October 12th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to decay and death into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.     Romans 8:21

Our online dictionary includes this definition for the word “Hebrew”:

ORIGIN: from Old French Ebreu, via Latin from late Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ‛i b ray, based on Hebrew ‛i b rî — understood to mean ‘one from the other side (of the river).’

Abraham’s descendants’ escaping from Egypt and, with divine Providence, rushing across the “parted” Red Sea certainly do come to mind. Hebrew = one from the other side — or, as this is sometimes expressed, “one who crossed over.” The Red Sea is a long, narrow, land-locked sea; in some ways it is more like a river. Further, Joshua would much later lead the Israelis into the Land by crossing the Jordan River near Jericho.

When we visited Israel a couple of years back, we learned that “Bethlehem” means in Hebrew “house of bread.” He who has been referred to as “Panis Angelicus,” Bread of Angels, the ultimate “manna,” the one who illustrated His “body, broken for you” with bread — was born in the House of Bread!

Yeshua’s kind of “bread” differs from the ordinary kind, however. When we eat ordinary bread, it becomes us, so to speak. But when we appropriate Christ, we become increasingly like Him through the new birth.

Jesus spoke of the importance of being “born again” to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and had come to Him at night in the hope of not being seen by his own colleagues. When we think about the definition of “Hebrew” meaning essentially “one who crossed over,” the word itself seems to speak of this new birth — in addition to Israel’s exodus. Consider Abraham, Rahab, and Ruth. They left their very different former lives to become Israelis — to “cross over” to a new and unknown life; they somehow summoned the faith to move toward this new life in preference to what was familiar. They sensed something better; they crossed over.

In Isaiah we find the stirring words, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; can you not perceive it?” We find a paraphrase of the first part of this statement in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.”

Astrophysicists tell us that more than 200 finely-tuned characteristics of Earth reveal that the universal stage was set in advance for us — for billions of years. And that Earth is in a unique place and time parameter that enables us to observe these exquisite elements of design. A personal Creator had you and me in mind.

Scientists who have also studied Scripture recognize in it a setting forth in several texts — not only in those in Genesis 1 — of the astonishingly-unique process of setting the stage for our world for the very purpose of creating — not suns, but sons.

When He was physically present with us, Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He is described this way in the fiery-furnace story in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament as well. But after the resurrection His description, in the epistles for example, consistently becomes “the Son of God.”

“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ  appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this hope will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.”    (1 John 3:2,3)

The goal that Jesus put before Nicodemus is the same one He puts before you and me — to become citizens of the newer creation that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard.” The one in which weapons will have been transformed into garden tools that facilitate life. In which there will be no more killing or evil or death. No animal predation. No sickness or sorrow or night. The perfect creation — as God would design it.

“You must be born again,” Jesus told Nicodemus, the apparently wise, older man.

“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.”    (Hebrews 12:14)

God’s love and mercy are freely extended to all. He waits as long as He can. His desire is that as many as possible will enter the Kingdom of all things new.

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April 7th, 2011 by Guest Writer

By Daniel C. Juster | www.tikkunministries.org | Originally published in Israel’s Restoration Newsletter

Euphoric Media

Most media leaders have been euphoric over the revolutions taking place in the Middle-Eastern Arab world. Dictatorships are being swept away; power is now in the hands of the people! Or at least this is the officially perceived wisdom of the day. Many are the editorials in the conservative and moderate newspapers in Israel warning of the great dangers ahead. Few are such reports in the Western press!

Many political leaders in the West are not in touch with reality. The head of national intelligence in the U. S. declared that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is a mostly secular organization. The head of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has returned to Egypt from exile, is said to be a moderate according to many Western politicians. In such a context, the word moderate is stretched beyond any reasonable definition. This particular leader is an anti-Semite, vilifies the Jewish state, and calls for a world Islamic Caliphate! It is said that he (that is the Brotherhood) is almost assured a great electoral influence because his views are considered absolutely mainstream in Egyptian society. By some estimates, two million people turned out to welcome his return. Is this not uncomfortably frightening?

The revolutions are fraught with danger for Israel and the West, but most do not want to face the danger. The word democracy seems more important than the content of the democracy. Democracy is not an automatic force for justice.

Arab Dictatorships

Am I defending the dictatorships of the Arab world? No. These dictators are getting their just deserts because they did not train their people in the moral and civic virtues that could have led to a true republican form of government. That training should have fostered values that have been a key in free societies. They could have moved their societies toward greater freedom, while still banning parties and individuals who professed Islamic radicalism, just as Germany continues to ban the Nazis. In their hearts, these dictators were simply not committed to the values of human rights, dignity, and political empowerment for groups affirming true human rights.

Wisdom from the Founding Fathers of the United States

The founding fathers of the United States were very clear on several crucial axioms for government. First, the vote is only one part of a republican form of government. They were careful to note that they did not believe in democracy and associated it with mob rule. They actually wanted only educated voters. After all, the 51% could vote to destroy the 49% in a pure democracy. True democracy is mob rule. This is why the idea of true democracy horrified the founders. Constitutional checks and balances, the separation of powers into three branches of government (legislative, judicial and executive), defined rights and freedoms, representative government and more were seen as crucial to a republic. In addition, they understood the character of the people as foundational. For John Adams, this character was formed by Christianity, and without that character formation, there could be no lasting free society. Adams said that the form of government he supported would only work for the kind of biblically rooted people that populated the colonies.

Alarming Tales of Democracy

So let’s look at a few cautionary tales in regard to the call for democracy: Iran, Gaza, Lebanon and Germany. Many Western leaders backed the removal of the Shah of Iran, who was slowly westernizing his country. They welcomed the return of the Ayatollah Komaini. Within a short period, he overthrew the moderates and, years later, had one of the early prime ministries, Shapuar Baktiar, a man who stood for human rights, murdered in France. In the Palestinian territories, free elections put Hamas, a terrorist group, in power. In Lebanon, democracy has given Hezbollah, another terrorist organization, enough votes to veto the rest of the Parliament and to essentially control the government. We should never forget that Hitler was elected. Why Western leaders and media deny that this is a likely but not certain scenario is amazing. It is either denial and blindness or incredible ignorance! Few reported that some of the revolutionaries chanted that they would march on Israel – all the while shouting, “Death to the Jews.”

The Danger of Our Times

We are now entering a very dangerous time in the Middle East. If Egypt falls to an Islamic controlled government, in the pattern of Turkey (it took some years) or Iran, it will be very bad for Israel. Can we be confident in a people where the majority of women are still forced to undergo genital mutilation? The backwards nature of many of the people should not give us confidence in their readiness for democratic government. People have to first be trained or discipled in human rights.

Justice, Israel and the Arabs

This leads to the issue of justice in the Middle East. Some focus on the microcosm. They get all worked up over Jewish injustices to innocent Palestinians. Sometimes the issues are valid and sometimes they are trumped up. However, if one focuses on the macrocosm, we note that there are 21 Arab nations and only one Jewish nation in the whole world. Jordan is predominantly Palestinian, and if a Palestinian state is created in the West Bank and Gaza there will be two Palestinian majority Arab states. Whatever one’s view of forming such a new state, the macrocosm justice issue is very clear in the whole light of Jewish history. The Jewish state must be supported as a foundational issue of justice.

My view echoes that of John Adams. I do not really even trust the long term prospects in the West for freedom, justice and respect for human rights because the West has drifted, and is now drifting further, from its Biblical roots. I certainly do not trust the long term prospects in countries that profess Islam. I believe that the answer is always and only in the Gospel. Only coming to Yeshua and embracing His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount can deliver Arabs from violence, hate and tyranny. We say that the Gospel is to the Jew first, but there is no greater second focus for prayer and witness than the Gospel to the Islamic world and especially the Arab world. This is why our related ministries support, in large ways, Arab Gospel witness.

I wish I could be more optimistic, but until we see a change in the hearts of peoples, we will have to support a balance of power arrangement between blocks of nations and a judicious navigation of foreign policy that is not given to fantasy. Many of Islam’s top scholars say that democracy is only a temporary expedient since Allah should rule through a council of top religious leaders who enforce Shariah law. That law is a disaster for minorities and for women. Only a balance of power arrangement can limit the potential damage of the dangerous Islamic Arab and Islamic Iranian expansionism. Containment and eventually defeat have to be the order of the day. As followers in Yeshua, we need to also face the fact that the relativistic and multi-cultural West may not have either the will or the means for a strong stand. We may not see victory until the return of Yeshua.

Let us pray for our political leaders in the U. S. and the West. Some do have open eyes and some are speaking out, but they are the minority. May we yet see these many peoples under the bondage of Islam delivered and come into the glorious liberty of being children of God in Yeshua.

 

Dan Juster, a Messianic Jew living in Jerusalem, is Director of Tikkun Ministries.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 11th, 2011 by Guest Writer

By Stan Goodenough | www.stangoodenough.com | Originally published Feb 2011

My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war. (Psalm 120:6-7)

How do we pray concerning the Israel-Egypt peace treaty? Do we pray for it to be protected, upheld and perpetuated? For the majority who wish to see Israel live in peace with her neighbors, this question would seem a no brainer.

And yet, I cannot pray so readily for this.

Let me paint a picture:

A friend has contracted cancer that, unless caught in its early stages, will grow progressively more threatening to his life. On learning of the disease, you urge him to have the tumor removed, but he prefers to continue living as normal a life as possible, taking basic medication to numb him to the pain, and even help him forget he was ill.

The more time passes, the more perilous his condition becomes. He would carry on regardless, but a sudden turn of events forces him to reassess. While the attack on his body is set to intensify, he’s not ready to deal with it.

You have the chance to remind him that, had he agreed to it at the start, he would have undergone a painful but relatively straightforward procedure while his body was strong enough to survive. The passage of time and progression of the cancer has weakened him. Although it is still possible to save his life, he must have the surgery now.

Thing is, it’s no longer a small operation. What he requires at this point will be agonizing; the risks far higher. As his friend, you must choose whether to pressure him to go under the knife by telling him some unpleasant home truths, or allow him to continue in self-delusion as he drifts towards his date with doom.

“Everybody’s” pleading with him to, “for heaven’s sake, leave well enough alone! Anything is better than the alternative.”

But do we really believe this?

Let’s take a closer look at what this Israel-Egypt peace treaty really is: how it was drawn up, what it cost Israel to sign, how it has played out, what its effects have been, and where its perpetuation will lead.

The Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, and the Egyptian military dictator, Anwar Sadat, signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, known as the Camp David Agreement, in 1978.

In other words, it was signed between an elected representative of the Israeli people on the one side, and a military ruler representing no-one on the other.

The details – or more accurately – the parties to the agreement – were hammered together by the American president, Jimmy Carter.

As close advisor to Begin, the late Shmuel Katz, outlined in his book “The Hollow Peace,” (Dvir Publishing; Israel; 1981), Carter held a gun to Israel’s head and, wielding blackmail and deception, mercilessly pressured Begin into agreeing to the treaty terms – the tangible fruits of which were all in Egypt’s – and America’s – favor.

Sadat, who had his forces launch the aggressive wars of 1967 and 1973 with the intent of obliterating the Jewish state, was rewarded for his belligerence by being given the Sinai Peninsula (which was not Egyptian sovereign territory before), and by being universally applauded as a courageous peacemaker.

By relinquishing the Sinai, Israel lost access to sources of oil that supplied upwards of 60 percent of its oil needs. It lost the ultra-modern military airfields it had built in the Sinai, and the billions of dollars it had to spend building substitute airfields in the Negev.

Israel lost the strategic depth that protected it against another Egyptian onslaught. It lost the only way it had of ensuring Israeli ships retain free access to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. It lost the Jewish communities it had established in the Sinai – the process of uprooting them leaving deep scars in the Israeli national conscious and sowing seeds for civil disagreement and strife among Israel’s Jews.

And in the agreement Israel forfeited the possibility of annexing Judea, Samaria and Gaza, instead binding itself to negotiate with the Palestinian Arabs to give them self-rule in those areas to which they – the Arabs – had no prior historical claim.

The United States rewarded Egypt richly; over the ensuing years giving the country billions of dollars worth of modern and sophisticated weaponry, and training Egyptian soldiers and security forces. All the while Egypt’s army – twice as large as Israel’s – has been playing yearly war games in which it practices attacking and destroying the Jewish state.

Egypt, first under Sadat and then under Hosni Mubarak, lived up to nothing in return but a pledge not to launch attacks on Israel from Egyptian soil. That did not stop it from pursuing that other, political, war – delegitimizing the Jewish state and fomenting hatred of Israel at home and abroad.

While Israeli leaders frequently visited Egypt for consultations with Mubarak and his officials, the Egyptian ruler absolutely refused to reciprocate. His solo trip to Jerusalem was for the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Israeli tourists flocked with their money to Egypt, but Egyptians basically never came to tour Israel. The Mubarak-controlled media in Egypt regularly vilified the Jewish state and its Jewish citizens, while Israel’s free media almost always related to their southern neighbor in terms of being a partner in peace.

Meanwhile, included in the Carter-sanctioned agreement, with the American president’s full awareness and in fact collusion, was Egypt’s right to declare war on Israel if Israel should get into another conflict with any other Arab state.

As The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick told an audience in the Israeli capital last week, what has existed between Israel and Egypt for the last 32 years has been not a state of peace but a readily reversible ceasefire.

Apart from badly compromising Israel’s security at the start, when it was formulated and signed, the agreement led Israel to further weaken itself as the years, then the decades, went by.

Glick pointed out that Israel, lulled into sleepiness by the exciting ‘peace agreement,’ long ago stopped training its forces for desert warfare. It also stopped collecting intelligence on the Egyptian military. All the while, Cairo was building up its war machine – with a billion dollars in aid from the United States every year.

“Egypt received massive military assistance from the United States. Those forces – which are trained by the US military – have been training for war against Israel for the last 32 years… The Egyptian army is twice the size of the IDF. Nearly a million Egyptian boys come of call-up age every year.”

Egypt is not “just” anti-Israel; it is one of the most antisemitic countries in the world, warned the Post reporter.

It must be noted, Glick added, that the new military junta ruling Egypt, despite being under intense pressure from the United States to commit itself to honoring the Israel-Egypt treat, was willing to go no further than make a general commitment to all its international treaties.

This should not be overlooked.

So what do we have? Israel signed a treaty with an Egyptian strongman which, yes, helped keep the southern border quiet for 32 years, and enabled millions of Israeli tourists to visit the Sinai and enjoy its beautiful coastline. But it also led to Israel weakening itself strategically, relaxing its guard and effectively rendering itself less able to deal with a future Egyptian assault.

Meanwhile the Egyptian side massively modernized its military while uninterruptedly fuelling hatred of the Jews and their state. Egypt used its “credentials” (influential Arab state with Western-backing) to keep itself in the center of the “peace process.” From Cairo, Hosni Mubarak edged ahead with his anti-Israel agenda, encouraging American administrations and Israeli leftists to work against Israel’s security interests.

Many, mostly liberal, experts are decrying the “scaremongers” who believe that the Muslim Brotherhood will soon ascend to power in Egypt. The revolution there has been widely described as the birthing of democracy in the Arab world and therefore promising a better future for Israel-Egypt relations. But democracy and Islam are oil and water – they cannot be mixed, and Israel’s presence in the Arab’s Muslim midst can never be tolerated. It must be expunged.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while calling Israel-Egyptian peace a “cornerstone of Mideast stability” and “hoping for the best” has said that Israel must “prepare for the worst” in its relations with its southern neighbor. Leftist Israelis have torn strips off him for doing so, calling instead for an appeasing approach that would not risk heightening tensions between the two countries during this transition period.

What is best for Israel? What should we pray for? The survival of a peace treaty that strengthens Egypt – whose political future is at best uncertain – and keeps Israel weak – making its future survival uncertain?

Or do we pray for Israel to prepare for the possibility that Egypt will tear up the treaty and throw it away – even if Israel’s very act of preparation is used as a justification by Egypt to abrogate Camp David?

Should we pray for God to help Israel prepare for what the Bible foretells and Middle East geo-political reality confirms is on the way – a war the Jewish people don’t want, but which will be unleashed against her? And if, as the IDF is bolstered in the south and Israel moves to make up its deficit in intelligence on Egypt, the Egyptian side reacts by scrapping the treaty, so be it?

Latin scholar Vegetius said: Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace, prepare for war).

With the Israel-Egypt treaty, Israel has prepared for peace, but Egypt has has used it to gear up for war.

 

Stan Goodenough is a journalist and commentator, and 23-year resident of the State of Israel.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News, Philosophy & Science Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 18th, 2011 by John Paul

In the wake of Hosni Mubarak leaving his office as leader of Egypt, one would think that there should be a ‘wait and see’ attitude for any changes in the security threat to Israel. However, the instability which already exists on the 240km Israel-Sinai border heightens the concerns of the confusion surrounding a regime change, and the potential problems a government less friendly toward Israel could pose to Israel’s security. Jerusalem Post article points out that Egyptian police stations in the Sinai have already been abandoned when attacked by Bedouins who hold no loyalty to Egypt. Referring to the peninsula as a ‘lawless land,’ a senior defense official indicated,

There is real concern that if the Egyptians don’t get the Sinai back under their control, it could develop into a major threat to Israel. 

Hamas has used the region to launch multiple attacks against Israel over the past several years, so they may use the governmental upheaval to their advantage. According to an Arutz-7 news brief, the police in the Sinai region have been attacked, beaten and kidnapped by militants in the region, prompting Israel to approve the deployment of Egyptian forces to the Sinai for the first time since Egypt signed their peace treaty with Israel, to address the increase in violence.

Believers who are concerned for Israel’s safety are having mixed reactions toward these developments in the Sinai and the potential for greater freedom for the Christians in Egypt if the new government is one that will embrace religious liberty. However, with the election of the Hamas in Gaza and the ‘tactical coup’ by Hezbollah in Lebanon, the region is not trending towards freedom and democracy. Let us be diligent in our prayers for the entire region for God’s purposes, the protection of believers and Israel.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

January 2nd, 2009 by M. French

The Assyrian International News Agency reports:

(AINA) — Martha Samuel, an Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity 5 years ago, was arrested at Cairo airport on Wednesday as she and her husband and two sons (4 and 2) were leaving for Russia (AINA 12-17-2008). Her name was on the observation list of people prevented from leaving the country.

The Egypt for Christ Ministry is reporting that Martha Samuel has been subjected to sexual assault by Egyptian police officers at El-Nozha police station as well as at the National Security office in Heliopolis. She has also been beaten and tortured in an attempt to force her to return to Islam. The police have promised to release her if she returns to Islam.

Martha Samuel and her children, who are also under arrest, is to be transferred from the National Security office in Heliopolis to Al-Qanater prison after seeing the “renewal judge.” The children are not being provided with food deliberately to pressure their mother to return to Islam. Fadl Thabet, Martha’s husband, has been taken to the National Security office in Alexandria (Somoha District).

Martha Samuel, whose former name is Zainab Said Abdel-Aziz, and her family were trying to travel to Russia using a passport of her Christian name, in order to escape from the continuous persecution by the Egyptian police and her own family, who have been trying to kill her for 5 years as a result of her conversion.

Posted in News, Persecution Tagged with: ,