Weekly Devotional: Bringing Glory to Your Father in Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lifesaving Surgery: Yostena’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Biblical Israel: Ein Gedi

By Marc Turnage

The name Ein Gedi means “spring of the kid (young goat).” Ein Gedi, which is the largest oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea, sits between two riverbeds (in Hebrew, nahal, in Arabic, wadi): Nahal David to the north and Nahal Arugot to the south. The oasis contains four springs, Ein David, Ein Arugot, Ein Shulamit, and Ein Gedi, that flow year-round supplying three million cubic meters of water annually. 

The springs have allowed habitation, which dates back to the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4000 B.C.). Its most continuous inhabitation goes from the beginning of the seventh century B.C. until the early Arab period as indicated by archaeological and literary evidence. The book of Joshua locates Ein Gedi within the tribal territory of Judah (15:62). Ein Gedi’s location within the tribal territory of Judah explains David’s use of the oasis when he hid from Saul (1 Samuel 23:29; 24). During the biblical period, a road from the southern end of the Dead Sea and the lands to the east, Moab and Edom, ascended from Ein Gedi into the central hill country towards Bethlehem. 

Although located along the arid shores of the Dead Sea, the fresh-water springs and temperate climate year-round allowed Ein Gedi to flourish as a place of agriculture. Date palms and perfume-producing plants became the primary crops of the oasis. The book of Ben Sira mentions the date palms of Ein Gedi. 

In the first century B.C., the arrival of hydraulic plaster from Italy in Judaea enabled the Jewish leaders, the Hasmoneans, to construct aqueducts at Ein Gedi, which allowed them to expand the agricultural production at Ein Gedi. During the first century B.C. and A.D., Ein Gedi produced a perfume, balsam, which served as the cash-crop of the kingdom of Herod the Great and Judaea. It was exported all throughout the Roman world. Herod the Great’s construction of the palace fortress of Masada, just south of Ein Gedi, served to protect the produce of the balsam.

The dates of Judaea also were exported to Italy. The site of Ein Gedi was destroyed during the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-73) but rebuilt in the years after the revolt and served as a location of a Roman garrison as well as a military and administrative center for the Jewish rebels during the Bar Kochba Revolt (A.D. 132-136). The Romans conquered Ein Gedi at the end of this Jewish revolt. Remains of the Jewish rebels and their belongings were discovered in caves near the oasis of Ein Gedi in the twentieth century.

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

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: Far from the Promise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Immigrant: Olga’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Biblical Israel: Temple Mount

By Marc Turnage

The Golden Dome of the Rock provides one of the most iconic and recognizable images of any city’s skyline within the world. The Islamic shrine completed in A.D. 692 by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik stands upon the platform of the Temple Mount, which was constructed during the first centuries B.C. and A.D. The Temple Mount refers to the platform and complex upon which stood the Temple constructed by Herod the Great. This was the Temple known to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Peter, and Paul. It stood on the northern end of the eastern hill of Jerusalem, what the Bible calls Mount Zion. 

Around 1000 B.C., David conquered the Jebusite city of Jerusalem and the stronghold of Zion, which sat on the eastern hill. He made this the capital of his united kingdom, Israel. When his son, Solomon, succeeded his father as king, he extended the city to the northern height of the eastern hill where he built his palace, administrative buildings, and the House of the God of Israel, the First Temple. This building remained situated on the height of the eastern hill until the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed it in 586 B.C. The Babylonians carried the Judeans into exile. When they returned to the land around Jerusalem, they rebuilt the Temple, under Zerubbabel. This building underwent renovations and additions in the subsequent centuries; however, our knowledge of this is limited due to the absence of clear descriptions within ancient sources and a lack of archaeological excavation in the area of the Temple Mount.

In the eighteenth year of Herod the Great’s reign as king of Judea, he began a massive remodeling and reconstruction of the Temple area, which ultimately resulted in the construction of the Temple Mount. The construction, which continued into the first century A.D., after Herod’s death in 4 B.C., created a series of four retaining walls that supported the platform, which covered the high point of the eastern hill turning it into the largest enclosed sacred space within the Roman world. The main portion of construction took nine-and-a-half years. Herod apparently oversaw the building of the Temple building, which stood twice the height of the golden Dome of the Rock, and the remodeling of the sacred precincts, an area of five hundred cubits square, during his lifetime. 

The heart of the Temple Mount was the Temple building and the surrounding sacred complex, which including the Court of the Women, the Court of the Israelites, the Chambers of Wood, Oil, Lepers, and Nazirites. Inside the Temple building was the Holy Place, which housed the golden lampstand (the menorah), the Table of Shewbread, and the altar of incense. Beyond the Holy Place was the Holies of Holies, which was entered only by the high priest once a year on the Day of Atonement.

The construction of the Temple Mount continued into the first century as the southern and northern portions of the platform expanded. The four retaining walls of the Temple Mount contained gates that offered access onto the Temple Mount platform. The northern retaining wall contained the Tadi Gate, which rabbinic sources claim was not used at all. The Shushan Gate stood on the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, of which portions seem to predate Herod, and it was lower than the other walls that surrounded the Temple Mount. 

The present eastern gate, known as the Golden Gate (or in Arabic, the Mercy Gate) was built much later than the first century. It was sealed, like most of the gates onto the Temple Mount by the Crusader, Knights Templar, who made the Temple Mount their headquarters. The western retaining wall had four gates. Two were upper and two lower, and they alternated lower and upper. The northernmost gate opened onto a street that ran alongside the western retaining wall. Today it is known as Warren’s Gate (named after the British explorer, Charles Warren, who found the gate). 

In the first century an arched bridge spanned from the western hill to the western wall of the Temple Mount. This bridge conveyed an aqueduct that provided water for the Temple worship. The bridge and the arched gateway that provided access onto the Temple Mount were identified by Charles Wilson in the nineteenth century and bear his name today. Today a portion of the western retaining wall serves as the prayer plaza of the Western Wall, a functioning synagogue, a site holy for Jews. In the women’s section of the Western Wall remains of a third gate can be seen. This gate, known as Barclay’s gate, after the American missionary, James Barclay, who discovered it, also provided access to the street that ran along the western wall. 

The fourth and final gate also offered another elevated access onto the Temple Mount platform. It was supported by a large arch with steps that ascended the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount. The arch, which was the largest arch in the Roman world at the time of its construction, is known as Robinson’s Arch, bearing the name of the American Edward Robinson who identified the spring of the arch, which is all that remains. The southern entrances of the Temple Mount served the majority of Jewish pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for the festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Two large double gates stood at the top of stairs providing access up a ramp onto the Temple Mount platform. Pilgrims entered on the right of the two gates and exited through the left two gates unless they were in mourning. If they were in mourning, they went the opposite direction in order to receive comfort from their fellow worshipers. 

The western and southern retaining walls were built in the first century A.D. Their construction enlarged the Temple Mount platform to the south, which created a large court outside of the sacred precincts. They also supported a large colonnaded structure that stood on the southern end of the Temple Mount known as the Royal Stoa. 

Herod’s Temple and the surround complexes were destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. During the second and third centuries a pagan shrine stood on the Temple Mount. During the period of the Christian Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, a couple of churches stood on the Temple Mount. With the coming of Islam in the seventh century, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque were constructed. These two buildings stand on top of the Temple Mount until today.

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: First Fruits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Shavuot (Pentecost): The Festival of Weeks

By Julie Stahl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East.

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