Someone told me recently, “If you want to understand the mindset of the Jewish people, you need to visit two places: Masada and Yad Vashem.” These two monuments to past horrors endured by God’s Chosen People, one ancient and one modern, stand as stark reminders. There has been hatred of the Jewish people in our world for thousands of years. There has been hatred of the Jewish people in our world in recent history. There is still hatred of the Jewish people in our world today, and that hatred is growing.
Masada, the ancient palace and fortress built by Herod the Great, was the final holdout of the Jewish rebellion against Rome that began in 66 AD. Though the city of Jerusalem had been captured and largely destroyed by the Roman forces under the command of Titus in 70 AD, a small band took refuge at Masada, using the stores left there by Herod, and taking advantage of the intricate system for collecting rainwater built for the palace. They were determined not to surrender, no matter what.
The supplies gathered at Masada enabled them to hold out until 73 AD when the Romans finally completed building a massive ramp to wheel siege weapons to the top. But when the soldiers breached the wall, all but two women and five children were dead, choosing suicide over slavery to the Romans. Famed Israeli general Moshe Dyan began the practice of taking elite members of Israel’s armed forces to Masada. They would climb the winding path up the mountain, then in a ceremony at the top would be sworn in for their term of service. The ancient stones echo with their promise, “Masada will never fall again.”
Yad Vashem is Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to ensuring that the world does not forget the six million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust. The Hebrew name is taken from God’s beautiful promise in Isaiah 56:5: “Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”
A visit to Yad Vashem is a solemn experience for anyone, but for Believers it carries a powerful weight…the horrors that are remembered and exposed at Yad Vashem largely took place at the hands of those who claimed to Christians and claimed to be acting in the name of Jesus. This widespread slaughter, following centuries of persecution, it is little wonder that many Jewish people think that Christians hate them.
The two places, Masada and Yad Vashem, explain clearly the commitment of the Jewish people to defending themselves. They know full well that they are hated. Once a year the world observes International Holocaust Day on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. But every day Jewish people remember the horrors of the past. More than 150,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, and tens of thousands of others around the world are living testimony to the level of hatred directed at them simply because they are Jewish. That is a reason the enemies of Israel expend so much time and energy on denying or minimizing the Holocaust…they know it reveals the evil hatred of the Jewish people too clearly to be concealed or explained away.
I was in Caesarea in Israel at the home of my attorneys, a husband and wife team. We were having lunch one day, and they had three Israeli generals there for lunch. (These are very famous attorneys in Israel.) And as we sat down to have lunch, the wife knew that I love to pray, so she said, “Mike, why don’t you pray over the food?”
Well, at that time there was a massive fire, one of the worst fires in Israel’s history, and it began on Mount Carmel. It had spread over Haifa, and it was a catastrophe. Help was coming from countries all over the world, trying to fight those fires. It was a disaster. I just felt prompted to remind them about Mount Carmel and the Prophet Elijah. The fire of God fell on Mount Carmel. Then Elijah, in the midst of a drought, declared that rain was coming. Seeing a cloud the size of a man’s hand, I said, “I’m going to pray for rain.” So I prayed for rain. When I finished my prayer, we started eating. In the middle of our meal, with the screens open to the outside, the wind blew over the chairs by the pool. Within seconds, a massive downpour of rain started. “You called down the rain,” one of the generals said. “God did it, not me,” I replied.
We need the rain of the Holy Ghost to refresh and heal hurting hearts, to bring and birth a great awakening in a healing of the soul of the nation and bring the move of God that will transform America and the world. We need repentance that will heal the divides and win the battle for the soul of this nation.
Billy Graham said, “If God doesn’t punish America and judge it, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” America holds the record for murdering babies: 62 million. America holds the record for drug addiction and alcoholism and pornography. Yes, there will be judgment if we don’t repent. I believe that every problem facing us as Americans is basically at its root a spiritual problem. Crime is a spiritual problem; inflation is a spiritual problem; corruption is a spiritual problem; social injustice is a spiritual problem; racism is a spiritual problem. The lack of will even to defend our freedom is a spiritual problem.
Pointing fingers and accusing others will not heal our land. Politicians will not heal our land. Prosperity will not heal our land. Only repentance will heal our land. Repentance will cause God to forgive our sins and heal our land.
Without humility and repentance, prayer has no power. There will be no healing of a nation from division, there will be no healing of a nation from a plague, there will be no healing of a nation from economic collapse until God’s people seek His face as He has commanded. Someone has to stand in the gap for a nation. Someone has to fight and win the war against principalities and powers for the soul of America.
The key is repentance. That is the key to healing the racial divides, the key to healing the economy, the key to healing the plague. We’re not going to make America great with money or fame or status. Years ago, I prayed with Mother Teresa. Before we prayed, she said, “Please pray for me because I’m going to the poorest country on earth.” I said, “Are you going back to Calcutta?” “No,” she said, “I’m going to America. It suffers from the poverty of spirit.”
Years ago, God directed me to go to El Salvador. The country was in the grip of a bitter conflict. There were death squads roaming the nation, pulling people out of their homes and killing them. The country was divided. I met with the president and some of his top leaders while I was there to preach. I asked the president, “Do you want this to stop? Do you want your land healed? It can be, but it is going to take 2 Chronicles 7:14.”
I watched as he wrote that reference down. I listened as he issued a national call for a day of humility, fasting, repentance, and prayer. And I watched as God did heal the divide in their nation. He can do the same thing for us in America.
Isaiah the prophet declares in Isaiah 30:1-7: “Woe to the obstinate children, declares the Lord. To those who carry out their own plans that are not mine, who form an alliance, but not by my spirit, heaping sin upon sin, who go down to Egypt without consulting me, who look for help from Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for Refuge. But Pharaoh’s protection will be to you your shame…. The envoys carrying their riches on donkeys’ backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation whose help is utterly useless. Therefore, I call her rahab.”
This word in Hebrew literally means “big mouth that does nothing.” God says, “I call her a big mouth, those who cut alliances with the world, looking for deliverance, that lean to the arm of flesh looking for deliverance. I call do nothing, big mouths.” There is no help in the world…help comes from God, or it does not come at all.
In November, students at Oberlin College in Ohio erected a memorial to a group of men who had recently died. Such memorials, both large and small, are not uncommon as friends and family do things to remember their loved ones. This memorial was very different from that. Erected by the Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine, this display was created “in commemoration of the 34 Palestinians killed by Israeli rocket fire this last week.”
The group that put up the memorial described those killed as “unarmed civilians,” but the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) identified 25 of them as members of various terrorist military organizations. The IDF even posted pictures of nine of the “civilians” from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in their military uniforms, with one of the “unarmed” men holding a military rifle.
The Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine posted their large sign along with 34 black flags in the college’s Wilder Bowl, a popular open area where students often meet. The group has long been a vocal supporter of the BDS—boycott, divestment, and sanctions—movement and is openly against the existence of a free and safe Jewish state.
They are not alone. It would be easy to dismiss this as the work of a radical fringe group. But while they are indeed radical in their hatred of Israel, and their views should place them outside the mainstream of thought, Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine is far from alone. College and university campuses across America are hotbeds of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and they openly call for the destruction of Israel.
This marked turn away from Israel is not just taking place in the secular world. Recent surveys show a dramatic shift among young evangelicals. While their parents are strongly pro-Israel, the next generation is not. Support for Israel among young evangelicals is at its lowest point since the Jewish state was reborn in 1948. Many Christian colleges and organizations have joined the BDS movement, withdrawing their investments from Israeli companies and calling on others to do the same.
This shift among young people is a terrifying trend. These are the leaders of the future. And this shift highlights the vital importance of the Jerusalem Prayer Team. We are working to counter the lies behind the BDS movement with the truth. We are working to identify and oppose the enemies of Israel. We are preparing to launch the Friends of Zion Institute to create a place for truth in the online world and equip friends of Israel to effectively support and defend the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
We are living in a time of shaking. But I have some wonderful news for you…idols may be big, but they don’t have any power. Human rulers may be strong, but they cannot stand against God. Disease may be serious, but it bows before the Great Physician. Times are hard, but God is good.
One of the first stories children learn in Sunday school is the story of the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar built an idol of gold that was 90 feet tall, and he commanded everyone to bow down and worship it. But Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego refused. Because the king liked them, he gave them a second chance. Their second refusal was stronger than the first.
They said, “O King, we do not need to defend ourselves. The God we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us by His power from you but even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you that we will never worship the golden statue that you have made!”
Now that is the response of a person who is standing on a rock, walking with the Lord, and filled with the Holy Ghost! That is a person who has the Word burning in his or her soul, and who is walking in repentance.
Their answer outraged the king. He commanded the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than before. It was so hot that it killed the soldiers who threw Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego into it. But it didn’t touch them! King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Not only did those faithful Hebrews not burn up, they weren’t touched! What a truth for troubled times. Their hair wasn’t singed, their robes weren’t scorched…you couldn’t even smell the smoke! That is God’s deliverance, and that is what He has for those who will refuse to worship idols and instead walk in repentance and holiness before His face.
There is no other god who can rescue you like this. You see, saints, God is raising up fireproof Believers who refuse to worship idols, Believers who will smile in the face of the fire! A great awakening is coming. But as David Wilkerson said, it’s coming through repentance, and it is going to begin in the pulpits of America, and it is going to shake the world. Hallelujah!