We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching
the Bible and understanding our time in
the light of Bible prophecy
Christians and the Middle East
Messianic Revival in Israel?
In Israel, a resurgence in the number of Jews who believe in Jesus is getting a lot
of attention. Many leaders say it’s the strongest growth since the time of Jesus.
‘This is the first time where we’ve seen Israeli society in general being so open
to consider who Yeshua is,’ said Messianic leader Asher Intrater. ‘This is a real
miracle, and there’s beginning to be grace and favour with us in the land.’ Although
Jesus and the early disciples were Jewish, for nearly 2,000 the gospel has been viewed
as a religion mainly for Gentiles. Even the name Jesus or Yeshua has been a forbidden
word among many Jews. But in the last few years, Messianic leaders in Israel say
something important is happening. ‘I believe with all my heart, after we have come
back to the land, we are seeing the Lord, the Holy Spirit, is removing the veil from
the eyes of the Jews and more and more Jews are realizing,’ Tel Aviv pastor Avi Mizrachi
said. Although nobody knows for sure how many Messianic Jews live in Israel, it’s
believed there are about 120 congregations now and 10,000-15,000 Jewish believers
in Jesus. That may not sound like many, given Israel’s nearly six million Jews, but
it’s a far cry from 10 years ago, when there were only about 3,500 Jewish believers
and 80 congregations.
A resurrected Messiah?
The Israeli archeological community is currently abuzz over the discovery of an ancient
stone tablet dated not long before the birth of Jesus that strongly suggests that
religious Jews of the day were expecting the coming of a Messiah who would suffer,
die and be resurrected three days later. Most Rabbis and other Jewish scholars have
long argued that the death and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah was a Christian
invention, not part of long established Jewish thought or Biblical teaching. But
a front page story in Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, has a lot of people asking,
‘Are Jews really supposed to believe their Messiah will actually die and rise again,
and was this really Orthodox religious thinking before the time of Jesus?’
Hamas leader’s son becomes Christian
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz featured an interview with Masab, son of West Bank
Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, who has become a Christian. Masab who now calls
himself Joseph says, ‘I know that I’m endangering my life and am even liable to lose
my father, but I hope that he’ll understand this and that God will give him and my
family the patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah together with Jesus,
in the Kingdom of God.’
He describes how he grew up in a religious family and was arrested by the Israelis
for radical activities, but became disillusioned with Hamas as he saw corruption
within the organisation. When he was in Jerusalem he received an invitation to come
and hear about Christianity. ‘Out of curiosity I went. I was very enthusiastic about
what I heard. I began to read the Bible every day and I continued with religion lessons.
I did it in secret, of course. I used to travel to the Ramallah hills and to sit
there quietly with the amazing landscape and read the Bible. A verse like ‘Love thine
enemy’ had a great influence on me. At this stage I was still a Muslim and I thought
that I would remain one. But every day I saw the terrible things done in the name
of religion by those who considered themselves ‘great believers.’ I studied Islam
more thoroughly and found no answers there. I re-examined the Koran and the principals
of the faith and found how it is mistaken and misleading. I now see God through Jesus
and can tell about him for days on end, whereas the Muslims won’t be able to say
anything about God. I consider Islam a big lie. The people who supposedly represent
the religion admired Mohammed more than God, killed innocent people in the name of
Islam, beat their wives and don’t have any idea what God is. I have no doubt that
they’ll go to Hell. I have a message for them: There is only one way to Paradise
- the way of Jesus who sacrificed himself on the cross for all of us.’
‘I respect Israel and admire it as a country. I’m opposed to a policy of killing
civilians, or using them as a means to an end, and I understand that Israel has a
right to defend itself. The Palestinians, if they don’t have an enemy to fight, will
fight each other. You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace
with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve
a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet
Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them
to the death. They have to take revenge against anyone who did not agree to accept
the Prophet Mohammed, like the Jews who are seen in the Koran as monkeys and the
sons of pigs. They speak in terms of historical rights that were taken from them.
In the view of Hamas, peace with Israel contradicts Sharia and the Koran, and the
Jews have no right to remain in Palestine.’
‘Many people will hate me for this interview, but I’m telling them that I love all
of them, even those who hate me. I invite all the people, including the terrorists
among them, to open their hearts and believe. Now I’m trying to establish an international
organization for young people that will teach about Christianity, love and peace
in the territories, too. I would like to teach the young people how to love and forgive,
because that’s the only way the two nations can overcome the mistakes of the past
and live in peace.’
This story along with other articles containing positive material about Christianity
has been published in the main Israeli newspaper Haaretz. This is a remarkable development
and something to praise the Lord for.
Ahmedinejad addresses UN
The Iranian President Ahmedinejad addressed the UN on 23rd September. He began his
talk ‘In the name of Allah, the Lord of the Universe’ and then prayed ‘O Allah, hasten
the arrival of the Imam Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his
followers and those who attest to his righteousness.’ The Mahdi is the Islamic Messiah
figure who, according to Shiite Islam, has been in hiding since the 9th century and
will reappear at a time of great crisis at the end of days. He will bring in the
Islamic world rule with the help of Jesus who will also return at the end of days
according to Islam.
Ahmedinejad gave a long speech about justice and peace. In the course of this he
blamed ‘some criminal and occupying Zionists’ for ‘carnage and invasion’ and killing
the true owners of that land (i.e. Israel – of course he never mentioned that word!).
He accused the ‘underhand actions of Zionists’ for the conflict in Georgia. He then
said, ‘The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are
being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although
they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of
the financial and monetary centres as well as the political decision making centres
of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.
This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to
obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people.
These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations
and the threats of the Zionist network against their will.’
This is a classic piece of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic propaganda giving the lie
that a handful of Zionists control the world, as is found in the forged document
‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ which inspired fascism and anti-Semitism in
Europe - Nazi Germany and Russia in particular - during the 20th century.
While he accuses ‘Zionism’ of being the root of all evil, his own country Iran is
groaning under the chronic misrule of the mullahs and their government led by Ahmedinejad.
The worst drought on record is ravaging the Fars district where average rainfall
is down 68% this year. The situation is so bad that Ayatollah Mohiedin Haeri Shirzai,
Friday prayers leader in Shiraz the provincial capital, urged everyone to pray for
rain. The people of Eghlid have good reason to urge divine intervention - up to 85
per cent of the towns 100,000 population relies on farming and livestock to survive.
According to the local state agriculture organisation, the drought had inflicted
losses of more than $2 billion by July. The problem is that in autumn there will
be no water for next year, said Mansour Rashidi, a provincial ministry of agriculture
expert. The underground water table will not be replenished. We will be hit with
the lowest amount of water ever because we have used up all the reserves. We are
dying of hunger.’
The increase in food prices accelerated in Iran in September, when the cost of a
basket of 45 staple food items showed a mighty leap of nearly 50 percent from the
same month a year earlier, the Kargozaran newspaper reported Sunday, citing central
bank figures. In August, Iran’s inflation rate reached 27.6 percent, as citizens
were again battered by rising prices of foodstuffs and other goods. The falling price
of oil is bad news for Iran which needs the price to stay above $ 90 a barrel. If
it goes below this price (and it already has) the government will need to tighten
their public expenditure policy, and probably cut subsidies. This would lead to rising
It could also affect Iran’s nuclear programme and cause them to default on payments
to the Russians. It is possible that Saudi Arabia, which fears the nuclearisation
of Iran as Israel does, is deliberately causing the price of oil to go down by keeping
production levels high. The aim is to bankrupt Iran and cause the end of the Ahmedinejad
government and its nuclear programme.
Worth praying for, particularly in the light of the fact that ‘in the name of Allah
the compassionate’ the Islamic regime is seeking to bring in the death penalty for
‘apostasy’ – those who convert from Islam to another religion, in particular Christianity.
Currently under arrest are Christian converts, Mahmoud Mohammad Matin-Azad, 53, and
Arash Ahmad-Ali Basirat, 40, who have been detained since May 15. Both were charged
with apostasy just days before the first stage approval of the bill. If the apostasy
bill does pass, both the converts’ lives would be in serious danger.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has welcomed the recent declaration by the EU
calling for Iran to drop the Apostasy Bill. “The international community must continue
to urge the Iranian Government to release all those detained on the basis of their
religious affiliation and respect their obligations under the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights,” CSW’s Lambert declared. “CSW joins the EU in requesting
the Iranian parliament to drop this bill without delay.” The bill is to be sent back
to the Legislative Commission for amendment proposals before it is returned to Parliament
for another vote. Iran is ranked third in Open Doors’ World Watch List for countries
with the worst persecution of Christians.
‘I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you.’ Genesis 12.3.