Israel’s Paradoxes in Politics, Religion, and More

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Some readers may not be aware that in the Holy Land, approximately 80 percent of Jewish Israelis are secular, and 20 percent are religious. The land is a vivid tapestry of Jews from across the world, populating Israel from dramatically distinct nations, such as China, Russia, Ethiopia, Yemen, North America, Brazil, and France. Indeed, the Jewish Agency reports that 255,000 Jews from 150 nations made Aliyah (immigrated) to Israel between 2010 and 2019. 

In Ezekiel 34:13, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob declares, “I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land.” In recent months, Jewish Ethiopians and Ukrainians have been landing by the thousands at Ben Gurion Airport, many kissing the ground of their Jewish homeland. 

In Zephaniah 3:20 God promised, “At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes.” In the last 15 years, Israel’s fortunes have exponentially mounted, for example, as the “startup” nation’s innovations, natural gas rigs, and Abraham Accords agreements have benefited not only Israel but nations across the globe.

The Bible consistently reveals a promise-keeping God. Amid escalating anti-Semitic, anti-Israel detractors insisting that Jews are trespassing on the land that God awarded to them 3,000 years ago, the Scriptures documented the biggest real estate deed in world history—not in square footage but as the epicenter of world happenings.

Jewish immigrants bring with them a fascinating mixture of 35 languages and dialects. However, Hebrew is the official language in modern Israel. How that came about is fascinating. For 2,000 years, Hebrew only appeared as a written language and was spoken in prayers. That is, until Eliezer Ben-Yehuda set about reviving it in 1881 when he moved to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. He was successful in turning this ancient language—which hadn’t been the spoken language of the Jewish people since biblical times—into a modern spoken one. 

Hebrew is now heard on every Israeli street amid the many dissimilar immigrant languages. Hebrew is the only language to have died, been revived, and still in use today. It is a communications miracle—the paradox of an ancient tongue turning into the modern Jewish state’s official language. 

Arabic is the second most common spoken language in Israel, with its 1.5 million Arab Israelis. More than half of all Israelis came from Arab lands during the War of Independence in 1948. The émigrés found refuge in Israel after Arab countries confiscated their homes and businesses and forcibly expelled 850,000 Jews. They had lived in Arab lands for more than two millennia. Their exile began in 70 A.D., when Romans pushed them out of their ancient homeland.

The tiny fledgling nation, just weeks old in May 1948, had inadequate resources yet plenty of determination. Israel began welcoming all the Jewish refugees. Despite the overwhelming odds of war, the heartbreaking shadow of the Holocaust, and chaos in every direction, Israel fulfilled its mandate for a sovereign Jewish state right away. In his reading of the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion stood at the podium of a former art gallery in Tel Aviv, naming the modern country “Israel” and declaring, “The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles.” 

While Israeli immigration is a historic success, Israeli politics is a system that sometimes defies understanding. On June 20, 2022, a political earthquake shook the government. Israel dissolved its Knesset, the governing body, and then wrangled for days over the details of the next election. It apparently will take place in the fall—and will be their fifth election in three years.

Israel holds the dubious distinction of having more frequent elections than any other country. With such instability, it is a miracle that the country functions as well as it does. Their government is a parliamentary democracy in which citizens vote for a party, not a person. In some election cycles, there may be up to 24 parties vying for a place leading up to the election. 

Israel’s founders set up the parliament by following their ancient biblical model, the Sanhedrin. In Hebrew, this governing body is called the Anshe Knesset HeGedolah, Men of the Great Assembly. During the days of the Second Temple, this group included 120 members composed only of men who were prophets and elders. Today, an electoral system determines members by the number of seats the political parties win in the national election. Men, women, Jews, and Arabs are Members of Knesset and most are secular Israelis. 

Despite plenty of roadblocks and thorny conflicts between the Democrats and Republicans in the United States, our politics may look slightly simpler with presidential elections every four years. Israel’s politics, on the other hand, are quite chaotic. 

To have a majority in Knesset, 61 votes are required. No party in Israel’s history has ever gotten a majority, and that is why heated coalition building takes place. It is a political tug of war. 

Israel is a powerhouse, a small giant of human endeavor. Its balancing act between government stability, terrorist threats, and massive successes in many sectors could easily be classified as an ongoing, miraculous paradox. 

Within the U.S. and Israeli governments, conflicts and division have been and still are erupting. Each country is attempting to govern amid toxic issues. Nevertheless, what happens between these strong allies is highly cooperative and beneficial. 

I have often advised committed, pro-Israel advocates to govern their passions with wisdom. Walking in facts and commitment while preserving relationships is important. In this season of world history, wisdom is more necessary than ever. Let us remember, we stand with Israel not because we are perfect or Israel is perfect. In John 4:22 we have an answer: “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” In Genesis 17:7, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.”

Please join CBN Israel in praying for the nation and people of Israel:

  • Pray for Israel’s fifth election coming up, that Israelis will elect the right parties that can govern best. 
  • Pray for the newest Jewish immigrants to Israel—Ethiopians and Ukrainians—all arriving from dangerous locations.
  • Pray for both Jewish and Christian organizations that provide massive amounts of help to Israel’s newest citizens. 
  • Pray that Christians will grow in their advocacy for Israel amid the increasing threat of a nuclear Iran.  

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: A Tree of Life

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV).

Have you ever heard the sayings: “you are what you think” and “beware of the company you keep”? The psalmist highlights that the blessed person is the one who watches the company he or she keeps and meditates upon God’s instruction all day. 

Those whom we surround ourselves with affect and impact our thoughts and behaviors. Be careful, the psalmist warns. While we must guard ourselves from the negative influence of some, we must actively choose to meditate and delight in God’s instruction.

The one who does this, the psalmist compares to a “tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither” (verse 3). In the dry, hot climate of the Middle East, plants that are without sufficient water supply wither and die. 

Those plants with ample water can sustain their life and will produce fruit. The psalmist uses the image of a well-watered tree to suggest that the one who acts as he outlines in verses 1 and 2 will thrive regardless of the weather conditions. He further describes this tree as producing fruit.

The Bible often uses the image of a tree or plant-producing fruit as a symbol of the actions of a person. The psalmist expects that our meditation and delighting in the law of the Lord will not simply remain a cognitive or emotional reality but will instead lead us to act and behave in a manner consistent with God’s instruction. 

He concludes his image of the fruitful tree by saying, “whatever he does shall prosper” (verse 3). 

We are responsible for our spiritual growth. We have to guard ourselves from corrupting influences around us. And, we have to make sure that we delight in God’s instruction all day, every day. Such meditation should lead us to bearing good fruit.

Do people look at our lives and see a fruitful tree, or do our lives look like “chaff which the wind drives away” (verse 4)? Our intentionality in cultivating our spiritual growth and maturity will determine what they see. What do you delight in?


Father, today may I guard myself from influences that can corrupt me from following You, and as I meditate upon Your law and instruction, may my life bear fruit to Your glory. Amen.

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Trilateral Agreement Cements Israel’s Role on Global Energy Stage

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

In past centuries, explorers could never have imagined sailing the seas in search of underwater treasures beyond those in sunken ships. However, in today’s explorations, another kind of fortune lies deep: natural offshore riches accessible only through modern technology. Indeed, the 1999 discovery of natural gas fields off Israel’s coast set off an energy “seaquake” of massive reserves in a world beset by increasing energy anxiety.

On June 6, the Israeli Navy escorted a new natural gas rig into the Mediterranean. Israel contracted with Energean Power, a British energy company, to locate its new floating production, storage, and offloading vessel in the Karish (“shark”) gas field that was discovered in 2019. From the Marine Admiralty Yard in Singapore, two tugs guided the 772-ton rig on a journey of 5,532 nautical miles. After 35 days—crossing six seas—they finally cruised through the Suez Canal. The Karish rig now sits in the Mediterranean Sea about 90 miles west of Haifa. And it may be operational in the last quarter of this year. 

As examples of potential, the Tamar and Leviathan fields, operating since 2004 and 2009 respectively, have drilled into the depths of the energy treasure chests to tap into a combined extract potential of an estimated 690 billion cubic meters of natural gas. And that’s good news for the energy-dependent nations of Europe.

Presently, the small Jewish state’s big rigs are towering in their Mediterranean maritime zone and rising into one of the world’s leading natural gas resources. Although Russia has the world’s largest gas reserves, Israel’s massive fields are God’s resounding blessing, as their modern land mass is only 270 miles long and 85 miles wide. 

Psalm 37:6-8 is a beautiful reminder: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses.”

The natural gas fields are set to profit—and even rescue—other nations, as well. On June 15 Israel, Egypt, and the European Union inked a significant agreement for Israel to export natural gas to Egypt, where it will be liquified for export to Europe. 

The trilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in Cairo at the East Mediterranean Gas Forum by Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Tarek El-Molla, Egyptian Minister of Petroleum. El-Molla told reporters in December that Egypt’s two liquefying production facilities were fully operational after the Damietta plant had been dormant for eight years. The trilateral agreement is a win-win-win in an era of global energy challenges and complexities. 

Commissioner von der Leyen was full of praise. “What a special moment,” she exclaimed. “I very warmly welcome the signing of this historic agreement.” She went on to say that Israel’s energy and water economy make them a “key player in the world.” It was a refreshing change of tone from EU leaders who have a habit of praising Palestinians and criticizing Israel at the United Nations. 

Israel drills, Egypt liquifies, and then ships will ply the waters to Europe, carrying Israeli and Egyptian energy relief to liberate Europe from its dependence on Russian gas. 

With the Russian bear and Europe sharing many borders, Europe’s fortunes have been diminishing amid worries about energy and food shortages. Since Russia launched its assaults against Ukraine earlier this year, Europe has implemented anti-Russian sanctions that have put their own energy supplies at risk. With Europe currently beholden to Russian gas, Israel is now a hero in the eyes of Europeans.

After signing the trilateral agreement in Cairo on June 15, EU Commissioner von der Leyen made news a few days later in Brussels about Ukraine’s application for membership in NATO. In a June 17 Tweet she proclaimed, “Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.” 

Although her words are hopeful, the 27 EU member states meet June 23-24 to consider Ukraine’s admittance to NATO. Their decision must be unanimous. Amid discussions that are tangled in competitive country applications and a myriad of hoops that applicants must jump through, allowing Ukraine to join NATO quickly—or at all—would be a miracle. 

Challenges to Ukraine’s membership are also making waves north of Israel where the words “complexity” and “ultimatums” find no better home than in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, despite the admirable MOU agreements between Israel, Egypt, and the European Union, a maritime dispute is underway that could blow these plans right out of the water. Interim Lebanese Prime Minister Mikati has charged Israel with “encroaching on Lebanon’s maritime wealth and imposing a fait accompli in a disputed area.” Adding Hezbollah’s terrorist threats has prompted Israel to increase security with naval, submarine, and missile defense assets for the Karish field.

The United States has served as an on-and-off mediator since 2000, when the maritime disputes arose with the first discoveries of natural gas. Lebanon’s economy is on life support, so it is not surprising that they desperately contend for the maritime border. In response, Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said on Army Radio that the field was “entirely in undisputed territory” and that even the United Nations says it is not in Lebanon’s waters.

On June 17, CNN reported that negotiations are taking place with compromise proposals from mediator Amos Hochstein, U.S. senior advisor for energy security. The major problem seems to be that Lebanon and Israel calculate the maritime border with two differing methods. The U.S. compromise proposes an S-shaped maritime boundary where Karish would go to Israel and another field that holds potential for natural gas would go to Lebanon. 

God is using Israel once again to bless the world, this time from the oceans He created. As Christian advocates for Israel, may we continue to proclaim God’s plans for Israel as promised in Genesis 12:3: “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Join CBN Israel this week in praising God for His beautiful creation and lifting up prayers for this historic memorandum of understanding:

  • Pray for a compromise agreement beneficial to both Israel and Lebanon.
  • Pray for U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein to persist in wise, acceptable proposals.
  • Pray with praises for our Creator God who has given the world the gift of oceans.
  • Pray that Israel’s energy rescue in Europe will open the eyes of Israel’s enemies. 

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: Bringing Glory to Your Father in Heaven

Have you ever thought seriously about Jesus’ statement: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)? 

It is common for Christians to blame the secular world, the media, government, politics, etc., for the decline of faith and godly values in our world. But if we take Jesus’ statement seriously, then we understand that God’s reputation is at stake in us! We are the reason people glorify God or not. 

The problem, however, is that many of us have a tendency of viewing our “spiritual life” as separate and distinct from other areas of our life. Consequently, our faith does not always inform and permeate every aspect of our daily living. 

What did Jesus say would draw people to praise and glorify God? It’s when our faith is lived out and our good deeds are on display for all to see. It’s how we choose to live in the common and mundane moments of our lives that shines a light in the darkness directing people to the Lord. 

The prophet Amos firmly condemned the northern kingdom of Israel: “They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way” (Amos 2:6-7 NLT). 

The prophet goes on to condemn their religious practices, too, but he specifically points out behaviors reflecting their disregard for their fellow human beings, especially the poor and oppressed among them. In other words, their mistreatment of others in the course of everyday life and business is what defamed the name of God.

Is it possible that one of the main reasons people in our world today often ignore God and deny His existence is because of how His people represent Him? Without question, how we practice our faith in the home and at church is vitally important, but God’s reputation is far more at stake in how we choose to live all of life and particularly how we choose to treat other people. 

Do our lives—and the way we treat others—reflect the love and goodness of our God? Do our words and actions compel and inspire people to praise and glorify Him?


Father, help me to live my life in such a way that, in everything I say and do, I bring honor and glory to Your great name. Amen.

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Israel’s “Chariots of Fire” War Games Primed for Air, Sea, Land, and Cyber

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Warily eyeing Iran’s escalating belligerence with its new centrifuges spinning deadlier amounts of nuclear-grade uranium, and the steady weapons transfers from Iran into Syria, Israel recently engaged in month-long “Chariots of Fire” war games. This large-scale military exercise strengthened offensive and defensive capabilities among the Israeli air force, navy, military intelligence, and regular and reserve ground forces.

Why did leaders of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) feel it necessary to heighten their readiness and responsiveness in what has been called the nation’s “largest war drill in decades”? A summary of widespread dangers, laid out below, explains the necessity for the multi-pronged exercises.

Iran—1200 miles away from Israel—is the mother country of Shia Imams who have spawned a terror network spanning the globe. The U.S. Department of State designated Iran as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, then in 2019 it added the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. 

Riding ATVs up to Israel’s Golan Heights to view Syria below has offered my groups of Christian leaders on the American Israel Education Foundation  trips a well-informed viewpoint. One year, during Syria’s heartbreaking civil war, we heard their bombs sounding in the distance during our IDF briefing. Having bombs punctuate the briefing added an unforgettable audio backdrop. Standing on Israel’s borders next to Iran’s enemy enclaves provided an up-close, sobering look at multilevel threats. And knowing Damascus was a scant 70 miles away brought the Israeli population’s vulnerability into stark reality for our group.

One of the oldest cities in the Middle East, Damascus was for centuries considered an “earthly paradise.” That fortuitous title has changed under Syrian Dictator-President Bashar al-Assad. He welcomed Iran and its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps at the beginning of his personally sanctioned civil war against his own people, which began 11 years ago. After years of heavy bombing, the damage was so great that in 2019 this once-stunning metropolis gained the unhappy distinction of being the “least livable city,” according to Guinness World Records.

Iran, having positioned itself for years as a threatening “neighbor” next door to the Jewish state, prompted Israel to initiate a more comprehensive bombing operation than previously undertaken. On June 10, 2022, it was far different from Syria’s civil war horrors against its own people in which more than 350,000 civilians were killed and 12 million more left as refugees inside and outside their country. 

In the latest strike, Israelis disabled the main Damascus International Airport runway, three Iranian weapons storage depots, and damaged the air control tower. All incoming flights were diverted to airport in Aleppo, Syria, where passengers boarded buses back to their Damascus destination. 

Israel has flown hundreds of sorties into Syria—not targeting civilians, but to blow up Iran’s weapon depots. Iran has retrofitted civilian planes to ferry weapons into its surrogate states. Some weapons remain in-country or are transported on the ground over to Hezbollah in adjacent Lebanon. Israel also targets weapons transfers rumbling across Syria. Members of the elite IRGC know the risks of operating in Syria and they, too, sometimes become casualties of Israel’s defensive measures against Iran’s menace.

Although rebuilding has apparently begun, Israel’s surface-to-surface missile strikes earlier this month will hopefully prevent the weapons-laden planes from landing for weeks or even months. Damaging runways and air control towers proved a smart strategy in preventing these civilian planes loaded with weapons of war from taking off or landing.

Moving west to Lebanon on Israel’s north, the militant group Hezbollah has for decades operated in Lebanon as a “state within a state.” Iran has amassed a weapons stockpile overseen by Hezbollah, which was designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 by the United States. Gilad Erdan, Israel’s former Internal Security Minister and now Ambassador to the United Nations, estimated in 2021 that Hezbollah’s arsenal numbers 150,000 missiles and rockets.

Near a kibbutz on Israel’s border with Lebanon, an Israeli tank commander briefed our group of Christian leaders on the fenced border’s dirt road. As we listened, three tanks sat idle with engines running. Gazing over the border a short distance away, we spotted Hezbollah’s yellow flags waving in the light breeze. The tank commander explained that Lebanese civilians are forced to store Hezbollah weapons in their homes for use by the terrorists. 

After the briefings, I always asked one of our pastors to pray. The IDF expressed their appreciation for the heartfelt prayers for their safety. Departing, we assured the young soldiers that we recognize them as defending the front lines of freedom, not only for their homeland but for us Americans since Iran considers the U.S. as the “Great Satan.” 

Gaza, the terror enclave for Hamas—another Iranian proxy—has caused untold chaos and harm to Israeli civilians living in the south and its 1-million-plus population. Designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist group in 1997, Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007. Elected two years after Israel’s unilateral 2005 disengagement, Palestinians tragically chose terror instead of prosperity when they voted for Hamas.

In 2005, the Israeli government ordered the IDF to remove the 8,000 Jews living in Gaza. During this disengagement, they gave up their homes, synagogues, businesses, and greenhouses hoping that these wrenching sacrifices would become a “Singapore by the sea” for its Palestinian residents. Abba Eban, politician, and diplomat (1915-2002), often quoted among Israelis, once said that Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Unfortunately, their choices to ignore the beneficent sacrifices of the Israelis led to decades of hate, violence, and self-inflicted poverty. 

During the latest Hamas rocket barrages in May 2021, 10 Israelis were murdered and 181 were injured. The long-term toll on Israeli families in southern Israel includes a high level of PTSD, because people never know when the next Red Alert will sound—a warning that notifies civilians they have only 15 seconds to reach safety. Thousands of rockets fired into what is called the border’s “Gaza envelope” require placing IDF-approved lifesaving portable bomb shelters for Operation Lifeshield, a nonprofit founded in 2006. 

Staffing AIEF tours of Christian leaders, we have stood right at the fence separating Gaza from nearby kibbutzim. Despite their heartbreaking stories, it was easy to interact with the residents—some of the bravest and most upbeat people I have ever met. Even in the face of an unimaginable threat level, they live full lives working, creating, and helping each other to celebrate their nation, heritage, and festivals. They refuse to leave their ancestral homeland. 

With the war games concluded, military assessments of the Chariots of Fire indicate an expanded readiness between Israel’s military branches on land, sea, and air. Military personnel tightened their cooperative planning with focused strategic plans. Another significant operation called “Break the Wave” took place after dozens of Israelis died in a wave of terror attacks since March 22. An increased budget will enhance the Israel police response—to better equip them to stop the terrorists inside the homeland itself. A Shin Bet brigade composed of reservists, plus 200 additional soldiers, will be added to border police with more protective gear.

The Chief of the General Staff, LTG Aviv Kohavi, summed up the month’s military exercises: “I saw professionalism, drive, and excellent spirit. … There is a great sense of cooperation between the branches and units of the IDF, which is based on mutual trust and camaraderie. This is true power. … The IDF is sharper, more coordinated, and more modernized and prepared.”

As evangelicals, let us make sure our prayers and advocacy are operational and improved so we may serve as a troop of committed Christians who support the IDF on the front lines of freedom! 

Join us in prayer at CBN Israel by reading 2 Kings 6:15-22. When enemies surrounded Elisha the prophet in “an army with horses and chariots,” God surrounded Elisha with “horses and chariots of fire.” He told his servant in 2 Kings 6:16, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 

  • Pray for Chariots of Fire to have a lasting impact on Israel’s security. 
  • Pray for every branch of Israel’s military to operate with utmost skill. 
  • Pray for clear communications between military intelligence and the IDF at large. 
  • Pray for the IDF to operate in an overcoming attitude against fear like Elisha 

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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Lifesaving Surgery: Yostena’s Story

Sometimes, the littlest people need the most help. In Ethiopia, tiny Yostena was born premature. The frail infant spent 10 days in a hospital’s newborn intensive care unit—where she was diagnosed with a hole in her heart. Her parents feared for her future. 

This cardiac defect meant that her heart had to pump harder to keep her alive, and that she needed a costly major operation soon. Her father, Habtamu, is a salesman, her mother is a government worker—and they live in a 2-room home. They desperately longed to get Yostena the critical treatment she needed for a long, healthy life. But how could they afford it? 

Thankfully, friends like you were there, through CBN Israel’s partnering with Save A Child’s Heart. Caring donors brought Yostena to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel, and provided her with a lifesaving cardiac procedure and open-heart surgery. Today, Yostena is an active, adorable one-year-old, who loves playing with her friends—and her smile lights up any room.

As a grateful father, Habtamu says, “God bless you! You saved my child’s life. I will always appreciate your kindness.” And this is just one of the many ways you help others. 

Your gift to CBN Israel can reach out with groceries, housing, and financial assistance to those who struggle to survive in Israel. You can bring hope and help to elderly Holocaust survivors, lonely immigrants, and single mothers in need. 

Terrorist attacks, the pandemic, and economic challenges have taken their toll on many households across Israel. Your support is crucial in offering relief to the hurting, while also bringing news and stories from the Holy Land. 

Please help us to bless Israel and her people in need!


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Weekly Devotional: Far from the Promise

“David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him” (1 Samuel 22:1 NKJV).

David found himself for a period of his life having to flee from Saul. Saul pursued him wherever he went. David felt so pressed that he even had to seek refuge with Achish, the Philistine king of Gath (Goliath’s hometown). As you can imagine, the Philistines mistrusted David and did not welcome him warmly. So, David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. 

Adullam sits on the border between the Philistine territory of Gath and the tribal territory of Judah (David’s tribe). It overlooks the Elah Valley where David defeated the Philistine champion, Goliath. So, David flees from Saul, unaccepted even by Saul’s enemies, and finds himself in the cave at Adullam overlooking the site of his greatest victory.

When David defeated Goliath, he found himself at the top. He defeated Goliath, saved Israel, defended the honor of God and Israel, and was taken into Saul’s court. Also, he had been secretly anointed the future king by Samuel. Things looked promising. 

You have to wonder whether David thought his path from his victory in the Elah Valley to the throne was going to be a smooth, straight shot. To a certain extent, when he stood over the body of Goliath, cutting his head off with Goliath’s sword, the Philistine army fleeing with the Israelites in pursuit, he stood very close to God’s promise to him of the kingship, there in the Elah Valley. 

When he found himself in the cave of Adullam, overlooking the same valley, the location of his greatest triumph, he was the furthest from God’s promise than he had ever been. 

Every morning when he woke, he looked over the scene of his victory, and you wonder whether he found himself despairing of God’s promise. “Has God really said?” “Because I certainly don’t see the path from where I am today to what he promised me.” “Me, a king?” “I’m running for my life and living in a cave, hardly the house of a king.”

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you feel an overwhelming sense of despair? The vision that God gave you for your life, your future, seems like a million miles away, and God Himself seems even further away. You remember your victories, those moments when you felt triumph that God was right with you. But now all of that seems like a dream, and you find yourself in despair.

The cave of Adullam was not the end of David’s story. Nor will your times of despair be the end of your story. God is faithful. Rarely does He bring us straight from the victory field to the throne. Rather, He leads us on a winding journey where we learn to trust Him and His promises, even when He and they seem far away. God is at work; therefore, we will not despair forever.


Father, wherever we find ourselves, please lead us in Your ways and to Your promises. We choose to trust You. Amen.

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Fulfilling God’s Promises: The Miracles of Israel’s Six-Day War

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Fifty-five years ago—June 5, 1967—marked the beginning of the Six-Day War (June 5-10). During that time, God fulfilled His ancient promises as recorded in 1 Kings 11:36, where He proclaimed Jerusalem as “the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name.”

When the war began, however, Jerusalem was a divided city. Under the control of Jordan following the 1948 War of Independence, Israel’s holiest sites—the Western Wall and Temple Mount—were off limits to Jews. Israel had won its War of Independence but lost the eastern half of Jerusalem to the Arab League.  

The Jordanians annexed east Jerusalem, which deteriorated under their rule. They destroyed all but one synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, along with Torah scrolls and books. Religious freedom was nonexistent. Palestinian Arabs called themselves Arabs, not Palestinians, since Arafat had not changed their names to “Palestinians” for his political purposes. Jordan never considered Jerusalem as its—or the “Palestinian”—capital. 

However, the prologue for the Six-Day War reached back to Jordan’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1950. Over the next 20 years, frequent confrontations contributed to the buildup of war. Among them Egypt, armed with Soviet weapons, closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping. In 1959, Yassar Arafat founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) with the goal of “destroying Israel.” Three Arab summits were held to plan Israel’s annihilation. From the Golan Heights, Syria shelled Israeli civilians in the Galilee below. Clashes escalated during 1966–’67.

Then in May 1967, Egypt declared war on Israel. Radio Cairo broadcast an ominous message: “The existence of Israel has continued too long. … The battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel.” Such menacing talk from Egypt—joined by Syria, Jordan, and Iraq and supported by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Sudan—put the small Jewish nation’s military on high alert. 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had also witnessed a formidable buildup of troops and weaponry in the Sinai Desert, representing a huge threat. So sure were the Israelis of defeat, they prepared 40,000 coffins. Realizing they would be vastly outmanned in battle, the Israelis put into effect a gutsy pre-emptive strategy that relied on speed and secrecy. It was named Operation Focus (Moked).

Israel’s military leaders determined that the only way to defeat Egypt’s vastly superior air force—the largest in the Middle East—was to make a pre-emptive strike and neutralize all the planes while they were still sitting on the ground. Their pilots had trained long and well for just such a mission. And on June 5, they set it in motion. 

Operation Focus remains one of the most successful air campaigns in military history. During the Six-Day War, the Israeli Air Force destroyed 452 enemy planes, while losing just 46 of their own. After their stunning performance in Egypt, the Israeli Air Force finished the day in Jerusalem bombing the Jordanian tanks that raced toward the city and providing air cover for Israeli ground forces.

It was an epic example of cunning, daring and stealth—a brilliant strategy that was flawlessly executed. During the brief war, Israel won the Golan Heights from Syria, the Sinai from Egypt, and Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Jerusalem’s Old City and holy sites from Jordan’s occupation. Israel quadrupled its size.

But those who fought in that war agree that it was more than military genius and bravery that led to victory. There were numerous miracles, as well.

Although outmanned and outnumbered, the Israeli fighter pilots realized that God’s supernatural intervention secured their victory. Pilot and IDF Major General Ezer Weizmann was asked to explain how for three hours, Israel Air Force planes destroyed aircraft at one Egyptian airstrip after another—yet the Egyptians did not radio ahead to let their forces know about the imminent air attacks. Weizmann, who later served as President of Israel, said simply: “The finger of God.”

Many eyewitness accounts, which have been well documented, emerged in the following months. Older airplanes that had been plagued with problems behaved surprisingly well that day. Squadron members who flew the aging Vautor bombers said that on June 5th, the aging aircraft operated without a single malfunction. An enemy shell that made a direct hit on a munitions pile miraculously failed to explode.

One Israeli infantry recruit, on patrol with one other soldier, reported an encounter with a truck loaded with 18 well-armed Egyptian soldiers. The two Israelis, equipped with inadequate weapons, believed they faced certain death. However, the Arabs, looking panic-stricken, did not fire on them, and complied immediately when the Israeli soldier then shouted, “Hands up!” Later, he asked an Egyptian sergeant why they hadn’t shot at the Israeli soldiers. The reply: “My arms froze—they became paralyzed. My whole body was paralyzed, and I don’t know why.”

Arabs not only gave in to their fears and waved white flags of surrender; one tank commander later explained that he gave up to a far smaller number of Jewish tanks because he saw a desert mirage that made him “see hundreds of Israeli tanks.”  

Thus, it should be no surprise that the secular newspaper Haaretz carried this comment by one of its military correspondents: “Even a non-religious person must admit this war was fought with help from heaven.” 

Prior to the Six-Day War, Jerusalem’s Mayor Teddy Kolleck had asked songwriter/vocalist Naomi Shemer to write a song in honor of Jerusalem for the Israeli Song Festival on Independence Day, 1967. She agreed, and wrote the anthem, “Jerusalem of Gold,” which was the first song written about the city in 19 years of Jordanian occupation. A month later, the victories in the Six-Day War gave her the opportunity to compose a new verse about Jerusalem’s reunification. It became a hit! Here are the lyrics:

“We’ve returned to the water cisterns, the market and to the plazas. A ram’s horn calls us from the Temple Mount in the Old City, and in the mountains’ caves thousands of suns are shining once again, to Jericho we will descend via the Dead Sea.”

The first verse of “Jerusalem of Gold” is a lament for Jerusalem, with two more verses from Lamentations and Psalm 137. “The mountain air is clear as wine, the scent of pines is carried by the afternoon wind, with the sound of bells. In the tree’s sleep and with the stone lost in its dream, the city that lies so deserted and, in its heart, a wall. Jerusalem of gold, of copper, and of light. For all your songs let me be your lyre.”

Jerusalem of Gold, the eternal city and loved by both Jews and Christians, the birthplace of their faiths, is a momentous marker in world history where the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob once again proved His deed to the Land of Israel! 

 On June 7—the day of Jerusalem’s liberation—IDF Chaplain Brigadier General Shlomo Goren blew the shofar as the soldiers wept for their fallen friends and sang “Jerusalem of Gold.” 

Let us remember that nearly two decades of Jordanian control didn’t prevent Jews from remembering Jerusalem. The very heartbeat of their homeland for 3,000 years was enshrined every day in every prayer, in every nation across the globe where Jews were scattered for millennia.

May we as believers keep Jerusalem and the Jewish nation of Israel in our hearts and prayers and continue to count on the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in all circumstances.

Join CBN Israel this week as we pray for the City of Gold: 

  • Pray for God’s shalom (“peace” and “well-being”) to descend upon the city of Jerusalem. 
  • Pray for Arab Israelis to maintain a sense of loyalty to Israel’s east Jerusalem and the freedoms they enjoy as citizens. 
  • Pray for Jerusalem’s mayor and other leaders to make agreements that will benefit both Arabs and Jews. 
  • Pray for a cessation of violence and terrorism in and around the city of Jerusalem.

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: Olga’s Story

It’s a story behind the headlines. With Russia’s invasion continuing to devastate Ukraine, thousands of Jewish refugees have fled to Israel, seeking safety in the Promised Land. The hardest hit have been poor families, children, and the elderly—most coming with very little.

In the face of this catastrophe, friends like you have been there for hundreds of Jewish refugees, through CBN Israel and our strategic partners. Donors offered vital assistance with their evacuation from Ukraine, and rescue flights to Israel. And once they arrived, they received food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials—as well as God’s love and encouragement. 

Caring friends were there for Olga and her husband—two 60-year-old Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, who recently became Israeli citizens. Their small apartment is in a rundown area of Beersheva. Olga is deaf, and works any job she can find. Her husband was recently laid off from his minimum wage factory job—and the couple has struggled to make ends meet.   

One day, their refrigerator and washing machine suddenly broke, and they had no way to fix or replace them. Thankfully, friends were there through CBN Israel. They were delighted to receive food and essentials—plus, a new refrigerator and washing machine! Olga exclaimed, “Your kindness has given us hope at a time when we were feeling depressed and alone!”

In these challenging times, your gift can give life-changing aid to terror victims, single mothers, Holocaust survivors, and more. And your support can be a lifeline to the hurting, while providing news and stories from the Holy Land. 

Please join us in making a difference at this crucial time!


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Weekly Devotional: First Fruits

“You are to count seven weeks, counting the weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. You are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God with a freewill offering that you give in proportion to how the LORD your God has blessed you. 

Rejoice before Yahweh your God in the place where He chooses to have His name dwell—you, your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite within your gates, as well as the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt; carefully follow these statutes” (Deuteronomy 16:9-12 HCSB).

Moses outlined for the Israelites the ordinances of the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost). This festival commemorated the harvest seven weeks and one day (50 days, hence “Pentecost”) after the first Sabbath following the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The festival was to be a celebration marked by a freewill offering—an offering “that you give in proportion to how the LORD your God has blessed you.”  

The festivals and rituals that God gave to the Israelites served as reminders of His participation in their daily lives. Agriculture did not depend upon the farmer and his ingenuity or the luck of the weather; rather, God Himself blessed and provided for the daily needs of the people. The rituals and festivals functioned as reminders of God’s nearness and called upon the Israelites to give thanks, to rejoice.

The Israelites celebrated Pentecost not only within their families but also with their communities. Three groups of people are specifically identified as participating in the celebration of the festival: strangers, orphans, and widows. These three groups lacked a legal advocate within ancient Israel, which is why God often describes Himself, the just Judge, as the defender of these three groups. 

In the midst of the celebration, God calls on the Israelites to remember those on the fringes of their society and to bring them into the festivities. The basis for this action is provided in Deuteronomy 24:18 HCSB: “Remember that you were a slave in Egypt.” You were once an outcast, someone at the bottom of the social world, so remember and bring those at the bottom of your world into your celebration of the Lord’s blessing. 

Do we see God’s care in every facet of our lives? Do we celebrate it and remind ourselves to rejoice at His provision? Do we share our blessings with those on the fringes of our own society? This was God’s expectation of the ancient Israelites when they celebrated Shavuot. He expects the same from us.


Father, thank You for Your daily provision in my life. As a sign of my thanksgiving, may I share Your blessings in my life with others. Amen.

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