Watching Over Zion: November 2nd 2017

The Word:  “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.” This is what the Lord says… The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit.” (Jeremiah 31:1-5)

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing …For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water… (Isaiah 35:1-7) 

Pointers for prayer:  Today, Thursday 2nd November 2017 marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was delivered to Lord Rothschild in 1917.  Please pray for all the events going on to commemorate this event throughout the UK – for a full list of events click here: http://www.balfour100.com/events/.   

Do also pray regarding the event that many CFI supporters will be at on Tuesday November 7, at the Royal Albert Hall (details info@balfour100.org).  This amazing evening will be a mix of music, song and drama as we discover and follow the partnerships and personalities that were key to the issuing of the Balfour Declaration. 

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the UK, he will meet Theresa May at the gala dinner at Lancaster House, near St James' Palace.  Netanyahu will be sitting near the UK Prime Minister and her audience which will include the descendants of Lord Arthur Balfour and Baron Walter Rothschild.  Please pray against any efforts from those who oppose Israel to disrupt this meeting and indeed all the events going on in celebration of the Balfour 100.   

Do continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, especially in light of the recent discovery and destruction of another terrorist tunnel from Gaza into Israel (see report here: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/237413).  Please continue to pray for the current leaders in Israel. God is calling Christians to come alongside Israel and cry out to God on Israel's behalf, to take the deep heart cry of the nation into our own hearts; to intercede against her enemies, and to believe in the promises of God for Israel.   

The world’s best wine to celebrate Balfour 100?   

Stepping aside from the ‘political’ angle of the Balfour 100 for a moment, and by way of a follow up to my last report in which the first article was called 'Thirsting for the waters of life', I thought that as we are now in the celebration period of the Balfour 100, I’d continue with the theme of the land of Israel being ‘renewed’.  

Two weeks ago I spoke in my church on part of some teaching that I would later be sharing at the conference my wife and I were invited to speak at in Scotland the following week.  You can hear the talk I gave at my fellowship here. In it, I spoke on the importance of God’s Word being fulfilled in our days – and these days are indeed important – especially in light of the Balfour 100.   2 
 
During Bible times, a large section of the Promised Land of ‘milk and honey’ was the area known as Judea and Samaria (or what the world now claims as ‘The West Bank’).  One of the greatest symbols of this promise was the vineyard.  Even today, the symbol of Israel's tourism is a picture of the Israeli spies who brought the giant grapes back to the Israelis in the wilderness (Numbers 13).  According to the Bible, God has made an eternal covenant with the Jewish people (Genesis 17:7; Jeremiah 31:35 37; Romans 11:28 29).  When He made this covenant with Abraham, God promised his descendants ownership of the land of Israel as an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:8). This promise of ownership was transferred through Isaac and Jacob to the 12 tribes of Israel (Genesis 26:3-4; 35:12; Psalm 105:8 11).  In essence, this is partly what the Balfour 100 celebrations are about. 
 
After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Romans uprooted the vines and brought them to Rome. The vineyards of the Promised Land were laid waste and the land sat fallow for nearly two thousand years.  However from the late 1800s the Jewish people returned to the land in fulfilment of the Word of God. For God promised a second regathering of the Jewish people to their land in the latter days, from which they will never be uprooted again (Isaiah 11:11-14; Jeremiah 16:14-16; Ezekiel 11:17; Amos 9:14-15).  And guess what? The promise of the regathering specifically includes Judea and Samaria (Jeremiah 31:5,14; Ezekiel 36:1-15).  Again, it is written that the Jewish people will return to the land in unbelief, their return being a pre-condition for God to pour out His Spirit on them (Ezekiel 11:16 20; 20:42 43; 36:24 28; 37:12-14; 39:25 29; Jeremiah 32:37-41;  33:7 9).    
 
When the Jews returned, they believed that it was the time and season for Israel to resettle the land of their forefathers and many chose the empty hillsides on the top of the mountains of Israel (Judea & Samaria). Looking for ways to bring in some income for these people, vineyards were considered.  Experts were brought in to evaluate the land, the soil, and topography to give their opinions on planting vineyards. The expert’s conclusion was that it was terrible soil, wrong elevation, and a host of other reasons why vineyards would never work. Yet, as God fearing men, these Jewish Israelis prayed and found this scripture: “Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the planters will plant and will enjoy them” (Jeremiah 31:5).    
 
With faith in God, a biblical promise about vineyards in Samaria and a healthy dose of Israeli ‘hutspa’ (nerve) they randomly chose some grape varieties and planted some vineyards in Samaria - for the first time in almost 2000 years. Within a few years the vineyards exploded and the fruit was in high demand. For this reason, it was decided to begin making their wine which soon also became wildly successful.  A few years ago, after some local success, Israel entered their wines into over 15,000 “blind bottle taste tests” in Europe and other areas of the world. To everyone’s surprise, Israel has won best wine and has come second in other categories, beating famous and well established wineries in France and Italy.  
 
However, what is also amazing is that during this time, another Scripture was pondered upon. In Isaiah 61:5 we read, “Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.” Today, many Christians help with the vineyards – they come from all over the world to help – free of charge.   Is it God’s blessings or simply a coincidence that today, Israel is full of vineyards and Israeli wines are winning international awards?  You decide.  Click here to watch this amazing short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yBr2cLVi-s   For more information on the film clip you have watched, go to http://www.iamisraelfilm.com/index.html.  

Balfour 100 – A time to celebrate.   

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which paved the way for the re-establishment of what is now the modern State of Israel.  However from what was a strong Christian based thinking, many within the church today dismiss this important event and consider Israel simply as a “political mistake”.  The Declaration is also often thought to be the product of a relatively ‘modern movement’ for the physical restoration of Jews to a geographical homeland – if indeed one can call ‘100 years’ a modern movement.  The fact is however that British support for the Jewish people goes back a long way into the history books.  Indeed, the modern State of Israel is a culmination of a vision 3 
 
for the restoration of the Jewish people to their Biblical homeland which had developed within the Church in Great Britain over the previous three hundred years.   This vision, supported by the great Christian Revivalists and Bible Teachers such as John & Charles Wesley, Charles Simeon, Robert Murray McCheyne, C H Spurgeon and Bishop J C Ryle, was based on the Covenants of Promise as well as other prophetic Scriptures found in the Bible. 

Many Christians were inspired to pray for the fulfilment of this vision and prominent leaders in England and Scotland, including William Wilberforce, Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury, encouraged the British government to actively support the restoration of Israel.  Today however, the world has changed!  Thankfully, the British Prime Minister Theresa May told the Arab Palestinians – a name created for political gain in 1964 by Yasser Arafat - that there will be “No apology for the Balfour Declaration”. Her Majesty’s government under Theresa May slammed the door shut emphatically refusing to apologize for the publication, a century ago, of a document that legitimized the re-creation of a future Jewish state, saying instead that it is proud of the role Britain played in re-establishing Israel.  This however, does not mean that the Arab Palestinian Authority have given up their demands. Nor does it mean that those in the UK who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel (BDS) will remain silent.  However, there has been some good news on this released through a survey from the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), a UK-based think tank, which shows a drop in backing for the BDS movement, particularly among young people, and suggests Britons view Israel as a key ally in the fight against terrorism.  

The BICOM research, carried out by the Populus polling company, provided respondents with the text of the 1917 pledge by the British government to support the establishment of a Jewish national home in ‘Palestine’  (a name not to be confused with the modern-day Arab Palestinians).  Thirty-eight percent of voters said the UK government had adopted the right policy, with 17% disagreeing. Nearly half of those surveyed — a representative sample of 2,000 British voters - agreed that “hating Israel and questioning its right to exist” is anti-Semitic. Amazingly though, 17% believed that it was not. However, the results were welcomed by the CEO of BICOM, James Sorene, as evidence of “a significant silent majority who support Zionism in Britain today.” 

It is most peculiar how the “few in number” do often appear to make the loudest noise, and thus are heard more.  An example of this is that the Islamic population is only 4% of the UK population – which means 96% of the 66 million are non-Islamic; and the LGBT’s (Gay/lesbian etc.) are only 2.5% of the UK population (source).  So why is it that the UK often appears to be consumed by demands from such groups?  While the vocal anti-Israel lobby in the UK has led some to view London as the BDS capital of the world, public support for the boycott movement is limited to a small minority of voters. Only 11% of those surveyed said they backed the BDS movement with 48% agreeing with the statement that they do not support boycotts of Israel “and find it difficult to understand how others do given everything else that is going on in the world.” 

Backing for BDS in Britain has fallen to its lowest level since 2014. Perhaps most significantly, young people appear to be turning away from boycotts – this is an answer to prayer – but do keep praying. Fortyfive percent of those aged 18-24 said they opposed BDS, a figure which has risen by 17% over the past two years.  Interestingly, since the start of the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) campaigns in 2005, foreign investments in Israel have nearly tripled!   

Fresh rows emerge for Corbyn   

In related news, Arab Palestinians and BDS supporters in the UK have welcomed Jeremy Corbyn's decision not to attend events organised for celebrating the Balfour Declaration centenary.  A long-term critic of Israel, and what he refers to as “occupation of Palestinian land” - the Labour Party leader has not yet explained his reasons for not attending "About Balfour 100" - a series of country-wide events in November marking the occasion including lectures, dinners, film screenings, and Jewish religious services.  Meanwhile, the Labour Party leader is entangled in a fresh row over Israel after it 4 emerged that Jeremy Corbyn has refused to attend the official dinner with the country’s prime minister this week to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.  The Labour leader’s snub came as Israel’s ambassador to London told The Sunday Times that “those who oppose the historic declaration are “extremists” who reject Israel’s right to exist and could be viewed on a par with terrorist groups such as Hamas.”  Considering that Corbyn considers Hamas and Hezbollah officials his “friends;” has gone public many times with harsh criticism for the Israeli state, and declined to crack down on openly anti-Semitic members of his party, his refusal is not particularly startling.  He also did not attend the annual Labour Friends of Israel reception held last month – the first time in living memory that a Labour leader did not attend.   In stark contrast, Prime Minister Theresa May and hundreds of other British officials will be attending the festivities marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.  

Israel standing with America against terror     In breaking news, as I write, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York launched what is certain to be a stream of solidarity messages from Israeli leaders following Tuesday evening’s terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan, in which at least eight people are reported to have been killed, with dozens more wounded.  Ambassador Danny Danon stated, “Just as the US has always stood by our side in our times of need, Israel will always stand with America in the fight against terror,” he said in a message to his American counterpart Nikki Haley. “We send our condolences to the families of those killed and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured.”  The suspect – Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a 29 year-old Uzbek national who arrived in the USA in 2010 – drove a rental truck onto a jogging and bike path, ploughing into pedestrians and cyclists until he crashed into a school bus. Exiting the truck, the suspect waved imitation firearms, before being shot in the abdomen by a uniformed police officer.  Multiple reports said that Saipov shouted “Allahu Akhbar!” during the attack. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is taking over the lead of the investigation. 

Balfour Declaration's Centenary on FrontPage Jerusalem   FrontPage Jerusalem is a unique, informative and well-paced weekly broadcast hosted by Earl Cox, Ben Kinchlow and CFI Jerusalem’s Kevin Howard. Brought to you by Christian Friends of Israel Jerusalem, FrontPage Jerusalem is a premier Christian radio talk show direct from Jerusalem featuring exclusive interviews addressing current issues, along with expert analysis and scholarly biblical teaching.   

In the latest edition, (October 28, 2017) Tim Vince is featured speaking on the Balfour Centenary.  To tune in, click here: http://cfijerusalem.org/web/video/frontpage-jerusalem-radio .  Also from the Jerusalem office, you can now download the latest edition of the For Zion Sake magazine.  During the recent UK tour of Stacey & Kevin Howard we ran short of this magazine.  If you are already on our mailing list and you want to receive it through the post in the UK, simple contact our UK Head Office on 01323 410810.    

And Finally…   And with apologies to people out of reach of this event, on Saturday November 11, 2017 Christian Friends of Israel will be involved with a Day Conference entitled ‘Truth Without Compromise’ at Sunbridge Road Mission, Gaynor Street, Bradford, BD1 2LF.  The event starts at 10 am and goes through until 4 pm.  The speakers include Andrea Williams (Christian Concern); Roger Carswell (Association of Evangelism); David Soakell (Christian Friends of Israel) and Tony Brown (Cults Investigated).  There will be a time of worship and bookstalls (including CFI).  Refreshments will be provided, but do bring a packed lunch).  Admission is free. Contact tony@sunbridgeroadmission.org.uk for more details.

David Soakell   
(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent) Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/  

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