Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Is the Glory of God Departing America? - By Dr. David Reagan/Lamb & Lion Ministries -
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that "there is nothing new under the sun." Some interpret that to mean the more things change the more they stay the same. Others simply assert that although technology and what passes for knowledge has changed, the heart of man has not changed. The Bible proves time and again the truth of the great hymn: "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love."
Sadly, that truth does not just relate to individuals, it relates to peoples and nations as well. Kingdoms, city-states, and nations rise and fall. There is yet to be a nation under heaven that has not wandered away from the very God who has poured out blessing upon it.
Some have been characterized by faithfulness to biblical Christianity -- at least in cultural mores. But, the societies that once reverberated with Christian truth throughout the Western world have succumbed to a post-Christian ambivalence toward truth itself.
How did the West stray so far, and is there hope for America, teetering on the brink of that same fate?
We can learn much from the example of Israel and Judah. Made up of God's own Chosen People, those nations were destined for greatness. Their people were blessed as no other nation, raised up literally to bear testimony to what a relationship with the living God could mean. Long before America sang of God's grace being shed on our land, His unmerited favor fell on the Jewish people. He did not choose them because they were more worthy. Moses made it clear that He did not even choose them because they were mighty in number, but rather because of God's love and grace (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
Did the Jewish people appreciate the singular privilege of such a blessing? Did they revere the God who poured out such blessings? Clearly not. That is why the Lord repeatedly sent prophets to warn, to call to repentance and to declare judgment.
Consider the situation in Israel immediately following the period of the Judges. The book of that name tells us repeatedly that "in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). There were a few individuals who lived upright and exemplary lives.
Ruth tells of one such man named Boaz, who foreshadowed his descendant who would become the ultimate kinsman-redeemer. But, First Samuel describes a people who were generally going through motions rather than seeking hard after the Lord. Even the priests and religious leaders had grown apathetic toward God.
The text tells about the worthless sons of Eli -- Hophni and Phinehas. Although serving as priests of the Lord, they did not know Him. Their disdain for God and self-serving interaction with the people was well-known. Eli recognized their evil ways -- from helping themselves to the sacrifices dedicated to the Lord to sexually cavorting with women at the very doorway of the tent of meeting. And yet, he did not take action to hold his own sons accountable and ensure reverence before God.
In 1 Samuel 4, the people found themselves drawn up in battle against their ongoing foe, the Philistines. After straying from God under the errant spiritual leadership of men like Hophni and Phinehas, Israel found itself defeated. The Israelites expressed complete surprise, exclaiming, "Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines?" (v. 3).
Their solution was to trot out the Ark of the Covenant, presuming upon the Lord's protection. In other words, although their hearts were clearly far from Him, the Israelites looked to their god-in-a-box as the ultimate weapon or the surest talisman.
Viewing God as a Good-Luck Charm
How many people today wear a cross necklace or WWJD bracelet or some other such bobble, not to shamelessly proclaim, "Jesus is Lord," but because they think God is obligated to shield them from all harm if they just cover themselves in Christian symbols? Sort of like the old horror movies where the vampire could be driven back by a mirror or a cross. But God is not a cosmic good-luck charm to wear when the going gets rough.
Samuel records the results of such callous treatment of God and disrespect of His Shekinah Glory hovering above the Ark's Mercy Seat. To their dismay, Israel was soundly defeated once again and the Ark was captured. On top of that, Hophni and Phinehas -- the two men whose position as priests should have given them insight to know better -- were killed. When a young man brought news of the tragedy back to Eli, the chief priest of Israel fell over, broke his neck, and died.
The Bible is unflinching in its description of Eli. It says that Eli was very old and could no longer see, and that he was very heavy. It also says that Eli had judged Israel for 40 years. Taken together, it is instructive to consider why those traits are specifically included.
The Symbolism of Eli
At 98 years old, Eli had clearly lived a long time. He had seen much, stretching back into the period of the Judges. During his lifetime, the Jewish people had established themselves in the land and had been served by a series of judges -- men and women who offered unifying leadership.
Eli had seen Israel beset by trials from the very people they were supposed to eliminate from the land. He had witnessed the tribes fracture and drift from their pledge to serve only the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And, he had served as high priest to the Lord at Shiloh -- where the Ark resided in the tent of meeting. It is not unreasonable to think that at 98 years old, Eli should have been at the pinnacle of his priestly wisdom and influence. And yet...
He did not effectively intervene to deal with the evil behavior of his sons. He did not counsel the Israelites to seek the Lord instead of just trotting the Ark out like some holy talisman or charm. In short, other than his wise counsel that young Samuel should respond to the voice he kept hearing by saying, "Speak LORD, for Your servant is listening," Eli seems to have been ineffectual in his role as judge and high priest. In short, he lacked the wisdom of his own age.
Scripture also says that Eli could no longer see. That is meant as a description of physical limitation, but it seems an obvious commentary on his spiritual state as well. Although he was aware of his sons' wicked behavior, he closed his eyes to it and allowed them to continue their evil ways.
Moses had warned that disobedience to God would lead the Jewish people into spiritual blindness. He wrote, "The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you" (Deuteronomy 28:28-29). Even in his old age, Eli had to recognize that Israel had lost its way and become blind under his leadership.
Interestingly, Eli is one of the few characters in the Bible whose girth or weight is deemed worthy of comment. The first was arguably Eglon, king of Moab. Because the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, God strengthened Eglon to execute judgement. Judges 3 explains that Israel served Eglon for 18 years, until Ehud the Benjaminite struck down Eglon and led Israel to victory and 80 years of peace. The Bible says that Eglon had grown so obese that when Ehud thrust a sword into the Moabite king, his belly fat closed over the blade.
Why is the record of Eli's weight mentioned? Because Eli's weight is also relevant to the story. Upon hearing of the loss of the Ark, Eli fell over backward and broke his neck -- "because he was old and heavy." How does a priest get heavy? It is implied that Eli had followed the self-serving practice of his sons who not only plunged their three-pronged forks into the sacrificial meat, but also demanded uncooked fatty meat. First Samuel 2:17 describes such behavior as despising the offering of the LORD.
None other than celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey has put a culinary twist on the subject, declaring:
I always say, "Never trust a fat chef," because they've eaten all the good bits! Trust a skinny chef because you know they haven't indulged and eaten everything.
Am I condemning those who tend toward the hefty side today? Not at all. I'm stepping on my own toes even making this observation because I'm already tending to exceed the Air Force weight standards I maintained so carefully for 34 years.
But, in the era in which Eli lived, Israel's economy was driven by agriculture. Most people would have been lean due to a limited diet and tireless work. The picture of a priest who can only be described as heavy is worthy of remark because it offers a contrast. The clear insinuation is that Eli had indeed indulged and eaten himself into obesity -- taking advantage of the priestly office he held.
There can be no escaping the fact that America is one of the most overweight societies in the world. It is as if we have become so accustomed to the bounty of food that we no longer moderate our own intake. As such, the scourge of high blood pressure and heart disease and other weight-related ailments is at an all-time high -- and growing every year. And, certainly, that physical description of our society goes hand-in-hand with its increasingly anemic spiritual health.
A Time of Testing
The last comment on Eli's life was that he judged Israel for 40 years. What an interesting length of time. 40 years or 40 days appears over and over in Scripture. The Bible mentions that specific number 146 times. Moses lived 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in the desert before God called him to service.
He spent 40 days on Mount Sinai on two separate occasions and gave the Hebrew spies 40 days to observe the Promised Land. The Jews then wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Nineveh was given 40 days to repent before destruction fell. And, Jesus was tempted by Satan over a 40-day period.
It has been observed that the number 40 seems to symbolize a time of testing or probation or trial. Obviously, Eli was not the only judge to serve for 40 years (Othniel, Deborah and Barak, and Gideon each judged that long). Saul and David and Solomon also reigned for 40 years each.
But, Eli's tenure is marked by a steady decrease in faithfulness and respect for God -- as manifested by his own sons. The people of Israel clearly failed that period of probation when they treated the Ark of the Covenant so disdainfully.
What application can be made to our society from Eli's tragic end? Eli was old enough to have seen great blessing, and to have known better than to have strayed from truth. The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, often declared the United States to be the oldest democracy in the world.
Although we could quibble that ours is a republic, the fact remains that our nation is old enough to know how to act better than we do. Instead of statesmen and leaders, we are served by men and women who give lip service to truth but seldom act upon it.
Why did Eli's sons -- and Eli himself -- stray so badly? It seems that Eli tolerated too much. That was the offense Jesus cited against the church of Thyatira in Revelation 2. How much of America's decline has occurred because Christians have silently tolerated too much?
Regarding sight, Puritan (and later Massachusetts Governor) John Winthrop proposed a society that "shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people upon us." And yet, our nation seems to embody the church at Laodicea, to whom Jesus said: "You say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and yet you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17).
Our nation also seems to embody the people Jesus spoke of in Mark 8:18 when He quoted from Jeremiah 5:21: "Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear."
And, how much could be written about America's heavy girth? We are one of the most obese nations in the world. How much of our collective and individual bulk reflects a tendency to overindulge -- selfishly consuming to an unhealthy extreme?
Are we physically or spiritually fit to run a race? Paul admonished the Corinthians (and us, by extension) to run in such a way that they could win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Many of us would be hard-pressed to amble for an extended period, let alone sustain the physical and spiritual pace Paul maintained throughout his life as a Christian.
Regarding the 40-year period of Eli's service as judge, I would observe that America has definitely entered an era of steady decline. Our economy is booming, unemployment is at record lows, but most people sense that something is terribly amiss. If the current era represents our time of national testing, or probation, or trial, we are certainly failing. It is obvious that we are demonstrating a steady decrease in respect for God and faithfulness to His Word.
An Unnamed Voice
There is one other significant player in 1 Samuel 4, although she is never named. Eli's unnamed daughter-in-law understood the gravity of losing the Ark. Upon giving birth to Phinehas' son, she declared that the boy be named Ichabod, saying, "The glory [of the Lord] has departed Israel" (1 Samuel 4:21). Her sadness and despair are palpable.
I am convinced that the glory of God is leaving America. What was once a shining city on a hill has become a twisted caricature of unholy self-righteousness. Like the ancient Israelites, we think we are immune from harm because we like to think of ourselves as a Christian nation.
Would Jesus not say to us as He did the Israel of 2000 years ago, "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me'" (Matthew 15:7-8).
God's Incredible Patience
Of course, that was not the end of the story for ancient Israel. In God's good time and because of His graciousness -- meaning His willingness to extend unmerited favor, God restored the blessing on Israel and then Judah.
Still, time and time again they strayed -- until His patience was at an end. He sent prophet after prophet to call the Jews to repent. Jeremiah said it this way (Jeremiah 2:1-13):
1) Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
2) "Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says, the LORD, "I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me...
4) Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.
5) Thus says the LORD, "What injustice did your fathers find in Me that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?
6) They did not say, 'Where is the LORD?'
11) Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.
12) Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate," declares the LORD.
13) For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
A sad summary of Judah's attitude is captured in 2 Chronicles 36:
15) And the LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;
16) but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, until there was no remedy.
Our Nation's Future
David Reagan has long declared that judgment is overdue for America. Many agree. Ruth Bell Graham, convinced that our society was deserving of the wrath of God, said, "If God doesn't punish America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."
The question remains whether there is any hope for America. Every indicator screams that we are accelerating our headlong rush away from the living God and into a hellish abyss. Abandoning the God of our fathers, our nation seems determined to embrace the sexual revolution and cast our lot with post-Christian secular Humanism.
If that be the case, our nation will soon join the long line of societies that have been relegated to the dust bin of history. Once vibrant and alive, we are in the process of withering up and becoming just another collection of dry bones in a long, twilit valley.
So, can these bones live?
To cite another prophet's very wise response when the Lord asked him that exact question, "O Lord God, You know" (Ezekiel 37:3). Indeed He does.
Without a miracle of God, America's dry bones will not experience another great awakening. The division and rancor within our society are driving us further apart, not together. We are a living fulfillment of Romans 1, and God is undoubtedly giving us over to our own depraved minds (Romans 1:28).
Until Jesus Christ calls us to Himself, we must have and share hope, even as we await our Blessed Hope. Many are being deceived. Eventually some will realize that they are wandering in darkness and seek the light. If modern Pontius Pilates ask of us, "what is truth?" we know the Person who is Truth.
Redemption may never come for our nation, but it will come for individuals who put their faith in Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul cites a partial list of the unrighteous acts that can be covered by the blood of Jesus.
There is now -- and never will be -- condemnation for any who are in Christ Jesus. Even as darkness descends and society turns away from Him, the God of Hope offers joy and peace to all who believe in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
Until He does come, follow Paul's example. To paraphrase his charge (2 Timothy 4:7-8):
Fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith, for in the future there is laid up for you the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to you on that day; and not only to you, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Although Eli's daughter-in-law saddled her son with the tragic name, Ichabod, it conveyed a tragic truth: the glory of God had departed Israel. We must face a similarly tragic truth today: the glory of God is departing America.
But, our hope is not built on the sinking sand of an apostate culture. We can encourage each other because we know that the manifest glory of God is coming again soon in the person of Jesus Christ.
My prayer until He does will remain: Godspeed!
Nearing Midnight: End-Times War Intensifying - Terry James - https://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
A man stood up the other day at one Democrat Party function or the other. He was a fellow Democrat with those gathered, as I recall.
The man with the microphone for that moment said something like, "Our nation is in serious trouble, and the only one who can make it right again is the Lord Jesus Christ." That's not his exact quote, but it was just as strong as I've paraphrased here.
There was immediate and loud reaction to his words. They were not in support of the speaker's sentiment. Far from it; there were shouts for him to shut up and even stronger invective, as I heard the reaction.
They gave him the proverbial hook in no uncertain terms.
He was exactly right, of course, and what he was doing on that Democrat stage, I must admit, baffled me. Having heard all such references to God in a positive way shouted down by Democrat Party gatherings since well before the 2016 presidential election-shouted down with boos and hisses of serpent-like virulence-I was surprised that even one among them still held to the view he tried to express.
Now I am aware that there are many true Christians even among the Democrat Party as it is currently constituted. However, it is getting more and more difficult to come to that conclusion based upon the God-opposing madness that-again, in my view- has become manifest since the time immediately following John F. Kennedy's presidency.
It is as if that political element within America is waging war on God. I'm not thinking here in terms of symbolically or allegorically or metaphorically, or any other way than literally. It seems the Democrat Party, with the full-blown assistance of the mainstream media and every other humanistic element of culture and society, is at war with God-specifically with Jesus Christ.
Lest critics brand me as a falsehood-spreading, right-wing deplorable, I offer a couple of pieces of evidence of recent vintage to support my case.
While the anti-God forces seek in every way, and on a daily basis, to push Christian beliefs from the public square, the champions of this force incessantly seek to claim that Christians are doing what they, themselves, are doing to remove all godly governance.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) passed a resolution at its summer meeting championing "religiously unaffiliated" voters, who the resolution noted are the "largest religious group" within the party.
The DNC's "Resolution Regarding the Religiously Unaffiliated Demographic" stated that "religiously unaffiliated Americans overwhelmingly share the Democratic Party's values," and "have often been subjected to unfair bias and exclusion in American society."
The resolution also takes a shot at deeply religious voters, who are accused of using their religious beliefs to oppress other groups.
It said "those most loudly claiming that morals, values, and patriotism must be defined by their particular religious views have used those religious views, with misplaced claims of 'religious liberty,' to justify public policy that has threatened the civil rights and liberties of many Americans, including but not limited to the LGBT community, women, and ethnic and religious/nonreligious minorities...
DNC chair Tom Perez has been openly critical of church-going Americans in the past.
Perez said in December 2018 that Republicans have an advantage because "people buy" what they hear at church.
"It should come as a surprise to no-one that that person has elevated the issue of courts to the top because that person on the pulpit is saying 'ignore everything else that this person has done and is doing, we have to focus on one issue of Roe vs. Wade.' And people buy it. Because that's their only source," Perez said. ("DNC Resolution Celebrates Democrats' 'Largest Religious Group' - And It's Not Christians," Daily Caller, Peter Hasson, senior reporter, 8/30/19)
The "religiously unaffiliated" designation is used to avoid "we are against any governance by any deity" label. America is still a nation that has a significant remnant of God's people, and the Democrat elite know it. They are masters, it seems, of luciferically inspired language.
Nowhere is the growing war against true believers in Jesus Christ more pronounced than within the so-called higher education institutions of America. We can read or hear news reports almost hourly of professors ranting against the way America was founded. They always bring the slavery issue into the mix of their vitriolic condemnation of the Founding Fathers. They ignore the goodness within the Founders' intention to, ultimately, bring about realization and acceptance that all men are created equal and that God is that Creator who favors no human being over another.
One example in American academia today of the hatred for all that is Christian is Jeff Klinzman, an adjunct English professor at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He claims to be in sympathy with the domestic terrorists called antifa, and posted the following on Facebook. "I know who I'd clock with a bat."
He was referring to President Trump, who had said previously: "Antipas are Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting...people over the heads with baseball bats."
The professor also wrote that he wanted to "stop evangelical Christians" and posted a poem that said, "Kill them all and bury them deep in the ground."
Klinzman explained why he shared the poem, "It's not pretty, and I'm not proud, but seeing what evangelical Christians are doing to this [country] and its people fills me with rage, and a desire to exact revenge."
When contacted by Cedar Rapids ABC affiliate KCRG, Klinzman said he was part of the group, "I affirm that I am antifa."
Antifa is a far-left group that often goes to rallies to fight white supremacists or groups they perceive to be racist. They also have a history of attacking journalists covering the protests. ("'Kill them all': Iowa professor resigns after his comments about evangelicals revealed," Washington Examiner, Julio Rosas, August 27, 2019)
Jesus' own words immediately came to mind when observing the treatment of that aberrant member of the Democrat Party's most active membership, the man who stood with the microphone claiming Jesus as the answer to all problems.
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. (John 16:2-3)
Just as the pious Jews sought to kill those who believed Jesus was Messiah, the elite of that Democrat Party gathering seem to be of the mindset reflected by the words of the professor as given above.
But it is not just those within the Democrat Party who are waging war against Christ. The whole world is going mad with the reprobate mind that has infected mankind because of collective resistance to Heaven's governance. They are primed, sad to say, to accept their false Christ, who will soon appear on the world scene. Antichrist will wage the ultimate war against Christ. He-and all who follow him-will meet their devastating end upon the killing field called Armageddon.
Don't be part of that end-times war-making. Accept Christ as prescribed in God's Word.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
Democracies Breaking Down - By Hal Lindsey -
Democracy depends on people getting along in a reasonable manner. Where tried, it has mostly worked - at least until recently. What's different now? Attitudes.
In our generation, people have come to love primarily themselves and their money. They are increasingly boastful and proud. They scoff at God. Obedience to parents has come to be seen as weird. Ours is a generation that lacks gratitude for the amazing blessings given by God. That includes the blessings bequeathed to us by the imperfect people who went before us.
We live in a time when nothing is seen as sacred. In fact, the most influential among us brag about their irreverence. We are becoming a society that does not love - does not even know what love is - and does not forgive. Slander has replaced journalism. To our generation, self-control signals weakness. Our time is full of cruelty. People hate what is good. Betrayal is a way of life. Recklessness is praised. Our educational system does not teach basic knowledge and learning skills. Instead, it teaches children to overcome knowledge deficits with conceitedness and arrogance. It is a time of love for pleasure rather than love for God.
But this does not represent the end of religion. In fact, these are very religious times. People often brag about their "spirituality." But they reject God.
In case you didn't recognize it, you have just read a loose translation of 2 Timothy 3:2-5 - verses that explicitly detail the "perilous times" of "the last days." Look at those verses in the New Living Translation. As you read, think about how predictable it is that democratic forms of government will break down in the last days.
"People will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly." (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT)
Across the world, democracies are in trouble and these verses tell us why. In the last few years, but especially the last few months and weeks, democratic governments have become increasingly dysfunctional. It started a long time ago, and final destruction could be a long way out. But cracks in the foundation are becoming chasms. And it's hard to stand strong against a storm when you stand on a broken foundation.
The United Kingdom and Israel illustrate the problem. Great Britain is the oldest democracy on earth. But with the unprecedented battles over Brexit, it has become a democracy at war with itself.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. The people there agree on more issues than at any time in decades. But they're struggling. After the April election, Prime Minister Netanyahu was unable to form a majority coalition. They'll try again with another election on September 17. Psalm 122:6 admonishes us to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." This is a good time for such prayer.
I won't take time to talk about the state of democracy in the United States, Mexico, the European Union, or the nations of Central and South America. And the truth is, it's not just democracies. Governments of all kinds are struggling.
As the Bible prophesied, the last days are becoming more and more perilous. When people focus increasingly on self, human institutions and their protections tend to break down. For a follower of Jesus, that means double down. Put your trust in Him. That's only scary until you remember His immeasurable power, His perfect track record for keeping His word, and His amazing love for you.
Prompted by Iran, Palestinian Islamic Jihad plays lead role in Gaza escalation - By Yaakov Lappin -
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest armed terror faction in Gaza, has in recent days taken a lead role in the latest escalation with Israel. PIJ, which is funded and orchestrated by Iran, has an interest in inflaming the security situation and destabilizing the region.
Unlike Hamas, PIJ has no responsibility for Gaza's estimated 2 million people.
PIJ is challenging Hamas, which for the most part is not interested in an escalation or full-out war with Israel at this time, and is instead interested in reaching an arrangement to prevent an economic collapse of the Gaza Strip and avoid the risk of a popular rebellion against its Islamist militant regime.
It is therefore safe to assume that PIJ fired five rockets into southern Israel on Friday night, narrowly missing an Israeli family fleeing into a safe room in Sderot.
In retaliation, the Israel Air Force struck Hamas military targets in northern Gaza as part of Israel's policy of holding Gaza's ruling entity responsible for what occurs in its territory.
It also seems safe to assume that PIJ is the organization behind the armed drone attack on an IDF Humvee vehicle on Saturday, which caused light damage, but no injuries..
The drone dropped an explosive device on the border before flying back into Gaza. In response, the IAF targeted the squad, though apparently did not hit it. Later on Saturday, the IAF hit Hamas military targets, including naval attack bases, and Hamas's "aerial array" (a reference to its drone program) in northern and central Gaza.
The latest escalation comes after some 6,200 Gazan rioters descended on the Israeli-Gazan border fence on Friday afternoon. They hurled explosive devices, grenades and firebombs at security forces. The IDF described that event as "especially violent," adding that security fence sustained damage in several locations. Two Gazan youths were killed in Israeli fire, as the Israel Defense Forces sought to prevent any intrusions that would endanger southern villages and towns.
In the meantime, Israeli-government officials issued warnings about what would happen if the current violence continues. "The next round will be a general [broad conflict] round, and we are trying to prevent it. In this [next] round, the top terrorist leadership will be destroyed," vowed Foreign Minister Israel Katz, as told to Kan Radio. "Hamas and PIJ are bringing their end closer, by linking up to Iran and [Quds Force commander Qassem] Soleimani, and by turning into an Iranian tool." His statement comes as many southern Israeli civilians have expressed despair over the ongoing war of attrition that Gazan terrorists have been subjecting them to for more than 18 months.
PIJ has attempted to cover up the fact that it is doing Iran's bidding in the region and denies placing Gazans at risk on behalf of a foreign, radical power.
Khader Habib, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official, stated in an interview to the Palestinian news website Donia al-Watan on Aug. 27 that his organization "does not take orders from Iran, but only support and makes decision independently," according a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Habib was responding to accusations from Israel last month that pointed fingers to his organization for firing rockets from Gaza on Aug. 25, as part PIJ's response to Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria.
Such denials are hollow, and are designed to alleviate pressure from Gazans and Hamas.
However, some observers in Israel also believe that even if Hamas isn't directly behind the latest attacks, it's not very motivated to stop them either.
A rise in 'controlled violence'
Col. (ret.) Reuven Erlich, director of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, told JNS on Sunday that although Hamas did not take a decision to escalate things into war, "it is not trying its best" to stop border attacks.
August saw four attempts by armed terror squads-none of them officially affiliated with any organizations-to infiltrate Israel, before being stopped by the IDF. Several members of the squad were killed in firefights and IDF strikes.
As for the ITIC's assessment, it noted that at the present time, Hamas is not overly motivated to carry out effective measures to prevent the attempted penetrations because they are popular among the public. Moreover, Hamas considers them as a tool for exerting pressure for the lull ceasefire agreement.
"We call this controlled violence. It rises and falls. We're seeing a rise now," said Erlich. "Clearly, this is brinkmanship that can lead to a deterioration."
Hamas hasn't stopped contacts with Egypt, which is acting as an intermediary in seeking an arrangement, he explained, "but it is playing a dangerous game and not trying to prevent what others are doing."
"Iran and the PIJ have a different agenda from Hamas-we've seen this in the past. Yet Hamas knows how to confront PIJ when it wants to. After 'Operation Protective Edge' [in 2014], we experienced three years of relative calm. PIJ has a separate agenda, but Hamas has the ability to force its strategy and policy on PIJ," argued Erlich. "The question is: What is its level of motivation?"
Daily Jot: Tourist or living stone? - Bill Wilson -
At the risk of offending many, here we go...Is your church a tourist destination or a congregation of living stones? Are you a tourist or a living stone? This is not meant to offend, but to provoke thought. So many churches these days are so large that they have Starbucks and gift shops and book stores. Hey, it's all justified, right? The Starbucks is for fellowship. The gift shop is for outreach. The book store is for building up oneself in the Lord. All in all, they also make money. Money is really a badly needed commodity for churches these days. Salaries. Building expenses. Mortgages. Speaker budgets. Audio equipment. Programs. It takes a lot to run a church. But are these churches creating tourists or living stones?
Merriam-Webster defines tourist as: "a person who is visiting a place for pleasure or culture." Gotta ask: Is your church a tourist attraction? Is it encouraging people to visit for pleasure, hoping they will stay a while? Has it become a cultural destination where people smile at one another and speak Christianese? Is there more being taught about how you can be all you can be in Christ than about, as Christ would say in Matthew 16:24, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me"? Is there a focus on self-improvement over self-denial? Is there more about taking up Christ and having a great life than taking up your cross and following Christ? What is talked about over that cup of coffee?
Is your church a building made of wood and stone or is it made of living stones with Christ as the cornerstone? 1 Peter 2:4-6 says, "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." Have you and your brothers and sisters been built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood in Christ? Or are most your church community enjoying the visit to the building?
In Israel, there are stones everywhere. Stones are stacked upon stones. So the comparison of Christ's disciples to living stones was totally understood by those in Peter's time. IF each person was as a living stone, the Church would be strong, people would be Christ-centered with Christ as the cornerstone. You see, you are the Church, not the building that people attend. What you are being taught, the way that you are becoming a disciple of Christ, the emphasis on the gospel, the leading of the Holy Spirit are all part of the cornerstone and the building of the living stones. The early church, persecuted as it was, did not have buildings, coffee shops, book stores, or gift shops. The believers were the living stones that made the church upon the solid rock of Christ. No offense intended. Just think about it. Things need to change.
Daily Devotion: End of the Line - by Greg Laurie -
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.-2 Peter 3:9
His hit records, money, and fame didn't get Johnny Cash special accommodations at the El Paso city jail, where he was being held for smuggling and concealing drugs.
He had ruined his life and let down family and friends. He imagined his daughters hearing about what happened and crying, and he started to weep himself.
"I don't ever want out of this cell again," he sobbed. "I just want to stay here alone and pray that God will forgive me and then let me die."
The most miserable man or woman around is the one who knows the will of God and does not do it. Cash was that man. He fell into a state of deep despondency.
He went home to Casitas Springs with his tail firmly tucked between his legs. Vivian and the kids welcomed him with open, loving arms, and Cash came clean about his addiction. He vowed to kick it. For the first time in his life, he said, he felt real shame.
Shame has its place in a person's life. It means your conscience is working.
Cash was really skating on thin ice. God would graciously give him another chance, and he would return to his old ways again.
The overwhelming emotional stress and strain took a toll on Vivian's health and finally led her to file for a divorce.
When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. (Psalm 32:3-4 MSG)
Have you ever felt the way the psalmist describes?
Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV)
No matter how many times Johnny sinned against the Lord, God stood ready to forgive. How does the truth of God's unending mercies affect your life today?
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV)
Why is God so patient with us? Does this truth affect the way that we see and treat others?
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