Weekly Devotional: Be Steadfast

“He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NASB).

The word “to wait” in Hebrew also means “to hope”—“those wait [hope] for the LORD.” The ability to remain steadfast, unmoved no matter what the circumstances—that’s what the Bible means by faith.

Faith in the Bible does not refer to “belief” in the sense of some inward, psychological state; rather, faith is steadfastness. It’s hard to remain steadfast when you’re tired. It’s hard to continue hoping when nothing seems to change, “yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength.” 

One of the reasons athletes train and condition is so that when they call upon their bodies to perform at peak levels during a performance, they can do so without becoming tired. When we are tired, we lose focus; we don’t function well. Tiredness affects mental and physical performance; it impacts our emotional health. It opens us up to giving up. Do we have patience to wait on God? 

That’s becoming increasingly difficult in our world today. We want rapid answers to our questions and prompt solutions to our problems. Waiting is not a part of our 21st-century DNA.

Paul spoke about what produces hope in our lives: “Affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 HCSB). 

Affliction, or suffering, produces endurance, and endurance produces hope. Our waiting and steadfastness produce hope in our lives.

We may get tired; everyone does, even the young. We may be weary, life does that. But do we focus on remaining steadfast in our commitment to obey God? That, Paul says, produces hope, and those who hope in God will renew their strength. 

The true test of our faith is not what we say, not what we feel, but how steadfast we remain. Hope does not disappoint because we serve a God who brings rest to the weary, who restores the downtrodden, and who strengthens the weak.

Our steadfastness also offers an incredible testimony to a watching world that wants everything now.


Father, renew us, we are weary. May we remain steadfast, hoping in You. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: What is the Talmud?

The Talmud refers to the expansive commentary which developed around the Mishnah in the centuries following the collection and editing of the Mishnah. There are two Talmuds, the Jerusalem Talmud and Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud consists of two parts: the Mishnah and the expansive commentary on the Mishnah known as the Gemara.

The Jerusalem Talmud—often referred as the Yerushalmi—follows the Mishnah’s organization down to the chapter level. However, the Yerushalmi lacks certain Mishnaic tractates (chapters); thus, it is incomplete. The Yerushalmi cites Sages who lived between A.D. 200-400. The main collection and editing of the Yerushalmi occurred within the land of Israel, most of it taking place in Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The language of the Yerushalmi is both Galilean Aramaic and rabbinic Hebrew.

The Babylonian Talmud is the longest literary work produced in Late Antiquity (roughly 6,000 pages in standard printed editions). It provides a full expansive commentary on the Mishnah. Like the Yerushalmi, the Babylonian Talmud includes the Mishnaic text and Gemara. Its size and thoroughness made the Babylonian Talmud the crowning accomplishment of rabbinic Judaism and the most important source of Jewish religious instruction.

The Babylonian Talmud follows the organization of the Mishnah, but the Mishnaic sayings often follow a different order than the Mishnah. The Babylonian Talmud was composed primarily in Babylon; thus, outside the land of Israel. Like the Mishnah and Yerushalmi, the Babylonian Talmud underwent a period of editing and collecting, until it came to its final form sometime in the 6th-8th centuries A.D. It preserves many sayings in Mishnaic Hebrew, but the anonymous glue which holds it together is in Babylonian Aramaic.

Both Talmuds cite sayings which go back to Sages from the time of the Mishnah but are not contained in the Mishnah. These sayings are referred to as baraitot. They provide important additional ancient opinions and sayings from earlier Sages. The Yerushalmi and Babylonian Talmud contain sayings ascribed to Sages as well as anonymous sayings.

The Talmud contains legal material, like the Mishnah. It also contains material derived from Scriptural interpretations, parables, and narrative stories, which are not as plentiful within the Mishnah.

The Talmud was composed much later than the New Testament. Due to its lateness by comparison, some scholars doubt its value for helping us to understand the world of ancient Judaism of which Jesus and the New Testament were a part.

Yet, when we account for the forces which shaped its composition, the oral nature of Judaism and its ability to transmit sayings, interpretations of Scriptures, and instructions, the Talmud can shed light into the world of Jesus. For example, apart from the Gospels, on the lips of Jesus, story parables only appear in rabbinic literature, like the Talmud. Therefore, they have merit in helping us to understand Jesus’ most common manner of teaching.

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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Islamic Regime and Hamas Boast About Their Genocidal Goals—What’s Next?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

On a beautiful night in the southern Israel desert, thousands of young men and women were celebrating the final hours of Sukkot—one of three main festivals, this one known for great joy. Billed as a “friends, love, and peace” festival, it instead ended in a shocking display of hatred and evil. Iran-backed terrorists cruelly began shooting to kill partygoers who scattered, running for their lives. In a cowardly, terror-laced version of celebration, Hamas infiltrators aimed their weapons at innocent civilians whose only “crime” was that they were Jewish.

Reportedly, the genocidal terrorists encircled a large group and shot all of them dead—like they were animals or pests. The numbers are still mounting, but at this writing over 1,000 people were slaughtered or kidnapped.

“Never Again” is Again!

To carry out this three-pronged incursion by land, sea, and air, the Islamic Regime and its proxy Hamas must have plotted for months to develop such a sophisticated strategy. Many ask, “How did this happen to Israel?” In a country known for its vigilance and advanced technology, this question will be debated and examined in the weeks, months, and years ahead. But for now, here is my perspective as a longtime advocate for Israel.

First, Israelis had celebrated their annual weeklong Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) this year between Friday, September 29, and Friday, October 6. Sukkot commemorates the 40 years Jews spent in the desert after escaping slavery in Egypt. Secondly, the next day, October 7, was Shabbat. Families throughout the country slept in a state of contented exhaustion, with Israel shut down as it is each Shabbat. And then, out of nowhere, the Hamas air attack utilized bomb-carrying drones that targeted IDF outposts near the Gaza fence, also disabling the technology. Thousands of coordinated rockets began falling in Israel as bulldozers breached the supposedly impregnable Gaza fence. Bloodthirsty terrorists zoomed in on motorcycles and in pickup trucks packed with men who were all too eager to kill, kidnap, and rape. The sneak attack from Israel’s cowardly enemies is all too reminiscent of the 1973 Yom Kippur War attacks on their holiest day of the year.

Meanwhile, showing the true nature of Iran’s leaders, video clips appeared shortly on social media showing their Parliament members on October 7th chanting, “Death to Israel. Death to America.” You can be sure they saw the first unspeakable photos of the murderous rampage into southern Israel’s kibbutzim and towns.

The trusted non-profit organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which specializes in skillfully translating Arab media into English, reported a sample of Palestinian Fatah hatred with this headline: “Strike the Sons of Apes and Pigs … slaughter everyone who is Israeli.” Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is led by President Mahmoud Abbas, the 87-year-old tyrant who has not held an election since 2009. Fatah has now called for violent Palestinian uprisings in Judea and Samaria. Early on, Abbas “…stressed the right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves against the terrorism of settlers and the occupation forces.”

Again, the true nature of another dictatorship, with a man who leads a movement that glorifies terrorists. Abbas enforces the “pay to slay” policy aimed at recruiting Palestinians to become “martyrs”—and then financially rewards their families for a lifetime.

The above examples of the Iranian-backed proxies, Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah—and others like them—reflect the dreadful and dangerous reality of the evil terror mindset. Hate has deformed too many Arab minds through using media and an educational system that begins with kindergarteners. Tutored by hate, these indoctrinated children grow into adults manipulated by their leaders. Millions are victimized by the poisonous emotions pouring into the minds of those living in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria (in Palestinian-controlled towns) or under Imams weaponizing fanatical Shia Islam. It is my hope that the horrific photos and video clips of these human beasts will finally wake the world up to what Israelis have dealt with for decades.

Similar to the unspeakable Nazi genocide of six million European Jewsrounded up, incarcerated in prison camps, and killed en masse using industrialized methodsthese Islamic murderers are enacting the same, malicious Jew hatred. Shouting their Arabic “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) as they paraded in the streets of Gaza with American, Israeli, and other hostages with ghastly cheers and shouts while abusing dead bodies and Jewish men, women, and children still alive.

Numerous Israeli military and political leaders tell us this will be a “long war.” For the first time in 50 years, since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the 37th Israeli government’s Security Cabinet officially declared war. On the night of October 8, 2023, as per Article 40 of Israeli Basic Law, they stated: “The war that was forced on the State of Israel in a murderous terrorist assault from the Gaza Strip began at 06:00 yesterday” (Saturday, October 7, 2023).

While I understand the comparative magnitude of the terms, “Israel’s 9/11 and Israel’s Pearl Harbor,” the moniker of this war must be distinctly Jewish. I am calling it The Sukkot War.

Since 2020, the Abraham Accords have been a welcome breakthrough with Israel amid ongoing talks with Saudi Arabia. Likely this plays into Iran’s demonic strategy launched on October 7, a threat to their hegemony in the region and beyond. Nevertheless, it is time for Arab nations to resettle—into their nations—Arab civilians from Gaza who are not part of Hamas.

Israel, the U.S., the UN, and Europe have supplied Gaza with almost-daily humanitarian aid since 2005, when the Israeli government forcibly evacuated every Jew (around 8,000) from their homes, businesses, schools, and synagogues. The same day the last IDF soldier closed the gate as he departed, Palestinians tore through Gaza destroying every asset left behind to help them. Two years later they elected Hamas, beguiled by promises to help them—promises that are still unfulfilled. Israelis literally handed Palestinians a state hoping they would create a “Singapore by the Sea.” Instead, 18 years later the Jewish state is facing a dire existential crisis.

We are witnessing a crossroads in world history. American churches must make serious decisions. Will we advocate openly for the world’s only Jewish state? (Not because the Jewish nation and people are perfect; they are not, and we are not.) We advocate for Israel because we love Jesus, He loves them, and He loves us unconditionally anyway.

The Sukkot War looks like it is only about an argument between Israel and Palestinians—like nothing but a political tug of war, with different sides pulling hard on a rope. Yet it is much bigger and deeper. Satan has fashioned a deadly rope around the necks of nations to destroy Israel. It is a war against God, against His land, and against any believer who stands in the way. Are we ready?

Evangelicals cannot imitate the apathetic German church during World War II. Most churches looked away as trains full of Jews stuffed in cattle cars rolled by on the tracks while church members sang hymns. A remnant of Christians risked their lives, but it was not enough. Will we be enough in the dark days ahead?

We must prepare ourselves. Media will drop any current sympathies and revert to their habitual condemnation of Israel. It has already begun. A rebellious world is embroiled in a storm of accusations. Be ready as believers.

Choose to be truth tellers by remaining close to our Savior, drawing strength from Him, fellowshipping with believers, and reading our Bibles often. Consult trusted media: CBN News, Erick Stakelbeck, TBN’s The Watchman, Amir Tsarfati on Telegram, and All Israel News. Grab this fact now: Remember that the Islamic Republic of Iran, the new Nazis, are responsible for endangering the entire Gazan population as pawns. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports that already more than 74,000 refugees are in shelters. They have become refugees at the hands of their hateful dictators.

Unquestionably, pray. Multiple prayer efforts are well underway. However, actions must emerge from our prayers.

Lastly, the U.S. Congress remains a bastion of passing bipartisan legislation that bolsters Israel’s security needs and in turn benefits the U.S. with vast cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Israelis. I served on staff of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee between 2007-2016 as their first Christian Outreach Director covering 69 congressional districts in the Southeast. Reaching out to members of the U.S. Congress via AIPAC and its lay leaders is important and effective to make sure we help our spiritual homeland by appealing to Congress to remain pro-Israel. Lay aside your disdain for politics and put it to holy use on behalf of God’s land and people. You can easily learn and act right away.

Israel needs humanitarian aid right now. Victims of terror and violence need emergency relief. Evacuees from the warzone need food, clothing, and shelter. Your loving support can help fulfill the words of the prophet in Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. Please give a special gift to CBN Israel as they mobilize coordinated relief efforts. Donate today.

Join our CBN Israel team this week to repeatedly pray for Israel. Lamentations 3:46-48 NIV describes the shock, trauma, and grief Israelis are experiencing. “All our enemies have opened their mouths wide against us. We have suffered terror and pitfalls, ruin and destruction. Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed.” Verse 66 is a request: “Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the LORD.”

Prayer points:

  • Pray for the 300,000 plus Israeli Defense Forces reservists and those who are currently active military as they defend their homeland in the air, sea, land, and cyber security.
  • Pray for the hostages kidnapped into Gaza (including Americans) and for a leader to negotiate with Hamas effectively.
  • Pray for the many families who are already burying their loved ones among more than 1,200 dead and 2,700 wounded.
  • Pray for Americans who have lost family members or do not yet know where they are.

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

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Victim of Terrorism: Malka’s Story

Years ago, a Jewish couple narrowly escaped the Holocaust, and eventually moved to Israel. They thought the worst was behind them. Over 70 years after the war, Malka and Michael faced more danger, when their home in Israel was targeted in a rocket attack. 

Malka remembers, “When I heard the blast, I thought the world ended, and saw my husband covered in blood. Shrapnel pierced his ear. He has Parkinson’s disease, and I couldn’t move him to safety. It was so horrible.” As thousands of rockets rained down from Gaza, medical personnel eventually reached and treated Michael. But their nightmare continued. 

Their apartment building had massive structural damage, so the government declared it unlivable. They evacuated and had to rent an apartment. After saving up for years to pay off their home, Malka says, “Now we are using what little money we have to pay for this rental apartment, while the government decides what to do with our old building. It’s heartbreaking.” 

In desperation, they turned to CBN Israel. Thankfully, friends like you brought them groceries, and have paid their rent as they wait to hear from the government. Michael says, “After all the hardships, it’s great to see that someone cares.” Malka added, “We knew you were Christians—I had never received help like this. Without it, we wouldn’t have made it. We are so thankful!” 

Your gifts to CBN Israel can bring aid and comfort to other terror victims—along with single mothers, lonely immigrants, frail Holocaust survivors, and more. 

In the face of rocket attacks, poverty, and those fleeing war, your support can supply food, shelter, financial help, and job training to those in need. 

Please help us give urgent relief to victims of war and terrorism!


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Biblical Israel: Ashkelon

By Marc Turnage

Ashkelon sits on the southern Mediterranean coast in the modern State of Israel. The Bible identifies it as one of the five Philistine cities along with Gaza, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. Ashkelon sits on the Mediterranean coast between Gaza and Ashdod. The ancient site sat on a ridge of cemented sandstone called kurkar. Its elevated vantage point allowed for the observation of the sea routes from Egypt to Lebanon. 

Ashkelon receives, on average, almost fourteen inches of rainfall a year, which, while not a lot, is sufficient for viticulture and the cultivation of gardens. The high-water table meant that the city had an abundant supply of freshwater throughout its ancient history. Over a hundred ancient wells have been uncovered in excavations. 

The land around Ashkelon consists of sand ridges that run parallel to the coast. The local kurkar served as a basic stone for building at the site. Its location on the sea and just west of major land trade routes made Ashkelon a maritime trading center. Ancient seafaring vessels traveled using the trade winds and currents, tacking their way following the coast. Thus, Ashkelon served as an important location along the sea route between Egypt and Lebanon. 

Its close proximity to the most important overland route in the Ancient Near East, a route that connected Egypt with Damascus and Mesopotamia, meant that Ashkelon could capitalize upon its location for both land and sea trade. Throughout its history it maintained this dynamic; in the Byzantine period (4th-6th centuries A.D.), wine from Ashkelon was found in England. 

Ashkelon functioned as an important site in the Middle (1950-1550 B.C.) and Late (1550-1200 B.C.) Bronze Ages. Its fortifications from the Middle Bronze period are quite impressive including an arched gate, which is one of the oldest arches in the world. In Iron Age I (1200-1000 B.C.), Ashkelon underwent a change within its material culture. 

Excavations have revealed that during this period a distinct Philistine material culture emerged. With the Philistine appearance, both pig and dog entered the diet of the people; food avoided by both the Canaanites and Israelites. Excavators have uncovered tools and elements necessary for the manufacturing of textiles. 

Two Phoenician shipwrecks discovered off the coast of Ashkelon illustrate the importance of Ashkelon for maritime trade. These vessels contained over four hundred wine amphorae. Ashkelon, like Gaza, Ashdod, and Ekron, was destroyed around 600 B.C. by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The strategic importance of the city meant that it was rebuilt in the Persian period, and it continued to serve as in important trade center through the Byzantine period. It was eventually destroyed in A.D. 1270. 

The Bible says little about Ashkelon. That was likely due to the biblical writers being unfamiliar with the cosmopolitan center of Ashkelon. The prophets Amos, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah denounced the city, but it did not serve as an important focus of the Bible. That, however, does not reflect the significance of this ancient site.  

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: Out of the Depths

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. … I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—yes, more than those who watch for the morning” (Psalm 130:1-2, 5-6 NKJV).

Have you ever been there? In the depths? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by life and its circumstances that you felt as if you were in the deepest, darkest pit? The psalmist did. And he cried out to the Lord. 

This is actually an amazing statement by the psalmist, because when you find yourself in the depths, one of the hardest things to do is cry out to God. You may think that sounds strange. Perhaps you think that the natural cry should be to God. And it should. The problem, however, is that when we find ourselves in the depths, we stand on the edge of despair. 

Circumstances overwhelm us like violent waves of the ocean. At first, we may find the strength to face the challenges and hardships, but eventually, even inside of us, we begin to faint, wear down, and despair. 

Faith is not just believing God in the good times or even the mildly bad times; faith is crying out to God from the deepest depths of despair, when everything outside of us and inside of us feels like things are hopeless. When we can cry out to God in that moment, pleading with Him to hear our cry, that is the genuine test of our faith. 

Everyone faces hardships and overwhelming circumstances, many of which we cannot control. The challenge of faith is this: that even though we find ourselves in deep despair due to circumstances and the doubts that arise in us, we continue facing toward God. No matter our circumstances, we cry out to Him and know that He will answer us. He will not abandon us. 

The psalmist didn’t allow his circumstances to consume him, nor did he buy into the thought that his circumstances separated him from God’s being able to hear him. From the depths, he called out to the Lord because the God of the Bible is near to the cry of His people. 

When you find yourself in the depths of despair, turn toward God, not toward your circumstances. That doesn’t mean that the hardship, difficulty, or pain will subside. It does mean that the God of the universe will hear your cry, and the deepest depths are not too deep for Him.


Father, please hear our cry. Give ear to our plea today. We choose to trust You even in the midst of our most difficult circumstances. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: What is the Mishnah?

At the beginning of the third century A.D., Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi (Judah the Prince) collected, organized, and edited the oral teachings and sayings of Jewish Sages into a single literary work known as the Mishnah. The Mishnah preserves many of the oral sayings—what was known as the Oral Torah—of Jewish Sages from the preceding four hundred years. Written in Hebrew, it served an important role in the process of reorganizing Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70.

The three Jewish revolts which spanned from A.D. 66-136 deeply impacted Judaism and the oral preservation and transmission of teachings and instructions. Already in the second century A.D., some disciples began to form collections of their masters’ sayings. By the beginning of the third century, Judah the Prince collected, edited, and organized these smaller collections, as well as other oral traditions into the Mishnah. The name Mishnah comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to repeat,” stemming from the repetition necessary for disciples to learn orally the sayings of their teachers. 

The Mishnah consists of sixty-three chapters, called tractates. They are organized into six divisions: Seeds, Festivals, Women, Damages, Sacred Things, and Cleannesses. Each division consists of tractates pertaining to specific topics within the broader subject. The instruction is legal focusing upon finer points of interpretation and behavior. The Mishnah does not present a singular or systematic viewpoint. Rather, it collects various rabbinic opinions, some of which disagree with others. Two opposite and contrary opinions are placed side by side within the text of the Mishnah. The opinions and instruction are not organized systematically; rather, it is organized associatively. This makes it difficult for non-Jewish readers to approach it at first.

Christian readers of the Mishnah often struggle to understand the text for a couple main reasons. First of all, Judaism, especially as organized by the Sages, focuses on orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. The New Testament reflects a similar orthopraxical outlook, yet as Christianity developed, its focus became orthodoxy. What does this mean? Judaism could take for granted that the members of its community believed in the God of Israel and the Jewish Scriptures. The focus, then, became right practice in obeying God’s commandments, as opposed to right belief.

Second, Christian readers often find the legal instructions, debates, and opinions in the Mishnah as pedantic and cumbersome. Such an assessment misses the point. The Jewish Scriptures, the Old Testament, have much to say about daily life, even in the small practical details, like how you weave your clothes. Faith and obedience to God should penetrate every area of one’s life.

The instructions in the Mishnah seek to spell out how one lives obediently in the minutia of life. Within the Mishnah itself, the Sages acknowledge what they are doing, even admitting God did not decree it all, but it was their way of forming, strengthening, and preserving a community deeply impacted by the Jewish revolts and the growing Jewish Diaspora.

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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Israel the Miracle: A Symbol of Shared Commitment

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Israel the Miracle is a significant and beautiful new book brainstormed by Jonathan Feldstein, an Israeli Orthodox Jew and founder of Genesis 123, a cutting-edge nonprofit. Israel the Miracle is no ordinary book. It elegantly portrays growing friendships between Jews and Christians within Jonathan’s calling to create projects banding Christians and Jews more closely together. Standing with Israel now, amid its increasing peril, is a welcome project to celebrate during Israel’s 75th anniversary year—and those to come.

Based on our shared faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our relationships are timelier than ever, since Israel needs steadfast Christian friends doing as much as humanly possible to advocate for the Jewish homeland.

Feldstein’s anthology of short, inspiring stories gathered from 75 Christian leaders worldwide honors Israel in its 75th year as a modern Jewish state. These authors have stood with Israel in numerous and varied ways—hosting tours to Israel, leading prayer movements, educating legislators worldwide, plus encouraging donations, humanitarian aid, and more. Combined, these 75 leaders are a small yet important sampling of an estimated 600 million evangelicals worldwide who identify consistently as supporters of the world’s singular Jewish country.

The stories are captivating, with “picture perfect” an apt description for the photographs vividly portraying the Holy Land’s beauty. As you turn one stunning page after another, you will rejoice that this coffee table book carries the foundational messages of cooperation and respect between evangelicals and Jews—particularly in the last four decades.

A reflection of more than 40 years of Christian ministries pioneering on the ground in Israel, Israel the Miracle is a source about small seeds growing into large fruitful trees. As an active years-long advocate for Israel, since 1980 I have observed the important founding of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and several other concurrent evangelical organizations such as Bridges for Peace, Christian Friends of Israel, and King of Kings Church. Devoted Christians who pioneered in the early 1980s have grown into nearly 70 ministries called Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM).

Present-day Christian ministries are also legacies from pre-state Israel under the Ottoman Empire during its 600-plus-year rule between 1300-1923. It is likely that the earliest Christian ministry in the Holy Land was established in the 19th century under the Ottomans. Prominent Chicago attorney Horatio Spafford and his wife, Anna, moved to Jerusalem in 1881 to establish what locals later called “the American colony.”

Their ministry began after a horrific tragedy in 1873 where the Spaffords’ four young daughters drowned. Horatio had sent his wife and daughters ahead to Europe on the luxurious French passenger ship Ville du Havre, but an ironclad clipper plowed into their ship in the dark of night and split it midships. Twelve minutes later, the ship sank. Two hundred and seventy-three souls drowned in the frigid waters; only 47 survived. Despite Anna’s frantic, desperate resolve to save her daughters, they slipped out of her arms into the fearsome high seas. Anna survived. 

Horatio quickly boarded a vessel sailing to Europe and wrote a beloved hymn near the location pointed out by the ship’s captain where his daughters had drowned. “It is Well With My Soul” is a hymn that has comforted millions of us for 150 years!

Later, believing the unmistakable biblical relevance of the Holy Land, the Spaffords moved to Jerusalem with 17 Americans and established a clinic, orphanage, soup kitchens, and a hostel. They served everyone in need— Jew, Muslim, Christian, Arab, and Bedouin. Their mercy ministry was respected and admired by all. In the lead-up to World War I, Jerusalem was invaded by hunger, typhus, field-ravaging locusts, and weapons of war. The Colony’s ministry became even more pronounced by managing the military hospitals—where they treated both Turkish and European POWs.

The American Colony, now a five-star hotel, is rich in history, displaying valuable photographs by the Spaffords and their colleagues who superbly embodied 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

Indeed, the commitment exhibited by Christian leaders featured in Israel the Miracle propels the American colony legacy from Jerusalem’s desolate, dusty streets 142 years ago into modern Israel’s thriving innovations and beauty. Evangelical ministries have prayerfully sensed the same call of the 19th-century believers. Like those diverse communities living under Ottoman rule, many Christian organizations today reach out in similar ways to Israel’s diverse populations of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Palestinian Arabs, Christian Arabs, Israeli Arabs, and Bedouins.

Israel the Miracle is a beautiful book to place in your home or office or give as a gift. When you hold this symbolic book in your hands, you may use it to pray for Israel and for the leaders and ministries represented. Inspired by these 75 stories, you might be encouraged to take on a dual mantle: one of prayer matched with practical helps. Along with Jonathan’s non-profit foundation Genesis 123, the ministries represented in the book offer examples of practical helps you may select. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s remarkable founder, Pat Robertson, and his son Gordon (who has skillfully taken up his father’s mantle) are both featured.

In closing, I thank my friend Jonathan Feldstein for inviting my endorsement: “Essays from 75 devoted advocates share gleaming insights about our spiritual homeland. During its 75th sapphire anniversary year, God reveals His design for Jerusalem in Isaiah 54:11 to use blue sapphires for its foundation. Israel is the only place on earth where rare deep blue Mount Carmel sapphires are found. Israel itself, shining as a rarity, is the only nation on earth where God declares in Leviticus, ‘the Land is mine.’”

You can order your own copy of this special book at

Prayer Points:

  • Pray with thanks for the warm friendships and cooperation between Christians and Jews in Israel and abroad.
  • Pray for both Christians and Jews who are at odds with each other and do not reflect the mutual friendships of those featured in Israel the Miracle.
  • Pray for Israel’s detractors to recognize the worthwhile projects shared by Christians and Jews.
  • Pray for Jonathan Feldstein, a genuine and kind influencer, writer, and project creator who honors God, our shared values, and the strong bridges he is building between our faith communities.
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Life-Changing Surgery: Bisan’s Story

When Bisan was just a baby, living in Bethlehem, her parents noticed that her one eyelid drooped. They learned she had ptosis—a condition which can lead to chronic headaches and vision problems. Doctors said it could be corrected surgically but advised waiting a few years.

Yet as Bisan grew older and started school, kids teased her—and she often came home in tears. Her father remembers, “I was heartbroken. We wanted to do the surgery as soon as we could, to avoid any more psychological trauma or vision loss this condition could cause her.”

However, when the family found out how much the operation cost, they knew they couldn’t afford it. They were desperate. And then, friends like you made a way.

Through CBN Israel, caring donors sponsored Bisan’s procedure at St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem. Her doctor said, “Bisan is four, so this is just the right time for her surgery. We operate on about 100 cases like this every year. It’s common in the Palestinian territories.”

Thankfully, her operation was a success! Her eye healed quickly, and now she can go to school without being bullied. Her father said, “Thank you to everyone who helped us when there was nowhere else to turn. I am grateful to everyone who took such good care of Bisan!”

Your gifts to CBN Israel can provide life-changing surgeries to those in need—along with food, shelter, financial assistance, and more.

And your support can offer aid and encouragement to Holocaust survivors, single moms, refugees, and terror victims across the Holy Land.

Please let us hear from you today!


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Biblical Israel: Gamla

By Marc Turnage

The ancient site Gamla sits in the central Golan Heights about six miles east of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee and the Bethsaida Valley. The ancient village sat on the spur of a hill created by two streams, Nahal Gamla and Nahal Daliyyot. The spur that the village of Gamla sat on can be seen easily from Bethsaida and the Bethsaida Valley; thus, while we never find mention of Jesus in Gamla, he would have known the site. The first century Jewish historian, Josephus, describes the village and the battle that took place there during the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-73). 

Gamla offers an important window into Jewish village life in the Galilee and Golan during the first century. Once the Roman army of Vespasian destroyed the site (A.D. 67), it was never reinhabited, and therefore, functions as a time capsule into a first century Jewish village. The primary settlement of the site began in the Hellenistic period. It started as a Seleucid fort. The fort eventually became a village inhabited by Jews in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. 

Excavations at Gamla uncovered only a small percentage of the village, but they provide significant information about the Jewish life in the village. Towards the upper part of the hill, excavations uncovered a large olive oil press with a Jewish ritual immersion bath (mikveh) attached to it. This indicates that the inhabitants sought to prepare olive oil with concern for ritual purity. Excavators also uncovered a second large, industrial olive oil press indicating that Gamla served as a center for olive oil production exporting it to other Jewish communities. The community also seems to have grown grain and even practiced viticulture. 

Excavators uncovered the largest known urban synagogue discovered in Israel from the Roman period. At the entrance of the building, they found a ritual immersion pool. The synagogue itself consists of the main hall, with benches around the walls of the hall. The focal point being the center of the hall where the reading of the Scriptures and explication would have occurred. To the right of then entrance, in the north wall, was an inset into the wall, which most likely housed a cabinet where scrolls were kept. A small study room is also next to the main hall. 

Excavations also yielded evidence of an affluent class within the village. Painted fragments of plaster indicate the presence of wealthy homes. Finger rings and earrings, as well as gemstones and other jewelry attest to an affluence among some of the citizens. The presence of Jewish ritual immersion pools, as well as stone vessels indicate that the population of the village adhered to Jewish ritual purity. 

Excavations also attest to Josephus’ story of the fall of Gamla. Evidence of battle, destruction (including the breach in the city’s defensive wall), arrow heads and ballista balls were discovered throughout the excavations. Its destruction preserved this first century Jewish village, which offers one of the best examples of the villages known to Jesus.

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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