Nick Gray of Balfour 100 examines how Christians shaped the modern Middle East a hundred years ago 

There are many centenaries to be marked at the moment, as we progress through 100 years since the “war to end all wars” took place. So many of these remind us of the horrific and tragic loss of life incurred on all sides of the conflict in battles big and small between 1914 and 1918. November 2017, however, sees the centenary of a political expression of intent made in the midst of wartime strategy that went on to become one of the most influential yet controversial documents in 20th century history.

The Balfour Declaration, named after the Foreign Secretary of the day who signed it, was an expression of approval for the concept of establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the area that was biblical Israel but was then known as “Palestine” . It was an attempt to combine British strategic needs and the historical justice of returning a dispersed Jewish people to their biblical and historical homeland.

Hezekiah is affirmed in Scripture as doing “what was right in the Lord’s sight” (2 Kings 18:3). The next verse details what Hezekiah did: “He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for the Israelites burned incense to it up to that time” (2 Kings 18:4).Surely people understood a strong, spiritual leader removing the idols (the high places and the Asherah poles) that grabbed the hearts of the people and stole worship from the Lord. They would expect their spiritual leader to insist they stop worshiping other gods. But what Hezekiah did next must have been really unexpected and really controversial. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses made—intentionally. Not by accident. Not “I was carrying it and it fell.” To break bronze takes some effort.

This last two years have seen the Liberal Democrats recover since the devastation of the 2015 election.   That recovery was never inevitable but we have seen the doubling of our party membership, growth in council elections, our first parliamentary by-election win for more than a decade, and most recently our growth at the 2017 general election.

Most importantly the Liberal Democrats have established ourselves with a significant and distinctive role – passionate about Europe, free trade, strong well-funded public services underpinned by a growing market economy.  No one else occupies that space.  Against all the odds, the Liberal Democrats matter again.

We can be proud of the progress we have made together, although there is much more we need to do.

From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.  I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience.  Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.  At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again – asked about matters to do with my faith.  I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.  The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader. A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

Are you smarter than your smart phone?

Music and silence-how I detest them both! … We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress –Screwtape

The fictional devil, Screwtape, invented by CS Lewis, is an excellent guide to many who would, otherwise, be ‘unaware of [the devil’s] schemes’. It is essential to satanic strategy that the human thinking process should be hindered in every way possible – especially thinking about or with God: “...the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers…” 2 Corinthians 4:4) and he seeks tirelessly to control Christian minds also… “set your minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2).

How does the Word of God speak about the People of God?

In the world people seek glory. Every field of human endeavour offers its own awards. High achievers receive medals, honours, titles and prizes. With the award comes admiration, honour and praise. The glory of this world usually leads to fame and fortune. A celebrity is listened to and gains the power to influence things.

GENEVA Dec 21 2016 - As the UN General Assembly prepares to adopt a resolution today accusing Israel of harmning Palestinians by the "exploitation of natural resources", "extensive destruction of agricultural land" and "widespread destruction" - part of 20 anti-Israel resolutions adopted in the annual session that concludes this week - UN Watch released a list of the "Top ten most egregious UN Anti-Israel actions of 2016".

Top Ten most insane U.N. anti-Israel actions of 2016

10. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon singled out Israel for unprecedented criticism in a New York Times op-ed, doubling down on a lopsided Security Council speech in which he justified Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians by saying "it is human nature to react to occupation".

The new United Nations Security General, António Guterres, has enraged the Palestinian Authority after making statements about the Temple Mount and the way Israel is treated by UN member states. The Palestinian outrage began on Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January), when Guterres was given an impassioned speech about the Holocaust in the UN General Assembly. This was a powerful speech that addressed the root cause of the Holocaust – anti-Semitism. He looked back at anti-Semitism of the past and showing the constant instances of anti-Semitism throughout history, from ancient times until today.

While the Palestinian Authority, who continue those anti-Semitic attitudes, were likely to be outraged by the whole speech. (After all, Mahmoud Abbas wrote an entire book that tried to deny/revise the Holocaust). There was one line, however, that caused Palestinian outrage to overflow. That line was when Guterres said, “Imperial Rome not only destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, but also made Jews pariahs in many ways.” He pointed out the historic fact that there was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and that Jews lived in Jerusalem long before the Palestinians were ever on the scene. Abbas’ Fatah party responded with outrage claiming that his comments were “an assault on Palestinian’s rights to the city”.

Jerusalem has vastly expanded in the 7,000 years of its existence. Including, in the past two decades, downwards. Beneath the Old City, one can already walk hundreds of meters underground, pray in subterranean spaces of worship and see shows in subterranean caverns and halls. There are plans in place to dramatically increase this area – essentially, restoring the true ancient city beneath the visible one. Jerusalem 2.0, below ground.

A leading Messianic group in America has responded to the Vatican's recent claim that Jews do not need to be believers in Jesus Christ to be saved, by saying that the Apostle Paul would have been "horrified" at the suggestion.

The Word:   Command the Israelis to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israeli’s for the generations to come. (Exodus 27:20-21).

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