Lights Shining Within the Deepest Darkness of Evil

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

As seen in recent events, the moral differences between Israel and Hamas could not be clearer. To protect Gazan civilians, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have repeatedly dropped leaflets, sent texts, and made calls warning Palestinians to move into southern Gaza and out of harm’s way during Israel’s counterattacks following the October 7 invasion and massacre. Hamas, on the other hand, threatens the safety of its residents by blockading the predetermined escape route and then cowardly using its innocent civilian populations as human shields. In fact, Gazan deaths are welcomed by these new Nazis—to further their hate-filled propaganda purposes..

Good and evil, light and darkness are openly opposed to each other both in spiritual battles and in battles on earth. Prime Minister Netanyahu announced in a recent press conference that “this war will be long and hard” and called it “our second War of Independence.”

The “long and hard war” includes information warfare, where mainstream media use their own quick-trigger responses as weapons, often within seconds. They report Hamas’s lies as facts. Thus, anti-Israel media actually incite violence in a Jew-hating world that is eager to blame Jews for evil-doings. For Christians—and anyone of sound mind and conscience—disbelieving anything Hamas claims is a good idea. Namely, the initiative that infects terrorist minds with unrestrained hatred: “Slaughter Jews anywhere and everywhere.”

Fully aware of this terrorist mindset, Israelis are unified in existential combat to save their people and their land. On the battlefield, the IDF’s Swords of Iron are demolishing the darkest evils in a just war. Unity also characterizes Christians and Jews mobilizing together with Lights of Kindness for traumatized Israelis.

Although big evangelical Christian organizations such as CBN Israel, Samaritan’s Purse, and Christians United For Israel (CUFI) are undertaking massive humanitarian operations for Israel, hundreds of churches, state governments, and smaller charities are also shining Lights of Kindness—working hard to gather supplies for delivery to Israel. Proverbs 4:9 comes alive: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

The Eldan Hotel in Jerusalem is one venue for Lights of Kindness from smaller entities such as the non-profit Genesis 123. The foundation of my friend, modern Orthodox Jew Jonathan Feldstein, is another Light—devoted to building warm bridges of cooperation between Jews and Christians for numerous projects.

Shortly after evil’s ruthless October 7 invasion along Israel’s Gaza border, Jonathan’s friend David Nekrutman—executive director of The Isaiah Projects—asked Jonathan to join him to contribute to the first week in the Eldan Hotel where around 60 Jewish evacuees are housed. Evacuees include families of three generations—most from Moshav Mishan, near Ashkelon, immediately north of the Gaza border. Before they came to Eldan Hotel in Jerusalem, they could not leave their homes and bomb shelters.

A dad with three young children described the continual Hamas rocket fire and staying in bomb shelters for hours at a time. His children “are afraid.” Others at the hotel who live in Sderot include a Holocaust survivor. Jonathan and David mobilized both their networks of Jews and Christians, which paid the evacuees’ expenses for the first week. As the second week approached, Jonathan’s friend Jeffry Mark (J. Mark Interiors Ltd.) asked how he could help. He has now financed evening activities, meals, and Shabbats, turned his nearby showroom into a place for the families to relax, with his staff volunteering. At this writing, Jonathan says thus far at least $35,000 has been donated for hotel accommodations, food, and activities.

The evacuees are expressing genuine gratitude that Christians around the world have donated much of the funding. They are overwhelmed with such kindness. One mother observed, “My child smiled for the first time in weeks.” Some evacuees in the Eldan Hotel are also commuting to jobs, because despite the war they still must work. Dozens of volunteers are stepping up.

Jonathan Feldstein explained that efforts are open ended, since many evacuees have no homes to return to. Those who still have homes are afraid to return because terrorists are still firing rockets. Jonathan has initiated The Israel Emergency Campaign under his Genesis 123 non-profit to make immediate and practical differences “for as many people on the ground as possible.”

Feldstein is looking long term, based on assessments from Prime Minister Netanyahu and the IDF. He acknowledges, “We will need a lot of help.” He has included donations for soldiers and first-responder civilian security teams, which is a big need. Jonathan mentions, “I’m not asking anyone to smuggle through a dirty [Hamas] tunnel; just to give. We will continue to invest to make the best impact to save and heal as many lives as possible.”

Other worthy efforts include Maasay Yahdav, which was founded by Doris Mintz in 2007. Throughout the year, Doris and her team gather humanitarian aid and ship it to Israel. Their teams also travel to Israel twice a year to help distribute these items. Collaborating with a range of Jewish organizations and Israeli hospitals, Maasay Yahdav teams especially enjoy showing mercy and love in visits with Holocaust survivors and giving them beautiful handmade blankets.

Another relief organization is Kad-esh, whose founders Rabbi Baruch and Archbishop Dominiquae Bierman are on the ground in Israel. They are equipping a village in Samaria with tactical equipment for self-defense and providing tents and sleeping bags for soldiers on Israel’s northern border.

A big Light of Kindness among churches is Reverend Dean Haun and Morristown, Tennessee, First Baptist Church. His Harvest of Israel outreach has over the years shipped more than a hundred 40-foot containers of humanitarian aid to Israel with the involvement of many other churches. Rev. Haun, who has led tours to Israel 35 times, describes their current focus on obtaining and distributing “Kevlar helmets, body armor, boots, ballistic plate carriers, and more.”

The vast array of help from Christians and Jews together includes acquiring aid from government officials in states like Alabama and Tennessee. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced their Treasury’s decision to increase its investment in Israel bonds. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares sent a letter to all 123 Virginia sheriffs asking them to consider donating any expired law enforcement gear for the IDF. He visited Israel again earlier this year, meeting with men and women in the IDF. Miyares expressed his support, commenting that they “are willing to give their lives to maintain peace in this region. … They are committed to democracy and the public safety of their land, and I am proud to stand with them.”  

Prime Minister Netanyahu commented about nations standing with Israel: “Our allies …  understand today that if Israel does not win, they will be next.” He added, “Many around the world understand well that Israel is fighting not only its war, but humanity’s war against the barbarians.”

Let us consult our Jewish Lord Jesus to ask what part He wants us to play in helping our Israeli friends who fight on the front lines of freedom for all of us—as they oppose the Islamic Regime behind it all. 

Join our CBN Israel team this week in reflecting on Ecclesiastes 4:10—“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for Christians to consistently pray and offer practical help.
  • Pray that Christians use emails, social media, and conversations to communicate facts from reliable sources like CBN Israel and CBN News.
  • Pray for God to confuse Israel’s enemies: Hamas, Hezbollah, and Houthis.
  • Pray with thanks for Christians who are donating whatever they can to help ease suffering and gain victory in Israel’s defensive war.

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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Victim of Terrorism: David’s Story

David, the leader of a kibbutz near Gaza, was one of the first to realize that his community was under attack from Hamas on October 7. Early that morning, following a massive bombing, David was walking his dog. Suddenly, a caravan of 15 trucks, filled with heavily armed Hamas militants, was headed his way. As a trained soldier, what he saw shocked him.

He observed, “They were very equipped, they knew the area—they understood exactly what they were doing. They’d come to kill and slaughter. I’ve been in fighting; I’ve been in combat. This was not that. This was complete madness.”

Waiting for the Israeli army to arrive, David spent the whole day fighting terrorists, protecting his neighborhood, and putting out fires. Miraculously, he and his family survived. But their kibbutz needed help—and we are so thankful friends like you came to their rescue!

Through CBN Israel, caring donors rushed emergency relief, food, and water to these grateful families. And as the war in the Holy Land rages on, your gifts can provide critical aid—evacuating many to safety, supplying nourishing meals, and offering trauma counseling.

Your donations can also bring relief and encouragement to single mothers, immigrant families, elderly Holocaust survivors, and others battling poverty. Your care and support can enable them to survive in today’s challenging conditions.

And at this time of great upheaval, you can offer those in crisis a friend they can count on. You can deliver crucial supplies to battle zones, while still distributing groceries, financial assistance, and more to those in need.

Please consider a gift today for such a time as this!


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Biblical Israel: Ashdod

Tel Ashdod is located almost four miles south of the modern city of Ashdod. The Bible identifies it as one of the five cities of the Philistines along with Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath.

It appears most prominently in the story of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines (1 Samuel 5:1-7). The Philistines brought the ark to the Temple of Dagon in Ashdod. The statute of Dagon is struck down twice, and on the second occasion, its head and hands were broken off. The people of Ashdod were struck with tumors.

According to 2 Chronicles, king Uzziah of Judah made war against the Philistines and destroyed the walls of Gath and built cities in the territories of Ashdod (26:6). The prophet Amos spoke of the destruction of Ashdod in his oracle against the nations (1:8). Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah also prophesied the destruction of Ashdod in their oracles against the nations.

The city’s prominence declined in the 7th century B.C., and it may have even fallen under the control of king Josiah of Judah for a time towards the end of the 7th century B.C. Ashdod, like Ekron, Ashkelon, and Gaza, was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar around 600 B.C., which was mentioned by the prophets Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah. During the Persian period, Ashdod was Persian province; the book of Nehemiah mentions the Ashdodites conspiring against the Judeans (4:7). 

The Hasmoneans conquered Ashdod, which was called Azotus at that time, in the 2nd century B.C. When the Roman general Pompey entered the Hasmonean kingdom in 63 B.C., he removed Ashdod from Judaea; Pompey’s successor Gabinius reconstructed it. Caesar Augusts granted Ashdod to the kingdom of Herod the Great (the Herod of Matthew 2).

Excavations at Ashdod have revealed that in Iron Age I (1200-1000 B.C.) Philistine material culture appears, as the Philistines settled in the land from the Aegean area. The archaeology of Ashdod illustrates the connection of Philistine culture with sites on Cyprus and Mycenae.

Even foodways and cooking traditions show the connection between the Philistines and the Aegean world. Evidence of pottery workshops were uncovered by the excavators. Excavations reveal that Ashdod reached its peak in the late 9th to 8th centuries B.C. During the late 8th century B.C., however, Ashdod was destroyed by the Assyrian king Sargon II.

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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Weekly Devotional: Challenged to Trust

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. … Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him” (Deuteronomy 8:2, 6 NKJV).

Do we allow God to challenge us to trust Him? As Moses gave his final instructions to the children of Israel, he reminded them of God’s provision for them in the wilderness. He also identified that God led them in a manner that tested them, to see if they would obey Him regardless of the circumstances.

Does our faith allow that God can place us in trying situations to see if we will obey Him no matter what?

It is very in our world to let the things in our lives distract us, or to let situations overwhelm us. In those moments, do we focus more on the distractions and circumstances than on trusting God and walking in His ways?

God taught the Israelites to trust Him and His provision throughout their wilderness wanderings. He provided, but not always immediately or in their timing. He wanted to know if they would keep His commandments.

The temptation to sin often begins with the question of the serpent: “Has God really said?” It entices us to take matters into our own hands, do things in our own way, or reject God’s prohibitions.

The essence of biblical faith is believing and trusting God despite the circumstances, to choose to obey Him regardless of distraction or difficulty.

The reality of the Bible is, however, that sometimes God places us in those situations to see if we will obey Him regardless of the challenges around us.

Do we allow God to challenge us to trust Him? Do we truly believe, no matter the circumstances, that He remains by our side—and that while we may feel pressed, stretched, and at our breaking point, He will never allow us to be crushed?

May we recognize in these difficult moments that our circumstances become the opportunity to build and show our trust in God.


Father, in whatever circumstances I find myself today, may I demonstrate my trust in You by obediently keeping Your commands and walking in Your ways. Amen.

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Israelis Bearing Cavernous Sorrows Bravely Pick Up Arms to Fight Evil and Defend Their Country

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

“We are 12 days [now 20] into the war, and we still have not been able to bury all our dead. … We cannot tell families if their loved ones have been kidnapped or whether they are dead.”   

In her solemn statement, Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States spoke at one of many functions last week. Her grave manner and impassioned statements of truth about Hamas’s deadly attacks drew multiple standing ovations during a joint North Carolina-South Carolina forum of the National Federation of Republican Women. I experienced the privilege of interviewing her at my alma mater, Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which hosted the event.

During the interview, Sultan-Dadon reiterated that “The human mind cannot comprehend the brutality—wiping out entire families, the slaughter, and the beheading of babies.” She repeatedly underscored Israel’s determination “to be strong for one another” and their “duty as a sovereign country to eliminate the terror threat.”

The savage assaults, which began on the Shabbat morning of October 7, 2023, are incomprehensible. The slaughters, hostage kidnappings, and unspeakable rapes can only be understood as a demonic, Hitleresque blitz committed by bloodthirsty terrorists. The Consul General described the “profound pain” that shattered every Israeli beginning on that horrific day. Their lives have changed forever in this small nation—the only Jewish country in the world. The appalling numbers are increasing; the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has announced 224 abducted—some of them Americans and other foreign citizens—1,400 Israelis massacred, and over 5,240 wounded.

Some of the results of October 7 and since have meant the displacement of over 120,000 Israelis from their kibbutzim along the breached Israel border. I have often visited Kfar Aza, a once-beautiful community inhabited by wonderful Israeli civilians. Terrorists murdered one hundred residents there. Twenty Israeli communities in Israel’s north—where Hezbollah is embedded in Lebanon—have also been relocated due to critical safety precautions. Many of these refugees, who have no homes to return to, are currently housed in hotels. Those in somewhat less-dangerous locations are staying in homes and bomb shelters with other Israeli families.

My conversation with Consul General Sultan-Dadon covered a range of important topics. These must not only be understood but also memorized as talking points to oppose information warfare against Israel. Her factual assessments are critically important. I urge Christians to view them as lessons that will enable all of us to be educated advocates for Israel.

“Standing with Israel is not just about Israel,” she said. “It is standing alongside all the values that we hold dear: freedom, everything holy and sacred in stark opposition to death and destruction.” In a resolute voice, she declared, “If you are not standing with Israel you are standing for terror and hate.”

Confirming the Islamic Regime’s role, Consul General Sultan-Dadon stated, “Without a shadow of a doubt Iran funds, guides, provides weapons, and trains its proxies even far beyond our region. Iran is not only a threat for Israel, but also a threat to destabilizing the Middle East, and a threat to the free world. She concluded, “All the values that we hold dear [are] everything that they oppose.”

Last week, Hamas and most of the world circulated the lie that Israel bombed a Gaza hospital. Israel does not bomb hospitals. The Consul General spoke intensely about media and the fanatical demonstrators “instantly taking the word of a brutal terror organization” that had just committed atrocities instead of accepting the facts and evidence that Israel presented. “That is not acceptable and should be called out.” She recounts what really happened: “One out of five rockets that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launch at Israel to target civilians, misfires and falls in their own territory—harming their own civilians.”

Many sources have agreed with the Consul General’s facts, including the Associated Press—the largest media source in the world. She asserted, “Rather than take Hamas terrorists’ word for it, stand against it. Shame on all the networks for taking the word of terrorism over the word of Israel with the facts and evidence.”

She added that Israel makes every effort to minimize harm to civilians but “Hamas intentionally places their military assets in heavily populated areas—in mosques, hospitals, schools, and homes, using their own people as human shields.”

The Israeli Air Force’s policy is to drop leaflets into Gaza, make calls, and send text messages to warn them of impending attacks. In that vein, for days now Israel has informed civilians in northern Gaza to move to the south. The Consul General informed us that “not only is Hamas calling on civilians to stay put, but they are also actually setting up roadblocks to physically prevent them from evacuating.” She added that if civilians are killed, it offers a gold mine of propaganda that she described as “their distorted vision to accuse us as the perpetrator.”

One of the most heartbreaking facts that Consul General Sultan-Dadon shared is the following: “We are 12 days [now 20] into the war, and we still have not been able to bury all our dead. We cannot identify those who have been tortured or burnt, since for some all that remains are a few bones and fingernails. We cannot tell families if their loved ones have been kidnapped or whether they are dead.” Of Israel’s Holocaust survivors, she said, “Holocaust survivors who have already survived hell on earth are meeting hell in the form of Hamas.” 

A two-minute video clip was shown at the end of the Consul General’s heart-wrenching remarks. But before it began, Mistress of Ceremonies Jennifer Stefano warned attendees and Live Stream viewers about the deeply disturbing footage, inviting them to exit if needed. In the brief clip from Hamas body cams and call recordings, we viewed and heard the agonizing screams, murderous gunshots, and frenzied Arabic shouts.

Afterward, the audience sat in stunned silence. Stefano, a well-known commentator, called for moments of silence then offered a quiet goodbye. She rightly reminded us that we must “bear witness” as the Consul General had said earlier: “We need for all our friends to stand strong and remain strong in speaking the truth. The voices of humanity must drown out voices that support terror and hate.” Consul General Sultan-Dadon emphasized that the war will be “prolonged” and that the “very, very difficult visuals of atrocities are important so that all of you can bear witness to what has happened.” That evening at Winthrop University our deeper understanding tied our hearts even more securely to the traumatized hearts of Israeli Jews.

Now, additional barbaric acts are becoming known. On the October 23 airing of The 700 Club, Gordon Robertson interviewed Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States. Oren bluntly described the lethal butchery: “Anything that could be done to the body was done except for cannibalism.” Also that same day, the IDF briefed 200 foreign journalists using raw, unedited footage of murder, decapitation, and torture. Major General Mickey Edelstein, who briefed reporters afterward, said, “We have evidence” of rape but “we cannot share it.” He declined to elaborate. The journalists were not allowed to record the screening, which took place at a closed Israeli military base. However, with all the propaganda darkening the world, is it too much to ask that these 200 journalists now responsibly report the facts about the Islamic Republic of Iran—that its goal is genocide through one of its proxies?

Not surprisingly, the Consul General’s inspiring words were met with a lengthy standing ovation. “While we are facing the most painful chapter in the modern state of Israel’s history,” she said, “I want to assure you that we are strong, we are proud, and we are not going anywhere!” Let all of us join her in unity and strength!

At the minimum, I am urging Christians everywhere to pass along the Israel Consulate’s daily update of facts, which will help us inform others to stand as an army of truth to oppose the lies. Here is the link to sign up for their excellent official digital resources to share anywhere possible: [Learn More].

Meditating on Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV, we welcome you to pray with our CBN Israel team:

“The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for every member of the IDF for safety and victory anywhere they are defending their country by land, sea, air, and cyber security.
  • Pray for thousands of expert civilians who are using intelligence platforms on computers to locate hostages in Gaza.
  • Pray for staff and soldiers who face the trauma of collecting and examining remains to identify bodies.
  • Pray for concerted efforts among Christians providing humanitarian aid.
  • Pray for Christians to act massively by forwarding and talking about facts to oppose the Information War against Israel.

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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Victim of Terrorism: Esther’s Story

Esther, a single mother with three children, had suffered from domestic violence for 10 years—and needed help making it on her own. When caring donors gave her aid recently through CBN Israel, she said it was like having family there for her, adding, “Thanks to you, I don’t feel like I’m drowning anymore.” But that was only the beginning of the lifeline you provided to Esther.

Just days later, on October 7, 2023, Hamas terrorists invaded Esther’s town of Sderot. As the attacks began, she and her three kids quickly escaped to a bomb shelter. Locked in for over 12 hours, with no food or water, Esther was terrified. Who could she trust to get them out?

How grateful we are that friends like you were there for her again! As she frantically texted and called CBN Israel for help to evacuate, our staff contacted the military and the police.

Esther and her children were soon rescued from this horrific war zone. We brought them to a safe place, where they could finally get water, eat a nourishing meal, shower, and enjoy a good night’s sleep. And your gifts to CBN Israel can deliver food, emergency supplies, bomb shelters, and comfort to many more innocent families caught in the crossfire.

Plus, you can assist new immigrants who have escaped war in their own country, impoverished Holocaust survivors, and others in desperate need. You can be there with groceries, shelter, financial help, and most of all, hope.

Your support is crucial at this time. Alice, a staff member working with terror victims, wept, “Thanks to CBN Israel supporters! You have no idea—we’re all crying; this has been a disaster. Your helping us is just a huge ray of light in this darkness.”

Please join us in bringing relief and God’s love to those who are hurting!


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Biblical Israel: Azekah

Azekah sits on a high ridge in the Judean lowlands overlooking the Elah Valley. Along with Socoh and Sha’arayim, Azekah is featured in the story of David’s confrontation with Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Its location within the Judean lowlands in the Elah Valley meant that it functioned as a guard city between the Judean highlands and the Coastal Plain.

Azekah first appears in the Bible in the story of the five Amorite kings defeated by Joshua at Gibeon (Joshua 10:10-11). According to 1 Samuel 17, the Philistines encamped between Socoh and Azekah. When the kingdom of Israel divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, fortified Azekah along with other sites in the Judean lowlands to protect his kingdom (2 Chronicles 11:9).

Assyrian sources refer to Azekah as aa “stronghold, which is situated in the mid[st of the mountains…] located on a mountain ridge like a pointed dagger.” The Babylonian campaign against Judah in the 6th century B.C. destroyed Azekah along with many cities in the Judean lowlands, and also Jerusalem. The book of Jeremiah remembers a time just before the destruction of Jerusalem when the only cities left to the kingdom of Judah were Jerusalem, Azekah, and Lachish (Jeremiah 34:7).

A letter discovered in the excavations at Lachish, written on a broken piece of pottery (ostracon), attests to this reality. The person writing notes that those at Lachish could no longer see the signal fires of Azekah; the Babylonians had destroyed the city. Azekah fell to the Babylonians in 588 B.C., shortly before Jerusalem fell. When people returned to Judah, under the Persians, some settled at Azekah (Nehemiah 11:30).

Excavations at Lachish have revealed settlement from around 1500 B.C. to the Byzantine period. Evidence of the Babylonian destruction of the city has been uncovered. So too, a fortress, which some archaeologists identified as the fortifications of Rehoboam have been unearthed. Stamped jar handles with the seal lemelek (“belonging to the king”) from the time of king Hezekiah at the end of the 8th century B.C. were discovered, as were some Egyptian scarabs. 

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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Weekly Devotional: The God Who Delivers

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by enemies? The psalmist did: “O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God’” (Psalm 3:1-2 NASB).

Sometimes the circumstances appear daunting and overwhelming. The thought comes, God cannot save me from this. Yet as the psalmist reflects on feeling outnumbered by his enemies, he voices, “But You, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head” (verse 3).

The biblical writers repeatedly describe God as one who answers those who cry to Him: “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain” (verse 4). God is near to those who cry out to Him. He is not impotent, nor is He far off. Nor is He intimidated by overwhelming odds.

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by life, I’m sure that during those moments sleep has left you. Through dark nights, you lay awake tossing and turning as you wrestled with your circumstances, possibly overcome with fear. The psalmist recognized that God sustained him; therefore, he says, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me” (verse 5; emphasis added). He continues, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me” (verse 6).

He does not ignore his circumstances or problems. They are still there, even when he wakes. Yet the realization that God sustains him allows him to sleep, and he finds himself fearless in facing those set against him. He understands that he is not alone, and the God who is on his side will deliver him: “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (verse 8).

The expression of the psalmist is not “the power of positive thinking”; his circumstances are real and dire. He recognizes, however, that God is on his side and He will deliver him. When overwhelming circumstances confront us, do we allow worry and fear to consume us? Or do we realize that God is with us and He will deliver us?


Father, today we call to You. Deliver us from those things that threaten to overwhelm us for Your glory. Amen.

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How to Stand by Our Israeli Friends in Wartime: Join an Evangelical Army of Truth

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

In 2006, Hezbollah terrorists—embedded in Lebanon—ambushed an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) border patrol. In a cross-border raid, Hezbollah kidnapped two IDF soldiers and killed another three. A few days after Israel’s Second Lebanon War began on July 12 of that year, my good friend Earl Cox called me. I had been volunteering with him since 2002 on his personally financed projects aimed at blessing Israel. His next words amazed me: “Arlene, I think the Lord wants us to go to Israel as soon as possible.” I countered, “Earl, why would we go now?” His reply made all the sense in the world to me. “When friends are in crisis, true friends go and stand with them.”

He and I had traveled to Israel leading groups both large and small during the Second Intifada (2000–2005). In that offensive, based on untrue allegations that Israel was taking over the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Palestinians murdered more than 1,000 Jews. We were not tourists—either then or during our 2006 Second Lebanon War trip.

We rushed into action implementing the next steps. Immediately after Earl called, we quickly swept through our list of contacts with the help of Earl’s wife, Kathleen, and my husband, Paul. Just seven days later, Earl and I landed at Ben Gurion Airport with 25 Christians. Our agenda rested in four words: ENCOURAGE OUR JEWISH FRIENDS.

And what a reception we got! Israelis were overjoyed to see us at empty restaurants in the Galilee and on Jerusalem buses, where we declared, “We are American Christians. We are here as friends.” At Haifa’s Rambam Hospital we visited wounded IDF soldiers. I still recall how shocked the staff of the Israeli Red Cross was when all 25 of us walked in to donate blood. Our team traveled up to the Israel-Lebanon border as bombs were falling. Israeli tanks were lined up with surprised soldiers who gladly accepted our small American flags. We frequented the Western Wall to pray and left 10 days later after sharing many hugs with senior citizens, leaving toys for children in bomb shelters, and listening to families awaiting word on their loved ones serving in the IDF.

I describe our trip to emphasize that Israelis treated us like family and were deeply touched by our friendship. Yes, when friends are in crisis, true friends stand with them. When any of us are in crisis, we deeply appreciate our friends and family supporting us in our time of need. We are assured that in this war, Israelis will deeply appreciate anything we do!

We must remain motivated by keeping this fact in mind: If we are passive, propaganda will proliferate. Within a few days of the massacre of Jewish men, women, children, and babies in Israel, a hurricane of lies blew through the airwaves of the world villainizing Israel as if photos and descriptions about the Hamas “Nazis” had not previously circled the globe revealing these unspeakable and barbaric killings. Hamas took its own photos during their executions of innocents, using on occasion their victims’ cell phones to post on their own Facebook pages. 

The blood of beheaded Israeli babies cries out for justice amid this existential threat to Israel, which is now clearer than ever. Despite the sound evidence, Jew-hating crowds commit another kind of unholy jihad: a jihad of lethal words. Demonstrators echo a Holocaust theme to “Gas the Jews!” While Hitler’s Nazis generally attempted to hide their mass murders, the Islamic Regime—its surrogates Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps embedded in Syria—wear their hate as a badge of honor. The Jew-hating crowds are pushing full-throttled, murderous messages.

Hellish demons are dancing and igniting fires among these rebellious voices as they rail against the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus—in fact, against Jews anywhere. We Christians must beware, as we lay aside apathy and embrace bravery.

Our proactive postures in small and large ways must override this revival of genocidal evil. Slightly reshaping my friend Earl’s compassionate reasoning, I say now, “When friends are in crisis, true friends stand with them.”

There are many ways to do this, and they are available right now, right where we are. Let us stop wringing our hands in frustration and suit up in an Evangelical Army of Truth. Facts and biblical truth must take precedence, not hysteria and ugly name-calling. We must grasp our reality from Ephesians 6:11-13—“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Friends, the “forces of evil in the heavenly realms” are fully deployed on earth promoting and propagandizing unimaginable evil. We must be prayerful, proactive, and put on our spiritual armor daily. Ephesians 6:14-17 directs us to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Now, more than ever, is the time to fulfill our God-given calling to stand with Israel and Jewish people! We urge you to watch out for the anti-Israel propaganda you see or hear in the global mainstream media. They have already returned to their habitual, ignorant, and hostile reporting against Israel. Use discernment in consuming the news and guard against faulty information and conspiracy theories. The media listed in this article are factual, trustworthy, and important tools to inform others through your social media, emails, in person, Bible studies, and churches. And please do not believe anything reported by Hamas; they are notorious for threatening their media.

When the IDF, the most humanitarian military on earth, enters Gaza en masse, much of the world will forget Hamas’s most depraved, barbaric murders in Israel’s 75-year modern history and since the genocidal Holocaust. They will forget that the Islamic Regime is the world’s worst, most prolific terror-sponsoring country—reaching far beyond the Middle East while terrorizing their own population! If we are targeted, let it be because we follow the Jewish Messiah. In the media resources I list below, primarily educate yourself with Israel’s Official Digital Resource available to you and everyone from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Give Support to Israel:

Media Resources:

  • Stay updated and informed with Israel’s official site from the Prime Minister’s Office. Read and share its insightful resources with your churches, ministries, contacts/social media, friends, and family: [Learn More].
  • Watch the biweekly CBN News show, Jerusalem Dateline, which is hosted by veteran reporter, Chris Mitchell: [Learn More].
  • Download the CBN News App to stay updated and informed about what is happening in Israel and the Middle East—all from a biblical perspective: [Learn More].
  • Follow Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus (res.), Intl. Spokesman for IDF. He is interviewed worldwide on mainstream and Christian media: [Learn More].
  • Follow Brig. General Amir Avivi, Founder, Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF). Subscribe free to receive briefing notifications: [Learn More].
  • Stay updated and informed with Joel Rosenberg’s All Israel News: [Learn More].
  • Follow Amir Tsarfati, President of Behold Israel: [Learn More].

The best way to remain informed and educated is to subscribe to the media and humanitarian organizations I listed.

I am grateful that the United States is expressing its support for our great ally Israel by deploying the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group. It is now anchored in the Mediterranean Sea along Israel’s coast. U.S. Air Force fighter jets are also in the region, and the Pentagon has ordered the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to begin moving to the Eastern Mediterranean. These military moves were explained by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, “As part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”

Despite our U.S. military strength, it is not enough. This war looks to be a long one. The global pro-Israel Christian community must remain vigilant and proactive in both prayer and advocacy for Israel. We each have a role to play, as expressed in Galatians 6:2—“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Since we are the recipients of the deepest treasure imaginable through the Jews, our scripture, and our Savior, carrying the burdens of God’s Land and God’s people is a holy work and a way to honor our Lord.

Please join our CBN Israel team in prayer this week:

  • Pray for the IDF as they enter the Gaza Strip with its three hundred miles of dangerous underground tunnels.
  • Pray for traumatized families of the missing, murdered, and hostages. As of Sunday, the Sukkot War’s toll includes 30 Americans murdered and 13 missing.
  • Pray for Gazans to ignore Hamas’s threats not to leave Gaza as warned by Israel to save civilians.
  • Pray for each Christian to wear the mantle of spiritual warfare matched with practical support and advocacy for Israel.
  • Pray for our CBN News team headquartered in Jerusalem as we work around the clock to report the unbiased truth during these unprecedented times.
  • Pray for our CBN Israel team as we rush emergency relief to terror victims, war zone evacuees, and others impacted most by these horrible attacks.

Scripture verses are quoted from the New International Version.

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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Biblical Israel: Gath

Famous as the hometown of Goliath, Gath of the Philistines sits at the opening of the Elah Valley into the coastal plain (1 Samuel 17) in the northwestern Judean lowlands. Archaeological excavations, as well as ancient sources (like the Bible) have led to the identification of the site of Gath with a place known as Tel es-Safi. Gath was one of the five cities of the Philistine Pentapolis, along with Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron. The Bible mentions Gath more than any other Philistine city.

It serves as a key city within the narrative of the wandering of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 5). Most of the biblical references to Gath come from the stories relating to David. He fought Goliath from Gath (1 Samuel 17); he escaped from Saul fleeing to Achish the king of Gath (1 Samuel 21 and 27). Ittai the Gittite (meaning he’s from Gath) served as the commander of David’s trusted warriors (2 Samuel 15).

Gath’s prominence diminished during the later Old Testament period. 2 Kings 12:17 mentions the capture of Gath by Hazael of Aram (around 830 B.C.). The prophet Amos spoke about the state of Gath’s destruction (6:2), most likely as a result of the destruction of Hazael. In later biblical texts where the Philistine cities are mentioned, Gath is not, indicating that it was no longer important by the 8th century B.C.

Excavations at Gath (Tel es-Safi) indicate that in the Late Bronze Age a distinct cultural change happened with the appearance of Philistine culture. During this period and the early Iron Age, excavations reveal that Gath was a large urban center. Up until the destruction of Gath as a result of Gath’s conquest by Hazael, the site grew reaching its zenith in the 10th-9th centuries B.C. It covered 16 to 20 acres, with an upper and lower city making it one of the largest sites in this period within the Levant (modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank). Excavators discovered evidence of Hazael’s siege and conquest including a destruction layer throughout the site.

Scholars have recognized that the origins of the Philistines lay within the Aegean world. An inscription discovered in the excavations of Gath have underscored this. The inscription dates to Iron Age IIA and is inscribed with an archaic alphabetic script. It preserves two non-Semitic, Indo-European names with parallels from Mycenaean Greek and Luwian. It is the earliest decipherable Philistine text. It shows that the Philistines used Aegean scripts for their early writing, and that the Philistine language had Indo-European roots.

The size of the site of Gath and the excavations carried out there are significant not only for Gath but understanding Philistine culture in general. This gives important background to their appearance within the biblical record.

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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