Obama’s Middle East (Part Two)
In a famous 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt, Obama proclaimed the beginning of a new relationship and outreach to Muslim nations, including overtures to Iran. Coincidentally, at about the same time arose the political/social phenomenon known as the Arab Spring, throughout the Arab Islamic world. At first the Arab Spring seemed to embody the best of what Obama hoped for, a longing for freedom and democracy in previously autocratic states. It’s apparent and greatest success was in Egypt where dictator, President Hosni Mubarak, was overthrown by the masses. A constitution was cobbled together, an election held and the Muslim Brotherhood (a previously outlawed Islamacist group) won the election. Obama welcomed the new leader, Mohammed Morsi.
However, quickly things spiraled out of control there and in other countries where the Arab Spring arose. Rather than democratic groups taking control, Islamic fundamentalist groups began gaining the upper hand. In Libya the masses began rebelling against the dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi responded with overwhelming force. Obama, under pressure from European allies, agreed to limited US involvement to protect the civilian population. Gaddafi was eventually overthrown by a combination of European forces and Libyan rebel groups. Obama refused further US involvement. The result today is a completely failed state, controlled in various places by competing rebel groups, including Islamic fundamentalists.
In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood solidified its control with Islamists, which proved unpopular with the masses and with the Egyptian military, including President Morsi’s hand picked military chief of staff, Abdel el-Sisi. El-sisi ultimately led a military overthrow of the Brotherhood regime, jailed most of its members and rules the country today. The Obama administration has a strained relationship with el-Sisi.
In Iraq, Iran’s influence had increased with the election of former Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite leader in 2006. Governing coalitions with Sunni and Kurd groups proved unsuccessful, as Maliki, with Iranian support, sidelined the Sunnis, which US forces had fought to win over several years before. Disaffected Sunnis became the basis for the later developing ISIS organization.
The greatest tragedy and failing, however, was in Syria. Beginning in 2011, the Arab Spring sought reforms to the dictatorial state. Bashar Assad, the leader and Western trained doctor, responded to the then peaceful protests with overwhelming force. As force continued, various rebel groups formed around the country. Assad responded with ever increasing violence, leading to approximately 250,000 deaths and millions of refugees. Pressure was applied to the Obama administration to do something. While promises were made, actions were never taken. The use of barrel bombs, slaughter of civilian populations, the dissemination of chemical weapons led to minimal or no US involvement. According to many reports, many within the Obama administration supported some military action, such as the institution of protected no fly zones, where refugees could be relocated. In the end, the Obama administration refused.
Where the possibility existed of assisting some moderate rebel groups, because of the lack of support, more radical Islamacist groups associated with Al Qaida gained strength and popularity. Into this quagmire arose the latest and deadliest Islamist group, ISIS. Finding fertile ground in disaffected Iraqi Sunni Muslims, including some military leaders from the Hussein era, and the unpopulated areas of Syria, ISIS formed as a sudden viable government and successful military force, quickly conquering large swaths of under populated areas. Proclaiming itself a new Caliphate in the Middle East, it sophistically used social media to spread its message and gain thousands of recruits from around the world. Its message and warning was incomprehensible violence. Iraqi military forces were overrun. Suddenly, Iraq looked vulnerable to this crazed group, and finally the Obama administration responded with limited air strikes but no ground forces. At this point ISIS appears somewhat degraded but continues as an effective and deadly fighting force. In the meantime, Iran and now Russia have intervened on the side of Assad in Syria with little or no push back from the Obama administration. They seem content with US concentration against ISIS.
There are probably many reasons why Obama has been reticent to involve US forces in the Middle East, but certainly a big one was the Iran nuclear negotiations. As stated earlier, Obama made outreach to Iran one of his early priorities. In the latter Bush and through much of the Obama years, Iran’s nuclear activities increased, despite ever increasing and punishing international economic sanctions. Finally, in 2013 Iran elected a so-called moderate as president, Hassan Rouhani, who immediately indicated interest in nuclear negotiations. The negotiations were “completed” in June and signed by the various parties, Iran, the US and five European nations. The deal halts further Iranian nuclear development for at least 10 years and subjects Iran to intrusive international inspections. In turn, the economic sanctions are gradually removed.
Sadly, the deal is fraught with numerous holes. The vast majority of the US public opposes the deal as does a majority of the Congress. The only ones happy about it are the Obama administration and Iran. Iran has made clear that it will expand its influence over Middle Eastern affairs and appears willing to challenge US power everywhere, again most openly in Syria, propping up the murderous Assad regime.
Furthering adding to the woes of these scenarios is the massive refugee crisis descending upon Europe. With no place to go and no end in sight to the relentless violence and destruction, hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of Syrian/Iraqi refugees are now migrating to Europe, thus creating another massive international crisis. This is unprecedented in European history. The world seems hand strung; the Obama administration oblivious to its culpability in all of these affairs.
While it is true US adventurism and her military interventions have a mixed history, there is no question US expansion of power and threat of military action made the world a safer place. Trade, commerce and economic prosperity have flowed around the globe consistently since the end of WW II. The Obama administration clearly saw and sees US involvement and projection of power as quite limited. The result is an increasingly dangerous world, where renegade regimes such as Iran and Russia push the envelope wherever possible. The Middle East will continue to be a hotbed of activity, likely leading to more and dangerous increases in weapons acquisition programs by various states. Of course, Israel stands right in the middle, watching all of this with great anxiety.
The challenge for the US will be to try and right the ship after a new President is elected. Hopefully, the American public will wash their hands of Obama’s nonsensical foreign policy and rightfully take her place again as one of history’s greatest nations, who can assist the world in the promotion of goodwill and prosperity.
Jamie Cowen is a Partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh Law Offices, Petach Tikvah, Israel; Former Rabbi, Tikvat Israel Congregation, Richmond, Viriginia; Former President, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Former Chief Counsel, US Senate Subcommittee 1978-1986
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Times the Prophets Longed to See
Biblical historians say Luke is one of the few non-Jewish authors of the Bible, with both the Old and New Testaments almost exclusively written by Jews.
In his Gospel, Luke writes about the life of Yeshua (Jesus), and in the Book of Acts, we learn how his disciples fared after His ascension.
When God chooses Jeremiah, He tells him He’s watching over His Word to perform it (Jer. 1:12).
It certainly appears His plan is moving right along.
To better understand today’s headlines, the biblical prophets are a good place to start. After all Jeremiah lived in politically turbulent times, especially for the Jews.
Today, the Jewish people are returning to their biblical homeland. Since the late 1800s, there’s been a steady stream of returnees. On May 14, 1948, Israel officially became the modern nation-state of the Jewish people.
Aliyah — immigration to Israel — is increasing again, partly because of rising anti-Semitism, but also because Diaspora Jews are beginning to realize if they’re not in Israel, they’re in exile. They are returning to the place where a lot of promises to them as a people will be fulfilled. And they’re wonderful promises!
For the first time in nearly 2,000 years, there’s an indigenous Israeli Body of Messiah.
Estimated at about 15,000 and growing, it’s part of this regathering. And its diversity reflects Israeli society as a whole.
Set in a Jewish Context
While Luke may not have been a Hebrew, his writings mirror the Jewish context of God’s plan of salvation for all mankind. Yeshua was born, lived, and died a Jew.
You can’t separate Israel’s Messiah from Israel. Edith Schaffer was right. Christianity is Jewish.
Yeshua said, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)
So here’s some very good news. God is raising up an indigenous Body in Israel. These young believers have grown up in a tough little country. They’ve served in the IDF, they’re pursuing their education and careers, meeting their mates, getting married and starting families.
These young people are PRAYers and DOers. Corporately and individually they’re products of prayer. In short, they make our hearts smile.
Those with the gift of evangelism are sharing the Good News with Israelis who for the most part never heard it or heard it in a cultural context they couldn’t relate to. The biblical comparison is Joseph’s brothers not recognizing him because he looked like an Egyptian. In the end they find out he’s their brother. So it will be when the Jewish people come to know their Jewish Messiah.
Click here to see “The Forbidden Chapter in the Tenach.”
As latent anti-Semitism raises its ugly head yet again, God is raising up a generation of Israelis equipped to share the Good News with the Jewish people.
Prayer and More Prayer
Now is the time to undergird the Israeli Body in prayer. God is moving in Israel. It’s very exciting and at the same time challenging to be here at this point in time.
The prophet Zechariah foretells that God will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication on Israel and simultaneously remove the veil that has prevented His covenant people from seeing the One they’re awaiting for thousands of years.
Jews will see they are not outside God’s plan of salvation. In fact, the Bible states in more than one place, “to the Jew first and then the Greek.” Israel as a nation will understand and it will bring us to national repentance and salvation. We will be saved as a people, as it is written, “all Israel will be saved.”
And the world can hardly stand it. God’s enemy, the prince of the power of the air, the one who walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, whose only interest is to steal, kill, and destroy, is more intent than ever to wipe out the Jewish people.
Iranian Nuclear Deal
The US-brokered Iranian nuclear deal is a prime example. Sadly, the Obama administration has been a tool in the enemy’s hand to stir up anti-Semitism wherever it may be found. His vendetta against Israel and its prime minister is palpable. Many of the world’s largest news agencies are simply pawns in the hands of “the prince of the power of the air.”
There is nothing Elohei Yisrael, the God of Israel, doesn’t know about. He is omniscient, omnipotent and allows what He allows for His purposes.
So while Israel and the Jewish people face increasingly difficult times, God is moving. Along with praying for the peace of Jerusalem, ask God to pour out His spirit on His people (Zech. 12:10).
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
End of End Days
It’s coming. It’s closer and closer. When all the nations of the world come up against Jerusalem, Yeshua himself will save us.
It’s time to dig into the Word of God more than ever. Ask God to open it up to you. Ask for your marching orders. Listen and obey.
These are exciting times, ones the prophets would like to have seen.
He is coming in the clouds! Two millennia ago Yeshua said he was coming quickly. A day is as a thousand years. It won’t be long now.
He will save us! To him be glory and dominion and power forever and ever! Amen.
This article was originally published on CBN News, August 14 2015.
Tzippe Barrow is the CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem. She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) nearly two decades ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.
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Israeli Christian Schools End Crippling Strike
Some 33,000 Christian students in Israel are set to return to school after reaching an budgetary agreement with the Ministry of Education.
Schools reopened in Israel at the start of the month, but the doors of Christian schools around the country remained closed because, representatives said, the government had reduced its funding from 75 percent to just 29 percent of their overall annual budget.
In other words, the Christian schools had a deficit of 200 million shekels ($50.7 million USD) and would be unable to operate without a massive cash injection.
That’s exactly what the Christian schools will get, at least in the short term. According to the agreement reached on Sunday, the Christian schools will receive a one-time payment of 50 million shekels ($12.7 million USD) from the ministry’s budget for social equality.
Additionally, the Ministry of Education has promised to establish a committee to look into the needs of Christian schools and to lump them together with Arab public schools for the purposes of budgetary considerations and teacher training.
In return, the Christian schools have committed not to strike or hold mass protest until the end of 2016, giving the government time to adequately address the situation.
Christian schools in Israel are not official public schools. Similar to ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, the Christian schools are considered religious institutions. Unlike most of the ultra-Orthodox schools, Israel’s Christian schools have consistently posted among the highest academic marks, and are well above the national average in the percentage of students that go on to higher education.
It is because of this high success rate that many Arab Muslims send their children to the Christian schools. In fact, Muslims make up an estimated 60 percent of students at the Christian schools, where they are regularly exposed not only to a top-notch education, but to the Gospel, as well.
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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For all who are led by the Spirit of God
are sons of God.
– Romans 8:14 (ESV)
Every season of our lives should be marked and characterized by God’s guidance. God has purposes and goals in every season, that He wants to reveal to His children.
God promised Abraham He would deliver his descendants from a future slavery (Genesis 15:13-14). When the time came for the promise to come to pass, God used Moses to lead captive Israel out of Egypt. God led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God’s dream was for Israel to enter into the Promised Land! The Lord expected them to believe His Word. Tragically, they disappointed Him.
However, in the next generation, Joshua leads them into The Land. This time, God asks the people to follow the Ark of the Covenant, instead of pillars of cloud and fire. Israel followed the instructions and entered into the Land, but do not possess it in its fullness.
King David learns a hard lesson about God’s guidance when he decides to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. The Lord wanted the Ark to be located in Jerusalem, but He wanted to bring it in His way. Because they did not seek explicit instructions from the Lord, a man named Uzzah died because he touched the Ark.
The Lord wants us to be sensitive to His guidance without holding onto our past experiences with Him. The Greek word for “led,” used in Romans 8:14 means “to bear, bring, carry, lead.” God wants to gently, tenderly and softly lead us in every season of our lives. All He is looking for is a heart that is open to His guidance.
Do we want to know how and where the Lord is leading us in this season? Let’s come into His presence without our own agenda and be ready to hear what He wants to say to us.
This blog was a part of Andrey’s new book “Come With Me Into His Presence”
Andrey Teplinsky is the founder of “CARMEL STREAMS” which is a ministry bridging the nations to the Land of Israel. He has written numerous books illustrating God’s plans for Israel.
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Interview with Chad Holland: New Senior Pastor of King of Kings Community, Jerusalem
Together with his wife Rebecca and their three children, Chad Holland made Aliyah in 2014 from Tennessee. In ministry since 1997, Chad had been serving as senior leader of the Brit Hadasha Synagogue in Memphis. The Holland family now lives in Mevasseret Tzion, where the children attend Hebrew speaking school and Rebecca serves as social media and children’s director for King of Kings.
How did you come to be a part of King of Kings?
I first met Wayne Hilsden, co-founder of King of Kings, on a visit to Israel in 2011. I had been invited to meet him and other leaders in Jerusalem. Wayne and I had a good connection at this meeting, and we kept in touch by email and phone.
Wayne had family in Tennessee and he would stop by to attend our services and have lunch or dinner with us when visiting. By this time our Aliyah paperwork was complete and we knew we would be moving to Israel. I was leading the Brit Hadasha synagogue in Memphis and we were waiting on God’s timing to come over.
When it was time for us to move here we were asked to join the pastoral team. We were glad to join such a team and we hit the ground running! I was then invited to take the role of Senior Pastor.
How has it been to take the role of Wayne who founded and has led King of Kings for such a long time?
That is a good question! Wayne is such an impressive guy on many levels. He has a wonderful marriage and family. He has a pastor’s heart. He has a visionary nature, and the Lord has worked through him in a powerfully profound way in the King of Kings community for 32 years.
At the same time I want to acknowledge the quality pastoral team that has worked closely with Wayne (and me) in complete unity. Pastor Veikko Nuoraho and his wife Ulla oversee discipleship classes, the Manna Kitchen and the distribution center among many other things; Pastor Kurt Vetterling and his wife Maggie work with young adults, administration and small groups amongst other things. Oded and Sandy Shoshani lead the Hebrew speaking King of Kings congregation. Because of the unity and integrity of Wayne and these leaders, the transition process has been pleasant and we anticipate that it will continue smoothly.
What are your goals or hopes for the future of the King of Kings community?
I do want to continue the work of planting new congregations and to develop our Manna Kitchen, serving food to the poor.
Two other community building efforts are especially close to my heart, that I was able to be a catalyst for. One is our setting up of community groups around the city, and the other is the launching of the Israel Academy of Ministry (IAM).
What are the community groups?
The project began in January 2015 and we now have 14 healthy small groups for our people to meet in across Jerusalem. Most of the meetings are in people’s homes although some take place at the King of Kings facilities. We have a deep conviction that the early disciples were engaged in local temple or synagogue life, house to house fellowship, serving the poor and breaking bread together.
The leaders of the groups are all trained in pastoral care. Each group has a leader and an assistant. Our vision for the groups is five-fold:
- Study and discuss the Scriptures together
- Worship together
- Pray together
- Create intentional times of fellowship
- Plan serving community building efforts and outreach activities
We do hope to increase the number of groups as well.
We want to help train leaders in the practical side of ministry with a hands on approach on essential aspects of ministry. We want to partner with other seminaries and Bible colleges. We will be offering intensive week long courses, led by top experts in specific subjects, every other month. We will be hosting the courses at our own facility at King of Kings, but will also work with senior leaders one on one as well as go out to other campuses to help with mentoring and discipleship.
A sample of the IAM course includes: Ministering to Families, Developing Small Groups, Congregational Government and Leadership Accountability, Organizational Finances, Preparing Worship Teams and Media in Ministry.
The launching class runs from October 12-16th from 5-8.30pm in the Celebration Center of the Clal building in Jerusalem, 97 Jaffa Street. The cost is 250 NIS. For further information contact: email@example.com.
A closing thought?
I had been drawn to the King of Kings mission statement. It says: King of Kings Community is called to be a compelling, Messiah-centered, Spirit-empowered, disciple-making community that reveals the true face of Yeshua (Jesus) to Israel and to the nations.
I am excited to be a part of the fulfillment of such a special vision. As the Lord opens new avenues of ministering to the needs of people and opens new opportunities to build His Kingdom, we are excited to walk through those doors together as a leadership team and community.
To contact King of Kings: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.