Smoke rises from Wadi Joz in east Jerusalem. The author could not find a media report to explain the event.

What kind of city of this?

Smoke rises from Wadi Joz in east Jerusalem. The author could not find a media report to explain the event.

Smoke rises from Wadi Joz in east Jerusalem. The author could not find a media report to explain the event.

I love Jerusalem. As a friend reminds me, the city is sealed on my heart. I ache when I am not here. Still, sometimes, I marvel at its idiosyncrasies. That’s almost too mild a word.

This place can be weird. It’s a city of conflict and coexistence. That’s just one paradox. Most of times, I can smile, shrug and say, “That’s Jerusalem.”  Not today.

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Rosh HaShana

Awake, O Israel. Shana tovah

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

There is a lot of shofar blowing in the weeks before Rosh Hashana (head of the year). Biblically, this time is known as the Day of the Shofar Blast. You can read more about how these holidays are related at Hebrew4Christians.com. The video below is a cool shofar-blowing montage by IKAR Los Angeles.

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A map of the territory that the Islamic State has claimed from Syria and Iraq as of June. Click on map to see larger.

Re-Drawing the Middle East Map

A map of the territory that the Islamic State has claimed from Syria and Iraq as of June. Click on map to see larger.

A map of the territory that the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) 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.

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The Islamic State is no joke

There is so much news in Israel and beyond, but I am not in a place to keep up with it as I once had. Still, the new caliphate is something to which we MUST pay attention. They are not playing.

Christians in Mosul (ancient Ninevah) were given less than three days to leave the region or then face three options. As Reuters reported:

In the statement, Isis said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” declared earlier this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract – a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya“. “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.

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

Enemies & friends at time of war

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. Thursady 192 rockets were fired by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Some were even co-fired by the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah commandos. Of these, 44 were intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket defenses. Friday morning three rockets were fired from within Lebanon into Israel by an independent as-yet-unnamed jihadi group there.

How are the hostilities developing? What seem to be the next steps? What guidance can the Scriptures gives us regarding understanding and prayer?

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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)

Pray for Gaza, too

I’ve deferred to brother Avner Boskey to recap the week and give biblical analysis. Instead, I want to just share personal thoughts, maybe process on digital paper.

This is my first time living with the threat of bombing. It’s hard to say how I feel. To me, it is very much just a fact of life because of where I am. Then again, I’m in Jerusalem. We’ve had three sirens in a week. Tel Aviv has had sirens daily. I cannot imagine what life in the south of Israel near Gaza would be like. They get rockets all the time.

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.

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

Don’t be ostrich on battlefield

An Iron Dome missile flies to intercept a Gaza-fired rocket over Tel Aviv on July 9, 2014. (Credit: IDF via Flickr)

An Iron Dome missile flies to intercept a Gaza-fired rocket over Tel Aviv on July 9, 2014. (Credit: IDF via Flickr)

Believers who are called to love Israel should also have a heart for the Arab world. It is heart-breaking to watch war and not peace break out again in Israel. Yet Isaiah calls us all in Isaiah 40:2 to “speak over the heart of Jerusalem.” Truth and love must blend in our heart and our message to Israel. Rodney King-type appeals (“Why can’t we all just get along?”) are not the need of the moment, and have an unreal kumbaya quality to them. This is a time for war, not a time for peace.

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.

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Illustration by the Israel Defense Forces.

Is this war? Hamas vs Israel

Illustration by the Israel Defense Forces.

Graphic posted by the Israel Defense Forces after the bomb siren sounded in the city. Two explosions were heard, but no injuries reported.

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.

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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).

Birth pangs in midst of jihad

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.

We are entering another season of ‘Bein hameitzarim’ (the period of the “Dire Straits’).

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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.

Israeli anger flows into street

Yesterday, readers asked me what the atmosphere is like in Jerusalem after the nation learned that the three missing teens had been dead all along.

Today started normal enough. Still, the murders were lunchtime conversation, as were the retaliatory strikes done by Israel on Hamas members living in Gaza early in the morning. Still, I hadn’t seen or heard anything unusual from my desk in the Old City.

I started to head home sometime after 5 p.m. As I walked toward Jaffa Road to catch the light rail, I could hear a crowd in the distance. I asked God if I should continue that way and felt freedom to do so.

When I got to the corner of Jaffa Road and King Shlomo, I saw police on horse back and others on foot around a crowd of chanting demonstrators. Traffic was honking because the demonstrators had blocked the light rail tracks and so the train was blocking the car traffic.

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