Weekly Q&A: How did Christian anti-Judaism begin?

The non-Jewish followers of Jesus established themselves as a “third race” towards the end of the first century and in the early second century A.D. By this, they distinguished themselves from both the Jews and those who worshipped idols. They sought to identify themselves as the “true Israel” and disassociate from the Jewish people and Judaism. In their view, Judaism rejected Jesus and was, therefore, erroneous. Jews, moreover, murdered Jesus. Or so these Christians claimed.

They redefined the original “Jewishness” of Jesus’ movement to show Christianity as the only true religion. As such, it needed to be “Law free” and separated from any Judaizing. The Church Fathers struggled for supremacy and distinction from Judaism. To do this, they claimed the Jewish Law was no longer necessary, they removed the God of the New Testament’s ethnic, Jewish identity, and they prohibited interaction between Christians and Judaism.

Christian leaders declared the Jewish Law (Torah) as obsolete, devoid of any practical value. Ignatius of Antioch declared the practice of Jewish Law forbidden to Christians. Jews had to stop living as Jews when they became Christians (Letter to the Magnesians 8:1; 9:1; 10:3; see Letter to the Philadelphians 6:1). Justin Martyr permitted Jews to continue practicing Jewish observances, but he forbade them from suggesting that non-Jews should obey the Law of Moses (Dialogue with Trypho a Jew 47).

Official cannon law prohibited Christian participation in Jewish rituals at the Councils of Antioch (A.D. 341) and Laodicea (c. A.D. 360). The imperial orthodoxy of the Byzantine Empire opposed non-Jews practicing Jewish customs and criminalized conversion to Judaism. Jews became increasingly marginalized within late Roman society and became the subject of outbursts of violence fueled by the rhetoric of bishops and the theology of the Church Fathers. Within the Byzantine Empire, few Christians knew that Jesus and the Apostles were Jews.

Asia Minor became a particular location of tensions between Christians and Jews in the second century A.D. This already appears in the letters John wrote to Smyrna and Philadelphia (Revelation 2:8-11; 3:7-13). The Martyrdom of Polycarp tells of the Roman execution of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, in which the Jews played a catalytic role. This work styles its story on the death of Jesus in the Gospels and Stephen in Acts; thus, we may question the degree of the Jewish involvement.

Of particular importance is the homily, On the Passion (Peri Pascha), by Melito of Sardis. Melito lived in Sardis, located in Asia Minor, in the second century A.D. His homily accused Jews of deicide, killing God, for the first time. Meilito falsely claimed that the Jews scourged and crucified Jesus. Conveniently, Pilate and the Romans remain absent from Melito’s homily. The Jews killed Jesus; the Jews killed their Lord. This became a common refrain of Christian anti-Judaism.

Today, it is essential that we understand the dangers of these distorted beliefs. For centuries, sermons and writings have claimed that the Jewish people—as a whole—rejected Jesus, and therefore God rejected them. But this is not an accurate reading of the Scriptures and nor is it an accurate portrayal of the historical accounts and events. 

The New Testament makes no such claim that gentile Christians replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people or covenant community. Rather, it presents the good news that gentiles have been given the gracious privilege of being grafted into the covenant and family of faith, which had been established by God with Abraham and his descendants.

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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Amid Troubling Global Shifts, Good News is Ever Present

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

The global community is increasingly being ensnared by ruthless dictators who are banding together to assert their brand of world dominance. Each day, news emerges about evildoers entrapping entire populations with lies and deceptions that stir up confusion, chaos, and disorder. We are living in what some are calling a “five-twenty” world—based on Isaiah 5:20, which describes a world that calls evil good, and good evil.

An upside-down atmosphere and internal challenges within both the U.S. and Israel are unsettling. Let’s take a brief look at the troubling trends across the world, then a close look at how to embrace and add to the good trends surrounding us. 

Iran’s Islamic regime is ever-present in the mix. Our open U.S. Southern border beckons not only anyone from more than 100 countries but also, and more disturbingly, those set on destruction—from Iran, its proxies, China, and others. Shifting our focus to Israel’s border, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stationed in neighboring Syria. We honor our 900 American soldiers also stationed there since 2015. They play an essential role in hindering the Islamic regime’s weapons shipments into Syria bound for the IRGC. Weaponry is also destined for Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Military Times in varying reports indicates some 41,300 U.S. military are stationed in nine other nations in the Middle East such as Iraq, Kuwait, and Oman. 

Part of the Biden administration’s naiveté is to view another Iran deal as the means to providing a solution. Biden thinks a planned $17-billion payoff—which is being called a “mini deal”—will magically make the rogue regime comply with his wishes. However, the Ayatollahs and other bullying regimes respond to appeasement with disdain for the appeaser, not respect. They congratulate themselves for amassing more power to threaten and oppress not only their own citizens but also nations they view as weak. 

It is valuable to listen to reports from our troops in northeastern Syria and to others who suffer the Islamic regime’s cruelty firsthand. My close friend Marzi Amirizadeh—and thousands of other Iranians—are fully aware of the Ayatollahs’ evil intentions. 

Marzi, a Christian and now an American citizen, was arrested in 2009 for her faith. Her “crime”? Covertly giving out 20,000 Bibles in a nation opposed to Christianity. After nine torturous months, Marzi was miraculously released. Just last week, on June 20th, she wrote a Townhall op-ed that everyone, including the current U.S. administration, should read. No Deal for Iran ( 

She reveals, “It is impossible for me to read reports of the Biden administration negotiating a deal to placate Iran’s Islamist regime today, without bringing me back to my cell in Iran’s notorious Evin prison in 2009.” She also blames former President Obama [and then-Vice President Biden] for turning their backs on the Iranian people in Iran’s first nationwide protests about election fraud that same year. Eventually, thousands were arrested and executed. One of Marzi’s statements should be emblazoned in the minds of any leader, anywhere, who is negotiating with Iran: “If Iran is so callous and violates human rights at home, how can anyone trust the regime to be any better around the globe?”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei recently held friendly meetings in Tehran with two of their proxy leaders from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who also victimize their own people. Worse yet, Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, has for the past few months successfully smuggled rifles into Palestinian-run Jenin, located in Israel’s biblical heartland. Hezbollah has set up a sophisticated weapons operation that has resulted in more Israeli and Palestinian deaths and injuries. 

Earlier this month, Iran’s president Raisi got busy linking like-minded countries by visiting three of them to form a coalition. Each of those nations—Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—is under sanctions imposed by the United States. Raisi repeatedly denounced the “imperialist” United States while multiple trade and other agreements clinched the coalitions. The Islamic lust for nuclear weapons at any cost energizes every so-called “agreement” lie they tell. Domination is their goal, evident through their efforts to revive an oppressive worldwide caliphate. 

Among Iran’s other pursuits, they are selling thousands of drones to Russia and Communist China. Iran and China are active in Communist Cuba—only 90 miles from Florida—where both countries have embassies. China has now opened an embassy in Iran. 

Watching these global shifts, what can we do as Christians? Is it fruitful to complain and wring our hands? Do we give up and wait for the end to come? One answer can be found in 2 Corinthians 5:20—“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.” We must rest in foundational, time-tested habits to read our Bibles, mature in our love, share the Gospel message, and serve those in need as unto Jesus while purposely looking for where God is at work.

Here are a few examples. The Asbury Revival generated prayer and salvation movements across the U.S. and the world. The Isaiah 62 Global 21 Days of Prayer for Israel engaged several million Christians worldwide between Passover and Pentecost. A majority in the U.S. Congress remains committed to passing important legislation benefitting both Israel and the United States. Brave pastors are eloquently reminding believers to walk in truth in our culture and exert influence wherever possible. Finally, CBN News reports that “a great awakening is exploding in Iran with visions, dreams, and miraculously answered prayers.”

The Apostle Paul offers us his example, as a Jewish believer kidnapped, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and ridiculed. In Romans 5:3-5 he says, “But we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

We are not exempt from difficulty or hardship. Nevertheless, remember that God will ultimately triumph over evil! 

Join our CBN Israel team with this week’s prayers based on Jeremiah 32:17: “Ah, Sovereign LORD, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.” 

Prayer Points:

  • Pray with thanks for the outpouring of God’s Presence in Iran.
  • Pray for increased internal security in Israel’s biblical heartland. 
  • Pray that the Biden administration will abandon the “mini deal” with Iran.
  • Pray for courage for all believers to maintain trust in God and stand for truth. 

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version.

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

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Weekly Q&A: What was the Bar Kochba Revolt?

Hope stirred within Judaism sixty years after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of its Temple. Perhaps this was the time when the Jews in the land of Israel would finally remove Rome’s presence. The revolt broke out in A.D. 132. The Bar Kochba Revolt lacks the eyewitness accounts, like Josephus, who chronicled the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-73).

The causes of the revolt are not entirely clear. Several factors seem to have contributed to a second Jewish revolt in the land of Israel within a sixty-year period. The Roman Emperor Hadrian banned circumcision in the year’s leading up to the revolt. His ban against circumcision grew out of a general ban against male castration. Romans viewed the Jewish practice of circumcision as mutilation. Of course, circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 17).

The ancient sources disagree whether Hadrian refounded Jerusalem as a Roman colony, named Aelia Capitonlina, with a Temple to Jupiter, before or after the Bar Kochba Revolt. If it happened prior to the revolt, it may have served as a cause of the revolt.

The Jews seem to have assumed this period would see the Temple of Jerusalem rebuilt. After the destruction of the First Temple, the Temple of Solomon, the Second Temple was built by Zerubbabel in Jerusalem. The Jews looked at this earlier precedent as a pattern for God bringing about the rebuilding of the Temple in their day. Some of the coins minted by the Jewish rebels depict the façade of the Temple. Others bear the inscription “for the redemption of Jerusalem.” The Jewish rebels anticipated their revolt would return Jerusalem to the Jews, remove the Romans, and see the Temple rebuilt.

The revolt receives its name from its leader, a charismatic, messianic figure named, Shimon ben Kosiba. Rabbinic tradition relates how a great Sage of this period, Rabbi Akiva, hailed Shimon as the Messiah, calling him bar Kochba (“son of the star;” Numbers 24:17). After the failure of the revolt, the rabbis referred to him as bar Koziba (“son of the lie”). Shimon took the title Nasi Israel (Prince of Israel). This language comes from Ezekiel where the future, hoped for ruler will be known as Nasi.

The revolt had a devastating impact upon the Jewish community in the land of Israel. Roman, Jewish, and Christian sources place the Jewish casualties between 400,000-500,000. Even if these figures are inflated, they speak to the widespread loss of Jewish life. The Jewish rebels also inflicted heavy causalities upon the Roman forces as well. Many Jews were sold as slaves because of the revolt. Others emigrated outside of the land. Jews from Babylon immigrated into the land of Israel at this time.

The Romans changed the name of the province from Judaea to Palestina. Jerusalem became a Roman colony and Jews were expelled from the city. The Galilee, which had been a center of Jewish life, had idolatrous non-Jews settling in the region. It also impacted the relationships between Jews and Christians.

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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Artificial Intelligence Bible Translation: Will it Prove Harmful or Helpful?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

News about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is saturating the airwaves, print publications, and digital media. Throughout the world, countries, technology giants, businesses, and nonprofits are holding high-level discussions about the AI phenomenon that is speeding into the stratosphere. Bible translation organizations are also busy exploring the pluses and perils inherent in AI’s world-changing possibilities. 

When OpenAI released the ChatGPT tool to the public last November, it signaled a paradigm shift that opened unimaginable doors far beyond simply asking Alexa, Google, or Siri to “find” things. ChatGPT literally creates new content, setting off what Oral Roberts University’s senior mathematics professor calls a big tech arms race. Professor Andrew Lang compared AI to a “Sputnik moment,” noting the paradigm shift that occurred in 1957, when Russia launched the world’s first artificial Earth satellite. 

Lang warned that Christians cannot ignore the AI transition, since the Christian worldview will not be at the top of secular agendas. His analysis and the Wycliffe Global Alliance AI Summit are timely. Founded in 1942, the respected Wycliffe Bible Translators non-profit now has more than 100 Bible translation organizations under its umbrella, with the goal of ensuring that all people worldwide “have access to God’s word in their preferred languages and formats.” With experts spanning the globe—from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific—in April Wycliffe USA hosted its global alliance in Orlando, Florida. Only two months later, Professor Lang’s perspective proved true. 

On June 10th, an astounding announcement was made at the World Economic Forum (WEF). Yuval Noah Harari, senior advisor to WEF chairman Klaus Schwab and history professor at Hebrew University, proclaimed: “AI can create new ideas; it can even write a new Bible!”

Dismissing the astonishing ability of the God-designed universe and the human brain, Hariri parrots AI’s ability to create new ideas by a “superhuman intelligence.” The professor excitedly described what he calls a “globalist Bible” that could reshape the “spirituality” of the world—one that, in his opinion, corrects the Bible’s erroneous passages and thus advances the WEF’s vision of equity and inclusion. 

Calling himself a futurist, Hariri alleges that religions have dreamed for centuries about a book written by a superhuman intelligence, what he calls a non-human entity. Hariri’s resume is indicative of a brilliant mind, an author who has sold 20 million books, lectures worldwide, and has collected a stack of honors and awards. 

Although he is controversial in some academic and conservative circles, Hariri has been welcomed by WEF’s elite globalists into their halls of power in their ambitious attempts to restructure the world. WEF describes itself as “an international organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, that brings together individuals and political and business leaders each year to discuss significant issues that impact the global economy.” This description of the organization, which was founded in 1971 by German engineer Klaus Schwab, sounds tame enough. Nevertheless, its agenda is one that does not adhere to Judeo-Christian principles articulated by God though Jewish scribes in the Holy Bible. 

Indeed, a secular ideology drives Chairman Schwab’s WEF in his agenda for a “great reset” and Fourth Industrial Revolution. The fact that Yuval Harari is Klaus Schwab’s senior advisor is proof of Hariri’s influence. Professor Hariri states that governments must watch over the public domain so that AI will not spiral out of control.

The question then becomes, “How will humans use AI knowledge—for help or for harm?” And how can governments, leaders, and Christians curate wise controls for this new technology? 

The Wycliffe Global Alliance AI Summit delved into the AI help-or-harm questions. Unlimited possibilities of AI can serve as a digital disciple of God’s love and redemption for the world through the Bible. Christian experts observed that AI could reduce Bible translation time by more than half. Importantly, biblical ethics and principles would direct AI translations. 

One of the Wycliffe alliances is SIL International. Dan Whitenack, a data scientist working with SIL, uses the term “copilot” to describe AI, assuring that Christian translators sit in the pilot seat. Many Bible GPTs (Generative Pretrained Transformers) are under development. For example, with hundreds of Christian translating organizations creating innovations, SIL is working on a chat platform called M2. It will enable digital Bible translations to work together simultaneously in many languages on websites and social media pages. 

Digital theology consultant Adam Graber, who also spoke at the summit, emphasizes the correct biblical foundation: “God speaks first. Not the internet, and not us.” 

Summit participants frequently expressed serious concerns that AI robotic production be avoided at all costs. Presenters also underscored that Christian AI tools will streamline the labor of the human translation teams—not replace them.

As the Bible’s new disciple on the forefront of adding Bible translations for those without Bibles in their languages, AI is already a force for good. Not surprisingly, the United States and Israel are on the leading edge of varying AI developments, usage, and discussions in the U.S. Congress and Israeli Knesset. By necessity, Israel is a world leader in autonomous warfare, and already uses robot surveillance jeeps to patrol the dangerous Gaza Strip border. A Forbes article highlights examplessuch as AI’s use in New York’s internationally acclaimed Mt. Sinai Hospital, with improved breast cancer screening and the ability to predict diseases like liver, rectum, and prostate cancer 94 percent of the time. 

Although AI is thousands of years removed from God’s spoken word, the Sovereign of the Universe fashioned the Jewish culture into vessels for His holy scriptures. He transmitted an eternal paradigm shift through Jewish scribes in the Old Testament’s 39 books. A second paradigm shift manifested through our Lord Jesus Christ, born into the Jewish people in Israel. Finally, a third paradigm shift took place when scribes penned God’s word in the 27 books of the New Testament. 

The WEF, suspect and secular, seems overpowering. But it is not everlasting. Our Holy Bible is an enduring guidepost that tells the truth about our omnipotent God who spoke the universe and humankind into existence. 

A fourth glorious paradigm awaits believers. At present, Messiah Jesus is our loving attorney who intercedes for us, then completes His rescue mission for us into eternity. Neither AI, ChatGPT, nor any robot is capable of repeating such a singular unconditional, redemptive act for those who seek a personal, vibrant relationship with God. His personal touch is a relational revolution that will dismiss the WEF’s impossible secular designs in a single moment. 

Until then, let us remain vigilant in the darkness, focused on the Light of the World and continually reading our Bibles—given to us from God’s heart! 

1 Chronicles 29:11 (ESV) tells the truth! “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” 

Join CBN Israel this week in prayer amid this AI paradigm shift:

  • Pray for governments to use wisdom in inaugurating clear standards of AI usage. 
  • Pray that AI benefits will infuse hope and help into our world!
  • Pray for the Wycliffe Global Alliance to expand exponentially to spread the Gospel with Bible translations. 
  • Pray for an outpouring of donations for savvy tech and translator staff.
  • Pray that AI usage will not increase evil. 

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

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Rescuing Food for Israel’s Hungry

The lingering economic damage caused by COVID-19 is significant. Israel’s government employment office predicts that unemployment will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025. And sadly, the people affected most are those who live on the periphery—including the elderly, immigrants, refugees, and poverty-stricken families.

The southern region of Israel in particular has seen a disproportionate level of unemployment. Thousands of people in these areas live below the poverty line and are at risk of food insecurity. To make matters worse, citizens of Israel’s south must also contend with the ongoing stress of living under the constant threat of rocket and other terror attacks from Gaza.

But thanks to compassionate friends like you, CBN Israel is linking arms with Israel’s national food bank to “rescue” fresh produce from fields and packing houses and deliver nutritious food packages to those who need them most in the Gaza border region. 

Trained staff and volunteers enter fields and orchards to pick surplus produce that farmers have not harvested and would otherwise go to waste, while trucks collect from packing houses excess produce that was slated for disposal. The rescued produce is returned to a logistics center for sorting and packaging and then redistributed to 300 nonprofit organizations, providing those at risk with a crucial source of nutrition. 

Through CBN Israel and our local partners, caring donors are providing food packages with fresh fruits and vegetables to needy communities across the Gaza border region. Abigal, a single mom, shares, “I have three children, and I need help to provide for them. Because of this special program, I am able to get the food and support I need. I am very thankful for all of your help.”  

In these challenging times, you can let so many in desperate situations know they are not forgotten—by offering food, clothing, housing, financial aid, and encouragement. 

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


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Weekly Q&A: What are the best Bible study resources?

The best resources for Bible study are those which help one understand the physical, historical, and cultural contexts of the biblical world. To understand the words of the Bible, we must understand the world of the Bible. The world of the Bible provides the contexts to its words.

To study the physical settings of the Bible, one needs good maps of the lands of the Bible, maps which show the topography and ancient roadways. Locations often have significance within the Bible due to their proximity to roadways; therefore, when looking at a map, it is not simply the locations, but their connection to roads which make them significant. So too, good Bible atlases offer geographic information, including regional dynamics, and maps, as well as geographic realities at specific periods of time. This enables us to understand the evolving geo-political realities of the world of the Bible which often stand in the background of the biblical narratives and prophecies.

In addition to maps and atlases, Bible dictionaries are important. These help you look up terms, places, people, flora, fauna, and other details about the biblical world. This provides background and contextual information enabling us to interpret the Bible better. Bible dictionaries often provide information on the spatial, historical, and cultural world of the Bible, as well as bibliographies for further and deeper study.

Recently several publishers have issued study Bibles focused on the cultural world of the Bible. These Bibles provide notes on passages from the aspect of the cultural contexts of the Bible. To study the cultural world of the Bible, one needs to consider the ancient written sources, contemporary with the Bible, yet outside of the Bible, and the material culture uncovered through archaeological excavations. Like with any study Bible, the value of the notes depends upon the ability and knowledge of the commentator responsible for compiling the notes.

It is important to keep in mind: the Bible is inspired, but our interpretations of the Bible are not. This also extends to the interpretations of Bible teachers and scholars. That said, as we gain greater ability to study the Bible within its physical, historical, and cultural settings, we gain a better sense of what the Bible meant within its world, and this helps us understand what it should mean in ours. It also means that we should approach our study excited by the journey and willing to learn new things as we enter the world of the Bible, and the humility to correct, change, and grow from ideas and interpretations we previously held dear.

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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Saying Goodbye to Pat Robertson and Other Major Christian Influencers

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The oldest baby boomers celebrate their 77th birthdays this year. In 1946, boomer babies made their debut in post-World War II after soldiers, pilots, sailors, and nurses returned home from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. 

In their teenage and university years, baby boomers were eyewitnesses—and participants—in several tectonic events that signaled cultural shifts. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, then Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, all drilled a deep shock into the American psyche, which marked the 1960s. 

During the 1960s and 1970s, the nation was beset not only by these domestic assassination traumas but also the devastating Vietnam War. The haunting bugle call “Taps” sounded all too frequently until 1973, by which time families had buried 58,220 of our American soldiers. Against this tumultuous background, the Jesus Revolution and the founding of Christian organizations and books authored by future titans of the faith offered millions hope for the taking. Transformation in the spiritual world unfolded with outpourings of the Holy Spirit in pulpits, media, books, and events, giving comfort to Americans’ mounting sorrows. 

During the last six months, there were other momentous events, as four major Christian leaders and influencers passed into their eternal home. First was Jack Hayford, 88, on January 8; then Charles Stanley, 90, on April 18; Elizabeth Sherrill, 95, on May 20; and most recently, Pat Robertson, 93, on June 8. 

Starting in the 1960s, among them the three pastors inaugurated ministries, universities, television, radio, humanitarian aid, and music that planted fresh Christian roots into denominations worldwide. They also sowed seeds rekindling the ancient bonds between the Old and New Testaments and the significance of Judaism and modern Israel, our spiritual homeland. 

On the East Coast in 1961, Robertson founded The Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Then in 1969, Hayford founded The Church on the Way on the West Coast (Van Nuys, California). Subsequently, Rev. Dr. Charles Stanley became an associate pastor at Atlanta’s First Baptist Church in 1968, then in 1971 its senior pastor. 

Elizabeth Sherrill’s name is not as well recognized. Nevertheless, her profound influence as an author and editor regarding Jewish history during the Holocaust is immeasurable. She wrote 30 books and 2,000 articles in her lifetime and for 65 years was the guiding light for Guideposts magazine. Sherrill did not stand in pulpits and lead tours to Israel like the three pastors; however, her role in opening eyes to the Holocaust came into full view in 1971 when she wrote about Dutch Christian Corrie ten Boom in The Hiding Place. I daresay that Sherrill’s more than two million Hiding Place books sold, and later the 1974 movie, inspired—and, more importantly—educated Christians. The Hiding Place set the stage for today’s 600 million pro-Israel Evangelicals worldwide through Corrie ten Boom, a preeminent Christian Zionist role model. 

God used the four leaders as emblematic vessels of His sovereign blueprint of His love for Israel, the Jewish people, and grafted-in Gentile Christians. 

While gratefully remembering this quartet’s vast faith legacies, one question for believers lingers foremost amid eruptions of evil here and globally: How do we Evangelicals move forward? Current tectonic shifts imperil our Judeo-Christian American culture alongside the alarming shifts in Israel and the Middle East. Are we to reject hopeful possibilities? Are we to remove ourselves into protective bubbles of isolation? 

Absolutely not. Instead let us replicate, in any way possible, these role models seeking God’s guidance to grow in steadfastness even as the onslaught of our cultural demise surrounds us. Let us also increase our prayers and practical actions on behalf of Israel, the birthplace of our faith. The choices are ours to make. We must begin by asking God an important question, “What part do You want me to play?” 

Like everyone, the four leaders were imperfect, facing varying ministry and personal challenges and sometimes criticisms and controversy. Nevertheless, these mega influencers took God seriously. They pursued how God wanted to use their individual intellect, talent, determination, and devotion. These pioneers’ efforts began in small ways and increased over time. Here is a Bible verse to consider as you move forward. Luke 16:10 ESV reminds us: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.”

Small, simple actions can produce measurable results in our culture and on behalf of Israel. Consult God and ask Him, “What can I do?”     

Lastly, recognizing each mega influencer, I have selected my remembrances out of thousands! I invite you to share your memories, too.

Pastor Jack Hayford spearheaded the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, which for the past 20 years has taken place the first Sunday of October. Hayford penned 500 praise songs, including the timeless “Majesty.”

Pastor Charles Stanley hosted not only his worldwide In Touch Ministries broadcast but brought thousands of people on tours to Israel. Here is one of my favorite Stanley quotes: “True peace comes only from God. You may go through difficulty, hardship, or trial—but as long as you are anchored to Him, you will have hope.”

Elizabeth Sherrill in her preface to The Hiding Place shared her experiences in 1968 when she and her beloved husband, John, first met and heard Corrie speak in Darmstadt, Germany, at a Sisters of Mary retreat focusing on Christian repentance about the Holocaust. She commented to Corrie about “how her memories seemed to throw a spotlight on problems and decisions we faced here and now.” Elizabeth added that Corrie exclaimed, “But this is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for a future that only He can see.” 

Pat Robertson stories are endless, but one of my favorites is his groundbreaking decision to hire Ben Kinchlow as a co-host on The 700 Club. From 1975 to 1988 and 1992 to 1996, Pat and Ben, white and black, made a dynamic, inspiring broadcast team. Kinchlow observed that at the time, “You didn’t see a lot of African-Americans on TV,” let alone hosting a program carried nationally on cable. 

Author Madeleine L’Engle’s quote is descriptive of the mega influencers’ path: “We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.” 

When Jack Hayford, Charles Stanley, Elizabeth Sherrill, and Pat Robertson unreservedly fell to their knees at Jesus’ feet with tears of joy, His response is recorded in Matthew 25:21 (ESV): “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.” 

Please join us this week to pray for a beloved, world-changing leader, Pat Robertson, as well as his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and CBN’s worldwide staff, giving thanks for his profound legacy.  

Prayer Points: 

  • Pray for the Robertson family walking through the paradox of grief for their family patriarch, yet rejoicing for his life and love for them.  
  • Pray for CBN staff worldwide as they say their public and private goodbyes to “America’s televangelist.” 
  • Pray for the multimillions of CBN viewers in the U.S. and around the world who counted on his inspiring media presence and on-the-ground help for the poor in humanitarian aid through Operation Blessing. 
  • Pray with thanks to God for the valuable legacies we have received from Jack Hayford, Charles Stanley, Elizabeth Sherrill, and Pat Robertson. 
  • Pray for Christians to press on with determination in the dark days around us looking to Jesus the Light of the World.

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

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New Immigrants: Irina’s Story

Four years ago, Irina’s sister immigrated to Israel from Ukraine, and Irina kept debating about joining her. Then, as the threat of war in Ukraine suddenly loomed large, Irina and her husband took their young family of four and fled to Israel—just days before the Russian attacks. 

Living in Kiriat Yam in northern Israel, Irina reflects, “Adapting has been hard, because our thoughts are constantly back in Ukraine. Watching the destruction is impossible—I call my friends, and they don’t answer. It’s scary…” Even more stressful, Irina’s parents weren’t able to leave Ukraine, and they reside near an area intensely affected by the bombings. 

Like many immigrants who arrive with just a backpack, Irina’s family needed help surviving in a new country. Thankfully, friends like you were there through CBN Israel. Donors provided food and essentials to assist them in getting established. Irina marveled, “All I can say about Israel is, ‘knock and it will be opened!’ …We were given appliances and furniture—everything we need!”  

She is happy to see so much support and opportunities for her children. Meanwhile, she is training to be a real estate agent, while her husband works in a manual labor job. It has been a big adjustment for the whole family, but Irina takes comfort in knowing, “You are not alone.” 

And your gift to CBN Israel can help so many know they are not alone. You can be there for there for refugees, Holocaust survivors, terror victims, and more. Many living in the Holy Land are in crisis situations, and need our help. 

Your support can bring them nutritious groceries, safe housing, and financial assistance—as well as hope and encouragement. 

Please join us in making a difference!


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Weekly Q&A: What was the Galilee of Jesus like?

The Galilee refers to the region in northern Israel, north of the Jezreel Valley, east of the Mediterranean coast, and west of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. The Jewish historian Josephus described Galilee as divided into two regions—Upper Galilee, the high mountains north of the Beth Haccarem Valley, and Lower Galilee, the lower rolling hills between the Beth Haccarem Valley and the Jezreel Valley.

The New Testament and Jewish sources depict the Galilee as inhabited by devout Jews, who gathered in synagogues to study the Torah and listen to teachers expound on it. They concerned themselves with ritual purity and observing the Sabbath. The sources describe the Galileans as making pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Jewish festivals. Sages wandered the Galilee gathering disciples and teaching people. Although separated from Jerusalem, the Galileans displayed a devotion to the Temple, the Torah, and the God of Israel.

The last forty years have enabled us to compare the presentation of the Galilee within the ancient written sources with the material culture of the people uncovered in archaeological excavations. Excavations throughout the Galilee have uncovered Jewish ritual immersion baths in both cities and villages. Their presence indicates the Galileans took ritual purity serious in their everyday lives. So too, archaeologists have discovered limestone vessels at Galilean sites. Jewish purity law permitted limestone to be repurified, where pottery had to be discarded. The discovery of ritual purity baths and limestone vessels at sites throughout the Galilee demonstrates the Galileans adhered to Jewish purity laws within their communities and homes.

Excavations in the Galilee have uncovered a special type of oil lamp which was manufactured in Jerusalem. These lamps appear at first century sites throughout the Galilee. They attest to Galileans journeying to Jerusalem, most likely for pilgrimage. The choice to bring back a lamp as a souvenir of their journey connected with their experience in the Temple where the seven-branched candelabra, the Menorah resided. Bringing the lamp home was bringing a bit of the holy light from Jerusalem into their Galilean homes.

Evidence from excavations shows Galileans avoidance of pigs in their diet. Archaeologists have discovered cow, sheep, and fish bones at sites, but very few pig bones, which differs from the excavations at non-Jewish sites surrounding the Galilee in which pig bones appear regularly. The Galilean avoidance of pigs shows their strict adherence to Jewish dietary laws.

Archaeologists have also uncovered synagogues at Galilean sites. These buildings consist of a main hall with benches surrounding the wall, making the focal point of the room the center. A Sage stood in the center of the hall to read the Scriptures and sat down to expound on them.

When we compare the archaeological evidence from the Galilee with the written sources, we find the Galilee of Jesus was a devoutly Jewish region. Jewish sources relate how Galileans were often stricter in their observance than the Jews in the south of the country. The study of the sources and the archaeological discoveries enable us to imagine the Galilee of Jesus.

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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Israel Defense Forces: Turning Conflict into Commerce and Innovation

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The only Jewish nation among 193 countries worldwide, Israel has climbed to the heights of innovation in multiple rungs of achievement including healthcare, technology, and agriculture. 

Known for producing the most cutting-edge technology startups in the world, how does so small a nation achieve such distinction?

The source of their innovations often begins during their mandatory military service, which requires that both men and women serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) upon graduating from high school.  

Mandatory military service is a necessity for Israel to protect its citizens from the near-daily threats they have faced since 1948, when the modern state was officially inaugurated. The Israelis are not warmongers. They want peace above all—yet have been forced to defend themselves from every direction for more than 75 years. I find myself asking, “What other nation could survive under such intensive daily assaults?” In addition to beefing up its military service, IDF training is also a groundbreaking entrepreneurial laboratory.

The induction process begins when teenagers receive their “first order”—tzav rishon—before their 17th birthday. During the interview process, these young people are evaluated on their skill in reading and writing Hebrew, personal attributes, and their scholastic reports. The second phase includes a medical examination, then an interview conducted by a soldier trained in psycho-technical proficiencies. This second interview assesses specific personality traits such as motivation and the ability to withstand stress, and it seeks to identify any anti-social patterns. 

These interviews are based on behavioral economics, a theory about decision-making developed in the 1980s by two prominent Israeli psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman was a Holocaust survivor, and later received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics. The groundbreaking theory, which integrates psychology into economics, is also called the Prospect Theoryhow humans make decisions when facing risk or uncertainty, including financial risk. 

Although still in high school, young Israelis find the competition for eventual inclusion into the IDF’s elite units to be fierce. Some sign up for pre-army prep programs, inform the IDF about wanting to join an elite unit, and are invited to an army base for a testing day. After undergoing a week of more rigorous physical and mental tests, those with the highest scores are sent to the top-tier Special Operations Forces (SOF), which require 22 months of specialized training.

The SOF leaders in the IDF—and later in societal innovations—are divided into three tiers. Tier 1 includes Sayeret Matkal, which is considered the most famous unit due to its 1976 stealth operation in Entebbe, Uganda. In a daring undertaking that stunned the world, the unit rescued 100 passengers and 12 Air France crewmembers held by seven hijackers and some 100 Ugandan troops—in the process destroying 11 Soviet-built MiG fighter planes of the Ugandan air force on the ground. Tier 2 includes Duvdevan, a counterinsurgency undercover unit functioning as disguised Arabs. Tier 3 is composed of paratroopers in the Sayeret 35 brigade, infantry, and armor brigades. 

In the elite units and among all military, the 18- to 21-year-olds gain experience and leadership. Dealing with life-and-death situations and being forced to make profound decisions on the spot gives the younger adults decision-making skills that easily translate into multiple kinds of innovations later. Mixing up trainees’ cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and emphasizing multidisciplinary skills rather than a narrow focus on a specialty provides another huge advantage: it gives people a lot of experience in thinking outside the box and calling on a wide breath of knowledge to solve problems. 

Another aspect of Israeli society is its Reserves. After their preliminary service, they are in reserve duty for up to one month each year until ages 43–45. (They may volunteer after this age.) As a small nation under constant threat, Israel relies on these reservists, who are the backbone of defense against deadly attacks, active threats, or all-out war.

The first edition of the excellent book, Start Up Nation, is an illuminating primer written by Dan Senor and Saul Singer in 2009. I recommend it as an introductory resource into the world of Israel innovation in a variety of disciplines. As Senor and Singer delve into the Israeli culture, they note that Israel’s free-thinking, multidisciplinary background promotes combining military service with civilian professions. For example, they single out a concept in the IT world called “technological mashups,” which connect considerably different technologies and disciplines. Their explanations of Israel’s military culture are fascinating.

One concept is that the IDF has fewer colonels than lieutenants. Soldiers are expected to obey orders and follow the chain of command, yes, but improvisation and initiative in lower ranks are greatly valued in crisis situations. Amos Goren was a 22-year-old commando at Entebbe. In his interview with Start Up Nation he observed, “Israeli soldiers are not defined by rank; they are defined by what they are good at.”

What follows are several outstanding examples of startups that began in the military—creating innovations that benefit both Israel and the world at large. 

Uri Levine, the inventor of Waze—possibly the world’s best GPS software—was a software developer when he served in the IDF. 

Israeli military scientist Gabriel Iddan worked on missile technology for years on something called “seeker”—the “eye” of a missile that captures targets and guides the missiles to them. Iddan thought he could apply the same technology to the medical field. He eventually designed a tiny capsule about the size of a vitamin that, when swallowed, captures photos of a patient’s intestines as it makes its circuitous route. The Given Imaging PillCam was born, offering wireless, painless gastrointestinal tract exams.

Unit 8200 is a technology superstar IDF unit. In the 1950s, it was set up as a highly secretive second intelligence service. It came somewhat to light in recent years as it grew into the IDF cyberwar division yet maintains its secrecy. Unit 8200 is credited with producing thousands of tech-savvy entrepreneurs, acting as a “conveyor belt of innovation.” 

Lastly, in addition to the extraordinary startups the IDF generates—what they call the “Spirit of the IDF” is important. Their call is to protect the State of Israel: its independence, the security of its people, and its very existence. Service is based on patriotism, commitment, and devotion to the State of Israel, a democratic state that is the national home of the Jewish people and all of its citizens. The IDF, which is also obligated to preserve human dignity, believes that all have inherent value, regardless of race, faith, nationality, gender, or status. 

The IDF—an innovator of character, patriotism, life skills, responsibility, and careers—was founded due to constant war and attacks against the Jewish homeland. Nevertheless, they have engineered conflict into commerce that has benefited the innovation nation and other countries worldwide in countless ways, including IDF humanitarian aid. 

Please join CBN Israel this week in praying for Israel and the IDF:

  • Pray for each branch of the IDF: Army, Air Force, Navy, and Cyber Security.
  • Pray for families of three IDF members who were shot dead at the Israel/Egypt border this past Saturday.
  • Pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu and top brass to make wise and effective decisions. 
  • Pray for Israeli parents who do not know if a son or daughter serving with the IDF will return from their tour of duty. 

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

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