Weekly Devotional: The Lord Alone Exalted

“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low” (Isaiah 2:11-12 NKJV).

Our world marvels at mankind’s stunning and impressive achievements. We celebrate human success and are so often consumed by the latest advancements in modern science, medicine, and technology.

At the center of our universe stands humanity. Our postmodern culture tends to evaluate everything through the lens of the human individual. Such a worldview is foreign to the biblical mindset. In fact, the biblical worldview challenges and affronts our modern outlook.

The biblical writers were overwhelmed by the God of the universe and His awesomeness. They recognized the transience and fragility of human existence against His dwelling in eternity. They saw the folly of human pride and arrogance as God raised up and brought low.

They recognized humanity as created by the Creator to do His will instead of viewing itself as the master of the universe. They understood that God is King and we are not. They also realized that creation—all of it, including humanity—existed to glorify God, not itself. His redemption of the world primarily brings glory to Him and is not about us.

For the biblical writers, God is the subject of the universe, and we are the object. Our modern world flips that around, if we even place God in the sentence at all.

Unfortunately, our modern Christianity can all too often make us the subject and Him the object. We look to Him for what He can do for us, our needs, our salvation, our comfort.

God does care deeply about us, more than we can ever comprehend, but He does not exist for us. We exist for Him. May we be swept away by His awesome majesty!


Father, You are awesome and are enthroned in majesty. May we live each and every day to exalt You in all that we say and do. Amen.

Read more

Arab Journalists and Pro-Israel Christians Agree: Hamas is the Problem

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

When United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Israel, and the United States signed the Abraham Accords on the White House lawn on August 13, 2020, it signaled a historic, miraculous opening of cooperation and benefits to each nation. Morocco and Sudan then joined the Accords, and the cooperative efforts have proven to be successful on many levels. A somewhat surprising, yet outstanding outcome, has emerged: Arab journalists are speaking up, defending Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls. In addition to these voices, more Christians worldwide are speaking up, praying, and sending tangible relief to millions of Israeli civilians under fire. 

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning Palestinian journalist, rightly points out in his May 20 article for Gatestone Institute that Hamas “serves as a pawn” for Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood as they fight against Israel. He says, “Criticism of Hamas does not make you anti-Palestinian; on the contrary, holding Hamas responsible for the violence and bloodletting actually serves the interests of the Palestinians. How ironic that Arab Muslims are lashing out at Hamas while Israel-haters around the world see no evil in its actions, including the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel.”

Saudi writer Abdulah Bin Binjad Al Otaibi observed, “Solutions should also stop those [Hamas] who are ready to burn Palestine and its people.” His words could describe Hamas’s firing rockets at three different crossings into Gaza with Israeli and Jordanian truck convoys filled with humanitarian aid. Another writer, Emirati Al-Sheikh Wuldalsalek, adds his accusation that both Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are “trafficking” in the Palestinian issue.

President of the Bahrain Journalists Association, Ahdeya Ahmed Al Sayed, tweeted about how the children were pulled into the horror—but that children of terror leaders were spared from the atrocities those leaders sanctioned: “Hamas did not use the children of Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Mashaal or Ali Khamenei as human shields. Hamas used the Palestinian people [as human shields].”

However, there are scores of news outlets within the global mainstream media who habitually dismiss the facts and pay no attention to Arab and Christian voices whose views do not line up with their preferred narratives. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, backed by their patron Iran, are the perpetrators. Not Israel. 

Iran, through Hamas, is again responsible for the latest conflict. Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports—via its expert translations of Arab media—a speech from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. On Iranian TV, the Hamas terrorist openly thanks Iran, “which has not given up on providing the resistance with money, weapons and technology.” That admission is straight from one of the terror leaders himself.

These examples make the global media’s lopsided viewpoint—their inattention to Arab voices and their muted reporting on Iran as the world’s largest terror state—even more mystifying. They also ignore Christian media and Christian communities standing by Israel that share the same viewpoints with Arab journalists in the Middle East Gulf states. 

The insights from so many Arab journalists are encouraging. They, along with Christian media—such as The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN)—put the blame where it belongs. The Arab states also face the threat from the apocalyptic Iranian Imams. Arab journalists understand the complexities and experiences of both Arab and Iranian (Persian) mindsets. They grasp the Persian goal of establishing another caliphate by any means possible—including nuclear weapons. 

Christians reading Arab writers’ articles would certainly agree with their opposition to Hamas and Iranian leadership. And drawing our knowledge from Scripture we often gain insights from Jewish scholars like Rabbi Tuly Weisz, editor of The Israel Bible. He writes that one fact overshadows any plans or debates among nations and groups: “Israel is entitled to the land it has, and has been for over 3,000 years. It says so in the most historically accurate document in history: the Bible.”

Iran and its proxies are determined to change Israel—270 miles long and 85 miles wide—into a national concentration camp by means of rockets, drones, and lies. Pro-Israel Christians are on the move, however, like never before, mobilizing to push back once more against terrorist lies during Operation Guardian of the Walls. 

Although mainstream U.S. and international media are busy pushing Hamas’s unreliable statistics and blasting Israel, brave Arab journalists and Christians remain active. Christians are engaged in continuous prayer matched with practical help. Humanitarian outreach, favorable state resolutions, pro-Israel peaceful demonstrations, and Christian writers and speakers are all promoting the fact that Israel is defending its civilians from terrorists. 

I am highlighting here just a few of the numerous ongoing efforts. In politics, through the efforts of activists in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI), they have made sure Congress knows the will of some 60 million evangelicals in the United States. CUFI alone, with its 10 million members, has sent out a pledge of support. Congress will definitely feel the impact. 

In an unusual move, AIPAC has taken out ads against U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar in response to her tweet: “Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism. Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians.” She did not mention the 650 rockets that exploded inside Gaza, possibly killing or injuring Palestinian residents. Omar, Rep. Tlaib, and a number of other Democrats share a ludicrous lack of knowledge and anti-Semitic comments. They must be met with truth. The “Squad” in the House of Representatives was not happy with President Biden approving a $735 million arms sale of precision missiles to Israel on May 5. Biden’s decision passed in a 15-day expedited congressional review process. 

The state of Alabama has a long history of strong support for the state of Israel. In 1943, Alabama was the first state to officially call for the establishment of the Jewish homeland. Its legacy still thrives with this year’s passage of the Alabama Joint Resolution (Act SJR 138). The resolution reads in part: “Condemns Hamas for deliberately embedding its fighters, leaders, and weapons in private homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, and otherwise using Palestinian civilians as human shields, while simultaneously targeting Israeli civilians.”

Long-time Christian political activist Robin Rowan helped to shape the resolution. She is founder of, a popular (and growing) online educational ministry that stands against anti-Semitism and for Israel. Ms. Rowan, along with Tom Parker, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and John Buhler, founder of the Alabama-Israel Task Force, witnessed the governor’s signature May 21 on the Alabama Declaration of Support for Israel. Also present was Israeli Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon, who expressed her thanks to Governor Ivey and bestowed upon her a U.S-Israel lapel pin.

Passages Israel ( is a Christian organization that strengthens the faith of American Christian college students through a nine-day pilgrimage to Israel. Thus far they have hosted 8,000 students. In just a few days the organization raised $10,000 for Israeli children partnering with Artists 4 Israel to help provide The Healing Arts Kit. This groundbreaking therapeutic system is a psychological first aid kit aimed at slowing or stopping the onset of new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was especially designed for children living through rocket fire, terrorist attacks, and other forms of crisis. 

CBN Israel, along with many other charities, have been linking arms with local Israeli municipalities to save lives by providing emergency bomb shelters to communities who live under the constant threat of terror attacks. These outdoor shelters are designed to protect schools, parks, playgrounds, bus stops, community centers, and other public spaces in high-risk areas. The bomb shelters already in place are serving Israel’s population whether or not the “Red Alert” sirens are going off. Even when the sirens are not sounding, a shelter’s presence alone brings confidence and security to families and communities on a daily basis. The shelters are protecting and saving lives, reducing anxiety, and helping people live as normally as possible. 

Pray with CBN Israel this week for the ongoing terror and violence to subside:

  • Pray with thanks that God has preserved His people and His land for generations. 
  • Pray for the safety of brave Arab journalists, speaking against terrorists.
  • Pray for the conflicts between Jews and Arabs in various Israeli towns. 
  • Pray that world media will awaken to facts. 

What are we to do within the conundrum called the Middle East? Let us hold on to the fringe of Jesus’ tallit (prayer shawl) and remind ourselves that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob enshrined a promise in Amos 9:15: “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.” 

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 now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

Read more

Biblical Israel: Second Temple Model

By Marc Turnage

The large, scale model of Jerusalem in A.D. 66 offers one of the main attractions at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Hans Kroch, the owner of the Holy Land Hotel in Jerusalem, commissioned Professor Michael Avi-Yonah and his students to create the model in honor of Kroch’s son who died in the War of Independence in 1948. Avi-Yonah provided topographical and archaeological detail and architectural design. 

For many years, the model resided at the Holy Land Hotel. Today the model is housed at the Israel Museum. When Avi-Yonah and his students began the project, the Old City of Jerusalem as well as the City of David—the area of biblical Jerusalem—lay in East Jerusalem, which was controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 

From 1948 to 1967, the city of Jerusalem was divided between West and East Jerusalem. West Jerusalem belonged to the State of Israel, while East Jerusalem belonged to the Kingdom of Jordan. East Jerusalem contained the area of biblical Jerusalem, which meant that during the period under Jordanian control little archaeological work and activity was conducted; thus, much of the archaeological information that came to light in the latter part of the twentieth century remained unknown when Professor Avi-Yonah built the model. 

This raises the obvious question: how could he have built such an accurate model of Jerusalem in A.D. 66 without the assistance of archaeological discovery? The answer lies in the rich descriptions of Jerusalem provided by the first century Jewish historian Josephus. Josephus wrote his works for a non-Jewish, Roman audience that had never been to Jerusalem. He provided such a detailed description of the city that using what they knew about the Roman world and the land of Israel in the first century, Professor Avi-Yonah and his students were able to produce this model, which contains a great deal of accuracy. While there are some mistakes within the model, it offers a testament to Josephus and his value as our greatest source on ancient Judaism and the land of Israel in the first century. 

Visitors to the model will notice three primary features. First, Jerusalem in the first century covered much more area than the modern Old City of Jerusalem (which has nothing to do with biblical Jerusalem). 

Also, the city had two principal foci. On its western edge, at the highest point of the city, stood the palace of Herod the Great. The largest of Herod’s palaces, his palace in Jerusalem played host to the wisemen (Matthew 2) and Jesus when he stood before Pilate. On the northern end of palace stood three towers, which Herod named Mariamme, Phasael, and Hippicus. On the eastern side of the city stood the Temple and the enclosure that surrounded it, which made the Temple Mount the largest sacred enclosure within the Roman world in the first century. The Temple provided the economic and religious center of the city. 

Jerusalem in the first century produced nothing; it did not sit on a major trade route. It dealt in religion. Jewish and non-Jewish pilgrims (see Acts 2) streamed into the city from all over the known world three times a year: Passover, Pentecost, and Sukkot. Pilgrims approached the Temple from the south. On top of the Temple Mount today stands the golden Dome of the Rock. To gain perspective, Herod’s Temple, the Temple that Jesus, Peter, and Paul knew, was twice the height of the Dome of the Rock. Looking at the model, visitors gain some perspective of its awesome grandeur. 

The third feature of the city is its walls. In the model, people see three different wall lines. The wall that comes from the south-eastern part of the Temple Mount surrounding the southern and western sides of the city, which turns east and connects at the western wall of the Temple Mount, Josephus calls the first wall. A large wall includes the northern neighborhoods; this is Josephus’ third wall, which was built after the time of Jesus. Inside the third wall, visitors to the model see a second wall. The first and second walls contained the Jerusalem that Jesus knew, which was twice the size of the modern Old City. 

One of the biggest challenges for guides of Jerusalem is helping their groups understand the city’s history and many layers. The model of Jerusalem at the Israel Museum offers an excellent visual, as well as a monument to the city at its height in the first century.

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

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

Read more

Weekly Devotional: Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NKJV).

Pentecost (or Shavuot) was one of the three pilgrimage festivals within ancient Judaism. Along with Passover (or Pesach) and Sukkot, the Law of Moses required every able-bodied male to appear before the Lord on these festivals.

In the first century, that meant coming to Jerusalem and the Temple. Luke describes the throngs of pilgrims from all over the world that traveled to Jerusalem for Pentecost. 

Jewish tradition identified the festival of Pentecost as the time when God appeared to Israel on Mount Sinai and gave them the Torah.

God’s appearance at Sinai included fire, wind and sounds. Luke wove these same images into his story in Acts 2. He wanted to draw his reader’s attention back to what God did on Sinai when He gave the Torah to Israel, connecting the giving of the Spirit with the foundation of Israel as a nation.

As the crowds hear the disciples uttering the wonders of God in their various languages, Peter stands up before the crowd and explains that what they have experienced is the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Joel. Then, he began to preach and share the good news about Jesus. 

Within the book of Acts, the proof God gives of Jesus’ messiahship is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s coming provides the divine evidence that Jesus is truly the Messiah and that God raised him from the dead. The two—the coming of the Spirit and Jesus’ messiahship—are always linked in Acts. 

People often focus on other aspects and manifestations of the Spirit, but we can never forget that the coming of the Spirit ultimately testifies that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Messiah, whom He raised from the dead.

Peter’s response to the crowd that listened to him: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 NKJV).

The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost fulfilled God’s promises through Joel. It connected to His act of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. And, most importantly, it testified that Jesus is His Messiah, raised from the dead.

Whatever the Spirit’s work is in our lives and in our communities, it should also testify to these things.


Father, thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to testify of the truth of Your Son. Amen.

Read more

The Gaza Strip: What Could Have Been 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

With 28,000 miles of stunning shoreline, the Mediterranean Sea annually beckons a third of the world’s international tourists to its gentle waves and pleasant climate. Twenty-two countries and over 3,000 islands show off a tapestry of assorted cultures, geographies, languages, foods, and histories. “Paradise” seems an appropriate description. Yet Gaza is not among these alluring destinations. Of the two million people in Gaza, more than 80 percent live below the poverty line, and unemployment is at 70 percent for the younger generation. What happened?

Like everything “Middle East,” the histories are complex, and context is important. I’m remembering August 15, 2005, when I watched Israel’s Unilateral Disengagement on television and followed the unfolding, unimaginable story. What I saw was grief, anger, suffering, and heartbreak. That day, Israel’s now-deceased Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, with agreement from parliament (Knesset), launched the nation’s Unilateral Disengagement to remove some 9,000 Jewish citizens from their homes, businesses and synagogues in Gaza. Even for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) overseeing the eviction, it was a wrenching, anguish-filled situation. Sharon’s decision to remove Jewish citizens from their homes, schools, synagogues, and communities in Gaza was done in order to appease the Palestinian Authority and the world in an effort to bring peace. That was the dream anyway. 

Yet, prior to 2005, several years of intense and difficult discussions took place between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and leaders of the global community. The primary question remained, “Will Israel be safer?” Gaza’s population was over a million people and growing, with around 99 percent Palestinian and 0.06 percent Jewish. How could Israel administrate this demographic? Could the IDF offer protections to the small Jewish population? Would friction lessen between Israelis and Palestinians if Jewish citizens left Gaza? The decision created an enormous amount of discord and dispute. Many said it would not bring peace. But Israeli leaders hoped to reawaken a stagnated peace with Palestinians along with an improved international status.  

Try to imagine leaving behind your homes, schools, synagogues, and businesses. Even the graves of 45 loved ones had to be moved, knowing that Palestinians would desecrate them otherwise. The dead included three IDF soldiers who likely died defending Israeli civilians against already active Palestinian violence. Digging up a grave, moving it to another location in Israel, and living through a second funeral. Their loved ones could not even rest in peace.

The Gaza Disengagement took a few days. Fortunately, physical injuries were light with no lives lost in the process. However, the emotional pain of being forced to leave your home of 38 years was a crushing experience for many. The Jewish residents did their best with overall restraint, as did the IDF. Never had an army relocated so many fellow citizens against their will and with such an extraordinary display of courage, discipline, and compassion.

Author Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, described one scene this way: “The severest test of the battalion’s fortitude—and humaneness—occurred in Badolah’s synagogue, where the settlers were afforded an hour of parting prayer. But after two hours of waiting in the blistering sun, the soldiers decided to enter. The scene that greeted them was shocking: settlers clutching the pews, the Ark and the Torah scrolls, or writhing on the floor. The troops tried to comfort them, only to break down themselves, and soon soldiers and settlers were embracing in mutual sorrow and consolation.” 

The 1967 Six-Day war is a backdrop to 2005. Israelis gained control of Gaza from Egypt after Syria, Egypt, and Jordan attacked Israel to “destroy them.” After winning the Six-Day War, Israelis set about founding 25 towns, reviving the land with crops, flowers, and businesses, and providing employment for Palestinians. For 38 successful years, Israelis planted deep roots, raised families, and celebrated their biblical festivals. That is, until Israel’s 2005 Unilateral Disengagement. 

Exiting Gaza’s Kusufim Crossing into Israel on September 12, 2005, Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, head of the Gaza mission, declared, “The responsibility for whatever takes place inside falls upon the Palestinian Authority.” But the minute the IDF closed the last gate to Gaza, Palestinians set about to destroy the hopes for their own future. Some even went on a rampage in the land given to them with no Jew left behind. They destroyed everything in sight, even tearing down greenhouses donated for them to keep and prosper. It was as if such behavior was intended to communicate that they would not be satisfied until Israel was no more. The United Nations, governments, and international organizations had met many months before the Disengagement. Nations and banks allocated money to give Gaza a good start. All to no avail. 

A simmering power struggle between the Hamas Islamist terrorists and the Fatah political party of the corrupt Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) finally erupted in the Battle of Gaza (June 10-15, 2007). Fatah had lost parliamentary elections in 2006 after an attempted unity government. The Palestinians were then split into two de facto entities: the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority, and Gaza, governed by Hamas. 

Since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in 2008 to defend civilians in southern Israel, Iran has supplied Hamas’s weapons arsenal. The Imams are proud of this fact. By Israel’s 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, Iran and Hamas were openly bragging about Iran’s help. Ali Larijani, speaker of the parliament of Iran, said the following to that ruling body on November 21, 2012: “I am proud to announce that our support for the Palestinians was in money and arms. We are proud to announce that we will continue standing by the Palestinians in the most difficult of situations.” 

Stop and consider. What would you do after 14 years with thousands of rockets aimed at your family, the Red Alert sounding at all hours, and your children crying and running for shelter? You long only for peace, not war. These are only a few kinds of terror that Israeli civilians have endured along with three wars between 2008 and 2014. All wars were instigated by terrorists. Would you shout, “Enough is enough?” 

Iran has kept its deadly promises. The Islamist way of war is the exact opposite of the IDF and international protocols. Iran and its terror proxies remain dedicated to civilian violence not only against Israelis but, in a double war crime, using its own civilians as human shields. Realizing that Israel strives to avoid civilian casualties, these terrorists hide in mosques and hospitals, locate their offices and weapons in high rises, wear no uniforms, and use ambulances and press vehicles to ensure safe passage. And now they have an extensive web of tunnels—dubbed the “Metro”—in civilian areas of Gaza. Conversely, the IDF—in order to prevent noncombatant deaths—warns Palestinian civilians via calls, leaflets, or roof-knockings by dropping non-explosive devices on targeted buildings that house weapons or terrorists.

Understanding some international law and norms is necessary, because who starts a war matters. The United Nations Charter in Article 51 affirms “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations” by anyone. Gaza’s terrorists have launched all attacks on Israeli civilians.

In his scholarly articles Louis René Beres, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue University, makes several prominent points: “Hamas rocket attacks upon Israeli noncombatants are terrorism. Such terrorism—all terrorism, irrespective of so-called ‘just cause’—represents a distinct crime under international law … they have nothing but contempt for normally prescribed legal expectations.” 

Professor Beres also noted a remark from Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a prominent militant Muslim cleric in London, “We don’t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity.”

The Muslim cleric’s remark should erase any doubt about Israel’s right to defend its civilians. His remark also helps answer my “what happened” question in the beginning of my article. The 2005 Disengagement gave Palestinian leaders a golden opportunity. Unfortunately, their hatred for Jews and each other has brought on their destruction. If Gaza really wanted to provide prosperity and well-being for its two million people, they would have chosen to build their own “Singapore by the Sea” with the billions of dollars donated. They would now operate a thriving port to build their economy on the Mediterranean Sea, traversed by 220,000 merchant vessels—a third of the world’s total merchant shipping.

Instead of instigating terror and digging tunnels, all they had to do was build up a beautiful land with its 25 miles of oceanfront property. They could have enjoyed employment at glamorous hotels, fine restaurants, and successful small businesses. Tourists flooding in to enjoy it all. Massive orchards of oranges and fields of flowers to ship to Europe. There would have been no need for Israel to inflict airstrikes or blockades.

Writing these words brings me sadness for the Palestinian people in Gaza, a sadness of what could have been possible for the men, women, and children who live in an open-air prison built not by Israelis, but by hate. And sadness that Israelis have so long lived under relentless terror with no end in sight. 

Many times, I’ve visited the kibbutzim located next to the Gaza fence. Their communities are lovely with flowers, playgrounds, and crops. They celebrate Shabbat, weddings, and all the Jewish festivals. Even though they have lived with ongoing traumatic stress for years, I am inspired by them. They have shown us how to live life, not as victims but as those who bravely hold on to hope as best they can. 

 Please join CBN Israel in prayer this week as we witness this terrible conflict between Israel and Gaza:

  • Pray for Israel’s leaders and military to make wise decisions.
  • Pray for innocent Palestinians endangered by their own leaders. 
  • Pray that world media will give context to the conflict. 
  • Pray that God will again rescue His Chosen people. 

We invite you to intensify your prayers for Israel relying on Psalm 144:1-2: 

“Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”

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 now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

Read more

Victim of Terrorism: Yelena’s Story

When her father died in battle during World War II, Yelena was a young girl living in Russia. This loss devastated her for a long time. But Lena overcame her grief, and went on to earn a medical degree, working as a maternity doctor for nearly 35 years. In 1996, married with children, she and her family immigrated to Israel. Then, tragedy struck her life again.

Within eight years, Yelena lost her mother, sister, brother, and husband—leaving her a widow at age 64. Eventually, her two grown kids moved far away. At her advanced age, COVID-19 restrictions made it nearly impossible for Yelena to see her family. And then, terror came to her home. 

The town she lives in, Sderot, endures constant rocket attacks from Gaza—and a recent attack completely destroyed Yelena’s front door, all her windows, and more. Plus, the interior needed wall repairs, plaster, and paint. But living on a meager pension, how could she possibly afford to make that happen? 

Thankfully, friends like you were there for Yelena in her time of need. She belongs to a supportive congregation that contacted CBN Israel. We provided a special grant that covered all the repairs needed—and she is thrilled with her safe, new living space. Gratefully, she says, “Thank you very much!”

So many people in the Holy Land are crying out for help. Your gift to CBN Israel can help many other terror victims, Holocaust survivors, and immigrant families in need—giving them aid and encouragement. Your support can bring them groceries, housing, financial aid, job training, and more—while sharing Israel’s news and stories with the world. 

Please join us in blessing Israel and her people in need!


Read more

Biblical Israel: Pool of Siloam

By Marc Turnage

Located on the southern part of the rock cliff that marks the hill of the City of David (in Jerusalem), near the southern end of the Tyropoean Valley sits the Pool of Siloam. The pool was accidentally discovered in 2004 by workmen laying a new sewage line in the southern part of the City of David. The Gihon Spring, Jerusalem’s primary water source, supplied water to the pool in antiquity via the so-called Hezekiah’s Tunnel. 

Archaeologists uncovered two flights of five narrow steps separated by a wide landing that descend into the pool. This enabled people to descend to different levels based upon the fluctuation of the water level due to either the rainy or dry seasons within the land of Israel. Although the archaeologists only uncovered one side of the steps of the pool, it seems that such an arrangement of steps surrounded the pool on four sides. The pool covered roughly an acre of land. Coins and pottery date the construction of the stepped pool to the mid first century B.C.

To the north of the pool, archaeologists uncovered a fine pavement of stones that resemble the first century street that runs to the west of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Discovery of column drums and column bases protruding from the pavement suggests that a colonnade ran along the pavement. 

The Pool of Siloam appears twice within the New Testament (Luke 13:4; and John 9:7). In John, Jesus instructed the blind man to wash the mud from his eyes in the pool to be healed. It served the water needs of ancient Jerusalem (along with other pools in the city), and it also served as the largest ritual immersion pool within the city. Jewish pilgrims, who needed to be ritually pure before entering the sacred precincts of the Temple (see Acts 21:26), could use the Pool of Siloam for ritual immersion. Its size and proximity to the Temple makes it a suitable location for the baptism of the three thousand who responded to Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). 

Archaeologists have suggested that the holes found on the steps leading into the pool might have supported screens made of wood or mats to provide privacy for those ritually immersing in the pool. Jewish ritual immersion, like what we find in the New Testament, required privacy as the person immersing did so in the nude, nothing can come between the bather and the water. 

During the first century, on the last night of the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam and brought to the altar of the Temple and poured out as a libation. The festival occurs at the end of the summer (around October), and the water libation requested rains from God (see John 7:37). This ceremony, known as the Beth HaShoeva, occurred at night. Jewish sources describe how pilgrims lined the route from the pool to the Temple carrying torches.

The first century Pool of Siloam likely covers the same pool mentioned in Nehemiah (3:15). Then, at a later time, the pool was enlarged and constructed in the manner of a Jewish ritual immersion bath. 

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

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

Read more

Weekly Devotional: Do You Consider the Poor?

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; you will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; you will sustain him on his sickbed” (Psalm 41:1-3 NKJV).

Our Western Christianity often relegates our spirituality solely to our own relationship with God. However, this is not the view of spirituality we find in Scripture. In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, our path of relationship to God lies through other people, particularly the poor and suffering.

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” This is a rather challenging and profound statement, because it ties our deliverance from God in the day of trouble to how we serve and take care of the poor.

Our treatment of others, especially the needy, influences God’s reaction to us. According to the psalmist, He protects those who consider the poor, sustaining them on their sickbed, healing them from their illness.

Some want to interpret the “beatitudes” in the Bible—those passages that begin with “blessed” or “happy”—as “I will be blessed and happy” when I do such a thing. However, that is not necessarily the meaning in the Bible. A person who lives as the “beatitudes” instruct walks in the ways of God. This is the path of obedience. That makes them blessed.

We meet God in the poor, needy, suffering, and broken in our world. Loving and caring for them shows that we recognize His image in them. God then responds by protecting and delivering us in our time of need.

Jesus also embraced this worldview. In Matthew 25:35-46, He identified the righteous as those who cared for the poor and suffering; they receive the reward of eternal life because they recognized God’s image in the “least of these.”

One of the hallmarks of the Christian faith since the beginning has been the care for the poor, needy, suffering, and broken. The Roman world of the first century did not care about the poor. Roman society had no moral obligation or mechanism to care for the poor and needy.

But Jesus’ movement did. His followers had a strong sense of obligation as given by their Lord, and they grew because of it.

Do we see God in the poor and suffering of our world? If not, we need to listen more carefully to the psalmist and look a little harder, because those who do are blessed of the Lord.


Father, give us eyes to see the poor and suffering around us. Move us to action because this is where You reside. Amen.

Read more

Shavuot (Pentecost): The Feast of Weeks

By Julie Stahl

“Observe the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the agricultural year. Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel” (Exodus 34:22-23).

“When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages” (Acts 2:1-4).

What’s the connection between God giving the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai and pouring out His Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts? They are both celebrated on the biblical Festival of Weeks or Shavuot, known in the New Testament as Pentecost.

Fifty days or seven weeks after Passover, Jewish people celebrate Shavuot (“weeks” in Hebrew). At the same time, Christians celebrate Pentecost (“fifty days” in Greek).

According to Jewish tradition, God called Moses up to Mount Sinai and gave him the Law—the two tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written—as well as the entire Torah on Shavuot.

Rabbi Welton adds, “Some Jewish people feel that the Torah is like the wedding ring between them and God in the spirit of the verse, ‘I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD’” (Hosea 2:19-20). 

He adds, “Each year on Shavuot we renew our nuptial vows to our Beloved. Many people have the custom to stay up all night, engaged in studying Torah to reenact the great excitement and love one has on their wedding night.”

Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion, comments: “There’re so many beautiful parallels that take place for Shavuot. Imagine Mount Sinai with the mountains above it, the covenant given to the people of Israel. This reminds us of a chuppah [“canopy”] over a bride and a groom. It tells us that God is making a covenant with His bride, Israel. There’s a marriage that takes place.”

“Shavuot is the culmination of a series of events,” Michael continues. “We’ve finally been freed from slavery in Egypt, we’ve wandered through the wilderness, and now we’ve come to Mount Sinai. It’s here that we enter into an intimate relationship with God, through the giving of His commandments and then the covenant that He gives to us, the Torah.”

He concludes: “So this event links us to Acts chapter one verse eight, where Jesus tells His disciples that they’re going to receive the Holy Spirit and take His message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Three times a year, God commanded the Jewish people to come up to Jerusalem, and one of those times was Shavuot.

“All your males are to appear three times a year before the Lord your God in the place He chooses: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths. No one is to appear before the Lord empty-handed” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

The New Testament records that Jews were gathered in Jerusalem from all over the world when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost.

Many Jewish people stay up all night on Shavuot to study the Scriptures. The Ten Commandments are read, and in many Jewish communities, the Book of Ruth is also read. Before dawn, those in Jerusalem head to the Western Wall on foot where they pray and bless God.

Shavuot has become a time of eating dairy foods, chief among them cheesecake!

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.

Read more

The U.S. Congress Has a Chance to Help Veterans in Our Country and in Israel 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

A bipartisan light sometimes shines in the United States Congress despite its numerous gridlocks. This holds true for an important bill that, if passed and signed by the President, will help military veterans in both the United States and Israel. Called the United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act (H.R. 852 and S. 221), it has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Michael Waltz (R-FL), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and in the Senate by Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

The bill would task the Secretary of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of State to cooperatively carry out a grant program between the United States and Israel to boost research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If Congress moves quickly, the bill could pass in June or July. 

How important is the United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act? Let’s look at some disturbing facts about PTSD’s tragic reality. It is defined as a “psychological condition caused by exposure to traumatic events that are outside the normal range of human experience.” The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that up to 20 percent of our veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—both men and women—suffer the agonizing effects of PTSD in a given year. These can include disabling flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. Some of our fine military personnel serve several tours of duty. It is a grim truth that many Gulf War veterans—and up to 30 percent of Vietnam veterans—still suffer. 

The consequences are extensive, not only for our military overseas but for their families back home who live with separation and stress, unsure if their loved ones will return. One statistic is heartbreaking and almost incomprehensible: According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 40,000 of our veterans are homeless. PTSD also contributes to mental illness and drug addictions. 

Some 7,000 miles away, our ally Israel celebrates its 73rd modern birthday tomorrow, May 14. Nevertheless, every birthday marks another year of trauma in conventional wars against the small nation and/or from terrorists. The Israeli military deals with PTSD from near-daily attacks on their own soil. Tel Aviv University’s National Center for Post Trauma and Resilience found that 5 to 8 percent of Israeli combat soldiers experience some form of PTSD, and during wartime that figure rises to between 15 and 20 percent. 

Modern Israel endures a specialized form of stress that I call “Continual Traumatic Stress.” This is a disturbing daily reality that millions of persecuted Christians worldwide can easily understand. Trauma has been part of the Jewish experience for centuries. But it took on a new dimension in 1948—when Israel officially became the world’s only modern Jewish state and found itself constantly under attack by hostile forces. 

Seventy-three years ago, a verse in Isaiah 66:8 came alive under God’s plans to restore Israel as He promised. “Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” Yes! It happened on May 14, 1948. Israelis celebrate the miracle, since it’s the only ancient country with an ancient language that has been revived in modern times. Yet despite that miraculous event, trauma is an ever-present part of Israel’s emotional landscape. 

On many trips to Israel, I have often visited southern Israel and talked with kibbutz residents who lived next door to Gaza. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all 8,000 of its Jewish citizens from Gaza. Then in 2007, the Gazans elected Hamas, a terror organization, to take over. Since that time, rockets—and even balloons and kites with attached explosives—are sent into southern Israel, literally a stone’s throw away in some places. Invasive tunnels were dug into Israel to let Palestinians launch deadly attacks against unsuspecting Israelis. The civilian stories I heard were heartbreaking, among them much-delayed potty training for their frightened children, never knowing when to take a shower since the Red Alert might go off at any time, or trying to figure out which young child to grab first to make a run for the safe room or a bus stop bomb shelter. All of southern Israel, not only the military, is dealing with traumatic stress—especially for the last 14 years with terrorists ruling Gaza. Non-stop stress.

However, there is good news to offset the bad. Research efforts to reduce PTSD have been underway for years in both the United States and Israel. Therapeutic solutions are taking hold to heal broken bodies, minds, and spirits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the world’s leading research and educational center on PTSD, with seven academic centers across the United States. Its headquarters are in White River Junction, Vermont. The VA describes PTSD as “a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.” A VA list of the most high-risk professions includes members of the military, police officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel. 

Israel is also a world leader in PTSD research and treatment. Several times, I’ve visited one of Israel’s key centers located in Tel Aviv for briefings. NATAL, the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center, is a multidisciplinary treatment and support organization for direct and indirect victims of trauma due to terror and war. Its extensive reach ranges from an emergency phone bank and courses to therapy of all kinds and programming options too long to list here. NATAL is already working cooperatively with many American groups, including Christian communities that are ministering to locals suffering from PTSD. 

In fact, the 117th Congress—House and Senate—might gain tremendous respect from the millions of Americans and their families who are dealing with PTSD in its many forms. COVID-19 has also intensified PTSD. Advancing research and treatments due to the large numbers of Americans and Israelis who are suffering is a noble endeavor.

 What can we do? Contact your members of Congress to pass the United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act. Click here to easily locate your members of Congress: Urge Congress to Support U.S.-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act ( It will be two minutes of your time well spent! 

Six hundred million of us pro-Israel evangelicals worldwide reach out with a resounding, “Happy modern 73rd birthday, Israel!” Let’s pray that soon we will also celebrate the passage of the United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act. 

Please join CBN Israel in praying for the people and nation of Israel, especially in light of this week’s tragic terror attacks:  

  • Pray for Israelis currently facing heightened tensions in southern Israel, Jerusalem, and other areas.
  • Pray for Israeli families and communities who have been impacted by this week’s onslaught of rocket attacks from Gaza terrorists.  
  • Pray for Israel’s leaders to make wise decisions to quell the violence and for Arab leaders to stop calling for terror. 
  • Pray that Americans will join up with two biblical lobbyists, Moses and Esther, who appealed to a Pharoah and a King! Let’s call Congress. 
  • Pray for the U.S. Congress, that members will move quickly to pass this significant legislation. 
  • Pray for military veterans and families, asking for God’s mercy and help. 

In closing, it will likely take a miracle for quick passage of this bill in Congress, and so please add your voice to make sure it passes. James 2:17 eloquently reminds us, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” 

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 now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

Read more