Tisha B’Av: Destruction of the Temple

By Julie Stahl

“And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire” (2 Kings 25:8-9 NKJV).

Tisha B’Av (“the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av”), is considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples as well as other disasters that have befallen the Jewish people throughout the millennia.

Although the day is based in part on biblical events, it is a Rabbinic fast day that marks the end of a three-week mourning period.

Rabbis say that both the First Temple built by King Solomon and the Second Temple built after the return from the Babylonian exile and expanded by King Herod the Great were destroyed on Tisha B’Av.

Jewish people also remember other tragedies that happened to them during this time, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism in general.

For instance, the Expulsion Order from England in 1290 was issued on Tisha B’Av; and the Alhambra Decree or Edict of Expulsion from Spain was issued on March 31, 1492 and gave the Jews until July 31 of that year to leave—that was Tisha B’Av.

More recently, in 2005, many Israelis took note when Israel’s uprooting of 9,000 Jewish Israelis from 21 Gush Katif Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank (Samaria) were uprooted in what was called the Disengagement. It was considered by political leaders at the time to be a unilateral “peace” move. Ironically, it occurred just at the end of Tisha B’Av.

Rabbi Welton told a story about the significance of Tisha B’Av throughout history revealed in a legend about French leader Napoleon Bonaparte. While traveling through a small Jewish town in Europe, he rode by a synagogue and heard terrible cries coming from within.

“Peering through the window, he saw an incredible sight: hundreds of men and women weeping. They were sitting on the floor on small stools holding candles while reading from books. The synagogue had an elaborate chandelier but only a few candles were lit. If not for the small candle lights, the magnificent synagogue would have been in complete darkness. It was a gloomy and sad sight to behold,” writes Rabbi Welton.

“Napoleon asked his advisers what misfortune had happened there. His top adviser responded that nothing new and terrible had happened, but that the Jewish people had a tradition to gather once a year on a day they called the ninth day of Av, the day marking the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Twice they built a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem and both were destroyed. After their second Temple was destroyed, the people were scattered all over the world and sold as slaves and somehow the Jewish people still exist without their Temple. In order to commemorate these sad events, they gathered once a year in synagogue. There they fasted, prayed, and read sad prophetic writings concerning the destruction of their Temple and land.”

“The adviser concluded, ‘Mon Roi (“my King”), what we see in this town is happening today in Jewish communities around the world.’

“Napoleon then asked, ‘And how many years ago was this Temple destroyed?’

“The advisor answered, ‘Over two thousand years ago.’

“His eyes widening in surprise, Napoleon exclaimed, ‘A nation that cries and fasts for over two thousand years for their land and Temple will surely be rewarded with their Temple,’” Welton concluded.

Today, Tisha B’Av is still considered a day of mourning, fasting, and prayer. The book of Lamentations is read in the synagogues. In Jerusalem, thousands of people often walk around the Old City Walls in a group at night.

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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Biblical Israel: Western Wall

By Marc Turnage

The Western Wall refers to the western retaining wall built to support the Temple Mount platform. In the first century, this wall faced the city of Jerusalem, and as such, it had four gates in it that led onto the Temple Mount platform. 

The gates alternated in their access lower and upper. A street ran along the western wall in the first century. The two lower gates offered access to the Temple Mount from this street. The two high gates were accessed through a bridge and a stairwell supported by a massive arch. 

Today, we refer to these gates by the names of the modern explorers who rediscovered them and identified them. From north to south, they are Warren’s Gate, named after the British explorer Charles Warren. The next gate, accessed by the bridge that led from the Upper City of Jerusalem is Wilson’s Gate, named for the British explorer Charles Wilson. 

The third Gate, which today can be seen on the women’s section of the Western Wall prayer area, is Barclay’s Gate, named for the American missionary doctor, James Barclay. The final gate was named after the American explorer, Edward Robinson. Robinson identified the spring of an arch protruding from the western wall, which was the remains of a large arch that supported a monumental staircase that led onto the Temple Mount. 

Today visitors to Jerusalem encounter three areas of the Western Wall. The most famous in the Western Wall prayer plaza. This has served as a place of Jewish prayer for hundreds of years. It was a small area of the western wall of the Temple Mount retaining wall that was left exposed where Jews could come and pray. 

The Western Wall was not considered holy when the Temple stood but developed into a place of Jewish prayer centuries later. Today it functions as a synagogue and is the most holy site for Jews around the world. Men and women have two separate areas designated for their prayers. 

North of the Western Wall prayer plaza, one can go through a tunnel created by construction in later periods of buildings up against the western wall that follows the Western Wall. In these tunnels one sees the pillars that supported the bridge in the first century leading to Wilson’s Gate; one can even see Warren’s Gate, which is sealed up. 

Following along the tunnel, the first century street is visible in places, as are the massive hewn stones used to build the Western Wall. On the northern end of the tunnel, one encounters a pool, which was an open-air pool in the first century known as the Struthian Pool (or “Sparrow’s Pool”). 

South of the Western Wall plaza, one can walk along the first century street that ran along the Western Wall. On the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, the spring of Robinson’s Arch is visible as are the small shops where vendors sold sacrifices for the Temple and changed money in the first century. 

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans can be seen in a pile of large hewn stones from the Temple Mount, which remains where they fell in the first century. So too, the buckling of the street from the collapse of the walls of the Temple attest to the destruction inflicted by the Romans. 

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: Broken on the Side of the Road

“As He drew near Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Hearing a crowd passing by, he inquired what this meant. ‘Jesus the Nazarene is passing by,’ they told him. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ … Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him. When he drew near, He asked him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I want to see!’ ‘Receive your sight!’ Jesus told him” (Luke 18:35-42 HCSB).

Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the Passover, where He will be crucified by the Romans. He makes His way with a crowd of pilgrims, which includes His disciples. This traveling crowd found itself in hopeful anticipation that Jesus would inaugurate God’s kingdom immediately.

On the one hand, Jesus makes His way toward the cross, where the axis of history will come crashing down on His shoulders. And, on the other, He’s surrounded by people caught up in His charismatic greatness.

We can imagine Him laser-focused on the Father’s will and ready to face the suffering that awaited Him in Jerusalem. We can also imagine Him caught up in the redemptive expectations of the crowd surrounding Him. Either way, how easy would it have been for Him to completely miss the cry of a blind beggar broken on the side of the road?

That’s how many of us would have responded in a similar situation. Focused upon our task, with nothing distracting us, or caught up in our own press. But not Jesus. He heard the blind man’s call in the midst of the crowd’s enthusiasm and His own steely determination. He heard the cry, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And He stopped.

Jesus was an important man, to both God and men. Yet He stopped. His mission was the most important mission ever given by God to a man. Yet He heard. Jesus never became so enamored with Himself or so task-focused that He lost the ability to see and hear the cry of a person broken on the side of the road.

Would the cross have meant as much if He had walked by, ignoring the blind man’s desperate plea for mercy and healing?

We can find ourselves so caught up in our tasks, even our tasks for God, that we fail to see the broken, poor, and suffering on the side of the road crying for help.

If Jesus could hear the cry, if He was willing to take the time to stop, and if He could bring healing mercy to the blind man, then so can we.


Father, open our eyes to see and our ears to hear the cries of the suffering, broken, and poor in our world, because in their cries, we meet You and can follow Your Son. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: Why was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls significant?

The Dead Sea Scrolls are arguably the most significant archaeological discovery of the twentieth century. Why? What is their significance? To understand the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we need to discuss their discovery and what comprises them.

Sometime in 1946 a young Bedouin boy discovered scrolls and pieces of scrolls in a cave along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, near to an ancient ruin known as Khirbet Qumran. This began a search for scrolls within caves along the Dead Sea between Bedouin and scholars.

Manuscripts were discovered at places along the Dead Sea, Wadi Muraba’at, Nahal Hever, Masada, and Jericho, but the most concentrated discovery of scroll manuscripts came from eleven caves around the site of Khirbet Qumran. These eleven caves yielded approximately 30,000 fragments of manuscripts, which, when assembled, represent about 1,000 scrolls. These scrolls were written on animal skin, papyrus, and one even on copper. The majority were composed in Hebrew, some in Aramaic, and a few in Greek.

The Qumran scrolls date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. They represent the library of the community which lived at the site of Qumran. Most scholars identify this settlement as belonging to a Jewish group known from Josephus and other ancient writers known as the Essenes. The scrolls represent the library of this community; some were brought to the community and others were copied there.

The library divides into three groups:

  1. Biblical texts: This refers to the Jewish Scriptures known to Christians as the Old Testament. Every book of the Old Testament was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, except for Esther. Scholars have recently suggested they identified a fragment of Esther, which, if true, means every book of the Old Testament was discovered among the Qumran library.
  1. Jewish non-sectarian literature: Fragments of Jewish works written outside of the Bible yet known within other contexts were discovered in the Qumran scrolls. Books like Tobit, Ben Sira, 1 Enoch, and Jubilees were discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. These works were preserved in translations into other languages, like Greek, Latin, and Ethiopic, but the Hebrew and Aramaic originals no longer existed. The Qumran scrolls provided Hebrew and Aramaic copies of these works. So too, other Jewish works not previously known, but not belonging to the Jewish sect that lived at Qumran were discovered among the scrolls. These provide important windows into ancient Judaism, its thoughts, beliefs, interpretations of the Bible, and practices.
  1. Sectarian scrolls: The settlement of Essenes lived at Qumran. This group produced their own literature which reflects their sectarian beliefs, theology, and expectations. These scrolls also provide an important window into the spiritual world of ancient Judaism.

These scrolls offer a treasure trove of information about ancient Judaism, the differences of interpretation, ideas, beliefs, practices, and expectations of redemption and the end. They offer a contemporary library to the world of the New Testament and what developed into rabbinic Judaism.

No book of the New Testament was found among the Dead Sea scrolls. So too, no character within the New Testament appears within the Dead Sea Scrolls. The amount of information the Dead Sea Scrolls provide to our knowledge and understanding of the world which birthed Christianity and rabbinic Judaism makes them one of the most significant discoveries ever.

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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U.S. Congress Pushes Back Against Biden’s Dangerous Iran Strategies

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

He’s not usually known for truthfulness, but in June Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei tweeted an honest, straightforward statement about what he considers the golden key for his homicidal proxies in Israel. “The continually growing authority of resistance groups in the West Bank is the key to bringing the Zionist enemy to its knees, and this of course must be continued.” 

That’s a statement we should take seriously. Also in June, a more than two-billion-dollar work-around by President Biden came to light. It amounts to a windfall for Khamenei to bolster Iran-backed terror in Jenin, a lawless Palestinian city located in Israel’s biblical heartland. Reuters reported on June 10 that in secret, Biden worked to unfreeze an economic sanction and authorized the transfer of $2.7 billion to Iran via Iraq, which owes Iran for electricity and gas imports, in order to secure the freedom of American prisoners held by Iran.

Although the Islamic regime’s Khamenei possesses his terror key, our U.S. Congress uses its powerful key of legislation to unlock doors of opposition to the world’s biggest terror-sponsoring nation. For decades, both Democrats and Republicans have implemented successful legislation that has benefitted both the U.S. and Israel. Current and past members of Congress are sounding the alarm. Among them is former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, who is now the chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran. He remains a champion of Israel’s safety. 

Lieberman wrote a blistering article on July 10 that called Biden’s Iran policy “a dangerous folly.” He urged Congress to intervene, describing Biden’s reckless diplomacy as “trying to bargain with a poisonous snake” and stating it “will not end well.” Lieberman referenced a 2015 piece of legislation giving Congress the authority to stop senseless agreements with Iran. 

He highlighted passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), which a big bipartisan majority in Congress voted in support of—400 in the House of Representatives and 98 senators. The simple explanation is that a president—within five days after reaching an agreement with Iran about its nuclear program—must submit a series of reports to Congress for review by leaders and lawmakers on the key committees. Congress then has power to prevent the president from suspending existing statutory sanctions against Iran. Clearly, Biden has already violated INARA by unfreezing a sanction, which then allowed the recent Iraqi payment to Iran. 

Lieberman explains that part of the Biden work-around is to call any Iran outreach an “understanding,” not an “agreement.” Apparently, Biden thinks this gives him an out. However, INARA is written to cover any language, whether an understanding or an agreement. Mr. Lieberman commends House Republican Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul for sending Biden and his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, public letters warning them to comply with INARA and requiring Biden negotiators to answer questions in a congressional hearing.

However, Biden’s Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, is being investigated for mishandling classified information. Malley’s security clearance is presently suspended, and he is on unpaid leave. He was disastrously deceived—along with former Secretary of State John Kerry—into thinking that Iran is trustworthy amid the Obama/Biden negotiations for the 2015 Iran deal. Biden then chose to keep Malley on board to pursue yet another deal using the same failed viewpoints and strategies. 

In addition to Mike McCaul’s letter, 26 Senators—14 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and one Independent—sent a letter to Biden. The bipartisan group is urging the president to drop any useless agreements that reward Iran and focus instead on robust deterrence of the terror-promoting Islamic regime. 

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is busy working with the U.S. Congress in a Summer Policy Blitz. It includes legislation to pressure the Islamic regime with sanctions on Iran’s oil sales to China and its drone and missile shipments to Russia. The blitz also focuses on passing legislation that could directly threaten the U.S. Iran has the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. The expiration date for the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 2231 missile restrictions) expires in October 2023. Eventually, ICBMs could reach the U.S. homeland. Christians who care about U.S. and Israel’s safety can make a difference by contacting AIPAC, which makes it quick and easy to email your members of Congress with an Action Alert for these two vital laws to protect United States and Israel, our spiritual homeland.

Since 2021, Biden’s zeal for another Iran deal has already wasted energies in various meetings held in Vienna, Oman, and other locations. The European Union brokered some talks on behalf of the U.S. since Iran refused to meet directly with Americans. The perceived weak leadership on the part of the U.S. only further emboldens the Islamic regime’s Ayatollahs. Iran donates $100 million yearly to Jenin’s terror enclaves in Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). 

Israel’s military was forced to act after it was determined that Iran’s terrorists were murdering a rising number of Israeli civilians. Unless and until the Biden administration realizes that Iran routinely lies, its members may not listen to the U.S. Congress, which is ultimately in charge of approving or denying spending. The history of U.S. negotiations with the Islamic regime is proof enough that Iran’s governing body is unreliable. Isaiah 5:20-21 is a fitting description for those who do not recognize evil. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”

In closing, I quote a perspective by former Senator Lieberman: “The brave [Iranian] protesters are not chanting for a nuclear deal with the United States. They are calling for the end of the Islamic Republic. The freedom fighters in Iran are America’s allies.” Amen, Mr. Lieberman!

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to join us for this week’s prayers for Israel and the U.S., applying this psalm to congressional leaders working together to advocate for Israel. Psalm 133:1 reminds us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

Prayer Points: 

  • Pray with thanks for the U.S. Congress’s laws that benefit the U.S.-Israel relationship. 
  • Pray that the Biden administration will heed congressional warnings about Iran.
  • Pray that the U.S. Congress remains a staunch ally of Israel, the land God calls His. 
  • Pray with thanks for leaders like Joe Lieberman who remain wise and committed. 

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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Empowering Special Needs Individuals in Israel

For disabled adults in Israel, finding the right living situation can be challenging. The desire to live independently and safely can collide with needing unique accommodations. 

But friends like you are empowering them through CBN Israel, as we partner with the non-profit organization, Shalva National Center. As one of the largest and most advanced centers of its kind, Shalva is dedicated to providing quality care to special needs individuals and their families.

This partnership lets disabled Israelis balance independent living with guided supervision—and in a newly furnished apartment. During the day, residents work at Shalva, and then come home to their CBN Israel-sponsored apartment. They share housekeeping chores with the staff members overseeing them. It’s given them and their families a new future.

The residents enjoy the freedom of apartment living. Gila says, “It’s fun to live here. My heart is connected to the apartment.” Tahala adds, “In the flat, I live with friends—I feel happy!” Donors are offering Israelis with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy a safe, meaningful community.

This is just one of the ways your gift to CBN Israel can bring hope and encouragement to those needing assistance. You can also bring help to single mothers, victims of terrorism, new immigrant families, aging Holocaust survivors, and many more. What a blessing for those in crisis to know that someone cares!

Between global inflation and the influx or people coming to Israel to escape war and poverty, the needs are escalating. Your support can supply food, housing, financial aid, and essentials to those who are hurting. 

Please join us in reaching out to others!


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Biblical Israel: Mount Tabor

By Marc Turnage

In the northeastern corner of the Jezreel Valley sits the dome shaped hill of Mount Tabor. The steep slopes on all sides of the solitary mountain lead to a plateau on top, 1000 meters by 400 meters in area. The tribal territories of Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali meet at Mount Tabor.

Mount Tabor played a prominent role in the story of Deborah and Barak. They gathered the Israelite forces at Mount Tabor prior to their battle with the Canaanite forces of Jabin, king of Hazor, that were led by his general Sisera (Judges 4). The Israelites used the steep slopes of Tabor to their strategic advantage against the Canaanite chariots. So too, their gathering at Tabor prior to the battle may have to do with the connection of the mountain to cultic worship (see Deuteronomy 33:18-19; Hosea 5:1).  

Mount Tabor served as the site for several battles during the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Josephus, who became a historian of ancient Judaism, fortified the mountain as part of his efforts in the Galilee during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-73). 

Christian tradition, from the time of the Church Fathers, identified Mount Tabor as a possible location for the site of the event of the Transfiguration. The Gospels do not specify the location of this event, simply calling it “a very high mountain” (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2). The earliest tradition identifying Mount Tabor as the location of the Transfiguration comes from the Gospel according to the Hebrews. 

This work no longer exists, but Church Fathers quote passages of it in their works. Origen, citing the Gospel according to the Hebrews, identified the location of the Transfiguration as occurring on Mount Tabor. If this was written in the Gospel according to the Hebrews, then this tradition dates to the late first or early second century A.D. Cyril also knew the tradition that placed the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. 

Both Eusebius and the Bordeaux Pilgrim do not mention the mountain being a sacred mountain. Thus, while some early Christian traditions located the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, it was not treated as a sacred mountain or site within the early Byzantine period. Today, visitors to the mountain find a church on its summit.

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: Complaining to God

“LORD, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me? Consider me and answer, LORD my God. Restore brightness to my eyes; otherwise, I will sleep in death. My enemy will say, ‘I have triumphed over him,’ and my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in Your deliverance. I will sing to the LORD because He has treated me generously” (Psalm 13:1-6 HCSB).

The Bible is beautiful because it’s real. It’s about real people. Real emotions. Real frustrations.

Too often, we hide behind a forced spirituality that has more to do with the power of positive thinking than the faith of the Bible. We bury our emotions and frustrations because true faith doesn’t have doubts or fears, and it certainly doesn’t get upset with God.

The Bible, however, invites us to be real with God. It encourages our frustrations and our emotions of abandonment, especially abandonment from God. The psalms contain a number of laments, which are both individual and communal.

The lament is simply a complaint to God. A holy complaint. It expresses raw feelings, emotions, and frustrations. Reading the laments in the Bible should teach us how to complain to God—and get real with our emotions before Him and before ourselves.

The lament follows a pattern: (1) address God, (2) describe the complaint, (3) request God’s help, and (4) express trust in God.

The author of Psalm 13 addresses himself to God and openly describes his complaint. He acknowledges feeling ignored by God, that God has hidden Himself from the psalmist. His cares and grief seem never-ending. Those he considers his enemies have come against him. He asks God to be moved to action and come to his aid, lest he be overwhelmed.

He concludes by affirming his trust—despite his feelings and frustrations—in God’s faithfulness. God has been good to him in the past; he expects Him to be the same in the future. Notice, however, the psalm does not end with the resolution of his problems. He simply articulates his trust in God.

Do we allow ourselves to complain before God? Do we give voice to our deep frustrations before Him? Even our disappointments with Him?

The biblical lament never allowed for the person to be overly consumed with his or her feelings. The lamenter always returns to an affirmation of hope and trust in God. We can complain to God, and we could grow in our faith if we genuinely allow it in ourselves and others.

Our communities could become true places of refuge and healing if we allowed such raw, unfiltered expressions of our frustrations and emotions framed within our trust of God, even when He seems hidden.


Father, at times we feel completely cut off from You, like You have forgotten us. Like You have hidden Yourself from us. But our cry stretches out to You, our Father. We trust in You. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: Why has the land of Israel been fought over for centuries?

The land of Israel belongs to the Levant, also called Syro-Palestine. This region consists of the modern countries of Lebanon, Syria, the Kingdom of Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip. It forms the strategic land bridge connecting the continents of Asia and Africa. It sat at the crossroads of the ancient world, between the imperial powers of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the barren desert to the east, the Levant contained the major land routes connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia, with the most important road running from Egypt, via the coastal plain of Israel, turning northeast through the lowlands of the Carmel towards Damascus, and then on to Mesopotamia. Its location made it strategic for travel, commerce and trade, and communication.

Thus, whoever controlled the land of Israel, controlled travel, trade, and communication. The imperial superpowers of the day often fought between each other in the Levant. In periods of imperial decline, local kingdoms fought to control the strategic crossroads. Even marauders from the deserts to the east sought to attack and control the well-watered lands of the Levant. Climate and geography impacted the regional instability of the land of Israel.

Periods of peace were few, short, and far between. Personal and national existence could never be taken for granted, and here God called Abraham and his descendants to live in faithfulness to Him. This geopolitical insecurity of the region served as “God’s testing ground of faith” and the stage upon which the redemptive drama played out, where sinner and saint struggled against internal upheaval and external threat.

Because of its strategic location at the crossroads of the ancient world, the land of Israel never existed in isolation. The imperial powers which marched through the land brought their cultural, religious, political, and military systems with them. The children of Israel faced the challenge of obedience too God and His exclusive claim upon them in this setting. They were confronted with the question of God’s power versus the nations around them.

The incursion of these elements into the land led some to fight against them, others to isolate themselves seeking to remain pure, others to insulate themselves, and some even to assimilate. However, in the midst of this geographical, cultural, and religious crossroads, God revealed Himself to the children of Israel and the world.

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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Mainstream Media Misrepresents IDF Operation: Another Example of Anti-Israel Propaganda

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

True to form, much of mainstream media downplayed the IDF’s outstanding accomplishment in its recent Operation Home and Garden in the terrorist stronghold of Jenin. During this 48-hour operation in Israel’s biblical heartland, no Palestinian Arab civilians were killed—only terrorists. In a crowded urban setting where terrorist cowards habitually hide behind civilians, IDF’s success is close to a miracle. 

However, it also reflects one of the guiding principles of Israel’s military: to avoid civilian casualties at all costs. 

If this is the first time you have heard that truth, you will doubtless agree that the mainstream media has once again reported its own version of Middle East warfare: anti-Israel propaganda. The intense level of decades-long media bias against the Jewish state has built skyscrapers of shop-worn lies repeatedly used instead of reliable research. In fact, to hear much of the mainstream media describe this operation, it was the Israeli Defense Forces who attacked innocent civilians.

Israel’s latest operation to root out terrorists was launched six months after 25 Israeli civilians were murdered there. The Palestinian city, Jenin, is now an Iran-bankrolled terror base. Among their discoveries, IDF soldiers found basement tunnels in mosques packed with sophisticated weapons. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht expressed another of Israel’s exemplary principles, declaring, “Places of worship should never be used as a front for terrorist activity.”

One of the most glaring examples of slander occurred on July 4, when a BBC news anchor interviewed former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. She made this contemptible accusation: “Israeli forces are happy to kill children.” The BBC, considered the top tier of journalism for western media, was forced into a lackluster apology. Her seven words, like so many other lies, could have lingered in a stack of daily fictional accusations against the IDF and Israel. Thankfully, the BBC’s apology—which admitted “the language used in this line of questioning was not phrased well and was inappropriate”—was reported by other mainstream media outlets.

The good news is that not all media outlets are so quick to demonstrate bias against Israel. Instead, we are hearing voices of reason—admitting the Jenin raid was a counter-terrorism response on the part of beleaguered Israel, acknowledging how Palestinian terrorists routinely hide behind civilians and utilize tunnels to target Israeli civilians and soldiers, and that many Palestinians are now blaming the PA for its role.

Here are some excellent examples of what responsible journalism looks like:

A Newsweek contributor, writing about how close Jenin is to Jerusalem, said: “Israel’s surgical strike was totally justified. … Americans would never abide terrorist mega-centers in New Haven, Connecticut, 70 miles from New York, or in Richmond, Virginia, 90 miles from Washington, D.C.

From Reuters: “The Jenin camp has long been a hotbed of militants with an array of light weapons and a growing arsenal of explosive devices.”

An article in The Washington Post included this powerful promise by Netanyahu: “If Jenin will return to terrorism, then we will return to Jenin!”

Propaganda is one of many weapons Israel is fighting. Tragically, Israel-haters and most media outlets may not necessarily realize or even care that they are reenacting Hitler’s strategies. Revisiting Nazi era history is an informative and important backdrop when you are consuming most media. By definition, propaganda is “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, or nation.” Before and since Israel’s modern establishment in 1948, Germany’s Joseph Goebbels was prominent in Hitler’s detailed propaganda plan. In the early 1930s, Goebbels made sure poisonous lies began crawling into German society little by little until the devastation of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, burst into global awareness.

Historian and Holocaust survivor Professor Zvi Bacharach describes Kristallnacht, which took place when he was 10 years old. He describes some of the final grim results of November 9–10, 1933. “Ninety-one Jews were murdered, more than 1,400 synagogues across Austria and Germany were torched, and Jewish-owned shops and businesses were plundered and destroyed.” Professor Bacharach also explained that Nazis arrested 30,000 Jews and then sent them to concentration camps. The one-night rampage, book burnings, yellow stars, arrests in the thousands, and prolific media propaganda surged into the public domain with a vengeance. 

During Hitler and Goebbels’ rollout, many German citizens were star-struck by glamorous parties, massive rallies, and cultural events under Hitler’s hypnotic hold. Some prominent churches welcomed Nazis and hung Nazi flags in their sanctuaries—naively misunderstanding, denying, or choosing cowardice amid the lurking evil. Apathy embedded itself in the church with too few brave “Righteous Gentiles,” while the Third Reich regime’s industrialized scale of murder took place in concentration camps.

Goebbels, “Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany,” earned another title after coming under Hitler’s demonic spell. The 5-foot, 5-inch Nazi was nicknamed the “Poison Dwarf.” His evil brilliance to take over Germany’s newspapers, radio, magazines, and films also incorporated media control of conquered countries. Today, we live in a world regulated by a leftist media complicit in lies and slander that trap the United Nations, social media, International Criminal Court, governments and some mainline churches that blame Israel for “oppressing Palestinians.” Goebbels’ strategies alert us now to inform ourselves then act to spread truth and facts.

Goebbels mimicked Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, which propagated the “big lie.” He described his lies as “so colossal” that no one would even credit as true the “impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” For success,  propaganda must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Compare Hitler’s strategies to the outrageous dishonesty/distortion and repetition of anti-Israel propaganda today.

In 1942, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services commissioned psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer to develop a secret psychological analysis of Hitler. That information, now declassified, appears in Langer’s 1972 book, The Mind of Adolph Hitler. In it, he reveals: “His [Hitler’s] primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong.” 

Honest and accurate news must include context. In the 48-hour IDF operation, 12 Palestinian terrorists were killed. Even the Gaza terror group Hamas bragged that the 12 Palestinians were all terrorists. Yet, in the midst of unrelenting terror threats and attacks, thousands of Palestinians are able to go to work in Israel from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. The truth is that Israelis want peace above all, whereas Palestinian leaders and Iran-backed terrorists thrive on hate, not peace. When terrorists use cars, sophisticated weapons, and knives in unabated violence against Jewish civilians, the IDF must defend their citizens and homeland.

How are we in the pro-Israel evangelical community to respond? Follow fact-based media such as CBN Israel, Honest Reporting, and Palestinian Media Watch. Join others who pass on important facts. Write congratulatory letters to the editor when they get coverage of Israel right, to encourage responsible journalism. 

Refusing to imitate the German church’s apathy, we must set aside the ineffective tools of anger and emotion. Instead, we must grasp the facts, then pass them on through social media, email, letters to Congress, and other means of spreading the truth. Our small actions, banded together, will honor God and His Son born into the Jewish lineage in the land God calls His own. 

Please join CBN Israel this week to pray for the IDF and Israel, pondering Psalm 59:1-2: “Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for Christians to stay educated and join up as truth-tellers about Israel.
  • Pray for all branches of the IDF that must remain alert to terror 24/7. 
  • Pray with thanks for media broadcasting facts and good news about Israel.
  • Pray for PM Netanyahu and his coalition for wise decisions about security.

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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