When people ask me how I’m doing, I respond, “I am blessed and highly favored. I’m the most blessed man I know.” Now please understand that these blessings and favor are not the result of me being something special; it’s all about God. The amazing favor is on my life because of a covenant I cut with God almost 60 years ago…and His faithfulness to keep His promises.
I was just 11 years old the night my father strangled me and left me for dead in our home. I awoke in both literal and figurative darkness. There was no hope…no possible way out…no chance of even surviving, let alone being blessed. Then Jesus came! Everything changed that night as I listened to His voice.
Have you been in a place of complete darkness and despair? Maybe you or someone you love is in that place today. I know what it feels like because I was there. But when I claimed God’s promises, everything changed.
We have accomplished unprecedented things for God through our ministry together, but that is not because of us…it is ALL the favor of God. We’ve seen truly unprecedented blessings like the largest prayer movement in history, now more than 68,000,000 strong. There has never been a Christian ministry with the level of influence with the leadership of Israel that God has given us.
It is all about Him, and He alone deserves all the praise and glory. But we get to be part of His work. And today I’m asking you to join hands with me in a special way and claim this promise of Jesus: “If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs” (Matthew 10:41).
I am inviting you to enter into a covenant of blessing with me. Just as God’s favor has been released on my life, I have heard a voice in my spirit that declares that same favor will flow to my partners who join me in agreement. What I sense in my spirit is that your life is about to be transformed by the power of God’s favor because of your love and care for His Chosen People. When you bless what God wants to have blessed, you turn His head and move His arm to action in your life.
Every day of my life I wear a F.O.G. (Favor of God) wristband as a reminder to myself to expect God to do great things and to seek His face. That favor is not just for me. It is for every Believer who will step forward in faithful obedience. The favor of God will change every part of your life—every area and sphere of influence that you have. Principalities and powers will be bound and your assignment from God will know favor and blessing as never before. Your family, your church, your business, your health…these are going to be amazing as God hears our voices and responds to our faith.
Though God has allowed me to travel to Israel numerous times and spend the last 40 years defending His Chosen People, meeting with leaders from around the world and having the privilege of being a friend and confidant of Israel’s prime ministers, I can truly say that this ministry entered a new phase of effectiveness and favor in 2012. That was the year we purchased the first building of what has now become the Friends of Zion Center campus. That beautiful five-story building is now home to the Friends of Zion Museum, the first Christian museum in Israel.
When it became apparent to me that we were taking a major ministry step, I realized we were going to need a board of directors specifically for the Friends of Zion outreach. After a great deal of prayer and with a reliance on God’s direction, I did something completely crazy and with no hope of success. I reached out to Shimon Peres, who was nearing the end of his term as Israel’s ninth president (in Israel the president can only serve one seven-year term).
This giant of a man was the last of Israel’s founding fathers—the courageous souls who defied the odds and called a nation back to life. There was no earthly reason to think that a Jewish president would join hands with an evangelical Christian ministry…but we are not on an earthly mission. We are carrying out a heavenly mandate! And when God truly leads you to do something, no matter how unlikely it seems, He brings it to pass.
President Peres immediately agreed to serve as chairman of the international board for Friends of Zion. This astonishing measure of God’s favor gave us so many amazing open doors. Shimon Peres was not just our chairman; he became our champion. He used his influence and personal credibility to open doors for us to begin to influence the world as never before.
President Peres had several favorite sayings. One of them was, “Count the number of dreams you have and compare them with the number of achievements you’ve had. If you have more dreams than achievements, then you are still young.” Shimon Peres was still young when he died at 93 years of age!
President Peres told me more than once that he considered me as part of his family. My mother’s family came from the same small town in what is now Belarus that his family was from. Though Shimon and his parents made their way to Israel before World War II started, he told me that every member of his extended family who remained behind perished during the Holocaust. The shared tragedy in our family trees knit our hearts together in a powerful way.
In the summer of 1942, soldiers from the German SS advanced through Poland slaughtering Jews at every turn in an effort to clear the area of inhabitants, making way for the planned resettlement of Germans returning from abroad to take up residence under the Third Reich. On August 30, the soldiers arrived in Vishnyeva. Twelve hundred Jews perished in Vishnyeva that day. Almost all of them were at least distantly related to either Shimon Peres or to me, and that is why he said that we were family.
Jerusalem matters. It is vital to God’s plan for the past, present, and future of our world. All of the land, including Jerusalem, was a gift from Jehovah, and the ownership of Israel’s land is non-negotiable. In March 2002, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) addressed the issue of Israel’s right to her land: “Every new archaeological dig supports the fact that the Jews have had a presence in Israel for 3,000 years—coins, cities, pottery, other cultural artifacts. The Jews’ claim predates the claim of any other people in the region. The ancient Philistines are extinct as are other ancient peoples. They do not have the unbroken line the Israelis have. Ownership is and will be in the hands of God’s Chosen People—forever.”
When you sign your name to a check, you represent that you possess the amount indicated on that check. God wrote His Name in Jerusalem, and He has the power and authority over that which His name represents. On July 30, 1980, the Israeli Knesset voted to affirm a united Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. Shortly afterward, I had the privilege of speaking with the man who would become my dear friend, Prime Minister Menachem Begin. We discussed the vastness of the territory held by Israel’s enemies. For instance, at that time Arab dictators controlled 13,486,861 square kilometers in the Middle East, and Israel controlled 20,770. The population of Israel was roughly 7.8 million, compared to the population of 300 million living in the surrounding Arab countries.
The odds against Israel are decidedly skewed. The Arab nations demanding a Palestinian state are represented by 21 separate countries. Several arguments have been offered as to why Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, continues to reject any and all offers of a Palestinian State. Chiefly, formal statehood would limit the ability of the PA and of Hamas in Gaza to commit acts of terrorism. It would rob them of the cover they now enjoy when it comes to terroristic acts against the Jewish people in Israel. It is obvious, when at some point in each round of negotiations, the Palestinians cry foul, pick up their marbles, and go home.
To this day, the same countries trying to foist a Palestinian state off on Israel do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Holy City is the symbol of all that Israel represents in our world. Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s first mayor wrote: “Jerusalem, this beautiful, golden city, is the heart and soul of the Jewish people. One cannot live without a heart and soul. If you want one single word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word is Jerusalem.”
A world map drawn in 1581 features Jerusalem at its very center with the then-known continents of the world surrounding it. It resembles a ship’s propeller with the shaft in the center being Jerusalem. Another analogy is of Jerusalem as the navel of the earth.
Jerusalem belongs to God despite the detractors who wish to offer the city up as appeasement to her avowed enemies. Satan would dance gleefully should Israel be forced to make that move. When the Messiah returns, it will be to the City of David, not to Al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem.) We are the Jerusalem Prayer Team—the largest prayer movement in history—dedicated to fighting the spirit war for the future of the Holy City, the Jewish people, and the nation of Israel.
Though the Allies succeeded in defeating Germany in World War II, the long years of fighting took a heavy toll on the British government. The famed empire on which “the sun never sets” was strained to the breaking point. The last thing England wanted was another round of fighting in the Middle East. Having determined that appeasing the Arab governments was more important than anything else, they actively worked to prevent further Jewish immigration to Israel.
In March of 1947, the Exodus set sail for Israel. Aboard was a Christian Zionist Methodist minister, John Stanley Grauel. He was closely connected with the Haganah but was there on the ship ostensibly as an undercover correspondent for the Churchman, an Episcopal journal. With that designation, he secured a visa from the British Consulate in Paris, enabling him to legally enter Palestine. His assignment was to make certain the world knew of the events surrounding the ship.
Once he had arrived in Europe, Grauel’s job was to arrange for the transfer of refugees from displaced persons camps to the Exodus. His tasks were many and varied: cook, distributor of supplies, administrator, and contact person between the refugees and the crew. The ship steamed toward Palestine with more than 4,550 refugees packed aboard. Just as she neared Haifa on the Mediterranean coast, the ship was rammed by the British Royal Navy cruiser Ajax, in a convoy with five destroyers, and was boarded by sailors.
This was not an easy task, as the SS Exodus had been fortified with barriers and barbed wire to discourage such actions. The British reportedly bombarded the ship with tear gas grenades in order to subdue the passengers. Captain Ike Aronowicz and his crew challenged the boarding party. One crew member, First Mate William Bernstein, a sailor from California, and two passengers were bludgeoned to death.
The ship that had brought such hope to so many had been attacked by the British navy a mere 17 miles offshore in international waters. It was a wanton act of piracy for which the Royal Navy commanders were never charged. Grauel later reported that as the Exodus staggered into the port at Haifa, those still able to stand gathered on the deck of the ship and sang “Hatikvah,” the hymn of hope.
Grauel, the only passenger on board with a valid visa, was arrested but soon escaped with help from none other than the future mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek (who would become a very dear of mine years later), and the Haganah. He was approached by a reporter who was a member of the Jewish organization.
The unnamed reporter shepherded Grauel to the men’s room, from which he was whisked out a back door into a waiting car displaying American press credentials. The Jews on board the Exodus were then forced to disembark in Haifa and were eventually and unwillingly returned to British-controlled camps in Germany.
Grauel was summoned to Kadimah House in Jerusalem to give a firsthand account of his experiences during the voyage with the refugees to the United Nations Committee on Palestine. As he stood before that group, he leveled his heartfelt accusations regarding the treatment of the Jewish passengers on the Exodus. He later said of his testimony: “There was great gratification for me in knowing that my eyewitness report was now a matter of record. Inherent in the nature of the relationship between Christians and Jews was the fact that because I was a Christian, in this situation my testimony would be given greater credence than that of a Jewish crew member.”
Grauel’s witness proved to be an effective means of gaining compassion and support for the Jewish cause. His eloquent speech to the UNSCOP later earned him the moniker of “the man who helped make Israel possible.” Prime Minister Golda Meir believed it was Grauel’s recounting of the events surrounding the Exodus that persuaded the UN to support the creation of a Jewish state.
The Lord gave Abraham and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob, the title deed to the land of Israel. He declared that it would be their possession perpetually. In Genesis, God spoke: “The same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis 15:18-21).
In secular terms, this would be called a royal land grant. This type of grant, common in antiquity, was perpetual and unconditional. The king, or sovereign, possessed all the land and granted parcels of it to loyal subjects as rewards for faithful service. In biblical terms, God is sovereign over all the earth. He created it, and there are no greater rights of ownership than that. So the land is certainly His to bequeath as He wishes.
Years after He made his original covenant with Abraham, God confirmed it. Abraham accepted the terms of the covenant by the right of circumcision:
“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:4-10).
This covenant with Abraham is an eternal one with no preconditions or expiration date. It was given as an everlasting possession to Abraham and his descendants. Only Mankind is capable of impeding the fulfillment of the contract through disobedience, but the pact can never be rescinded. Moses declared: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).
Of what value is this ancient covenant between God and Abraham today? God is still sovereign over the land He bestowed upon Abraham and his offspring. He has never vacated the title deed, nor as some believe, has He rescinded His covenant declaration. The land still belongs to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants—as numerous as the sands of the sea.
The Jewish people have a God-given, inalienable right to possess the land of Israel and to the entire city of Jerusalem. Many have the mistaken idea that an inalienable right is one which cannot be taken from you. In reality, it means just the opposite. It is one that cannot be given away, sold, surrendered, or legally transferred to another. Giving away any of the land violates the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and places the nation of Israel outside God’s covenant blessings. Likewise, the nations that are coercing Israel into giving up the land come under the curse of God.