A New Season Begins for God’s People in God’s Land

At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference this week, we were reminded of the significance of “jubilee years” throughout Israel’s modern history.  To place it in Biblical context, read Leviticus 25 (particularly verses 8-10)to discover the Lord’s plan to designate years of jubilee every 50 years.   Those years were established as years of redemption for those who gave up land they could no longer afford, or who went into slavery because they had no other way to live.

Over the course of recent history, we have seen the Lord remain faithful to implement jubilee years for the Jewish people.  For example, in the 1860’s, Charles Warren, an officer in the British Royal Engineers, was prohibited from excavating areas beneath Temple Mount.  Thus, he moved his operation south, where he discovered the ancient City of David in 1867.  This was historic because it put King David’s kingdom on the map, verifying a critical part of Jewish history.  More importantly, it became the first season of aliyah (returning to the homeland) for the Jewish people.  Jubilee!

Fifty years later (1917), British General Edmund Allenby liberated the city of Jerusalem from Arab oppression.  British forces not only captured Jerusalem, but established a strong fortified line to ward off Israel’s enemies.  On December 11 of that year, Allenby refused to ride into the city on horseback (as victorious leaders were prone to do), but instead dismounted and walked through the Jaffa Gate because he believed that no conquering king other than Jesus should ride into the city!  Again, property was returned to its rightful owner (Israel) in a jubilee year…50 years after Warren’s discover brought aliyah.

Fast forward another 50 years to 1967 and Israel prevailed in one of the most critical battles of all time.  Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser, having been fully embarrassed by failed attempts to conquer Israel in 1948 (War of Independence) and 1956 (Suez War), concocted a plan to cut off shipping to Israel, thus choking off their livelihood.  Not only that, he enlisted the backing and military support of Syria and Jordan.  But, knowing of the plan, Israel launched a preemptive strike that caught Egypt and her allies totally off-guard.  Not only did Israel soundly defeat the Arab aggressors, but in so doing, they regained control of the Old City of Jerusalem (held by the Jordanians)!  It was a miraculous victory, only possible through the hand of God who was faithful to His promises!  Jubilee!

Fifty years later (2017) another jubilee year occurred.  Donald Trump surprisingly won the US presidential election and one of his campaign promises was to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, per the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.  The law mandated the move be made no later than May 31, 1999, but it had one caveat: the President could sign a 6-month waiver if it was a security risk.  Every US president since that time promised to move the embassy, yet signed waivers every 6 months, delaying the move.  Yet, in December 2017, President Trump made a surprising announcement containing two very key points: he recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and he officially decreed that the US Embassy would move to Jerusalem!  Jubilee!

Well, on May 14, 2018, Israel’s 70th birthday (on the Gregorian calendar), the US officially opened that embassy in Jerusalem…and the celebration continues.  Israelis are rejoicing in the streets as they celebrate yet another jubilee!

So, you may have known all that, so what’s the point?  Great question!  It is now a new season in Israel.  Things will be different there, as they are each time a jubilee year occurs.  Once possessions are returned to a poor man, life changes!  Moreover, Israel has now been a reborn nation for the same number of years she was once in Babylonian exile.  Not that the two events are linked in many ways, but it seems somewhat interesting that, just as Cyrus helped restore the land to the Jews after 70 years, so the US has helped to restore the land to the Jews.

My point is this: the US remains a critical vessel in God’s plan for Israel.  Our nation has been abundantly blessed, because we have chosen to bless Israel.  Biblically speaking, we know that, one day, the US will cease to be the strong ally that partners with Israel today.  Israel will stand alone.  But until that time, dear friends, it is vitally important that we continue to bless Israel individually, corporately through our churches and nationally through diplomacy, military coordination and assistance.

Rejoice, for the jubilee year has brought a new season to Israel!  (And stay tuned…I’ve got lots more good stuff to share from the conference!)

Praise God for America’s “Cyrus Moments”

Ok Bible scholars, who recalls King Cyrus and what he did on behalf of the Jews?  If you said he was a Persian king who conquered Babylon, then gave a decree allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild the Temple, you are right!  God used a foreign ruler to accomplish His purpose with His people.

It is not often that God works multiple times in the same way, but we see evidence of His use of American presidents to accomplish His purposes with His people as well.  Three presidents come to mind:

  • Harry Truman – In 1948, when Israel seemingly had no backing in their quest to become a state, they found a friend in Harry Truman.  On May 12, 1948, against the will of his Secretary of State who opposed recognizing the new Jewish state, Truman stuck to his guns:

“In an area as unstable as the Middle East, where there is not now and never has been any tradition of democratic govern­ment, it is important for the long-range security of our country, and indeed the world, that a nation committed to the democratic system be established there, one on which we can rely. The new Jewish state can be such a place. We should strengthen it in its infancy by prompt recognition.”

The US was the first to recognize the re-born state of Israel on May 14, 1948.

  • Richard Nixon – Nixon’s mother was a Quaker who told her son that if he was ever in a position of power and a situation arose in which the Jews needed help, to do so.  Apparently, that directive was not lost on young Richard.  Despite tendencies toward anti-semitism, his mother’s words rang in his ears when he got a call in the middle of the night from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in October 1973.  Israel was under siege from Egypt and Syria and defeat was almost certain.  Nixon had not been reactive to previous requests for help, prompting Meir to state that if the US didn’t help soon, there would be no more Israel.  The advice of his mother prevailed and Nixon ordered equipment to be sent immediately to Israel…against the advice of Henry Kissinger and his other advisors.
  • Donald Trump – Following passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, the policy of the US was that 1.) Jerusalem was to be an undivided city, 2.) it should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and 3.) the US Embassy should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.  However, there was one caveat: Section 7 of the act allowed Presidential waivers if there was a security threat to the US.  Based on that waiver, every American president since 1999 exercised their right to the waiver every six months!  Under constant threat from Palestinians and other Arab nations, not one president had the gumption to do what was required by law…until President Donald Trump announced in December 2017 that the US not only recognizes Jerusalem as the capital, but would move its embassy there!

Yesterday, the American Embassy was officially opened in Jerusalem!

America has capitalized on three “Cyrus moments,” culminating with the most pro-Israel administration ever fulfilling the promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy.

And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
~Genesis 12:3

May the US continue blessing Israel, so that Israel may bless all the families of the earth!

The Embassy is Open! What a Day it was!

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Today, as President Donald Trump spoke to the delegation in Jerusalem at the official opening of the US Embassy, our crowd here in Washington DC tuned in as well.  What pure joy to be among staunch Israel-supporting Christians as the celebration took place!  The room erupted many times in applause and celebratory cheers as we watched history being made.

If you missed President Trump’s congratulatory remarks and the unveiling of the official embassy seal, here is the 4 1/2-minute clip:

Later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a rousing speech, thanking President Trump for following through on his  promise to open the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

“What a glorious day! Remember this moment!  This is history.  President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history!”
~Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

Watch his exuberant remarks here:

Indeed, it was a glorious day!  Spending it with those who love Israel was a true blessing.  Here in Washington DC we heard from other dignitaries and Christian leaders such as Yaron Gamburg (Minister of Public Diplomacy, Israeli Embassy in Washington), Dr Jurgen Buhler (President, ICEJ), Dr Jerry Johnson (President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters), Pastor Saleem Shalash (Christian Arab Pastor at Jesus the King Church in Nazareth Israel) and many others.  How encouraging to know that Christians are leading a worldwide movement to share the truth about Israel, and to exhort others to speak out and act boldly on behalf of God’s chosen land and God’s chosen people.

In days ahead I’ll share more about the content of this first-rate gathering, beginning with America’s “Cyrus Moments” tomorrow.  See you then!

Happy 70th Birthday, Israel!

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments to the ACLI/ICEJ Conference in Washington DC

It’s finally here…HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL!

Image result for seventy and strong galaI’m in Washington DC to celebrate two very important things: Israel’s 70th birthday, and the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.  American Christian Leaders for Israel and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem have teamed together for a huge gala celebration, hosted by the Museum of the Bible.  (All three are partners in standing for Israel.)

Last night’s gala was a sold out event where 400 Christian Leaders gathered to celebrate.  One highlight was a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sincerely thanking American Christians for standing with Israel and helping to drive forward the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Netanyahu welcomed the US delegation to Jerusalem and lauded President Trump and his administration for their leadership.  The true test of a leader is whether or not anyone follows, and the Prime Minister glowingly mentioned the move of other embassies to Jerusalem in the coming days and weeks.  Indeed, America has led the charge.  Here is Netanyahu’s welcoming remarks to the US team in Jerusalem:

 

At the gala we also heard from several Christian leaders and people of influence.  Gary Bauer (Family Research Council and former official in President Reagan’s administration) was especially poignant, pointing out the foreign policy successes of the American administration during the Trump era.

We were also reminded of “Cyrus moments” in our nation’s history.  It’s fascinating, and I’ll share more about that as I have time to write.  (Check back this afternoon or tomorrow.)

Meanwhile, let’s all join together in wishing Israel a blessed 70th birthday…and a prayer that, as the Lord continues to watch over her, that the eyes of His people will be open to see Him as their Messiah!

Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
~Psalm 121:4