Blog

Is the Islamic Regime Active in the United States?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The Islamic Regime’s savagery against Israel comes in many forms—all right out in the open. Israel, in Iran’s crosshairs in the Middle East, is defending its land on the ground, in the air, and at sea against Iran’s proxies—who are literally a stone’s throw away. In the United States, Iran’s chaos manifests in another way: disguising itself in a covert cloak of social media, using online bots armed with repetitive software in fake accounts to stir up protestors on university campuses across the country.

Demonstrators who buy the lies not only become Hamas supporters, they aid the largest terror-sponsoring country in the world, Iran. The United States is a major target for these radical Islamic terror groups. The bots take the place of humans, but the apocalyptic Islamic imams control these messages of hate. Also using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Iran counterfeits reality with the goal of sowing hatred between everyone in America.

The assassination attempt on July 13 targeting former President Trump is a shocking example of conflict in our nation. Not that the failed assassin was directly prompted by Iranian disinformation, but no one questions the weaponization of words filling conversations and airwaves. Although millions witnessed a true miracle in real time when God saved Trump’s life, it is not wise to dismiss any future attempts against the Republican candidate for president.

A combination of quieting the weaponized words and focusing on policy, plus increasing security for viable candidates, is a necessity. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu weighed in with his valuable perspective: “This wasn’t just an attack on Donald Trump. … It was an attack on democracy.”

At a time like this, memorizing Proverbs 18:21 is a helpful antidote: “The tongue has the power of life and death.”

Last week Avril Haines, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, reported that Iran is hard-hitting “in their foreign influence efforts, seeking to stoke discord and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.” Haines also mentioned Iran’s financial support for some protest groups.

Surely weaponized words create a hostile atmosphere. Even so, our southern border is another Islamic strategy. A few statistics paint an alarming canvas of dangerous possibilities.

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, reported that 151 people on the terrorism watch list have been apprehended at the southwest border since 2021. In a thumbnail statistic for the month of October 2023 alone, Border Patrol caught four Iranians. Two were on a security threat watch list.

Expanded information about what are called “special interest countries” shows that more than 10,000 illegals from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, and Syria were arrested at the border between October 2021 and October 2023, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Among the illegals, 659 were Iranian. It is well-nigh impossible to know exactly how many Iranians or others are bent on destruction in our country. Given the lack of freedoms in Iran, though, it is easy to conclude that many of its citizens are simply escaping the Islamic Regime’s harsh rule.

Here is the other special interest countries’ breakdown between October 2021 and October 2023: Border agents encountered 6,386 nationals from Afghanistan, 3,153 from Egypt, and 538 from Syria. However, when adequately armed with one of Iran’s most-used weapons—Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which can be made right here in the U.S.—one Iranian terrorist with a single IED can cause mayhem and murder on our soil. The Islamic Regime, which is weaponizing the biblical heartland in Judea and Samaria among Palestinian terrorists, is already murdering Israeli soldiers with IEDs. One more piece of data since 2021 shows that more than 1.5 million “gotaways” have managed to avoid our overwhelmed border agents forced to operate under ineffective orders from the Biden administration. Were Iranian or other terrorists among them? Where are they now?

Diverging somewhat from Iran’s use of our southern border and their bot battle against the United States, the Israel Defense Forces’ cloud-computing network reports an alarming and astonishing figure. Since the Hamas War began on October 7, the IDF’s network has received over 3 billion cyberattacks! Also astonishing is that Israel intercepted all the attacks—resulting in no damage. Many of the attacks were focused on IDF troops fighting on the ground. Civilian computer systems were hacked, including the Israel State Archives that were attacked in November. Thankfully, as of June, they were finally back online.

Gaby Portnoy, Israel’s cyber defense czar, issued a warning that the nature of cyber attacks by Iran has been more aggressive, not just against Israel, but also against its own allies. Portnoy went on to say at Cyber Week 2024 (Tel Aviv University’s annual conference): “That makes Iranian cyber aggression an international problem, not only an Israeli one, and therefore the solution needs to be international.”

Portnoy adds, “We see the Imperial Kitten work [Imperial Kitten is an Iranian hacker group], operated by the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps], both in Israel and the U.S., where four activists and four straw companies were sanctioned for operating against federal facilities.” The cyber defense chief highlighted the fact that Iran is violating international privacy laws and conventions, “causing worldwide damage to innocent civilians.” Once again, it is plain to see how the Islamic Regime is multi-layered as the largest terror- sponsoring country in the world.

Our CBN Israel team invites you to pray with us using the anthem America the Beautiful as our prayer: “America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray with praises and thanks for God’s modern miracle to save Donald Trump’s life.
  • Pray for protesters who are often ignorant about the true nature and genocidal hatred behind Hamas, Hezbollah, and their sponsor, Iran.
  • Pray for all cyber security staff in Israel and the U.S. to maintain online vigilance.
  • Pray for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF to make wise decisions to enact victory against evil.

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

Read more

Providing Emergency Food and Supply Boxes for Northern Israel

Life in northern Israel just got harder. As tensions rise, attacks from Hezbollah are escalating on the nation’s northern border with Lebanon. And the threat of an all-out war looms large.

Hezbollah has already fired 5,000 missiles and drones from Lebanon into Israel. This Iranian-backed terror group is well-armed, with an estimated 150,000 rockets, drones, and other weapons that can be launched from land or sea—and target any point in Israel.

With that stark reality in mind, Israelis face the prospect of spending the summer in bomb shelters for weeks—possibly months. As a result, both the military and civilians have increased preparations. Israel’s food industry is stocking warehouses, and gearing up supermarket chains to be open 24/7 during emergencies.

But if rockets batter the north, and people can’t leave their bomb shelters to replenish food and necessities, how will they survive?

Thanks to friends like you, CBN Israel has partnered with Latet, the country’s largest distribution center. They have created an emergency preparedness box, with critical supplies needed in a bomb shelter. The box contains “combat rations,” with enough canned goods to last a few days. Plus, it includes electrical chargers, a transistor radio, batteries, and items for children and babies.

And CBN Israel staffers helped Latet pack these and other crucial essentials, while increasing support to them for tackling food insecurity. Donor gifts have provided an additional 104,000 food packages to those in need in just the first months after October 7.

Your support can deliver meals, lodging, and essential aid to thousands whose lives have been devastated by the war. In addition, you can bring ongoing help to immigrants, Holocaust survivors, single moms, and others who are vulnerable.

Please help us reach out to Israel’s people with God’s love at this crucial time!

GIVE TODAY

Read more

Biblical Israel: Hebron

By Marc Turnage

The city of Hebron played an important role, particularly within the Old Testament narratives. The city features prominently in the stories of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as Joshua and Caleb, and, eventually, David, who reigned for his first seven years at Hebron. 

The prominence of Hebron within the Bible stems from its location along the major north-south road through the central hill country of Israel. Located 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, Hebron sat at the juncture of two roadways that ascended from the basin of the biblical Negev. One came from Beersheva in the west, and the other came from Arad in the eastern Negev basin. These two roadways came together at Hebron, which sits at 3,050 feet above sea level, the highest point in the southern hill country, in the heart of the tribal territory of Judah. 

The hills and valleys around Hebron offer a fertile region with iron-rich soil that enables the growing of grape vineyards, olive trees, fruits, and terraced land for growing wheat and barley. Also, sheep and goats can be grazed in the surrounding region. 

The ancient site of Hebron (Tel Rumeideh) sits on roughly seven and a half acres. A spring on the lower east slope of the tel provided the water for the city. To the east of the biblical tel sits the ancient shrine of the Machpelah, or the Tomb of the Patriarchs. 

The building, whose basic structure dates to the first century B.C./A.D., is built over the cave that traditions ascribe that Abraham purchased to bury Sarah (Genesis 23). Tradition ascribes it as the burial location of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah. For this reason, the site has been revered since ancient times, and is a place of prayer for both Jews and Muslims. No significant excavations have taken place at the Machpelah. 

Hebron played an important role in the stories of Abraham, who lived at Hebron, pitching his tent at the “oaks of Mamre.” Sarah died at Hebron, and Abraham, who was a nomad, purchased land in order to bury her there. The Israelite spies spied out the land near Hebron (Numbers 13). 

The last reference to Hebron in the Bible is as the place of David’s initial reign as king of the tribe of Judah. When he was made king over all Israel, he moved from Hebron, where he had reigned for seven years, to Jerusalem where he ruled over the twelve tribes of Israel. David’s son Absalom instigated his rebellion against his father at Hebron (2 Samuel 15:7-10).

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.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

Read more

Weekly Devotional: The Secret of Contentment

“For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB).

The ups and downs of life can easily distract us and sap our energies if we let them. Paul experienced such ups and downs in his journeys; he knew plenty and want, being well-fed and hungry. Yet he learned that even in the midst of life’s rollercoaster, the key to remaining steady—to being content—was found in Christ.

Paul does not intend the statement, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” as many interpret this verse today. It does not mean that if we are believers, we can do anything. Rather, it means that in the midst of the twists and turns of life, the ups and the downs, Paul finds stability and contentment in Christ. That’s his secret for navigating life.

Jesus also noted how the cares of life can distract us, detouring what God wants to accomplish in our lives (see Luke 8:14). If we allow the cares of life to distract us, to dictate our mood or outlook, then our feelings will run our life; they will color our outlook and perspective. We will get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.

This can lead us to being tossed about like a boat on the water. It can also lead us to identifying our circumstances with our relationship to God. Both experiences are not what God wants for our lives; therefore, we find contentment in all things and can endure all things through Christ who strengthens us.

How do you manage the ups and downs of life? Do you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed? Then perhaps you have yet to find the true contentment that Paul spoke about, the realization that you can do all things, whether in want or plenty, whether hungry or well-fed, through Christ, the one who strengthens you.

If others look at us and see us riding the waves of life and our emotions following, are we demonstrating a confidence in the God of the universe as our Father? Perhaps that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

PRAYER
Father, in the journey of our lives, may we find contentment in all things. Let us not lose sight of You in plenty or in want but let us find our stability and contentment in You. Amen.

Read more

Palestinian Arabs: Turning the Biblical Heartland into a Hotbed of Hatred

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

A special box of beautiful and useful Israeli-made products arrives at our front door several times a year. Ordering merchandise made in Judea and Samaria is one way to support Israelis, especially now during the war being carried out by the Islamic Regime. Our box was shipped from Lev Haolam, a subscription gift box service operating in the Judean hills south of Jerusalem. The company bears a profound Hebrew name. In English it means heart of the world (Lev, heart and haolam, the world).

A few years ago, when I visited Shiloh in the Judean Hills of Samaria, a sense of awe filled my every step. This was the Tabernacle’s resting place for 369 years, built before the First Temple. Eli, Hanna, and Samuel walked in Shiloh, which is biblically described as Israel’s first capital. Shiloh’s Hebrew name means “tranquil” or “He Whose it is.”

But since October 7, attacks, assaults, and arson—supported and celebrated by most Arab Palestinians living in what the world calls the West Bank—are turning the heartland into a hotbed of hatred. The Islamic Republic of Iran is making the West Bank Palestinians into another powerful proxy.

The lackluster name West Bank is in essence a moniker, a nickname that holds little meaning except perhaps to a broad swath of politicians, leftists, Arabs, and the secular world. West Bank is simply the west bank or west side of the Jordan River in Israel. Keep in mind that the name West Bank—used since 1950—and the ancient names Judea and Samaria refer to the same location. However, most Jews and Christians who respect the Bible refer to it as Judea and Samaria or the biblical heartland.

Threats are mounting against the heartland’s 500,000 Jewish citizens. The U.S. government estimates that 3 million Palestinians live in Judea and Samaria. It is lopsided when it comes to 500,000 overwhelmingly peaceful Israeli citizens and far too many Arabs brainwashed with mind-altering hatred.

Cities in the biblical heartland that are governed by the Palestinian Authority—cities like Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, and Kalkilya—are now direct proxies of the Islamic Regime. It is another battle in Israel’s existential war against terror with an Iranian weapons pipeline that began in 2005. Simply put, Iran’s current route from Hezbollah in Lebanon, through Syria (which borders Israel and Jordan), means increasingly advanced weapons are smuggled into the West Bank. Now you may understand why, for almost 20 years, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were forced to go into Palestinian cities—and that formerly unsophisticated, disorganized attack locales have been transformed into Palestinian terror strongholds. The Islamic Regime is also committing a violation of Jordanian sovereignty, which has had a peace treaty with Israel since 1994.

In his July 8 article on IsraelHayom.com, David M. Weinberg outlines some of the statistics, writing that “more than 5,000 Palestinian bomb, car-ramming, knifing, and shooting attacks a year [are] aimed at killing Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria.” Thus far this year, the increasing terror threats since the Hamas War have required Israel to “eliminate 450 terrorists in Judea and Samaria” with “more than 60 Israeli brigade-level raids” and arrest 3,600 suspected terrorists. In fact, some 8,000 Israeli reservists are stationed nearby in the heartland.

As one of many smuggling examples, in March IDF and Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security) discovered an entire arsenal. They seized large fragmentation bombs, five anti-tank weapons, four grenade launchers, 31 rocket-propelled grenades, five advanced explosive mechanisms, 25 grenades, 50 guns, and more! IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) are favorites that Palestinians use to plant in the ground. These IEDs are not conventional warfare, and the terrorists are using them more frequently in the biblical heartland. Recently, two IDF soldiers were killed by these roadside bombs, which are planted inside Palestinian refugee camps, towns, and residential neighborhoods.

Israel’s security in the heartland is exceedingly worrisome when it comes to IEDs. These deadly devices are easy to make in most any size and can be buried even under concrete. The Times of Israel reports that since January, Palestinians have thrown more than 1,000 IEDs at Israeli troops. In addition, the IDF has disarmed more than 50 weapons labs and found and disarmed 150 IEDs. The IDF is now pointedly and quickly ramping up the formerly porous Jordanian-Israeli border with, among other assets, a Military Intelligence Satellite Unit 9900 in the heartland. In April’s Iranian barrage of drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles against Israel, the Jordanians helped the U.S., UK, France, and Israel deflect 99 percent of the torrent, realizing that they themselves were in the danger zone.

The Palestinian terrorists are fast becoming more proficient in their goal to murder Jewish men, women, and children. The years-long grassroots attacks, definitely a terrible reality, are quickly becoming more of a force to be reckoned with. In addition, the word complexity takes on another dimension when it comes to the geographical makeup of Judea and Samaria. Here in the biblical heartland, Jewish and Palestinian towns and villages are closely interwoven within irregularly shaped and geographically unorganized enclaves of Arabs and Jews. 

With hundreds of thousands of active and reserve soldiers defending Israel, the biblical heartland is more vulnerable than ever—especially in their puzzle-piece communities of Arabs and Jews. Even the women, as an example, are stepping into their security gap by arming themselves and training on the gun ranges. Several of the women voiced this necessity: “My husband was conscripted, and I needed a tool to save my children.” Another observed, “It’s only a matter of time before they [terrorists] come and it won’t surprise me. I’ll do everything not to be slaughtered in bed.” An additional comment referred to the Bible, “I decided to become a fighter, like women from our history.”

One of the skilled women trainers said that every time she comes to the gun ranges, she thinks to herself, “It is in the name of God, for my home and family.” As a mother, that would be my reasoning too. And every time I receive and touch products from Israel’s heartland, I am interacting with God’s eternal Holy Land where in the Bible Samaria is mentioned 117 times and Judea, 817 times.

Claims made about Judea and Samaria belonging to Arabs are not a fact in reliable history books, most especially in the Bible, which outlines God’s land deed to the Jews’ ancestral homeland. The Holy Land remains as “God’s, Whose it is.” One day, in the Sovereign of the Universe’s timing, tranquility will reign!

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to join us this week to pray by recalling God’s ironclad promise to Israel: “This is what the LORD says, He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD Almighty is His name: ‘Only if these decrees vanish from My sight,’ declares the LORD, ‘will Israel ever cease being a nation before Me’” (Jeremiah 31:35–36).

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for widespread security for all Jewish citizens in Judea and Samaria.
  • Pray for IDF success to stop weapons smuggling into Palestinian-run towns.
  • Pray for Israel as it ramps up its defenses against Hezbollah on its northern border.
  • Pray for more Christians to order products from Judea and Samaria.
  • Pray for Jordan’s continuing cooperation with Israel.

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

Read more

New Immigrant: Natalia’s Story

When Natalia, a single mom, escaped the Ukraine war, she fled to Israel with her two daughters, and her 10-year-old special needs son Dima. She recalls, “The situation back home was tense as the fighting continued. I decided to try to give my children a better future.”

Dima was diagnosed at 3 months old with cerebral palsy, and was in the hospital every month and half. The move to Israel offered him better medical care. Yet, Natalia still faced mobility challenges, saying, “We were able to get into a special school. But to transport Dima, we needed a specialized wheelchair. Without it, I had to take him to school by myself.”

And because of their refugee status, she could not get health insurance to cover the wheelchair costs. Alone in a new country, where could she turn?

Gratefully, friends like you were there for this young family. Through CBN Israel, donors provided a wheelchair, along with groceries and household essentials. Natalia adds, “We also needed a special bathing chair. I had trouble giving my son baths because he can’t sit up on his own. It was stressful for him, and he would be scared. Now it’ll be a lot easier!” Thanks to our caring donors, she says, “I have hope for the future. You have restored my faith in humanity.”

And your gifts to CBN Israel can give hope and help to others who are struggling—to war victims, elderly Holocaust survivors, lone soldiers, and more. Thousands across Israel are in crisis situations. Your support can bring nutritious meals, housing, and financial assistance to those in need.

Please join us in blessing Israel’s people at this crucial time!

GIVE TODAY

Read more

Biblical Israel: City of David

By Marc Turnage

The first seven and a half years that David reigned, he reigned in Hebron, which sat in the heart of the tribal territory of Judah, David’s tribe (2 Samuel 5:5). As he expanded his rule to all of Israel, he decided to conquer the city of Jerusalem, which until this time was ruled by the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-10). Why did David select this city? 

Geographically it sat off the major north-south route through the central hill country; it did not have natural roads leading east or west from it. He selected it, however, due to its location. The city, on its southern end, was bounded by the Hinnom Valley, which formed the boundary between the tribal territory of Benjamin (Saul’s tribe) and Judah (David’s tribe). Also, by virtue of it not being captured by the Israelites, no tribe could lay exclusive claim to the city. It offered a place where he could consolidate the political and religious center of his kingdom.

The city of Jerusalem that David conquered covered about eleven acres. It sat on what is known as the eastern hill. To its east, stood the Mount of Olives, which is separated from the eastern hill by the Kidron Valley. To its west stands the western hill, which is separated from the eastern hill by a valley known as the Tyrpoean Valley. To its south lies the Hinnom Valley. To its north lay the upper heights of the eastern hill, where Solomon built his palace and the Temple. 

The Bible identifies the eastern hill, specifically the northern portions, as Mount Zion. This can be confusing for modern visitors to Jerusalem because in the Byzantine period (4th-6th centuries A.D.) the western hill was mistakenly identified as Mount Zion, and that nomenclature has stuck. In the Bible, however, the eastern hill, especially its northern area, where the Temple came to be built, was referred to as Mount Zion.

Today, the eastern hill sits outside of the Old City walls, even though it is the oldest part of Jerusalem. It is referred to as the City of David. As we hear in Psalm 125, the mountains surround Jerusalem; while the psalm brings to our minds the beautiful image of God surrounding his people, strategically, this was to Jerusalem’s detriment. On all sides of the eastern hill, hills higher than it surround it. So why was the city built here? Because of its water source, the Gihon Spring. This karstic spring continues to flow even today. Recent excavations have uncovered a large fortification built around the spring to protect it. 

Excavations of the City of David have uncovered remains dating back over four thousand years. The excavations of the City of David reflect the history of the city; its role as the capital of the kingdom of Judah; its destruction by the Babylonians; its smaller size in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Its water systems. Structures from the first century, and evidence of its destruction by the Romans in A.D. 70. It was here that the exiles remembered when they were dispersed and longed to return (Psalm 137).

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.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

Read more

Weekly Devotional: The Value of One

All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” So He told them this parable: “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance (Luke 15:1-7 HCSB).

We often read this parable of Jesus identifying Him as the shepherd and ourselves as the one, lost sheep that the shepherd leaves the 99 to find. While such an interpretation makes us feel good and valued, it actually misses Jesus’ point. He told this parable to explain to the Pharisees who complained about His association eating with sinners (i.e., those who were ritually impure). 

In it He expressed the value of even one lost sheep to the shepherd, with the goal of His listeners understanding the value of one to God—and, by extension, the value that each one, even the lost, should have to them.

The purpose of the parable was not to make the “sinners” feel good, but rather to reframe the perspective of the critics and calling upon them to behave in a manner similar to how God behaves—valuing the one. 

When we read this parable, we should find ourselves in the position of Jesus’ original listeners, those who needed to be reminded that God values the one. And, in the same manner that the shepherd sought out the one, lost sheep, we too should seek those who are far away from God.

Without reading too much into the parable, the shepherd sought the sheep, not the other way around. The shepherd rejoiced at finding the sheep, and he didn’t scorn it or chastise it. We tend to read the Bible placing ourselves in the position of the hero or the one God reaches out to; when we do, we often make our faith very self-centered.

The purpose of this parable sought to confront the Pharisees with the reality of the value that God places on the one. The hoped-for response was a change in their actions that came to value the lost one instead of condemning them.

Are we seeking out the lost with the sincere hope that they will return to God? Do we rejoice upon finding them? Do we value the one in the same way that God does? If not, then we need to hear the words of Jesus afresh and anew today.

PRAYER

Father, You value the one. You seek the one. You call the one to return to You. May we act as You act manifesting Your mercy and forgiveness in our world. Amen.

Read more

Shattered Yet Resilient: Israel’s Ongoing Trauma

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Psychological traumas remain ever-present among Israel’s 7.4 million-plus Jewish population. That’s why, month after month, mental health professionals in Israel are busy developing new research and programs to meet the needs of the small, traumatized nation.

After October 7, 2023, Israel’s citizens experienced a new kind of trauma when Hamas broke through Israel’s complex border security systems, murdered 1,200 Israelis, and kidnapped around 250 hostages. It was a day when Israelis suffered the most egregious losses in one 24-hour period since the Holocaust, this time on their own soil.

Based on ancient Jewish history in the hymnbook of Israel, King David describes his own mental health in Psalm 120:6-7: “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” In Psalm 31:9-24 David asks God for mercy, saying in verses 10 and 13, “I am consumed by anguish. … I hear many whispering ‘terror on every side.’” And herein some of David’s long-ago assessments of his life could easily apply to Israelis living next to Hamas and Hezbollah—who “hate peace.”

During an enlightening panel at Israel’s Ono Academic College, PhD psychologist and author Pamela Paresky described the October 7 trauma as “unique” and wondered if another term might be more fitting than “trauma.” For example, “shattering” conveys a stronger meaning than the word “trauma,” she stated. Paresky observed that Israelis are also not allowing terrorists to rob them of their joy, but instead are filled with “a firm determination to cherish life and live life to its fullest.” Adding that “Jews are strongest” after their enemies try to break them, she addressed the lack of critical thinking among those currently protesting Israel’s response to Hamas—especially on university campuses where they rely on “logical inversions” that create oppressors and victims, naming Jews as the oppressors.

As an aside to Israel’s increasing mental health initiatives, I discovered a phrase coined by the late actor Mark Venturini. While it had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, it is descriptive of worldwide Jew hatred: “The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.” Despite terrorists’ body cams recording hours of horrors—and 4,000 journalists viewing these—millions of minds are blind despite the evidence so many have witnessed with their own eyes. Clearly, mainstream media has aided and abetted the whipped-up emotional responses by locking into, for example, the Hamas Health Ministry’s inflated statistics about Palestinian deaths and instantly accusing Israel of inhumane acts rather than Hamas, a world-designated terror organization backed by the Islamic regime.   

Despite those lies and accusations, the classic Israeli response to tragedy and crisis—and their persistent search for solutions—often results in creative new ways not only to address the Jewish nation’s unique challenges but also in discoveries that bless the world. One solution undertaken by Hebrew University is its Institute for Traumatic Stress and Recovery. Their pioneering research to address trauma among Israeli children held hostage in Gaza could someday benefit children around the world—children who have been scarred by traumatic events of violence or natural disasters.

Professor Asher Ben-Arieh, one of Israel’s highly regarded experts in childhood trauma, remarked about the hostage children, “These experiences are beyond anything we have seen.” Part of the National Task Force to care for children who were abducted, Ben-Arieh mentions that the Hebrew University program urgently needs complete funding “for a stable center to think out of the box,” he said. “And we need it urgently. We’re not even post trauma. We are not past this. It’s still happening!”

It is disturbing to read the National Task Force’s descriptions of six groups of vulnerable children: child hostages; those who witnessed severe violence and murders; newly orphaned children; children who lost a parent, sibling, or other relatives; children whose friends or peers were killed or kidnapped; and children displaced from their homes. (About 200,000 Israelis and many thousands of children are internal refugees displaced for security reasons due to Hamas and Hezbollah’s aggression.)

Ben-Arieh noted than many parents on October 7 could not save their children. He pointed out, “We have new forms of trauma that we don’t understand.” Updated training for mental health professionals is also part of Israel’s efforts to provide help and comfort. Amid reports that hundreds of thousands of Israelis are in acute psychological distress, an outpouring of those in counseling-related professions have volunteered to become involved. Metiv-Israel Psychotrauma Center in Jerusalem calls such training “mental health first-aid,” where PTSD specialists are instructing other psychologists who want to help but don’t know how. An accredited course is now in place to train psychologists who hold at least a master’s degree.

After reading about Israel’s traumas, if you are compelled to act, The Israel Forever Foundation offers letter writing, a small action that carries big results of encouragement. To participate in their Letters of Friendship program, click here. Choose whom to write to—a lone soldier, a terror victim, Holocaust survivor, or someone with special needs. Simply submit on their website—and your solidarity blessing is on its way.

We welcome you this week to join with our CBN Israel team to pray with King David these closing verses from Psalm 31:14-16. “But as for me, I trust in You, LORD, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me for Your mercies’ sake.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for Israel’s efforts to help those suffering from trauma and PTSD.
  • Pray for the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza and comfort for their families.
  • Pray for the safety and success of IDF soldiers as they defend their nation and people.
  • Pray for the IDF to be vigilant and cautious in detecting Hamas-planted IEDs.
  • Pray for the thousands of wounded soldiers and their families.
  • Pray for families who are grieving the deaths of their soldiers, now numbering 319.

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

Read more

Families Receive Wartime Trauma Care and Respite

The October 7th Hamas invasion and continuing war have left many casualties. But one group still feeling the effects has been the families of those who were called up to serve in Gaza.

Husbands were suddenly sent to war, leaving their wives to manage the home and kids alone—while still working regular jobs, and trying to calm their children’s fears and anxieties.

“Most civilians aren’t equipped to deal with such intense circumstances, and it has created a crisis for many in that country,” says Arik Pelled, head of CBN Israel’s Family Department.

Fortunately, friends like you are giving these families a much-needed respite. Through CBN Israel, donors sponsored a weekend retreat in Galilee for 20 families who experienced separation due to the war. They enjoyed time in a restful setting—while a professional psychologist and a parenting coach provided trauma counseling, as well as a listening ear.

Mothers learned how to cope with loneliness and anxiety—and husbands discovered about transitioning from a war setting (perhaps with PTSD) back to mundane daily tasks. Parents reconnected with their kids, while getting vital alone time as a couple. More retreats are planned in the coming months—with the next one hosting 30 new families.

One of the wives said, “Our family went through a difficult time, when Yehuda was called to serve in the war for a long time—more than four months—during which he served in Gaza and was not allowed to make contact. The uncertainty made it difficult for us as a family.”

She thanked donors for a weekend that “wrapped us in warmth and love,” saying, “We knew we were in good hands.”

And your gifts to CBN Israel can also bring food, lodging, and essentials to many other victims of the war—as well as giving ongoing aid to Holocaust survivors, single moms, and refugees.

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

GIVE TODAY

Read more