Israel is the key to all end-time prophecy.

Keep your eye on Jerusalem  



Aug 8, 2011

An Inversion of Truth

Among the almost countless attacks leveled against the Jewish state today—ranging from rocket fire to diplomatic bombs lobbed by the Palestinians & Friends at the UN—there is this: constancy.

The big stuff, people usually pay attention to, somewhat. The Arab threat to go to the UN in September and ask for statehood for Palestine. Iran. Et cetera.

But the truth is, the Arabs have always hated a Jewish presence in the Land. They have been attacking and murdering Jews for a hundred years. There are those things, however, that few pay attention to—the drip, drip, drip of terrorism. Terror in its many guises.

In the past week, two rockets from Gaza hit the western Negev, one injuring an Israeli woman. I can guarantee you, no one at the UN cares. They do profess to care about alleged Israeli abuse of Palestinians, like checkpoints.

Because the Israelis constantly fight terrorism, it is necessary to go into Palestinian areas and detain terrorists and confiscate weapons. What did the Palestinians do this week in the Qalandia refugee camp near Jerusalem? Throw stones and escalate a situation that would claim two Palestinian lives and wound five IDF soldiers.

Not that groups like the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) care about wounded Jews.

Of course the Palestinian Authority attacked Israel in the press, and said the Israelis had escalated ahead of the September showdown in New York. Nabil Abu Rudeina, head of the PA presidential bureau (no doubt funded by your tax dollars), led this bogus charge.

This is what I mean by an inversion of the truth. It is when truth is turned on its head. Wrong is right and right is wrong.

That’s the world we live in today.

And even during periods of relative quiet, the Palestinians use the time to train for war! Islamic Jihad operatives, some 400 strong, staged military exercises to be ready with “everything necessary to confront an instance of Zionist aggression.”

Unreal! And, I’d like to point out, the mendacity among mainline and Emergent leaders in America—who never miss an opportunity to blame Israel—strengthen these groups, who are willing to use dupes for their propaganda.

By extension, we see this in the pathetic case of the Syrian government butchering its own citizens. As CAMERA has pointed out, a visit to the website for the World Council of Churches (WCC) shows a dearth of stories about Bashar Assad’s murderous rampage against demonstrating citizens.

Evidently, officially, the WCC has “tweeted” a couple times, although it doesn’t condemn Assad; it merely offers prayers.

This world body is identical in scope and ideology to the American mainline churches, who miss no opportunity to lash-out at Israel.

For those Americans who support Israel—and I know there are many—I urge you to get involved in defending the Jewish state, wherever you are. We can all take some time to educate ourselves and respond with letters to the editor, etc.

Not so long ago, I was talking with a pastor who asked me if I weren’t taking out personal frustrations (he didn’t elaborate) on my “Israel Watch” column. In other words, Jim, don’t you think you are raging about Israel and Emergents because you are frustrated in your personal life? Since I’ve never felt better, I can only guess to his motives.

And just this week, a friend told me that an acquaintance, who I consider to be a Bible-believer, described another party as a “Jew” when it comes to money.

My friends, the threats to Israel and to Bible-believers everywhere are intense, constant, and supernaturally endowed.

We are living through a difficult and painful time, when inversions of the truth spring up like weeds.

I believe we have no choice but to engage.

jim@prophecymatters.com


Aug 1, 2011

1984

When George Orwell wrote his classic look at future horror, when Big Brother watches everyone, he couldn’t have known how prescient he really was. Specifically, I am right now thinking of the word he used, “doublespeak,” which describes how dark change agents communicate with the masses.

In other words, Orwell looked ahead to a time when doublespeak would pass for regular conversation. It is when someone says something, but means/span> something entirely different. And, this is purposeful, not accidental.

This ran through my mind this week as I continued an email exchange with an Emergent leader who insists that he is “pro Israel,” but not pro “Christian Zionism.” He sees the two terms as being different, although I pointed out the obvious: everyone else on the planet sees them as interchangeable. They mean the same thing.

Not to this leftist, who cleverly uses language to confuse those he really dislikes: Bible-believing Christians.

Of course, it is a side story, but it was 1984 when right-wing Israeli leader Yitzhak Shamir formed a national unity government with Labor’s Shimon Peres. The latter is the classic double-minded man.

Peres was the defense minister who pushed-through the daring plan to rescue hostages at Entebbe in 1976, but he was also the shaman who conjured up Israel’s involvement in secret negotiations with the PLO, which led to Oslo.

Back to the email exchange.

I will say this as plainly as I can: the turning against Israel, of American Christian leaders, is to me the clearest signal that we are not coming up on apostasy. We are in it.

When I began the conversation with the Emergent fellow, I stated obvious things, such as Christians who support Israel are also Christian Zionists.

But this wouldn’t do. Why? Because he and his friends want to confuse American Christians. It is the same as Barack Obama saying he is committed to Israel’s security, but then demanding a return to the ’67 lines. He doesn’t mean the first statement.

Now, the Emergent fellow is leftist and masquerading as an evangelical.

However, I believe the turning away from Israel—and I’m speaking strictly here of visible American Christian leaders—is equally disturbing.

It is the evangelical world that will abandon Israel. Again, I want to be clear: I am talking about American Christian leaders. Not all of them, of course, but a sizeable majority. Sizeable.

I know the head of an apologetics ministry who emphasizes a particular teaching that is spot-on. However, when Israel or Bible prophecy enters the equation, there is an undercurrent of dislike or disgust. He is a classic Replacement Theology guy.

At the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Nashville in February, the Israel Ministry of Tourism hosted a breakfast. It was a wonderful time, and when it was over, everyone stayed to mingle and reconnect. There was an obvious bond between Israeli officials and Christian Zionists in the room.

However, this apologetics leader I know made a bee-line for the door, his cell phone to his ear. That in itself isn’t bad, but knowing him like I do, I knew that he had zero interest in Israel, but uses tours to the country to broaden his base. He knows that his followers are also largely pro Israel. This strikes me as coldly callous, and that in itself is quite disturbing.

Then there are the legions of pastors in America who appropriate Old Testament verses and use them for the Church. Passages like Ezekiel 37, or verses like 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Those verses are referring to the House of Israel. Of course, in passing, one can “lift them” to make a point about Christians or the Church, but primarily they are about the Jews. Yet time and again, every Sunday across the country, pastors use them in Christian sermons.

It is becoming unpopular for pastors to stand for Israel. Some never did, but others who were at least decent friends of the Jewish state now find it uncomfortable to stand with old friends.

Incredibly, there are those Christian leaders who see no linkage between modern Israel and the ancient Israelites. Have they not read the Old Testament?

The propaganda campaign to marginalize Israel among American Christians is so deep and so well-planned that I see their plan largely succeeding. I really do. When the younger generations—nurtured and mentored by wolves in sheeps’ clothing—emerge as the next leadership in the American Church, they will have served as a key pillar in the fulfillment of Jeremiah 30, in which God tells the Jews that in the end, they will be alone.

I attended the “Reclaiming America for Christ” rally (www.reclaimamericaforchrist.org) at First Baptist Church of Moore, Oklahoma this past weekend. Largely planned by Paul Blair (a whale of an offensive tackle for a decade with the Chicago Bears) of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, it was hosted by Kevin Clarkson of First Baptist Moore. Them, and men like them, still dot the American landscape and I can tell you that as we approach the coming all-out culture war, it is comforting to know they will not buckle.

So there is that hope, which is no small thing. It lets us know that there are others around whom we can huddle and not be alone.

As I continue this email conversation with the man from 1984, I see that in 2011, dark clouds have gathered over the Church in America.

It centers around the growing dislike of Jews and Israel, from American Christian leaders.

jim@prophecymatters.com


Jul 25, 2011

Future Congress a “Hitt”

I want to depart from the normal topic this week, just a bit. I just returned from the Future Congress event in Branson, Missouri, organized through the huge efforts of folks like Tom Horn, David Hitt, and Terry James. The conference was jam-packed and, I thought, so well received that it deserves mention.

The brainchild of the trio I just mentioned, and several other key people, Future Congress was different from any other conference I’ve attended. Headliners like Chuck Missler, Edward Griffin, Gary Stearman, Randall Price, and Noah Hutchings were terrific and even better than advertised. And, I had not had the pleasure of hearing Tom Horn speak in public. Wow. This guy is on the frontlines of research and sounding the alarm. Dynamic.

And, even though they are genuinely humble, David Hitt and Terry James are two of the nicest guys on the planet and on the frontlines of cultural battles. David is an emerging (the correct “emerging”) speaker in his own right. One of the best things about his presentations is the fact that he is innovative in his thinking and very articulate. We are going to win with guys like this on the side of truth.

Let me say, though, that Terry James just simply knocked me over with his presentation. I could have cried. Maybe I did.

Many of you know that Terry is blind; I’ve known him for 20 years. So during his Omega Signs talk…he used PowerPoint! It was an incredible moment. Here was a man from a generation that doesn’t always embrace new media. Yet here he was, delivering a terrific address, and using a communication tool that will advance the effectiveness of his message. Terry is always forward-thinking, and ultimately in the best possible way, as he is eagerly anticipating the Lord’s return.

Then there was Noah Hutchings, of Southwest Radio Church, in from Oklahoma City. “Hutch” just celebrated his 60th anniversary with SWRC! Great age did not deter him. He spoke to a large gathering, and seemed to enjoy himself. I admire men like Hutch, who could retire to the golf course, but he recognizes where we are, and lends his years of wisdom and knowledge to the cause.

Gary Stearman of Prophecy in the News…is there a more regal gentleman anywhere? His very personal address on the subject of UFOs was off-the-charts, and his overall knowledge of prophecy is incredible. Several of us felt the presence of J.R. Church’s legacy, as well. His gracious widow, Linda, attended with the PITN staff.

As if all this wasn’t enough, the organizers assembled a truly incredible lineup of “new” speakers, and here is where I think the real discernment and wisdom of the planners came through. I met new friends like Rob Skiba, Doug Woodward, Chris Putnam, Chris White, and Derek and Sharon Gilbert. There were other great presenters I didn’t get to meet…which is a good reason to do this again as soon as possible! I’m serious. If you attended Future Congress and liked it, give the organizers no rest until they announce the next one.

Future Congress featured cutting-edge topics, and I spoke to attendees from New York to California. The place was literally packed, which tells me that the interest level in this type of conference is high. As churches by and large abandon discussing “controversial” topics, groups like Future Congress are on the rise.

I watched in fascination as my associate at Prophecy Matters, Jeff Patty, was besieged by interested listeners when he presented a talk on the rise of paranormal fascination in our culture. Future Congress presented a whole host of relevant topics that people “out there” are talking about. (Rob Skiba’s presentation on why we need to be culturally relevant was off-the-charts.)

Here’s the best part: my theory that Bible-believers are sophisticated thinkers was proven true. Our liberal critics, from within the Church, would have you believe that prophecy students are knuckle-dragging morons. To them, we are not “careful thinkers.”

False.

I spoke to young and old, men and women, and every one of them displayed a level of understanding that far surpasses what the liberals give us credit for. People took notes during the talks, and the speakers were accessible because they recognize that they are fellow pilgrims. We learn from each other. I picked up some tidbits of information from friends like Don Mercer and Steve Herron.

It was heartening to see that although I believe we are deep into the last days apostasy, there are able defenders of the faith. I saw this Friday night as I sat with Derek Gilbert (he hosts the internet radio show “View from the Bunker,” and co-hosts P.I.D. Radio with his wife, Sharon) and guests Chris White and Chris Putnam. Apologetics is in good hands with Chris/Chris; their answers to liberal objections to the veracity of Scripture were breathtaking. White is the host of Nowhere to Run, on the Revelations Radio Network, while Putnam is an apologist and hosts the Logos Apologia website.

Although Future Congress was about much more than Bible prophecy (Keith Robinson—Creation Science Society of Milwaukee—is a terrific presenter), it was still wonderful to see that Bible prophecy teaching is alive and well. Missler of course is a warhorse, but I was most pleased to see the younger generations very capably taking up the mantle.

There will be dvds available from all the presentations, and I would encourage you to check out www.futurecongress.com, to see what is going on. Momentum from this conference will build, in my opinion. The organizers did that good of a job.

Kudos, ladies and gentlemen.

jim@prophecymatters.com

 


Jul 18, 2011

Babylon Rising

The discovery of ancient Jewish manuscripts, and their transfer to the U.S., has opened a window into the future of Israel-Iraq relations. Remember, while everyone is watching Iran, the devastated nation of Iraq is still there. Saddam Hussein’s former playhouse still possesses oil reserves and will be a player in the region.

Iraq, of course, in ancient times was part of a vast empire and included Babylon. The present capitol city of Baghdad is nearby. In the days of the Hebrew prophets, Babylon played a prominent role during and after the conquest of Judea in 586 B.C. It was the Babylonians who first destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and carried away thousands of prophecy told the Jews that they would return after 70 years, and that they did, although significant numbers stayed behind. Today, it is estimated that less than 10 Jews remain in Iraq!

In June, 1981, Israeli jets bombed Saddam’s nuclear reactor at Osirik. The present-day relations between the two nations has never been good. The question is, what is coming after the Americans leave Iraq?

A clue came in the story related to the discovery of the manuscripts:

“Among those voicing indignation about the transfer of the archive to America is Liwa Smaysim, the minister of archaeology, who belongs to a fiercely anti-American party in the government coalition.”

Anti-American. Anti-Israel.

I remember when Ariel Sharon was in power in Israel, and he expressed hope—while visiting George W. Bush—that Iraq and Israel could enter a new and hopeful chapter in the “new Middle East.”

I seriously can’t believe that the wily old Sharon really meant that, or even thought it possible anytime soon. He once told me that he thought peace could come with the Palestinians “in 500 years.”

If Iraq’s minister of archaeology expresses such anger at Jews and Americans over old books, what will he and his countrymen do over something really important on a regional or global scale?

The leadership in the Arab countries has always been corrupt and I can’t see how that will change anytime soon. It is one thing for young people—students—to protest for democratic freedoms. It is another thing for us to believe they have a chance to assume power.

Why?

The Muslim Brotherhood.

Reports last week that the Brotherhood is now flexing its considerable muscle in Jordan is alarming indeed. King Abdullah, hapless now as his friends like Mubarak in Egypt, has promised “reforms.” He is buying time like Bashar Assad in Syria is buying time, although the latter is buying his with bullets.

Although we shouldn’t be dogmatic about it, I can’t see how Egypt can emerge as a peaceful neighbor for Israel. And if Jordan crumbles into another Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, Israel will truly be surrounded by a menacing trifecta (remember Hezbollah in Lebanon). Iraq, like the Gulf states and Syria, will provide another block in the wall of extremism encircling Israel.

On the Temple Mount last month, I watched several groups of Muslim men holding what I can only describe as “Bible studies,” seated in white plastic chairs in a circle. I looked at the Al-Aksa Mosque, the scene of the assassination of Abdullah’s grandfather in 1952 (he had been friendly to the Israelis).

I thought about the days when Saddam would pay the families of Palestinian homicide bombers $25,000. I thought about the fact that Iraq participated in the wars against the Jews in modern times. I thought about the fact that the Palestinian people themselves identify so strongly with Iraq, and to some degree, vice versa.

My conclusion was and is that while Iran is certainly a threat, they are not the only one.

jim@prophecymatters


Jul 11, 2011

Hope in Ohio

As I travel and speak, it is clear to me that many Americans “get it.” They are far more sophisticated about issues than the liberal media give them credit for.

This weekend, I’ve spent time with some good people in Ohio, who come from Scottish Presbyterian stock. In my talks and in private conversations, I’ve discussed my experiences in Israel, and in pro Israel work. I see enormous potential for educational opportunities.

A discussion with a recent law-school graduate illustrates this. He told me about four separate acts of anti-Semitism on the campus of the major university he attended, last year, and that led to a conversation about my friends at the America-Israel Friendship League. This is becoming a more and more popular subject in my travels, because it is so obvious that long-held biases and misunderstandings can give way to new and better understanding.

For example, when I explain how safe I feel in traveling to Israel, eyebrows raise and then people become excited and animated. The study tours to Israel that I’m helping coordinate for the AIFL are testament to that reality.

When the truth about Jews comes out, it’s like sunlight breaking into a forest clearing. All of a sudden, reality makes sense.

I discussed this weekend the efforts of people like Elaine Goldberg, who helps with the curriculum of the AIFL’s Youth Ambassador Student Exchange (YASE) program. This particular program introduces youth of different cultures to each other and serves to open the eyes of those who have been biased against Israel and Jews in general. Goldberg is excited about the opportunities before her, which began to coalesce in the late 1970s.

I had been to Israel ten years earlier, when I was 16, and had a phenomenal time in that very special place. I knew helping others have a similar experience would be extraordinarily rewarding,” she said recently.

She retired in 2009, leaving her position as CEO of the New York City school system. The YASE program (you can read about it at www.aifl.org) has been “immensely gratifying” for Goldberg.

 “It was amazing watching American-Muslim students sitting on the bus with Jewish Israelis. They did homework together, and, after a session of heavy debating, the Muslim kids learned Israeli folkdances. They were all so happy and excited,” she says.

The kind of work these programs produce comes from a genuineness—I can tell you personally—on the part of Jews to not only give back to their communities, but to see an end to strife and misunderstandings, that can offer foster hate. Goldberg is fond of telling a story about a Muslim student from Tucson who traveled to Israel and stayed with a host family in Hakfar Hayarak, located on the coast, about three hours from Jersulem. The young man had wanted to visit the Dome of the Rock, and was almost astonished when the family got in their car and drove him to the site.

The experience showed this young man that Israelis and Jews are very different from their frequent portrayals in media.

“The boy was so grateful. I am certain he will never forget that experience, and, more to the point, it will forever be hard for him to hate Israelis. Even if he may not agree with certain policies, he will not hate. The one-on-one relationships established by the YASE participants will last a lifetime,” said Mrs. Goldberg.

I can tell you that the same kinds of barriers are being torn-down between Jews and Christians. As a long-time supporter of Israel, I’m aware of long-standing stereotypes of Jews that Christians have held onto. But I am seeing real progress being made, whether through the work of AIFL, or through my aforementioned travels.

I discussed my experiences with the AIFL—in particular through my good friend (and AIFL director) Alex Grobman. And Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of AIFL, sees firsthand the effect of goodwill trips and interaction:

“We have learned that the exchange program has a transformational effect on the American and Israeli students which follows them for life. Besides the lasting friendships that are formed, the students return to their schools and later to universities where the seeds of knowledge and awareness flourish and influence those whom they encounter through life. Many of our program alumni recognize the profound impact the program has had in shaping their lives and continue to carry their experience with them in their professional careers. In doing so, they have remained connected and continue to play integral roles in the subsequent growth of the program,” he says.

My conversations this weekend with Christians in Ohio, who had not always heard positive things about Jews and Israel, convince me that the time is right to accelerate one-on-one conversations, church presentations, and study trips.

My new friend in Ohio, who identified himself as a liberal Democrat (not always a real supporter of Israel, or even with a real grasp of the issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict), now says he sees things differently.

“This gives me much to think about,” he said as we parted.

I expect to see him again, and many more of you down the American highway.

jim@prophecymatters.com

 


Jul 4, 2011

Benzion Netanyahu’s new book, The Founding Fathers of Zionism, will be available soon from Balfour Books—www.balfourstore.com)

Rare Courage

I went to bed on the night of July 3, 1976 eager with anticipation. Like all Americans, for me the Bicentennial celebration was special; 200 years! All year we had anticipated it.

My father was a real patriot and loved the country. He also loved the Bible.

So it was that when I woke up on the morning of the 4th, a Sunday, I knew something unusual had happened. I could hear my parents talking and it wasn’t about America’s wonderful holiday and anniversary. We didn’t discuss it the rest of the day.

I heard Dad talking about something that had happened a long ways away. I heard him say, “The Israelis did it!”

I would go on of course to understand that he was talking about the daring hostage rescue at Entebbe, an obscure African town and airport in Uganda. With the Bicentennial coming up, I was only vaguely aware that an Air France jetliner had been hijacked. As the kidnappers—the PLO and a couple German terrorists—made the unusual move of flying far away from Europe or Israel (where hijackings had taken place before), the world watched in fear.

This had all happened on the 27th of June. Chillingly, the kidnappers/terrorists separated the Jewish passengers from everyone else and let the gentiles go free. They kept 105 people at Entebbe, demanding that dozens of other terrorists be freed from prison.

No one had ever dealt with a hostage situation like this before. Oddly enough, Israel’s successful 1972 rescue of hijacked passengers near Tel Aviv probably gave the ’76 thugs the idea to move far away from any danger to themselves.

Israel’s public declaration never to negotiate with terrorists was under pressure now. Since they couldn’t personally intervene, and the international community had no intention of doing so, over 100 people were in grave danger.

Finally, Israel’s cabinet, led by Prime Minister Yitschak Rabin, agreed to negotiate. The terrorists extended the deadline to the morning of July 4.

The latter decision sealed their doom.

Publicly negotiating, the Israelis now began to formulate a plan to rescue the hostages. Incredible as it seems—2,500 miles from Israel—an elite team of planners and commandos were racing the clock.

It was decided to send four C-130 cargo planes, the country’s entire fleet, to Entebbe. One would serve as a mobile hospital, to treat the wounded; Israel’s cabinet calculated they would sustain 20 percent casualties in a best-case scenario. That meant that at least 40 of the IDF’s most elite soldiers would be wounded or killed.

At 4 p.m. on the 3rd, the planes took off after a refueling stop at the southern tip of the Sinai. The rescue team was en-route before the cabinet gave the final okay, the green-light.

They flew just off the surface of the Red Sea, to escape Saudi and Egyptian radar. They flew with no fighter escort—exposed. The mission was so secret, they couldn’t risk drawing more attention to themselves and for a time, the planes flew separate paths.

At five minutes to midnight, the planes were circling high over Entebbe. The hope was that the ground crews and tower would think these were commercial flights.

That’s exactly how it went.

Descending in the darkness, the lead plane held the members of Sayeret Matkal, the IDF’s counter-terrorism unit. Commanding the 30 men was Lt. Col. Jonathan Netanyahu, eldest son of the pre-state Zionist leader, Benzion Netanyahu. At the time, all three sons in the Netanyahu family served in Sayeret Matkal; besides “Yoni,” Benjamin and Iddo also took part in operations, although for Entebbe, the latter two were on standby. The danger was so immense, no one was going to send brothers into the heart of Africa.

(By the way, I urge you to get two books: Entebbe, by Iddo Netanyahu, and The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu, edited by his brothers. Not only will you not be disappointed, you will be inspired on a soul-touching level by the courage of the commander of Entebbe.)

As the lead plane touched down exactly at midnight, the door dropped and vehicles began making their way to the terminal; the plane taxied in the opposite direction. This kind of seamless coordination, a hallmark of the entire operation that night, makes for scintillating reading now, 35 years on.

The Israelis had decided to pose as Idi Amin’s “presidential guard,” and fool the ground crews into thinking this was another visit by the Ugandan strongman and dictator, who had been helping the terrorists.

Netanyahu’s car was a Mercedes, just like Amin’s except for one detail. The car they borrowed at the base was white, so the Israelis spray-painted the car black and affixed cardboard “Ugandan” license plates. The paint was still drying at Entebbe.

The ruse worked perfectly, literally.

Many readers of Israel Watch know that I’ve spent time with some of the Entebbe commandos. The lead commando told me once that the terrorists didn’t know what was happening until he was in the doorway! (As you read Entebbe, it will dawn on you that an operation this daring and this successful had to have some “help.” Many of us know Who that help was.)

The entire firefight lasted only seconds. At the end of it, all the terrorists had been eliminated and the hostages were secure. It took only 90 minutes to land, execute the plan to perfection, and get back in the air with 100 dazed hostages. Be sure and get a copy of Entebbe to read all the mind-boggling detail of “Operation Jonathan.”

Operation Jonathan. How poignant.

The calculated 20 percent casualties, in the end, amounted to only one dead Israeli. Yet “one dead” amounted to searing pain for Israel. Jonathan Netanyahu had been shot as the team made its way into the building. He had ordered his men not to stop for fallen comrades until the hostages were rescued. He died on the tarmac.

As a boy of 13, I understood little of the events that day. I only knew my father was in a state of exultation. The Israelis had done the unthinkable and the cowardly international community’s collective mind was blown.

Entebbe remains, at least for me, the most incredible operation of its kind. I have a suspicion that with each victory, Israel is more hated by her enemies. It was after the Six Day War and Entebbe that the political tide began to turn against the tiny Jewish state, such a monumental miracle in our world today.

My own father would have been amazed last month (he has been gone many years) when I took my son, Jonathan, to visit Benzion Netanyahu in his Jerusalem home. This great man, now 101, is a living proof of God’s majesty and grace. The return of the Jews in our lifetime, and their stunning victory after stunning victory, is the handiwork of One who is now extremely active in human history.

In the story of Entebbe, which I will remember on Monday with a fondness I can’t fully describe, we see the hand of God.

Israel and her friends are in a state of war with enemies so malevolent, it will take a miracle to win. A posting on Emergent leader Brian McLaren’s blog this week makes it clear that the viciousness of Israel’s enemies is breathtaking and ruthless. If McLaren and his friends could ever understand the true nature of modern Israel…well, I don’t know how to finish the sentence.

I only know that my aged friend in Jerusalem, whose son made the ultimate sacrifice for innocent lives, is still with us, and still strong.

As are his people.

jim@prophecymatters.com


Jun 27, 2011

Temple Mount

My recent visit to Israel was largely wonderful. It is a thrill to walk through a country that is a miracle.

There was one false note. One never knows whether a visit to the Temple Mount is going to be possible, since Palestinian sensibilities must be taken into account. If the political situation is relatively stable, a tourist can visit the Temple Mount for brief spells.

We managed to see it for an hour one sunny morning, but this was my third trip there and the first time I’d seen the destruction wrought by the Arabs, who have—astonishingly—built mosques underneath the 35-acre plaza. It is one of the ironies of the Arab-Israeli conflict that the Israelis have never done anything to harm the integrity of the site, yet are blamed continuously for that very thing.

The Arabs though have created such structural problems that I wonder why the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque haven’t fallen in on themselves.

(Soon, I’ll post pics of the visit on www.prophecymatters.com)

Stepping onto the Temple Mount, I noticed near the Al-Aksa remains of what must be Temple-era pillars. Then on the east side of the area, many pillars, paving stones, and piles of dirt and debris litter the most sacred site in the world. It’s almost inconceivable that such damage could have been carried out by the Palestinians and no one talks about it. At least, not in the mainstream media.

For the past few years, the Palestinians have been dumping piles of dirt—containing priceless artifacts from the Temple periods—into the Kidron Valley. Israeli archaeologists then rush to the dump sites and sift through the material.

It is absolutely extraordinary that archaeological evidence clearly supports the biblical records, placing a Jewish kingdom in the area for a good long while. Yet the world goes along with the Arabs’ mind-boggling claims that no Jewish temples ever stood there!

My son and I went up to the Temple Mount with a group of about 50 French tourists, including a couple priests. I hope they reported back to their countrymen the destruction of the site. Somehow, I doubt it.

The whole scene reminded me again of the nasty stance the world has toward Israel. The Palestinians, for political reasons, virtually invent a culture, while the people who gave the world the Bible are considered squatters who must be dealt with.

Interestingly, in the Ir David (City of David) archaeological museum, located just inside Jaffa Gate, the Israelis present the whole history of the area, from antiquity until now. Featured prominently is the rise of Islam.

No denying, no marginalization. The Jews acknowledge the history of their Arab cousins, yet they don’t get the same respect in return.

Just another indication that the world doesn’t respect the Apple of God’s Eye.

jim@prophecymatters.com




Jun 20, 2011

Israel: A Personal Observation

 

My recent trip to Israel gave me an enhanced perspective of the situation “on the ground” there. I came away with the idea that while the Israelis are well aware of their situation—globally and regionally—they are not afraid.

In fact, there was an air of confidence that I find intriguing. The people have confidence both in the Israel Defense Forces, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership abilities. This seems to be a broad consensus; the left is just as tired of the Palestinians’ refusal to embrace humanitarian values as the right is.

The Israelis’ confidence is not misplaced arrogance. They live there every day, and seem more grounded than Western observers who wring their hands over the threats to the Jewish state. Mind you, they are not cavalier about the threats, but they seem resigned to the fact that the Palestinian society is eons away from being capable of mutual respect.

A diplomat friend lamented the mood of the Palestinians. He said “In the end, they will force us to kill them first,” and his comment was really directed at the full range of Israel’s regional enemies (hint: Iran).

There is also nuance to the situation. What I mean is that sometimes Bible-believers become oddly worried about the situation in the Middle East.

Example: Turkey.

Bible prophecy students recognized the critical importance of Turkey in end-times scenarios. In short, we worry about Turkey’s recent sharp turn against Israel. The Turkish political leadership is moving closer to radical Islam; note the alliances with Iran.

Yet another friend explained the situation to me in a most interesting way.

“[Prime Minister] Erdogan wants to establish an Islamist regime similar to Iran, but at the same time, the Turks have been almost desperate for years to become a member of the European Union. And the EU will not welcome a radical Islamic state. So Erdogan’s embrace of radicalism is on a leash.”

Interesting. What that means, in part, is that while Turkey is becoming more hostile, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Gog-Magog will erupt this summer.

At the same time, Israel faces unprecedented challenges, from more sources than ever before. And I think this impacts how we view the region.

From a “humanist” standpoint, an “apocalyptic” confrontation can be not only a ways off, but could be avoided altogether. Biblically, we know that is not possible.

Take the issue of the Palestinian state.

My Turkish-expert friend is fairly dismissive of PA threats to go to the United Nations in September and seek recognition of statehood.

“Let them,” he said with a wave of his hand. “That type of recognition would not give them the practical means to actually establish a state.”

I agree, but I also know that prophetically, there must be a trigger for the Zechariah prophecies to come to pass. I personally believe Israeli reluctance to enter into a final settlement with the Palestinians will be that trigger. And that scenario is not far off at all.

The status of Jerusalem and the Israeli communities in the “West Bank” are reaching a boiling point and the world is almost out of patience.

So…I have probably been jumping all over the place this week for Israel Watch. On the one hand, being “in-country” for a week left me with the feeling that life goes on quite normally in Israel.

On the other hand, as one who must acknowledge that Bible prophecy is exceedingly relevant, the conditions for fulfillment are rapidly falling into place.

jim@prophecymatters.com



Jun 13, 2011

Ma’ale Adumim

Being in Israel for a week was a blessing in so many ways. Seeing friends, showing my son the sites for the first time, observing the political situation…

For the first time, I spent some time looking at the physical dimensions of Jerusalem, that great city that is a focus of end-times prophecy.

One morning, we drove to the Dead Sea, to see Masada. On the way, leaving Jerusalem, we found ourselves in the suburb of Ma’ale Adumim. I dislike saying “settlement,” since this term is one of the battle axes used against the Jewish state by Barack Obama’s international friends.

In reality, Ma’ale Adumim is a gleaming, thriving home to almost 40,000 people, just east of Jerusalem. It seems to be just blocks from the Old City.

When one sees its placement, along with other Israeli communities and Arab communities, one gets an obvious sense that “1967 borders” is ludicrous. Any borders of any Palestinian state would look like a white piece of paper with squiggly lines on it.

Can’t be done.

Ma’ale Adumim began 35 years ago, and is a hot-button issue for all talks between Israel and Washington. Bill Clinton in particular knows all too well the implications of this site.

Driving through the area is a stunning education, for one can see clearly that within a few blocks, it is possible to pass through Arab suburbs, Israeli suburbs, and back again. Continuously. They are so close to each other that I had to pay careful attention not to turn left and end up in Jericho or Ramallah. You don’t want to go there, believe me.

The whole area serves as a sane contrast to the inane idea that Israel can withdraw to the “1967 borders” and remain safe. It is a chore doing so as it is.

And in reality, the ’67 borders—so named for the temporary boundaries in place on the morning of June 4, 1967, the beginning of the Six Day War—are in fact the 1949 armistice lines.

When Israel was attacked by five invading Arab armies on the morning of May 15, 1948, the new country fought for months for survival. When it was over, armistice lines were put in place.

For 19 years, the Israelis were not allowed into east Jerusalem, they saw Jewish cemeteries on the Mount of Olives desecrated by the Jordanians, and the country was nightmarishly small.

A further indication of how fluid and tense the situation can be came when I wanted to go up to the Mount of Olives. I had rented a car for the week, for the independence, and yet I was told by hotel staff and friends that it wouldn’t be a good idea to drive up there alone.

And why? Because Arab villages dot the area. Think about that.

As a Christian pilgrim, I cannot be reasonably sure that I’m safe simply driving through an Arab neighborhood. This, however, is not outrageous to the international community. It is, after all, Israel’s fault.

I had picked the week of the 44th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem by Israeli forces to see the country again. The Palestinians were offended. They have been offended for 63 years, because they do not accept the Jewish state in their midst.

To quote Bob Dole, where it the outrage?

One evening, we were sitting on a patio at the hotel and heard gunfire from the south, in the direction of Bethlehem. That afternoon, walking through the Muslim quarter of the Old City, I looked at several t-shirts with the “Free Palestine” concept. Most popular were those with an image of Cuban Communist and murderer, Che Guevara. Why?

The Palestinians, through the direct line of Dear Leader Yasser Arafat, are following their Marxist roots. They identify with “revolutionaries.”

The t-shirt I picked up and carried home says “Free Palestine” and shows a map of the entire land. It is a political statement and a very chilling one at that, for the Palestinians are becoming emboldened every time a Western leader bashes Israel. They feel they are winning.

I have much more to report in the coming weeks, including a special report on the Temple Mount, and a description of the situation with Turkey.

For now, it is enough to know that the beautiful and lively Jewish community of Ma’ale Adumim sits on the pivot point of world history.

Fasten your seat belts.

jim@prophecymatters.com








Jun 6, 2011

Greetings from Jerusalem!

My son and I are in Israel together for the first time, and what a wonderful experience so far.


I am writing this from Christ Church Guesthouse, just inside Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The church is the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East, constructed in the 1840s.


Jaffa Gate of course is famous, not least for serving as the backdrop to British General Allenby’s triumphant entry in 1917, after defeating the Ottoman Turks. The victory paved the way for the establishment of the Jewish state.

We began our trip with a night in Tel Aviv; so far, if Israelis are afraid of their situation and fearful of the future, I haven’t seen it. Only smiling, and full of vitality. Oh, and after dinner at Whitehall in Tel Aviv, we walked through the city and heard the mournful cry of Hank Williams Sr. coming from a club. It made us think of home.


We visited the Garden Tomb yesterday, then entered Damascus Gate and the Arab shops. I’ve never seen this many tourists in Jerusalem, either. The streets are teeming with pilgrims.


Before leaving Tel Aviv, we also visited the ancient port city of Jaffa, then Independence Hall in Tel Aviv. I was struck by how many people could not tell us where Independence Hall was, even when we were a block away.


In any event, Jaffa is fascinating to me, in particular because it is the scene of Jonah’s struggle with obedience. While standing on the dock and watching Israeli boaters motor about, I lamented the fact that so many liberal scholars and pastors in America are embracing the idea that people like Jonah never existed. We believe passionately in aliens from other plants, without a shred of evidence for them, but Jonah stretches our belief system.


I will have much more to report next week and in coming weeks, but we are at least planning on me doing the RaptureReady Radio Tuesday night program from here. We’ll see if I can operate the technology.


Today we are off to Masada and the Dead Sea, where not even I can sink.

jim@prophecymatters.com