Israel Prayer Update

Every week, we post from seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel's most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 19,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Fill out the form on the side if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

  1. Israeli President Appoints Netanyahu to Form New Government
  2. Iranian Nuclear Agreement: One Year Insufficient
  3. Hamas Terror Cell Apprehended in Judea and Samaria
  4. Netanyahu Clarification on Support for Two-State Solution
  5. Reports of Chemical Warfare in Syria
  6. Analysis: Israel’s Growing Clout throughout the World
  7. Where is the Fight Harder, Gaza or Lebanon?
  8. Northern Israel Prepares for Season’s First Heat Wave
  9. Christians, Jews to Praise God for the Miracle of Israel
  10. IsraAID Brings Aid to Vanuatu after Cyclone
  1. Israeli President Appoints Netanyahu to Form New Government

    by Brian Schrauger

    President Rivlin signing the document that asks Binyamin Netanyahu to form the new government. Thursday, 26 March 2015 | Late yesterday Israel's President Rivlin formally received the final count of votes from election day in Israel on Tuesday, 17 March. Afterward, he declared that his choice for building a coalition government was Benjamin Netanyahu. It was a declaration that included a solemn admonition to Israel's once and future Prime Minister.

    Speaking with the fatherly authority for which he is well known, Rivlin's words were aimed at Netanyahu. "You have been awarded the trust of this dear people, 'the dwellers of Zion,'" he said. In light of Israel's "current challenges," he continued, it is your "heavy responsibility to build a stable and ...inclusive government."

    Rivlin's assessment is that the 34th government of Israel has three "critical missions." The first, he contended, is addressing "the issue" of Israel's relationship with the US, "the most important of our allies." Tension between Netanyahu and US President Obama are headline news in Israel.

    The second critical mission, he argued, is "rebuilding public confidence" in Israel's political system. Although each government formed is elected to a four-year term, few last that long. Because of coalition infighting, Netanyahu's 33rd government collapsed at the halfway point of its appointed time.

    The third mission, Rivlin said, is "healing the wounds" of Israel's increasing polarization between its Arab and Jewish citizens. According to Rivlin, these wounds are "painful rifts which have gaped open in recent years—and further widened in the course of this election."

    "Today is the time to begin healing these wounds. It is a time to begin the task of mending rifts. We must be prepared, for more difficult times might very well lie ahead. In order to fight for our home, we must continue to build it together, all the citizens of Israel. This responsibility rests on all our shoulders, and it rests on your shoulders, Mr. Prime Minister."

    Exhortation complete, Rivlin finished with a blessing. "Together with all the Israeli people, I pray for your success. I pray that your hand should be steady and your spirit strong. Your success is our success. Your achievements are our achievements."

    In turn, Netanyahu embraced both the nomination and the admonition, "I accept upon myself, with a deep sense of responsibility, the task of forming the government which has been bestowed upon me. I am moved and aware of the magnitude of this responsibility.

    Netanyahu has six weeks to form a coalition government. If he has not yet done so, he can ask Rivlin for an additional 14 days. Rivlin, however, is not obliged to grant him the request. The consensus opinion in Israel is that, while it will entail a lot of heated hankering, Netanyahu will be able to build his coalition.

    "Dear citizens of Israel," Netanyahu concluded last night, "...it is a great honor to serve you and our country. With God's help and yours, we will succeed."

    Source: (Excerpt of article, Bridges for Peace, March 26, 2015)

    Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/Ashernet

    Prayer Focus

    Offer heartfelt prayers for Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been elected by the people of Israel and tasked with the “responsibility to build a stable and ...inclusive government.” Appeal for a solid unity within the new government and a diligence in seeking godly wisdom, as they face challenges in defense, welfare, world pressure, the Iranian threat, rebuilding public confidence, and healing the wounds of polarization.

    Scripture

    By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, all the judges of the earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

    - Proverbs 8:15–17

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  2. Iranian Nuclear Agreement: One Year Insufficient

    Isotopes of extremely radioactive, highly dangerous einsteinium, discovered as a component of the debris
    in nuclear bomb test.
    The deal currently being negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 powers is designed to leave Iran permanently one year away from obtaining a nuclear bomb. But a group of nuclear and geopolitical experts argued in an op-ed published Sunday in The Washington Post that one year is not enough time to respond to Iranian violations of the deal.

    The op-ed was written by Gen. Michael Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]; Olli Heinonen, former former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]; and Ray Takeyh, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations [CFR].

    While Iranian violations of an emerging nuclear deal could possibly be identified quickly, the required coordination among different bodies and governments required to take decisive action in case of such violations would not allow for a speedy response time. Hayden, Heinonen, and Takeyh criticized an argument frequently made by the Obama administration that forcing Iran to a one-year breakout time would give the world sufficient time to response and reverse Iran’s violations.

        “Once the United States had an indication that Iran was violating an agreement, a bureaucratic process would be necessary to validate the information. It could be months before the director of national intelligence would be confident enough to present a case for action to the president.  

        “Given that the IAEA would be the on-site inspection organization responsible for the verification of an agreement, the United States’ scoop would have to be forwarded to that body. Of course, both the speed and the extent of U.S. sharing would be affected by the need to protect sensitive human or technical sources of information. Only then would IAEA representatives begin talking with their Iranian counterparts about gaining access to disputed sites or activities. It would be only after tortured discussions that the IAEA could proclaim itself dissatisfied with Iran’s reaction. This process also could take months. …

        “Once the IAEA arrived at a verdict of noncompliance, it would forward its grievances to the U.N. Security Council for adjudication. The United States would have to convince the other member states invested in the agreement—including veto-wielding Russia and China—that the accord was being violated and that forceful action was needed.”  

    If after all of these processes were exhausted, and Iran was found in violation of the emerging deal, and sanctions were imposed in response, there still wouldn’t be enough time for “for the economic pressure to work.”

    Hayden, Heinonen, and Takeyh also observed that Iran isn’t likely to provoke a crisis by blatantly violating a future accord, but will more likely “[lull] the world with a cascade of small infractions … an ingenious way to advance its program without provoking a crisis.”

    Last year, Iran was found to have violated the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action [JPOA] by feeding uranium into an advanced centrifuge. Last week the administration characterized the violation as a “mistake.”

    Because the consequences of the deal being negotiated between the West and Iran could impact the stability of the Middle East and the global non-proliferation regime, Hayden, Heinonen, and Takeyh call it the “most consequential arms-control agreement of the post-Cold War period,” and call for “a national debate” on the terms of the deal. They identified Congress as the proper venue for this debate.

    Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by the Israel Project in The Tower Magazine on March 23, 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link)

    Prayer Focus

    Beseech the Almighty that Iran will not be permitted to advance its nuclear weapons program by lulling the world with deceptive “promises nor by appealing to the economic greed of powerful nations. Pray that knowledgeable, wise words will be clearly heard, in time to thwart a “bad deal,” with the potential to destroy Israel and the Middle East.

    Scripture

    A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, but knowledge is easy to him who understands. Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.

    - Proverbs 14:6–7

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  3. Hamas Terror Cell Apprehended in Judea and Samaria

    Chemical substances intended for manufacturing explosive devices, uncovered as a result of the operation Monday, 23 March 2015 | A Hamas terror cell in the city of Qalqilya in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] has been uncovered and apprehended as a result of a joint IDF [Israel Defense Forces]-ISA [Israel Security Agency] operation. The perpetrators confessed to plotting a series of terror attacks against Israelis and revealed that they had acquired dozens of kilograms of chemical substances used to manufacture explosive devices.

    During the investigation, members of the terror cell conveyed detailed information about a weapons lab located in an apartment in central Nablus in which the perpetrators manufactured explosive devices intended to be detonated against Israeli civilians. The Hamas operatives admitted to being recruited to the military branch of the terror organization while residing in Jordan.

    They were then trained by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and transferred to Judea and Samaria for further terror and recruitment activities. In addition, the terror squad was instructed by Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip to carry out attacks in Judea and Samaria during Operation Protective Edge.

    Source: (Excerpt of Israel Defense Forces article, originally published on March 22, 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link)

    Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces

    Prayer Focus

    Praise the name of the Lord God for the discovery of this terror cell in Judea/Samaria and the arrest of the terrorists. Thank Him for enlightening the eyes of those responsible for the discovery, may they be blessed. Appeal to the Lord God to continue to “enlighten” the eyes of Israel’s defenders and pray that they will put their trust completely in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Scripture

    Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, I have prevailed against him.Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

    - Psalm 13:3–5

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  4. Netanyahu Clarification on Support for Two-State Solution

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments clarifying his position on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying: “I want a sustainable peaceful two-state solution.”

    Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s clarification of his position on a two-state solution and a peace agreement with the Palestinians. It is unfortunate that in the immediate aftermath of Israeli polls closing we saw many in the media, in public office, and in our own community jump to conclusions about the policies of this new Israeli government. In light of the Prime Minister’s clarification, it is more important than ever to show respect and restraint to allow the Prime Minister to build his coalition and to publicly express his government’s policies regarding the Palestinians, the international community and other key issues.”

    In an interview with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC broadcast, the Prime Minister addressed statements he made in an Israeli interview on the eve of the election in which he seemed to reject a two-state solution: “I haven’t changed my policy. I never retracted my speech in Bar Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. What has changed is the reality….Abu Mazen, the Palestinian leader, refuses to recognize the Jewish State. He’s made a pact with Hamas that calls for the destruction of the Jewish State…I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable peaceful two-state solution, but for that circumstances have to change.” 

    Source: (Press release by the Anti-Defamation League, March 19, 2015)

    Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com

    Prayer Focus

    Appeal to the Father for wisdom and godly direction regarding a sustainable peace in Israel. Ask Him to align circumstances that will ensure His will in this regional and world-wide contentious process.

    Scripture

    Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

    - Psalm 51:6

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  5. Reports of Chemical Warfare in Syria

    by Joshua Spurlock

    Reported chemical attack in Syria A reported attack using chemical components in Syria may have violated international law and has led to warnings from two powerful nations that such deeds should not go unpunished. US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond both released statements within a week of each other calling for an investigation into the use of chlorine by the Syrian regime.

    “The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that the [Bashar] Assad regime used chlorine as a weapon again… We are looking very closely into this matter and considering next steps,” said Kerry. Yet despite the stern warning, US spokesperson Jen Psaki admitted that nothing could happen until the reports are verified and even then it was unclear what the world would do.

    “We’ll obviously have discussions with our partners, and I don’t have any predictions for what it will mean and what the consequences would be if the allegations are confirmed,” said Psaki in comments released by the State Department. She also acknowledged that chlorine is not an official “chemical weapon” as defined by the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons].

    The specific consequences aside, the US and UK both made it clear that something should be done if the regime did indeed use chlorine as a weapon.

    “What is clear is that the Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention,” said Kerry last week. “The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism.”

    Hammond echoed Kerry’s concerns four days later on Monday in a statement posted to the UK government website. “The UN Security Council adopted a resolution this month condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. The use of chemicals by the Assad regime as a weapon against his own people not only breaches international law, but also violates previous Security Council resolutions and the Chemical Weapons Convention to which Syria acceded…

    “The UK, along with international partners, remains committed to ensuring that those responsible are held to account.”

    Source: (The Mideast Update, March 23, 2015)

    Photo Credit: Public Domain

    Prayer Focus

    Implore the Living God for protection and health for the people of Syria who may well be coping with chlorine gas attacks. Pray for justice to be administered. Pray for the protection of Israelis living on the volatile northern border with Syria.

    Scripture

    The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just.

    - Proverbs 3:33

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  6. Analysis: Israel’s Growing Clout throughout the World

    by Brian Schrauger

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Netanyahu ~ January 2015 Monday, 23 March 2015 | Analyst Lawrence Solomon notes that Western media "likes to describe Israel as increasingly isolated in the world." But in fact, he writes, just the opposite is true: "Israel has never been less isolated, never been more embraced."

    Writing in last week's issue of the Financial Post, Solomon said that Western aversion to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is causing it to falsely portray Israel as increasingly isolated in the global community of nations.  

    As a result of Netanyahu's economic policies, 2014 set a record for "Israeli high-tech and biotech startups—52 Israeli startups sold to the tune of some $15-billion plus 18 IPOs worth another $10 billion."

    Solomon notes that Israel's economic and technological boom under Netanyahu's tutelage has dramatically increased Israel's standing in the Middle East and among non-Western nations on the continents of Africa and Asia.

    "In its immediate neighborhood, Israel for the first time has de facto allies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the leaders of the Arab Sunni world," Solomon reports. As for Africa, "Israel now is tight with countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda. In Asia, Israel is becoming tight with India, the world’s largest democracy, and with China, the world’s second largest economy, both of which are establishing free trade deals with Israel.

    What's more, "Israel has been expanding trade with Japan, the world’s third largest economy. And Israel has close relations with countries of the former East Bloc, including Russia, once a Cold War adversary, now a partner in countering Islamic terrorism."

    According to Solomon, "the watchful Arab press knows exactly why Israel has become so welcome around the world, even if the blinkered Western press doesn't. As explained earlier this year in Al-Araby al-Jadid, a London-based Qatari daily, 'Israel’s advanced technology developments have become its most prominent soft power tool for boosting diplomatic ties and improving its position in the world, enhancing its own security in the process.'

    Solomon claims that "Israel’s technological prowess, and thus the welcome mat it now enjoys in ever-growing regions of the world, comes as a by-product of Netanyahu’s dismantling of the welfare state. That dismantling may now accelerate because in this week’s election another dismantler shone—Moshe Kahlon, the Kulanu [political] party leader [in Israel] who ran on an unabashedly pro-business, pro-competition 'economic freedom' platform predicated on downsizing government while breaking up Israel’s remaining public monopolies and private oligopolies. The Western press may be surprised to learn that Kahlon, who is widely expected to become Netanyahu’s next finance minister, is considered centrist in Israeli politics.”

    With an entirely different take on Israel's standing in the world, Solomon says that Israel "is fast becoming the darling of all but Socialist-leaning Europe, Iran and the ISIS wannabe set. Australia is stalwartly in Israel’s corner; Canada’s commitment to Israel is at an all-time high; America’s remains as strong as ever, President Obama and the American left notwithstanding.

    "Two years from now," says Solomon, "Obama will be gone, to be remembered as the worst American president in memory. Prime Minister Netanyahu will remain in power and on the world stage, to be seen as one of Israel’s greatest prime ministers and one of the world’s few true statesmen."

    Source: (Excerpt of article, Bridges for Peace, March 23, 2015)

    Photo Credit: Ashernet

    Prayer Focus

    Praise the Almighty Father for the statesmanship and leadership that has not only strengthened Israel’s developing economy, but has also created new, viable alliances with neighbors Egypt and Saudi Arabia; with African nations like Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda; with Asian countries like Japan and India. May the God of Israel be known and glorified from these alliances.

    Scripture

    Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.

    - Zechariah 8:23

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  7. Where is the Fight Harder, Gaza or Lebanon?

    IDF’s Givati Brigade preparing to fight against Hezbollah As the atmosphere intensifies in the northern region, the IDF does not sit still. The Givati Brigade, which generally specialized in the southern region and fighting in Gaza, recently completed a training exercise to prepare the soldiers for combat in the northern region. Here is an inside look into the IDF’s preparation for fighting against Hezbollah, the differences between combat in the northern region versus the southern region and the training process soldiers go through before operational employment in the north.

    The exercise has almost ended. In just one week, the soldiers of the Givati Reconnaissance Battalion have cooperated with the Artillery Corps and the Armored Corps, flown in a helicopter, walked dozens of kilometers and fought in an urban-warfare simulation base. All that is left is to detonate a tunnel and dismantle explosives in booby-trapped houses, and the soldiers are finished. Then suddenly, their commanders inform them that they have another 10 km masa (journey in Hebrew) to complete before the eagerly anticipated conclusion of the exercise. This intensive training ensures that the soldiers will become experts at fighting in Lebanon.

    Northern Region–Southern Region

    “The IDF has a limited amount of combat forces, and these forces have to know how to fight,” says the operations officer of the Givati Brigade, Major Yaron Simsolo. “We don’t have a surplus of soldiers, so we need to know how to fight on all fronts. From the beginning of their training, the soldiers learn about the terrain and the enemy so that during combat we will not be caught off guard and we will be prepared to face the enemy.”

    The role of a brigade’s operations officer is to collect information about operational incidents, and to be responsible for both routine and operational activities. Therefore, Maj. Simsolo can best explain the differences between the regions. Here are some of them:

    Size of Region:  Northern region—mainly southern Lebanon and a small area in Syria, a very large region. The area of Lebanon is around 10,400 sq. km. Southern region— Gaza Strip, a fairly small region—350 sq. km.

    Topography:  Northern—mountainous region with a lot of vegetation. Southern—relatively flat region.

    Urban Warfare: Northern—many villages scattered throughout a large region. Southern—most of the region is composed of crowded urban areas.

    Terror Tunnels Used Against Israel: Northern—very limited, if at all. Southern—central component in warfare—the byproduct of a crowded urban area.

    Primary Enemy: Northern—Hezbollah, an advanced and sophisticated paramilitary terrorist organization; highly capable and prepared; heavily involved in the combat in Syria, holding a large quantity of weapons. Southern—Hamas, a terrorist organization that specializes in tactical guerilla warfare.

    Other Main Forces: Northern— Lebanese army and UN forces. Southern— Palestinian Islamic Jihad and ISIS.

    “After the exercise, the forces begin routine activities in the north,” says Maj. Simsolo. “Part of the training consists of the soldiers guarding in the northern region and understanding the enemy better. When you face the enemy and see it with your own eyes, you can really learn. Part of the training involves a more comprehensive study of the area, the enemy, and all that is happening here. Defending the northern region is a top priority.”

    A Soldier’s Point-of-View

    Back to the exercise, where the soldiers have just been told of the final masa (journey) awaiting them. Most of them had already started packing the equipment and praying or resting. For one of the soldiers, Corporal Zach Holtzman, this is his first battalion training. “In this place, you can be surprised at any moment,” he says. “For this reason, we worked very hard in the exercise in order to be as good as we can be. I can say that I had the hardest week of my service, running with all of the equipment weighing me down, through the mud and rain, it is not the most fun,” he says with a smile.

    At the end of the journey, which also marks the end of the exercise, the brigade’s commander addresses the exhausted soldiers. “We are facing a challenge, many forces have already served in the north, and other forces have moved down to maintain the [southern] region. We are here serving the people of Israel and working to eliminate any threat that may endanger the people of Israel. We hope that there will be quiet, but if not we will be first to know and we will be prepared.”

    Source: (Israel Defense Forces blog, March 25, 2015)

    Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces

    Prayer Focus

    Petition the Most High God to be with the IDF soldiers, “mighty men and women of valor, who are working to eliminate threats and striving to protect the people of Israel. As the brigades train to address extreme challenges on Lebanon border from Hezbollah and the Gaza border from Hamas, appeal for their protection, diligence, and strength.

    Scripture

    And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!

    - Judges 6:12

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  8. Northern Israel Prepares for Season’s First Heat Wave

    by Ahiya Raved

    Temperatures in Israel began to rise Wednesday as the season's first heat wave was expected to hit. Residents of the Upper Galilee had mixed reactions to the news: tourist spots stood to gain from a potentially lengthy warm season, but farms would benefit from additional precipitation and cooler temperatures.

    Mount Hermon was still covered in snow this week thanks to a relatively cold winter. But weekend rain was not sufficient for agriculture in the Upper Galilee, and irrigation pipes worked at full intensity on Wednesday.

    "First of all, we're talking about localized rain, so some places got 16 millimeters [ .6 in] of rain while others got only four millimeters [ .16 in], said Ofer Moskovitz, who is responsible for irrigating crops in five kibbutzim in the Upper Galilee."That means the moisture reaches the seed, causing it to expand and then dry out. That could cause entire fields to be ruined, so there's no choice but to irrigate.

    "We have peas that require irrigation now, as well as cotton and watermelons that we planted recently. In the coming days we'll also plant tomatoes and it looks like we'll have to irrigate them right away," said Moskowitz. Orchard farmers were also concerned that the heat wave could damage fruit.

    Meanwhile, the river kayaking site at Kfar Blum looked forward to the weekend as the start of the summer, particularly because last year's aridity caused many spots to be closed because of a lack of water.

    "The current is great right now, and it'll stay like this for the entire season thanks to the thawing of the snow from the Hermon," said Adi Cohen, the kayaking spot's marketing director.

    "The hotter it is outside, the more Israelis want to come and kayak—especially after last year, which was quite difficult," she said. "When there were sunny days this winter people were already calling and asking if they could come kayak. Now we're constantly getting calls, because a lot of people know we start the season in Passover."

    The site has been waiting for the local council to approve its opening for the season, and managers hope to see the first visitors on the weekend. The site will begin full operations on Sunday, when Passover break begins.

    Source: (Ynetnews, March 25, 2015)

    Photo Credit: CaptureLight/shutterstock.com

    Prayer Focus

    Pray to the Lord, the Shepherd of Israel, for more consistent rain and cooler temperatures, sufficient for agriculture to thrive this spring in the Upper Galilee. Thank Him for diversity in the economy of the region.

    Scripture

    For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills.

    - Deuteronomy 8:7

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  9. Christians, Jews to Praise God for the Miracle of Israel

    by Ilse Posselt

    David Nekrutman, Executive Director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation Tuesday, 24 March 2015 | God made the promise through the prophet Isaiah some 2,500 years ago. On 14 May 1948, more than two millennia later, the promise was fulfilled. The State of Israel was reborn–­in one day, as per the prophecy in Isaiah 66:8, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.”

    The restoration of Israel to its God-given homeland has long since been regarded as nothing short of miraculous. Each year, the Jewish Nation marks the day with thanksgiving and praises to God. 

    This year, Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of the Israeli city Efrat, has launched an initiative inviting Christians to join the people of Israel in giving thanks. Entitled “Day to Praise”, the initiative aims to unite Jews and Christians to have praises to God resounding across the world for the tremendous miracle He has done in our lifetime.

    “Day to Praise” takes place on 23 April 2014, Israel’s Independence Day, and will be celebrated by reciting Psalms 113-118. David Nekrutman, Executive Director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation [CJCUC], explains the significance.

    “Psalms 113-118 has a rich history in Jewish liturgy. It is recited during the morning prayers on Biblical feasts such as Passover, Shavout (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)… This series of psalms is entitled Hallel, which means praise.”

    A year after Israel’s rebirth, the Chief Rabbinate instituted Independence Day as a minor holiday within the sacred calendar of the Jewish people. That is why reciting the Hallel on this day is regarded as an integral part of the celebrations.

    The purpose of Hallel, says Nekrutman, is to thank God for His extraordinary redemptive acts towards His people. The rebirth of the State of Israel according to God’s promise is not only a Jewish miracle, but something that Christians can also rejoice in.

    According to Nekrutman, the inspiration for the initiative is found in the Hallel itself. Psalm 117 issues a clear invitation to the nations to praise God for His covenantal love and faithfulness towards Israel. At first glance, Nekrutman argues, this mandate may appear strange. “It makes sense that the recipient of God's loving-kindness should be the one to thank God. However, why does the psalmist require the nations to praise God for what He has done for Jewry?”

    The answer, explains Nekrutman, lays in the two reactions of thanksgiving and praise in response to a miracle. Thanksgiving, he says, comes from “the beneficiary of the miracle itself.” Praise, on the other hand, is the reaction of one who sees something awe-inspiring or miraculous.

    The return of the nation of Israel to its homeland after some 2,000 years in exile arguably qualifies as awe-inspiring and miraculous. “No other rational explanation in the world can explain the phenomenon of Israel's existence today except that God continues to be faithful to His covenantal promise made thousands of years ago to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” says Nekrutman. “The miracle of Israel today should serve as an inspiration to other nations to bless the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is our hope that one day the fullness of Psalm 117 will be witnessed in our lifetime.”

    The main “Day to Praise” takes place in Jerusalem, Israel and is open to all. Christians can, however, participate in the event from anywhere in the world via live streaming. Those who are unable to take advantage of the live streaming can commit to reciting Psalm 113-118 in their own time.

    For more information or to sign up for “Day to Praise”, visit here

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 24, 2015)

    Photo Credit: Day to Praise

    Prayer Focus

    Thank God for His extraordinary redemptive acts towards His people through the rebirth of the State of Israel according to His promise. Pray that both Christians and Jews will rejoice together, as one, for the miracle of Israel on the “Day of Praise,” 23 April 2015.

    Scripture

    Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.

    - Isaiah 66:8

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  10. IsraAID Brings Aid to Vanuatu after Cyclone

    IsraAID brings food and water to the remote island of Tongoa On Friday, March 13, 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam lashed down on Vanuatu with Category 5 conditions. On March 15, Vanuatu declared a state of emergency. IsraAID responded immediately to the request, and dispatched an emergency relief team to the area. In addition to traveling to Eratap to meet the chief and assess the situation, the team also spent time in the capital city of Port Vila to coordinate efforts with government officials and UN agencies. 

    The most urgent needs outside of the capital remain drinking water and food, and with access to remote islands hampering relief efforts, the situation is becoming a race against the clock to save the lives of thousands dying of starvation and thirst.

    The team wasted no time. A list was quickly put together, kits assembled, and then moved to the harbor for loading. "There are so many islands here, it's a logistical nightmare," explained Yotam as he moved boxes of water and rice onto the boat. "The best thing we can do right now is respond to each appeal as it comes and try and reach as many people as possible. Time is against us but we will do whatever we can to help."

    Update March 24—IsraAID brings relief by boat to remote islands in Vanuatu

    As the IsraAID team walked up the path, the chief of this small village on the remote island of Tongoa broke down in tears, explaining "it's been ten days since the disaster, and these are the first supplies we have received." In this village of 42 households devoid of a road access, only four structures remain standing, and starving locals lined up in the sun with excitement as the IsraAID team, together with the Tongoa parliament representative MP Mr. John Amos and a team of local volunteers, distributed over 40 tons of rice, flour and drinking water.

    The situation was the same all across the islands of Tongoa and Mataso, as the IsraAID team travelled from village to village to distribute supplies to struggling and desperate communities. In total, the team visited 12 villages and all eight schools on the island - all were completely destroyed.

    The reaction to the team's country of origin—Israel—has also been a pleasant surprise: "Everyone here loves Israel." In another village, when David, a man who lost his house and whose water tank is now polluted heard that the team had come from Israel, he excitedly picked up a damaged Bible from his ruined living room, and opened to the page stating: "the light shines in the darkness."

    Source: (Excerpt of press release by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 24, 2015)

    Photo Credit: MFA/IsraAID

    Prayer Focus

    Praise God for the hearts of the people of Vanuatu who recognize His people as the light shining in darkness. Thank Him for putting in the hearts of His children such compassion that is willing to go to the ends of the world to help others.

    Scripture

    All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.

    - Psalm 22:27

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