At a time of unfolding horrific persecution by Islamist militants towards middle-eastern Christians, Israel’s Christian presence has gained strength. The Israeli Christian Church is enjoying greater growth and freedom, and its influence is expanding. Last year, Israel’s Christian community celebrated victory as the Israeli parliament signed into law a bill that legally distinguishes between local Arab Christians and the mostly Muslim Arabic-speaking population. Previously, Israelis viewed Arab Christian as part of its country’s large Palestinian minority, grouped together with Muslims. Arab Christian Believers had been increasingly asserting a separate identity.
In acknowledging them as a recognized minority, the law boosted Christian employment rights. Christian Believers also now have separate representation on local councils and employment committees. But Israeli Arabs insist that recognizing Christian Believers would undermine Arab identity in the Holy Land. However uprooting Arab identity is what Israeli Christians want. Additionally, the informal grass-roots movement, prompted in part by the persecution of Christians since the Arab Spring, wants to cooperate more closely with Israeli Jewish society—which could mean a historic change in attitude toward the Jewish state.”
“Some may feel uncomfortable about these new churches since they emphasize healing, prophecy and visions,” claimed an article in the Wall Street Journal. “But they are amongst Israel’s best friends in the world and their amazing growth has major global implications.” Some say the movement began 8 years ago after the death of one of Israel’s spiritual leaders, Rabbi Kaduri, who, in a letter penned before his death, proclaimed the name of the Messiah was Yehoshua – the formal name for Yeshua. His letter regained attention this year because it tied the end times to the death of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who passed away in January 2014.
Last year’s Israeli presidential election proved anticlimactic for what is the “mostly ceremonial office”, although the president is meant to serve as a moral compass for the country. “But the elected President Reuven Rivlin’s political views could be a liability as he opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, putting him at odds with the international community and even his own prime minister,” according to the Washington Post. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lauded as a friend and negotiator with Christian movements and their concerns.
* for many Israelis to experience revelations about Jesus
* that President Rivlin will support Israel’s minority groups
* for God’s protection of His people in the region and for the Church’s courageous spread of the Gospel.
NETANYAHU INVITES ALL EUROPE’S JEWS TO ‘COME HOME’ TO ISRAEL AFTER DENMARK SHOOTINGS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended condolences to Denmark and its Jewish community following a recent terror attack that took the lives of 2 people. The first victim was a Danish filmmaker attending a free speech event. The second victim was a Jewish security guard, gunned down in front of a synagogue as a Bar Mitzvah was taking place. Police killed the suspected gunman, a 22 year old man with a history of violence recently released from jail. “Our thoughts go out to the Jewish community,” said Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. “They belong in Denmark and we will do everything we can to protect them in our country.”
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told ministers it’s unlikely that the latest attacks will be the last. “Extremist Islamic terrorism has struck Europe again. Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews and this wave of terrorist attacks is expected to continue,” Netanyahu said. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: ‘Israel is the home of every Jew,'” he continued.
A short time later, the cabinet passed a 180 million-shekel plan “to encourage immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine to return to Israel..” Netanyahu said “to the Jews of Europe and the world, Israel is waiting for you with open arms.” Meanwhile, Yemen’s tiny Jewish remnant is considering immigrating to Israel, after the Houthi movement took control of the nation’s capital. Houthis as part of Shiite Islam, spews the same mantra of “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to Islam,” as other Muslim terror groups. “The problem of the Houthis is not with the Jews of Yemen but with Israel, which occupies Palestine,” said a Houthi official.
ISRAEL ENCOURAGES FARMERS TO HONOUR BIBLICAL SABBATICAL YEAR
The Israeli government has reportedly set aside NIS 100 million (A$29 million) to encourage local farmers to honour the Biblical command to let their fields lie fallow for one year every seven years. Exodus 23:10–11 reads: You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove. The commandment is repeated in the Book of Leviticus just prior to the Children of Israel entering the Promised Land.
The current sabbatical year (known in Hebrew as shmita) began on Rosh Hashanah in late September. While farmers in modern Israel have rarely, if ever, honoured the commandment due to the loss of income they would incur, the government and religious authorities are hoping to influence a change of heart. The new shmita budget will go to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which will use a portion for promotional materials and educational assistance for farmers wishing to honour the commandment. Another small portion of the budget will be used for the special ceremony that is to mark the end of the shmita.
At the end of each seven years, at a fixed time on the festival of Sukkoth, after the year of release, when all Israel comes to present themselves before God your Lord, in the place that He will choose, you must read this Torah before all Israel, so that they will be able to hear it. (Deuteronomy 31:10) That ceremony will take place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the Sukkot holiday in 2015. The bulk of the money will be used to support farmers who are unable to suffer the loss of income, but who nevertheless choose to keep the shmita.