of the Jewish passengers were arrested and eventually sent back to Germany.

Yet the British could not apprehend Rev. Grauel, since he was a non-Jew and a US citizen. Instead, he was placed under house arrest at a hotel in Haifa. But this happened to be the very hotel where Western journalists were staying to cover the visit that summer of the UN Special Committee on Palestine, and Grauel began telling the visiting reporters about the brutal ordeal at sea. Then late at night, he was quietly whisked away by the Haganah and smuggled past roadblocks into Jerusalem to tell the UNSCOP committee itself about what had happened.

The UN committee had been holding hearings that summer in order to recommend a solution to the “Palestine problem.” But the eleven-nation commission was refusing to meet with Jewish war refugees still held in displacement camps in Europe. Yet when Grauel described first-hand the British assault on the unarmed refugees aboard the Exodus, it had a profound impact on the committee members.

“The Exodus had no arms,” Grauel told the UNSCOP panel. “All they fought with were potatoes, canned goods, and their bare fists.”

The plight of the Exodus passengers stretched out several months before a worldwide audience, fuelling the committee’s growing sense of its humanitarian mission. Until then, most of its members were leaning against partition and the creation of a Jewish state. But after Grauel pleaded their cause, the committee agreed to visit the camps in Europe to speak directly with Jewish war refugees, who were nearly unanimous in their desire to go to Palestine. Before long, the majority of UNSCOP members concurred that the Jewish people needed a state of their own.

Thus, the testimony of a Christian minister about the British attack on the Exodus became the turning point in UNSCOP’s shift towards accepting Jewish statehood. Grauel would later write of that fateful moment on board the ship, saying it felt as if he were witnessing the battle of “Concord and Lexington… I just knew I was watching the rebirth of a nation.”

Indeed, the well-known journalist Ruth Gruber, who witnessed the commandeered boat docking in Haifa, described the Exodus ’47 as “the ship that launched a nation.”

The vessel remained tied up in Haifa harbour until a mysterious fire burned her to the waterline in 1952. The ship was towed out to deeper waters and sunk. Today, there are markers to her in Italy, France, Germany and Baltimore, Maryland, but ironically there has never been a marker or memorial to the Exodus ‘47 in Israel.

That will be rectified this July 18th when Israeli officials, Jewish and Christian leaders, and the last Exodus survivors will gather at the Haifa Port terminal to dedicate a special sculpture and historic marker in memory of her courageous passengers. The effort is being spearheaded by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be there as well to mark this historic occasion. Besides paying respects to the brave Jewish refugees on board the Exodus, the ceremonies will duly note the key role of Rev. John Stanley Grauel in her story. Seventy years after her voyage helped birth the nation of Israel, the Exodus ’47 will finally receive her due.

ICEJ Statement on UNESCO Vote

We are utterly dismayed that UNESCO has adopted once again a scandalous resolution denying any Jewish connection to the holy sites in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, including the Temple Mount.

The resolution omits the traditional, biblical names of sacred Jewish sites, calling them by alternative Muslim names only. This is tantamount to rewriting history and stripping these sites of their 4,000 years of Jewish and 2,000 years of Christian connection. We, as Christians, are deeply concerned that the wording accepted by an international body intends to eradicate any Jewish and Christian bonds to these holy places.

This represents a calculated insult against the Jewish people and an affront to two billion Christians worldwide who know full well that as a faithful Jew, Jesus regularly visited the holy Jewish Temple on this site, taught there, and was zealous for its calling as a “house of prayer for all nations.”

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is now hosting over 5,000 Christians from nearly 100 nations for a Christian celebration of the biblical Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Their presence in this city to mark a Jewish festival at this time demonstrates the historic continuity between our respective faiths and the special place Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in particular hold for Jews and Christians alike. So on behalf of these Christian pilgrims and the millions more they represent back in their home countries, we want to affirm to the Israeli public that we respect the Jewish reverence for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and we will stand with you in confronting this devious assault on the historic sites in Israel.

The ICEJ had already activated our national branches over recent weeks to work towards changing the wording of this disgraceful UNESCO resolution. And you can rest assured that we will never forget Jerusalem! (Psalm 137:5-6)

Dr. Jürgen Bühler
ICEJ Executive Director

Statement on the Passing of Shimon Peres

The leadership and family of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) joins with the people of Israel in mourning the passing of Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres.

He had a tremendous impact in shaping this nation over his long and distinguished career of public service, which spans the seven decades of Israel’s modern history. From the start, he made valuable contributions to Israel’s vibrant democracy and to the nation’s defense. He was one of the first to recognize and promote Israel’s potential as a hub of technological achievement. And his relentless pursuit of peace and acceptance for Israel earned him admiration and accolades worldwide, including the Nobel Prize for Peace.

His passing marks the end of a generation of pioneering leaders who founded the modern state of Israel and secured its future. No doubt, his legacy will continue to bear fruit for the nation in the decades to come.

The ICEJ would like to encourage Christians around the world to stand with Israel in prayer at this time of mourning.
 

Isaiah 19 Highway

When the Arab Spring began in 2011, no one expected the changes that we are now witnessing in the Middle East. Generally speaking, revolutions are not difficult to start; finding people who are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, specifically in this region, is not a problem. When the current uprising in Syria started, people were fairly certain that conflict would not end any time soon. However no one expected that over half of the population of this nation of 17 million would be displaced and more than 200,000 killed.

With the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ancient Christian communities in and around Mosul in northern Iraq (ancient Nineveh) and those in northeast Syria were forced to flee to southeast Turkey and into Iraqi Kurdistan. When a key battle took place between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State forces in 2014, people displaced from Kobane also joined these refugees. This increased the already large number of refugees in Turkey to almost 2 million since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil war.

In short, the Middle East has not seen this scale of refugee crisis since the First World War, which interestingly enough is part of the reason we are in this situation today. Understanding what happened in WWI is essential to understanding why the Middle East is in upheaval today.

Nevertheless, followers of Jesus who are serving God in the midst of the refugee crisis have an unprecedented opportunity to reach those in greatest need of hope with messages of the Messiah’s grace and truth, unlike any time in the last 100 years. The situation, humanly speaking, is hopeless and the tragedy, overwhelming. But it is precisely during these times of darkness that the light shines brightest (John 1:5).

Many Bible readers are now taking encouragement from a portion of scripture in the book of Isaiah, specifically chapter 19, where God speaks of a highway of worship and reconciliation that encompasses people who were formerly enemies but were becoming a “blessing in the midst of the earth” (Is. 19:24). During 2014-2015 teams of young people from Israel and the nations have traveled this “ancient highway” to provide aid to the refugees, encourage long-term Christian workers serving in the region, and support local churches with a message of hope, especially for those living in the shadow of death.

In subsequent ministry trips to the Kobani region in southeastern Turkey, teams bringing aid also led discipleship schools for Kurdish women displaced by the war. This was accomplished by partnering with local Kurdish believers who also serve other refugees. Two new churches have been established in the city of Suruc, made up of mostly young people of Muslim background. Other teams traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to bring aid to Yazidi refugees displaced from Sincar Mountain and living in camps in the Dohuk region.

Our ongoing relationship with a focused group serving out of Israel to these nations, called ‘Derech Avraham’ (Abraham’s Journey), has allowed us at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to meet with Christian and governmental leaders from these regions to pray for and support them during this time.

 

Here are some practical points to guide your prayer group:

1.   Jesus taught that in the end of days the wheat and weeds would grow together, signaling a time of both tremendous evil and a promised harvest. As a result, it is important that we pray according to Scripture for“the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38). It is a simple prayer, but one of great importance at this time.

2.   Pray also for protection and boldness for both the local Christian leaders and the international Christian workers, as well as the entire Christian communities in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq. The needs are overwhelming and reaching out in love to these refugees is a fulltime job. We hear daily testimonies of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus, but it doesn’t end there; they need to be discipled in their faith.

3.   Winter is the most crucial time to pray for the refugees in both southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Many of them live in abandoned buildings, temporary shelters or even tents, none of which are suitable housing in winter, which can also be very harsh in this region. Pray for the aid to reach these camps in time.

4.   Finally, the sense of hopelessness is pervasive, especially with the Islamic State forces advancing as close to some of these camps as 20-30 kilometers (about 15 miles). When both Turkey and Russia joined the conflict, the situation became even more complicated. As a result, massive numbers of the refugee population began to flee to Europe. Pray that God would meet them either on the way or in their host countries in the West.

In The Potter's House

The ICEJ Prayer Initiative

Throughout time and history, nations and individuals influence God’s hand as he forms their lives and destinies in His created world. Their choices determine their experience while journeying through this life, as well as where they will end up after their last breath has been breathed on earth. The response from the heart towards the Lord our God determines the future – both in time and eternity.

We are now in the year 2016 and in the light of God’s Word we want to evaluate, discuss and see what lies ahead for us as nations. This will equip us to pray according to the will of God and He will hear us (1 John 5:14-15). 

Molding a vessel

The word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah to go down to the Potter’s house, since there He would open Jeremiah’s ears and cause him to hear a timely word from God’s throne (Jeremiah 18). So the prophet entered the house and began watching the potter making vessels out of clay. If a vessel became marred while the potter was working at the wheel, he began again and turned it into another shape, however the potter saw good and fit.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” God was reminding Jeremiah of His sovereignty: As Creator, He alone has absolute power over human beings who are His creation. He shapes us as He wishes and He is not accountable to us. This overwhelming sovereignty of God to be able to form and shape individuals and nations is our hope here on earth!

“It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom.9:16). We don’t rely on our own works, but can rest securely at the center of His good will. In other words, even when we are weak and sinful, we simply turn to Him who is sovereign and respond to Him in faith – it is fully within His grasp to take an impossible situation and make life well again.

The gracious and awesome God

Even the nations, their corporate life and destiny can change and be renewed. As the Lord continued speaking with Jeremiah in the Potter’s house, He reveals His principles and ways of dealing with the nations. The heart’s response towards God plays a major role in how or for what purpose the vessel in the hand of the divine Potter finally and eventually will end up. (Jer. 18:7-10). We are told how obedience to God’s truth will produce blessing and how disobedience to His voice will bring judgment and destruction.

Through the prophet’s word, God was warning the people that without repentance and turning from their evil ways as a nation, judgment would soon befall them. He also said, however, that with one turn of the hand and the wheel He could alter the shape of the clay, make it anew to completely transform their impending judgment into a wonderful blessing (Jer. 18:7-8).

Unfortunately, the people did not repent and disaster came in 586 BC when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed the Jerusalem Temple and took the people into exile. When we see any nation with an unrepentant heart and rampant evil, this example should remind us to warn the people, offer the message of repentance and point to hope. Thanks to Prophet Jeremiah we know how to pray for a nation in danger of impending judgment.  

Israel, God’s people

Because of His loyal covenantal love, the God of Israel has promised a glorious salvation for His chosen Jewish people. After regathering them home from four corners of the earth, He has promised to cleanse them from all filthiness, give them a new heart and cause them to walk in obedience towards Him! (Ezekiel 36:24-28) Israel as a nation shall be restored spiritually and will be saved within their ancient homeland! (Rom. 11:26-27)

But for this to actually happen, the modern day Israeli people need to repent from their unbelief and sinful lifestyles. This is inevitable, since God Himself has already promised to pour out His Spirit to move them and to give them the gift of repentance (Zech. 12:10, Acts 5:31). So we know what to pray on behalf of Israel.

Middle East: Syria and Iran

We also want to pray for other nations in the Middle East, since they are foretold a terrible judgment and even more tragic disasters unless they repent. Syria is among those nations.

The catastrophe in Syria has caused extreme and indescribable suffering for its people and it is still continuing. With the USA, Russia and Iran’s involvement, the death toll in the area shows no decline. Only a change of heart and mind, repentance and returning back to the ways of the Creator will stop the current insanity and shame of human behavior in its sinful and unrepentant state in Syria. Let’s pray fervently on behalf of the suffering Syrian people, their leadership, the rebel groups and the world leaders involved.

Iran is emerging from isolation after signing a nuclear agreement with the West. Now attention is focused on business relations, especially in the oil and airline industries, but world leaders are not publicly addressing the need for the Iranian leadership to cease threats to Israel. According to the New York Times (from Dec 19, 2015), Iran is also in the grip of a seven-year drought that shows no sign of breaking and many experts believe this may be the new normal. Even a return of past rainfall levels might not be enough to avert the water crisis. Without repentance, a very difficult and sad route is ahead for Iran.

But there is a God in Heaven who has all power on earth. In the midst of all this chaos, grassroots revival among the Iranians is strong! Millions have come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and are also blessing Israel as a result. Intercede with us for Iran, as the revival continues and spreads to other nations in the Middle East!

 

ISAIAH 62 PRAYER CAMPAIGN

As prayer warriors, we do have a say in the future fate of our nations. The response from the heart of the people to their God determines their path. Let’s pray together for Israel and her neighbors!

We invite you to join the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem in the global movement of prayer by using the Isaiah 62 monthly prayer points whenever you pray corporately or individually. Pray with us on the first Wednesday of every month as intercession resounds around the globe throughout the day.

Sign up online: www.icej.org/Isaiah62

Watchman, What Of The Night?

 “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” The watchman said, “The morning comes, and also the night.” (Isaiah 21:11–12)

“Watchman, what of the night?” is the desperate cry for help which was heard in the times of Isaiah the prophet. Israel had just witnessed the rise of the Assyrian Empire, one of the most ruthless empires in recorded history. Their influence rapidly spread through the entire ancient world and was even at Israel’s doorstep. In this time of trouble, when violence and lawlessness increased, the desperate cry to the watchman became: “What about this increasing darkness in our world? What is happening to us? Watchman, do you have an answer for us?”

This cry for help and clarity is also heard today, as we enter the year 2016. Dark clouds are everywhere. In the United States, the church finds itself in a battle for the very soul of their nation. Europe has been inundated by an unprecedented flood of more than one million mostly Muslim refugees. At the same time a new level of terrorism descended on France while Germany entered into the New Year with high-level security threats from Islamic terrorism.

The economic success story of the European Union is endangered not only by the Greek national crisis but also the combined pressure of escalating terrorism and an influx of refugees. If we look at Africa, we see an increased presence of the radical Islamist groups like Boko Haram. The Middle East remains in a state of severe instability; not only are Iraq and Syria falling apart before our eyes, but we also see instability in other countries like Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is being released by the West from its economic sanctions, while continuing to utter threats and incite violence against Israel and the USA. At the same time the European Union is issuing a labelling law against Israel, the only democracy in the region. All Israeli products from so-called “occupied territories” are expected to be labelled and are thus under the scrutiny of the boycott. While the USA continues to withdraw as an ordering world power, Russia, China and Turkey have quickly filled the resulting power vacuum in the Middle East.

In short, our world is undergoing significant changes, which will dramatically alter world history and future events. The result is insecurity - even within the church. As in the time of Isaiah, “Watchman, what of the night?” is the desperate question many people have in their hearts today.

The Morning comes!

However, what is far more intriguing is the brief answer offered by Isaiah’s watchman: “The morning comes, and also the night.” This surprising response was contrary to natural laws or any human experience. Never did the night and the morning arrive at the same time. The watchman seems confused and not able to make up his mind which is coming, the night or the day. 

Regardless of how illogical this answer may sound, it is the answer given by God to the people throughout history. Oftentimes, as circumstances grew darker and darker, suddenly the morning star announced divine hope and redemption. The pages of the Bible are full of hopeless situations, where it appeared darkness was spreading, unchallenged and ever increasing. But it was precisely at that point when the greatest triumphs were then achieved.

All seemed hopeless when the Midianites harassed the nation of Israel, when the strongmen Goliath and Haman each threatened the people of Israel, or when the Army of Egypt descended upon the Jews, without a means of escape at the shores of the Red Sea. It was exactly at that moment, when all hope was gone and night came like a flood, that godly men cried out, “The morning comes!”

The Morning Star

One of the names referring to Jesus in the Bible is the “bright and morning star” (Rev 22:16). This tells us that no matter how dark it is around us, if Jesus lives in our hearts, there is always hope for a breakthrough.

The morning star is often seen as a glaring light in the dark sky, announcing the imminent arrival of the dawn. There is something unique about the morning star. Since ancient times the planet Venus, which is the brightest of the night luminaries, was referred to as the morning star. But surprisingly enough, Venus is not only considered to be the ‘morning star,’ , but at certain times of year it is also the ‘evening star,’, announcing the approaching night. Isn’t it amazing that the very same sign in the sky can be both the herald of the approaching night and also the harbinger of the coming morning?

In my experience there are two types of Christians who, although they both read the very same Bible, have very different perspectives. Many Christians – often western – read the prophecies of the Bible about the future and see a rather devastating message of darkness, gloom and decay awaiting the church and the world. However, if you visit some home churches of China you would hear a completely different message. A brother from China recently told me: “In China we are so excited, because the prophetic word promises us that the whole earth will be covered by the knowledge of the glory of the Lord like the waters cover the sea!” He clearly was expecting global revival!

Not long ago we visited a large church movement in Nigeria, which is actively training young Christians in prayer and academics to become the future leaders of their country. In some Latin American countries, like Guatemala, more than 50% of the population have become born-again believers. These are churches filled with hope for what God can do!

In other words, some believers are evening star Christians some are morning star Christians. Reading the same Bible, some see mainly darkness approaching, while others are full of hope. The truth is that the watchman saw both. He was enough of a realist to see the night coming but the first response that passed his lips was to announce the coming morning dawn.

The God of Hope

We need to remember that one of the three main trademarks of the church is to bring hope (1 Cor. 13:13). Hope does not disappoint (Rom 5:5) and provides an anchor for our souls (Heb 6:19). God is called a God of hope (Rom 15:13), which means He identifies His own character with hope. Therefore, we should never give up our confession of hope (Heb 10:23). No matter what the newspapers, political pundits and even end-times experts might be telling you, never give up your hope!

The answer that the watchman gave some 2,700 years ago in the time of Isaiah is still valid today: “The morning comes and also the night!” Yes, darkness is spreading across the world in many places. The world is shaking and insecurity is increasing on many levels. But there remains one rock that cannot be shaken and that is the Kingdom of God!

I was greatly encouraged by the extraordinary story of Rees Howells in the book “The Intercessor.” In the midst of Europe’s darkest hour, when Hitler’s armies were advancing on every level, a group of 100 intercessors gathered together at a Bible college in Wales. They prayed strategically not only for the downfall of Hitler, but also declared victory over Nazi Germany when they appeared to be invincible. The two main inspirations which motivated Howells were his understanding that the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to go to “every creature” and the return of the Jews back to their homeland was imminent. Therefore, he concluded, it was impossible for Hitler to succeed in his operation. In one of the darkest chapters of European history, Howells could see the morning star, even though his hope was deferred for several years.

As the Babylonian, Egyptian and Assyrian threats pressed in against the Kingdom of Israel, the prophet Isaiah brought a message of incredible hope. In a time when huge international players threatened the sovereignty of his homeland, with moral decay spreading throughout Israel, Isaiah found hope in the promised Messiah. “The government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…” (Isaiah 9:6–7) Supreme authority in heaven and on earth is given to Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul understood that every “throne, dominion, principality and authority” (Col 1:16) is under His sovereignty and needs to serve His purposes.

Kingdom expansion

But Isaiah saw something that excites me even more. He not only revealed these powerful attributes of our Saviour, but also boldly stated that His Kingdom is in an endless mode of expansion and growth: “Of the increase of His government there is no end.” Therefore, it did not surprise me to hear from a friend in Lebanon that in the midst of ISIS causing havoc in the name of Islam, the churches are full of men with long beards and women in hijabs who are seeking Jesus. They also reported that a wonderful move of God is taking place among Muslim refugees.

From another mission leader we heard of underground church growth even in Saudi Arabia and in Iran, where an historic revival is taking place. My son who attends a Bible school in Germany reported a few weeks ago that in one evening service at their camp nine Syrian refugees gave their lives to Jesus! A pastor from Berlin shared with us also that several churches in his city are packed with refugees coming to Christ.

It is true that at times God will shake a nation, and even our lives, in order to accomplish His purposes. The prophet Haggai foresaw a great and final shaking which will come “once more” over the entire world and even the heavenlies. But the ultimate outcome will be that, in the midst of these troublesome times, God builds His temple: “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, […] and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. […] ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts …” (Haggai 2:6–9) The apostle Paul also saw the church as triumphant, greeting her bridegroom as a beautiful and spotless bride. True, some will give in to pressure, temptation and the attractions of this world. But it is the grace of God which can carry us through and make us overcomers!

No darkness can stop the Kingdom of God! On the contrary, often it is darkness that He uses as His vehicle to come to our rescue (Ps 18:4-12). The prophet Daniel saw that even in a time when unprecedented trouble and darkness comes “…such as never was since there was a nation,” there will be those “who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:1-3)

Therefore, as times grow more difficult, this is not a time to despair but to strengthen our foundations on that which cannot be shaken. The only unshakable entity is – and will be – the Kingdom of God, so it needs to be our top priority. Let us surrender completely to our King and set our priorities right where they need to be. His Kingdom and His righteousness need to be our highest aspiration. Its expansion can be expected even in our times; there is hope for the church in every nation. Since the morning comes to break every darkness, make a resolution today to be a morning star Christian. 

ICEJ Expresses Grave Concerns Over EU Labeling Laws

The head of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) today expressed grave concerns about the EU’s directive demanding that all products from disputed Israeli territories be labelled, a move that he said would “undermine economic co-existence” between Palestinians and Israelis and “harm those working towards peace.”

“This labelling law will only divide Israelis and Palestinians further,” said ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler ahead of an ICEJ-sponsored symposium on the labelling law due to take place in the European Parliament in Brussels in early December. “Co-existence is better achieved by establishing factories and business partnerships in areas where Palestinians and Israelis live side-by-side.”

“This highly-politicized directive will only end up hurting those it claims to help,” Bühler continued. “All the evidence indicates that the businesses being targeted employ tens of thousands of Palestinians and contribute to the well-being of all those living in the affected areas, both Jews and Arabs alike.”

“What’s more, it’s a one-sided law that unjustly singles out Israel for condemnation and violates the rules of World Trade Organization. Why is the EU unwilling to issue similar directives for goods originating in northern Cyprus or the Western Sahara, territories illegally occupied by Turkey and Morocco? It’s a double-standard,” declared German-born Bühler, “similar to discriminatory laws passed in Germany in the 1930s.”

"If the EU really wants to promote peace they should stop penalizing those Israelis and Palestinians who are working together to make a living. Instead, they should provide greater incentives for them to forge deeper bonds of co-operation, without using labelling laws which could further the anti-Israeli propaganda that is sweeping Europe.”

“It is time that the European Union lived up to its own core values of free trade and open borders rather than seeking the expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria and the impoverishment of Palestinians who currently work alongside them,” Bühler added.

The upcoming symposium on the labelling law will take place in Brussels on the 2nd of December in cooperation with MEPs and representatives from dozens of ICEJ branches throughout Europe. It will call upon members of the European Parliament to invest in joint-ventures in Judea and Samaria to foster economic co-operation, stability and peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.


Israel Buyer's GuideIsrael Buyer's Guide
The ICEJ has launched an initiative aimed at combatting the BDS campaign and assisting Israeli businesses in reaching the vast Christian market worldwide.
Brussels SymposiumBrussels Symposium at EU Parliament
Please pray with us that this strategic gathering in early December would bring a voice to the European Parliament that will help and benefit the decision makers in Brussels.

ICEJ Tribute to Lance Lambert

The global leadership and family of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem note with sorrow and profound respect the passing of our friend and fellow labourer in ministry, Lance Lambert. An accomplished and beloved Bible scholar and teacher, Lance will be missed by those of us who remain even as he is being received with great joy in his new heavenly home.

Lance Lambert passed away on Sunday (10 May) at age 84 in Jerusalem. He was one of the most distinguished Bible expositors of his generation, and one of its most adept leaders of intercessory prayer for Israel, the Middle East and the world.

Until recent years, Lance enjoyed a worldwide itinerate ministry. Born in 1931, Lance grew up in England and met the Lord at age 12. He entered the school of African and Oriental studies at London University to prepare for the Lord’s work in China. He studied Classical Chinese, Mandarin, Oriental Philosophy and Far Eastern History, but the revolution closed the door to his entry into China.

In the early 1950′s, Lance served in the British Royal Air Force in Egypt, where he learned many principles in intercessory prayer. He later founded Halford House Christian Fellowship in Richmond, England.

Having discovered his Jewish ancestry, Lance became an Israeli citizen in 1980. His father and many members of his family had died in the Holocaust.

Lance was noted for his eschatological views, which placed him in the tradition of Watchman Nee and T. Austin-Sparks. He wrote numerous books on prayer and Israel, including The Uniqueness of Israel.

We had the privilege of engaging with Lance Lambert and benefitting from his rich teachings at the Feast of Tabernacles and other gatherings in Jerusalem and elsewhere. In fact, he was a key figure in the founding of the Christian Embassy at the very first Feast in 1980.

Lance was a man of great humility, faith and discernment, and a prophetic teacher of great insight and authority. We will always remember him as well for offering the fervent, effectual prayers of a righteous man, which assuredly availed much in God’s Kingdom.

The family of Lance Lambert have expressed to us their desire that any gifts in his honour from the ICEJ’s global following should be directed to projects to assist needy Holocaust survivors in Israel and to help Jews making aliyah to Israel from distant lands. Thus, any donations should be made payable to the “ICEJ” with the notation: “Given in honour of Lance Lambert”.

Assist Needy Holocaust Survivors Help Jews Make Aliyah

With complete trust in the sure mercies of our Lord,

Juergen Buehler

Dr. Jürgen Bühler
Executive Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

 

This Generation's Battle

Exodus 17 tells how Amalekites, descendants of Esau’s grandson, attacked the children of Israel in the desert of Sinai during their exodus from Egypt. This unprovoked attack was especially serious and the Israelites battled all day, only achieving victory at nightfall.

In response to this demonstration of cruelty, the Lord told Moses that he would blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. Moses later recounted: “the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16). Amalek’s attack on the children of Israel was now a perpetual war between him and the God of Israel.

Amalek was not just a foe, but a genocidal one, so in Jewish tradition the Amalekites came to represent the archetypal enemy of the Jews present in generation after generation. It is interesting to note that some one thousand years later, in the book of Esther, the arch villain Haman was an Amalekite who led the plot to kill the Jews.

The Longest Hatred

This evil pursuit of the Jewish people has continued for millennia, which is why historian Robert Wistrich calls anti-Semitism "the longest hatred." Every time this genocidal hatred seems to be dying out it reinvents itself with a different look and a different name. But the goal is always the same: to rid the world of the Jewish people.

In the ancient world, classical anti-Semitism was a clash between pagan rulers, who demanded obedient homage, and their Jewish subjects, who would only worship and obey the God of Israel. The Jewish people could not bow down to earthly leaders, and were bound by the Sinaitic Law to certain behaviors and observances that set them apart and incurred the wrath of their rulers.

Religious anti-Semitism

After the rise of Christianity the problem did not go away. It is a travesty that anti-Semitism was then found in the heart of Christian Europe. Indeed, in the annals of those who persecuted and hated the Jewish people are professing Christians. Space does not permit a full treatment of this sad story, but centuries of state and church-backed denigration, persecution, forced conversions, and expulsions actually paved the way for the Holocaust.

Proof of this is found in the fact that Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic writings were published and distributed by the Nazis in order to justify their anti-Jewish laws and eventually their extermination program. Hitler admitted as much when he told two Catholic Bishops who questioned his policy that “he was only putting into effect what Christianity had preached and practiced for 2000 years.”

Racial anti-Semitism

The form of anti-Semitism found in Nazi ideology was not based on religion, however, but on racial theories about the superiority of the Aryan race. Whereas Christianity had sought the conversion of the Jews, and state leaders had sought their expulsion, the Nazis sought the “final solution to the Jewish question,” the murder of all Jews and their eradication from the human race.

The good news is that these older forms of anti-Semitism are socially unacceptable in the 21st century. Religious bigotry and racism are frowned upon and are antithetical to the prevailing ideologies of globalism and secularism.

Political anti-Semitism

The bad news is that Israel, a Jewish nation-state, is also antithetical to both globalism and secularism. Therefore, the modern form of anti-Semitism that has found a stronghold and large-scale acceptance today is political. It is against the Jewish state and is called anti-Zionism.

There is still religious anti-Semitism, but this time it is found throughout the Muslim world and is responsible for the genocidal rhetoric emanating from Iran. Muslim anti-Semitism, however, is tolerated by anti-Zionist Western leaders who blame it on Israeli policies.

Not all criticism of Israel can be considered anti-Semitic. However, criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitic when it delegitimizes the state and questions its right to exist, when it uses anti-Jewish rhetoric and stereotypes or compares Israelis to Nazis, when it judges Israel by a different standard than for any other nation, and when it becomes an excuse to attack local Jewish individuals and institutions.

During the 2014 war in Gaza, a defensive war on Israel’s part to prevent further missile launches from Hamas, there were attacks on synagogues and Jewish citizens in France, refrains such as “Jews to the Gas” in Germany, the use of swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations, and anti-Semitic caricatures in newspapers and social media.

While America is a safe-haven today for Jews fleeing Europe, low levels of anti-Semitism here should not be taken for granted. As American Christians, we should take every opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, attending their Holocaust remembrance events, and teaching our children to recognize anti-Semitism and take a stand against it.

This generation’s battle is not so much with the Amalek of old, and its pagan, Christian or racial anti-Semitism, but with the Amalek of today—the rabid anti-Israel movement that demonizes the Jewish people and nation while excusing Muslim anti-Semitism.

This one is on our watch, and it is our responsibility to stand against it.


Susan Michael is the US Director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and creator of IsraelAnswers.com. The ICEJ is bringing Holocaust education to Christians worldwide through its partnership with Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial.

 

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