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Weekly Devotional: Remember Where You Have Come From

“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” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NKJV).

Remember! One of the most frequent commands throughout the Bible is “Remember!” Remember the road you’ve traveled, the struggles and trials you’ve faced. And remember who brought you along your path.

Remember who provided for you, cared for you, and calls upon you to remember and observe His commandments. Remember.

We often turn to God in our times of need. When circumstances, finances, diagnoses, and life are too overwhelming, then we turn to God. We cling to Him through those wilderness times of our life, relying upon His presence and provision. But once He brings us through those times and we find ourselves upon a firm footing, standing in the Promised Land, how quickly do we forget, rely upon ourselves, and ultimately turn from His ways? Remember.

The festivals that God gave Israel within the Old Testament served two purposes: 1) They were connected with the agricultural cycle, particularly the harvest times, and 2) they called the people to remember what God did for them in the wilderness—how He led them and provided for them.

The agricultural nature of the festivals called upon the Israelites to remember who sent the rain in its season so the crops could grow, and ultimately who was responsible for their sustenance and provision. The connection with the wilderness wanderings called upon the people to remember a time when their need for God and His provision was more acute, to remember where they came from.

During the fall harvest festival, Sukkot, God instructed the children of Israel to construct temporary shelters, or booths, that they lived in for the duration of the festival. “Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42-43 NIV).

Dwelling in booths was to remind future generations—generations that did not experience the hardships and uncertainty of the wilderness—how God provided for His people.

When later generations found themselves living prosperously in the land, the booths reminded them of a time in their history when their forefathers lacked such prosperity, and in that moment, they should remember God, who brought Israel out of Egypt.

What is the ultimate goal of this remembrance? We find it in the passage from Deuteronomy quoted initially: “Remember … whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

We confront our limitations and smallness in times of need. We realize how finite we are. It becomes easy to turn to God in those moments. And, as a loving Father, He comes to us. But when we find ourselves in times of prosperity, it’s too easy to think we stand alone on our own two feet, and turning from God and His commandments becomes easy.

Remember where you have come from. Remember where He has taken you. Remember His commandments and purposes for your life. Remember that He is your Savior and King.

PRAYER

Father, thank You for taking us through the wildernesses of our lives and providing for us. May we always—in good times and in bad, in plenty and in want—remember You and all that You have done for us. Amen.

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On Being an Advocate for Israel 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Being an advocate for Israel begins in the heart. When commanded by Jesus to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” it is important to see that a part of our love for Him is loving His chosen people, the Jews. Knowing that He sees us loving Him through caring for His people, I have been a privileged supporter of Israel and educated in that love by some of the best. I want to share ideas in the hope that you who already care about the world’s only Jewish nation and the Jewish people will also know how to be a capable defender of Israel in everyday life. 

I have lost count of how many times I have traveled to Israel. Standing on Israel’s border is a spiritual, geographical, and policy lesson. In my numerous visits to Israel’s borders, I have gained another layer of understanding. One year, during Syria’s horrific civil war, a Golan Heights ATV team led one of my groups of Christian leaders atop Israel’s Golan for a look into Syria. As we listened to a defense expert, mortars in the distance punctuated his briefing as a grim backdrop to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship of massive cruelty. 

On another trip, our group met at an unnamed location overlooking Syria at a military outpost with Israeli tanks hidden in gullies. By this time, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was embedded in its occupation of Syria in various locations to oversee Iran’s substantial weapons depots. Iran’s threats to destroy Israel are unmistakable and up close. From there, Damascus was approximately 40 miles north. Defending their country, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) frequently ventures into Syria by air to destroy weapons depots that Iran continues to transfer into Syria. Part of the IDF’s core policy is its intent to destroy weapons, not civilians.  

In every defense briefing I have heard in more than 20 years of advocacy for Israel, I have never met any IDF personnel who wanted anything but peace. Peace has always been, and will always remain, their goal. Thankfully, the years have produced a number of peace treaties—first with Jordan and Egypt, then the Abraham Accords under former President Trump’s leadership, and now Bahrain and United Arab Emirates. 

As a member of professional staff for organizations that view support for Israel as an imperative, I have accumulated advocacy resources through my firsthand experiences and the outstanding organizations where I have enjoyed the privilege of working. In a recent online webinar briefing by Israel’s Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, he masterfully communicated an insider’s look at international media and offered useful strategies for those who stand with Israel, whether individually or in media. Conricus served in the IDF for 24 years, completing his last four years as the IDF International Spokesman. He is now International Spokesman for the Israel Defense and Security Forum. 

My goal for readers of this week’s column is to pass along how to successfully relay truths about Israel, and how two minutes of your time as a citizen makes a difference! Our faith is foundational, yet we must remember James 2:26: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

I have often advised those whom I mentor with a principle for Israel advocacy: govern your passions with wisdom, whether in calls, emails, social media, or in person. Although the Bible is our ultimate authority—viewing God’s unbreakable covenants with the Jews as eternal—it is easy to become angry about the incessant slander against Israel and the Jewish community. However, lean on God’s truths, which are more valuable than hysteria and emotions. Lt. Col. Conricus advises turning outrage into action in a reasoned way and to provide more facts than opinions. As he points out: “Frustration and emotions are not a work plan.” 

Understanding some of the media infrastructure is important. The world’s top three media giants are The Associated Press (AP), Reuters, and Agence France-Presse (AFP), each founded in the mid-1800s. Their media ecosystem is vast. Other media, even though large, rely on these top three, which have thousands of staff spread out in almost every country. AP alone has more than a 3-billion-person reach. Generally trusted, this news agency trio has high stature and incredible power to report breaking news. However, news agencies can distort the news with their own headlines and reporting, which fuels the flame of lies and anti-Semitism. With 480 registered journalists in Israel, that number increases by nearly 2,000 when media reporters rush to Israel to cover a major conflict.

Lt. Col. Conricus cited two main media problems: that cause and effect are too often missing from news reports, as is the correct chronology of events. Here is an example: Hamas fires rockets from Gaza toward Israel. The media is silent. As soon as Israel reacts, media reports it immediately—without looking at cause and effect. One headline read, “Israel troops kill Palestinian in Tel Aviv.” However, this action took place after a Palestinian had killed an Israeli. 

Sometimes headlines are the only thing the public reads or hears, which shapes the narrative against Israel. There’s simply no context provided that would enhance readers’ understanding of the events. Conricus says we must “demand cause and effect and chronology on headlines.” We must learn to ask, “Is this the right headline? Who started the attack? Was Israel the aggressor—or was Israel defending itself?” Why do media give the same respect to terrorists as they do to Israeli officials? Conricus adds, “We know that Israel is not perfect and that is not what we are looking for. We want fairness in media.”

One of his most revealing comments concerns Palestinians who work for media. Conricus notes that some of these workers are excellent, but that an anti-Israel bias predominates among many Palestinian reporters, stringers, and photographers. Terrorist organization Hamas in the August 2022 Breaking Dawn conflict was disturbed about accurate reports from stringers—that some Hamas-launched rockets fell in their own territory and killed Palestinians. Hamas’s response, “If you report what we don’t like, we will come after you and your family.” Palestinians are bullied and afraid for their families. Israel does not use those tactics. Confronting lies yet not shutting them down are marks of freedom. 

Known for its freedom of the press, Israel maintains a direct line for the international media to the IDF, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel police, and Prime Minister. Although the high level of access is available, does that make a difference when international media views the IDF and terrorists on equal footing? 

Israel and the United States are facing unprecedented challenges in a world turned upside down with evil. It is time for believers and all people of good will to repurpose propaganda into a pure form. Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda for Germany’s Third Reich, perfected evil propaganda. Now we must respond to the call of this time in our world to rise up united. 

We must be truth tellers, repeating truths in a wise and reasonable way—in conversations, media outlets, events, your social media, churches, and synagogues. We must be the mainstream media. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Let us make Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus and the Israel Defense and Security Forum proud that we are on their advocacy team. Yet, far beyond, let us actively honor God by standing up for His chosen people, the Jews, whom He appointed to transmit His words in the Bible and sent His only begotten Son to redeem the entire world.

Trusted sources are available for you to educate, then activate, yourself about Israel in particular. Your action is valuable even for two minutes! If you sign up (free) for CAMERA.org, HonestReporting.org, CUFI.org, and AIPAC.org, they will send you action alerts with letters already written based on urgent issues. In addition, other news outlets are trusted and helpful, including CBN News, Times of Israel, All Israel News, and The Jerusalem Post.

Join CBN Israel this week to pray that God would protect Israel and continue to raise up advocates to support the Jewish nation and people:

  • Pray for Christians to link faith and action on behalf of Israel.
  • Pray for the people and nation of Israel as they face the continual threat of war and terrorism on their treacherous borders.  
  • Pray for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and their safety as they seek to protect their small land from enemies on all sides. 
  • Pray that CBN Israel will continue to combat the lies and falsehoods by spreading the light of truth about Israel through unbiased news and films. 

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, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently 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 Facebook.

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New Immigrant: Maxim’s Story

For Maxim and his family, being Jewish in a predominantly Muslim area of Russia came with its share of persecution. So in May 2021, he and his wife finally immigrated to Israel with their six children. They stayed with kind friends as they explored the country and decided that Haifa was the best choice to settle—largely due to its affordability for their large family. 

They found an apartment in that area near friends. The apartment was new—but totally empty. Immigrating to a new country meant leaving behind furniture, beds, appliances, and other items we take for granted. Living on a meager income with so many kids, where could they turn? 

Because friends like you cared, they had help through CBN Israel. Donors gave them financial assistance to purchase furniture and other essentials. Plus, they provided grocery vouchers, so Maxim could put healthy meals on the table. It was a true blessing during this major transition. 

The family is still adapting to life in Israel, making new friends and learning Hebrew. Maxim is grateful for all the financial and emotional support in this time of change, saying, “While it has not been easy, we are so glad we decided to leave Russia and come to Israel… We are touched beyond words.”

And your gift to CBN Israel can bless even more people in need with nowhere to turn. You can be there for desperate single mothers, aged Holocaust survivors, frightened terror victims, and more. You can give those in crisis the help and hope they need. As more people in Israel cry out for assistance, you can bring groceries, housing, and financial aid to those who are hurting. 

Please join us in reaching out those in need!

GIVE TODAY

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Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement

By Julie Stahl

“Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:27 NLT). 

Yom Kippur is the Holiest Day in the Jewish year, the “Day of Atonement.” 

The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the “Ten Days of Awe.” This is your chance, so to speak, to get your heart and relationships right before Yom Kippur. According to Jewish tradition, this is the time that one’s name is either inscribed or not in the Book of Life for another year. 

“These are heavy, heavy days of repentance, reflection, and seeking God’s face as we prepare to go stand before Him in a state of fasting, a state of humility on the day of Yom Kippur,” says Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion. 

In some traditions, worshippers pray Selichot or slichot prayers (“forgiveness”) as much as a month before Rosh Hashanah to make sure they are prepared for that day. 

“The Bible speaks about Yom Kippur in terms of being a great day of judgment, of us standing before God. It’s traditionally, according to a Jewish perspective, a time in which we will literally be standing before the Father on that Day of Judgment,” says Michael.

It’s customary to wear white on this day. In some traditions, men wear a white robe or, in Yiddish, kittel. That tradition comes from Isaiah 1:18 (NLT), where God says, “Come now, let’s settle this. … Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” 

Yom Kippur has five prayer services throughout the day, which is more than any other Jewish holiday. 

“The Viddui is the central prayer of confession and forgiveness of the Jewish people on Yom Kippur. And it’s a prayer that they pray not only on behalf of themselves but on behalf of all the Jewish people around the world,” says Reverend David Pileggi of Christ Church in Jerusalem’s Old City. 

He says that the Viddui prayer recognizes the words of Jeremiah: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
(Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). 

“One thing we learn from the Jewish people about Yom Kippur is that it’s not enough to say you’re sorry. You have to confess, say you’re sorry, and then at the same time take practical steps to change your behavior,” says Pileggi. 

He says there’s a parallel between Yom Kippur and the teachings of Jesus. 

“We have a saying of Jesus, don’t we? It says, if you bring your gift to the altar and your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother. Jewish tradition says, to go get your relationship right with your neighbor, with your brother, with your family member, forgive and be reconciled and then on the Day of Atonement, when you begin to fast and pray and to confess, God will hear your prayer and forgive you as you have forgiven others,” says Pileggi. 

“It’s the teaching of Jesus and it’s also something that’s part and parcel of Jewish tradition and here the two line up very nicely,” Pileggi adds. 

In the synagogue, the Book of Jonah is read. 

“Jonah is a symbol of repentance. He’s commanded by God to call the people of Nineveh to repent, but he himself was struggling through his own reflections about who receives God’s judgment and who receives God’s mercy,” says Michael. 

“So, Jonah can so often symbolize our own actions—doubting God, disobeying God, and determining who’s worthy of His redemption. But, like Jonah, we’re invited to repent of our disobedience and prejudices so that we can rejoin God in building His kingdom,” Michael adds. 

He affirms that Yom Kippur holds a deep meaning even for those who believe in Jesus. 

“It’s through the work of Messiah that our sins are taken away. He is our great atonement. I think this is a beautiful biblical understanding for us to affirm and hold onto in the context of our daily lives, but at the same time, we also need to be reminded to live a life of repentance,” Michael concludes. 

Holiday Greeting: G’mar Chatimah Tovah (“May you be sealed for good in the Book of Life”) and Tzom Kal (used to wish others an “easy fast”). 

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East. 

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Weekly Devotional: The Day of Atonement

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (Matthew 5:23-24 NLT).

The Bible describes three types of sins: 1) intentional sins that I commit against God, 2) unintentional sins that I commit against God, and 3) sins that I commit against my neighbor. For sins I intentionally commit against God, the only course of forgiveness is repentance: You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart (Psalm 51:16-17 HCSB). 

Jesus’ injunction to His followers (Matthew 5:23-24) comes from this biblical realization regarding the different ways in which we must deal with the broken relationships in our lives. For Jesus’ first-century Galilean listeners, the only place they could make an offering was in the Jerusalem Temple—a journey that took at least four days from the Galilee. 

It’s striking to hear Jesus’ words as His initial audience did: If you are at the altar in Jerusalem and remember that someone has something against you, leave your offering, go back at least four days’ journey, and be reconciled. Then return to Jerusalem and present your offering to God. Reconciliation with one’s neighbor provided the foundation for that offering to be accepted. 

Jesus’ commandment to His followers, even the spirit of it, grew from the world of ancient Judaism. This commandment is still practiced today within the Jewish community in the days surrounding Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most holy day within Judaism. In the days leading up to Yom Kippur—a day when people fast, repent, and call upon God to forgive the sins they committed against Him—Jewish people first seek to be reconciled with their neighbors. 

They ask forgiveness and seek to make restitution. Why? Because of the belief that we cannot ask forgiveness from God on Yom Kippur if we have unrepaired relationships with our neighbors. Those must be repaired first, even if we must make restitution. 

This same spirit stands behind the teachings of Jesus. My relationships with others provide the foundation for my relationship with God. Zacchaeus told Jesus, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today” (Luke 19:8-9 NLT). 

When we think about the Day of Atonement, we often focus upon our relationship with God and His forgiveness of our sins. The Bible teaches that our repairing, making restitution, and reconciling ourselves with our neighbor is an indicator of our relationship with God: If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen (1 John 4:20 HCSB).

PRAYER

Father, forgive us as we have forgiven. Amen. 

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Will Jewish Year 5783 Be A Good One for Israel? Not if it depends on Abbas and Raisi

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Israelis celebrated a new Jewish year 5783 with their traditional Days of Awe, which began with the Feast of Trumpets—also called Rosh Hashanah (“head of the year”)—on September 25-27. On Thursday prior to Rosh Hashanah, around 35,000 people crowded the Western Wall plaza for pre-Rosh Hashanah prayers.

The sound of hundreds of ram’s horns (shofars) saturated the air as the holiday commenced two days later. Families and friends feasted on sumptuous meals that included dipping apples in honey accompanied by heartwarming greetings: “May we enjoy a sweet new year” and “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.” 

The Days of Awe are overflowing with celebrations, introspection, and repentance. These 10 days end with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the holiest day of the year. In the 25-hour period from sunset October 4 until sunset October 5, it is a national holiday. The country all but shuts down; many people fast and attend synagogue—with a day off work for adults—and children happily ride their bikes on the no-traffic streets.

However, after United Nations General Assembly speeches last week by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, it is not surprising that wishes for a “sweet near year” for Israel were not spoken. After all, both leaders would prefer that the world’s only Jewish nation be eradicated. 

Abbas and Raisi have each perfected the art of turning truth upside down, displaying a level of unmatched hypocrisy. They have fine-tuned their speeches by holding up photographs of terrorists and praising them as heroic martyrs on holy missions.

Mr. Abbas spent 47 minutes at the UN glorifying his own leadership and claiming that Palestinians were Israel’s victims. He defined Israel as an apartheid nation that he accused of massacring thousands of children and carrying out assaults on Islamic and Christian holy sites. He also claimed Israel was not a peace partner. Yet this dictator, who lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Ramallah and has stayed in power many years longer than the four he was elected to, has defiantly refused direct negotiations with Israel’s leaders since 2009.

He punctuated his speech by holding up numerous photos, including those of Nasser Abu Hamid, who murdered seven Israelis and attempted the murders of 12 more. Due to multiple life sentences, Hamid has been in prison since 2002. He was diagnosed with cancer, sent to several Israeli hospitals, and transferred for treatment to remove lung tumors. He remains terminal. Abbas calls Hamid and the terrorist prisoners “heroic martyrs” and “the living conscience of our people.” 

According to Israeli and Palestinian media, on Monday Abbas then called Defense Minister Benny Gantz and President Isaac Herzog with a Rosh Hashanah greeting. However, will 5783 produce a call to his Palestinian terrorists to stop assaulting and murdering Israelis?   

Abbas and Raisi share the same playbook of lies and hypocrisy. Taking no responsibility for the detrimental impact their policies have on their own people, both are disenchanted with the United States. Yet their name-calling is even more intense against Israel. In fact, Raisi strode to the United Nations podium and unleashed a torrent of lies calling Israel a “savage power.”

Like Abbas, he accused Israel of killing women and children in a “dark report card of the Zionist regime.” He went on to name Gaza the biggest prison in the world. There was no mention, of course, about Israel’s unilateral decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 when—under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon—8,000 Israelis were forced to vacate their homes, businesses, schools, and synagogues. 

Typically, there was no mention either about Hamas, Raisi’s hateful surrogate that purposely places civilian women and children in harm’s way. This, from an Islamic theocrat that formerly served as a prosecuting judge who ordered thousands of Iranians killed. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard commented that Raisi is “a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.” 

During Raisi’s speech at the United Nations, Iranians were protesting throughout Iran about the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died while detained by the “morality police.” Her crime? Not wearing an acceptable headdress as required by the Islamic Republic’s strict laws about women’s clothing. 

Indeed, the protests center on far more than clothing. It is about citizens living under an oppressive regime since 1979—a regime more interested in developing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction than relieving the woes of their own people. In 2019, demonstrations broke out over fuel prices. Reuters reported 1,500 people were killed in the subsequent clampdown. 

We can pray that current protests will not result in the same or higher statistics. Yet news is not emerging consistently, as the Iranian regime is using rolling blackouts on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Telegram were shut down earlier. The Media Line reports 50 deaths thus far in two weeks of protests, but the total will likely be higher. Hundreds have been arrested, including journalists.

With his history of ruthlessness as an indicator, Raisi is carrying out his vow to “deal decisively” with citizens he views as a threat to what he calls Iran’s security and tranquility. 

Like Abbas, Raisi held up a picture before exiting the podium. It showed a smiling Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Raisi praised him as a freedom-seeking martyr. Soleimani’s smile cannot erase the fact that this brutal warlord oversaw thousands of deaths and crippling injuries of American military personnel who served during the Iraq War. For 20 years, Soleimani commanded the IRGC’s terrorist actions against Israel in Syria and other locations around the world. The United States assassinated Soleimani in 2020 via drone at the Baghdad International Airport.

Abbas and Raisi each made contemptible claims at the United Nations. In his long list of lies, Abbas insists he is willing to negotiate but that Israel refuses. Raisi insists that their nuclear quest is peaceful. The evidence against both claims is overwhelming. 

The world’s citizens must not be trapped in the widespread propaganda, especially with the long arm of Iranian terror reaching into many parts of the world, including the United States. 

Nevertheless, too many are deceived. It remains the responsibility of Christians, Jews, and all who accept the truth about Palestinian and Iranian leaders’ deceptions to stand up as truth-bearers in relationships, social media, and beneficial reforms while we pray that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” No matter the state of the world, we can completely count on our Lord Jesus and the truths God has provided in the Bible. 

We welcome you to join CBN Israel in prayer reflecting on Proverbs 12:22: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

  • Pray for Iran’s citizens bravely standing up against their oppressive regime.
  • Pray with thankfulness for Jesus’ one and only atonement for believers.
  • Pray for Israel during the Days of Awe while under high terror alerts.
  • Pray for safety and vigilance for Israel’s security personnel in all sectors.
  • Pray for the Lord’s direction on how He wants you to advocate for truth.  

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, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently 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 Facebook.

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Weekly Devotional: The Trumpets Are Blowing

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:24-25 NKJV).

Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year”) is the first of the High Holy Days, which happens this time every year. It is observed as the start of the civil year on the Jewish calendar (in comparison to the religious year, which starts with Pesach or Passover).

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the fall feasts. It begins the “Ten Days of Awe” that lead up to Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”). According to Leviticus 23:24-25, this celebration was signified as a time of rest, an offering that was made by fire, and the blowing of trumpets.

The modern holiday is traced back to the biblical “Feast of Trumpets,” which is the blowing of the shofar (“ram’s horn”) on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri) of the religious calendar year (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1). 

The Feast of Trumpets occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month, Tishri. It would occur at the new moon. Only the slightest crescent would be visible. However, clouds could sometimes obscure the moon, and witnesses would be required.

Watchfulness was a critical ingredient of this feast. The rabbis later would include a second day to this feast to ensure that they did not miss it. 

This need for watchfulness and preparedness in connection with the Feast of Trumpets is spoken of throughout the New Testament in relation to the Lord’s coming:

“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42 NKJV). 

“Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NKJV). 

Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 NKJV).

“So, Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28 NKJV).

You may ask, what does Rosh Hashanah have to do with me? 

The High Holy Days remind us not only to continue to repent and return to God but to also remain watchful, always looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

PRAYER

Father, we eagerly look to You as the sole source of our redemption, and we remain watchful looking for Your magnificent return. Amen. 

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Rosh Hashanah: Feast of Trumpets

By Julie Stahl

“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early autumn, you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet. You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:23-25 NLT). 

Rosh Hashanah literally means the “head of the year.” But biblically it is much more than that. In the book of Leviticus in Hebrew it is actually called Yom Hateruah—the day of the blowing of trumpets or ram’s horn (shofar). 

The piercing blast of the shofar is meant to remind the hearer to repent for his sins and make things right with his brothers and sisters. The rabbis say that reconciliation with God and man will confound the enemy. 

“It’s something that people connect to their soul to hear the sound of the shofar,” says Eli Ribak, third-generation shofar maker. 

The ram’s horn is used as the traditional shofar because when Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, God provided a ram in the thicket to be used in his place. 

The only animal horn that is forbidden to use as a shofar is the cow’s horn. That’s because the Jewish people don’t want to remind God of the time Israel worshipped the golden calf in the wilderness. 

In some traditions, the shofar is blown in synagogues and at the Western Wall each morning for a month before the holiday to give plenty of time for repentance. 

Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of creation, specifically the day God created Adam and Eve. As such, God the Creator is hailed and crowned as “our King” on that day. 

Christians often blow the shofar throughout the year, but in Judaism it’s only blown during the month of Elul, prior to Rosh Hashanah and at the holiday. It was also blown at the coronation of the kings of Israel, to announce the new king or the coming of the king. 

Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion, says that’s a foreshadowing for those who believe in Jesus. 

“And they tell us something, they’re speaking to us, they’re reminding us of something, and one of the things they’re reminding us of is the creation of the world, the coming of the king, King Messiah one day at this time, the coronation of his Kingdom here on earth,” says Michael. “This is what the shofar is to remind us of, and it speaks to us every day when we hear that sound.” 

For Christians, there are a number of references in the New Testament referring to the sounding of trumpets. 

“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31 NKJV). 

Paul writes, “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (1 Corinthians 15:52 NLT). 

The seven trumpets in Revelation also make clear they play a part in the end time calling. 

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the autumn Jewish feasts and begins the “Ten Days of Awe” that lead up to Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”). 

A festive meal at the start of the holiday includes eating apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year; dates, that our enemies would be consumed; pomegranate seeds, that we would bear much fruit; eating round hallah, symbolizing the circle of life and the crown of God’s Kingship; and eating a fish or ram’s head, symbolic of being the head and not the tail in the year to come. 

Another custom is called Tashlich, which literally means “to cast away” or “to throw away.” This concept comes from Micah 7:19 (NKJV): “He will again have compassion on us and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” 

This is a time of reflection to think about and repent for sins of the previous year and to determine how one could do better in the coming year. During this ceremony, Jewish people stand by a body of water and symbolically cast their sins into the water. 

Holiday Greeting: L’Shanah Tovah U’metuka (“May you have a good and sweet new year!”) and Chag Sameach (“Happy holiday!”).

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East. 

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Queen Elizabeth II and the United Nations: A Contrast in Character 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

On Monday, September 19, an estimated 4 billion people gathered in homes and public places worldwide to say their goodbyes to the beloved monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Among 2,000 guests, some five 500 dignitaries—composed of prime ministers, presidents, and royalty—filled the pews at Westminster Abbey, likely history’s largest assembly of its kind. 

Israel’s President Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog represented Israel according to protocol. Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets, some tearful, as loudspeakers broadcast the service, and where all stood for the requested two minutes of silence. A Westminster Abbey bell tolled 96 times from the 1,000-year-old edifice, honoring the 96-year life span of Queen Elizabeth and her 70-year reign. 

The Queen’s coffin, beautifully bedecked with flowers and the magnificently jeweled Imperial State Crown, was then processed down the Long Walk toward Windsor Castle, to the beloved monarch’s final resting place inside St. George’s Chapel. Services in both locations were replete with Scriptures and hymns to commemorate the Queen, who was a symbol of stability and service wrapped within her salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. In her 2014 annual Christmas message—one of her numerous speeches over the years—she proclaimed, “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.”

Earlier, across the Atlantic on September 9, the United Nations removed all countries’ flags and flew the UN flag at half-mast to honor Queen Elizabeth’s passing. Then on September 13, the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) got under way. After the Queen’s September 19th funeral, invited world leaders jetted out of London. With regal accolades bestowed on the demonstrably kind and honorable Queen, they exited those tributes to enter a worldwide assortment of 193 leaders.

The contrast between the singular, esteemed Queen Elizabeth II and the world’s repressive leaders is unmistakable. 

Queen Elizabeth spoke twice at the United Nations—first in 1957, not long after her 1953 coronation—and then again in 2010. In 1957, she declared, “The future of this organization will be determined, not only by the degree to which its members observe strictly the provisions of the charter and cooperate in its practical activities, but also by the strength of its people’s devotion to the pursuit of those great ideals to which I have referred.” In her later speech, in a diplomatic yet pointed comment, she mentioned the UN as a force for the “common good.” Then she added, “But we are not gathered here to reminisce. In tomorrow’s world, we must all work together as hard as ever if we are truly to be United Nations.”

The Queen’s exhortation about “being United Nations” has a long road ahead, mainly because that organization continues to single out Israel and perpetuate false accusations. The presence of members like Iran, the world’s leading terror agent; Communist China, which imprisons Christians and Muslims; and Russia, which is actively guilty of war crimes in Ukraine, discourage hopes for peace and harmony.

In an extraordinary wave of anti-Israel resolutions, the UN condemned Israel—the only parliamentary democracy in the Middle East—an astonishing 14 times in 2021 alone. For the other 192 nations, the General Assembly issued only four condemnations: one each against North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, and Russia’s invasion of Crimea. 

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the excellent UN Watch, recently addressed the UN’s anti-Semitism. “Across the board at the UN—the General Assembly, World Health Organization, the Human Rights Council—one country gets singled out and demonized. It’s the Jewish state.” Since 1993, UN Watch has measured and monitored the UN’s performance by its UN charter. This non-governmental organization in Geneva, Switzerland, looks closely at the UN Charter, which includes five mandates, one of them being “Protect Human Rights.”

In my viewpoint as a Christian, the UN reached its zenith early on to “protect human rights.” On November 29, 1947, the UN—then a young organization—ruled that the Jews could establish a state. The Jews accepted the smaller part of the land’s designation, while the Arabs rejected the decision altogether. Despite the Arabs’ decision, the Jews did receive their biblical “human right”—their ancestral homeland as codified by God thousands of years earlier. When considering Resolution 181, the British Mandate Partition Plan for Palestine—a plan that made way for both Arab and Jewish states—the members voted this way: 33 in favor, 13 against, with 10 abstaining.

The Partition Plan was not perfect and was fraught with conflicts in wars and personal relationships. However, it was a beginning of God’s justice for the Jewish people.  

Little did anyone know that another fulfillment of prophecy was unfolding in Jerusalem that same night—at the same time the vote was taking place. Israeli archaeologist and Hebrew University professor, Eleazer Sukenik, sat in his study that night in Jerusalem intently scrutinizing fragile pieces of parchment. They were part of the Dead Sea Scrolls that had recently come into his hands. As he pondered the precious scroll fragments, his son, Yigael Yadin, ran into the room shouting the news he just heard on the radio. 

However, we can expect more of the same slander if the United Nations clings to its history. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi is attending the UN General Assembly. Raisi gave his speech yesterday calling Israel “a savage power” that “kills women and children,” while proclaiming that their nuclear program is peaceful. Raisi, called a “monster” by his own citizens, freely walks the halls of the United Nations in New York City with other tyrants like him who consistently violate one of the UN’s mandates, “Protect Human Rights.”     

September 26 ends the first debate of the 2022 UN General Assembly. We hope against hope that Queen Elizabeth’s desire for some “common good” will in fact emerge. Rays of light do shine occasionally. In April, for instance, UN Watch successfully lobbied the UN to kick Russia off the Human Rights Council. Earlier, in January, in a consensus vote, the UN passed a resolution for members to proactively oppose Holocaust denial. 

Billions have now turned the page on Queen Elizabeth’s life, a life well lived, a life of stability, integrity, and kindness for her subjects in the Commonwealth. As we watched—enthralled with the beauty, elegant ceremonies, history, and music in high cathedrals—we can see that the Queen was surely beloved and rightly so.

Nevertheless, let us also look through spiritual glasses since we have glimpsed a tiny foretaste of Heaven. Nothing or no one on earth we have seen, even the pageantry, flags, and ceremonies, will match the grandeur of heaven and the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings who lives forever with an unending love. Join us at CBN Israel this week, reflecting on majesty in Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (HCSB). 

Please join with CBN Israel this week in prayer for both Great Britain and Israel:

  • Pray with thanks for the role model that Queen Elizabeth has been. 
  • Pray for those in Great Britain who are mourning with a sense of deep loss. 
  • Pray for the newly crowned King Charles, that his decisions and conduct will reflect attributes of the Queen. 
  • Pray for the UNGA for reduced accusations 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, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently 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 Facebook.

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New Immigrant: Anton’s Story

Anton’s nerves were shattered. His town in Donetsk, Ukraine, has been under siege since 2014. As the brutal fighting took its toll on him, he finally moved to Israel, looking for peace. 

Anton arrived a year ago in a new country, suffering from post-traumatic stress. Registered as disabled at age 50, he works in a special program at a factory that pays little. 

Living alone in a tiny, old apartment in Nof HaGalil in Galilee, he has followed the conflict in Ukraine. When the Russian forces advanced, he watched in dismay, since his family and friends there can no longer contact him. He learned that the house he built was destroyed. 

Added to that, his cramped apartment had no air conditioning or heat, which made hot summers and cold winters unbearable. With no money for extras, Anton felt utterly alone. 

But thankfully, friends like you reached out to him through CBN Israel. Caring donors gave him a new heating and air conditioning unit—keeping him cool all summer and warm in winter. They also provided him with vouchers, to buy groceries and other essentials. Anton said gratefully, “Thank you… you have no idea how much your kindness has blessed and encouraged me.”

And your gift to CBN Israel can bring a lifeline of hope to many like Anton. You can be there for those in crisis situations with food, housing, job training, and financial aid—assuring them that they are not alone. As thousands across Israel struggle to make ends meet, your support can offer hope to Holocaust survivors, single mothers, refugees, and more. 

Please join us in helping to touch lives today!

GIVE TODAY

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