Following on from my recent blog on listening to God, I was doing just that a little over four years ago when the Lord’s still, small voice dropped into my spirit, saying: ‘I want you to be a helper of Israel’. I was meditating on some chapters from the Book of Isaiah during a holiday at the seaside with my wife Linda. It was pouring with rain that day, so we stayed in to read.
Chapter 40 begins: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
You can read the rest for yourselves but, just as the prophet was answering God’s call to proclaim the word of the Lord to His people, so on that rainy day I felt a clear command to do the same.
It’s been an incredible journey since then that has included two wonderful trips to Israel and writing two books. Although born in South Africa and having lived in England for my entire adult life, I almost felt I had come home. And I guess that was true since I have Sephardic Jewish ancestry.
Anyway, writing this column was another outcome of God speaking to me that cold autumn day on the beautiful Yorkshire coast. And as Jews everywhere come under increasing threat from Islam and other anti-Semitic sources, I am here to stand with you as a Christian who is a friend of Israel.
I’m sure it won’t have escaped your notice that the jihadists are seeking to murder us both – Jews and Christians. The butchering of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya is the latest example of their merciless brutality. Apparently the victims cried out, ‘Help me, Jesus!’ before their beheadings. It’s important to distinguish between those who live in the ‘Christian’ West and genuine believers who refuse to surrender to intimidation and threats, or appease their opponents for short-term political gain, or cut themselves off from the Hebraic roots of their faith.
Islamic terrorists miss the target by miles when they attack cartoonists who mock Mohammed. Journalists enjoy a free press only because of a Judeo-Christian civilization that encouraged open expression and debate – based on belief in a God who can speak for Himself and doesn’t need brutal bodyguards. Many Western scribes these days are in fact enemies of Christianity, and of Israel, as they submit to political correctness and self-censorship in order not to offend certain groups. But they are not afraid of mocking the faith on which their freedom depends.
I was very encouraged to hear an excerpt from a BBC news program focusing on wounded Syrian soldiers being treated by Israeli doctors as the BBC does not have a reputation for showing Israel in a positive light.
As you comfort others, may you yourselves be comforted, in accordance with the Scriptures.
There are Christians standing with you all over the world. Only this morning I received an email from a South African couple telling me of a ‘divine appointment’ they had with a Rabbi’s wife on a Virgin Atlantic flight. My friends, who live in Johannesburg, have a ‘Care for Israel List’, regularly sending articles about Israel to contacts and calling them to prayer. They also contribute to a charity called DIVOTE, collecting and packing new baby items which get sent on to Israel by a lady in Durban.
For their Christmas Eve flight to see family in the UK, they were moved twice before finally given bulkhead seats next to the Rabbi’s wife and her six children.
“I got chatting to her and told her how much we loved the nation of Israel and its people and just happened to mention some of the projects that we are involved in, and that there were a number of people in our church who supported Israel,” my friend wrote.
“She did not realize that there were people like that out there and said she felt ‘cleansed from anti-Semitism’.
“Then two weeks ago I got a phone call from the Jewish lady who handles our donations of the baby items who said that a certain Rabbi’s wife happened to mention that she had met a couple on the plane who supported DIVOTE and that she had cried when I was not looking as she was so touched.
“How amazing is that! The Lord had given us preferred seating so we could tell His people how much He loves them!”
That’s how many Christians like us see our role – to comfort God’s people, to bring good tidings to Zion and say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ (See Isaiah 40.1-8)