Weekly Q&A: Why did God call Abram to the Promised Land?

Abram (or Abraham) came from the area of Mesopotamia—the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It boasted larger cities, more developed culture, and wealth than the land of Canaan. Would it not have made more sense for God to establish Abraham and his descendants into a nation here and give them some of the well-watered land in Mesopotamia?

Yet God called Abraham and his descendants to the land of Canaan. To understand why, we must understand the geographic setting of the land of Canaan. Its location created a physical climate of faith in which God taught Abraham’s descendants about Himself and called upon them to live in obedience to Him.

The land of Canaan lay at the strategic land bridge connecting the continents of Asia and Africa. It sat at the crossroads of the ancient world, between the imperial powers of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the barren desert to the east, the land of Canaan provided the land corridor for routes connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia. Its location made it strategic for travel, commerce and trade, and communication.

Its location also meant security and peace were not to be found as empires and local kingdoms fought to control the crossroads of the ancient world. Periods of peace were few, short, and far between. Personal and national existence could never be taken for granted, and here God called Abraham and his descendants to live in faithfulness to Him. This geopolitical insecurity of the region served as “God’s testing ground of faith” and the stage upon which the redemptive drama played out, where sinner and saint struggled against internal upheaval and external threat.

The lands of Egypt and Mesopotamia were sustained by great rivers (the Nile in Egypt, and the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia). These rivers provided consistent water for life and agriculture. The topography of the land of Canaan meant the fresh water sources (the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River) lay below sea level while most of the population dwelt in the hills at an elevation removed from the fresh water sources, or on the coastal plain separated from the fresh water sources by the hill country.

Therefore, the land of Canaan relied upon the rains from heaven to nourish life, herds, and agriculture (Deuteronomy 11:10-11). God promised if Israel obeyed Him at the crossroads, He would send rain in its season, but if they disobeyed, He would withhold rain from the heavens.

The topography and climate of the land became part of God’s call to Abraham and his descendants to trust God at the crossroads and live obediently to Him in this challenging location. To trust whether He would protect them and sustain them and to demonstrate their trust through their obedience.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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The Islamic Regime: Skilled Geopolitical Chess Players

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The origins of chess are somewhat clouded. When trying to determine which country originated chess around 1,500 years ago, some say India, others credit Iran. Whichever is true, there’s no question that the ayatollahs who rule Iran with an iron fist of oppression are skilled players on the geopolitical chessboard.

For decades, Israel has remained vigilant about Iran’s strategic chess moves—and not only against its own small country. With a mere 970 air miles between Jerusalem and Tehran, Israel is on the front lines of freedom for all nations that treasure liberty. Its government and people understand the evil nature of the Islamic regime’s Imams and their enforcers, the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Israel has repeatedly sounded the alarm about this hostile regime as the world’s terror superpower. In the face of Iran’s serious game of deceit—witnessed in deft geopolitical chess moves of destruction and hatred—Israel’s warnings cannot be minimized.

Israelis have no doubt that Iran wants to destroy Israel, the United States, and any country that interferes with the Imams’ plan to spread their brand of government using the oppressive Shia branch of Islam. Iran’s terror maneuvers include an obsession to possess nuclear weapons, empowering their proxies against Israel, and ignoring their own victimized population. Israel itself is no stranger to geopolitical chess. In fact, the Israelis are experts at defending themselves, with their own moves to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens.

Under immense internal pressures himself, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. Speaking for the ninth time as prime minister, he has repeatedly warned the UN about Iran and offered many proofs of its treachery. In a recent Sky News interview, PM Netanyahu reiterated that diplomacy between the two countries has failed and “Iran remains openly committed to … repeating the Holocaust.” He added, “We will do whatever we need to do to defend ourselves.”

As for Iran’s leaders, they have added to the suffering of that nation’s population since taking over in 1979. Exhausted (and constantly threatened) by the Islamic regime imprisoning, hanging, and shooting them, Iranian citizens took to the streets last September after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested and then murdered by the “morality” police. Her “crime?” Not wearing a head covering correctly! Iranians are still protesting, although at a great cost.

In his recent article, “Iran’s Season of Judgment,” my Israeli friend Jonathan Feldstein interviewed our inspiring mutual friend Marzi Amirizadeh. The eye-opening article was published by the International Press Association. Born in Iran, Marzi related factual, first-person stories of living under the regime. In 2009 Marzi, now an American citizen, was arrested then imprisoned in Iran and sentenced to death by hanging. Marzi and her friend Maryam’s “crimes” were their three-year team efforts of covertly distributing New Testaments to 20,000 Iranians and starting two secretive house churches.

Miraculously released after nine months of trauma, Marzi eventually came to the United States. Her life’s calling is to warn the world about the evils of the Islamic regime. Now, seeing the Biden administration handing over $6 billion in frozen, sanctioned Iranian assets—ostensibly to be used for humanitarian purposes—she is appalled. “The regime must not be funded,” she declares vehemently. “The regime must be removed.” Iran’s President Raisi openly insisted that Iran will use the billions in any way it wishes. However, Raisi’s firm statement did not result in Biden canceling the deal. The American hostages boarded a flight in Qatar on Monday bound for the states with $6 billion paid in a ransom.

In contrast, Marzi’s release from prison was not a ransom payment. An international outcry arose from Christians, and God engineered a miracle. In many interviews during and after her prayerful longing to finally visit Israel last March, Marzi knows firsthand that the Islamic regime is an enemy of Israel, her own people, and her new country, the United States. After a year of protests by the Iranian people, Iran’s evil rule is in plain view for so-called crimes about what to wear, what to say, and how to worship.

Compassion for wrongful hostage imprisonment is heartbreaking. However, controversy still exists among varying U.S. administrations about ransoms. President Biden’s green light opens a disturbing revelation. In 2015, the Obama/Biden administration paid $1.7 billion to release four Americans as part of the unwise Iran deal it desperately wanted. Iran then took more hostages and levied bigger price tags. In between the Obama and Biden presidencies, former President Trump used only pressure and sanctions to free two hostages—demonstrating excellent chess moves of his own.

Now, the ransoms have proven even more costly under Biden. Looking at the numbers, Obama/Biden paid $425 million per American in 2015. Now, in 2023, President Biden agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian oil assets—thus releasing $1.2 billion for each of the five American hostages. A study by the Rand Corporation explains that for decades, American policy has been to refuse paying ransoms to terrorists, viewing such payments as deterrents for future cooperation.

At this rate, the Biden administration will never win a chess game with the Ayatollahs. Successfully playing geopolitical chess requires courage to apply strategic moves, informed by understanding the reality of evil. The Obama/Biden team’s set-up of millions (now billions) in ransom runs the risk of turning American citizens traveling abroad into potential hostages.

Heeding a quote from Andrey Sakharov (1921-1989) would help. The Soviet physicist, later a Nobel Peace prize winner and dissident, made a wise observation about negotiations: “A country which does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released its Homeland Threat Assessment for 2024. It contains warnings that foreign terror groups including al-Qaida could be rebuilding—and seeking to target the U.S. again. The huge numbers of what they call “migrants” from many countries have complicated border security. Homeland Security did not mention former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s report in 2017 that the Islamic Republic of Iran has given haven to al-Qaida, a fact established by the 9/11 Commission. With Biden’s wide-open border policy and his own Homeland Security warnings, we must ask ourselves if Iran will use Biden’s policy to harm Americans on our soil.

In his current inconsistent decisions toward the Islamic regime, Biden released a list of 29 sanctions for Iran’s human rights violations on September 15, a day before the first anniversary of the freedom protests (September 16) and in advance of the September 17 release of the five hostages. Ten sanctions are against Iran’s national police, while another eight are against officials of the IRGC.

In a single year, these two groups have murdered more than 600 peaceful Irani protestors and arrested another 22,000. The director of Iran’s prisons, Gholamali Mohammadi, oversees the torture and rape of jailed protesters. He is allegedly sanctioned. It is unclear how or if these sanctions will be enforced or if they are simply sanctions on paper. Protests have not stopped. They have grown since June, numbering more than 4,473 since they began on September 16, 2022.

Nevertheless, there are lights of hope and good news amid the terror against Iranian citizens. The Hudson Institute reported in 2018 that “Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country.” In 2019, an unnamed Iranian church leader commented that “mosques are empty inside Iran.” Author Lela Gilbert reported in The Washington Stand in June that “more than a million new converts—called Muslim Background Believers (MBB)—are reading the Bible for the first time, praying, gathering in small groups, and sharing their new faith … despite the risks.”

The trend is continuing, according to our expert friend Marzi Amirizadeh, who before her imprisonment took huge risks to distribute more than 20,000 Bibles covertly in the dark of night and helped begin several house churches. The seeds of faith that she planted are growing.

We may never know for certain what country invented chess. However, we do know we can count on the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus in these troubled times since He has already defeated the enemy of our souls.

Our CBN Israel team invites you to join us in prayer this week. Let us check our own hearts with these verses in Amos 5:14-15“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you just as you say He is. Hate evil. Love good. Maintain justice in the courts.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for strength and protection for Muslim Background Believers (MBB) as they live out their risk-taking faith under the current Iranian regime.
  • Pray for the Islamic regime to fall and be replaced by a freedom- focused government benefiting all its people.
  • Pray for Iran to again have a leader like ancient Persia’s King Cyrus, who blessed the Jewish people as a tool in God’s hands.
  • Pray that the United States Commander-in-Chief will restore security on our southern border.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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Food Blesses Struggling Israelis During High Holy Days

Imagine needing to decide each month between paying your rent or having enough to eat.

In recent years, more people in the Holy Land have faced this unspeakable choice. Between the pandemic and the sudden influx of Ukrainian war refugees, Israelis are feeling the effects of global events that have created widespread economic hardship—including food insecurity.

Israeli Humanitarian Aid reports show that over 1.9 million people in Israel live in poverty, with about 850,000 children facing hunger. The most at-risk groups are the young, the elderly, single mothers, and new immigrants. Over 75 percent of those receiving help said they could not afford to purchase enough food—or to buy more when it ran out.

As a result, more Israelis are in serious need of assistance and must rely on monthly support to survive. Some seniors and Holocaust survivors are on fixed incomes that barely cover their expenses. Single parents and new immigrants struggle to find jobs as unemployment rises—along with the high cost of living. Many feel alone and desperate, wondering where to turn for help.

Fortunately, friends like you are there for them through CBN Israel, which has partnered with Israel’s leading food bank to protect households from hunger throughout the year. In fact, during the Jewish High Holy Days this month, caring donors are brightening the holidays for over 2,000 struggling households. They are making it possible to distribute high-quality nutritious food packages to low-income families and aging Holocaust survivors—giving them enough to eat for a month!

And your gift to CBN Israel lets even more hurting people know that someone cares all year round—by offering groceries, housing, financial aid, and more. Your continued support will reach out beyond the holidays and give compassionate relief to those who need our help. Thank you for blessing others!

Will you reach out in kindness and compassion to those in need?


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Millions of Israelis Prepare to Celebrate the Jewish New Year Amid Escalating Security Challenges

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The Jewish community lights its candles for Shabbat tomorrow evening, September 15, signifying the arrival of the Jewish new year, 5784, for Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year”) celebrations. It also marks the beginning of the Days of Awe that end on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, 10 days later. 

Globally, millions of Evangelicals will express genuine greetings especially toward Israel, our spiritual homeland. Delicious apples and honey treats served at the dinner table reflect wishes for a sweet new year. We might adopt a few well-wishes in Hebrew, including Shana tova (“Have a good year”) and Gmar chatima tova (“May you be inscribed in the Book of Life”).

Entering 5784, Israel simultaneously inhabits two contradictory realities. The nation thrives with bold innovations, long-desired alliances in the Abraham Accords, and countries newly locating their embassies in Jerusalem. The covenant-keeping God of Heaven has kept His eternal promises, preserving a Jewish remnant for thousands of years and into their new year 5784. Unfortunately, the waves of hate—and those choosing to ignore facts about the world’s only Jewish state—are still intruding into the chosen people’s history, decisions, and privileged stature as a parliamentary democracy. And some of Israel’s most dangerous security challenges are escalating.

One such challenge can be found in the United States Congress. Last Friday, 15 Democratic senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, requesting a phone call. They asked Blinken to stop granting visas to Israelis until Israel makes certain concessions for Palestinian Arabs who live in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Recent (and long overdue) discussions have been ongoing for a Visa Waiver Program, and a September 30 deadline is looming. In July, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed that allows Israeli citizens to travel to the U.S. without a visa and remain for 90 days. 

In a lead-up pilot program, Israel agreed that Palestinian Americans in the West Bank, as well as Iranian Americans and other Arab Americans, could transit Israel to enter the United States for 90 days without background checks. Right now, Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas seem positive about approving the waiver. A last-ditch effort from a minority in the Democratic Senate caucus accuses Israel of a two-tier system when it comes to Palestinians. This particular group of senators tends to lean toward varying criticisms of Israel, claiming that the Jewish nation discriminates against Palestinian-Americans—ignoring essential facts about Palestinian policies. 

Israeli officials report that during the pilot program, over 12,000 Palestinian Americans living in the West Bank entered Israel under the new regulations within the last two months and several thousand Palestinian Americans who live in the U.S. used the new regulations to land at Ben Gurion Airport. 

However, if Israel must reconsider aspects of the MOU, it is because increased terror is emerging from Palestinian towns emboldened and supplied by Iran’s Islamic regime. As of August 21, 2023 is now the deadliest year for terrorism since the Second Intifada (2000-2005). Thirty-four Israelis—men, women, and children—have been murdered, some simply innocently driving along a highway. These 15 Democratic senators could certainly moderate their positions by recognizing the real terror threats on the ground and remembering that Israel has no Palestinian negotiating partner to help shape a peace plan.

Eighty-seven-year-old Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has refused direct negotiations with Israeli leaders since 2009. Yet Arab refusals began decades ago. For those too young to know or who have forgotten, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted for two states, one Arab, one Jewish. Arabs refused the two-state deal. Jews accepted it and established a modern Jewish state on May 14, 1948. Since then, PA leaders have refused several generous offers from some U.S. presidents and Israeli prime ministers. 

Do Palestinian leaders want peace? History says no. For them, it is all or nothing. Elected in 2005, Abbas is still president in his “four-year” term. His civilian population rightly considers him corrupt. He praises Palestinian terrorists as martyrs, names streets after them, donates money to their families, and approves a sewer of hate to flow through Palestinian state media.  

Despite these facts, the letter itself, penned by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), was co-signed by Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

The bottom line is, this letter brings into view Israel’s necessary security reality. First Yassar Arafat, and now Mahmoud Abbas—Arafat’s 40-year terror sidekick—have rejected Israel’s consistent efforts to restart stalled peace talks. Without fail, criticisms also emerge not only from segments of the U.S. Congress, but also from the United Nations, European Union, and others when Israel is forced to defend its civilians. 

In the meantime, I encourage readers to contact these senators to respectfully ask them to reconsider their support for our best ally in the region, Israel? 

Please join CBN Israel this week in prayer for the Jewish nation and people:

  • Pray for the U.S. Congress to maintain its highest levels of support for the longstanding U.S.-Israel relationship.
  • Pray for the safety of Jewish Israelis during the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
  • Pray for vigilance on behalf of Jews in the United States and worldwide.
  • Pray for Secretary of State Blinken to cautiously approve the visa agreement mindful of Israel’s security.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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New Immigrant: Diana’s Story

Diana and her daughter were living in Western Ukraine when suddenly, war with Russia broke out. She recalls, “I was scared for my daughter and myself, but I didn’t know where to go, or what to do. I reached out to my local synagogue, asking them for help.”

As their hometown was invaded, this Jewish single mother and her daughter decided to seek refuge in Israel. They fled Ukraine with only their suitcases, leaving everything else behind.

Yet, Diana faced many challenges, admitting, “It was very difficult… I needed to find a job and an apartment, learn Hebrew, and find a kindergarten for my daughter.” She found an apartment in central Israel that was close to a kindergarten and a job. But she still needed several major household appliances, and couldn’t afford to purchase them. Where could she turn?

Thankfully, friends like you were there to help. Several Ukrainian refugees told her about CBN Israel. Donors provided her with an oven, a washing machine, and paid for much-needed repairs in her apartment. And they gave her food vouchers, so she could put nutritious food on the table.

Diana exclaimed, “It makes a colossal difference for people like me, who come to Israel without any belongings. It gives me peace of mind knowing you are there. Thank you so much!”

Your gifts to CBN Israel can extend a hand of friendship to many in need across Israel—offering food, housing, furniture, appliances, and financial aid.

And your support will bring hope and help to Israel’s refugees, Holocaust survivors, single mothers, and terror victims. Your generosity can do so much—please join with us today!

Will you reach out in kindness and compassion to those in need?


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Weekly Q&A: Why is it so crucial to rediscover the Jewishness of Jesus?

God’s greatest revelation of Himself is Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:1-18; Galatians 4:4; and Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus was not a religious idea, a man for all generations. He did not belong to the Old Testament world of ancient Israel and Judah, nor was He a student of the Reformation. Jesus belonged to the world and faith of ancient Judaism, in the land of Israel, in the first century A.D. (Galatians 4:4). Failure to encounter the historical Jesus of Nazareth means we follow a Jesus we have made in our own image. The Jesus of faith is only the Jesus of history.

This has often been ignored within much of Christian history and interpretation concerning Jesus. Faith in Jesus has often superseded the faith of Jesus.

Jesus did not belong to the world of the Old Testament. His words, parables, faith, view of God all grew from the soil of ancient Judaism. To understand His words, we must understand the world that bore him. So too, Jesus did not belong to the world of Medieval or modern Judaism; He never wore a kippa.

Our encounter, then, of the Incarnation—God entering a specific time, within a definite space, in a particular culture—must place Jesus within His world, the world of ancient Judaism. This does not mean dressing a Gentile Jesus as a modern Jew, nor does it mean turning the historical Jesus into a modern Gentile Christian.

The Incarnation calls us to encounter Jesus as a historical person whose words meant something within their historical and cultural context. He is not a religious ideal, a superman to be worshiped. Rather, He is our Lord, and as His disciples, we must study His words, do them, and teach others (Ezra 7:10; Matthew 28:18-20). To understand His words, however, we must enter His world, the world of ancient Judaism.

Jesus’ most frequently used story parables to teach. Outside of the Gospels, the only other place we encounter story parables are on the lips of the Sages of the land of Israel. To understand His words, we must understand His world. The most common phrase Jesus used was the kingdom of Heaven. So too, this phrase only appears on the lips of His Jewish contemporaries, the Sages of Israel. To ignore His world means we will misunderstand and misinterpret His words.

That Jesus was a Jew of the first century does not mean His non-Jewish followers should become Jewish (see Acts 15). But we should not deny Him His historical identity because we are not Jews; moreover, we should not seek to cast Him as a modern or Messianic Jew. Encountering the Jesus of history brings us face-to-face with the Jesus of faith.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Iran’s Campaign of Aggression Against Israel Also Targets the United States

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Both history and the sacrifice of U.S. military troops are vital proofs to help us understand threats in our world today. Although significant facts may have slipped from the minds of most Americans, our military, their families, and friends have not forgotten the direct, deadly attacks engineered by the Iranian regime for decades.

Forty years ago, a horrific terror attack killed 241 U.S. marines, soldiers, and sailors deployed to Beirut, Lebanon, as part of a multinational peacekeeping force during the Lebanese Civil War. The attack had the highest single-day death toll for the U.S. Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. That day—October 23, 1983—a Hezbollah terrorist financed and armed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps drove a 19-ton Mercedes truck into an American barracks near the Beirut airport. Marines standing guard outside were following the peacetime rules of engagement, which required their guns to be unloaded. The truck plowed through concertina wire and exploded at the barracks while our soldiers slept. Although our military came in peace, it mattered not to the Islamic regime and its proxies. Then, as now, terrorists’ rules of engagement do not value life and freedom as we do in the United States and in Israel.

The Iraq War (2003-2011) is still fresh and painful for American families whose loved ones died or suffered traumatic wounds to mind and body during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Iran’s border with Iraq, stretching for 994 miles, allowed easy access to our heroic American soldiers on the ground.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) used “asymmetric (irregular) warfare” against our troops. Using a simply made, deadly mixture that utilizes homemade elements such as fertilizer, gunpowder, and hydrogen peroxide, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are quite versatile. Ranging in size from small pipe bombs to larger, sophisticated devices, IEDs can be hidden in the dirt, thrown from a distance, or placed in cars or inside innocent-looking packages. Tucked out of sight, they can exact massive damage. Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) are roadside bombs that penetrate even armored vehicles. Overall, Iran is responsible—either directly or indirectly—for nearly one out of every six American combat deaths in Iraq.

The number and severity of injuries—and the devastating loss of life—from Operation Iraqi Freedom are heartbreaking, with 4,492 U.S. service members dead and 32,292 wounded. During the Iraq war, American deaths were a cause for elation among Iranian leaders and their elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran has established itself more deeply now in Israel, within Palestinian-run towns right in Israel’s biblical heartland. Remember that the Islamic regime views the United States as the “great satan” and Israel as the “small satan.” Our freedoms and cooperation are closely tied together as targets of the biggest terror-sponsoring state on earth.   

Security threats are tightening around Israel. The Islamic regime’s surrogates surrounding the tiny Jewish State have now implemented the use of IEDs and EFPs to murder Israeli civilians and members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). On 24/7 alert, Israel is already fully engaged in tracking every inch of its borders due to terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria funded by Iran’s apocalyptic leaders.

Not since the Second Intifada (2000-2005), where terrorists murdered over 1,000 Israelis and injured thousands more, has Israel faced such a growing number of internal dangers. In that uprising, Palestinians enlisted human suicide bombers to kill and maim Israelis. Now IEDs and EFPs are becoming murder weapons for Palestinian terror groups that are banding together, united by hate. Among them are Hamas, the Jenin Lion’s Den, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, IRGC in Syria, and others—inside, outside, and alongside Israel.

Now, the deadly devices can be manufactured in Palestinian towns. Thus, in early July, the IDF were forced to carry out a two-day defensive operation in Jenin to find and remove weapons and manufacturing labs. An example of what they discovered: The IDF located a large weapons cache in tunnels dug within the al-Ansari mosque. During the 48-hour counterterrorism operation, Israeli Ambassador Mike Herzog tweeted: “Over the past two years, Jenin has become a major hub of terrorism and an Iranian stronghold close to Israeli population centers. Most of the terror attacks against Israelis originated from Jenin. No nation would sit idly by as terrorists strike its citizens.”

Stabbings and car rammings are already prevalent, with added cross-border weapons smuggled from terrorists to terrorists. Last week, an IED injured four IDF soldiers. It was set off while the soldiers were securing the entrance for Jewish pilgrims visiting Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem located in Samaria. 

However, two incidents last month make it clear that Iran is also activating its dangerous assaults anywhere possible. Israeli Arab citizens were caught smuggling explosives into Lod, a city in central Israel. Then two large explosives were stopped, this time coming in from Jordan.

Commemorations will take place once again in the United States marking the 40th anniversary of the 241 peacekeepers—service members who were murdered in Lebanon while they slept in their beds. Our great ally Israel has encountered (and will encounter still more) loss, trauma, and burials due to actions sanctioned by the evil Ayatollahs and their surrogates, who applaud when IEDs, EFPs, cars, knives, and guns enable the murder of innocents—even among their own desperate population.

In closing, the Biden administration’s appeasement plan to release billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets via Iraq and South Korea empowers Iran. Although those funds are ostensibly to pay Iraq’s gas and electricity debt to Iran—so Iranian gas will keep flowing to Iraqi citizens—the Iranian regime will undoubtedly use that money to do what it’s always done: perpetrate hate and killings and imprisoning its freedom-starved population. For decades, Iran has annually provided roughly $700 million to Hezbollah, $100 million to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and hundreds of millions to IRGC in Iraq and Syria to attack Israelis and Americans. Does the Islamic regime need more money to murder Americans, Israelis, and others?

A fact: Mr. Biden is bypassing Congress despite their Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). The legislation does not allow the president to issue any “statutory sanctions relief for Iran in connection with any broadly defined agreement … regardless of the form it takes … and regardless of whether it is legally binding or not.”

Although John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, stated that Iran is only using the money for “humanitarian purposes,” the Iranian foreign minister has declared, “The decision on how to utilize these unfrozen resources and financial assets lies with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Again, history shows American naivete. The relief money will not reach Iran’s desperate population. Instead, it will empower Iran’s terror and its unceasing quest for a nuclear weapon.

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to join us this week to pray by holding fast to Psalm 46:1-3 NIV: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for Gold Star families amid their tragic losses.
  • Pray for American soldiers wounded in mind and body from traumas of war.
  • Pray for Israeli families burying their loved ones to sense comfort and relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.
  • Pray for wisdom for the Biden administration.
  • Pray for Americans and Israelis to remain strong together.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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New Immigrant: Olga’s Story

As the Russians invaded Ukraine, Olga and her husband were suddenly living on the frontlines. In fact, their apartment in Mariupol was completely destroyed during the bombings. When their rabbi left the city, they took refuge in the synagogue’s basement. But as the explosions intensified, they realized the building could not withstand further bombardments.

So just several weeks into the attacks, with only half of their city still standing, the couple decided to leave Mariupol and flee to Israel. They headed for Berdyansk, and came under fire. “It took us awhile to finally get out of Ukraine,” Olga recalled. “Everywhere we turned, there was chaos and danger. Sadly, many tried to leave but did not make it. It was very risky.”

They dodged numerous landmines in the road and saw cars that had been blown up. Looters tried to attack them. They refueled in Crimea and made it to Rostov—where they were finally able to board a rescue flight for Israel. Yet, as new immigrants, who would help them?

Thankfully, friends like you were there. Upon arriving, they heard CBN Israel could assist them, and called the number. As they settled near Nazareth, donors provided finances to purchase food, clothing, furniture, and other necessities. Olga exclaimed, “We are deeply grateful to you for helping us start a new life in our ancestral homeland. We will never forget your generosity!”

Your gifts to CBN Israel can offer compassionate relief to many others in need—including single mothers, Holocaust survivors, and terror victims.

And your support can bring essential aid—such as groceries, housing, appliances, and financial help—to those who are hurting. Please let us hear from you today!

Will you reach out in kindness and compassion to those in need?


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Weekly Q&A: Why should Christians learn about ancient and modern Judaism?

Christianity and Judaism (modern Judaism) are sisters; their mother is ancient Judaism. The New Testament belongs to the world of ancient Judaism. As such, to understand the New Testament, we need to study ancient Judaism. We find within ancient Judaism the faith, ideas, forms of teachings, theological developments, and manner of biblical interpretation found within the New Testament; thus, ancient Judaism provides windows through which we interpret and understand the New Testament. 

Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John expressed their ideas, faith, and expectations within the context of the world of ancient Judaism. For we as modern readers of the Bible, who find ourselves separated from the world of ancient Judaism, the study of ancient Judaism enables us to better understand the words of the New Testament figures and writers.  

Even beyond the New Testament, the first century was an axial period within human history, which gave birth to Judaism and Christianity, both of which eventually influenced the foundation of Islam. To understand history, particularly the history of Mediterranean region, from the first century until now, requires us to know something about the world of ancient Judaism, which gave us many ideas prevalent within the history of the Western world that remain with us today. 

Between the world of ancient Judaism and modern Judaism stand the last two thousand years of history. A history which has witnessed the ascendancy of Christianity, and as with many siblings, the history of Christianity and Judaism has been contentious, bitter, and hurtful, especially to Judaism. 

Studying modern Judaism does not necessarily assist one in better understanding the New Testament, but it does explain how we move from Jesus, a Jew, to Judaism’s hostility towards him. It has little to do with Jesus, and mostly to do with his followers, especially his non-Jewish followers. 

Learning about modern Judaism forces Christians to confront a very ugly history of how Christians have treated the Jews, often being the source of anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic attitudes and voices, which remain with us until today. 

Learning about modern Judaism enables modern Christians to understand the challenges of Jewish-Christian dialogue and interactions. Learning about modern Judaism explains modern Zionism and the founding of the State of Israel. 

Learning about modern Judaism should lead Christians to ask some theological questions of themselves concerning the Jewish people and Israel. Learning about modern Judaism, however, also provides the ability to understand Jews and Judaism, to see the world from their perspective historically, culturally, and theologically.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast


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Jews, Arabs, and Druze in a Vibrant Israeli Tapestry

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Israel’s citizens make up a colorful tapestry of religions and ethnicities, with some two million Arab citizens and more than seven million Jewish citizens who immigrated (made Aliyah) from 112 countries. Most formerly lived in the Diaspora region outside ancient Israel, which began in the sixth century B.C. after the Babylonian exile. Jews were forcibly scattered throughout the world for millennia.

When more Jews began trickling back into their homeland in the 1800s, they brought centuries of prayers with them. Due their deeply grounded spiritual DNA, even in exile they practiced Judaism as best they could and steadfastly proclaimed, “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Their varied languages, foods, and traditions from previous nations were bound together upon arriving in Israel, as they learned and acclimated to Hebrew. Now, they celebrate their freedom in the only Jewish country in the world.

Jews portray many colors of the world, coming as they do from Ethiopia, Asia, Russia, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, the Pacific, and beyond. In fair-skinned, black, or toffee skin tones, they gazed upon their ancestral homeland with blue, black, and brown and green eyes. The indigenous wanderers are home now, full of hopes and dreams that became reality—evidence of promises from the God of their ancestors: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Adding to Israel’s fascinating tapestry are the Druze, one of Israel’s minority social and religious communities. I have wonderful memories spent with Druze after a daylong visit in Bukata, one of 18 Druze villages in Israel’s Golan Heights. A friend arranged for a group of us to visit before the 2019 Government Press Office’s Christian Media Summit began in Jerusalem. So, we boarded a bus and traveled north.

Stepping off the bus after traveling up via breathtaking hairpin turns and taking in the beauty of the Golan, we were greeted warmly by the Bukata Local Council members. First, we celebrated by eating their delicious food spread out on a decorated table in their meeting hall. Then we walked over to the soccer field where they held a game in our honor and presented us with heavy, gold-colored medallions imprinted on both sides—one with Local Council Bukata in Arabic and their flag, and the other side with an Israeli and American flag with the Bukata name in Hebrew. The beribboned lanyard featured blue and white, the colors of Israel’s flag. When the leaders hung them around our necks as the soccer teams competed, I was delighted with their warm expressions of welcome.

The Druze emerged from Islam centuries ago. They speak Arabic but practice their own religion. The Druze are ethnically Arab but do not identify as Palestinians. They are monotheistic, do not proselytize, and allow no outsiders into their religion, contrasting with their open arms of hospitality.

Druze number about 138,000 in Israel. Others live in Lebanon and Syria. One English-speaking Druze commented that they live in the Golan Heights in three bordering countries yet near each other—within “shouting distance,” like an extended family. The Israeli Druze fare much better in Israel than under the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon and the Iran-controlled regime in Syria.

Israel has offered Druze citizenship since 1980. Nevertheless, Druze have maintained a strong relationship with Syrian Druze. In a Times of Israel article last year, “As ties to Syria fade, Golan Druze increasingly turning to Israel for citizenship,” it reports an excellent summary of the ins and outs of Druze dissatisfaction with Israel. Yet within their philosophy is a concept called taqiyya, which calls them to be loyal to the country in which they live.

Applications for citizenship are increasing though because Syria—since 2011—has fragmented into a disaster under President Assad and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The article mentions that currently 20 percent of Druze are Israeli citizens, and the remainder are Permanent Residents.

Israel does not require Arabs to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), although they may choose to do so. Like Jews, though, Druze are required to serve after reaching the age of 18 while Druze women do not serve. At Israel’s 75th Independence Day ceremony last April, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog honored 120 members from the three branches of the IDF and their families at the president’s official residence. In his speech, Herzog referred to pre-state Israel, saying, “We were, and still are, like dreamers,” telling the honorees that they represent the realization of that dream. He closed his heartfelt remarks by voicing the reality that “We could not have done any of this if we hadn’t done it all together!” Each soldier received medals, certificates, and scholarships, including Jews, Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, and yes, Druze who often serve in elite and combat units.

I enjoyed another encounter with a Druze representative in a memorable event also in the Golan Heights. Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) initiated a history-making proclamation ceremony for 120 of us in Christian media from 30 nations. The event was moderated by Eric Stakelbeck, TBN’s host of The Watchman, who highlighted the unity among three faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Druze. Representatives included David Parsons, vice president and senior spokesman for International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, and Aharon Eisental, chief rabbi of Hispin Village. The trio also included a Druze representative, Sheik Salim Abu Salach.

One of the GPO staff offered her own, original heartfelt prayer: “Our Father in heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel and Jerusalem, bless the Golan Heights and those who seek its peace and send blessings and success to all their work. Envelop us in Your peace, bestow eternal happiness to the inhabitants of our land. Remove war and bloodshed from the world and bequeath a great and wondrous peace from heaven. ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore’” [Isaiah 2:4].

This prayer is currently very much needed, especially in the Druze community, as I conclude with a sorrowful, shocking event.

Last week, four Druze were shot to death in northern Israel’s Abu Snan, a majority-Druze town. One of the four victims was Ghazi Sa’ab, who was running for mayor and was a former IDF and Border Police officer. The quadruple murders come amid an internal Arab crime wave that has already taken the lives of 157 Arabs this year. One hundred forty-eight killed were Arab Israelis. Earlier this week, Israel’s Shin Bet and police met with Arab leaders who are demanding action in what is thought to be organized Arab crime.

I invite you to join our CBN Israel team to pray with hope for the day when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the Druze community who are suffering the grief of shocking murders.
  • Pray for the Druze, a minority who are loyal to Israel, having sacrificed more lives relative to their small population than all the others. 
  • Pray for practical solutions to stem the tidal wave of crime against Arab Israelis.
  • Pray for Israel’s security personnel who are already under intense stress from enemies that have sworn to destroy them.
  • Pray for Israel and our world to acknowledge the blessed hope that our Lord offers through His sacrificial love.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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