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The new Middle East steps backward

There is a new Middle East taking shape, but its character and contours are still emerging. The unprecedented political turmoil in Arab countries remains rudderless, with no clear direction yet. The prevailing military dictatorships of decades past will either survive in weakened versions, slowly yield to true democratic reforms, or regress towards Islamism.

The old Middle East was notoriously unpredictable – even the uprisings of recent months took everyone by complete surprise. But there were certain truisms about the old order that gave the region some measure of consistency. One such maxim was: “If you do not come to the Middle East, the Middle East will come to you.” Indeed, its unresolved problems came to the West far too often in various haunting forms, from airplane hijackings and long gas lines in the 1970s to the mass terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Sadly, that is not likely to change.

Another proven adage of the old Middle East held that: “The Arabs cannot make peace with Israel without Syria, but cannot make war with Israel without Egypt.” Damascus always championed the rejectionist camp, blocking any comprehensive acceptance of Israel in the region, while Cairo’s peace treaty with Israel (albeit a cold peace) stymied any hope of pan-Arab defeat of the IDF in battle. This equation will undoubtedly be impacted by the current unrest.

Egypt is already showing worrisome signs of renewed hostility towards Israel. The Supreme Military Council now running the country is bowing to the will of the Tahrir Square crowds by announcing their intent to reconsider the natural gas deals made with Israel pursuant to the 1979 peace treaty. Deposed president Hosni Mubarak and his sons are being accused of corruption stemming, in part, from the natural gas contracts with Israel.

If those agreements can be legally assailed and undone, the Israel-Egypt peace treaty cannot be far behind. Indeed, all the major players jockeying for seats in the parliamentary elections this autumn have pledged to “review” the treaty with Israel, a position widely backed by public opinion polls. Leading presidential contender Amr Moussa, the Arab League chieftain who has built his popularity by shamelessly bashing Israel, insisted recently that the Camp David Accords had “expired” and that Israel has failed to prove it is a “friend” of Egypt.

Meantime, Egypt’s interim foreign minister has promised to reopen the Rafah crossing into Gaza, allowing Hamas to ferry in-and-out far more weapons and terrorists than through its cross-border smuggling tunnels. Cairo also just brokered the Fatah-Hamas unity pact, taking the Palestinians a major step away from peace with Israel.

Finally, Egypt has announced plans to “open a new page” with its long-time adversary Iran.

Meanwhile, the Assad dynasty in Syria has launched a brutal crackdown on opposition protests that have resulted in more than 800 civilian deaths so far, with another 10,000 imprisoned. The struggle pits the minority Alawite rulers against an 85% Sunni majority. But dictator Bashar Assad is the most heavily entrenched ruler in the Arab world, with layers of loyalists in command of the all-powerful security services, ensuring he will not go easily.

Yet even if the Syrian uprising succeeds in dislodging the Assad regime, there is little reason to think its Sunni replacement will be any less hostile towards Israel. The Sunni majority likely will not be as pro-Iran, which could have a huge impact on Tehran’s aspirations to build a Shi’ite crescent that reaches the Mediterranean shores and encircles Israel. But – like in Egypt – the Syrian masses have already been spoon-fed so much anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic invective, it will assuredly be reflected even in a democratically-elected government. Some analysts go so far as to suggest that the West’s tepid response to Syria’s harsh crackdown is out of fear that something worse could actually replace Assad.

So I am left very pessimistic that the regional upheaval will mean positive changes for Israel. At the least, Egypt and Syria will follow the Turkish model, where an Islamist party has played the Israel card to gain votes and then asserted an aggressively independent line against Israel and the US in matters of foreign policy.

And all the while, Iran is quietly exploiting the distractions caused by the “Arab Spring” to continue its relentless pursuit of nuclear capabilities.

Parsons is media director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem;

The House that Fell

According to Islamic theology the world is divided into two spheres – the “House of Peace” (or Dar al-Salaam) and the “House of War” (the Dar al-Harb). Those living under Islamic shari’a law belong to the House of Peace, wherein they are told they enjoy the most advanced civilization anywhere and thus live in paradise on earth! Theirs is a superior religion and culture and those outside of it are inferior and infidels who have to be brought into submission to Islam and shari’a by jihad (holy war).

There is just one small problem – those living in the House of Peace are now everywhere in revolt. They are tired of its oppression and brutality and would prefer to live like those in the House of War, who are supposedly inferior in every way. Revolution is in the air because those living in this supposed paradise discovered that it meant the removal of their freedoms and human rights and their subjugation under the heel of hereditary despots, murderers and thugs who, in the name of Islam, have robbed them of their human dignity.

To put in bluntly, there is no ‘bright shining city on a hill’ in the Islamic world giving credibility to their utopian claims. The house has fallen! It has split open and thereby laid bare the truth for all to see. No wonder the Islamic bloc has been desperately trying to get a resolution passed in the United Nations that will effectively make it against the law globally to criticize Islam. They knew all along how bad things were and wanted to cover it all up. Too bad that Twitter, Face Book and text messaging came along in the “nick of time” to reveal the truth!

Many had tried to blame the brewing troubles in paradise on Israel! There was the Mossad’s top secret shark menacing tourists at Red Sea resorts and its vulture flying high over the Arabian desert and sending back highly sensitive images to Jerusalem.

The real truth is that many peoples of the region are tired of the theocratic rule of Islam that has only kept them poor, enslaved, illiterate and subjugated even though the region enjoys fabulous oil wealth.

By the way, where has all this wealth gone? The answer is simple; into the pockets of the ruling elites and for buying up the West! Is it not incredible that Israel’s national economic output exceeds that of most nations in the region combined! Could this have something to do with democracy and freedom?

Another thing that has emerged from this spreading revolution in the region is that Israel is not the real Apartheid state of the Middle East – it is the Arab nations! In this House of Peace there has been no democracy, no freedom of religion, no equality under the law for minorities, no freedom of the press, no equal rights for women, no independent judiciary, and no freedom of speech.

I grew up in a country like this; it was called South Africa! Thank God this house also fell because a house built on oppression and human rights abuses must eventually implode. South Africa did just this, as the House of Islam is doing today. For sure, the only shining city on a hill in the region is Israel! Of course all this is definitely not politically correct to say!

Yet the truth is finally out, and not because of the West or the United Nations or the European Union. They were too busy kissing Moammar Gaddafi in his tent. Rather, it was because men and women, mostly the young, took to the streets of the Islamic world and insisted enough was enough. Their revolution has surprised everyone, especially those with sophisticated intelligence services. But it underlines the fact that, in the end truth will prevail and shine like a great light in the darkness. We only hope that, once the dust settles, the “house” that emerges will be a kind, compassionate and peaceful one where all are free and protected. Actually, much like Israel!

Viva the revolution!


The Significance of Jerusalem to Christians

Jerusalem has always been significant to Christians because of the places there where Jesus ministered and, most importantly, where he died and rose again.  This is the obvious and simple significance of Jerusalem to the Christian world.  This is why Helen, mother of Constantine, built churches there in the 4th century that commemorated these events in the life of Jesus and is why Christians from every denomination on earth visit Jerusalem and these very churches and sites.

Unfortunately, throughout a lot of church history, while the Church held the Holy sites in Jerusalem to be sacred, they did not regard the Jewishness of Jerusalem to be revered.  In fact, they had little regard for anything Jewish because they saw themselves as having replaced the Jewish people as the Chosen People - they were the spiritual Israel and they focused instead on the heavenly Jerusalem.  

But, today, there is a historic shift taking place in the Christian world in the growth of a more Bible-based Christianity.  This segment of Christianity has its roots back in the 16th century when the Bible began to be translated into the vernacular languages.  For the first time, Christian laypeople could read the scriptures for themselves and study it in depth.  

This, of course, challenged the power of the state churches over the people and so these early Bible-believers were highly persecuted.  Just the translation of the Bible into English alone brought about a revolution in England and of course, the establishment of America as believers fled and sought freedom of worship.  

As soon as Christians began reading their own Bibles they learned of the Jewish roots of Christianity and of God’s promises to gather the Jewish people back in their homeland.  Now, some 500 years later, Bible-believing or what we also call Evangelical Christianity is the fastest growing, and soon-to-be the largest, segment of Christianity worldwide.  But what does this have to do with the city of Jerusalem?

Because there is now a much stronger connection in the Christian world to the historical and earthly city of Jerusalem, which we read about in our Bibles every day, we are not only interested in going there to visit the Churches built over Holy sites, but we want to go see the city.  

The city where many believe Abraham brought Isaac up Mt. Moriah and passed God’s test of faith.

The city where King David established his kingdom, made it a center of worship, besought generations to “Pray for the peace” of this city, and wrote his Psalms declaring the beauty and significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.

The city where King Solomon built the magnificent Temple and made it a house of prayer for all nations.

The city Isaiah envisioned as the world’s center where the nations will be taught the Law of the Lord, and would beat their swords into plowshares, and learn war no more.

And the city Jesus wept over and foretold it would be ruled by Gentiles for a time.

We understand the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people because we read about it every day in our Bible.  We share in that history because the New Testament says we have been grafted into the people of faith who lived out that history.  Their national history has become our spiritual history.

And it is important to note here that whenever the Bible speaks of Jerusalem, it is speaking of what we know today as East Jerusalem.  None of these many verses of Scripture refer to western Jerusalem, because that portion of the modern city only arose within the past 100 years.  Just because East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was ethnically cleansed of Jews during 19 years of Jordanian control, it does not negate the 3,000 years of Jewish history and connection to that part of the city.  

This is why, in 1980, when the Israeli Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, and declared Jerusalem to be the eternal, undivided capital of the State of Israel, we understood and we stood with them.  It was a very traumatic moment during which the Arab countries threatened oil embargos and therefore the countries that had Embassies in Jerusalem packed them up and moved to Tel-Aviv.  

A group of Bible-believing Christians who were living in Jerusalem at the time seized the moment and declared “We do not support what the governments of the world have done and are therefore opening an International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem to represent millions of Bible believing Christians around the world who understand the significance of the Jewish people and stand with Israel in her claim to Jerusalem.”

ICEJ Headquarters in JerusalemThirty-two years later, we are still in Jerusalem, with branches in over 60 countries of the world, and a track record of assistance for the people of Israel, of support for the State of Israel, and still we are standing with Israel in her claim to Jerusalem.  In fact, we are still the only Embassy in Jerusalem.

The significance of Jerusalem to Christians cannot be separated from the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.  We are intertwined through our scriptures and spiritual bonds and we share this heritage in Jerusalem as our spiritual capital while Israel also claims it as her national capital.

It is unfair to say that the significance of Jerusalem to Christians is all about our Holy sites – as important as they are – for in reality, all of Jerusalem is a Holy Site.  Nevertheless, I do want to say one thing about the Christian Holy sites.  Israel has not only voiced a commitment to, but placed into law which they have observed for over 45 years now, a respect for the Holy sites of Christians and Muslims and has allowed freedom of access and freedom of worship.

There is considerable concern throughout the Christian world about what might happen should our Holy sites be turned over to Palestinian control.  Yes, there are churches throughout the Palestinian areas and I am sure that any Palestinian government will say that Christians will be given freedom of worship.  But will they conduct themselves as a government that will protect the Christian churches and worshipers against fellow Muslims should this be necessary?

Temple MountTheir lack of respect for the Jewish Temple Mount gives us great cause for concern.  Not only have there been incidents of Arab crowds on the Temple Mount throwing stones down on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall, but there has also been the wanton destruction of Jewish antiquities from the First and Second Temple periods by the Muslims as they excavate and build underground the Temple Mount.  

There is a growing Islamist movement throughout the Muslim world that is totally intolerant and they are attacking Christians and burning their churches.  There are many recent examples of this in Egypt and Iraq that show the growing danger to Christians in the region.

But we don’t have to look that far for warning signs.  The Palestinian Authority has just signed a unity pact with the Islamist group, Hamas, which did not protect the Christians in Gaza from attacks and bombings, such as the owner of a Christian bookstore who was murdered and thrown in the street.  

BethlehemIn fact, it was a joint Hamas-Fatah force of thirteen terrorists that took refuge in one of Christianity’s most holy sites, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002.   They held the clergy as hostages for 39 days, stole any icons or religious artifacts of value, used pages of the Bible for toilet paper and left the church filled with 40 booby trap explosive devices.

In short, one of Christianity’s holiest sites was thoroughly desecrated by adherents of the very same political parties that seek control over Jerusalem’s holy sites. Today, Muslims are building on top of the hill many believe is Golgotha.  And they are building a wall on top of the Garden Tomb that is illegal, and threatens the integrity of the site and endangers its visitors.  I am so glad that we have the Israeli authorities to turn to for help, and I plead with them to please stop this encroachment on the Protestant world’s most holy site.

Church leaders in Jerusalem and believers worldwide are worried.  Just think what it would be like if that site was under Palestinian control.  We want to maintain the status quo – Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

To summarize, we stand with Israel and her claim to Jerusalem because:

  • We share the same biblical and historical connection,
  • We honor the unique national and spiritual connection that the Jewish people and the Jewish Nation have with the city of Jerusalem,
  • We trust Israel to maintain the safety and freedom of worship for everyone throughout Jerusalem and lastly,
  • We believe that just as you can not separate Christianity from its Jewish roots, you can not separate Jerusalem from its Jewish history.  It is an eternal, spiritual and historical reality.

Yes, Jerusalem is significant to Christians.  We also have a history and important religious sites in Jerusalem.  But only the Jewish people have the historical, national and legal connection to the city of Jerusalem that goes back some 3,000 years. 

The world needs to honor this and recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of the State of Israel.

This speech was delivered at the Jerusalem Day Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2011. The event was sponsored by the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation.

Susan Michael serves as US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and is based in Washington, DC.

Stop poking God in the eye

I Samuel 11 tells the fascinating story of how Israel came to be united under Saul’s kingship.  As with all Old Testament stories, God has given them to us so we can learn from them and apply the principles revealed therein. This story is no different, and even gives us invaluable insight into how the Lord views events happening in our own lifetime.

In this chapter, the Ammonites come up against Jabesh. The people of Jabesh seek terms of peace but are presented with a horrible proposition; in return for peace the Ammonites want the right to cut out the right eye of every man and bring a reproach on all Israel.

Apart from the stigma and shame attached with having a whole community’s eyesight disabled, it is also evident that the Ammonites sought to ensure that Jabesh remained immobilized, defenceless against future attacks. If the men of Jabesh could not defend themselves well with both eyes, removing the right eye would certainly ensure that even in the future they would not be able to rise to the challenge and the Ammonites could seek further sacrifices for “peace” whenever they desired.

On May 19th, 2011, the President of the USA announced a change in policy regarding his country’s position as peace broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Whereas previously no administration had outlined what it believed was the territorial starting position for negotiations, but had left that for the two parties to work out, President Obama stated that the pre-1967 borders should now be the basis for the renewal of talks. Areas that do not fall within these territories, such as many Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, along with historic Jerusalem (so-called East Jerusalem), could be resolved, the President said, via land swaps.

The Group of Eight leaders, representing the most economically powerful nations on earth, were swift to endorse Obama’s position in a statement released on May 27th, 2011.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel’s premier, was quick to reject this new approach since it would return Israel to a territorial position that is not defendable. Every American administration up until this one has understood that after all the wars Israel has fought to defend itself against the Arab plans for her annihilation, she requires defendable borders to live in peace and security.

Not only that, but if the pre-1967 borders are the starting point for peace, Israel faces again the shameful prospect of having to send in its own armed forces to forcibly uproot thousands of its citizens from their homes as the world watches on through the lenses of western media companies that have systematically reduced these people to dehumanized illegal settlers, and blamed them for the lack of peace in the entire region, if not the world.

Make no mistake, the Palestinians do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, and they have always sought an agreement with Israel that leaves the door open for further attacks on her sovereignty. Like the Ammonites, they offer peace in return for Israel’s shame. They will only come to an agreement if the Israelis cut out their right eye by removing their so-called settlements, and in so doing, also return to a situation where they are more vulnerable to further attacks. Unfortunately, the US President has led the way in adding considerable weight to their cause and the Israelis, like the people of Jabesh, find themselves isolated and outnumbered in this conflict.

Going back to I Samuel 11, we find that the people of Jabesh seek help and their messengers reach Saul. But, the Saul they find is not sitting in a kingly palace with thousands of troops at his command; he’s out in the field herding flocks. He had been crowned king already, but not all the people accepted his appointment and it seems as if life just went back to normal for Israel and Saul, up until this point that is.

When Saul hears the news, something remarkable happens. The Spirit of God comes upon him and he becomes extremely angry.  He hews a yoke of oxen into pieces, sends them throughout the land as warning of what will happen to the oxen of those who don’t come out to fight, and he manages to raise an army of 330,000 which goes on to demolish the Ammonites and save Jabesh. The people rally around Saul after this victory, gathering in Gilgal to renew the kingdom and make Saul king before God.

Saul clearly didn’t have the force of arms to back up his threat, but the fear of Lord fell on the people as Saul followed the Spirit’s leading and this brought forth salvation.

It’s not often that we associate the Holy Spirit with anger, or righteous indignation as some translations use. We are more accustomed to the Holy Spirit bringing peace or joy in the face of adversity. But God is clearly able to experience the emotions we humans know and when the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, He can even impart on us His very personal feelings regarding a situation.

In Zechariah 2: 8 it says of Zion, “he who touches you touches the apple of His eye”. Your eye is the most sensitive part of your body. When the Ammonites came to Jabesh with the intent of cutting out the men’s right eyes, they didn’t realize that they had poked God in the eye, in His most sensitive area, and aroused His anger. It’s a warning to all nations that would seek to come up against Israel to dispossess her of her God-given inheritance.

In these days when the nations are out repeating the mistake of the Ammonites, the question for us is how in tune are we to the Holy Spirit? How well are we connected with God’s feelings on the issue? Are we outraged? Are we speaking up to ensure that our nations are warned as to the consequence of their actions?

Like Saul, we have been anointed, but haven’t yet received a kingdom. I Peter 2: 9 says we are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”. We don’t have physical armies under our command, but our power is in the fear of the Lord. He will bring the victory.

Isaiah 41 confirms that the Lord will deliver Israel and will destroy those who come against her. Our mission at the ICEJ has always been to speak words of comfort to Zion, to let her know that her God will surely rescue her, while also speaking a word of warning to the nations about how they treat the people of the covenant. Never has there been a time when these messages are more important.

For the sake of our own nations, we must find our voice and tell our leaders to please stop poking God in the eye.


Daryl Hedding serves as Strategic Development Director for the ICEJ.

The Second Coming of Jesus

Even a brief glance at the New Testament will reveal that the Second Coming of Jesus was never far from the mind and hearts of those earliest Christian believers. The question we have to ask some two thousand years later is, “Were they wrong?” Did they have an expectation of the soon return of Jesus that was misguided? For instance, even Paul, when writing to the Corinthian church about marriage, stated that in view of the “impending distress” it is better not to marry. He felt that time was short and that therefore the believers needed to fix their hope fully on the soon coming of Jesus.

Progressive prophetic fulfilment

From Jesus’ Olivet discourse, the disciples recognised that certain signs in the region and in the world would indicate the soon coming of Jesus. These are: a temple would be standing in Jerusalem; a global world power would invade the city of Jerusalem; the Holy of holies would be desecrated; great distress would befall the region; and believers would have to flee and find shelter. Then, Jesus would come!

They saw all of these signs flashing and growing with each passing day. The “Day of the Lord” was surely upon them! They were therefore both right and wrong, since it is clear from Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 that the events about which Jesus spoke entailed two fulfilments. One occurred in AD 70 and another was yet in the future. Paul is clear, as is John, that the Anti-Christ who desecrates the Temple is destroyed by the visible real coming of Jesus a second time. We are dealing here with what Bible scholars refer to as “progressive prophetic fulfilment.” That is, one vision having two fulfilments over time! These same circumstances have not come together again until our day!

The signs of the end

While there have always been wars, rumours of wars, conflicts and natural upheavals, it was not until 1948 that the crucial building block of a Jewish return to Jerusalem fell into place again. Jesus cited this as the validating sign of the His near coming (Luke 21:24). Now today, as it was in AD 70, there is once again a growing global campaign against a Jewish Jerusalem and indeed a campaign to delegitimize Israel and dismantle her. Conflict and wars are everywhere and great earthquakes and natural upheavals are a familiar occurrence. It is the first time in 2000 years that these “signs” are manifesting again. Like the disciples of Paul’s day, we should look up because our “redemption draws nigh” (Luke 21:28). Jesus is coming and about this we should not have any doubts at all!

The miracle of Israel’s restoration is the validating sign heralding the return of our dear Lord. It is also true that the Word of God portrays Israel’s restoration as taking place amidst great international resistance to it. The nations will eventually mobilize, as they did in AD 70, against Jerusalem and they will try to remove it from Jewish hands (Zechariah 12). They will be thwarted and Jesus will return in glory and splendour to set up His throne in Jerusalem and from which He will rule the nations with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15).

The hope of the Church

This glorious hope of Jesus’ return (Titus 2:11-13) serves to keep the Church pure and clean. It is when we lose this hope that we sleep spiritually and begin to get entangled in the worldly affairs. Jesus warned about this in His parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).

It is always fascinating to note that every time scripture refers to the Second Coming of Jesus, it invites us to embrace an appropriate spiritual response. So Jesus says, “watch and pray” (Mark 13:33-37).

John, in his first epistle, also tells us that if we hold the hope of Jesus’ return in our hearts, we should “purify ourselves” (1 John 3:1-3). That is, live clean and godly lives!

In his first epistle, Peter writes that because the “end of all things is at hand”, we should be loving, prayerful and engaged in the Lord’s business (1 Peter 4:7-10).

Finally, Paul not only greets his readers with the words Maranatha (“the Lord is coming” – 1 Corinthians 16:22), but he also exhorts believers, who have lost believing loved ones, to fix their hope on the Second Coming of Jesus when they will be resurrected to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Second Coming of Jesus thus keeps the Church spiritually healthy and when we ignore it we do the people of God a disservice. Now more than ever, Christians should be gazing into heaven and preparing their lives to welcome Jesus back.

“Behold He is coming and every eye will see Him.” These words greet us in the very first chapter of the book of Revelation. This passage goes on to say that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). Why would they mourn over such a wonderful event? Because they never embraced Him or prepared their lives to welcome Him on the day of His return.

Jesus also warned in his Olivet discourse that the love of many would grow cold (Matthew 24:12). This can only be a reference to Christians who have taken their spiritual eyes off His soon return! May he not be talking about anyone of us!

The mode of His coming

Though many so-called theologians have tried to deny it in recent years, the Bible teaches that Jesus will come visibly and physically to the Mount of Olives. As He went, so He will come again and thus His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which is to the east of Jerusalem (Acts 1:9-11).

His visible coming will be with great glory and the whole world will see this glory as it flashes from the east to the west (Matthew 24:27). As He descends from Heaven in triumph to reign and rule over the nations, a great trumpet blast will take place and the dead in Christ and all believers then alive will rise to meet Him (Matthew 24:30-31; Revelation 2:27-28, 12:5). What a wonderful day this will be and so no wonder we are to get ready as we now see it approaching! (Hebrews 10:25)

Honouring the Memory of Johan Greeff

Dear Friends,

It was with great shock and sadness that I learned of the passing away of Johan Greeff on May 22nd, 2011. He will be greatly missed by everyone that knew him because he had a zeal and enthusiasm for the things of God that was infectious. He was always abounding in the work of the Lord and most certainly was a faithful defender of Zion and of the Jewish people.

Johan worked with and for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem for many, many years. In this regard he was an inspiration to all of us and, though we know that he has now gone to be with His Lord, our hearts are saddened and our thoughts and prayers go out to Gayle and the whole family.

Johan's life was guided by his personal relationship with God by Jesus Christ and it gave meaning and a clear example of what it means to bless Israel.

Well done good and faithful servant you have now entered into the joy of your Lord.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding

Malcolm Hedding
Executive Director ICEJ

Read ICEJ South Africa's official announcement

Sixty-three Years Since Israel Was Born

Dear Friends,

The modern state of Israel has reached 63 years of age. This is nothing short of a miracle, because she is actually an ancient nation which has been restored and achieved unbelievable successes in just a short a time and in the face of many wars aimed at her demise. Israel’s existence is clear evidence of God’s faithfulness to His promises given to Abraham some 4000 years ago. So we salute Israel today and rejoice with her, but we also weep with those who have fallen in her defence. Most of all we know her future is secure because God watches over her day and night! Thus the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem congratulates the people of Israel on this, their 63rd national Day of Independence.

On this momentous occasion, we are also proud to announce the launch of an updated version of our global ministry’s website, redesigned and greatly enhanced so that together we all can be better equipped to take our stand with Israel. The new site provides closer integration with our worldwide network of branches and informs you of more ways to get involved with Israel and the ICEJ.

Shalom from Jerusalem!

Malcolm Hedding
Executive Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Israel at 63: Some interesting facts

  • As Israel marks its 63rd Independence Day, the population has grown to approximately 7,746,000 residents. At the time of the establishment of the State, it numbered 806,000 residents.
  • This includes approximately 5,837,000 Jewish residents (75.3%); 1,587,000 Arab residents (20.5%); and 322,000 (4.2%) other non-Jewish residents.
  • Since last Independence Day, approximately 178,000 babies were born, and 24,500 immigrants arrived in Israel. Factoring in departures and deaths, the total population of Israel has grown by about 155,000 residents, up 2.0% from last year.
  • In 1948 there was only one city in Israel with more than 100,000 residents – Tel Aviv. Today, 14 cities number more than 100,000 residents, of which six number more than 200,000 residents: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rishon LeZion, Ashdod, and Petah Tikva.

The Struggle Within the Dream

By David Parsons, ICEJ Media Director

As Israelis prepare to celebrate the 63rd Anniversary of the nation’s rebirth in May 1948, many will think back longingly to when the Jewish State marked fifty years of modern independence.  Those were heady days, when the Oslo process still filled many with hope that the long search for peace with their Arab neighbours was about to bear lasting fruit. In his keynote address at the official ceremonies for Israel’s 50th birthday, then-US Vice President Al Gore struck heart chords with his reference to the Patriarch Jacob who – like Israel today – had to endure the “struggle within the dream”....

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Understanding the Prophetic Word

The Apostle Peter urges us in 2 Peter 1:19-21 to give attention to the “prophetic word” because it constitutes a light shining in a dark place. In other words, it is our only reliable “GPS system”. Sadly, too often this prophetic word has been mishandled and abused by those who are only interested in speculation and sensational entertainment. In reality, the prophetic word is testimony to the unfolding purpose and plan of God in Israel, the Church and the nations. It tells what we should be doing!

The words of Jesus

In Matthew 24 and the other synoptic Gospels, Jesus pinpoints our times by giving us “signs” that have no relevance until the Jews have returned, by the hand of God, to the Land of Israel. This will include a return to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and it will arouse global hostility. The nations will be in uproar and will mobilise their resources against Zion. However, this means that we should see this return of the Jews as evidence of the plan and will of God and we should therefore rise up to bless what God Himself is doing. As Jesus put it, “the fig tree” is once again putting forth leaves and by this we know that the summer is near. That is, the day of His coming is at hand (Matthew 24:32-33).

Jesus also spoke about the gospel going to the ends of the earth and then the “end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Here again, this is a call to action and not to speculation. The Church must be involved in the Great Commission. A church that is outward looking will enjoy spiritual vitality and growth. Sadly, Jesus also warns that the last days’ church will be inward looking and “grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). The prophetic word should therefore warn us against procrastination.

The words of Paul

Paul mainly saw the end of days in terms of spiritual disease and failure. For instance, in 1Timothy 4:1 he says that in the last days elements of the church will give heed to “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”. This is incredible because he is speaking about the true church, not some false entity that we all know is wrong. No, true believers will be seduced and turned away from the faith. This implies a spiritual assault of great proportions against the people of God. We must be warned and armed!

Again in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 he warns that in the latter days “fierce times” will come because Christians will be obsessed with themselves. Their love of God will be a hobby and it will always play “second fiddle” to their own interests! These days are upon us. We need to wake up and ensure that we are seeking first the Kingdom of God!

The words of John

The Apostle John had much to say about the prophetic word as he was given the awesome vision that we have recorded in our Bibles as “The Revelation”. His message to the seven Churches of Asia is a warning against lawlessness, immorality, disobedience and lukewarmness. His visions of the world in upheaval remind us that God is in control of all things and that, through a process of judgment on the earth seen as natural catastrophes, he will bring about His triumph and thus “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

John sees that this time of upheaval and uncertainty will require the patience of the saints (Revelation 14:12). Moreover, they will have to reject deception and keep their eyes on a heavenly city that will be their inheritance and eternal home. The struggles of their earthly sojourn will fade away as they hold dear the heavenly vision (Revelation 21:1-8). The prophetic word will not entertain or amuse them, but it will fortify and prepare them to face and walk through the “end of day’s struggles”. It will be their “road-map”, constantly guiding them and renewing their faith in Jesus. The prophetic word enlightens our way. But it should and must encourage us to ever make Jesus our Lord! (Revelation 19:10)

Rev. Hedding is Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

Holy Convocations!

Two recent church convocations have reached conclusions that are unbiblical but widely believed in Christian circles. The first was the special Synod of Catholic Bishops of the Middle East, which concluded with the official secretary of the gathering insisting that Israel was no long a “chosen people” and that the Abrahamic Covenant has been “annulled.” By doing so, he sought to negate Israel’s divine right to the land of Canaan and to Jerusalem. If this be true, then modern-day Israel enjoys no biblical significance, her restoration is an accident of history, and she simply like any other nation on earth – the same as Zambia or Switzerland!

The second convocation was that of the recent Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization held in Cape Town. Oddly, this assembly of leading Evangelicals initially considered a resolution that would have agreed entirely with the Bishop’s statement made in Rome: “…no single ethnic identity can any longer claim to be “God’s chosen people”… We strongly believe that the separate and privileged place given to Jewish people today or to the modern Israeli state in certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, should be challenged, inasmuch as they deny the essential oneness of the people of God in Christ.”

Thus, this indicates many Evangelicals also see no biblical significance whatsoever in Israel’s restoration. Christians should ignore it and move on to more important spiritual matters. At least the Catholic Bishop was honest in recognizing his stand on Israel meant he must declare the Abrahamic Covenant obsolete. There is just one problem, however. Scripture nowhere says it. It is an argument crafted from silence!

In fact, if anything the New Testament scriptures everywhere affirm the ongoing efficacy of the Abrahamic covenant, even going so far as to declare that it cannot be annulled (Galatians 3:17); that it constitutes an example to believers of God’s truthfulness and unswerving faithfulness (Hebrews 6:13-20); and that the finished work of Jesus on the cross was to make good its promises (Galatians 3:9; 13-14;). Indeed, if we are Christ’s we are “Abraham’s children according to the promise (covenant).” (Galatians 3:29)

Moreover, I know of no Christian Zionist who affords a privileged place to Jews or Israel. If anything, the call of God over the Jewish people was never a “privileged place” but a place of servant-hood, of suffering and rejection for the sake of the world! As a gentile believer in Jesus I would not want their role in history, but truly I have been eternally enriched by it because “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), “we share in their spiritual things” (Romans 15:27), and from them “Christ came who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” (Romans 9:5)

To assert then that, since Jesus’ coming, the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished is quite frankly theological ineptitude! The scriptures nowhere support this theory. In fact, if accepted, these convocations are guilty of the very theological position that they claim to be against! That is, they are guilty of being dispensationalists because they endorse the movement from one plan of salvation to another down through history. This is classic dispensationalism, which we reject in all its forms! There has only and forever been one plan of God for redeeming the whole world (Revelation 13:8). This plan was unveiled and promised in the Abrahamic Covenant which, according to Paul, was the first and foundational proclamation of the Gospel (Galatians 3:8). The fact that this saving initiative also promised land as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people (Genesis 17:8-9) has always “stuck in the throat” of many people and groups (Nehemiah 2:19-20; 4:1-3; 6:1-2).

The fact is all nations are blessed and saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus because of the peculiar servant role that Israel has played out on their behalf. This calling Paul declares to be irrevocable! (Romans11:29)  For this role or calling to be removed the Abrahamic Covenant has to be removed but, if that ever happens (and it will not) then God’s decision to save the world also has to be removed!

Some attendees at the Lausanne Conference and the Mideast Catholic Bishops have failed to “rightly divide” the word of God and are also casting doubt over the character of God. For even years after Israel’s rejection of the Messianic credentials of Jesus, the writer of the book of Hebrews holds up the Abrahamic Covenant to wavering believers as an example of God’s faithfulness to His word, character and promises (Hebrews 6).
Rev. Hedding is Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem;
This article first appeared in the January 2011 issue of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition;  

Signs of the times

Jesus warned that just prior to His return, cataclysmic upheavals would take place in the world that would defy human explanation and strike fear into the hearts of men. In just the last few weeks, our eyes have witnessed a rampaging fire in the Carmel heights of Israel, snow storms in Europe and the USA never witnessed before, rain storms and flooding in Australia on a scale that boggles the mind, and the unexplained deaths of thousands upon thousands of fish and birds in North and South America.

When one adds to this picture the wholesale murder of Christians throughout the Muslim world, plus the rise of anti-Semitism and the hatred of Israel in all international spheres, then the words of Jesus become more important and most worthy of our careful consideration. No wonder he said that we are to watch and pray and, more notably still, to be ready for His sudden appearing.

Nations buckling under huge mountains of debt, coupled with nuclear proliferation, only add to the dangers of an unstable global situation, not to mention the wars that continue to rage in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anxiety levels are increasing everywhere! World leaders are void of real answers and their political theories have proven to be bankrupt. No wonder they are now openly calling for a one-world government, a new global currency and human controls never imagined or seen before. As things get worse the masses, longing for safety, will join this call thinking that their only way out of the present distress will be totalitarianism with its promise of peace and order.

Freedom, as we know it, could become a thing of the past and a brave new world order could arise totally transforming the present social, political and economic order. All of this would be hailed as progress and another step forward in humankind’s evolutionary development!

Naturally, leadership over this new globalist regime would have to be given to a dynamic, benevolent and “wise” leader such as the world has never seen but certainly has longed for. Absolute obedience would be given to him by universal decree and those who failed to submit would be removed from society under the charge of being enemies of the global order. Celebrations would abound and a new one-world religious system would be established. The Bible, once the world’s most loved and read book, would be banned!

With every passing day, this picture seems to be emerging with frightening clarity and what was once only written about by “whistle blowers” is now openly being stated and published without shame. Economic pressure, natural upheavals, wars, and nuclear threats coupled with fear and anxiety have enabled the globalists to “show their hand” with increasing brazenness. Meanwhile, the followers of Jesus are being slaughtered everywhere across the Middle East and North Africa, and are being mocked in nations that once called themselves Christian. It turns out that faith in Jesus is now a problem for much of the world!

Nevertheless, is it not amazing that his words of warning in Matthew 24 have been fulfilled with pinpoint accuracy? He is hated only because He tells the truth and thereby unmasks the wickedness of the human heart. He himself declared that his own people would be hated by all men because they bear God’s glorious name. What did he do to these nations to arouse such hatred and rejection? The answer is simple – He loved them and gave His life for them!

In the end the “signs of the times” will prove to be the only “road map” worth following. The coming new world order will only bring humankind closer to utter destruction. Indeed, Jesus said, “Unless those days be shortened no flesh will be spared.”

Rev. Hedding is Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem;
This article first appeared in the February 2011 issue of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition;  


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