Sound of the Shofar #101 July 25th, 2016 from Eliyahu Ben-Haim
The land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
Arise, shine; For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will also gather all nations,
And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
And I will enter into judgment with them there
On account of My people, My heritage Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also divided up My land.
It is clear that the world is descending into deeper (gross) darkness. Western Europe continues to be inundated with Muslim migrants who do not want to become European and certainly there are terrorist sleeper agents amongst them. While the European football championships in France were spared terror attacks, some days later on Bastille Day an Islamist terrorist killed 84 and wounded 200 with a truck ramming. Then Germany had four terror attacks in eight days. The carnage in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen continues.
The American presidential elections will be held in November and the two major candidates are incompetent and at least one of them is corrupt. The present US president, Barak Obama, is the worst president in recent history. His foreign policy has been disastrous and it has opened the door worldwide for the darkness to increase – in particular for more Islamic terrorism to affect the nations and for Russia to return to the Middle East in power. Obama’s domestic record is just as bad as his foreign policies. As the first African American president you would think that the opportunities for black Americans would have increased – the opposite has been the case. There are more black Americans living in poverty and out of work than before Obama was elected. Racial tensions in the USA are rising and Obama is partly to blame as his rhetoric has inflamed rather than soothed tensions especially between black Americans and the police.
Russia is flexing its muscles (not just in the Middle East), in its attempt to regain superpower status. China is doing the same, especially in the East and South China Seas.
The bureaucrats of the EU continue to overrule the sovereign rights of the member states and the moves to exit the union gain steam with the UK’s vote to leave. I believe Brexit is a positive initiative to reclaim British sovereignty from the EU. I do not believe that the EU is a God- inspired initiative. God clearly created nations with boundaries, not an amorphous European nation and culture.
When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.
Freedom of speech in Europe and the USA is vanishing very fast unless you are a Muslim, a gay or a progressive. (Progressives are liberals on steroids. They proclaim free speech for themselves but deny those rights to anyone who thinks otherwise. Actually they are a modern expression of Fascism.) Trashing Christianity and Judaism is OK but speaking or writing against Islam or gays is a criminal offense. While the Muslims are still a minority in Europe they are acting like they set the rules. In the USA it is the gays and progressives who are setting the rules.
While Islamic terrorists will not succeed in recreating a Caliphate, yet they have changed all our lives in very dramatic ways. Can you believe it? I can remember a time when air travel was pleasant and carrying a pocket knife (even on a plane), was not considered a crime.
The world as we knew it even 20 years ago is no more and we will not be returning to it.
With the world in such turmoil, instead of focusing on vanquishing bestial Islamic terrorism or on Iran’s and North Korea’s march to the bomb the western world’s obsession continues to be Israel and the Israeli – Palestinian situation. According to the latest surveys in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Israeli – Palestinian situation is at the very bottom of their list of concerns – if it is even on the list at all. Here we are talking about government and military professionals. The Arab Street still wants Israel to disappear but the governments of those two countries understand that Israel is perhaps the only positive influence in the Middle East.
Churches, university student groups and various professional societies continue to encourage BDS (boycott, disinvestment, sanctions) on Israel, which some perceive to be the grossest evil and the greatest danger to world peace. Of course this occurs only in the “civilized western world”, not in much of the rest of the world. Actually Russia, China and India, to name just the largest countries, are rushing to do business with Israel, wanting joint ventures with us especially in security, agriculture, water and technology. Investment from China in Israel is booming. Can we stretch our faith to pray that someday they will change their voting patterns in the UN and stand with Israel? During India’s recent term on the Security Council, while they did not vote for Israel they did abstain on a number of Council resolutions against Israel. It would be a game changer if the US under Obama were to vote ”yes” on an anti-Israel Security Council resolution, while Russia and China vetoed the resolution. This is not likely, but we can hope and pray.
While BDS has had little or no economic impact on Israel, it is a very fertile breeding ground for vicious anti-Semitism. University campuses are bubbling over with hatred for Israel. When we consider that these students are the potential leaders of their nations, industry, judiciary, education, etc., the implications for their nations are not good.
While Israel is far from being a perfect nation (there is no perfect nation) the vicious hatred of Israel is not at its heart, anti-Semitic but anti-God.
Joel 3:1-2 makes it very clear that out of all of His creation He calls Israel My land and that dividing His land is an action that brings God’s judgement. That is why when you are praying against dividing the Land of Israel you are not only standing with the Lord in the restoration of Israel, you are also interceding for your own nation not to be brought into the valley of judgement.
While there have been many times in history when gross darkness has enveloped the earth, yet in the context of Isaiah 60 this darkness is at the time of the restoration of Israel and the Aliyah of the Jewish People. While the world descends into the prophesied darkness, the Lord promises that His light will shine on the nation and people of Israel. This is not because we are worthy, but because the Lord is a covenant-keeping God and His promises, made thousands of years ago, are still relevant to Him. However much we may suffer from the hatred of Satan and the peoples of the earth, Israel will survive and prosper both physically and spiritually, so that there will be a welcoming committee on the Mount of Olives when Yeshua returns. (Matthew 23:37, Zechariah 14:1-4).
While most of you who receive the Sound of the Shofar are not Americans, I believe we should all be praying into the upcoming American elections. We have seen how seven and a half years of Barak Obama’s presidency have made the world a more unsafe place than before. While many people have complained about the large footprint that America has had on the world, yet the reality is that when no-one is keeping order, the world descends into chaos and the USA is the only country that is able to do that at this time. The next American president will affect not just the USA but the whole world.
Libya is a good example. The British and the French wanted to remove Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi but they couldn’t do it on their own. They convinced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support their plans. Obama did not want to do anything openly and coined the phrase “leading from behind”. Gadhafi was a dictator but his country was functioning and was more or less peaceful having stopped threatening other countries. Now with Gadhafi gone, Libya is a rat’s nest of competing terror groups and is a failed country. It has become one of the main jumping off points for refugees and terrorists trying to enter Europe. That’s what you get by “leading from behind”.
Syria is another example. Obama declared that if Assad used chemical weapons he would be crossed Obama’s red line. Assad used them and Obama backed away from his responsibility and his red line, and Russia marched right in. We don’t know, but perhaps if Obama had been true to his word the civil war in Syria might be over.
It is sad that neither of the contenders for the American Presidency inspires much confidence for a change of direction toward a godly life. Yet as we are called to pray for government and rulers we need to take a stand in prayer. (If you are American you need not only to pray, I believe you also need to vote.)
This is my take on the candidates:
Donald Trump is loudmouthed, impolite and crude. He acts like a bully, and has already alienated many woman and minorities. However, the people who work with him paint a different picture – a man who hires people based on ability not gender or race. As his life has been in the business world, we should pray that, were he to win, he would surround himself with wise counselors and listen to them before making decisions. The man he has chosen as his Vice Presidential candidate, Mike Pence, has been a reliable friend of Israel and an unashamed evangelical.
Hillary Clinton is a known political quantity. As a US Senator she was unremarkable but as Secretary of State she was a disaster. I’ve already mentioned Libya. Her “reset” with the Russians was a disaster and while she traveled the globe extensively she made no progress anywhere she went. Regarding her character, it has been documented that she consistently lied to the American people. Moreover, there are indications that as Secretary of State she favored governments and people who would then give very large contributions to her family’s Clinton Foundation. We have yet to hear the conclusion of this story of this possible corruption. The man she has chosen as her Vice Presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, is one of a handful of US Senators who boycotted PM Netanyahu’s address to the American Congress about the deal with Iran. Again more recently when many US Senators asked Obama to increase military aid to Israel, Kaine refused to add his name to that request.
To summarize, we have a crude unknown – Trump and we have an incompetent and untruthful known – Clinton. Sometimes we are faced with the choice not between good and bad, but between not so good and even worse.
How do we stand, withstand and keep praying (Ephesians 6:10-18) in this world wide descent into darkness? We need to keep in mind that this darkness has not only not taken God by surprise but that He has told us about it in advance. It is not the end, but a sign of the Lord’s imminent return.
And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, And those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished.
~The Lord’s will to be done in His perfect timing.
~The American Church to understand the priority of praying into the coming elections and the necessity to vote.
~That we all may not neglect to stand our watch in prayer.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Eliyahu Ben-Haim, Jerusalem
25 July 2016
The thirty third International Prayer Conference Jerusalem will be 16-23 January 2017 at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel. The theme is: A Land the Lord our God Cares for – Always. Registration and further information will be on the IFI website (www.ifi.org.il) sometime in September. On the IFI website you can also sign up for our Friday Prayer Points available in English and ten other languages.