Emergency Bomb Shelters

The Israeli communities neighboring Hamas-ruled Gaza have endured years of rocket and terror attacks from across the border. From there, terrorists have fired rockets and missiles for years, and their range, arsenal and accuracy are only intensifying. 

Israel’s government does everything it can to offer security and protection for all of its citizens. Yet in a number of places along the Israel-Gaza border, it has been difficult to keep up with the demand for outdoor bomb shelters. 

Imagine picking up your children or grandchildren from elementary school and suddenly hearing a red alert siren—giving you less than 10-15 seconds to find shelter from an incoming rocket. That’s the nightmarish reality for thousands of people who live in close proximity to Israel’s dangerous border with Gaza. 

But through CBN Israel, compassionate friends like you have helped make it possible install dozens of brand-new outdoor emergency bomb shelters for communities in strategic locations that will help save lives. 

“I feel so blessed and honored to witness such wonderful human kindness in times like these,” says Daniel, the head of security for one kibbutz near the border. “This community is so important to me, and the bomb shelter you donated is giving our people more peace of mind than you know. I am so thankful for your generous heart!” 

And your generous gift today can help many other terror victims, lonely refugees, and families in need—providing encouragement and generous aid. Thank you for caring! 

At this crucial time in the Holy Land, your support can be a lifeline to those who are in crisis. You can bring groceries, financial help, safe housing, job training, and more—while sharing vital news and stories from Jerusalem. 

Please help us reach out and make a difference! 


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Biblical Israel: Dan Spring 

By Marc Turnage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: God, What are You Doing?

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises” (Habakkuk 1:2-3 NASB).

Have you ever heard someone ask, “If God is all powerful and loving, then why does He allow suffering, hardship, and evil within our world?” When presented with such a question, we often provide some half-hearted reply about living in a fallen or sinful world, but rarely do we join our frustration to that of the person asking that question.

We generally don’t allow ourselves to openly exclaim that our beliefs about God don’t always make sense within the world that exists before our eyes. We would never permit ourselves to say, “God, what are you doing?” To do so would seem to indicate a lack of faith.

The prophets did not look at things in such a manner. When life’s difficulties and circumstances challenged their theology, they didn’t default to an answer about a fallen world; rather, they expressed their frustration with God while still maintaining their faith and trust in Him.

The prophet Habakkuk was especially outspoken in this regard. He recognized that the people of Judah had sinned and fallen short of God’s mark, but God was judging Judah with the Babylonians, who were even worse than the Judahites: “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans” (Habakkuk 1:5-6).

Today we might wonder: How did that make sense? How could God judge Judah for its unrighteousness by a people even more unrighteous than they?

Habakkuk never sought easy answers to the difficult questions or to the circumstances and events his world presented. Nor did the challenge that such events posed to his conviction of God cause him to jettison his faith. Rather, he sought to understand. He never received the precise answer to the question he posed, but God did answer him.

That is a sign of a robust faith—faith that neither turns from the hard questions posed by life and circumstance nor abandons its conviction that God is indeed Who He said He is.

It’s hard not to look at our world today and occasionally wonder what God is doing or where He is. Our faith should have the courage to voice such frustrations and affirm those who express them, as did the prophets.

At the same time, may we have the faith and perseverance to say, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved” (Habakkuk 2:1).


Lord, when we look at the world around us, it is sometimes frustrating and confusing. Where are You? Why does evil persist; why do the innocent and righteous suffer? How long, O Lord, will this continue? But in the midst of our frustration and confusion, we acknowledge that You are a God who answers, and so we await Your reply. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: What does kosher mean?

Kosher can refer to food, places where food is prepared, scrolls, tefillin, and mezzuzot. It refers to an object’s acceptability accorded to Jewish law. When most people use the term “kosher,” they refer to food. Kosher food refers to specific types of animals which meet the criteria of Jewish dietary laws.

God forbade certain animals to the Israelites in the Torah. Those who chew their cud and have cloven hooves are permitted. Pigs, camels, fish without scales, hares, and shellfish are forbidden (see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:1-21). The development of Jewish Oral Torah increased the manner and nature of the rules applying to dietary regulations. One needs to understand there are levels of kosher dietary laws.

Certain animals are strictly forbidden, like pigs. But kosher has come to apply to the way permitted animals are slaughtered. God told Noah and his descendants not to eat meat with blood in it. Therefore, kosher slaughtering of meat requires the blood to be drained. For meat to be considered truly kosher, it must be slaughtered according to Jewish law. Kosher wine must be prepared in a certain way, and under the supervision of a rabbi.

During the Roman period, most non-Jews worshipped idols, which included offering some of the food to the idol. The Sages typically forbade Jews from eating food prepared by non-Jews to avoid the possibility of consuming food offered to an idol. For this reason, religious Jews will not drink wine from a bottle not opened in front of them at a non-Jew’s residence.

Within the rabbinic period, the biblical prohibition of boiling a kid (a young goat) in its mother’s milk became the basis for the dietary separation of meat and dairy in kosher consumption. Thus, one does not mix meat and dairy with a meal. Kosher restaurants will either serve meat or dairy or have part of the restaurant designated as dairy and the other as meat. Orthodox Jewish homes will often have separate plates and sinks designated for meat and dairy. Some food, like fish, have the status as “pareve” meaning “neutral.” They can go either with meat or dairy.

Different Jewish people adhere to different levels of kosher dietary restrictions. Some avoid the foods forbidden in the Torah and do not mix meat and dairy. Others adhere to a stricter form of kosher requiring their meat to have been butchered according to Jewish law, with no blemishes or tearing. They require the food prepared in a kosher kitchen and the wine to be made under the supervision of a rabbi.

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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Good and Evil on Display Amid Rescue Efforts in Syria and Turkey 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

A massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake—impacting more than 13 million people over hundreds of miles—is already a catastrophe. However, the combination of violence and longstanding Middle East conflicts (on top of freezing temperatures) produce dangers of another kind: human fault lines in the battle between good and evil. 

Goodness in the shape of humanitarian relief is already on the ground in Turkey and Syria, as a reported 100 nations have sent aid, with rescuers estimated at 7,000 skilled personnel. As of this writing, the death toll from thousands of buildings collapsing into tons of rubble has topped 41,000 victims. The United Nations estimates the death toll could climb to 50,000.

The goodness evident in Turkey is hindered within Syria by the connections of Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has been stationed in Syria for years to attack Israel. For years, Iran’s leaders have already been sending numerous flights to Damascus with weapons. Now, aid from Tehran is in the hands of the IRGC and Assad where a disturbing report from Behold Israel suggests that IRGC plans were already in place in Aleppo—in one of the earthquake provinces—where the IRGC is stealing aid provided by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and others. At the cost of more Syrian lives, they want their military to further entrench itself to increase their control in northwest Syria near the Turkish border. This report shows, once again, the dangers of the Islamic regime and its cohorts of evil. In Syria, control is taking the place of compassion! 

Syria desperately needs miracles of many kinds, although in Turkey the miracles are not massive in scale. Yet, every time a survivor is pulled out of mountainous rubble, cheers from teams and bystanders bring moments of hope amid the horror. In one example in Turkey, a 10-year-old girl was rescued after being trapped under rubble for 147 hours. Across the border—in a western province in Syria—the Syria Civil Defense, known as White Helmets, rescued four children and their parents. The White Helmets are a team of 3,000 volunteer first responders, easily identifiable at disaster sites by their trademark white headgear. 

Israel sent an outsized delegation from their small country. The Israel Defense Forces skillfully and quickly responded, naming their mission Operation Olive Branches. Turkey is a NATO country, but no peace treaty exists between Israel and Turkey. This devastating earthquake marks the Israeli army’s 30th worldwide humanitarian mission in 41 years. The IDF rushed to Turkey, flying in an impressive 15 Israeli Air Force cargo planes bearing hundreds of tons of equipment, as well as 230 doctors, nurses, and rescue experts. They set up a field hospital in a Turkish region where thousands of already displaced Syrian refugees have lived in poverty since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. They fled from their homeland over the border into Turkey—and now their lives are smashed once again.

As of February 11, the Israeli teams had treated more than 180 people. The uncle of a Syrian boy brought him to the field hospital. The boy’s entire family died in the quake. IDF Lt. Col. Aziz Ibrahim explained, “We treated him and calmed him down. He came in a moderate-to-serious condition.” He took out halva, a popular sesame snack from their combat rations, saying the boy “loved it” and “of course I spoke to him in Arabic.” As a reminder, Israeli citizens of all stripes—Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze, and Ethiopians—serve in the IDF. The boy’s uncle summed up the pronounced humanitarian character of the IDF: “You Israelis treat us better than our people.” 

One of the Israeli teams, Israel’s Red Cross (Magen David Adom), rescued 19 people from the ruins during its eight-day mission. Lt. Col. (res.) Felix Lotan, director of MDA paramedics, described their work as allowing scant hours for sleep and food, “not because there was none, but because there is no time to eat and no time to waste.” 

Nevertheless, despite compassion pouring in from organizations like the White Helmets and numerous nations, including the USA and Israel, evil has also been at work—in a series of complicated power struggles and hostilities breaking out near rescuer locations in both Turkey and Syria. The BBC reports that the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit and German teams, along with other international organizations, sometimes take shelter in a Turkish base camp. These aid workers have been forced to pause some of their operations due to infighting from violent groups that are carrying weapons and looting homes. 

Relief efforts near Idlib in northwestern Syria are being overshadowed by a former al-Qaeda group and ISIS still operating in the area. Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, remains a threat to his own people. For the last 12 years of civil war, he has overseen the murders of more than 300,000 civilians and the forcible displacement of 13 million additional citizens—both inside and outside Syria. Refugees from that civil war number more than 3.6 million in Turkey. It is difficult to comprehend—even with Assad’s cruel history—that he sought to allow only one crossing between Turkey and Syria, although other crossings are available. Finally, he has allowed two additional crossings so that hopefully some humanitarian aid can get to where it’s badly needed unless the IRGC steals that too. 

For Assad, it is all about his regime’s power and control against his people. His invitation to the IRGC to occupy Syria and operate against Israel from Syrian soil is an eye-opener regarding Israel—the Jewish state is shipping aid into Syria despite Assad’s implacable hatred toward it. 

These recent actions make it clear that hatred against Israel from Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and Syria’s al-Assad do not stop during a humanitarian crisis. When Prime Minister Netanyahu offered aid to Syria on the first day of the earthquake, the Islamic nation’s response was repugnant. Their Syrian Arab News, al Watan, called Netanyahu’s offer “propaganda.” 

Controversy erupted as to whether Assad had requested help from Israel. The Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel claimed, “Syria would not make such a request since the Zionist entity is the cause of the disastrous intentions in the region and the last one who can talk about humanitarian aid.”

Added to the complex mix of cross-purposes between evil and good are the political ramifications for the broader Mideast. The Jerusalem Post’s Seth J. Frantzman has an analysis in his article—“Turkey-Syria Earthquake: 6 ways it could affect the Middle East.”

Our CBN Israel team invites you to join us in prayer for all victims in Turkey and Syria: 

  • Pray that Syria’s dictator will have mercy on his people to open all options and somehow prevent the IRGC from stealing it.
  • Pray for supernatural peace that only the Lord can offer in such deep trauma. 
  • Pray for Israeli rescuers’ safety since they are, unfortunately, targets of hatred. 
  • Pray that worldwide media will report positively on Israel’s field hospital and other humanitarian outreaches.

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: Natalia’s Story

It was shortly before the war began in Ukraine. Natalia, a Jewish single mother from Mariupol, immigrated to Israel with her teen daughter Neli, and settled in Hof Hagalil. 

Natalia immediately felt a sense of home and belonging. She liked the people and the climate, and felt safe. And she soon found a teacher’s assistant job. But the move was much harder on Neli. Like most teens, she missed her friends, and suffered from mild depression. 

Then, just months later, war broke out in Ukraine. Seeing the ruins of her old city in the news, Natalia reflected, “I did not realize that I’d never see some of these buildings again.” She has lost contact with all her family and friends in Mariupol, and sighed, “I just pray.” 

Plus, Natalia faced financial stress, starting over on a limited income. But friends like you were there, through CBN Israel. Caring donors provided vouchers for food and other essentials—and basic appliances, including a refrigerator and a heater for the cold winters. And we gave Neli a laptop computer to help with her homework. In addition, it’s also helping mom and daughter with their Hebrew lessons, which had been a struggle on their small cell phone screens. 

Today, Neli is adjusting to her new life—and enjoying school. Natalia says gratefully, “Your help gives me hope and encouragement!” And your gift to CBN Israel can bless even more immigrants—as well as Holocaust survivors, refugees, and terror victims. 

With so many emergencies across the Holy Land, your support can bring food, financial aid, shelter, and more to those in need. 

Will you join us now in offering a lifeline to others?


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Biblical Israel: Mount Carmel

By Marc Turnage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: Don’t Trust in Horses

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7 NIV).

The land of Israel sat at the crossroads of the ancient world. Its geographic location made the land strategically significant. For this reason, throughout Israel’s history, people and empires fought to control this international crossroads.

Within the ancient world, the horse and chariot represented the height of military technology. The armies that had superior cavalry and chariot forces often won the day and exerted their control over a region.

Throughout the Bible, Israel’s ability to remain within this strategic land depended upon their obedience to God. If the people of Israel obeyed the commandments of God, they stayed in the land. If they did not, God would remove them. The prophets and psalmists cautioned against trusting in horses and chariots. In other words, Israel’s military would not keep the Israelites in the land; instead, the people’s obedience to God would.

Trusting in horses and chariots meant that they sought within the military technology and strategy of the day the source of their power and sustainability at the crossroads of the world—instead of obedience to God.

In Deuteronomy, we are told God commanded that when the people established a king he “must not acquire great numbers of horses” (17:16). The prophet Isaiah admonished, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD” (Isaiah 31:1).

Israel would remain at the crossroads only when obedient; if they obeyed, they could trust that God would defend them and protect them against foreign threat. This is why the psalmist notes that while some trust in horses and chariots, Israel’s hope is in the name of the Lord.

Our modern world seeks to woo us into trusting our technology, our might, and our selves. Like Israel, we run the risk of losing sight of what keeps us anchored in our world—the source that sustains us.

We find ourselves distracted by all the shiny new innovations that show up in today’s world, thinking that through this or that technology we can gain greater influence—even influence for God.

But the answer isn’t pride in our technology or in our ingenuity; it’s trusting in God, remaining obediently faithful to Him at the crossroads of our world. This, in fact, is the greatest witness we can have to His greatness—looking to Him and obeying Him, not trusting in our world’s sources of power and ingenuity.


Father, we look to You; we trust in Your name. Help us to remain obedient to You at our crossroads. Amen.

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Weekly Q&A: How do religious Jews observe the Sabbath?

God commanded the Israelites, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).

God forbade the Israelites from working and kindling a fire on the Sabbath. While the Old Testament does not specify the parameters of “work,” Jewish tradition sought to define what constituted work, and therefore, what one must avoid on the Sabbath. Observance of the Sabbath distinguished Jews from other people within the ancient world. The Romans viewed the Jewish practice of Sabbath observance as a sign of Jewish laziness.

The Jewish Sabbath begins Friday night at sundown and continues until an hour after sundown on Saturday night. Although religious Jews go to the synagogue on the Sabbath, the home functions as the primary place for Sabbath observance. Families walk to the synagogue on Friday to pray the evening prayers within the congregation. Returning home, they eat a large meal which was prepared prior to the start of the Sabbath. No telephones, computers, or televisions interrupt Friday night Shabbat dinner.

The family sits around the table, young and old, talks, recites the benedictions and blessings, and enjoys one another’s company. Saturday morning some of the family, usually the men, walk back to the synagogue for morning prayers, and return home. During the day Saturday, they rest. Some will read, but nothing for work. Phones are shut off, as are televisions and computers. Food, which has been simmering since before the Sabbath began, is consumed, but no one is permitted to light a stove or turn on an oven.

Judaism views the Sabbath as one of God’s greatest gifts to Israel. The other commandments seek to remind Jews of their relationship to God, so they can sanctify Him by obeying Him in their daily lives. The Sabbath sanctifies God in time. It was not only a day of rest for the master of the house, animals and servants also were given a Sabbath’s rest by God. By forcing people to cease from their work, they bring their worship of God into time, not just space.

The home functions as the center of this. The celebration of Sabbath does not focus on the synagogue or the larger community; it focuses on the family. The family becomes the keeper and transmitter of the commandments and traditions God entrusted to Israel. Sabbath enabled Judaism to survive without a land and a Temple.

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 Stopped Syrian and Iraqi Nuclear Ambitions: Is Iran Next?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Debates about nuclear weapons, Chinese spy balloons, Abrams tanks, and war permeate the news cycle with alarming facts and theories. Missing in action is the recognition both of Israel’s past role to ensure that Iraq and Syria did not join the nuclear club—and the danger posed by Iran’s current Islamic regime. Also missing in action is media fairness when reporting on Israel.

So let’s review the facts.

In June 1981, Israel attacked Iraq’s Osirak nuclear research reactor during a stealth operation the Jewish nation code-named “Operation Opera.” Like present-day Iran, Iraq had claimed that its goals in pursuing nuclear power were peaceful. Unfortunately, most world leaders and media were quick to join in a chorus of accusations and condemnation, accusing Israel of acting as an unprovoked aggressor as they chose to accept the claims of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. Israel claimed its pre-emptive attack had been in self-defense; the small nation didn’t believe Hussein’s assurances of peace. Israel’s June attacks partially destroyed the reactor and today, 42 years later, Iraq is still not a nuclear power. 

Moving ahead more than a quarter of a century: In 2007, Israel undertook another action to deter nuclear capability in another nation, Syria—then, as now, governed by the dictator Bashar al-Assad. Looking at the benign photos of Assad and his wife, Asma, both dressed stylishly in western garb, it is hard to imagine their complicity in Syria’s civil war, which broke out in 2011. However, supported by Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, President Assad oversaw the murders of hundreds of thousands of his citizens and pushed many thousands more into fleeing as refugees. 

On September 5, 2007, Israeli planes flew into neighboring Syria—before the outbreak of that nation’s civil war. In “Operation Out of the Box,” the Israeli Air Force dropped tons of explosives on the nuclear reactor that North Korea helped build. It was camouflaged as an agricultural farm. Syria is an enemy of Israel and policed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). No peace treaty exists between Israel and Syria. As happened in 1981, condemnation of Israel was harsh, although in both instances Israel acted only after conducting extensive research and verifying the threats of the nuclear sites. 

Israel’s decisions to remove credible nuclear threats from Iraq and Syria in order to defend its own freedoms and citizenry deserve accolades, not condemnation. Their actions weren’t only for their own benefit; the attacks reduced threats from these two unstable countries against the rest of the Middle East and beyond. Amid the horrors of war in Iraq and Syria, Israel’s actions removed one lethal aspect of war that the world does not face today from these two nations. 

Nevertheless, other nations—especially in the region—remain anxious about another threat: how Iran’s leaders are rushing toward an apocalyptic nuclear strength. That possibility threatens not only Israel and its Arab neighbors: The regime holds the dreadful distinction of being the world’s largest sponsor of terror, which has its deadly sights set on Europe, the United States, South America, and others. 

Drone production is emerging as a new wave of warfare built on the ground and launched into the skies. (For example, the Russian army is using this airborne weapon to spread fear and reduce resistance in Ukraine.) Amid the challenges in today’s conflicts, it is important to understand how Iran and Russia are currently allied in drone warfare. The Times of Israel reported on February 5 that Iranian officials visited Russia to finalize building a drone plant there. Last year, Russian officials had visited Tehran, Iran’s capital. Reportedly, once the Russian factory is built it will be able to produce 6,000 drones in the next few years. That cooperation is of concern to Israel, the United States, and many other Western nations. Iran has already shipped suicide drones to Russia and has developed prolific drone manufacturing inside Iran. The Wall Street Journal describes it as “reshaping security in the Middle East.” That concern explains Israel’s recently launched drone attack in Isfahan, Iran, at an ammunition manufacturing location, as reported in The Jerusalem Post. 

The media often characterize Israel as the instigator of terror—that it is trigger-happy at every turn. The truth is that Israel’s enemies shamelessly proclaim their goal of battering Israel into oblivion. Those goals necessitate Israel’s defending itself against its declared enemies—whether inside Israel (from Palestinian leaders and terrorists), from Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranian military in Syria, or Hamas in Gaza. Regarding the Islamic Republic and evidenced by attacks in Iraq and Syria in 1981 and 2007, Israel takes measured steps against Iran. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu—now in his sixth term—stated on January 28, “I have come back to office … for one main reason, to do everything I can to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu’s leadership, supporting ingenious ways to prevent Iran from accomplishing its goals, became evident in a dramatic operation. In 2018, a covert operation was carried out by members of Israel’s Mossad inside Tehran; they entered a warehouse stored with documents verifying Iran’s nuclear information. In one night, the Mossad famously heisted a half-ton of crucial security information. They escaped with 10,000 documents, videos, and photographs.

At the United Nations General Assembly later that year, Prime Minister Netanyahu showed that “Iran lied about its nuclear ambitions and deceived powers involved in the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.” Netanyahu’s biting observation is still a major concern. Despite the current internal chaos in Israel due to the proposed judicial reforms, Iran is the predominant threat to Israel’s safety. If Israel is forced to launch attacks of a more robust nature against the Islamic regime, keep in mind what you have read here and understand that Israel is on the front line of danger. Remember, Iran’s Ayatollahs subscribe to world domination through a tyrannical version of Islamic law.

Thankfully, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin announced at a press conference that a renewed nuclear deal with Iran is “no longer a priority.” The United States has wisely turned its focus toward the Islamic regime’s close relationship with Russia and Iran’s treatment of its citizens—arresting and imprisoning thousands and murdering hundreds since the protests began in September. 

One of Judaism’s cultural foundations is to “repair the world” (Hebrew: Tikkun Olam). The biblical concept of compassion embraces actions intended to improve the world. Israelis long for peace, not war, to shape their homeland with shalom—a shalom that encompasses the meanings of peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. Their peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the Abraham Accords, and consistent efforts to negotiate with Palestinian leaders are evidence of Israel’s goals. Tikkun Olam offers proof that the world’s only Jewish state extends humanitarian aid where possible even to nations and peoples who hate them or where conflict exists.

Israelis intensely understand trauma and crisis, meeting their own challenges by developing logistics and aid. They send their expertise worldwide. Amid this week’s devastating earthquake in Turkey, where Reuters reports the death toll has already soared above 12,000 deaths, IsraAID teams quickly landed in Turkey offering expert search and rescue efforts. This international non-governmental humanitarian aid organization is based in Israel and since 2001 has rushed to more than 50 nations in humanitarian crisis. In Syria more than 2,000 have died and Israel has mounted assistance with medications, tents, and other supplies. Although Syria and Israel have no peace treaty, and anti-Israel Iranian military are stationed in Syria, Israel has also offered medical treatment for Syrians in Israeli hospitals.

For thousands of years, God’s faithfulness to His chosen people and land has been evident. Israel survives against all odds and remains a light to the world enacting Tikkun Olam.

Join us at CBN Israel this week to pray for Israel, its neighbors, and its enemies. As we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Please join CBN Israel in prayer for Turkey and Syria as well as the entire region:

  • Pray for Turkish citizens amid the earthquake’s traumatic results.
  • Pray for members of IsraAID going to Turkey and aid sent to Syria.
  • Pray for Israel’s strategies regarding drone warfare and security breaches.
  • Pray for the safety of Israel Defense Forces in all military on land, sea, cyberspace, Mossad, Shin Bet, and police.
  • Pray for Christians to actively promote facts about Israel wherever possible.

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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