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Victims of Terrorism: Irena and Suzanna’s Story

The air was filled with red-alert sirens. People were frantically rushing to nearby bomb shelters. This was Irena’s life in the city of Holon near Tel Aviv, during a conflict with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. She was 48, a single mother to her daughter Suzanna—and their city was in the flight path of the rockets that bombarded their community. 

One day, Suzanna feared for her mother’s safety, and begged her to stay home from work. But Irena was needed on the job. On her way there, the sirens wailed, and she noticed a mother trying to get her two children out of the car to safety. Irena stopped and ran with them for shelter, but a missile exploded. The blast ripped through Irena’s leg, as shrapnel pierced her head and back.

Rushed to the hospital, Irena was in critical condition. They stabilized her, amputating her leg to save her life. Still, she was in serious condition, under heavy medication, battling infections and comas, and due for another operation. 

But friends like you were there, providing them with emergency relief funds—as well as offering trauma counseling. Suzanna said gratefully, “Thank you… We were so in need of money after Mom was hurt. I could not pay her rent and bills and would worry about what would happen.” 

Your gift to CBN Israel can provide help to many terror victims—as well as Holocaust survivors, refugees, single mothers, lone soldiers, and more. The pandemic has intensified the needs across the Holy Land. Your generous support can bring groceries, housing, financial aid, and essentials to the hurting. 

Please join us in reaching out today!

GIVE TODAY

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Biblical Israel: Sea of Galilee 

By Marc Turnage

The Sea of Galilee is the lowest freshwater lake on earth. It sits 600 feet below sea level. It is a lake, and not a sea; thus, the Evangelist Luke correctly describes it often as a lake (5:1; 8:22, 33). 

The Lake of Galilee sits in the Jordan River Valley, which is part of the Syro-African Rift Valley. The Jordan River flows through the lake from the north where its three headwaters converge south of the ancient site of Dan to form the Jordan River and flow south into the lake. The river continues out of the south end of the lake on its southward journey towards the Dead Sea. The modern exit of the Jordan River on the south end of the lake is not the ancient exit of the river; the modern exit was created for the dam used to regulate the flow of water out of the lake.

Hills surround the lake on its western, northern, and eastern sides. To its south, one finds the continuation of the Jordan River Valley. On its northwest and northeast corners sit two fertile valleys into which water runoff from the surrounding hills flow. The northwest valley is known as the Gennesar Valley, which the first century Jewish historian Josephus says was the name given to the lake by the locals (see Luke 5:1). The valley on the northeast side of the lake is the Bethsaida Valley, so called for the ancient site of Bethsaida, the home of Jesus’ disciples Peter, Philip, and Andrew, which was located in the valley along the shoreline of the lake. 

The Bethsaida Valley, while fertile, has three large water tributaries, including the Jordan River, flow through it, which made it more challenging for travel by foot. Two of these tributaries flow out of the Golan Heights feeding the water of the lake along with the Jordan River. Between the Gennesar Valley and Bethsaida Valley ninety-five percent of Jesus’ ministry recorded in the Gospels took place. He fed the 5,000 in the Bethsaida Valley (Luke 9:10). Within this area, one finds the villages of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida, which Jesus cursed (Luke 10:13-16). 

South of the Gennesar Valley sits the modern city of Tiberias, which was built by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, in the year 19-20 A.D. Antipas moved his administration from Sepphoris to Tiberias, which was where he resided during the ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist. 

The lake itself provided a fishing industry for the locals. The water off the Bethsaida Valley provided excellent fishing, especially for the local tilapia. People used the lake not only for fishing, but also for travel. Both Josephus and the Gospels indicate that people traveled around the lake by boat much more than they did by foot.

The Gospels record the sudden storms that occur on the lake. The topography of the surrounding hills and canyons create wind funnels across the lake, particularly the northern part of the lake. Storms on the Lake of Galilee are serious, especially the wind storms that blow in from the east off the Golan Heights down onto the lake. The easterly wind storms that hit the land of Israel are quite severe, and even in the present day, can cause damage to property and agriculture, even the loss of life. These easterly winds are known as sharkia, from the Arabic “shark” (east). They are most prevalent from October-May. They turn the lake’s waters into churning, violent swells, easily 10 to 12 feet high. 

The Lake of Galilee provides the setting for many of the stories in the Gospels, sayings and actions of Jesus. On its shores, He taught the people about the kingdom of Heaven and performed many miracles. 

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

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Weekly Devotional: A Broken Spirit

“My spirit is broken, days are cut short, the grave awaits me. Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility” (Job 17:1 NIV).

Despair is a common human emotion. As finite beings, we often struggle to see beyond the moment, and when circumstances overwhelm us, we can all too easily find our emotions swept away. The floodwaters come over us, and we despair. And that’s okay—as long as we don’t stay there.

The dreadful circumstances in Job’s life overwhelmed him. He didn’t feel like being “spiritual”; the reality he was facing was too heavy. Yet, he didn’t try to hide what he felt; he embraced it. He shared it with his friends: “My spirit is broken, days are cut short, the grave awaits me.”

Have you ever been there? Don’t compare yourself to Job or anyone else. Your worst day is your worst day. Have you been there? 

It’s okay. We all have. Having faith does not mean that we do not experience despair. Sometimes the most honest part of our faith can be articulating our despair. Job was done, his spirit broken. He looked toward the grave. He felt he couldn’t do anymore. His friends offered little help. Their comfort did little. 

We need to learn to find God in our despair. That does not mean we ignore it. We can’t assume that if we don’t acknowledge it, it will go away. It won’t. Our despair stems from being overwhelmed in the moment. It’s an easy thing to do when you’re finite. That’s why we need to find God in our despair. The One who is infinite. 

When you experience despair, all feels lost. Our hopes, our dreams, everything seems gone. Job was honest about how he felt. God eventually answered him. God didn’t give him a step-by-step program to get out of his despair. God entered and answered Job in his despair. 

When we find ourselves overwhelmed by despair, we can turn our back on God. It’s easy to do. The challenge is to remain facing toward God even in the midst of our despair and feelings of brokenness. That’s the key—which way we’re facing. 

Our life may be desolate for a time, but if we face God, He can redeem those moments. He can answer us out of eternity. 

PRAYER

Father, even in the midst of our deepest despair and desolation, may we turn our faces toward You. Amen.

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Iran Negotiations 2022: Landmark or Land Mine? 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

President Obama and Vice President Biden viewed their 2015 Iran deal as a landmark agreement, believing it to be the best way to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The last seven years, however, have shown it to be quite ill conceived—a veritable land mine, in fact. And there’s plenty of blame to go around concerning the “bad Iran deal,” as it came to be known among many Americans and Israelis. 

In simple terms, U.S. negotiators incorrectly used a foreign policy strategy of “carrots and sticks,” the idea that the correct blend of incentives and punishments can convince nations to alter their policies and behavior. Unfortunately, the American team wanted to believe that Iran would keep any agreements made, even though Iran is the world’s most prolific purveyor and state sponsor of terrorism. U.S. negotiators offered Iran a ton of carrots first, often neglecting the sticks in its diplomatic basket. 

John F. Kennedy once observed, “There comes a point where you see no evidence that the carrot and diplomacy are working.” Yet the Iran negotiators, past and present, have consistently ignored the most reliable indicator of Iran’s compliance. Prominent in Shia Islam’s religious teaching—which Iran follows—is the concept of taqiyya (dissimulation and concealment). Deception and lies are allowed when dealing with enemies according to the Quran.

In Iran’s long litany of complaints against the two allies, the U.S. is called the “Big Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan.” But Iran’s decades of threats against the U.S. and Israel are not merely words. Today, 43 years later, Iran still celebrates both its 1979 Islamic Revolution victory and its takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran that same year, when more than 50 Americans were held hostage for 444 days. “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are often-shouted chants at these celebrations. 

Among those attending this year’s festivities were foreign ministers from communist Cuba and from Venezuela, which is run by a dictator who has ruined the once-wealthy nation. Both nations are allies of Iran. It is said that 1,500 Iranian cities and 30,000 villages celebrated this year’s anniversary victory. Why would so many join in the celebrations, since the Iranian leadership spends so much on its nuclear quest rather than everyday needs of its citizens?

In fact, Radio Free Europe reports that teachers in more than 100 Iranian cities are protesting their low wages. In 2017, citizens protested the high cost of living; in 2019, protests were against gasoline prices; in 2021, the concern was water shortages. Despite facing possible arrest, imprisonment, and shootings, the protestors continue their uprisings. In a document leaked from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Radio Free Europe’s Radio Farda said the rising discontent in Iran might be nearing a “state of explosion.” They also reported that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei admitted: “U.S. sanctions were not the only cause of Iran’s economic woes.” He went on to say that government mismanagement was a problem, blaming bad decisions by previous governments.

Taqiyya—concealment—is not the only facet of Iran’s negotiating strategy. Iran’s apocalyptic Imams view their highest goal as obeying Allah. That means welcoming their Islamic religious leader, the 12th Imam (Mahdi in Arabic), to establish a worldwide caliphate in which everyone becomes Muslim. Most Shiite Muslims believe that the 12th Imam, who was born in 868 A.D., was put into hiding in 941 A.D. and will remain there until judgment day. That makes Christianity and Judaism targets, which also has significant repercussions for the U.S. and Israel.

Overlooking Iran’s compelling force of Shiite religion, the U.S. and other nations are feverishly working to resurrect the 2015 Iran deal in Vienna, Austria. Negotiators are currently on the eighth round of talks since April 2021, when the Biden administration reopened them. Between Iran, France, Germany, China, Britain, and Russia, the talks are like a clever game of chess. Although Iran and India argue about who invented chess (ancient Persian writings mention chess), Iran is an expert with clever hidden strategies played with some who desperately want a deal no matter what. Iranian leaders are skilled at taking advantage of Western appeasement. 

Unwilling to comprehend and/or investigate Iran’s religious motivation for gaining world superiority, the negotiating nations cannot seem to understand that they are not dealing with a country that genuinely wants peace. The European Union serves as the chair; Communist China and Russia have seats at the table. The U.S. is only indirectly involved because Iran refuses direct talks with the U.S.—they will not sit at the same table. Now, Britain and France function as go-betweens with the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, one of the lead negotiators in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Unrest is showing on the U.S. team, and rightly so. On January 24, Richard Nephew, the U.S. deputy special envoy for Iran, left the negotiating team because he considers that tougher talks are crucial to making progress. The Hill reports that two other unnamed members of the team may resign for the same reason.

In closing, when a Shiite Muslim theocracy is interested in taking over the world with a nuclear threat in its arsenal, we can be sure that its people will remain at risk. On February 9, All Arab News reported more troubles about Iran, which is bragging about its Khaybar-Shekan missile that travels 900 miles. It has been dubbed a “castle buster,” referring to a battle where Muslims overran a Jewish castle hundreds of years ago. The “castle buster” can reach Israel and some of our U.S. bases in the region. 

Lieutenant General Michael Kurilla, the nominee to lead U.S. Central Command, testified in Congress: “Renewed [JCPOA] negotiation efforts must consider the significant changes that have occurred in the security and geopolitical environments since the 2018 American withdrawal from the agreement.” He also noted that the Biden administration’s sanctions waiver to Iran means that “Iran will increase its support of proxy and terrorist groups that target U.S. forces in the region.” That means Yemen, Syria, Hezbollah, Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. 

Let us pray together that the Vienna negotiators will remove the basket of carrots for now, adhere to Lt. Gen. Kurilla’s briefing, and restrict Iran’s missile development. Why? One of the biggest carrots in the “bad” 2015 Iran deal did not include Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program. No restrictions! A wide-open path to harming Israel and our military personnel in the region! Will Iran achieve nuclear-tipped missiles next? 

We invite you to join CBN Israel this week to pray for Israel, Iran, and the Middle East:

  • Pray for Iran’s citizens who are suffering oppression from their leaders.
  • Pray for protection for the many Iranians who are meeting our Lord Jesus. 
  • Pray for the current negotiators to use wisdom and face realities about Iran. 
  • Pray for Israel’s contingency plans to stop Iran from “going nuclear.”
  • Pray for the continued success of the Abraham Accords peace agreement and for more nations within the Middle East to join. 

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 a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Biblical Israel: Dan Spring 

By Marc Turnage

The land of Israel did not merely provide the stage upon which biblical events too place, its flora, fauna, climate, and geology provide the images, metaphors, and vocabulary that biblical writers used frequently to communicate their message whether in narrative, poetry, or prophecy.

There are places within Israel today where one can stand within the geography used by the biblical writers and feel and hear, within the setting, the message they sought to communicate. The Dan Spring is one of those places. 

The spring acquires its name from the biblical site of Dan, the northernmost city within biblical Israel. Located at the base of the foothills of Mount Hermon, it provides the largest of the three springs whose tributaries come together south of the site of Dan to form the Jordan River.

The Dan Spring produces roughly 240 million cubic meters per year. With such a large amount of water coming from the spring, especially in the winter and spring of the year when the rains and snowmelt add to it, the sound of the Dan tributary roars as it flows towards the meeting point to form the Jordan.

The psalmists use this setting and the sound created by the waters in a couple places. Psalm 29 proclaims: “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (29:2-9; emphasis added). 

The highlighted bold type shows the psalmist’s use of the waters of the Dan spring to describe the voice and glory of the Lord. How do we know he meant the Dan Spring? Because of the geographic detail provided, which is italicized. These locations—Lebanon, Sirion, and Kadesh—surround the northern area of Israel and the Dan Spring.

When the psalmist listened to the raging waters of the spring and its tributary, he found himself moved to comparison with the voice and glory of the Lord. He communicated his message through the physical setting of the Dan Spring and the surrounding countryside.

In Psalm 42, we find another use of the Dan Spring for the psalmist’s poetry: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? … My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me” (42:1-7; emphasis added). 

The psalmist begins by likening his desire for God to a deer craving the streams of water from springs, like the Dan. Although lush with vegetation, the summer heat and humidity of the region of the Dan Spring is difficult for animals and humans. He finds himself in the region of the Dan Spring (the italicized portions) and feels overwhelmed with the roar of the gushing spring. 

Traveling to the land of Israel is more than visiting sites. It should transform how we read and interact with the physical reality of the land of the Bible.

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

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Weekly Devotional: When Adversity Strikes

“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:29-31 NKJV).

When the chief priests of Jerusalem commanded Peter and John to no longer speak in Jesus’ name, the two disciples had a choice to make. They went to their community and together they prayed. 

They did not pray for favor with the rulers. They did not pray for deliverance. They did not pray for protection. They prayed for boldness to continue in their way. They asked God to show forth His glory through signs and wonders. As a result of their prayer, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word with boldness. 

How do you respond to adversity? Do you seek a way out or the removal of the problem? The followers of Jesus did not see adversity as a problem to be avoided or from which to be delivered. They did not reason, “If we just gained favor with the ruling powers.” Rather, they sought to stay their course faithfully in doing what God had called them to do. 

Adversity does not mean we are out of God’s will, nor should we seek to avoid it. They sought boldness to do the task they had been given and believed that ultimately God would glorify Himself and His servant Jesus. 

When you find yourself confronted with adversity, how do you pray? Our true submission to God seeks His glory above our comfort; it submits to the challenges we face, recognizing that how we handle them provides an opportunity for Him to show forth His wonders. 

The followers of Jesus did not pray a prayer that focused on themselves. They could have—they had just been threatened. Rather, they sought God to glorify Himself through them, and they offered themselves as vessels for Him to use for that purpose.  

Our daily prayer should be that in our lives, no matter the situation or adversity we face, God will glorify Himself.

PRAYER

Father, glorify Your name through our lives. No matter the situation, we will stay faithful to You; glorify Yourself in this world through us. Amen.

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United Nations: No Valentines for Israel

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

For Valentine’s Day this past Monday, Americans rushed to buy flowers, candy, and greeting cards for loved ones. That same day, the United Nations watchdog, UN Watch, sent another kind of greeting calling out the recently established Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (COI) at the United Nations. The so-called Commission puts Israel under a magnifying glass of constant investigation. The COI’s permanent inquiry has singled out Israel among the 193 U.N. members; no other nation has been forced to tolerate this extraordinary level of destructive attention. Not North Korea, not China, not Iran. Take a moment to absorb this fact: Since 2015, the U.N. has condemned Israel an unprecedented 112 times, North Korea, 6, and Iran, a paltry 5.

UN Watch, an independent non-governmental organization, is an excellent watchdog of U.N. activities. Canadian-born lawyer Hillel Neuer is the executive director of the organization, which was founded in 1993 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. About the COI, Neuer explains, “It is unlimited in its scope. … [It is] systemic discrimination … to accuse Israel of being a racist state.” The COI’s three-member team was allocated several million dollars and a staff of 20 to prepare its first report due in June 2022. 

Neuer has launched an online petition calling on Navi Pillay, the chair of the Commission of Inquiry, to resign. With signatures increasing, you may want to add your signature and consider it a Valentine to Israel! UN Watch has plenty of facts in its legal brief, a 30-page complaint, to justify its demand for Pillay’s resignation. She is a former U.N. human rights commissioner and a retired South African judge. However, the impressive titles cannot hide the underlying facts that prove her inability to run the commission with a fair and unbiased perspective. 

The first red flag appeared early on with Pillay’s omission of prior statements she’s made about Israel that are sure to indicate her opinions going forward. International law requires fact finders to be impartial. Here is a small sample of Pillay’s opinions. She signed a petition, “Sanction Apartheid Israel,” that was authored by the South Africa Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Coalition. A UN Watch study revealed that between September 2008 and June 2010, Pillay made “nine [negative] statements on Israel, the only democracy in the region, but none on the human rights violations of 146 countries, including nothing on such gross violators as North Korea … and Sudan.” 

Further, Pillay describes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “inhuman.” In a June 2021 letter to President Biden, she accused Israel of “domination and oppression of the Palestinian people.” It is obvious that Pillay’s selection to the COI was not based on fairness. The appointee selection guarantees the United Nations’ hoped-for result as another series of condemnations and denigration against the world’s only Jewish state. Recusing herself is the right action to take.

While exploring the COI, let us take a short tour of the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). CNSNews reported last October in the lead-up to HRC elections that the number of “free” nations on the HRC is shrinking. Out of 47 nations, only 14 are considered “free.” Those designated “not free” include the likes of China, Cuba, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Venezuela. 

In these nations and others like them, human “wrongs” rule the day, not human rights. Having their representatives sitting at the table in the COI’s Geneva, Switzerland, headquarters seems like a travesty.  

Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2019, recalled her unsuccessful efforts to reform the HRC: “Right now, you have every murderer, dictator and thief on that council.” That remains true. 

The United Nations itself lists these as basic rights for every human being: the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work, and education. The World Population clock changes every second, but at this writing it is 7.9 billion people. The Thompson Reuters Foundation in 2016 estimated that “a third of the world” lives in nations without freedoms. These numbers are all but incomprehensible. 

Nevertheless, those of us who enjoy the blessings of living in freedom have a duty in following our Lord to bless others as we are able. Remembering Jesus’ affirmation of the widow’s mite lets us know His pleasure when we give to others, especially sacrificially. And Psalm 82:3 urges us to “Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Excellent organizations help provide human rights by giving humanitarian aid throughout the world. CBN’s Operation Blessing and Samaritan’s Purse are at the top of my list, both here at home and abroad.

While overlooked at the United Nations, Israel’s humanitarian aid covers the world with help in crises produced by natural disasters, famine, and poverty—and extends to providing training in superior agricultural methods. Israel does not consider any religion or skin color as a barrier to mercy. Embedded in Israel’s culture is a concept called tikkun olam—“repairing the world.” The U.N.’s “human wrongs” nations would do well to imitate Israel rather than create a Commission of Inquiry to investigate one of the world’s most humanitarian nations. 

The COI would also do well to investigate how the Palestinian Authority (PA) oppresses its own population, as reported by The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). One JINSA article asserts that the PA has long sought to keep the Palestinian people “poor and powerless while enriching its apparatchiks and functionaries with villas and cars,” as confided by a former political director in President Mahmoud Abbas’s office. Polls show, in fact, that 80 percent of Palestinians believe the PA is corrupt and neglects their fundamental rights. 

Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident, peace activist, and Nobel laureate—once said, “A country which does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.” It is long past time for the United Nations to heed that advice and investigate and rehabilitate the nations riddled with human wrongs and kick them off the Human Rights Council. Stop the hypocrisy and place freedom-loving nations on the HRC. 

Join with CBN Israel to pray this week from Isaiah 1:17—“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

  • Pray that we ourselves, the Christian community, will be consistent givers and “pray-ers” for those in need.
  • Pray for an effective, firm uprising in the United Nations—that it might rehabilitate itself and adhere to its founding values. 
  • Pray freedom for people trapped in evil nations. 
  • Pray for encounters with our Lord among those in desperate need, giving them salvation and the hope of heaven. 
  • Pray for Hillel Neuer as he leads the way in revealing wrongdoing at the United Nations.

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 a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Victim of Terrorism: Liat’s Story

Liat’s life has never been easy. Married to a violent husband for years, at age 44 she is now a single mother, raising her two children alone on a limited income. Although she struggles to make ends meet, she is grateful that the terror in her home is over. 

However, living in Israel’s coastal city of Ashdod, she has endured a different battleground—facing ongoing terror and rocket attacks from Hamas-ruled Gaza. These attacks have been going on for nearly 20 years and can seem “routine”—but the constant stress and unpredictability can take its toll emotionally. 

Liat lives in government housing, and the rocket strikes on her building left the electrical system barely working. Liat paid for the repairs—but still waits for the government to reimburse her. Meanwhile, a recent barrage of rockets left her 17-year-old daughter debilitated by anxiety, and desperate for treatment. With bills piling up, Liat needed help.

Thankfully, friends like you were there for Liat. Through CBN Israel, caring partners covered the cost for trauma counseling for her daughter—as well as providing finances to buy nutritious food, basic essentials, and pay some of the bills for the rocket strike repairs. Liat exclaimed gratefully, “Thank you so much… We are so overwhelmed with your kindness and generosity!”

Your gift to CBN Israel can rush continued aid to terror victims—plus deliver food, housing, financial help, and more to those in need. So many in Israel struggle to survive. You can make a difference for immigrant families, aging Holocaust survivors, and others in crisis. 

Will you join us in blessing this special land today?

GIVE TODAY

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Biblical Israel: Mount Carmel

By Marc Turnage

Mount Carmel is a limestone ridge that bisects the coastal plain of the land of Israel branching off from the mountains of Samaria west towards the Mediterranean coast. It is most famous as the location for the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al (1 Kings 18:19).

Today, the Carmelite monastery of Mukhraka (Arabic meaning “burned place”) remembers that event. The mountain’s geographic location along the Mediterranean coast makes it fertile for agriculture (600mm average rainfall a year), which also led biblical writers and prophets to herald Carmel as a place of agricultural abundance (Song of Solomon 7:6; Isaiah 33:9; 35:2; Amos 1:2). Its fertility, rainfall, and proximity to the Phoenician coast, just to its north, made Carmel an appropriate location for the worship of Ba’al, the Phoenician god of storms and fertility. Even after Elijah, people continued to worship Ba’al of Carmel. 

The fertility, precipitation, and location of Mount Carmel play a key role in the story of Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al. Agriculture in the land of Israel proved difficult in the ancient world. The people depended solely upon God for rain to water their fields and crops due to the topography of the land (see Deuteronomy 8; 11:10-20). 

For this reason, God promised that as long as Israel obeyed Him and His commandments, He would send rain in its season; if Israel disobeyed, He would shut the heavens, so it wouldn’t rain. The concern for rain in its season (at the appropriate time) lead the Israelites to often look also to other local deities, like Ba’al, to provide rain, just in case.

The people had turned from God by worshipping Ba’al during the reign of King Ahab, and therefore, God sent drought on the land. Elijah called the children of Israel, together with the prophets of Ba’al, to gather on Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel receives some form of precipitation 250 days a year; it sits on the southern edge of Phoenicia where Ba’al worship originated. It also provided a high place. 

Ba’al is often depicted walking on the mountains, a god of high places. The drought that God sent offered a direct challenge to the god of rain. Elijah’s challenge, the god who answered with fire was God; Ba’al’s symbol was a lightening bolt. The heart of the story lies within the geographic setting of Mount Carmel. 

Of course, after God sends the fire upon Elijah’s sacrifice, and the people turn to the Lord as God, then He sends the rain. The setting and background of this story underline the challenges of daily life faced by the ancient Israelites; these challenges that raised the fundamental question that Elijah posed to the people, “If the Lord is God, then serve Him.”

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

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Weekly Devotional: Do Not Abandon Your Love

Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. 

But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:1-5 HCSB).

We often read John’s letter to the community in Ephesus and think that they had lost their love for the Lord. But that doesn’t make sense within the context. John commends the Ephesian community for testing those who call themselves apostles, not tolerating evil-doers, and enduring patiently for the sake of Jesus’ name. They hadn’t lost their love for the Lord.

Rather, they had lost their love for one another. In their ardor for testing, not tolerating evil, and enduring in their faith, they had abandoned their love for others. It’s easy to do. Throughout the New Testament, we are reminded to love one another and not judge, for in the manner we judge others, God will judge us (see Luke 6:37-38). We can become so focused on truth that we forget to love. It’s not an either-or, but as Paul says, without love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13).

The threat posed to the Ephesians is that if they do not change, they will eventually be removed. How we treat others is weighed seriously within the New Testament. In our zeal for truth, we can be both right and wrong. The Ephesians had lost the love for others that they’d had at first. 

Maintaining love is one of the hardest actions we do as humans. The gravity of life can tend to pull us in the opposite direction, and we can all too easily find our love gradually growing cold. Whether in marriages, families, friendships, or other relationships, we have to work and cultivate our love for others. In our fervor for the truth, we must guard against becoming cold and callous.

Let’s remember this powerful statement by Jesus to His disciples on the night He was arrested. “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13 HCSB).

Jesus’ warning to the community in Ephesus serves as a sober reminder to us today in how we are to treat others. We must pursue loving rightly as much as we pursue doing right. May we follow the command of Jesus to love one another as He has loved us.

PRAYER

Father, we repent of those times that we have not loved others. We have judged when we should have been merciful. Forgive us, and may we be merciful as You are merciful. Amen.

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