New Immigrants: Sergey and Ludmila’s Story

Although they lived in Russia, Sergey and Ludmila were upset by the Russian attacks on Ukraine. Sergey said, “It was horrible, watching this war escalate between people who speak the same language.” Because of their own political beliefs, they knew they had to leave.

Since Sergey is Jewish, they decided to immigrate to Israel. Ludmila wanted to give her children a better life although she feared the move might traumatize them—fears that proved to be correct. When Sergey had to take a lesser-paying job in his field, it became hard to afford furniture, a washing machine, basics for their kids’ rooms, and other essentials for their empty apartment. Yet who could help them?

Then Sergey heard about CBN Israel from Israeli relatives we helped a few years ago. Caring donors provided Sergey’s family with the furniture and washing machine they needed. They also gave them food, made the children’s rooms comfortable, and provided emotional support. 

Ludmila said, “We felt a lot of uncertainty when we got here, but CBN Israel gave us hope things would work out.” Sergey added, “Thank you… It is very touching to know there are people who care so much about families like ours. We feel like we have a future in this country.” 

Your gift to CBN Israel can help so many immigrants like Sergey who now call Israel home, especially with the surge of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. And you can also aid Holocaust survivors, single moms, and others in desperate need. 

Your support can bring groceries, housing, financial assistance, and more to those who are hurting—while sharing vital reports and stories from the Holy Land. 

Please help us reach those in crisis today!


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Biblical Israel: Mount of Olives

By Marc Turnage

The Mount of Olives is a north-south ridge that sits on the eastern watershed of the hills around Jerusalem. To its east, the land slopes drastically down towards the Jordan River Valley and the area around Jericho, towards the Dead Sea. 

The steep fall-off of the topography east of the Mount of Olives, together with the weather patterns coming from the west off the Mediterranean Sea, which causes the rain to fall along the heights of the hill country, means that the land to the east of the Mount of Olives sits in the rain shadow, with little vegetation. This wilderness provided refuge for those seeking concealment from the authorities. When David fled Jerusalem from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13-23), he went over the Mount of Olives into this wilderness seeking refuge.

The Mount of Olives in antiquity never belonged inside the city of Jerusalem. It always sat as its eastern boundary separated from the city of Jerusalem by the Kidron Valley. The Mount of Olives also served as Jerusalem’s cemetery beginning in the Chalcolithic period (Stone Age). Tombs from the time of the Judean monarchy (Old Testament), as well as the first century (New Testament) have been discovered on the Mount of Olives. At the foot of the mountain sit three monumentally decorated tombs from the first centuries B.C. and A.D., one of which is the misnamed Tomb of Absalom. 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on His “Triumphal Entry” (Luke 19:28-29), He approached the city from the Mount of Olives. Pilgrims to Jerusalem today can walk down the Mount of Olives on the “Palm Sunday” processional route, but this would not have been the path Jesus took, as it led through a first century cemetery, which would have rendered Him ritually impure prohibiting Him from entering the Temple. Most likely His route would have taken Him over one the saddles of the ridge on either its northern or southern part. 

The prophet Zechariah proclaimed that at the end of the age, when God’s kingdom is revealed in all the world, that He will stand on the Mount of Olives, which will split east to west, opening a chasm that will cause the mountain to move to the north and south (Zechariah 14:4). The Mount of Olives is not only connected to Jerusalem’s history in both the Old and New Testaments; it is also directly linked to its future. 

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

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Weekly Devotional: Hiding from God

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 HCSB).

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree and God came to walk with them in the garden, they responded by hiding themselves. Children who disobey a parent often respond in the same manner; they hide themselves. But God did not leave Adam and Eve in hiding; He searched and called for them. You could say that, from the time of the Garden, the story of the Bible is God in search of mankind.

The psalmist realized how intimately God knew him, and he recognized that even if he wanted to hide from God, he could not: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol [the underworld], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psalm 139:7-12 NASB). The psalmist finds himself overwhelmed with the realization that even when he wants to hide from God, he cannot.  

Think about this: Even in those moments when our disobedience and shame drive us to hide from our Father in heaven, He searches us out. He pursues us and doesn’t allow us to remain in hiding. When we want to wrap ourselves in darkness to hide from Him, He dispels the darkness in His pursuit of us. What an incredible reality!

When Adam and Eve came out of hiding, God provided clothing to cover their nakedness; He continued to care for them. He could have unleashed His fury, but He didn’t. The psalmist’s realization that God knows him intimately, that God pursues him to the ends of the earth, elicits in him the response of obedient surrender: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24 NASB). 

While our disobedience may drive us to hide from God, His pursuit and searching of us should cause us to respond with a yearning to walk obediently in His ways.


Father, even in those times when I want to hide from You, You are still there. You search me out and pursue me. Lead me in Your paths. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: What is the menorah?

The menorah refers to the seven-branched candelabra which God commanded Moses to have fashioned as part of the vessels of the Tabernacles (Exodus 25:31-40; 37:17-24). Artisans fashioned the menorah from a single ingot of gold, with the lamps carved separately from gold. Within the First Temple, the Temple of Solomon, ten golden menorot (plural, menorah) stood in the Temple building, five on the northern wall and five on the southern wall. It is not certain whether these lamps had branches, like the menorah of the Tabernacle. The Babylonians took the menorot from the Temple when they destroyed it and Jerusalem.

The rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem required the Judeans to refashion the vessels of the Temple including the menorah. The Jewish writer Jesus ben Sira mentions the golden menorah in the Second Temple in the early second century B.C. The Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, removed it when he converted the Jewish Temple into a Temple to Zeus. Judah the Maccabee made new vessels as part of his purification of the Temple, after he reconquered it from the Seleucid Greeks. It remained in the Second Temple until the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. They took the menorah with them to Rome and placed it in the Temple of Peace. Rome’s celebration of the conquest of Judaea appears on the Arch of Titus in Rome where the menorah is shown being conveyed into Rome.

The menorah became a Jewish symbol during the Second Temple period. The last Hasmonean ruler, Mattathias Antigonus, stamped a menorah upon his coins. Archaeologists have discovered menorah graffities in homes and on stones. The menorah stood in the interior of the Temple building, not the Holy of Holies, but the preceding hall. Within the Holy Place, the menorah stood with the incense altar and the table of shewbread. Twice a day priests entered the Temple to tend the lamps of the menorah and offer incense on the altar, at the time of the morning and evening sacrifices. The graffities discovered in Jerusalem depict these three elements together: the menorah, the incense altar, and the table of shewbread.

Archaeologists uncovered a unique stone in a first century synagogue in Magdala, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This stone, which archaeologist suggest was a base for a Torah reading stand, bears images from the Jerusalem Temple. The iconography of the stone comes from the Temple. It depicts the menorah and incense altar; some suggest it also shows the table of shewbread, which would be consistent with depictions of the menorah in this period.

After the menorah was taken to Rome, it became a more prominent Jewish symbol appearing in synagogue art throughout the Jewish world. The menorah was the earliest Jewish symbol identifying the presence of Jews. Many today think of the Star of David as a Jewish symbol, but this is modern. Ancient Jews made their mark with the menorah. Some mistakenly refer to the nine-branched candelabra used at Hanukkah as a menorah. It is not. It is a Hanukkiah, the special candelabra for Hanukkah.

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

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Bibi’s Broadcast to Beleaguered Iranian Citizens: Israel is on Your Side

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Last week, Iran International television news made history in a first-of-a-kind broadcast by featuring an Israeli prime minister—Benjamin Netanyahu—speaking directly to the Iranian people. On March 9, journalist Pouria Zeraati held an exclusive interview with Netanyahu, in which Bibi praised the protestors’ bravery on the streets of Iran and called the Islamic regime a “common enemy.” He expressed his personal admiration for the Woman, Life, Freedom resistance movement, describing it as “a miraculous achievement” by not bowing down to tyranny. 

Netanyahu’s comments are timely, since Iranian protestors have risked their lives to spread their demands for freedom from the hateful Ayatollahs and their nearly 190,000 enforcers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The regime’s ruthless reaction has, since September, led to more than 500 deaths and 22,000 arrests. One hundred and ten Iranians are set to face a death sentence, joining four other dissenters who have already been executed. On March 13 the Ayatollahs alleged that they now have granted amnesty to 80,000 prisoners, including some 22,000 protestors who had been arrested. That remains to be seen.

In his Twitter account, British-based Iranian journalist Zeraati also reported that the Islamic regime has poisoned school children, declaring that the regime’s message is “loud and clear, they will do whatever it takes.” The numbers are frightening to parents, with school poisonings having occurred since November in more than 100 schools. The Iranian Health Ministry claims that 13,000 students have been treated. While difficult to prove, it is easy for Iranians to view the poisonings as direct warnings from the Islamic regime’s oppressive history. 

The Israeli Prime Minister made remarks about ancient Persia and future ties between Israel and Iran. In 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon. Looking to the future, Netanyahu envisions a renewed and strengthened friendship between Israel and Iran. He noted that prior to the Islamist takeover, their friendship had been strong. Obviously, his remarks are based on stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons capability—which threatens the Middle East, United States, and the world.

My friend Marziyeh (Marzi) Amirizadeh is an author and Iranian activist who was formerly imprisoned in Iran for sharing her Christian faith and giving out thousands of Bibles. Now that she’s an American citizen, her expert opinion is that many Iranians inside the country watched Netanyahu’s broadcast captioned in Farsi. She reports that the viewers reacted positively and admire Israel’s prime minister. As usual, since the protests began, the Ayatollahs have plotted internet disruptions and blackouts, thereby handcuffing freedom of speech on social media. However, Marzi notes that Iranians watch three major news media outside Iran: Iran International, Voice of America, and Manoto TV. 

Netanyahu concluded his remarks with two more messages. To Western leaders, he paraphrased Moses’ demand to Pharaoh—“Let my people go!”—by challenging the Islamic regime, “Let YOUR people go.” He added a no-nonsense point to the Ayatollahs: “We’ll be here long after you’re gone.”

Netanyahu described stopping Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons as the  “quintessential heart of my foreign policy.” His clear statement is evidenced by the ramped-up military exercises in the last few months with the United States military. On January 26, the U.S. Central Command and Israel Defense Forces completed Juniper Oak 2023 with a massive military exercise in the Middle East described as the biggest joint drill on record. Now, as of March 12, the Red Flag 23-2 exercise is underway for two weeks, hosted by the United States Air Force at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base. Israel has sent seven F-35I fighter jets and two Boeing 707 refueling planes for the drill. Joint military operations with Israel are common in both Israel and the United States. Israel has participated in five previous Red Flag drills at the U.S. base. 

I consider the joint midair refueling as one of the most significant drills, since Iran’s nuclear development sites are 1,200 miles from Israel. One drill focuses on an Israel Air Force (IAF) tanker refueling American fighter jets, with the U.S. in turn refueling Israeli aircraft. These refueling exercises make it possible for the IAF to reach Iran for the purpose of targeting Iran’s nuclear complexes—and only the nuclear complexes. 

Clearly Netanyahu speaks for Israel, which has no quarrel with the Iranian population themselves (more than 86 million people). Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, 80,000 Jews lived in Iran. Tens of thousands fled. Reports vary, but few in the Jewish community remain in Iran, and approximately 250,000 Jews of Iranian ancestry live in Israel. 

The Abraham Accords instituted dynamic and exciting changes in the Middle East. However, multiple levels of other sweeping changes in that region are advancing. It is essential to remain aware and prayerful for our greatest ally Israel, the suffering of the Iranian people, and wisdom for Israeli and American leaders’ decision-making. While the military alliance between Israel and the United States is vigorous, the U.S. influence in the Middle East is lessening.

One example stands out. China is now a kingmaker in the Middle East. In a secret four-day meeting, they brokered a deal in Beijing between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Chinese leaders agreed last Friday to reopen the embassies in both countries after seven years of weighty tensions. Although the deal revives the Saudi-Iran security cooperation pact of 2001, a hidden element may be at work. The deal is not official for another two months, and much could change. It is possible that Saudis would still rather connect more closely with Israel in order to rely on the Jewish state’s security against Iran. Plus, Saudis are not fond of the current U.S. administration and may be sending a wake-up message to a compromised Mr. Biden.

Aside from the seeming Chinese successes, Russia and Iran have agreed on the sale of Russian fighter jets for Iran’s recently revealed underground air force base. They named it “Eagle 44.”  EAGLE 44? I view that as the Islamic regime’s arrogance in appropriating one of the United States’ national symbols. 

We live at a time when Isaiah 5:20 is epidemic. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” As believers, let us make sure that we pay persistent attention to our Lord Jesus, the Light of the world, amid darkening world events. We can rely on Him to help us navigate life steadied by Him. We also know that in His time, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus will settle every conflict regarding Israel, His Land, and His people, the Jews. May God have mercy on us as we await that day. 

Please join with CBN Israel this week in prayer for Israel and the Middle East:

  • Pray for Israeli and all Arab leaders in the Middle East to make wise decisions about the Islamic regime’s threats. 
  • Pray with thanks for the beneficial bonds between the U.S. and Israeli military.
  • Pray for strength for the Iranian people to endure as they seek their freedom. 
  • Pray for Israel’s internal peace amid controversial opinions about reshaping their Supreme Court.

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

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New Immigrants: Anna’s Story

As a single mother, Anna lived with her little boy in Eastern Ukraine when the war broke out. She recalled, “We were totally unprepared… We had to hide in the basement— it was cold and scary.” After weeks of living in fear with her son, she decided it was time to escape.

A rescue train organized by their Jewish community took them to western Ukraine. From there, the Israeli government allowed Jewish refugees to immediately make Aliyah—Israeli citizenship for Jews—and return to their ancestral homeland of Israel as immigrants. 

When they arrived, a government grant enabled them to rent an apartment. Yet, Anna needed a refrigerator and couldn’t afford one. She was alone and jobless in a new country. 

But friends like you were there. Through CBN Israel, caring donors gave her a refrigerator—plus, food vouchers, groceries, and basic furniture! Anna shared, “What a headache it is to live without a fridge… You got it for us quickly. It was a big relief, and we’re very thankful.” 

Today, just a few months later, Anna is working part time and earning an income. We visit her and her son regularly, and she adds, “Your words, your prayers, and your support help restore my faith. These acts of kindness show that there is still good in the world.” 

And your gift to CBN Israel can share God’s goodness with many in need—by bringing them nutritious meals, essentials, financial help, and more. Your support can reach out to Holocaust survivors, immigrants, terror victims, and others with nowhere to turn. 

Please join us as we bless others in this special land!


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Biblical Israel: Jordan River

By Marc Turnage

The most dramatic geographical feature of the biblical land of Israel is the scar of the Rift Valley. Created by the tectonic plates, this forms part of the Syro-African Rift, the longest scar on the face of the planet. Within the land of Israel, the Rift Valley is referred to as the Jordan River Valley because the Jordan River flows through a large portion of it. Within this valley, Lot chose to settle in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed (Genesis 13:10).

The Jordan River begins south of Mount Hermon where three headwaters flow together to form the Jordan River. The Jordan River flows south through the upper part of the Jordan Valley, known as the Huleh Valley, then into the Sea of Galilee. It exits the lake on its southern end traveling south over sixty-five miles into the Dead Sea. Over its journey from the Sea of Galilee (656 feet below sea level) to the Dead Sea (1310 feet below sea level), the Jordan River carves a deep and winding course and meanders roughly two hundred miles over its sixty-five-mile journey. 

The Jordan River played a significant role in a number of biblical stories. The Israelites crossed the Jordan River, when it was at flood stage, to enter the promised land and began their conquest of the land (Joshua 1-4). Biblical Israel spanned both sides of the Jordan River, its east and west bank, so too did kingdoms that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah interacted with, like Ammon and Moab. 

Thus, characters in the Bible crossed the Jordan often traveling to the land on the eastern and western sides of the river (Judges 7:22-8:17; 1 Samuel 11; 31; 2 Samuel 2:24-32; 15-19). Elisha followed Elijah on his final day before being caught up into heaven across the Jordan River (2 Kings 2:6-13). After Elijah’s departure, Elisha crossed the river dividing it with Elijah’s coat. Elisha sent Naaman the Syrian to immerse himself in the Jordan River seven time (2 Kings 5:14) to cure him from his skin ailment. 

In the region of the Jordan, John the Baptist baptized Jesus (Luke 3:3). Modern pilgrims today visit a location identified as the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism near Jericho, and just north of the Dead Sea. The identification of this site began in the Byzantine period (4th-6th centuries A.D.) to enable Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem to also visit the Jordan River, which is a day’s walk from Jerusalem. The Byzantine Christians, however, did not know that Jewish ritual purity laws of the first century considered the waters of the Jordan River south of the Sea of Galilee impure for ritual immersion (Mishnah Parah 8.10-11). 

It seems unlikely, then, that John would have baptized anyone in the Jordan south of the Sea of Galilee; however, the waters of the Jordan north of the Sea of Galilee are considered pure for immersion. This geographically fits Jesus’ meeting Philip coming out of Bethsaida (on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee) the day after his baptism (John 1:43-44). Such a meeting would have been impossible in Bethsaida the day after his baptism if Jesus had been baptized near Jericho.

The Jordan River serves as one of the central geographic boundaries and features that plays so prominently in so many biblical stories. 

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

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Weekly Devotional: Patient Endurance

“The word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ And I said, ‘I see a rod of an almond tree.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it’” (Jeremiah 1:11-12 NASB).

This interchange between God and Jeremiah seems a bit strange. How does an almond branch connect to God diligently watching over His word to see it happen? To understand this interaction, we need to recognize two things: 1) a wordplay happens in Hebrew in these verses, and 2) the horticulture of the almond.

The word for almond in Hebrew is shaqed, and the word translated as “diligently watching” is shoqed. What Jeremiah sees—the almond branch—connects to God’s message that He watches diligently over His word to see it happen. That explains the connection between what Jeremiah sees and God’s message to him, but what does it mean?

Of all the trees in the land of Israel, the almond tree blossoms first. The appearance of the almond blossoms signals that spring has come. Yet, while the almond blossoms first, its fruit arrives last of all the trees. It’s first to blossom and last to fruit. Herein lies God’s message to Jeremiah. As with the almond, whose fruit you must diligently await, so is God’s word. If He has given His word—even if its fulfillment is delayed—He watches over it diligently to perform it. Like the almond’s fruit, God’s word, even if delayed, will come to fulfillment.

Do we have the patience to diligently endure until God performs His word? Do we trust that, even if the world around us looks like God has forgotten His word, He diligently watches over it to do it?

Patiently enduring is often one of the hardest spiritual disciplines to acquire because in our culture, in which everything is instant and immediate, we don’t like to wait. Patience is a struggle. But as anyone who understands agriculture will tell you, growing produce takes time, and there are specific seasons within the growth cycle of the fruit.

Don’t get in front of God. Wait patiently for Him to perform His word because He diligently watches over it to do it.


Father, sometimes patience is hard for us. Help us not to get out in front of You, but to trust Your goodness and timing knowing that You watch over Your word. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: What is replacement theology?

Replacement theology refers to the faulty belief that God replaced Israel as His chosen people with the Church. According to those who hold this view, God’s promises to Israel now belong to the Church, and His plans no longer extend to the Jewish people or Israel. The origins of this belief are ancient. They stem from social and theological forces.

Ancient Judaism attracted non-Jews. Most chose not to identify fully with Judaism, which required a man to undergo the rite of circumcision. So too, the Jewish commandments proved too hard for non-Jews and alienated them from their families and civic identities. Non-Jews attracted to Judaism were called God-fearers (or God-worshippers).

The Jewish followers of Jesus attracted non-Jews as well. The Jewish followers of Jesus decided non-Jews could remain non-Jews, but they had to avoid meat sacrificed to idols, prohibited sexual unions, and bloodshed. Jesus’ community required them to adopt a Jewish morality without fully converting to Judaism. They lived Jewishly without being fully part of the Jewish community. This was Paul’s position as well.

Non-Jews stood on the edge of the synagogue, not fully part of the community. This created an inferiority complex, a sense of being an outsider. Such feelings can produce resentment over time. They can be overcome by the outsiders concluding they represent the true faith. Jews failed, and God rejected them. Their laws were null and a hinderance to salvation. Scattered evidence of this logic appears among non-Jews prior to the rise of Christianity, but with the rise of Christianity, these ideas became more widespread as Christianity showed itself as the true religion and Israel’s replacement.

An apocryphal work known as Fifth Ezra reflects this belief. This work likely dates to the second century A.D. Preserved in Latin, it was originally written in Greek. The author proclaims, “What can I do about you Jacob? You would not listen to me, Judah. I will turn to another nation and give it my name in order that they may keep my decrees. Because you have forsaken me, I will forsake you…I am going to deliver your houses to a coming people who, though they have not heard me, believe; [those] to whom I showed no signs will do what I decreed. They did not see the prophets, yet they will keep in mind their time-honored [admonitions]” (1:24-25, 35-36).

Justin Martyr (about A.D. 100-165) also embraced this belief. In his Dialogue with Trypho a Jew, he interpreted Genesis 9:27 as, “Accordingly, as two peoples were blessed—those from Shem, and those from Japhet—and as the offspring of Shem were decreed first to possess the dwellings of Canaan, and the offspring of Japhet were predicted as in turn receiving the same possessions…so Christ has come calling men to…a living together of all the saints in the same land whose possession He promised, as has already been proven.

Whence men from all parts, whether slave or free, who believe in Christ and know the truth in His and the prophets’ words, know that they will be with Him in that land, there to inherit the things that are eternal and incorruptible” (139:4-5). Justin elsewhere described Gentile Christians as the “true Israel” (Dialogue 11:5; 120:5). The idea emerged quite early within Gentile Christianity that God had rejected the Jews, and their laws were not relevant.

It is critical that Christians understand the dangers of these distorted beliefs. For centuries, sermons and writings espousing replacement theology have planted the seeds of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism. Not only did this lead to widespread discrimination and violence against the Jewish community in much of Western society; it left the door wide open for six million Jews to be murdered in the Holocaust. 

While not all Christian groups accept this theology, it has seen a resurgence in recent years within many Christian circles, and it is absolutely imperative that we oppose and root out this toxic thinking. 

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

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Israeli Apartheid Week: What Is It and What Can We do?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Apartheid is an ugly accusation, and absolutely wrong when it is used to describe Israel. Israeli Apartheid Week, a series of university rallies and lectures that began in 2005 to “raise awareness” about Zionism, will again be crowded with anti-Israel events held this year between March 13–27.

A disturbingly effective disinformation campaign, Israeli Apartheid Week is an offshoot of the Palestinian invention of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The simple definition of BDS is “economic warfare against Israel.” It is anti-Semitism in another guise and now forcefully promotes its own kind of apartheid—only against Israeli Jews.

The truth: Israel is not an apartheid nation. It treats its citizens—Jewish, Arab, Druze, Ethiopian, and Christian—with equality. Palestinians are not citizens, but that is by the choice of their own dictatorial leadership, who instead prefer violence and hate-mongering media. 

An evil policy, apartheid takes its name from South Africa’s former system of institutionalized discrimination that brutally enforced segregation against non-white citizens. South Africa’s decades-long racial tyranny officially ended on April 27, 1994. However, BDS propaganda and its campus spinoffs have grown for 17 years into Israeli Apartheid Week at more than 200 universities.

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) helps us better understand Israeli Apartheid Week. A highly respected, non-partisan source of information, CAMERA monitors media in order to promote accurate, fair reporting about Israel and the Middle East. Among many of their resources is their CAMERA on Campus outreach, where they expose the rampant threats against Jewish students on university campuses. Such threats now overlap against pro-Israel Christian students. This year, for the third time, CAMERA on Campus is running its Apartheid Week Exposed (AWE) campaign. CAMERA coalitions operate on some 80 campuses, including such institutions as Princeton, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Duke, and William & Mary.

The CAMERA coalitions are confronted by an anti-Israel organization called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), among others. SJP claims a presence on 200 campuses. The lies are endless: “Israel refused to vaccinate Palestinians. Israel steals Palestinian water. Israel imprisons children. A wall completely surrounds Bethlehem. Israel will not allow Palestinians into their hospitals. Israel turns off electricity in Gaza.”

Threats mark the SJP’s actions to individual students, lobbying university presidents to deny Israeli or conservative speakers on campus, or calling for disruptive demonstrations when they come.  

The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy published a report several years ago titled “National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) and the Promotion of Hate and Antisemitism on the University Campus: The Threat to Academic Freedom.” They listed a few quotes from their membership that characterize their animosity. Wrote a member at San Diego State University, “I hope all of you have sweet dreams of slaughtering Zionists.” A member at the University of Texas Dallas posted, “Three words a day to live by. Blame the Jews. #Hitler.” Yet another at New York University wrote, “May Allah not help them and burn them in the hell fire. Let the Jews burn silently.”

Hali Spiegel, CAMERA’s North American campus director, explains: “They depict the State of Israel as a manifestation of pure evil: racist, genocidal, murderous. Worse yet, they pitch this false narrative to students looking to support a just cause. That’s where our campaign comes in. Their lies cannot go unchallenged.”

Student leaders in the CAMERA on Campus coalitions will face opposition in their on-campus efforts to disseminate facts, host expert speakers, and pass out information. Their bravery is inspiring.

Two months before this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week, Bard—a private New York college—launched a new course titled “Apartheid in Israel-Palestine.” Bard’s syllabus includes this description: “This course will examine Israel-Palestine and the crime of apartheid.”

As examples of what sort of events occur during Israeli Apartheid Week itself, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign directed some of its branches to hold a Boycott Israeli Goods in stores on March 4 telling shoppers not to buy any Israeli products in Irish stores. In England, to offset the Irish activism, a delegation of Israeli students traveled from Israel to advocate alongside the British CAMERA team in the Apartheid Week Exposed campaign. That group included CAMERA on Campus Israel’s campus advisor, Tom Yohay, who explains, “As Israelis, we have a responsibility to share the truth about Israel. We are calling for dialogue, even if we are confronted with hostility and bigotry, our willingness to sit at the table sends an important message.”

Not to be left behind in disinformation efforts, some American churches are creating their own programming. For example, on March 15, the Methodist Federation for Social Action will present a Zoom panel discussing “Apartheid-Free Communities: Exposing & Resisting Israeli Apartheid, Occupation, and Settler-Colonialism.”

Canadians are joining in—with Buses Against Apartheid rolling down the streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland, throughout March. Three public buses will display big placards on the back of their buses spreading the falsehood: “The State of Israel Practices Apartheid.” 

The theme for Israeli Apartheid Week 2023 is “People Against Apartheid.” In its own advertising, BDS is seeking to unite more grassroots organizations including Black Lives Matter. They highlight their versions of “liberation, decolonization, and racial justice” across the world.

The BDS movement—and students, churches, and institutions lured into their way of thinking—claims to promote policies that help the Palestinians. Yet the boomerang effect on the Palestinians is anything but helpful. For example, in 2015 a BDS uproar drove the SodaStream company out of the West Bank—Israel’s biblical heartland. Palestinians were earning better salaries at SodaStream than anywhere else on the West Bank and wanted to work there alongside Jews. Forcing SodaStream to relocate to another part of Israel meant Palestinian workers and families suffered by losing their jobs. It’s estimated that Israeli companies employ around 35,000 or more Palestinians in the biblical heartland, where employees make better salaries working for Israeli companies. 

BDS especially targets the biblical heartland, calling Judea and Samaria “occupied” and belonging to Palestinians. The bottom-line motive behind the BDS movement is not peace or even a Palestinian state. It is hatred and destruction. Their goal is to eradicate Israel. The BDS slogan is clear: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

We live in an upside-down world described by the renowned prophet Isaiah: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20). BDS is putting “darkness for light” as a global stalker not only against Israel itself but infecting students on college campuses. That results in shaping student minds in two ways: either with propaganda and anger or fear and threats to those who subscribe to biblical truth.

We must find ways to constrain the tentacles that are wrapping around students on their campuses. Here are a few practical ways to bless brave students on campuses. Become familiar with CAMERA and support the students standing up for true justice. Post their excellent advocacy on your social media. Passages Israel, a 501(c)(3) Christian organization, has taken more than 10,000 college students for trips to Israel to educate and equip them in pro-Israel advocacy. Camera on Campus and Passages Israel are two excellent ways to contribute to students’ understanding and involvement!

Join our CBN Israel team expressing thanks to God for campus revivals sweeping across the United States and other countries. Pray for diminished threats against both Jewish and Christian students! Focus on this scripture passage as you pray for students advocating for Israel on campus: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

Please join CBN Israel this week in prayer:

  • Pray for students who are leading Apartheid Week Exposed (AWE).
  • Pray for each student who hears or reads the unbiased facts about Israel to gain clear understanding about truth.
  • Pray for the safety of all students on each campus.
  • Pray for Christian activism to increase in order to spread truth in conversations, social media, and churches. 

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

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