Category: Israel

UN calls on Israel to open nuclear facilities

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Monday calling on Israel to quickly open its nuclear program for inspection and backing a high-level conference to ban nuclear weapons from the Middle East which was just canceled.

All the Arab nations and Iran had planned to attend the conference in mid-December in Helsinki, Finland, but the United States announced on Nov. 23 that it wouldn’t take place, citing political turmoil in the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation. Iran and some Arab nations countered that the real reason for the cancellation was Israel’s refusal to attend.

The resolution, approved by a vote of 174-6 with 6 abstentions, calls on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty “without further delay” and open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Those voting “no” were Israel, the US, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

Resolutions adopted by the 193-member General Assembly are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear bombs though it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal. It has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, along with three nuclear weapon states – India, Pakistan and North Korea.

The Arab proposal to create a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Mideast, and to pressure Israel to give up its undeclared arsenal of perhaps 80 nuclear warheads, was endorsed at an NPT conference in 1995 but never acted on. In 2010, the 189 parties to the 1970 treaty called for convening a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

The resolution, which was approved by the assembly’s disarmament committee before the conference was cancelled, noted the decision to hold it “with satisfaction.”

But Israel has long said there first must be a Mideast peace agreement before the establishment of a Mideast zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The region’s Muslim nations argue that Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal presents the greatest threat to peace in the region.

Just before Monday’s vote, Iranian diplomat Khodadad Seifi told the assembly “the truth is that the Israeli regime is the only party which rejected to conditions for a conference.” He called for “strong pressure on that regime to participate in the conference without any preconditions.”

Israeli diplomat Isi Yanouka said his country has continuously pointed to the danger of nuclear proliferation in the Mideast, singling out Iran and Syria by name.

“All these cases challenge Israel’s security and cast a dark shadow at the prospect of embarking on a meaningful regional security process,” he said.

“The fact that the sponsors include in this anti-Israeli resolution language referring to the 2012 conference proves above all the ill-intent of the Arab states with regard to this conference,” Yanouka said.

Syrian diplomat Abdullah Hallak told the assembly his government was angry that the conference wasn’t going to take place because of “the whim of just one party, a party with nuclear warheads.”

“We call on the international community to put pressure on Israel to accept the NPT, get rid of its arsenal and delivery systems, in order to allow for peace and stability in our region,” he said.

The conference’s main sponsors are the US, Russia and Britain. British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has said it is being postponed, not cancelled.

While the United States voted against the resolution, it voted in favor of two paragraphs in it that were put to separate votes. Both support universal adherence to the NPT, and call on those countries that aren’t parties to ratify it “at the earliest date.” The only “no” votes on those paragraphs were Israel and India.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4489

TOP ISRAELI RABBI TWEETS PROPHECY AS MISSILES TARGET HOLY CITY

 

A leading rabbi for the Israeli Defense Forces has been reaching out to the nation’s troops – now being massed because of the unrelenting missile attacks from Gaza over the past few days – through social media.

According to a new report in Israel Today, the soldiers are being called up for active military duty in preparation for a possible invasion of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, so the rabbi has been posting inspirational scriptures on Twitter.

Just yesterday was posted Zechariah 12:10, “A passage Christians and Messianic Jews see as pointing to Yeshua as Messiah,” the report said.

That states, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.”

While the Twitter space limits ended the message there, Israel Today notes that the verse continues, stating, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

“The IDF chief rabbi has posted that verse before, but it seemed to many to be especially timely now as the battle in Gaza rages and the world howls against Israel,” Israel Today reported.

The publication also noted the verse immediately preceding:

“On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.”

Some of the Gaza-based missiles being launched against Israel have been targeting Jerusalem, the report said.

Israel Today is a Jerusalem-based news agency providing a biblical and objective perspective on local news. Founded in 1978, when it began publishing a monthly German news magazine, the English language edition of Israel Today was launched in January 1999 in order to meet a growing demand for news from Israel to the English-speaking market.

The publication aims to be the definitive source for a truthful and balanced perspective on Israel and to provide timely news directly from Jerusalem – the focus of world attention.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4437

Arabs Burning ‘First Temple Cedars of Lebanon’

A group of Jews that ascended the Temple Mount Sunday were shocked to see that ancient beams of wood that had apparently been used during the period of the Holy Temple were being used as firewood by Arabs on the Mount, and off it. Archaeologists have dated the wood as far back as the First Temple period, and appear to be among the celebrated “Cedars of Lebanon” mentioned in the Tanach.

The wood, consisting of giant beams, first appeared at the end of the 1930s, when the Al-Aqsa mosque which currently occupies the Temple Mount was refurbished. The beams had been used in the roof structure of the mosque, and already at that time they were said to be thousands of years old by archaeologists – preserved only because they had been used in the building. Some of the beams were dated to the first Temple period, others to Roman times, and at least one beam was found to have Byzantine-era designs etched on it.

After the beams were removed from the mosque, they were stored in a museum on the Mount. However, in recent years the beams were moved to a corner of the Mount, open to the elements – and archaeologists fear that exposure to winter rain and summer sun will be their undoing. Some of the beams were taken out several years ago, and more have been spotted in recent months. Reports said that the Arabs, who have been trying for years to ger rid of the beams, have begun burning them.

Now, many of the beams have been placed at what appears to be a dumping ground next to the Golden Gate of the Old City, apparently for the use of local Arabs as firewood. Jewish groups that visited the Mount saw the beams being moved, but reported that the Arabs forbade them to take photos of the activity. Officials of the Archaeology Authority, who are responsible for the safety of these ancient beams, are nowhere to be seen.

Organizations that are involved in attempting to secure Jewish rights on the Mount expressed shock at the story. “It appears that this is part of the systematic attempts by Arabs to destroy all connections between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount,” said a spokesperson for one of the groups.

Manhigut Yehudit leader Moshe Feiglin expressed shock at the destruction of the important artifacts under the noses of Israeli authorities, and expressed hope that Likud voters would choose the Manhigut Yehudit faction to help defend the holy places of the Jewish people.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4369

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT ISRAEL?

What’s the big deal about Israel?

Exclusive: Greg Laurie looks at prophecy predicting Jewish state will be friendless

by Greg Laurie

Why is Jerusalem such a big deal in world news? Why aren’t we talking about Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, or some other major capital in another part of the world? Why this little city?

I will tell you why. Because God said that in the last days, Jerusalem would play a key role: “I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves” (Zechariah 12:2–3 NLT

Scripture also foretold in Ezekiel 37 that the Jews would be regathered in their land, and this prophecy was fulfilled when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948. After Ezekiel 37 comes Ezekiel 38, which speaks of an attack against Israel by a large nation to the north of the Jewish homeland, accompanied by a number of allies invading Israel from every direction. Scripture emphasizes multiple times that this will happen in the last days. This is still in the future.

In speaking of Israel’s enemies, Ezekiel 38:8–11 offers an interesting detail:

“A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel.

“You and all your allies – a vast and awesome army – will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.”

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘At that time evil thoughts will come to your mind, and you will devise a wicked scheme. You will say, “Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence!”‘”

These people who live in such confidence? Can you imagine that statement being made right after the Holocaust? Hardly. Can you imagine that statement being made after Israel was established as a nation, or even after the 1967 war? Not really. But today Israel has one of the most powerful and effective military forces on the face of the earth. They are not the largest, but they are known for their military prowess and for their military intelligence. And for quite a long time now, they have had nuclear weaponry. That is why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stood before the United Nations and made it very clear that, if necessary, Israel will exercise a military option to protect herself. So I think Israel does live within a certain degree of confidence today that they have never known historically.

Some might say, “Well, who cares about what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says? He’s just another crazy tyrant.”

But this is a man who makes threats and has the ability to carry out those threats. Therefore, Israel takes this very seriously, and they have stated they will defend themselves.

In his address to the United Nations in September, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth. That’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.”

And that is true. Because in his recent address to the United Nations, Ahmadinejad stated, “God Almighty has promised us a man of kindness, a man who loves people and loves absolute justice, a man who is a perfect human being and is named Imam A1-Mahdi, a man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ. Peace be upon him and the righteous.”

This Islamic messiah, this 12th Imam, according to their beliefs, will bring about an Islamic kingdom. But also according to their beliefs, the Judeo-Christian civilization must be destroyed first. For this 12th Imam to come, they believe, there must first be chaos.

Could this be what brings about the scenario predicted in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel (see chapters 38 and 39)? No one can say with certainty. But this much we must acknowledge: It certainly could be. We see how things are lining up.

Up to this point, the United States has been a staunch ally of Israel’s. And I believe that one of the reasons God has blessed our nation is because of our continued support for Israel. But it would appear these days that we are backing away from her. And according to Bible prophecy, one day, there will be no great ally behind Israel. She will stand alone when she is attacked by an enemy from the north and its allies.

The Bible also predicts that a national revival will come to Israel, when God will once again pour out his Spirit upon the nation. But this will happen after the rapture of the church. Romans 11:25 predicts, “Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.”

I have met people who can quote chapter and verse and give a good overview of the proper chronology of events of the end times, yet they are not living godly lives. And they are missing the point. If knowing what the Bible predicts about the last days doesn’t impact us in the way that we live, then we have missed what God is trying to say. Jesus didn’t say, “When these things begin to happen, argue about it.” Rather, he said, “When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28 NKJV).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4360

Turkey: An Aggressive Emerging Islamist Autocracy That May Soon Become ‘The Greatest Threat To Israel’

“Bernard Lewis, one of the world’s greatest experts on the Islamic world, told me a few years ago that the emerging younger Iranian generation and the alienated middle class would bring about regime change. However, he also predicted that Turkey would evolve into an aggressive Islamist dictatorship and could become the greatest threat to Israel.

Alas, his prediction about Turkey is being realized.

When, 12 years ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed the reins of leadership in Turkey, many expressed concern that beneath the veneer of moderation and commitment to a fusion of moderate Islam and democracy, the real Erdogan was a fanatical Muslim whose objective was to transform Turkey into an authoritarian Islamic state. They were vindicated.

The military, which controlled the nation since Kemal Ataturk created a secular Turkish Republic in 1923, undoubtedly displayed autocratic tendencies in the course of its relentless determination to suppress Muslim extremism. Yet in terms of freedom of speech and democratic process, the situation today is significantly worse than before Erdogan.

Erdogan imprisoned thousands of Turkish citizens on spurious grounds without adequate trials; one in four former Turkish generals is currently languishing in prison; journalists, nonconforming academics and politicians have been summarily arrested; dissenting newspapers were closed down.

To some extent, leaders can be judged by their associates.

Erdogan proudly accepted a ‘human rights award’ from the late Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi and welcomed as his guest Omar Bashir, the genocidal leader of Sudan, a certified war criminal responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own citizens.

Erdogan denies that Hamas is a terrorist organization, referring to its adherents as heroic liberation fighters and treating visiting Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh virtually like a head of state. Last month he invited the other Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, to be his personal guest of honor at a state Iftar dinner to mark the end of Ramadan.

Erdogan also expanded Turkish diplomatic ties to the most radical Muslim terrorist regimes and organizations, including until recently the Syrians and the Iranian ayatollahs who he continues to insist are entitled to become a nuclear power. Now having parted ways with Assad, he has closely allied himself with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Clearly his objective is to emerge as the popular leader of a neo-Ottoman Sunni Muslim arc.

To promote this objective, he has consciously exploited popular hatred of Israel as a vehicle by which to gain widespread support from the Arab masses.

To this end, he has transformed Turkey’s former close alliance with Israel into one of aggressive confrontation and demonization, emerging as one of the leading Arab states directing hostility against the Jewish state.

The first public display of this behavior was his bitter and contrived confrontation of President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2009. Millions of television viewers saw him excoriating Peres over alleged Israeli war crimes and then dramatically storming out of the conference.

The deterioration in Turkish-Israel relations climaxed in 2010 when nine members of the IHH, a Turkish government-sanctioned jihadist terrorist group, were killed on board the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish boat in the Gaza ‘peace’ flotilla, after having attacked the IDF boarding party with metal bars, clubs and knives.

An independent Israeli commission of inquiry vindicated the IDF actions as self-defense. A separate UN commission ruled that while there may have been excessive violence, the Israeli action was entirely consistent with international law.

However, Erdogan exploited this incident to intensify the confrontation with Israel. He demanded that the Israeli government apologize, pay restitution to families and unconditionally lift the blockade on Gaza.

Seeking to ease tensions, the Israelis expressed regret at the loss of lives and, without accepting blame, sought to reach an accommodation including a rumored offer to pay $6 million to families of the victims.

But it soon became clear that Erdogan was seeking confrontation rather than compromise.

The Turkish government downgraded its diplomatic representation and intensified its global campaign to demonize Israel, seeking to have it barred from participating at all international gatherings.

Last month, on the second anniversary of the flotilla, the Turkish High Court issued indictments against Israeli military officers for their alleged involvement in the incident, pronouncing life sentences on the former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and other military leaders.

Campaigns against Israel were accompanied by intensification of anti-Semitic propaganda in the government- controlled media which included ghoulish television dramas (Valley of the Wolves) portraying Israelis as dealers in body parts, murderers of innocent children and other foul criminal activity. Not surprisingly, Turkish opinion polls reflect a 76 percent negative attitude towards Jews.

Erdogan has been especially viral in his denunciation of Israel’s targeted assassinations of terrorists. Yet when a number of Syrian shells errantly crossed his border, he had no hesitation in launching a brutal military attack, in stark contrast to Israel’s reluctance to maximize its deterrent capabilities in response to missiles continuously being launched against Israeli civilians from Gaza.

Nor does Erdogan display any scruples in employing the fiercest means to suppress protests or efforts by the Kurdish minority to achieve greater autonomy or independence.

One of the most disconcerting aspects of this confrontation is that despite his concerted campaign to delegitimize Israel, Erdogan has successfully forged a close alliance with President Barack Obama, who describes him as ‘an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues.’ Erdogan reciprocates, stating ‘from the moment Barack became president, we upgraded the status of our relations from a strategic partnership to a model partnership, on which he also placed a lot of importance.’

Indeed, following pressure from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Obama agreed to bar Israel – a NATO partner country and member of NATO’s Mediterranean dialogue – from participating in a NATO summit which took place in Chicago.

Turkey also demanded that NATO intelligence information be denied to Israel.

Likewise, Turkey succeeded in excluding Israel from a special meeting of the World Economic Forum. More outrageously, Obama caved in to Turkey’s demand that Israel – the Western country which has suffered more terrorism than any other – be barred from a global forum on counterterrorism.

Israel can do little to lessen the tension. Those who suggest that by prostrating and groveling towards Turkey Israel would overcome this enmity are naïve and misguided. In the context of an aggressive Islamist government such behavior conveys weakness and surrender and would only further embolden Erdogan into making even greater demands. If we cannot generate friendship it is far better that we command respect.

However, the Turks would hesitate to demonize and delegitimize us if they believed that they would be penalized. We could surely expect our principal ally, the United States, to stand firm and not kowtow to Turkish efforts to isolate or demean us.” Source – The Jerusalem Post.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4331

The bombed Sudanese factory produced Iranian Shehab missiles

 

The Yarmouk Complex of military plants near Khartoum, whicht was bombed five minutes after midnight Wednesday, Oct.  24, by four fighter-bombers, recently went into manufacturing Iranian ballistic surface-to-surface Shehab missiles under license from Tehran, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources disclose. Western intelligence sources have not revealed what types of Shehab were being turned out in Sudan but they believe the Yarmouk’s output was intended to serve as Tehran’s strategic reserve stock in case Iran’s ballistic arsenal was hit by Israeli bombers.
The Israeli Air Force has a long record of pre-emptive attacks for destroying an enemy’s long-range missiles in the early stages of a conflict. In June 2006, for instance, the IAF destroyed 90 percent of Hizballah’s long-range missiles in the first hours of the Lebanon war.
Videos of the explosions caused in the air raid over Sudan showed large quantities of phosphorus flares in the sky suggesting that a large stockpile was demolished along with the manufacturing equipment.
Western sources did not divulge information about the comings and goings of Iranian missile specialists or whether the Bashir government had given Tehran permission to stage attacks from Sudan against Middle East targets, in return for the allotment of a number of missiles to the Sudanese army. All they would say is that the complex’s structures had been completely leveled by the aerial bombardment and subsequent fire.
Sudan accused Israel of the attack and stated it reserved the right to respond at a time and circumstances of its choosing. Israeli officials declined to comment in answer to questions.
If Indeed Israel was responsible for the bombing raid, it is possible to postulate the following objectives:
1.  Its air force flew 1,800-1,900 kilometers to reach the Sudanese arms factory, a distance longer than the 1,600 kilometers to the Iranian underground enrichment site of Fordo. This operation may have been intended to show Tehran that distance presents no obstacles to an Israeli strike on its nuclear program.
2.  The IAF has an efficient in-flight refueling capability.
3.  The raid would have degraded Iran’s ability to retaliate for a potential Israel or US attack.
If it was conducted by Israel, it would add a third item to the list of backdoor assaults in which Iran and Israel appear to be engaged in the past three months.
On August 17, the power lines to Fordo were sabotaged, interrupting the work of enrichment taking place there and causing some of the advanced centrifuges to catch fire.
On Oct. 6, an Iranian stealth drone was launched from Lebanon into Israeli air space and photographed its most sensitive military sites as well as the Dimona nuclear reactor before Israel brought it down.   

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4322

Is the new Cyprus-Greece-Israel energy triangle casting a net for Turkey?

Long-running speculation over massive natural gas reserves in the tumultuous Southeastern Mediterranean and Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) became a reality in December 2011 when official research and scope reports were released.

Today, the Republic of Cyprus finds itself grappling with this mixed blessing. These rich findings can provide long-term benefits for the country but Cyprus is more like a novice treading a very slippery floor in the major leagues of global diplomacy.

A new but familiar player, the state of Israel, has made a thunderous entry into the traditionally loud trio of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, causing significant ruptures to the balance of the neighborhood. The event that sparked Israel’s newfound interest in Cyprus was the definitive signs of massive natural gas reserves in Cyprus’ Plot No. 12 (fittingly codenamed “Aphrodite”), right next to Israel’s own EEZ and massive reserves in its “Leviathan” plot.

It became apparent right from the start that Israel naturally considered every issue as highly imbued with its own national interest. Thus the decision to collaborate in treating the extracted natural gas and then transporting it to Europe (from both countries’ plots) came as a complete formula: pipelines would be part of a joint network, a vast specialized storage terminal, valued at 10 billion euros and funded almost completely by Israel. They would be built at the Vassilikos port near Limassol and the majority of the approximately 10,000 highly skilled personnel needed would be Israelis. Naturally, additional issues have come up in the logical process of things. The project will take about six or seven years to complete and inevitably the thousands of Israeli personnel engaged in it will need to have their families near them, so the total number of Israelis in Cyprus would become even greater, at least 15,000. These Israeli citizens will need to be housed in safe and secure conditions near the working site. Any analyst can easily run the math on the size and nature of this security force.

The U.S. took a particularly open stance regarding the recent natural gas reserve discovery and Turkey’s attempted involvement in this on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots resulting in a new row with the Republic of Cyprus (RoC), which allows exclusive rights to the RoC until the age-old “Cyprus Problem” is resolved.

Russia has its own worries over the new order of things in the wider Middle East. The discovery of natural gas reserves in Cyprus, its closest ally in the EU and a traditionally friendly country since the Soviet era, presents Russia with the rare opportunity of hitting many birds with one stone.

The European Union is now fortunate enough to see a full member (including of the eurozone) with massive natural gas reserves (and possibly oil) sufficient to supply it for many years, thus removing the EU from the uncomfortable position of receiving gas from pipelines in Russia and Turkey.

If one considers the complex combinations of possibilities that could take place and the endless array of scenarios, most of them having to do with the behavioral traits of the actors in play, the formation of the Cyprus-Greece-Israel NET vis-à-vis Turkey and the tumultuous environment in which all this is taking place, one can understand what a huge and complex project management challenge this is.

Cyprus is in the process of being bailed out by the Troika with onerous commitment terms and also has to be realistic about how the advent of natural gas reserves can do more for it than just fix its finances. Natural gas and perhaps oil should be used intelligently in the search for a permanent and viable solution to the “Cyprus Problem” and not as a weapon to solidify the Greek Cypriots’ standing in a never-ending confrontation with Turkey. Obviously, economics can play a growing and positive role in the quest for a solution. Ironically, after a solution, Turkey could act as a trading partner to such an extent that Cyprus would not need to have substantive others.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4316

Islamic-Christian Alliance in Israel

Islamic-Christian Alliance in Israel

By Gary Stearman on September 30, 2012

The following news item was recently published in Israel: Arutz Sheva, Aug. 27th – “The Temple Mount, the place where Avraham [Abraham] came to sacrifice his son to God, the site of the first and second Jewish Temples, where the Jewish people worshiped for hundreds of years and the focal point of every practicing Jew’s prayers, is under increasing assault from the Islamic-Christian Committee.

“This relatively new Palestinian institution has been able to win the support not only of the entire regional Christian leadership, but also of leading Christian personalities from abroad.

“The Islamic-Christian Commission has just warned that the Israeli authorities are working to impose ‘a false Jewish history’ in Jerusalem, ‘the occupied city,’especially ‘on the area known to Jews as the Temple Mount.’ The Committee warned of a new ‘Judaization.’ Such fabricated lies help the Palestinians to conquer a seat in the international agencies like Unesco and to excite the Muslims against the Jews.”

In this report, we see the sad truth that not all Christians understand the prophetic truth that Israel is destined to return to the Holy Land in the last days. Instead, they view the institutional church – not Israel – as the central element in God’s plan to renew the Earth. Some even envision transferring their ecclesiastical headquarters to Jerusalem when the time is right, to greet the Lord upon His return in the Second Coming.

In their thinking, the church has superseded Israel, and is destined to create the spiritual platform that will pave the way for the Lord’s return, as He brings the Kingdom of God to its final fruition upon Earth.

In their world view, termed “replacement theology,” modern Israel is a temporary accident that will soon be swept aside into the dustbin of history. They see it as a strange offshoot of the Jewish Holocaust of World War II, whose presence in the Middle East is an irritant and obstacle to peace. Prophecy has been improperly taught for centuries; any attempt to correct long-held positions will certainly be met with dramatic resistance.

In this arena, we encounter a real contradiction in the interpretation of Bible prophecy. In sharp contrast with this view, Dispensationalism was developed in the 19th century under the leadership of John Nelson Darby and his immediate support group. They restored the long-extinct Apostolic doctrine of imminency and placed national Israel at the center of prophetic fulfillment.As dispensationalists, we do not see the Church – the body of Christ – as usurping Israel’s central place in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Part of the problem is that Christians who follow denominational creeds are only rarely (if at all) involved in the study of Bible prophecy. Eschatology has been sidelined, and is considered nearly irrelevant. Besides that, it is generally thought to be so divisive in nature that it is approached with caution. For this reason, most seminaries now admonish their young graduates to steer clear of prophetic teaching, except in the most simplistic terms. In other words, be content with, “Jesus will return to Earth some day.” Christians who believe in the latter-day return of Israel to the Holy Land are continually amazed at the widespread failure to understand this basic Bible prophecy.

In fact, there is a long tradition of power politics behind the precautionary stance of today’s theologians. Religious empires have been built and are vigorously protected.

The Islamic-Christian Committee

The Committee mentioned earlier is comprised of theologians who represent the tip of the replacement theology iceberg. They are amillennialists, with an understanding of prophecy that goes back to Augustine, whose writings were a reaction to the allegorical biblical interpretations of earlier church fathers. He cut off their strange prophetic conjectures by denying that there would be a future Millennium.

Of course, national Israel found no place in his view. The Jews had been banished to the four corners of the world, and in his thinking, would never return.

And so, in the early 5th century, he envisioned a thousand-year Church Age. When that period passed, his timing was discredited. His followers in the Roman Church then spiritualized the remaining period, assigning it an indefinite duration. Once again, Israel found no place in this renewal of prophetic interpretation.

Though flawed, Augustine’s system of eschatology found practically universal acceptance in the medieval church. Centuries later, the Roman Church and the later Reformed churches continued to accept his theology as firm and correct tradition, which is still the case, today.

Today’s Islamic-Christian Committee is comprised of church leaders who follow Augustinian eschatology. Naturally, they see Jerusalem as he did: the City of God as capital of the Gentile world. The church institutions they represent are all steeped in this concept of Gentile authority.

One of them (left) is Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canturbury. He has been termed “Anglo-Catholic.” He recently said, “It is impossible to deny that Christians and Muslims have a common agenda here: both faiths have at their heart the living image of a community raised up by God’s call to reveal to the world what God’s purpose is for humanity.”

Fouad Twal, the new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, serving in that capacity since 2008, recently took part in a meeting with Williams in London, England. There, he protested the fact that there are “more than 550,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalam and the West Bank.” He also spoke against “the demography of Jerusalem changing rapidly with the sacred space being threatened.” In other words, he detests the growing Jewish population there.

Another is the Vatican’s former archbishop in Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah. He has launched appeals in Europe and the United States, urging them to “stop the Hebraization of Jerusalem.”

The founder of the Committee, is Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Jerusalem, Atallah (Theodosius) Hanna. Since his appointment in 2001, quickly established himself as a vigorous political activist, publicly denouncing the “Israeli occupation” and the establishment of a “Palestinian identity.” Naturally, he is very popular among Arabs. Israeli authorities, however, have repeatedly arrested him on charges of “incitement.”

Hanna once said, “The suicide bombers who carry out their activities in the name of religion are national heroes and we’re proud of them.”

Supersessionism

There is a fundamental error in the theology that states it has replaced Israel, which it deems to be forever lost in sin.

Theologians sometimes refer to replacement theology as “supersessionism,” from the English word “supersede.” This church position states that the New Covenent replaces the Mosaic Covenant, which it refers to as the “Old Covenant.” On this basis, it believes that it has inherited the promises made to the biblical Israelites.

It is only natural, therefore, that modern church leaders would view Israel as a temporary obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

However, contemporary scholarship points out a fundamental error in their theology. They begin with the idea that Israel is forever lost in sin, never to be redeemed. However, the Apostle Paul speaks of national Israel as being at the center of God’s long-term plan for this world. Surely, anyone with the slightest experience in Scripture has read Paul’s explanation for the purpose of Israel’s rejection:

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness” (Rom. 11:11,12).

Here, he plainly states that the collapse of Israel’s rule in Israel was only temporary. It brought salvation to the Gentiles (through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection at the feast of Firstfruits). Then, he says that they will rise again to fullness. In order to throw out this Scriptural truth, one must nullify Paul as an Apostolic authority. He adds that Israel, like Christ, will rise from the dead:

“For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15).

But Paul’s pure and simple statement cannot be misinterpreted. It must be ignored. And so it has been, by those who believe that the church has superseded the promised Kingdom, composed of the twelve tribes of Israel.

According to those who follow it, supersessionism expresses itself in several ways. Augustine believed that the church superseded Israel in terms of a new form of management replacing the old. He saw this development as historical and practical.

Others say that supersessionism is structural. It is simply the natural development of God’s ages-long plan for the redemption of the Earth.

Still others see the church’s supersession as God’s punishment of the Jews, who continue to reject Jesus. In the second century, Justin Martyr wrote, “For the true spiritual Israel are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ.”

In the third century, Hippolytus is quoted as having said, “The Jews … have been darkened in the eyes of your [the Lord’s] soul with a darkness utter and everlasting.”

Among many others, Hippolytus, Origen and Martin Luther held the belief that the Old Testament prophecies once intended for the Jews were now to be interpreted as pertaining to Christians.

And as stated above, most contemporary mainline churches continue to hold various forms of this view, opening the way for emphatic rejection of Israel as legitimately back in the Land.

What’s wrong with this view? First, it is erroneous to believe that the New Covenant is a replacement for the Mosaic Covenant. Christians have not received redemption through the Law of Moses, but through the finished work of Christ.

And the inescapable fact is that the covenant of His priesthood goes back to Abraham, centuries before Moses received the covenant of Law at Mount Horeb.

The Priesthood of Melchizedek

The writer of Hebrews makes this clear, by recalling that Abraham, after his military defeat of the four Gentile Kings, paid a tithe to the priest called Melchizedek.

“Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him” (Heb. 7:4-10).

Levi, the priest of the Mosaic law, is here shown to have an inferior priesthood to that of Melchizedek, by virtue of Abraham’s action toward Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews then goes on to point out that Christ’s spiritual heritage originates from him, rather than from Moses and Aaron:

“If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 7:11-17).

A Spiritual Priesthood

In his first epistle, Peter speaks of those who were not a people, but now through Christ and the mercy of God have become members of His family, having the ability to act as priests and co-regents:

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (I Pet. 2:9,10).

Certainly, this does not imply that God must throw away one group (the Jews) in order to elevate the status of another (the Church).

Yet this is the motivation behind the theology of the Islamic-Christian Committee. It is driven by an ages-long vitriol, expressed in the language of loathing. The group also includes in its membership one Sheikh Tamimi, a high-ranking judge in the Palestinian Authority (PA). He once said, “Perhaps one day the world will awake and realize that these Zionist elements are the bloodletters who hang on the peoples, sucking their blood and consuming their resources.”

The leaders of this group have for a long time, worked hand-in-glove with the PLO, Yasser Arafat, and the PA’s current leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

The Arutz Sheva article concludes with this brief historical note: “23 December, 1995, is the date of the turning point for the Islamic-Christian alliance against the Jews in Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox patriarch of the holy land, Deodorus I, handed over the custody of Churches in Jerusalem to PLO leader Arafat. This was done in the presence of the Catholic, Anglican and Greek orthodox archbishops.

“The patriarch declared, ‘I am the heir of Sophronius and I am handing the keys (to Christian holy sites in Jerusalem) to the heir of Omar Ibn al-Khattab.’

“Omar, the caliph who claimed Jerusalem from Byzantine rule in 638, gave then Patriarch Sophronius custody of Churches and a pledge to safeguard them. The move was meant to put Christian holy places under the custody of Arafat, a Muslim, and strengthening the Arab-Islamic claim to Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.”

The article ends with a question: “Will this new Islamic-Christian alliance be able to convince the European Union, the UN and the US to baptize Jerusalem, ‘Al Quds’”? This, the Islamic name for Jerusalem, means “the holy.” In context, it designates the Israeli capital as “the holy place.”

Certainly, it is that, with a history that dates back to Abraham, who paid tithes to the High Priest Melchizedek in this place, and later offered up Isaac here, on the holy mountain. It is the site of both Temples and the rule of King David. Its holiness was established before there ever was an Islam. And its prophetic destiny as God’s city is one of the most basic themes of the Bible. The Committee should know that changing the name of this eternal city will not change what has been written … and what will be fulfilled.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4230

Daystar, TBN ready for Messiah in Jerusalem

If the Messiah descends from the Mount of Olives as foretold in the Bible, America’s two biggest Christian broadcasters are well-positioned to cover it live thanks to recent acquisitions of adjacent Jerusalem studios on a hill overlooking the Old City.

Texas-based Daystar Television Network already beams a 24-hour-a-day live webcam from its terrace. Not to be outdone, Costa Mesa-based Trinity Broadcasting Network last month bought the building next door.

The dueling studios are part of an aggressive push by U.S. evangelical broadcasters seeking to gain a stronger foothold in the holy city. Their presence not only offers boasting rights with American viewers and contributors, but also — and more controversially — a platform for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to Jews in Israel.

In addition to its new multistory building, TBN is negotiating with Israel’s Yes satellite television provider to secure a full-time home for its evangelical Shalom TV channel.

Daystar already airs its English-language programming in Israel with dedicated channels on both Yes and cable provider HOT Telecommunications Systems, claiming to be the first Christian evangelical broadcaster to transmit a gospel message to Israeli television sets 24 hours a day.

“The main thing we want to do is help sponsor what we call Messianic Jews, or Jews that have received Jesus Christ as their Messiah,” said TBN co-founder Paul Crouch, who recently wrapped up a tour of Israel with 1,800 TBN supporters, most of them from America. “We want to do some Hebrew language programs to reach out to Jews and entice them to read the word of God and become what we call a completed Jew.”

Such proselytizing angers Orthodox Jewish groups who say it threatens the character of a nation that was created as a home for Jewish refugees of the Holocaust. Christian proselytizing is legal in Israel, though the government has at times restricted and discouraged the practice; members of the Jewish faith do not seek to convert those of other faiths.

“One of the things I find offensive is that they are bragging about their missionary work,” said Ellen Horowitz, research director at Jewish Israel, a grass-roots group created in 2008 to track and counteract Christian missionaries in Israel. “They’re actually very in-your-face about it.”

Horowitz said proselytizing is a touchy subject in Israel. “Our people have been through the wringer already with either persecution or assimilation,” she said. “Now people finally get to a Jewish nation and someone pushes a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew at them. A sensitive line is being crossed.”

When Daystar debuted in Israel in 2006, it created such a public uproar that the channel was temporarily suspended from the HOT network. It was restored after a court challenge.

Since then, Christian evangelical groups have quietly and steadily expanded their footprint in Jerusalem.

Last spring, evangelist organizer Mike Evans began soliciting donations from U.S. supporters for his $10-million purchase of a prime commercial building in Jerusalem’s city center, where he plans to open a facility devoted to Christian evangelism.

In July, American missionary Rick Ridings, a nephew of Paul Crouch who operates a walk-in prayer center near Mt. Zion, hosted several hundred Israeli youths at a three-day gospel music and prayer festival in Tel Aviv.

Crouch said TBN, whose recently purchased building houses the Los Angeles Times Jerusalem bureau, is striving to promote Christianity in Israel, where the faith is sometimes overshadowed by the struggle between Judaism and Islam. Trinity Broadcasting already is one of the world’s largest religious broadcasters, with 18 networks in seven languages.

“Christianity is not represented in Israel as well as it could,” he said. “We hope to equalize that and give Christianity a better platform.”

The latest inroads by evangelical Christians have not triggered the backlash that occurred in 2006 when Daystar went on the air. In fact, Crouch said TBN’s biggest obstacle in Jerusalem so far is rival Daystar, which he said tried to block TBN’s Shalom Channel from airing on Yes satellite.

“They raised a stink,” Crouch said. “I guess some of our Christian brothers don’t want the competition.”

A Yes spokeswoman said negotiations with TBN are ongoing and a final deal has not been reached. Daystar officials declined to comment, but said in a statement that the company “loves and appreciates Israel.”

Some Israelis are welcoming members of the American evangelical community as strategic partners, both politically and economically.

In addition to becoming the fastest-growing segment of Israel’s tourism market, U.S. evangelicals tend to be staunchly pro-Israel, lobbying in Washington on the Israeli government’s behalf on such matters as the Palestinian conflict or West Bank settlement construction.

Christian broadcasters have donated tens of millions of dollars in recent years to build Israeli schools, community centers, hospital wards and even synagogues. Part of the support is based upon their belief that the return of the Jewish people to Israel will usher in the second coming of Jesus.

Christian groups have forged close ties with Russian-born lawmakers in the parliament, or Knesset, and recently helped push through a law that extended property tax exemptions once available only to Jewish religious institutions to those owned by Christian congregations.

“They are much more sophisticated and calculated than they were before,” Horowitz said. “With all the millions of dollars they are giving, it’s harder for the government to say no.”

Her group said the number of evangelical Christian congregations in Israel has grown to 150 with as many as 20,000 followers, up from an estimated 3,000 in 1987, based on estimates from the congregations.

Christian broadcasters boast to their viewers that they are seeing a record number of Jews convert to Christianity. “The harvest is coming in so fast,” Crouch said.

Much of the growth is coming from the 1 million Russian immigrants who arrived in Israel during the 1990s. Many of the immigrants were never considered Jewish by Orthodox rabbis or had practiced Christianity in Russia.

“They see Russians as a way to get a foothold in Israel and create a Christian revival here,” Horowitz said. “We don’t have anything against Christians. But the Jewish people have to watch their backside to make sure this evangelical embrace does not become a hold that we can’t get out of.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4227

Israel intensifies exercises for ground war following Iran strike

The Israel Army has intensified training for a war with the
Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

Military sources said the army is stepping up training for a war with
Hizbullah over the next few months. They said exercises have been conducted
in several locations, including the Golan Heights, Jordan Valley and Negev Desert.

 “The exercises were based on the need for a rapid ground offensive in
Lebanon,” a military source said.

The army preparations took place amid threats by Iran and its
proxies of a war with the Jewish state. Hizbullah was said to have amassed
an arsenal of 60,000 rockets, many of which were deployed in southern
Lebanon.

The sources said Teheran has assigned Hizbullah a leading role in
retaliation for any Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

They said Hizbullah, trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,
also formed infantry units and mobile rocket squads to invade Israel from
Lebanon.

The Israeli exercises have consisted of Merkava-class main battle
tanks, Namer armored personnel carriers and other combat vehicles. The
sources said the aim was to achieve rapid mobility and capture Hizbullah
rocket and other targets.

In August 2012, the army conducted a night infantry exercise in the
Jordan River. During the maneuvers, the Golan Brigade’s Battalion 13,
accompanied by MBTs and APCs, crossed the Jordan River in what was meant to
represent Lebanon’s Litani River.

The exercises marked a revision of military strategy over the last five
years. In 2006, the Israel Air Force was used to attack Hizbullah bases and
particularly rocket launchers in what was regarded as an unsuccessful
effort.

Hizbullah has also been training. Over the last month, Hizbullah,
directed by IRGC, mobilized 10,000 fighters for an exercise around the
Litani River.

“The assessment is that Iran and its proxies were preparing for a
regional war over the next year,” the source said.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4218