Eddie and I arrived in Israel on September 1,1997 and our 18th wedding anniversary was the following day. We were so very excited and full of energy. The challenge was great but we were ready for it. There were constant battles in Israel with never a day of peace but in spite of that, as the years went by, life in Israel seemed to just get better and everything was on the increase. Yet in one moment, now 23 yrs later, it has all changed. We used to talk of the “end times” and all that it entailed but we couldn’t really imagine it clearly. Now we are living it – the beginning of birth pains, in a totally unpredictable world and we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
The news in Israel was explosive and caught everyone by surprise. Suddenly, the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations with Israel. Obviously this was something that had been in the works for a long time but it was a well kept secret. Even Benny Gantz, the Prime Minister “to be” in the current Unity Government was not informed ahead of time. In the midst of the difficult shakings we were all dealing with, now there was a shaking that seemed positive! No doubt more Arab nations will join this move. Who could have imagined a world in which the Arab Gulf States and perhaps others would make peace with Israel?
We are living in a truly historic moment as the world is undergoing a very major realignment, the implications of which are beyond what we can conceive! On one hand, this deal with the UAE is a certain “game changer” with greater prosperity and stability for everyone involved. On the other hand, the question reverberates: “How long will it last?“
“Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.“(Jeremiah 6:14) “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
This breakthrough has somewhat strengthened Netanyahu although the demonstrations against him are continuing several times a week near his official residence in Jerusalem and near his private home in Caesarea. This past Saturday evening, 10,000 people gathered to protest in Jerusalem and there were a greater number of complaints of violence from the protesters against the police. The atmosphere is definitely more tense with each demonstration. The fact that PM Netanyahu is on trial for a criminal offense while dealing with the severe economic downturn caused by the ongoing Covid 19 crisis has not helped his political position. Even in his own right wing coalition there are some who are disgruntled over the fact that he agreed to shelve “annexation” of the major Israeli settlements. Annexation was a promise he had made and was about to do but “postponed” it in favor of this “normalization” treaty.
Overall, the world is very excited by this development. The ones who are most opposed are the Palestinians who feel betrayed by these Arab nations who have always previously supported them in their struggle against Israel. In response there has been daily rocket fire from Gaza with immediate retaliation by the Israeli Air Force. There has also been a resurgence of the incendiary balloons coming across the southern border causing many fires each day.
On a daily level, we are still dealing with containing the spread of the virus. The numbers are high with no sign of decrease. School is starting on September 1 and the stores and malls are filled with people doing their preschool and pre-holiday shopping. If it weren’t for the fact that everyone is wearing a mask, it would feel almost normal. In addition, there has been an “opening of the skies” as several countries have agreed to let in Israeli tourists. Greece just doubled the number of Israelis allowed in each week. There is expectation that the number of acceptable countries Israelis can visit will also increase. Israelis love to travel and it is a joy to see people in the airport again!
On the other hand, there are constant warnings that the numbers are still much too high and if there isn’t a reduction, there will be a lockdown for the Fall High Holy Holidays which begin on September 18th. This is very serious as there is still a traumatic memory of the total lockdown over the Passover holiday and Israelis will not easily accept another one.
Politically, the disunity increases daily. Netanyahu and Gantz have been unable to reach a compromise on the national budget for the upcoming year. A complete shutdown of the government was narrowly avoided a few days ago with an agreement to postpone the vote on the budget. By law, without an approved budget, the government must dissolve. Their hostility for each other is clearly observable and it seems that although no one wants it, elections may be unavoidable in the near future.
These are no doubt incredible times which are at once thrilling to think about and yet often fearful and intimidating. The USA is in great and serious turmoil and Israel is tottering. And yet we know that many will come to faith with great signs and wonders following as we make our way through these very turbulent waters. As believers, we need to press on and to believe God and to know that the only thing that is certain and true is the word of God. He is “our refuge and strength and an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …” (Psalm 46:1-2)
As the days grow darker, I am more encouraged to take the step of faith and speak of the Lord to those I meet. How will they know if we don’t say anything? I must remind myself constantly as I sense the resistance within that I may very well be the only person who has ever personally mentioned Yeshua to them! I could be their only connection to the Gospel until this day – and the urgency of the hour is only intensifying. Today is the day of salvation!
I am deeply grateful as always that you are standing in the gap, not only for me but for all of us here in Israel. Know that as you pray for us and all that is going on in this nation, we are praying for you. Please pray for unity of heart and mind and vision for the Body of Messiah, in Israel, the USA and throughout the world. We must stand together united if we are going to be victorious against the powers of darkness in this day.
Satan has his plan and strategy but in Yeshua and Him alone is total and true victory.
With love from Zion,