IDF Responses following Saturday’s Confrontation with Iran

IDF official: Response to future Iranian violations will be more forceful

Israeli F-16 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

As you know, Iran sent a drone into Israeli territory on Saturday, which was shot down by an Israeli Apache helicopter.  The IDF retaliated by taking out the launch site and destroying key facilities on the Iranian airbase in Syria.  Unfortunately, amidst those attacks, an anti-aircraft missile hit an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, causing the pilots to turn the plane back toward Israel and eject.  The jet crashed in the Galilee area but the pilots successfully parachuted to safety.

The IDF has released information and statements regarding the incident, indicating they do not want escalation, but vow to respond even stronger if threatened again by Iran.  Here is information and various statements from IDF officials:

Virtual Visit to Northern Israel

When Israel is mentioned, most think of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.  Others think of the barren deserts of the Negev.  Some may think of the Mediterranean coast.  But, remember, over 80% of Jesus’ ministry happened in the Galilee area.  The northern part of Israel is very diverse in climate and landscape, and very different even economically and socially from the well-known major cities in Israel.

The Jewish nation is roughly the size of New Jersey, yet that diversity in climate (5 different climate zones) and landscape (deserts, mountains, forests, plains) makes Israel very unique.  Let’s take a short virtual tour of Israel’s north, then you tell me….did you ever think about these things?

Enjoy!

What is Hanukkah About?

Ok my friends, jump into your Jewish mindset and let’s talk about Hanukkah!  It is a very festive occasion and commences tomorrow night at sundown.  But exactly what are our Jewish friends celebrating?  Perhaps this will help!

Throughout history Satan has tried to destroy God’s plan by destroying God’s people.  First, he deceived Eve, resulting in enmity with the one God said would crush his head. Later, horrible Haman concocted a plan to eliminate the Jewish people, but God used Esther to reveal the plan that reversed the fate of Haman.  Later, Jews were taken into captivity in attempts to separate them from their land, yet they returned.  Hitler and others made attempts in more modern history to eliminate the Jewish people, but they persevered and survived.

Well, another such attempt was made about 165 years before Christ, when Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes tried to squash Judaism by desecrating the Temple, erecting idols and forcing Jews to worship them.  When a priest named Mattathias was commanded by Syrian soldiers to sacrifice a pig on the pagan altar, he refused and fled with his 5 sons to the Judean Wilderness. These were the Maccabees, and other Jews joined them in plans to revolt.

Eventually, they led a revolt, making their way back to Jerusalem where they dismantled the pagan altars and reclaimed the Temple.  When it came time to light the menorah and re-dedicate the Temple, they found only one days worth of oil.  How would they accomplish the 8-day celebration?  It would take at least that long to get purified olive oil from the Galilee region to keep the menorah lit.

You may be familiar with the miracle of God multiplying 2 fish and 5 loaves on the shores of the Sea of Galilee to feed thousands of people in Jesus’ time.  But that wasn’t the first time God multiplied provision!  He did so with that single days worth of oil, making it last 8 days!

So, even to this day, the Jews celebrate the same Festival of Dedication Jesus celebrated (John 10:22).  It is called Hanukkah (or the Festival of Lights) and always begins on the 25th day of Kislev and lasts for 8 days.  The Hebrew calendar is a lunar one, so does not align consistently with our Gregorian calendar.  Thus, Hanukkah typically begins in early- to mid-December.  This year, it begins at sundown on Tuesday, December 12.

Why not share this simplified account of Hanukkah with your family:

 

Stay tuned for more fun Hanukkah facts over the next few days, as we honor our Jewish friends by understanding their celebratory feasts!

A Trip to the Galilee

Today (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) was Shabbat, so everything in Israel is pretty much shut down.  Thus, we took the opportunity to make the two hour drive down to Galilee.  “Down” has a different connotation in Israel because, though the Galilee area lies to the north of Jerusalem, one always goes “up” to Jerusalem, the city on a hill.

The Galilee is actually my favorite part of Israel.  If I lived here, that is where I would want to be!  It is the area where Jesus spent about 70% of His time.  Therefore, I love going there…and I hate to leave!

Before we even left Jerusalem, headed east toward Jericho and the Dead Sea, we were in the West Bank.  As you know, the West Bank is Palestinian-controlled, so now is a good time for some explanation.  When it comes to the West Bank, the Oslo Accords stipulate that there be three “zones.”  Palestinians are allowed to live anywhere in Israel, but are prevalent in the West Bank. Jews may live almost anywhere in Israel, but at their peril in some places.  Zone C are those places in the West Bank in which Jews may live and there is Israeli police and/or military presence.  Zone B are areas where Jews may live, but there is no policy/military presence. Zone A are areas where Jews are not welcomed and have no protection.  Outside Ramallah, Jericho and other Zone A cities there are huge red signs warning Jews not to enter.

02 Palms in the DesertProbably the most common route between Jerusalem and the Galilee area is via highway 90 that travels along the Jordanian border and through the West Bank.  (The entire route is Zone C, so Jews may freely travel that highway.)  One sees many interesting, and sometimes ironic, things along that road.  For example, though the area is a barren wilderness, Israeli ingenuity has caused the desert to bloom!  The photo above is one of dozens of palm groves one might see while traveling this route.  Israel exports agricultural technology all over the world.  If you have a drip system in your yard, thank the Israelis…they invented it!

06 Border Fence & Israeli Ingenuity in JordanA rather ironic sight is that of the border fence separating Israel and Jordan, while looking across the border to find an abundance of Israeli innovation used in Jordan!  In the photo above, the landscape is dotted with hot houses which protect the crops from insects, heat/cold, and disease, while keeping moisture in to nourish the plants.  Often there are rows of crops with plastic-looking coverings that serve the same purpose, but that disintegrate at the appropriate time. All behind the simple, but high-tech border fence.  Sensors on these fences tell Israeli security personnel if/when someone has crossed the fence.  Then, on the Israeli side, there is a carefully graded road that will reveal any footprints.  (Note to America: effective border fences don’t have to be expensive, just well-designed!)

By the way, take note: it is December and plants are still growing and being harvested in Israel!  We saw lots of harvesters, and lots of green fields.  Again, Israeli ingenuity has figured out how to produce crops year-round!

It is very nice touring Israel at this time, as there are no crowds!  At the border when leaving the West Bank, Israeli border patrol boarded our bus to take a look around.  In all my trips to Israel, this was a first!  Honestly, I think they were bored!

As we approached the Galilee area, we saw snow on Mt Hermon!  What a sight!  It has been rather chilly at night, so Mt Hermon (Israel’s only ski area) has gotten an early jump on winter!

While in the Galilee, we saw Yardenit, the Jesus Boat, Tabgha (my favorite spot!), Capernaum, and Magdala.

I was especially struck by our trip to Capernaum today.  It is such a fabulous place, as that was Jesus’ hometown. (Mark 2:1)  Jesus performed so many miracles there, and the Gospels show us His compassion in such profound ways.  However, today I was struck by something totally different.

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The “common area” at Peter’s home.

We know that Jesus spent much time at Peter’s home (perhaps even lived there with Peter’s family when He was in the area).  Peter’s home has been fully excavated, and it is configured with a living area that would have been shared customarily with adjacent living spaces for brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents.  It was common for generations to live together in various rooms surrounding the common area.  When a son became of age, he built his own dwelling adjacent to the common area, he married, and he brought his bride to the his dwelling to live.  There are many rooms adjacent to the octagonal living space at Peter’s home.

With that thought in mind, consider John 14:2-3:

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Genesis 1 teaches us that God created everything in 6 days.  Yet, Jesus has spent the past 2000 years preparing our heavenly home!  What must that dwelling place be like!  I can hardly wait to find out…what about you?

As always, there is so much more I could share about the land of Israel! But let’s just end on that note!

Blessings to all!  Shalom from Jerusalem!