The Blessing of a Little Shabbat Shalom

One of my favorite memories of living in Israel was experiencing Shabbat. Fridays were hectic as everyone finished their shopping, cleaning and cooking in preparation for family gatherings and a day of rest. The stores would close by 4:00 p.m. so that shoppers and workers could catch that last bus home. And just as the sun was setting — as the roads emptied of cars and buses and synagogues filled up for prayer — you could hear off in the distance the Shabbat whistle, alerting the whole city that Shabbat had begun. Because Jerusalem’s population includes such a high percentage […]

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Elijah’s Call to Pure Worship

  Mount Carmel is at the tip of a beautiful 24-mile long wooded mountain range nestled inbetween the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Jezreel valley to the east. “Carmel” means “vineyard of God” or “garden of God” and the Bible describes it as a beautiful and fruitful region. Most Bible students, however, associate the area with the famous confrontation between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of the Canaanite fertility god, Ba’al, found in 1 Kings 18. While there are no archeological remains to verify the exact place of this event, the Stella Maris Monastery is said to […]

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The Mother of Us All

Hebrews 11 is the well-known New Testament Hall of Fame — or as some call it, Hall of Faith — because it lists the great heroes of the Old Testament who exhibited extraordinary faith. One such hero is Abraham. We are familiar with Abraham’s story and the great faith he exhibited when he obeyed the voice of God and left his home, not knowing where he was going. He then lived in the land God promised to him by faith — as a pilgrim in temporary dwellings. His greatest act of faith was offering up his son Isaac, even though […]

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Lessons from the Land: Before the Rooster Crows

  One of my most memorable experiences in Israel happened many years ago right outside the Old City of Jerusalem. I was living at a school on Mount Zion at the time, pursuing a master’s degree in Judeo-Christian Studies. As students often do, we came up with a bright idea that provided adventure while burning off pent-up energy from days spent in class. Our idea was to hike to the top of the Mount of Olives to watch the sunrise. Early one morning, while it was still dark outside, a group of about six of us began the hike around […]

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Why is Jerusalem so Controversial?

Jerusalem — for some it’s a name that invokes the Psalms describing its beauty, its spiritual significance and the importance of praying for its peace. For others it stirs a wide spectrum of emotions and a quagmire of international disagreement. Here are several reasons for the multilayered controversy over Jerusalem.   The United Nations, War of Independence and Six Day War Over the last 150 years, as Jerusalem expanded beyond the ancient walls of the Old City, Jews and Arabs lived interspersed on both the eastern and western sides. A complicating factor was introduced in 1947 when the United Nations […]

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Will the US Embassy Be Moved to Jerusalem?

The United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Committee (UNESCO) recently attempted to deny the historical and biblical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and, indeed, all the land of Israel, by referring to the Temple Mount and other Jewish holy sites only by their Muslim names. In response to this blatant denial of scripture, many Christians mailed Bibles to the agency’s headquarters in France.   Title Deed to the Temple Mount The Bibles sent to UNESCO had many scriptures highlighted such as where King David purchased the threshing floor of Arauna in Jerusalem and placed the tabernacle there; then […]

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A New Chapter in the Hanukkah Story

The story of Hanukkah is often told with an emphasis on the evil ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of the Hellenistic Seleucid empire, who was bent on the Hellenization of the Jewish people. Had he succeeded, it would have meant the demise of the Jewish faith and thereby, the Jewish people. God’s plan to bring salvation to the world through their Messiah would have died with them. In his attempt to force the Jews into compliance, Antiochus IV slaughtered 40,000 inhabitants of Jerusalem, murdered the High Priest and prohibited sacrifices, the service of the Temple and the observance of the […]

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When Jesus Attended the Feast

For centuries Christian churches had little appreciation for the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. They understood Passover was the foundation for Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, and they understood Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, was a Jewish feast on which the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church. But, there was no Christian fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles for them to celebrate. This is because the Feast of Tabernacles is a forward looking Feast with a yet future fulfillment. The founders of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) understood this and that the prophet Zechariah had […]

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Jesus’ Rebuke of Three Cities

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). The common application of Isaiah 9:2 is a spiritual one in which the “people walking in darkness” are those who lived prior to Christ and without knowledge of his saving power. And while that is a valid spiritual application, this verse is actually referring to the people of a specific geographical area: the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, known as the Galilee of the Gentiles. Upon them a great light would shine when, according to Isaiah 6, “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son […]

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The Controversy over the Temple Mount

The biblical, historical and future significance of the Temple Mount makes it the most hotly contested piece of real estate in the entire world. An example of the extreme sensitivity over ownership of the site is that Jews and Christians are not allowed to pray there. The Jewish place of prayer, where Christians are also welcomed, is below the Temple Mount facing the outer retaining wall of the complex known as the “Western Wall.” I witnessed this tension firsthand a few months ago when we took a tour group onto the Temple Mount. We were followed and even questioned by […]

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