The Sacramento Kings selected forward Omri Casspi at the 23rd pick of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft held in New York City's Madison Square Garden last week. The 6-foot-9-inch 21-year-old is the first Israeli ever to be drafted by an NBA team in the first round of the selection process.
Casspi watched the draft from his home in Yavne so he could share the experience with his family.
The Messianic Action Committee (MAC) led the fight against two proposed laws meant to make Messianic Judaism illegal in Israel, and both of these proposals failed to become law in the land. Now, the MAC (under the name Action Committee for Messianic Judaism in Hebrew) has been officially recognized as an Israeli not-for-profit organization. This means that the government of Israel now officially recognizes Messianic Judaism!
This is really incredible news! Now, because Messianic Jews have stood their ground, Israelis will be faced with a decision. Is whatever type of Judaism they practice (or don't practice) more true than our form of Judaism—Messianic Judaism?
Recently, several books have been published describing Messianic Judaism in a rather positive light. A new book, written by a rabbi and yet to be published, describes Messianic Judaism as a branch of Judaism. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw a sketch of a seven-branch menorah that included our brand of Judaism along with Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist.
The latest poll of Israeli public opinion shows that a mere 6 percent of the Jewish population consider President Barack Obama to be a friend of Israel, down from 31 percent a few weeks ago.
According to the Smith Research poll conducted for The Jerusalem Post, exactly half the people surveyed believe Obama's administration is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli, and 36 percent said the policies were neutral.
Standing atop Mount Olive, I got a panoramic view of Jerusalem and the Old City during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I could see the Temple Mount, the City of David, and the “pinnacle” or the place where the Bible says Satan told Jesus: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you’” (Luke 4: 9-10, NKJV). To see the Holy City, click below to watch the video.
Tevye, the papa in the play/movie Fiddler on the Roof was surveying his sad situation—four unmarried daughters, a dry cow, a lame horse, Russian pogroms—he looked up to God and said,
"God it's nice that you chose me to be one of your chosen people, but would you mind choosing someone else for a change?!"
Obviously, Tevye thought being chosen meant he wouldn't have to suffer anymore. But God chose the Jews for something else. Through the Jewish people, he planned to teach the non-Jewish world about himself. Moses said to his people:
Look, I have taught you laws and rulings, just as Adonai my God ordered me .... Therefore, observe them ... for then all peoples [nations/gentiles] will see you as having wisdom and understanding. When they hear of all these laws, they will ask, "What great nation is there that has laws and rulings as just as this entire Torah which I am setting before you today?" (Deut. 4:5-8, Complete Jewish Bible, CJB).
People who visit the Holy Land generally fall into one of two categories: tourists or pilgrims. Tourists go to see various sites, buy souvenirs, take photos and videos, and then return home to share with family and friends their pictures, purchases and adventures. Pilgrims go to experience God—and their lives are transformed in the process.
Peter Miano, executive director of the Society for Biblical Studies, made this observation: "Tourists pass through places. Pilgrims let places pass through them, allowing their hearts to be changed."
During the last 30 years, I have taken many people to the Holy Land, most of whom decided to go as pilgrims. Each one experienced a unique encounter with the Lord at some point during the trip.
In the Old Testament book of Joel 3:2, the Word says: "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."
God makes it clear that He will bring into judgment any nation, America included, that forces the division of the land of Israel. That also includes the division of Jerusalem.
Recently, the Washington Post published an editorial titled "Israel's New Government." It emphasized what the Israeli's must concede to continue to have support from the U.S.
What was lacking in the article was what Israel's neighbors must do before they have acceptance by Israel and the U.S. for a two-state solution. Pressure should not be put on Israel alone, as the editorial attempted to do.
A Holy Land artifact that dates back the time of Jesus is expected to draw Christians' interest in celebrating the roots of their faith.
Dubbed The Jesus Boat, the 27-foot wooden fishing boat was discovered by two brothers in 1986 in the Sea of Galilee after a drought. The vessel, officially dated to the first century, was preserved and put on display at the Yigal Allon Museum in Israel.
Although no one knows whether Jesus or His disciples ever used the boat, Christians helping promote the Jesus Boat believe it can "stir the imagination" and "inspire the faith of people."
Considered the lowest surface area on earth, the Dead Sea lies 410 meters below sea level. Located northwest of its shores is one of Israel’s most spectacular, ancient sites—the Qumran caves. Qumran was home to a sect of Jewish zealots who penned what has come to be known today as the Dead Scrolls. The members buried their precious scrolls deep in the crevices of the caves, where they remained until they were discovered thousands of years later. To see the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, click below to watch two videos.
The fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 shook international Jewry and greatly influenced the thinking of the Christian world. The Jews had resisted the power of Rome for years, but the Romans ultimately responded with unprecedented slaughter and cruelty, carrying out what was described by the early historian Josephus as a terrible holocaust.
The gentile church fathers interpreted this devastation as an indication of God's rejection of the Jewish people—in spite of the statement in Romans 11:28 that Israel was elect or chosen because of the patriarchs. Some church fathers still believed in Israel's final conversion at the end of this age, but the general thrust in Christian theology at that time was toward "replacement"—the idea that, under the new covenant, the church is the replacement for Israel.
Last week, President Obama gave a major speech in Cairo. There he made a number of important points, including issuing a strong rejection of Holocaust denial in front of an audience that has been far too sympathetic to it. Yet while confronting this one myth, President Obama unfortunately helped to perpetuate two other dangerous myths concerning Israel's right to exist and the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
This week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave what was, at least in part, his response. In a major policy speech at Bar Ilan University, Netanyahu not only set out his proposal for peace in the Middle East, but he provided a quick and cogent rebuttal to the two myths President Obama appeared to embrace in Cairo. It was good that he did so.
Recently appointed Israel Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, plans to shift the direction of marketing efforts in Israel by promoting the country's holy sites. In light of Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to Israel, Misezhnikov will target unique Catholic and Evangelical markets around the world.
"What Israel needs to do is focus on what it has that others don't have, or in other words: the Holy Land," said Misezhnikov. "Israel is holy to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the focus of the tourism ministry today is to promote Israel as such."
A growing number of Christian college students are showing their support for Israel by forming student-led campus chapters of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
Andrew Summey, national director of CUFI on Campus, estimates the organization has a presence on roughly 150 campuses and that 35 colleges have a designated CUFI liaison or pro-Israel group. In April, the first campus Night to Honor Israel event was held at the University of Oklahoma.
"What we try to do is raise the awareness of students on moral reasons to support Israel," Summey said. "We want to create a positive view of Israel. It's quite a challenge for most of these students. It's tough to be a Christian on many secular campuses, then you add the Israel support to it and it makes it even more challenging."
For many Christians, it would be a dream come true to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and watch the Bible unfold before their eyes. But due to a failing economy, times are tough and people are saving their money until times get better. But I took a journey to the Holy Land Experience in Florida and had a wonderful time without leaving the U.S.
It's not the real thing, but vacationers can get a glimpse of Jerusalem this summer in preparation for a trip to Israel one day.
Diabolical forces in Iran, Venezuela and in our own country are aligned against Israel today. Here's how you can pray for the apple of God's eye.
I have a growing conviction in my life, more pronounced with each day, that the nation and people of Israel must be a central theme in our intercession before the Lord. Never has this been more vital to our lives as Christian believers! I urge you to keep the following prayer directives continually before you: