How Do Jews Retaliate when Threatened with Extinction? They Survive…and Multiply!

Hi friends!  I have a very heartwarming story to share today.  In December 2015 I was especially blessed to be invited to participate in a Christian Leaders Seminar at the Yad Vashem Museum and School for International Studies.  It was an incredible experience, but one thing made it even more special than any other.

A pastor in our class happened to be the son of Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds.  As we arrived for the seminar, that name meant little to most of us.  However, by the end of that 8-day seminar, we discovered just what a hero Roddie Edmonds was!  An incredible human being, he saved the lives of 200 Jews during WWII. That classmate, Chris Edmonds, shared the heroic story of his father, and while there at Yad Vashem for the seminar, got word his father was named Righteous Among the Nations, Israel’s highest honor granted to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

In March 2016, Chris was invited to share his father’s story before an enthusiastic crowd of 18,000 at the annual AIPAC Conference.  (You can see that video here.)

Recently, The Jewish Foundation of the Righteous produced a video, featuring Chris’ journey to Germany where his father commanded a unit of men captured by Nazi forces, then stood firm in protecting Jewish soldiers under his command.  Four of Edmonds’ men (all Jewish) tell the story, and it’s well worth seeing!  In the end, you see their revenge to the Nazis who hoped to wipe them out: they lived (thanks to Master Sergeant Edmonds) and multiplied!




World Leaders React to Iranian Chaos

After almost a week of protests-turned-riots in Iran, world leaders have reacted in various ways.  Let’s take a look:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:  Following Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s outrageous claim that Israel was behind the uprising by Iranian people, Netanyahu responded with a 90-second video that went viral.  He refuted the Iranian claim as “laughable,” called out the Iranians for wasting “tens of billions of dollars spreading hate,” and vowed that, when the regime falls, “Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again.”  (See video here.)

US President Donald Trump:  Stated that the United States’ aim is to “collect actionable information” in preparations to issue stronger sanctions against Iran.  In multiple tweets, he expressed support for the protesters, that the US was watching for human rights violations and that it is time for a change.  (See news of those tweets and other comments here.)

Hezbollah leader in Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah:  First comments were that the protests in Iran were being dealt with “calmly and wisely” and that “there is nothing to worry about.”  He followed with: “Trump’s hopes have been disappointed…[as will the hopes of] all those who bet that the protests would grow and lead to the fall of the regime and chaos in Iran.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Very little reaction came from the German Chancellor. Simply that Berlin was watching the developments and that the protesters “deserve our respect.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan:  Communication has been ongoing between Erdogan and Iran’s Rouhani.  Hoping the protests would end “in a couple days,” Erdogan pledged Turkey’s backing of Rouhani’s statement to uphold protesters rights, but urging them “not to violate laws.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin: Mostly silent, but eventually the Russian Foreign Minister stated: ““This is Iran’s internal affair. External interference destabilizing the situation is inadmissible.”  Perhaps a veiled warning to the US and other backers of the protesters.

French President Emmanuel Macron: Made it clear that the message coming from the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia was “almost one that would lead us to war … a deliberate strategy for some,” and stressed the importance of keeping a dialogue with Tehran.

Very expected reactions as battlelines are being drawn.  Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US stand with the protesters, desiring an end to the oppressive regime in Iran.  Turkey, a drastically growing ally of Iran, takes a stand with them.  Russia (who actually cares less for Iran and more about the benefits they might bring) gives lip service as they focus on other things.  (See Putin’s Titanic has hit a fatal Middle East Iceberg)

Then there is Macron…the rising leader in Europe.  While Germany bears little authoritative power, Macron continues to play the part of peacemaker, urging restraint on the part of the US and allies while “keeping a dialogue with Tehran.”

Do you see the stage being set?  The Bible tells us that Russia, Iran and Turkey (along with Sudan and Libya) will attack Israel from the north.  Those nations are already united and growing stronger in their coalition with one another.

However, with turmoil inside Iran, might it be a distraction that lengthens the timeline?  Given all that is going on in Syria, might this be a bubble of time in which Damascus is destroyed (as prophesied in Isaiah 17)?  Might that be the spark that lights the Ezekiel 38 fuse?

We don’t know!  But what is clear is that the stage for future Biblical events is being set.  It is time for us to be about our Father’s business, friends!  I hope 2018 is a year of commitment to that very thing!


Is Anti-Semitism in Europe Even Greater than We Know?

In the 1930’s the world stood silent and unengaged as the Nazi regime attempted to methodically erase Jews from the planet.  The signs were everywhere: Jews were not allowed in certain professions, could not open shops and sell their goods, and were forced to wear clothing and symbols that identified them as Jews.  Jewish synagogues were burned to the ground, Jews were made to live only in certain areas, and eventually, right before the public eye, they were gathered up and hauled as cattle to slaughter.

Europe and the rest of the world were deathly quiet.

When the Holocaust was finally brought mercifully to an end, over 6 million Jews had lost their lives, and people everywhere declared, “Never again!”  Yet, here we are, only a generation removed, and we’re seeing discrimination equally as appalling, and violence equal to the pre-concentration camp days.  Across Europe, and even to some degree in America (particularly on college campuses), we see the same not-so-subtle signs of anti-Semitism.

But do we have a good picture of how bad it is?  If so, why aren’t we doing more about it?  If not, why not?

According to the Jewish News Service, one of the most “methodologically sophisticated and comprehensive reports in dissecting the growth of Europe’s anti-Semitism problem” was just completed by Dr Johannes Due Enstad of the Center for Research on Extremism at the University of Oslo.  The study looked at anti-Semitism in 7 European countries: France, the U.K., Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Russia. Per the article, key findings include:

  • France tends to exhibit the highest levels of anti-Semitism, causing Jews to want to emigrate.
  • Jews in most of those countries will not wear, carry or display anything that identifies them as Jews, for fear of attack.
  • In every country except Russia, the perpetrators are disproportionately Muslim.  (In Russia, there are vast distances between heavily populated Muslim areas and heavily populated Jewish areas, thus creating a buffer.)

In Europe, it is becoming harder and harder for a Jewish person to express Jewish culture or beliefs.   Sadly, we see the same disease creeping into America.  Ethically, This should not be.

But, what evil doers mean for evil, God uses for good (Genesis 50:20).  God’s Word says He will gather His people from the four corners of the earth (including Europe):

He will raise a signal for the nations
    and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
    from the four corners of the earth.
~Isaiah 11:12

Indeed, the Lord will bring His people home to their own land.  Many have made comfortable lives for themselves elsewhere, but when it’s time to come home, we can rest assured that the Lord will somehow get them there.  Perhaps the evil of anti-Semitism will drive them home.  Let’s pray for the ingathering of God’s chosen people to God’s chosen land…and plead for God’s mercy to draw them before anti-Semitism drives them!

UPDATE:  Think anti-Semitism is only a European problem?  Think again.  This incident happened right here in my own city on 4th of July.

Who’s Who in Ezekiel 38?

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In the late-1900’s it was prestigious to be named in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.  Having “made the grade,” some paid the high price to be listed among those students, and to have their credentials published for all the world to see.  Of course, no one really cared to read that book, other than those whose names it contained…and then only their own entry!  So much for prestige!

Today we’re going to examine the list of “Who’s Who Among Northern Invaders!”  It could definitely be argued that these nations are prestigious, but probably for the wrong reasons!  This doesn’t seem like a Who’s Who list of which any nation would wish to be named.  But, nonetheless, the Lord names names and predicts His destruction of these nations.

Before we discover the identity of those nations, let’s take a detour to Isaiah 44:6-7.  During the days of Isaiah, Israel was surrounded by false gods, thus the Lord, through his prophet, chose to make a very pointed statement in these verses.  What was the point?

Indeed, Jehovah God is the first and the last, He is able to accurately predict the future, and He did that very well through His Word.  The prophecy in Ezekiel 38 is one such foretelling and, if God says it is so, we can fully believe it!  Thus, let’s hear the Lord’s prediction of what will happen in end times.

Read Ezekiel 38:1-13.

We do not have the luxury in this study of digging deeply into the etymology (study of words) to fully develop the origin of each modern-day nation in the region.  Even if time permitted, we would find that brilliant Bible scholars who have spent decades identifying these lands have differing opinions, particularly regarding Gomer, Beth-Togarmah, and Tarshish. Thus, our objective is not to “prove” the identity of every nation, though you are certainly encouraged to pursue further research.  Rather, the goal is to clearly identify the major players and gain a solid understanding of what general areas these Biblical locales represent today.  In the end, I am confident there will be agreement on the major players, and in the general areas represented.  Please do not allow minor differences of opinion in identification of these nations to be a distraction.

According to verse 2, against who is the prophet to prophesy?  If you said Gog of Magog, you are correct!  Gog is a person, not a place.  In fact, Gog is likely a title meaning “prince, chief or czar,” not a given name; and we’re told that he is the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.  We can be sure that a leader will emerge to lead the nations listed in these verses into battle against Israel.

Ezekiel tells us that God is against Gog and that He will turn him about and put hooks in his jaws, bringing him and his army “out of the north” into battle with Israel.

Interestingly, the Jewish mind would recall their greatest day as the day Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt enroute to the Promised Land.  However, take a look at Jeremiah 16:14-15.  There, the prophet Jeremiah indicates that, though the Lord brought the sons of Israel out of Egypt in the early days, He will bring them “from the land of the north” in the last days.  To date, over 1 million Jews have returned to Israel from Russia, the land of the north!  Unfortunately, from that same land will come Gog and his army.

Northern Invasion Nations

In Ezekiel 38:2, what four geographical entities are listed?  (Remember, Gog is likely the title of a person, not a geographical place.)  Now, let’s identify the modern-day places represented by those ancient names.

  • Magog.  A region to the north whose borders do not seem to be precisely identified.  Ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, indicates that Magog is a land of Scythians to the north.  Some scholars have identified the area of modern-day Georgia as the likely region of Magog.  (Georgia, the Russian state, not Georgia USA.)
  • Rosh.  Most believe Rosh refers to the area of modern-day Russia.
  • Meshech.  Likely referring to modern-day Moscow, Meshech seems to be a contraction of words meaning “to draw out, drag, seize.”
  • Tubal.  Many believe Tubal is modern-day Tolbolsk, an eastern city of Russia.  A few believe Tubal could refer to Turkey.

Now turn your attention to Ezekiel 38:5-6.  What five locales are listed there?

  • Persia.  There is virtually no question surrounding the identity of Persia.  It is undoubtedly Iran, but could also include northern Iraq.  The name “Persia” was used by the Western world, though “Iran” has been the historical name.  In 1935 the shah asked foreign delegates to use the name “Iran.”  Thus, Persia and Iran have been synonymous for ages.
  • Ethiopia.  Sometimes called “Cush” in Scripture, Ethiopia is widely believed to be not only modern-day Ethiopia, but likely Sudan and other areas south of Egypt as well.  In recent history, this area has been home to the National Islamic Front, has been under Islamic dictatorship, and was once the home of Osama bin Laden.
  • Put.  A long-term sponsor and exporter of terror, it is not surprising that Put is undeniably Libya, but probably also includes Algeria and perhaps Tunisia.  (Put is to the west of the territory seen on the map above.)
  • Gomer.  Scholars differ as to the identity of Gomer, though most believe it is the vicinity of either Germany or Turkey.
  • Beth-Togarmah.  Differences of opinion regarding Beth-Togarmah are widespread as well.  Beth-Togarmah could refer to areas of Germany, Turkey, Armenia, Asia Minor or Central Asia (Some simply identify them as Turkish-speaking people in Asia.)

Regardless of total lack of consensus, a glance at the map above reveals that Iran and areas north and southwest of Israel are well-represented in the list provided in Ezekiel 38.

It is also important to realize that this passage includes phrases such as “with all its troops,” and “many peoples with you” leaving open possibilities that other people groups and lands may be included.

Our final look at Who’s Who is from verse 13, where we find a list of people groups who seem to stand around asking questions, but doing nothing to engage the enemy.  Those lands include Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish, but also include other “merchants” and “villages,” indicating others may be involved.  Here is the consensus:

  • Sheba and Dedan.  Widely believed to be Saudi Arabia, though some also include Yemen and Oman (the entire Arabian Peninsula).
  • The “merchants of Tarshish with all its villages.” Widely believed to be the UK, Spain, or Europe; some even speculate the “villages” to include the US and other western nations.

So, there you have it…a look at the infamous Who’s Who!  Do you see the nations listed in verses 3-6 aligning today?  Do you see today’s Sheba, Dedan and merchants of Tarshish standing around asking questions rather than getting involved in defense of God’s chosen land?  I do too!

But we’ve just begun our study of this terrible invasion from the North. Stay with us this week as we dive deeper into the mindset of those who seek Israel’s destruction, and discover their motives. Thanks for sailing with us!

(This teaching originated in the Bible study, Looking for the Blessed Hope.  You will find the entire study posted on the left sidebar.)