Inside View Mar/Apr 2013
The super-sized, thousand-mile-wide Hurricane Sandy set its sights directly at us here in southern New Jersey. I witnessed God’s incredible power on display as trees swayed back and forth in 75-mile-per-hour gusts and rain pelted the windows. The roar of the wind sounded like a jet taking off. It was impressive!
I couldn’t help but feel surrounded, with nowhere to turn. No way to avoid the unavoidable. Sandy was upon me, and I had to go through it. It reminded me that my security is entirely in God’s hands. Though that fact is true all the time, it is in moments of trial that we see it most clearly.
Just the previous week, I had returned from our October tour to Israel, which reminded me how isolated the tiny Jewish state really is. Surrounded by enemies both internally and externally, Israel has nowhere to turn to avoid the people who want to wipe it off the map.
In the town of Ariel, in biblical Samaria, we saw the Israelis’ determined struggle to live a life of high values amid opposition from Arab terrorists and negative world opinion. They live on land they purchased that was never occupied by Arabs and is part of God’s land covenant with Israel.
On the mountainous border of Lebanon, at Kibbutz Misgav Am, we heard of Hezbollah’s massive stockpiling of missiles. We looked down on the Hezbollah villages below, where Israel’s enemies are poised to strike at any moment. The homes have no glass in the windows so they can readily fire on Misgav Am.
At the Syrian border, we looked up the road toward Damascus and grasped how close Israel lies to Syria’s capital. We spoke to many Israelis who worry about Iran developing nuclear weapons and launching them against Israel.
Living in such a difficult neighborhood, Israel finds itself isolated. And apart from the United States and Canada, it receives condemnation, rather than support, from the nations of the world. We know Israel’s security is in God’s hands, and God has promised Israel will not disappear unless the universe does (Jer. 31). But this promise doesn’t mean Israel won’t experience difficult days.
A memorable moment on our tour occurred at Masada, King Herod’s massive mountaintop fortress at the southern part of the Dead Sea. Masada is another reminder of Israel’s struggle to live in its Promised Land. The Romans sent an entire legion to defeat 1,000 Jewish rebels who occupied the fortress in A.D. 70. But the Jewish people chose to take their own lives rather than surrender.
There is an ancient synagogue atop Masada that we see each time we visit. In a side room we met Rabbi Louis, a modern-day rabbi who painstakingly copies Old Testament scrolls much like the scribes did in biblical times.
Rabbi Louis was pleased to have guests, and he took the time to explain the careful process of copying the Scriptures onto parchment scrolls using ink and quill.
When he learned we were a group from The Friends of Israel, he was excited to know more about us. He had never heard of The Friends of Israel and was grateful to meet Christian Zionists. I was able to share about our worldwide ministry and how it came into existence in 1938, 10 years before the birth of the modern State of Israel.
He was so moved to know that, despite being surrounded by enemies that so vehemently oppose Israel, Israel is not alone. The Jewish people have Christian friends who stand with and support them.
It made me appreciate how God is using Christian Zionists—Christians who believe the Jewish people have a God-given right to exist as a sovereign nation in the Promised Land—to encourage and bless His Chosen People.
God led a group of godly men to found The Friends of Israel 75 years ago, and today He uses our worldwide ministry to bless Israel. He does it through you and me—all of us who stand with the Jewish nation. Though Israel’s back is continually against the wall, it is an encouragement for Israelis to know they are not alone.
Rabbi Louis was so touched by our visit that he wrote a blessing for us in Hebrew and gave it to me. Miriam, our guide, translated it: “And all the nations of the earth shall know that Your name is upon them.” He said it was his prayer that God will bless The Friends of Israel around the world to continue its important work of standing with Israel. To that I say, “Amen!”