Awake, O Israel. Shana tovah

23 September 2014 – 29 Elul 5774
Rosh HaShana

The Jewish New Year is upon us. Now begins a time of reflection and repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

Re-Drawing the Middle East Map

20 July 2014 – 22 Tammuz 5774
A map of the territory that the Islamic State has claimed from Syria and Iraq as of June. Click on map to see larger.

I recently had a vision of a new season in the Middle East defined by the re-drawing of its borders. I saw angels being released who had sashes over their shoulders on which were written the phrase “Border angel”. They were being sent forth to reset borders according to their original ethnic calling. In the Scriptures, the word “nations” is not used in our modern sense of “nation states” but more in the sense of “peoples” or “ethnic groups”. Many of the crises facing the Middle East can be traced to the colonial powers’ decision to re-draw the map of the Middle East (also in Africa) as modern nation states, putting warring tribal and religious groupings in the same nation state, and dividing united tribal or religious groups into different nation states.

The Islamic State is no joke

20 July 2014 – 22 Tammuz 5774

When the Islamic State leader said they could even take Rome (with Muslim unity), he didn’t mean Italy. He meant the perceived capital of Christianity (and it doesn’t matter if you’re not Roman Catholic). The newly renamed Caliph Ibrahim is seriously nation building with a vision for an empire.

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Enemies & friends at time of war

13 July 2014 – 16 Tammuz 5774
A rocket shot from Gaza destroyed a house in Beersheva on July 12, 2014. (Credit: IDF via Flickr)

The unofficial state of war spreads as Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza continue to strike Israeli cities, hitting Jewish civilians (and occasionally Arab citizens of Israel). These jihadi rocket attacks are shot from launchers deliberately positioned by Hamas among Gaza’s civilian population – a war crime by legal and ethical definitions.

Pray for Gaza, too

13 July 2014 – 16 Tammuz 5774
International activists speak with a patient hours after an Israeli projectile struck the hospital's fourth floor July 11, 2014, demolishing a wall and damaging doors and windows. Early Friday morning, the hospital had been hit by four warning rockets, small missiles sometimes fired by the Israeli army before larger strikes. (Credit: Joe Catron via Flickr)

Right now, though, my heart hurts for the people of Gaza. They are people imprisoned by those among them who are power hungry and driven by a murderous hate for Israel. In Israel, there have been no deaths directly because of rockets. In Gaza, well over a hundred have died. Israel warns people to get out of harms’ way, but Hamas tells their people to stay put. They know dead bodies will win them points on the international stage.

Don’t be ostrich on battlefield

13 July 2014 – 16 Tammuz 5774
An Iron Dome installation fires to intercept an incoming rocket in central Israel on July 8, 2014. (Credit: IDF via Flickr)

Unity and love between Jews and Arabs is a prime value and a deep necessity. But God is not about the business of creating ‘one new ostrich.’ When concerted efforts to destroy the Jewish people arise, Messianic Jews and believing Arabs need to look unflinchingly upon murderous Islamist violence and destructive strategies, call them for what they are, reject them and take a bold and public stand against them. Anything less than that will not carry the day.

Is this war? Hamas vs Israel

9 July 2014 – 11 Tammuz 5774
Illustration by the Israel Defense Forces.

The bomb siren went off in Jerusalem this evening. Israeli media are reporting that there was a barrage of 40 long-range rockets from Gaza. As of this writing, there are no reported injuries. Israel began Operation Protective Edge early this morning, striking Hamas in Gaza. As many as a dozen have been killed by Israeli strikes, dozens more injured.

Birth pangs in midst of jihad

5 July 2014 – 8 Tammuz 5774
Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad run with homemade rockets to put in place before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City. (Photo by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi/Flickr).

Fast-moving events are transfixing Israel this week. The bodies of three Jewish teenagers murdered by their Hamas kidnappers were discovered. Jihadi rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip have been smashing into Israeli kibbutzim and towns even as we go to press. Saudi Arabia announced that it has moved 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq, concerned about the jihadi onslaught rolling like thunder across Mesopotamian fields.

Israeli anger flows into street

2 July 2014 – 5 Tammuz 5774
Mounted police begin to heard young Israelis off the light rail tracks during a demonstration in Jerusalem, Israel,  on July 1, 2014. Protests around the city reportedly began peacefully as demonstrators chanted nationalist slogans and handed out stickers reading "Government of Israel: enough talking, we demand revenge!"  in reference to the murder of three Israeli teens.

There was real hope among many here that the three kidnapped teens were alive even after being missing more than two weeks. We’ve since learned that they were probably killed not long after they were picked up. Hope deferred does make a heart sick.

Follow the Chile

Follow the Chile

Mourning, watching, waiting

30 June 2014 – 3 Tammuz 5774
A social media image made the Israeli Defense Forces as they searched for the kidnapped teens. The names of the abducted Israelis are Eyal Yifrach (age 19), Gilad Shaar (age 16), and Naftali Frenkel (age 16). Their bodies were reportedly found Monday night in a field near Hebron.

“They just said on the radio,” she said, “that they’ve found the bodies of the three boys.” I scrambled to pull up the Times of Israel website on my laptop literally in my lap. There was the giant headline.

Gaza rockets shatter Shabbat, rattle Sderot

30 June 2014 – 3 Tammuz 5774
Smoke rises in Sderot after a rocket struck a factory on June 28, 2014. (Photo via Hands of Mercy)

Saturday evening as the Shabbat rest came to an end, the quiet of the early evening was shattered in our small community. The Tzeva Adom alarm sounded to warn us all of the incoming rockets, and seconds later the loud explosion was heard as the rocket made a direct hit on a nearby factory. The flames and black smoke filled the sky. Houses were emptied as people came outside to see the horrific scene… their faces filled with fear.

Former Muslims fellowship with Jews in Jerusalem

16 June 2014 – 18 Sivan 5774
Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian pray together during the At the Crossroads Conference at Christ Church in Jerusalem, Israel,  on May 15, 2014. Their identities have been obscured for their protection.

Followers of Jesus the Messiah from across the Middle East gather in Jerusalem to worship with their Jewish brothers.