Passing a milestone is often a noteworthy experience—it can be downright exhilarating. When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan on the way back to their homeland, they lived out one of the great highs of their appointed mission on this planet. The Israelites could look back on a patchwork history of highs and lows. Success and servitude had been their lot across the centuries since the Lord had made Abraham the first Hebrew and displayed a galaxy of promises to him and his seed.
The sum of their collective experiences brought them to a singular moment in their history. With upturned faces, they had heard Moses’ eloquent review of the nation’s past and forecast for their future. In the process, he had announced the passing of the torch of testimony and leadership from his hand to that of Joshua, who would lead them into a new national dimension. The operative words for the mission were, “arise, go over” (Josh. 1:2). Israel was moving on!
They were a people moving on under a divine mandate. They were now to possess what God had promised them long before. “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses” (Josh. 1:3). He had given the land to Abraham’s children by an irrevocable promise. The only relevant issue was their possessing what He had deeded to them.
Their duty, in view of the mandate, was to pursue the promise, with full assurance of complete success. Were they to fail in any respect—which, sadly, they did—the fault would not be the Lord’s, but theirs. Strategy for the coming campaign was not complex, for overarching the mandate to go in and possess the land was the command to commit themselves with bulldog-like tenacity to obey the Word of God. “Turn not from it [the Word] to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper wherever thou goest” (Josh. 1:7). If Israel obeyed the Word, they would “have good success” (Josh. 1:8). Indispensable to all was the revelation that “the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God is with thee wherever thou goest” (Josh. 1:9).
In response to the Lord’s command and instructions, the people intoned an inspiring response: “All that thou commandest us we will do, and wherever thou sendest us, we will go” (Josh. 1:16). The stage was set; the issues were clear. Israel’s grand new adventure was about to begin. With eyes fixed on the ark of the covenant, they filed toward the Jordan, where God was once again parting the waters and marking the way, “that ye may know the way by which ye must go; for ye have not passed this way heretofore” (Josh. 3:4). This generation of Jewish people had never passed this way before—they were on new ground. It was to be, in every respect, higher ground because “the Lᴏʀᴅ will do wonders among you” (Josh. 3:5).
Two words came into play at this point that tempered the entire program and set the tone for every future engagement: “Sanctify yourselves” (Josh. 3:5). That generation was set apart (sanctified) to a single purpose to secure the land for every Jewish generation that would follow them.
But the mandate went far beyond the prospects of toppling city walls and tilling the soil of the land of milk and honey. God had a far nobler plan in mind. Within the confines of the territory to be possessed was a village, Bethlehem by name, appointed to be the very place where God would step into time. Thus, in reality, these Jewish people were sanctifying themselves to the highest conceivable purpose. They were vitally involved in transacting the affairs of eternity.
The prevailing impression here at The Friends of Israel headquarters is that we are at a similar juncture in the history of our ministry and God’s program for Israel and the Jewish people. The events of the last 12 months certainly insist that we are moving into areas we have never passed heretofore. If one scans the 50-year history of Israel My Glory, as David Levy has done in his article, the appraisal is even more spectacular. IMG has logged trends and events over half a century and has served faithfully as a witness/interpreter of major turning points.
Horrors of the Holocaust
Hitler’s ignominious demise
Waves of tattered Jewish survivors flooding into eretz Israel
Reunification of Jerusalem
Israel’s miraculous survival of Arab aggression in 1973
Forging plans to reconstitute Western Europe
Collapse of atheistic Communism
Tides of Jewish immigrants flowing into Israel from the former Soviet Union
Paralleling these pinnacles was the development of both The Friends of Israel and Israel My Glory. As a matter of fact, they rose like a proof text of God’s ability to turn man’s inhumanity to his fellows into channels of blessing for His people. Hitler’s manic determination to destroy Jewry spawned in the hearts of believing people in the city of Philadelphia the need to respond to Jewry’s trauma by reaching out to Israel’s suffering sons and daughters.
When I walk down the Street of Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem (Holocaust memorial) in Jerusalem and read the plaques placed before trees planted to memorialize those who took risks to help Jews survive the Holocaust, I think that The Friends of Israel should be represented there too. Of course, a physical marker is of little consequence when one is assured that the founders’ hearts were stirred by Jehovah to undertake a ministry of mercy and proclaim the message of grace to Jews and Gentiles until the Lord returns.
A perfect testimonial of the magnitude of what the Lord created for blessing is witnessed in Zvi, who, when IMG came into existence, was dodging Nazi Jew hunters in Poland. Both developed in their own way over the early years—Zvi tramping across Europe and sweating out internment on Cyprus; IMG chronicling progress in resettling Jewish families and testifying of the Messiah’s love to physically and emotionally devastated people. IMG took up Zvi’s story shortly after his new birth, following Israel’s rebirth in 1948. Subsequently, both have grown in stature, effectiveness, and longevity in the Lord’s ongoing program. Zvi’s work will go on through his descendants. IMG will continue to pursue the course set by the founders and successive administrations.
Israel My Glory, at 50, is definitely moving on; and, in many respects, we are crossing over into territory where we have not passed before. But for those of you who have been with us for all or part of the journey, I think you will agree that the landscape before us has the look of things we have seen before. Huddled masses of refugees from Europe were present when IMG was born. Fifty years later, huddled masses from Russia, Ethiopia, and more obscure places confront us once again. And, as with Israel of old, the call seems to come once again to “Sanctify yourselves” in preparation for the charge through the last days until we hear the call to come home.
As editor of this magazine, I have no doubt that the past 50 years have been essentially preparatory—years of maturing and being positioned for the days ahead. And our promise to you is that we will serve faithfully every aspect of our commission.
Loving people to life in Christ will continue to forge the future direction of Israel My Glory. We have the distinct advantage of being positioned at a moment in history when there is a new definition present. Pervasive optimism is no longer the mood of the moment in our world. Survival is the mode of the 1990s, and restive tides of humanity seeking solace and personal security bear witness to the fact that, for all their promise of peace and prosperity, social orders throughout the world have fallen woefully short of their utopian objectives.
In such an environment, spiritual peace and the security of being citizens of Heaven loom ever larger. And, for a generation of believers who had allowed the vision of our Lord’s commission to evangelize to fade, the message could not be defined more clearly. Not only is it defined, but, for us here at The Friends of Israel, it is enhanced as well.
Demonstrating the love of Christ and delivering His message of redeeming grace to the sons and daughters of Abraham is the cornerstone of our ministry. As many of you know, we began on that note, with a subsidiary purpose of comforting Jacob’s seed by delivering needed relief along with the message of life in the Messiah.
The current desire of believers across North America to aid Jewish emigrés in various ways challenges us to assist in channelling those expressions of Christian love and concern.
Building up the body of Christ has been a central commitment of The Friends of Israel’s ministry from the beginning. Occasionally we are criticized for publishing issues related to Church-oriented themes. Be assured that when we do so, we are not Gentilizing the magazine. We have a responsibility to edify the remnants—Jew and Gentile—now bonded into one body through the finished work of the Messiah. New Testament truth is the consummation of biblical Judaism, the schoolmaster that led us to Him. Assisting all believers in going on to those “better things” in Christ is an integral part of our calling.
It comes as no surprise that readers express deep frustration over the misinformation and disinformation disseminated by many elements in the public media. Those who wish to understand the real issues regarding Israel and the Jewish people want reliable information. If we are to pray and respond properly, we must know the facts. IMG currently has access to the most reliable sources of information available. As we learn the truth, you will discover it too.
There is a sense in which I feel that one of the greatest needs among believers today is for biblically tempered exhortation. Many of us have, frankly, been desensitized by decades of affluence. We know the truth; the need of this late hour is to respond with every fiber of our beings and every available resource. But just how to respond is sometimes difficult to determine. Our editorial staff and our writing team are committed to unexcelled interpretation of Scripture and events in such a way that, together, we will be exhorted to do something about what we are learning.
All of us here are thanking the Lord for 50 productive years of Israel My Glory. But, as the future unfolds, I’m sure you will agree that the best is yet to come!