Israel is a tiny country with a population of less than 8 million and a land mass comparable to the state of New Jersey, the fifth smallest state in the U.S. It is 290 miles in length and only 85 miles wide. Israel’s role on the world stage should seemingly be relatively minor, yet hardly a day goes by when events in or concerning Israel do not dominate international headlines. What many today seem to overlook is that Israel didn’t just rise from the rocky land of Palestine in 1948, it has been in existence for centuries, although known by various names.
The late columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote graphically of the land today: “Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.”
At the end of World War II, with all its horrors of the Holocaust, the devastated Jewish survivors in Europe longed to travel to Palestine, their biblical homeland. Their dreams were to be delayed when Britain was placed in control of Palestine by mandate of the United Nations and with a growing dilemma: How to walk the tightrope between world opinion and the Arabs. After the shock and revulsion of the Holocaust, much of the world increasingly demanded that the Jews be allowed to emigrate to Palestine…thought to be a place of safety for them.
Arabs in the region were adamantly opposed to the move. Greatly frustrated by the situation, the British announced in February 1947 that control of Palestine would be ceded to the United Nations, even then a hotbed of anti-Semitism. In November 1947, the UN offered a plan for partition that would divide the region into an Arab state and a Jewish state, calling for British troops to leave Palestine by August 1948.
The Jews welcomed the proposal; the Arabs scorned it. Some British leaders felt it would be impossible for a Jewish state to flourish in the face of such hostility from the Arabs. In the interim, Jewish leaders moved forward with plans for statehood. A provisional government was established under David Ben-Gurion in March 1948. Two months later, on May 14, as Egyptian fighter-bombers roared overhead and British troops readied for departure, Ben-Gurion and his political partners gathered at the museum in Tel Aviv. At 16:00 [4:00 PM], Ben-Gurion opened the ceremony by banging his gavel on the table, prompting a spontaneous rendition of Hatikvah, soon to be Israel’s national anthem, from the 250 guests.
The following day, Israel was attacked by the Arab nations that ring her borders. Only through the grace and protection of God was Israel able to survive. Again and again over the years, this tiny island of freedom has suffered assaults directed by evil men dedicated to the annihilation of the Jewish people.
God created you in His image for a purpose. Jehovah God wanted to have an intimate relationship—friendship—with you. There is a DNA component of God that is within us. When He is magnified, this mysterious “X” factor activates His Word. The Bible says in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Are you increasing in favor, or are you decreasing? I wear a bracelet inscribed with the words Living in the F.O.G. I’ve been asked repeatedly what that means. F.O.G. is an acronym for Favor of God. What is God’s favor and how can you live in it? Favor is “unmerited grace; regard shown by another, especially a superior; an act of kindness; a token of love; effort on one’s behalf.” Because you are His child, God, in an act of kindness and as a token of His love, extends unmerited grace and works tirelessly on your behalf. Not only does He bestow favor on you, He also blesses you with favor and affirmation from those around you. God acknowledged His Son when He said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:17).
Living in the F.O.G. will help you reach the place in life where you can turn the head of God, touch the heart of God, and move the hand of God, a place where you can gain affirmation from the Father and His Word rather than from those around you—at home, at work, wherever you may be. You can learn to refuse to allow people and problems to define you. The one thing that has the power to release emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial success in your life is “F.O.G.”
To have the Favor of God in your life, you must focus on the image of God and not your own. Any image that comes before His is a graven image. When Moses delivered the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel, the second one was: “Thou shalt not make thyself any graven image, or any form of what is in the heavens above, or what is in the earth beneath, or what is in the waters under the earth” (Exodus 20:4).
The Bible says we were created in God’s image. What does that mean? God emotes; He hears; He sees; He feels; He has personality. He created you for friendship, relationship. Knowing that, how can you live in His image? First, surrender your life to Him. Then, you magnify His image in four ways that represent His DNA. The Favor of God means that He will give you the resources you need to develop His image in your life, to do what He has called you to do—whether it is to be a missionary or an evangelist, a pastor or teacher, a salesman or chief executive officer, a doctor or a stay-at-home parent ministering to your family. Whatever you need, He will supply, and all because of the Favor of God.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
When you magnify the image of God, you are manifesting the DNA of God in your own life. Then, and only then, can you live in the Favor of God and activate the Word of God. What is DNA? I could give you a long, scientific explanation about deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecule that contains your genetic code, but I like to use the definition, “Divine Nature Acquired.” Paul wrote that “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I know this is true because it happened to me, and I know that once you experience God’s favor, your life will never be the same.
There is a concerted effort underway that is nothing less than a demonic plan that has been birthed in hell to destroy the nation of Israel…to literally bankrupt her and curse the nation. It is known as BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). It is all about money. The plan is to turn worldwide public opinion against Israel, to isolate the Jewish nation and turn it into a pariah state, which no one will be willing to defend. It is a “Curse Israel” movement, and sadly, it is a fast growing and very popular movement.
The BDS campaign officially started on July 9, 2005, when nearly 200 Palestinian organizations met together and called for a worldwide economic boycott to attempt to force concessions from Israel. The main stated goals of BDS are to end the Israeli “occupation” of the Bible lands of Judea and Samaria and the so-called “right of return” for Palestinians into Israel.
The unstated goal is much darker. The Palestinians have repeatedly rejected the two-state solution. They do not want to live side by side with Israel in peace. They want the Jewish state to be destroyed. Some are more open about their aims than others, but the desired end result is the same. The popular chant among Palestinian supporters (sadly, often heard here in the United States) goes like this: “Palestine must be free, from the river to the sea.” Of course, the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is where Israel currently exists; those who join in this chant are calling for nothing less than the complete and total end of Israel.
The BDS campaign is founded on a lie. While there are good and well-meaning people who have been deceived by that lie, it is also being used as cover by those who hate the Jewish people. While anti-Semitism is rampant in much of the world, it is still regarded as unacceptable in some quarters. So the “collective Jew” of Israel replaces the individual Jew, and all of the hatred and contempt that must be concealed in polite company can be expressed under the cloak of BDS.
Many, many people here in the United States have accepted the propaganda that the Palestinians are an oppressed people, who are occupied by a foreign power. This false portrayal of events shapes the way news is reported, and it shapes the way people think. Often, people say they want a two-state solution, without remembering that in 1948, Israel offered a two-state solution, which was rejected by the Arabs and Palestinians who immediately launched a war to destroy Israel. They did not want peace then, and a great majority do not want peace now. We are fighting against the BDS movement and the lies they are promoting as part of our effort to defend God’s Chosen People.
Those near Jesus told Bartimaeus, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you” (v. 49). Some other translations say, “Cheer up!” In other words, your negative words or attitude can block God’s favor. Bartimaeus had an attitude of expectancy, and that was a vital factor in the miracle he would soon receive. He was also told to “rise” and hear Jesus’ voice. Without a hint of procrastination, this desperate man sprang into action: “Throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus” (v. 50).
Notice that if you want to activate the Favor of God (F.O.G.) in your life, you often must take action of some kind. It’s likely that Bartimaeus never would have received his healing if he had remained seated on the side of the road. OBEDIENCE is one of the most important ways to unleash God’s favor, and we see that principle here in the story of the beggar who needed a breakthrough.
Another thing Bartimaeus did was throw aside his old garment. If you are going to start a new life, you need a fresh set of clothes! We see this in passages such as Isaiah 61:3, where God promises to give us “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” In order to enter into a new dimension of God’s favor, you will need to cast off any old garments of fear, depression, unbelief, or unforgiveness. It’s a new day!
Jesus next asks Bartimaeus one of the most important questions in the entire Bible—and it’s the same question He is asking YOU today: “What do you want Me to do for you?” (v. 51).
Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus is right there with you, and He wants you to tell Him what your greatest need is. What, exactly, do you want Him to do for you? This is a critical component of what it takes to unleash the F.O.G. in your life:
You must be able to define the miracle you are seeking from God. To no one’s surprise, Bartimaeus told Jesus that he wanted to receive his sight. I’m sure Jesus already knew this, just as He already knows the desire of your heart today. However, He wants you to pray it and say it, letting your specific request be known before His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16, Philippians 4:6).
When Bartimaeus’ breakthrough came, it was sudden and amazing: “immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road” (v. 52). Of course, Jesus could have told the blind man that his healing would come gradually, over a long period of time, but that was not the case with Bartimaeus. Jesus had unleashed the miraculous, and the results were instantaneous.
How did this happen? What secret had the blind beggar discovered? Jesus told him plainly: “your faith has made you well” (v. 52). Through faith and obedience, Bartimaeus had activated God’s supernatural favor and healing power.
In November of 2017, a massive earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck near the border between Iran and Iraq. The quake, the deadliest of the entire year, left more than 500 dead and more than 8,000 injured, along with significant damage to many towns and villages in the region. Over 12,000 residential buildings were reported to be either damaged or completely destroyed. Most of the deaths, injuries, and damage occurred on the Iranian side of the border.
There is a major fault line that runs through western Iran and northwestern Iraq where the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Earthquakes in the region are not uncommon, but this one was one of the most severe in recent times. More than 150 aftershocks, the strongest measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, following the major earthquake were reported. According to Iranian authorities, at least 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter because of the extensive damage.
Many nations responded with emergency aid, but one came as a surprise to most: Israel. Despite the public and blatant hostility of the government in Tehran toward the Jewish state, and despite the millions of dollars Iran has spent arming terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas, Israel reached out with help in the time of crisis.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the aid, saying, “I’ve said many times that we have no quarrel with the people of Iran. Our quarrel is only with the tyrannical regime that holds them hostage and threatens our destruction. I saw these heartbreaking images of men and women and children buried under the rubble. I’m proud to announce tonight that a few hours ago, I directed that we offer the Red Cross medical assistance for the Iraqi and Iranian victims of this disaster.”
Israeli doctors, search and rescue teams, and other aid workers are often sent around the world following natural disasters. In the past decade, at least 40 countries have benefited from such relief efforts. Among those was the United States following the massive flooding in Texas brought about by Hurricane Harvey. Israeli workers helped clear debris and helped survivors piece their lives back together.
The reality is that many of the nations of the world take every opportunity to both publicly and privately castigate the Jewish state, often blaming Israel for the unrest in the Middle East—not just with the Palestinians, but in other nations as well. Israel is a convenient scapegoat. Yet the Jewish state continues to respond with help in times of crisis.