Israel is the key to all end-time prophecy.

Keep your eye on Jerusalem


Jim Fletcher is a writer, researcher, speaker and director of Prophecy Matters (prophecymatters.com). He is also a member of the executive committee of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI), and author of It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). He writes online for WorldNetDaily; Beliefnet; American Family Association; the Jerusalem Post; and Rapture Ready. He can be reached at jim@prophecymatters.com

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  • Apr 14, 2014

    A Survivor in Zion

    “Bound, gagged and barefoot with machetes at our throats, we were pushed through the trees to the site of our execution. I whimpered, ‘Please don’t kill us.’ One of the terrorists looked me in the eye, put his hand on his heart and declared, ‘I am good, I not kill.’ I believed him. I did so because I subscribed to the delusion of reprieve, the hope that if we did what they say, we would be set free.”

    So begins the chilling account of Israeli Kay Wilson, whose spell-binding account of kidnapping and murder at the hands of Palestinian terrorists makes her one of my new heroes.

    Kay is my friend and gives new meaning to the word “inspirational.”

    On December 18, 2010, Kay was stabbed 13 times and her friend, Kristine Luken, was bound and stabbed to death. The two women were accosted in the Jerusalem hills, as they were hiking. It was discovered that the terrorists (they were later apprehended) had also murdered Neta Sorek in the Judean Hills, earlier in 2010.

    Kay inspires me because not only did she survive the attack—she has a zest for life and for truth that most do not have. She is bold and fearless in exposing the murderous agenda of the Palestinian Authority, and the various terrorist splinter groups that seek to continually spoil efforts for peace.

    I was pleased to hear recently that Kay will be in the States in a few weeks, and will be available to speak in churches throughout the country. She will arrive April 24, and depart for home May 8. On May 4, she will be in the Los Angeles area, but is available that morning for a church that would be interested.

    Her trip is already sponsored, so there will be no travel costs involved for pastors and churches that wish to hear her speak.

    I enthusiastically recommend her for your congregation. If interested, you can reach me at the email addresses below, and I’ll pass your request on.

    Don’t let the opportunity pass to hear Kay tell her story!

     

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    jim1fletcher@yahoo.com

     


    Apr 7, 2014

    The Lion and THE Lion

    As I prepare to go to Tulsa this week for the Mid-America Prophecy Conference, I am reminded—okay, I’m getting hugely sentimental—of all the friends I have in the prophecy community. The Tulsa conference always feels like a family reunion (the prelude to the Family Reunion!). My buddy Robert Ellis just told me he won’t be able to attend, due to surgery, and I will miss seeing him. Again, this is family. This gathering in particular is a real respite from the fraught-with-danger regular routines we all have.

    In talking with a friend this week, I realized more and more that we are living right inside the whirlwind of the last days. Growing, dreadful apostasy, insane/illogical pressure intensifying on Israel, and bizarre natural occurrences. The list goes on.

    Well, on with the show.

    I am reading a fascinating book, by Dr. David Makovsky of JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs), titled “Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft.” This is probably the only book that unpacks what Winston Churchill thought about Israel, Zionism, and the Jews. Happily, the brilliant British defender of civilization was predisposed to admiring the Jews.

    Though his interest in advancing Zionism—to the degree he could—waxed and waned over the years (British priorities always took center-stage, of course), Churchill’s thinking about Zionism was sophisticated and in some cases, sentimental. Makovsky has crafted a fantastic analysis of this overlooked subject. For example, although eschatology is beyond the scope of the book, Makovsky offers insights into Churchill’s thinking about the momentous age in which he lived and led:

    “Who would have thought realistically that a people scattered for almost two thousand   years around the globe, persecuted in virtually every single locale in which they lived, would return to the land from which they had originated and where they had lived as a nation before their defeat and exile by the ancient Romans? Churchill predicted such an eventuality with confidence in 1908 and felt it even more likely beginning in the 1920s. But few outside the Zionist leadership regarded Churchill's Zionism, when he expressed it, as being on the right side of history.

    “Churchill liked to judge which events were historically significant and which were not, and both early in his   career and near the end of it he declared the restoration of a Jewish state in the Promised Land to be of exceptional historical significance.”

    Although in Churchill’s world of politics and war management (he fought in the Second Boer War, was later Secretary of State for War, and then of course fought-off the Nazi menace as prime minister), there was little room for understanding Zionism in a Christian context, Churchill and his father, Lord Randoph, had an understanding of that mysterious way in which the Judge of History works with regard to the Jews:

    “He thought it important to be good to the Jews and took to heart an adage he periodically quoted and attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, the Jewish-born nineteenth-century British prime minister who influenced Randolph: ‘The Lord deals with the nations as the nations dealt with the Jews.’”

    During the course of Churchill’s life, Christian Zionism was popular even among some in government, and while we don’t quite know what the man called the “Last Lion” would have thought about Christ’s Return, it was clear that he checked his often-outsized ego when contemplating the unfolding cosmic plan.

    All this is a reminder, too, that the Lord of History drives the chariot of history, as the philosopher Don Isaac Abravanel put it, for while politicians like Churchill, Truman, and Nixon were there for the Jewish state at different critical times, our current crop of political “leaders” are running headlong into the Age of Lawlessness. A showdown is coming.

    It is a showdown that Churchill would no doubt have wanted to be on the right side of, for the smell of battle energized him.

    Victory!

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Mar 31, 2014

    Here Come the Scythians

    Christians of a certain type like to identify with sola scriptura (Latin, “by scripture alone”), and I think such a view is foundational. We can err when we turn away from the Word of God. Yet today, extra-biblical sources are rampant in the American church.

    For example, I recently noticed that a “Bible teacher” posted on Facebook that British scientists have cloned a baby dinosaur. This of course has “end-times” implications.

    Somehow.

     Let me cut to the chase: there is no baby dinosaur in England. The “news” source for this is bogus. Of course. It is painful just bringing it up.

    But we fall for stuff.

    Which makes a story in Haaretz—The large Israeli daily—all the more appealing. It seems that a rabbi has predicted that when the Russians take Crimea, Messiah will appear. All this talk led to the Haaretz article (which includes a bit about an Amsterdam museum housing precious Scythian artifacts; the museum curators are unsure whether to turn the traveling exhibit back to Crimea…or to the Russians).

    The Scythians, in history, were a people in what is now southern Iran. A war-like civilization, feared because of their horse cavalry, the Scythians are thought to be the famous Magog contingent of Ezekiel 38-39. Their culture lasted from the seventh-century B.C. until the fourth century A.D.

    This “thousand-year Reich” is fascinating, to be sure, but back to the Haaretz article.

    The writer, Chemi Shalev, weaves a tale of Armageddon, the Messiah, and epic battle…mostly because a rabbi says that Vilna Gaon, an eighteenth century Talmud scholar from eastern Europe, predicted the end would come quickly, once a Russian leader claimed Crimea.

    This is all very interesting—especially given that all-powerful Russian leader Vladimir Putin seems to fit a “Gog” criteria—and certainly, geopolitically, none of us have seen before the seeming puzzle pieces being fit together like they appear to be now.

    However.

    One must say again that while Iran, Russia, and an increasingly hostile (is that even possible?!) pan-Arab nation threaten Israel directly…we can’t give in to the speculations of Enlightenment rabbis, shady websites, dangerous Facebook “prophets,”  left-wing journalists, or even our own “feelings” about where we are in history.

    The truth, of course, is that the Gog-Magog War could erupt tonight. Then again, it could be some years down the road. We simply don’t know.

    I cannot emphasize enough how damaging the failed predictions of some prophecy teachers the last 40 years have been in terms of “crying wolf” to younger generations that no longer pay attention to our predictions, unless they are making fun of them.

    We will know that Gog has roused Magog when it happens. If we are here.

    In the meantime, Israel continues to be pressured by an increasingly hostile international community and as I often say, that is the single-biggest indication we are living in the very last of the last days. Netanyahu’s government is in peril if he carries out the latest Palestinian prisoner release. Hezbollah in the north is threatening again, this time with a vast stockpile of rockets. Control of Egypt is in play. Beyond that, the body of Europe is again sick with anti-Semitism, at alarming levels. The U.S. government now, in my opinion, has clearly abandoned Israel.

    All this and much more tell us where we are.

    (I also agree with the marvelous Jacob Prasch that the python of apostasy in the American church is a huge sign of the times.)

    Until we see the very specific details of Ezekiel’s prophecy unfold (can’t you just imagine Matt Lauer scrambling to analyze such a development as research staffers hand him Bible passages?), though, let’s be sober-minded and teach people the basic outlines of predictive prophecy, so that when the end comes, they won’t be caught off-guard.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

     


    Mar 24, 2014

    Israel Eyes Progress

     

    As I often like to say, amid the chaos of the Middle East—and its place among the wider international community—Israel stands as a beacon of progress and innovation.

    Even now, as Israel’s government deals with chillier relations with its no. 1 ally, and terror threats and Iran loom large, the Jewish state is still a leader in technological and medical advances that save lives and make life easier around the globe.

    All this is made even more remarkable—and ironic—as “BDS” (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) efforts are aimed at harming the very innovation and economy that is helping the world.

    I was astonished this week to see this week more incredible stories from Untold News (www.untoldnews.org), detailing marvelous advances in technology. You can really check out quick updates from Untold News at their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/UntoldNews

    Because speaking of seeing, it’s been reported that an Israeli professor has developed a stunning lens to help the blind.

    Prof. Zeev Zalevsky, head of the Electro-Optics study program at Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Engineering, has developed a bionic contact lens that has tremendous potential to enable the blind to see.

    “According to Zalevsky, the lens processes digital images and translates them into tactile sensations. These sensations can be felt on the person's cornea, allowing him or her to form a picture of their physical surroundings.

    "’It's like reading Braille, not with your fingertips but with your eyes,’ said Zalevsky. He explains that the system uses a mounted camera or smartphone to capture images that are turned into a form of electronic Braille. Zalevsky said that with a short training the user can use the lens effectively.”

    This kind of info is valuable for so many reasons: We all know people who can benefit from these technologies; Those of us who work to promote Israel find it easy to use these stories in our advocacy; We can marvel at the speed of innovation displayed by our Israeli friends, and helping them promote the news is critical in bringing attention to their efforts.

    That’s why I like to make you aware of the tremendous work being done by friends like Untold News, CAMERA, Palestinian Media Watch, etc. My friend, Marcella Rosen at Untold News, emailed the following announcement recently:

    “Wanted to let you know we hit a major milestone last week: we now have over 300,000 fans on Facebook, many of whom actively LIKE and SHARE our posts about Israeli innovation. If you haven't checked out Untold News on Facebook yet, please do--it's a great way to stay informed about the wonderful work Israelis are doing around the world.” 

    I would like to point out, not in a confrontational way, but as a way of providing context that there are no such websites or efforts from the side of our ideological opponents. When BDS, or Hamas, or Fatah, the rising “Christian Palestinianists” host conferences and write books detailing what they believe are abuses Israel inflicts on Arabs…I shake my head. They are opposing the one nation that works tirelessly to benefit folks around the world.

    That’s why you can do so much to help promote the work done by Untold News. I check their FB page every day, and pass their web address on to everyone I come in contact with, all who love Israel and the wonderful advances being developed by the Jewish state.

    There are untold stories waiting for you to find them and pass them on!

     

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Mar 17, 2014

    Christians at the Checkpoint

    This week concluded the biannual, infamous “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, held at Bethlehem’s Jacir Intercontinental Hotel. The conference is hosted every two years by Christian Palestinianists and their friends, which include certain American evangelical leaders, and the Palestinian Authority. In short, the conference presents a worldview opposite that of, say, Christian Zionists.

    I find the name of the conference deeply offensive, for they are attempting to politicize the name of Jesus Christ by fitting Him into their Liberation Theology worldview. Conference organizers and speakers even allege—astonishingly—that Jesus was a Palestinian!

    I often criticize/critique folks who come against Israel. This week, however, I think there were some positive developments at CATC 2014. More on the criticism later.

    First, though I have serious concerns about his relationship with Palestinian enabler Mart Green (Hobby Lobby) and Green’s Oral Roberts University agenda, new ORU President William “Billy” Wilson denounced from the podium at CATC the scourge known as Replacement Theology. I wish Wilson had not accepted the invitation to speak—he’ll be used as propaganda by CATC organizers—but his statement was a bold one, given the hostile-to-Zionism crowd in attendance.

    Next, a far more positive development was the appearance of on-the-ground reporters Dexter Van Zile (CAMERA) and freelancer Brian Schrauger. The latter in particular exhibited great personal courage by utilizing social media to give us all a running commentary, from his perch usually in the front row. CATC organizers were aware of his presence and I don’t hesitate to say I worried for his safety. Bethlehem is a PA-controlled town.

    The radical theology/worldview of the CATC crowd would shock most American evangelicals, and I think for the first time, they will have access to this rhetoric. Van Zile and Schrauger provided plenty of proof that CATC is a radical, leftist organization, led by Israel-hating Westerners like Wheaton’s Gary Burge, and British pastor Stephen Sizer.

    Further, Sami Awad, spearheading efforts in the United States to dupe churches into embracing Palestinian grievances (he of the Holy Land Trust), continued to peddle the most astonishing lies, and it is here I want to really get the reader’s attention.

    Awad, part of what I call the “Palestinian Rat Pack” in America (Lynne Hybels, Todd Deatherage, Cameron Strang, Donald Miller, Tony Campolo), attempted once again to tell a bald-faced lie; Schrauger caught it and tweeted to a worldwide audience:

    "The wall completely surrounds the city. It is like living in a prison." ~Sami Awad #CATC2014 No, Sami it doesn't surround the city and it is a border not a prison. #BS

    (Note: “#BS” stands for Brian Schrauger.)

    As many of us have been saying for some time, there are certain talking points used by the Christian Palestinianists, and those points are either outright fabrications, or skewed data used to demonize Israel. Christian Palestinianists want regular American evangelicals to think their “brothers and sisters in Palestine” are being herded into “open-air prisons” due to the Israeli security fence.

    Bethlehem is not surrounded by the fence.

    The fence in that area is on TWO sides, and has dramatically reduced the number of murders of Jews by Palestinians.

    Period.

    Why, then, is Awad continuing to peddle this lie?

    Because he’s a liar.

    As is Miller, who, after 15 months continues to refuse to provide documentation for his charges of war crimes against the IDF.  Further, the presentations, books, and conferences the Christian Palestinianists design and promote present a thoroughly left-wing view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is what bothers me the most about them. It isn’t that people can’t have contrary views, or engage in dialogue about worldview.

    The problem comes when one side is willing to peddle falsehoods. This is why CATC 2014 was and is dangerous.

    Another intriguing example is Burge. A year ago, scholar Malcolm Lowe wrote a devastating critique—unanswerable, I believe—of Gary Burge’s anti-Israel theology. Three times I’ve asked Burge to comment (I sent him Lowe’s critique), and three times he’s ducked.

    Why is that?

    It is similar to the horribly skewed cover story in the current issue of Relevant magazine, a piece written by publisher Cameron Strang. Titled “Blessed Are The Peacemakers,” Strang uses the article to paint a left-wing view of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. For example, he allows Hanan Ashrawi’s trademark lie—Palestinians were the first Christians—to be spread to his readers.

    That’s only the beginning of the huge problems with Strang’s cover story.

    When I attempted to ask him why, and a variety of other questions about the article, he refused.

    When Relevant announced that a “Q&A” podcast devoted to the cover story would include questions from readers, several (including me) pointed out numerous examples of false narrative. Oddly, Strang announced as the podcast was to start that a technical glitch would derail the discussion. I’ve asked him three times this week, and his editor, Tyler Huckabee, if there will be a rescheduled Q&A.

    Silence.

    Why is that?

    I’ll tell you why people like Burge and Strang hide. They hide because they know their ideological opponents have the goods on them. They hope it goes away and we shut up and no one notices.

    Not a chance.

    To the regular reader of “Israel Watch,” I have a request this week: send this column to as many people on your list as possible. I want people to know that the agenda of the Christian Palestinianists is deeply flawed, disingenuous, and dangerous.

    If they want to start telling the truth, and stop demonizing Israel and Christian Zionists, then perhaps it won’t be necessary any longer to expose them.

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Mar 10, 2014

    Politically Motivated Propaganda

    The grossly titled “Christ at the Checkpoint” gathering of anti-Israel activists has been going on this week in Bethlehem. This comes on the heels of Cameron Strang’s cover story in this month’s issue of Relevant magazine, in which—among other things—the publisher allows PLO mouthpiece Hanan Ashrawi to allege that the Palestinians are directly related to the first Christians!

    Which would make them Jews.

    Ah, well, reality never plays much of a factor in the efforts of the Christian Palestinianists to isolate Israel. More of the same is going on at CATC. Interestingly, the Messianic community in Jerusalem disavowed any fellowship with the leftists at CATC, issuing a strongly worded statement that proves they understand what is afoot.

    Israel Today magazine has been doing a terrific job reporting on this situation, and makes readers aware that the Israelis understand what is going on:

    “That Jerusalem is so aware and concerned about CatC should be encouraging news to Evangelical Christians around the world. The government of Israel finds them ‘an extremely important audience,’ and the goal of the conference is clearly to drive a wedge between Christians and the State of Israel. Christians around the world should continue to heed the government’s call to distance themselves from the dangerous and politically-motivated propaganda of Christ at the Checkpoint.”

    What’s happening in Bethlehem is an unconscionable effort on the part of Palestinians and their American religionists to marginalize Israel—biblically, politically, and culturally.

    Do not be fooled by their “pro-pro-pro” rhetoric, in which some of them allege they believe in Israel’s security. Bottom line: they hate Israel.

    A key tactic in mainstreaming the “Palestinian narrative” is to hold up the image of the suffering Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters to sympathetic and unaware American church audiences. After all, the “Jews reject Jesus,” and so we must stand in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.

    It is a clever tactic, one used for centuries to first marginalize then harass Jews.

    I asked Cameron Strang this week to comment on/answer questions about his cover story, littered as it is with falsehoods. He said no. This is part of what I allege is a control of the overall narrative within the American Evangelical Church, by Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, and Leadership Network. They are all of one mind, and Cameron Strang is mentored to a degree by Warren especially. Thus, when someone asks questions of them, or challenges what they’ve said or written, this corrupt leadership doesn’t have to answer.

    Controlling the masses through a false narrative is an historical nightmare.

    Everywhere now within evangelical leadership—where it comes up—the marginalization of Jews and the Jewish state is central. Steven Furtick, mentored by Warren, Craig Groeschel and others leading the Evangelical Industrial Complex, sanitizes Jewish history from the Old Testament by a clever application of Replacement Theology: the great Jewish narrative becomes about Steven Furtick, or his followers.

    Books, Sunday school lessons, Bible studies…even “study” Bibles routinely seek to make the Jews disappear from the pages of Scripture. This can come through twisting the context, or outright ignoring of the Jewish nature of the text.

    We’ve seen this before. In the book, The Holocaust and the Christian World, we read about the European churches in the lead-up to Hitler:

    “The negation of Jewish existence, which the Christian churches had symbolized in their liturgy and doctrines, their sermons and teaching materials helped to produce an endless series of persecutions and pogroms.”

    Many of the various denominations in Germany in the 1930s openly compromised with the Nazi regime. Witness the reaction of one such group:

    “Seventh Day Adventists offered an immediate public statement of nationalism and support for the Party. They implemented changes to remove the language of the Hebrew Scriptures from their liturgy.”

    Several factors were at play in the decisions of German Christians to abandon the Jews:

    “The most extreme example of this combination of anti-Semitism and nationalism was the so-called German Christian movement, a Protestant group that embraced Nazism and tried to Nazify Christianity by suppressing the Old Testament, revising liturgics and hymns, and promoting Jesus as an Aryan hero who embodied the ideals of the new Germany.”

    Are things moving in a similar direction in America? I think they are, primarily due to the leadership.

    When a publisher who identifies as a Millennial Evangelical allows the pages of his magazine to proclaim that Jesus was a Palestinian (that is the effect of Ashrawi’s statement, and more and more evangelical leaders are allowing such language to go unchallenged), that publisher has jettisoned truth.

    His friends are flocking to “Christ at the Checkpoint,” including ORU President William “Billy” Wilson, and this is unacceptable.

    Further, Strang’s close friend, Donald Miller, continues to publish charges of war crimes against the Israel Defense Forces, and no one calls him on it. He won’t document the charges (since, of course, he heard them from the PLO), and so the flood of lies continues to plague the American Church.

    Donald Miller is a liar.

    He is also a hero and friend to many in the American Evangelical leadership community. Think about that.

    The fact is, leftists have infiltrated every major American denomination, and one need go no further than studying the leadership and speaker lineup at Christ at the Checkpoint.

    Truly, we live in the days when evil is good, and good is evil.

     

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Mar 3, 2014

    Who Are the Peacemakers?

    Cameron Strang’s long-awaited story on his experiences in the Holy Land has finally appeared in the pages of the magazine he publishes for Millennials: Relevant.

    Regular readers of this column have heard of Cameron Strang before, and I strongly urge you to go online soon (www.relevantmagazine.com) and read this propaganda-drenched story. It couldn’t be more slanted if Mahmoud Abbas wrote it, and the piece epitomizes the New Journalism: advocate for a cause under the guise of informing the public.

    The cover story, entitled “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” is biased for the Palestinians from the first paragraph.

    (Note: I will be writing about this, and the wider problem of the Christian Palestinianists infiltrating the American Church, throughout 2014.)

    Strang begins with “narrative,” the weapon-of-choice for leftists who advocate against the Jewish state. He tells the story of a young Palestinian man brutalized by his Israeli “occupier” before becoming a peace activist.

    This week, I will focus only on two passages, to give you a taste of the leftist ideology that permeates Relevant, and the views of its publisher. I will demonstrate how propaganda works, and how outright lies change perceptions.

    Early on in the piece, Strang quotes Hanan Ashrawi, the PLO member who has long carried the propaganda water for Yasser Arafat and Abbas. Get a load of this from Strang’s cover story:

    “’Palestinians are the descendants of the early Christians,’ says Palestinian legislator Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. ‘We are probably the straightest line to original Christianity. The Christian presence in Palestine is important. Christianity is part and parcel of the Palestinian identity.’”

    It’s hard to lie multiple times in the space of a few brief statements, but here Ashrawi manages to do it. She’s been doing it for a very long time. One also wonders: does Strang understand even the bare essentials of the roots of his faith? The first Christians were Jews, as recorded in the New Testament.

    The “Palestinians were the first Christians” line has been used at least since Oslo 20 years ago, and we have documented the Palestinian leadership tendency to label Jesus a “Palestinian.” This is historical revisionism on a gargantuan and grotesque scale. It is shameful that Cameron Strang allows it in the pages of a magazine that claims to reach over three million Millennials each month.

    In Ashrawi’s 1995 memoir, This Side of Peace,, she describes her father, Dr. Daud Mikhail as a “medical officer in the Palestine army.” Dear reader, there was never a “Palestine army,” and Ashrawi conveniently forgets to fully flesh-out her father’s role in the formation of the terrorist organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), founded three years before Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai.

    And, it is curious that Strang (who goes to great lengths in his cover story to assure us that his Palestinian friends are brave peacemakers exclusively) would quote Ashrawi. In an AP story dated November 15, 2000, Ashrawi said this:  “the army of occupation and the settlers have become legitimate and select targets of Palestinian resistance”. In other words, the murder of Jews is legitimate. Not exactly “non-violent peacemaking,” now is it? And this is the tip of the iceberg with regard to Ashrawi’s incitement against Israelis.

    Next, let’s look at a description of the peace-making efforts of an Israeli named Roni  Keidar, who lives in Netiv HaAsara, near the border with Gaza. While acknowledging that Hamas rockets are fired at Israelis, notice this subtle piece of “journalistic” propaganda—and keep in mind, these are the words of Cameron Strang:

    “She also knows that the crude rockets being launched from Gaza toward her village will be fought with the sophisticated bombs of the Israeli military.”

    You see what Strang is doing, don’t you? He’s painting a picture for the reader. The young Palestinian freedom-fighters lob pop-bottle rockets at the giant (Goliath) Israeli military machine, which is just waiting for any excuse to murder Arabs.

    My description is an exaggeration, but not much of one. I’ve seen the “crude” rockets developed and fired by Hamas. They are themselves sophisticated and deadly; they have killed Jews.

    This propaganda tactic by Strang is very similar to his close friend, Donald Miller, who lies about Israel and gets away with it. Miller has several times refused my requests to document his charges of war crimes against the Israel Defense Forces, which he published November 19, 2012 at www.storylineblog.com.

    There, Miller alleged that IDF troops shoot and murder Palestinian women and children. He offered no documentation whatsoever, but we know that he has met with PLO officials. They tell him what they want him to communicate to American readers, specifically Evangelical Millennials, in order to demonize Israel.

    Cameron Strang also takes the word of his Palestinian handlers. From start to finish, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers” parrots the PLO party line, in which Israel is blamed in total for the conflict.

    His cover story was supposed to appear in early 2013, but was delayed. I twice asked him to comment on the story, and he said he would when it ran. I have now asked him a third time, upon reading his hit-piece against Israel.

    We’ll see.

     

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    Feb 24, 2014

    Israel or Jesus?

    I watched a fascinating, short video produced by Lee Strobel’s “Investigating Faith: Find Answers to Your Faith Questions,” in which the well-known apologetics teacher talks with his friend, Mark Mittelberg, about Bible prophecy.

    (Strobel, the author of such classics as The Case for Christ, and Mittelberg are both products of Bill and Lynne Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church. According to his bio, Strobel joined the Willow Creek staff in 1987 and became a teaching pastor. He later joined Saddleback Valley Community Church in 2000 to become a teaching pastor. He is now an independent apologist. Mittelberg works with Strobel now in the area of Christian apologetics.)

    The question posed in the video discussion is:

    Do Old Testament Prophecy [sic]

    Refer to Israel or Jesus?

    http://www.leestrobel.com/videoserver/video.php?clip=CCNT1225

    The answer to the question should be obvious: Yes.

    I find it fascinating that for so many teachers in the Church today, the answer to this question has to be one or the other. In fairness, there are those who are so emotionally invested in Israel that they do a poor job presenting the Gospel. I believe, however, that a problem just as serious is the tendency to make Israel/the Jews invisible in history. This leads to all sorts of problems, ranging from mediocre Bible studies to outright anti-semitism (which, I would argue, is a serious problem in the Evangelical community).

    Some Bible prophecy in the Old Testament refers to Israel and some refers to the Messiah. Christians understand that the spirit of prophecy bears testimony to Jesus (Revelation 19:10).

    What is less agreed-upon is the role of Israel. The four-minute clip featuring Strobel and Mittelberg reveals a deep problem that infects the American Evangelical community. The problem is that these two men—respected and listened to by many—allege that prophecy in the Old Testament speaks of Jesus (the Messiah), but not, evidently, Israel. In other words, they enjoy highlighting the astonishing Messianic prophecies in Scripture, yet they marginalize the importance of and specialness of the Jews.

    It is no accident that these two men have been influenced heavily by the Hybels and by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback and “America’s Pastor” (according to TIME magazine). Rick Warren and Bill and Lynne Hybels associate with known enemies of Israel, and they don’t like the study of Bible prophecy.

    Here is a partial transcript of the Strobel/Mittelberg conversation:

    Strobel

    “My Jewish friends would tell me, ah, Lee, wait a minute, you know what the Christians are doing is, they’re wrenching these out of context, that some of these things make references in the Old Testament to Israel, not to the coming Messiah and you’re just ripping these things out of context. What do you say to that?”

    Mark Mittelberg

    “Well, that’s a very good question and I think we have to admit that some of the prophecies are much clearer than others. When you look in the OT. And some of them are sort of general, vague, you know, ‘Out of Egypt, my son will,’ you know, versus, you know, ‘He’s going to be born in Bethlehem,’ ‘He’s going to be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver by a friend,’ ‘They’ll gamble for His clothing,’ you know, ‘My Lord, my Lord, why have you forsaken me?’ Some of these things that we see, and that we just saw in the presentation are so specific. So I would first say, there’s enough really clear ones that they really overwhelm, especially with the odds that you just gave, the ones that are a little less clear.”

    Strobel

    “So even if you’ve just eliminated the ones that could be questionable [Messianic prophecies], you still have plenty to establish your case.”

    Mittelberg

    “Exactly. Secondly I would just say, you know, if someone has doubts about it, they need to investigate it. It’s easy with just kinda the sweep of the hand to say oh, well, I think they’re just generalizing. Well, the odds of that, the number of people who have studied this and researched this—like you, Lee—who didn’t even want to believe it, who walked away saying this is overwhelming, I think anyone who has those kinds of questions owes it to themselves to look into it.”

    (Strobel then references his friend, Louis Lapides, who is Jewish and decided to read the passages himself, Isaiah 53, both in English and Hebrew, and concluded that Jesus is the Messiah. Strobel says pointedly that Lapides grew up in a “conservative Jewish home” and certainly had never heard of the prophecies. Stroble, however, says nothing about Christians who grow up in Christian homes and have never heard of the prophecies. Why single-out the Jews?)

    Mittelberg then goes on to tell of his trip to a Christian bookstore, where he found a prophecy book alleging that Gorbachev was the antichrist. When he referenced those who pointed out that the former Soviet chief had a birthmark (“fatal wound”) on his head, there was laughter from the audience.

    The sophisticated crowd in Evangelicalism, the “careful thinkers” and self-identifying intellectuals, love to poke fun at dispensationalists, knuckle-dragging Christian Zionists, and fundamentalists. Evidently, their own hubris and arrogance and intolerance never cross their bulging minds.

    Mittelberg then goes on to say, “I want to caution Christians to be careful of those kinds of interpretations.”

    Yes, Mark, we should be careful of those kinds of interpretations. Just as we should be cautious of your interpretations that (rightly) emphasize the Messianic prophecies, but ignore or marginalize those concerning Israel.

    There are reasons Replacement Theology is the scourge of the American Church.

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Feb 17, 2014

    Boycott the Boycotters

    In less than a decade, an insidious campaign to attack Israel has gained followers across-the-board. The so-called “BDS” movement (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) threatens Israel in a unique way. Basically, BDS proponents seek to undermine the Jewish state by persuading others to disengage from Israel economically. Specifically, they have a problem with companies that do business in the West Bank (Judea/Samaria).

    I recently caught up with Alex Margolin, social media editor for Hones tReporting. Margolin has been tracking the BDS movement for some time, and is involved in efforts to counter the Israel-haters.

    “We believe that BDS is primarily a media issue, because the economic effect has been minimal, but the damage to Israel's image has been significant,” says Margolin. “BDS activists use the media to get their point across to the public. They target well-known celebrities because they know they will get media coverage for it. That gives them a platform to promote their hostile views about Israel.”

    The tug-of-war is not surprising, given the worldviews of key people within the entertainment industry. Artists like Rogers Waters are very vocal about their dislike of Israel (“Ultimately,” says Margolin, “they’re looking to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.”). Margolin sees opportunities, though, to impact the situation in a positive way.

    “Our Fighting BDS Facebook page serves as a resource for people who want to join the fight. We post a roundup of BDS-related news every day.”

    For readers of “Israel Watch,” this is a tangible way to help Israel. I strongly urge readers to “like” the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fightingbds) and take advantage of the valuable resources that can stop the BDS movement in its tracks. Then make this resource known to all those within your circle of influence. I’d like to see this effort mushroom among RR readers.

    Margolin and the Honest Reporting team have crafted an easy to remember system:

    “It is based on B—Break it Down. Look at the facts carefully and see that much BDS material is propaganda. D—Discredit. Point out that the movement is not a peace movement, and even though it claims to be a non-violent movement, it is just as interested in destroying Israel as a Jewish state as any ‘resistance’ movement before it. S—Subvert. Take any campaign that the BDS runs, and turn it around on them. When they call for a #Hate Israel campaign on Twitter, run a #Love Israel campaign. When they call for boycotts of a company, run a campaign to "buycott" that company. Subvert them everywhere, so they see there is a cost to running these campaigns.”

    These efforts are proving to be highly effective, so if you truly want to take the time to help Israel, check out how Alex Margolin and his team are making it easy for you to do so.

    I am.

     jim@prophecymatters.com


    Feb 10, 2014

    What is Reality?

    Well, you know diplomacy has entered the realm of theatre when Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman calls John Kerry a “true friend of Israel.” This comes on the heels of (well-deserved) criticism of Kerry by Economic Minister Naftali Bennett.

    Liberman, known for years as a right-wing hawk, now seems to have done an about-face. The question is, why?

    I think there are two reasons. In order:

    •American pressure on the Israeli political leadership is intense. I personally believe Barack Obama and John Kerry loathe Benjamin Netanyahu. So the last thing the Israeli prime minister needs is a loose-cannon foreign minister. Remember when Ariel Sharon became foreign minister? It was only a short time after that that the ultimate Israeli hawk modified (softened) his views on engaging the Palestinians. Sharon became enamored with the idea that the Americans—specifically George W. Bush—were his friends. He touted, as prime minister, letters of guarantee that seemed to solidify American support for Israel.

    But that was so long as the Israelis were willing to give away land to terrorists. Sharon was mistaken in his belief that Bush was a genuine friend. Bush, who had by the time of his second term surrounded himself with his father’s anti-Semitic advisors, was simply another pragmatic politician. Israel got nothing for the Gaza pullout but rocket fire on its citizens.

    Now, added to the naked pragmatism American presidents have always followed is what I’d call Obama’s mendacious attitude toward Israel. He hates the Jewish state and so is only too happy to ramp-up the pressure.

    •Secondly, Liberman is a politician. Simply put, he wants what they all want: to be prime minister. One wonders what they truly hope to accomplish if they ascend to the high office. A highly placed Israeli friend told me once at dinner in Jerusalem that he wonders if all politicians are masochists. It’s a fair question.

    John Kerry is not a true friend of Israel. He’s not a friend at all. He’s not even an acquaintance. His loathing of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem and anywhere else in “Palestine” is borne of his religious and political background. As a Roman Catholic, Kerry obviously did not hear about the specialness of the Jews, especially biblical. And, let’s not forget, this is the man who threw his medals, won in Vietnam, into the canal in protest.

    The obvious correlation between current international pressure on Israel (which is withering, let’s not kid ourselves) and the biblical scenarios of latter-day pressure on Israel is, well, obvious. This is when things start to get really interesting.

    Obama, for his part, has been deeply influenced by radical thinkers such as Jeremiah Wright (his pastor for 20 years at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago), who was influenced by Black Liberation theologian James Cone, who was influenced by “the Bible is myth” deep thinkers Karl Barth and Paul Tillich.

    I believe Netanyahu knows exactly who and what he’s dealing with. It’s doubtful Liberman does. All politicians live in bubbles, and Liberman is no different. If he seriously believes Kerry is a “true friend” of Israel, he needs his head and everything else examined.

    The reality is, Israel is now dealing with a wholly mendacious foreign policy juggernaut at the White House and State Department. This is a new development, although one could argue that the Southern Baptist, Jimmy Carter, also hated Israel during his (thankfully) single term in office.

    Doubtless Liberman’s statement was an empty gesture, aimed at diffusing the heated recent relations between Jerusalem and Washington.

    Still, though, it indirectly adds to the pressure on Israel.

    Pacifying your enemies, even American ones, never works.

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Feb 3, 2014

    The Best Gets…Better?

    In a new column at American Thinker, Michael Curtis offers a superb analysis of Israel’s unique innovations that make the world a better place. Too bad the world doesn’t appreciate it.

    As Curtis writes:

    “It has long been obvious that Israel punches far above its weight in contributions to innovations in science, research, and general culture.For some time, Tel Aviv and its surroundings have been second only to Silicon Valley in scientific and technological developments.Now the country's ambition is to become a major, and possibly the leading, cyber-nation in the world.

    “The abundant enemies of Israel readily swallow the Palestinian narrative of unique victimhood and eagerly publicize illustrations of the bigoted companies, organization, and academic units engaged in or proposing boycott of the State of Israel.”

    We learn that Israel, while also fighting terror and an increasingly hostile international community, is preparing to ramp-up its already startling list of accomplishments:

    “Israel will become an enhanced innovation nation with the establishment of a national cyber-park in Beer Sheva, in the Negev, that will be called Cyber Spark.

    “Cyber Spark will be the first of its kind, and will include leading cyber industries, advanced academic research, security organizations, educational institutions (especially Ben-Gurion University), and governmental agencies.Through a joint technical infrastructure, the Israelis aim at global leadership in the cyber field.The new initiative brings together multinational companies, investors, start-up companies, academic research, and even a high school.”

    This is an absolutely astonishing achievement for a tiny country that has been the object of scorn by its neighbors since its founding. To put a fine point on it, Israel is making this often-difficult world a better place through a whole range of advances. My friends at Untold News (www.untoldnews.org) make available amazing information about Israel. For example, in an article (http://untoldnews.org/efficient-solar-panels/) about solar power, we read about how stretching our thinking can lead to important gains.

    Solar power helps a lot of people. But solar panels take up land and also are the target of environmentalists. So what is Yossi Fisher doing? Mr. Fisher is the co-founder and CEO of Solaris Energy. From the article:

    “The problem is that solar energy is generated with solar panels. And solar panels take up land. In fact, it turns out that producing traditional solar energy with enough wattage to make a dent in the power usage of real life communities means usinga lotof land.There are a lot of people who think covering the land with vast solar arrays isn’t such a good idea. These include tourist agencies, builders, farmers, and even environmentalists, who aren’t so enthralled with the idea of installing acres of solar panels and casting vast swaths of land into shadow.”

    The “Eureka Moment” then occurred:

    “Mr. Fisher and his partners realized that there are plenty of unused acres around the world where solar systems can be deployed: the planet is home to millions of small, medium and large bodies of water that are perfectly suited to host solar arrays. Installations from water treatment facilities to utilities, fish farms to reservoirs maintain bodies of water that can do double duty as solar sites.”

    Frankly—and this is merely one Israeli innovation—a nation so absorbed with security issues that can also use brainpower to enhance daily living for billions of people is one to keep your eye on. And be thankful for.

    Untold News also reports that Israeli doctors routinely treat Palestinians—everyone from babies with heart defects, to elderly patients who need a liver transplant…to terrorists. That’s right: incredibly, Israeli hospitals provide safe haven and life-saving treatment even to terrorists.

    And what about the epic problem of world hunger? Israel is developing new methods for fish farming. Incredibly, estimates vary, but it is thought that if nothing is done to “stem the tide” of over-fishing, the world’s oceans will be largely empty of fish by 2050.

    Enter a company called “Grow Fish Anywhere” (GFA), and its CEO, Dotan Bar-Noy. The company tackles the problem of raising fish in tanks that require consistently clean supplies of water, thus preventing water pollution:

    “The result was GFA, an aquaculture system that produces zero discharge of water and zero environmental impact, that can grow just about any type of fish, and that can work literally anywhere on the planet.

    “The system is clean, green, sustainable and provides an abundant food source for a planet that is getting smaller and more crowded.”

    This is but one more incredible innovation that, as Untold News makes abundantly clear, improves the lives of Israel’s neighbors and global community partners.

    Perhaps one day, those who benefit from Israel’s life-saving and life-enhancing breakthroughs will fully realize that simple gratitude—rather than pressure on the Jewish state—is the more proper response.

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Jan 27, 2014

    The Speeding Train

    In the almost-insane world of geo-politics, there are all sorts of intrigue. Power players jockey for position, propaganda plays a part. And sometimes we are witness to a truly epic scene playing-out on the world stage.

    Such a scene is unfolding in the talks and negotiations between Israel and the Americans. It’s as if they are holding discussions on a train speeding toward a disaster.

    This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in Davos, Switzerland—at the World Economic Forum—and besides delivering a speech, he has met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has increasingly displayed a menacing posture with the Jewish state. Kerry is seemingly obsessed with forcing Israel to negotiate with and conclude a peace deal with the Palestinians.

    Yet Netanyahu seems not to be playing ball, much to the consternation of Kerry and his boss. At Davos, Netanyahu said he will not evacuate any settlements!

    “’I have no intention of evacuating any settlement or uprooting any Israelis,’ Netanyahu said in Hebrew during a briefing for Israeli journalists on the nine-month negotiating cycle, which ends in April,” according to a report from the Jerusalem Post.

    Perhaps even more incredible, Netanyahu’s political rival in the Knesset, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, after meeting with Kerry, said that “No one wants to evacuate settlements.” Of course, that is not the same as promising it will not happen, but it shows a measure of solidarity among the Israelis as they face-down the international community.

    For his part, “Kerry said everyone knew what the end game for a two-state solution would look like. Security arrangements for Israel would allow for ‘a full, phased, final withdrawal of the Israeli army,’ he said. There would be ‘a just and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee problem; an end to the conflict and all claims; and mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Palestinian people and the nation-state of the Jewish people.’”

    Kerry is no friend of Israel, but he is not stupid. He knows very well that the Palestinians will not keep their end of the bargain, especially regarding recognizing Israel as the Jewish state. The Palestinians have been raised on Jew-hatred for generations.

    Because of this, primarily, the talks are doomed to failure. Kerry, however, like his boss, has made it clear that the status quo will no longer do. We know that means Israel will be told to comply.

    They won’t, and that will cause the train to speed on faster and faster.

    jim@prophecymatters.com


    Jan 20, 2014

    Gladwell, Regarding the Giants

    There are myriad ways that Israel is attacked in our world today. We often see the obvious ones: military threats, Muslim terrorism, diplomatic pressures.

    One that is often overlooked is the steady drip, drip, drip of historical revisionism, and the corrosive effects it has on the Church. In other words, there are many efforts to marginalize Israel and the Jews by questioning their history. We see this from university professors who deny the Exodus happened, and we see it, sadly and tragically, in the Church. Not only is there widening ignorance in churches about the Jewish roots of Christianity; there are now outright lies being told about Israel and the Jewish people. Witness the grotesque blogs written by people like Donald Miller.

    I’ve written extensively in the last two years how Christian Palestinianists (self-identifying evangelicals in the American Church) are helping mainstream Palestinian propaganda about Israel. In particular, I am trying to alert pro Israel Christians to these things.

    Now comes a new book by Malcolm Gladwell—David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

    There a couple of major points I want to make about this book:

    •There is a strong tendency today for ministry heads, pastors, and independent authors to use metaphor. In this case, the point of the David story is not to emphasize the historical nature of it. The point is to make it a metaphor for the “giants in your life.” This serves a leftist mindset by further pushing Jewish history into the realm of opinion (it’s whatever you want it to be), and it also feeds the self-centeredness that is a plague in the American Church.

    •Gladwell also claims that the David and Goliath story is “legend.” This aids the decades-long effort by seminary professors and others to, again, attack the historicity of Scripture.

    In the opening pages, Gladwell says:

    “At the heart of ancient Palestine is the region known as the Shephela, a series of ridges and valleys connecting the Judaean Mountains to the east with the wide, flat expanse of the Mediterranean plain.”

    Gladwell is wrong on ancient names, but one suspects he knows that. Because Christian Palestinianists and their friends want you to believe that “Palestine” was both an ancient sovereign country and the modern homeland of the “Palestinians,” the term is used over and over. One hears that a delegation from a denomination has gone to “Palestine.” I always ask where that is.

    Palestine was the name of that region from the second century A.D., until 1948. It was so named by the Romans—shocker, to get rid of Jewish history, “Judea”—yet some modern Christians still use the term. These are usually people who also use “Holy Land” to some degree. Anything to keep from saying “Israel.”

    Those who know what they are doing loathe Israel and the Jews and Zionism.

    It’s unknown what Gladwell thinks of this whole subject, but his friends operating in the Church Growth/Seeker Sensitive/Purpose-Driven community spend a good deal of time undermining Israel.

    For example, Gladwell has been invited to speak at Catalyst conferences, where pro Palestinian speakers like Lynne Hybels give pro Palestinian presentations. Donald Miller is another.

    Gladwell himself is an odd sort to be rubbing elbows with those who identify as evangelicals. He fits more the culture of the secular corporate world, and is a writer with some measure of intellectual reputation. The British writer has placed several books on the highbrow bestseller lists, including The Tipping Point; Blink; and Outliers. He is also a staff writer for The New Yorker.

    It’s easy, then, to see that Malcolm Gladwell is an interesting choice to be mainstreamed to Evangelical Millennials. He has been recently featured in Relevant magazine, and his somewhat opaque “journey to faith” doesn’t seem to have much in common with the traditional born-again experience. This is a similar tactic used by Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis to cozy up to mainstream evangelicals and fool them into thinking they are one and the same.

    Back to Gladwell and his new book.

    On page 8, he begins to describe the moment when David picks up stones for his sling. Except Gladwell uses an odd phrase:

    “What happens next is a matter of legend.”

    No, it isn’t.

    Do you see what’s going on? More effort to convince readers that in order to be truly intellectual and open-minded, one must relegate some or all of Scripture to the realm of myth.

    The account of David killing Goliath in 1 Samuel is historical. It happened in history. The toxic teaching that much of the Hebrew Scriptures can be reinterpreted, by leftist revisionists, is killing our children. Over time, when they begin to wonder what other parts of the Bible are not real/true, they leave the faith.

    Finally, by re-fashioning the account of David and Goliath as a story about us—you, me—Gladwell feeds the inherent narcissism that has changed American culture. In David and Goliath he writes:

    “David and Goliath is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By ‘giants,’ I mean powerful opponents of all kinds—from armies and mighty warriors to disability, misfortune, and oppression.”

    The account in 1 Samuel is not primarily about us. It isn’t primarily a story about how you can “slay your giants.” Of course, it can be applied that way in a certain sense, but it is really a story about God’s provision and sovereignty, a method for showing us his great glory and power. That is what mankind was created for, after all, to worship the Creator. Not to give us an inflated view of ourselves.

    As an aside, mainstream pastors like Steven Furtick today use this “slay your giants” theme to great effect. Their “sermons” are not really Bible teaching, but rather what I call Christian self-help. Furtick also does his fans a disservice by not really teaching the Bible.

    By the way, incredible as it may seem, the Palestinian propagandists have also appropriated these stories to be their own! The Palestinian/David vs. the Israelis/Goliath theme has been invented in our time to portray Israel as a mighty oppressor. Note Gladwell’s use of the word “oppression” in the quote above. For him and his friends, this usually means the West and their allies, like Israel. Their youthful audiences understand perfectly well what they mean.

    Gladwell is the modern prototype of a change agent in the American Church.

    His new book, David and Goliath is a prototype of the tools used to create that change.

    In this context, Israel and our Millennials suffer greatly for it.

    jim@prophecymatters.com