Christian Coalition

Dear Friend,

Fourteen years after the first settlers dedicated America to God on the sands of Cape Henry, Virginia on April 29, 1607, the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving in 1621. They wanted to express their thankfulness and their appreciation to their Creator.

Most Americans see Thanksgiving Day as an expression of their faith and of their gratefulness to God for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon them and upon the United States of America.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, Psalms 100:4 tells us that we need to: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”  Let us remember this passage as we gather together with family and friends surrounded by an abundance of riches and blessings which God has given to us.

The Staff and I want to thank you for your support and we wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

Roberta Combs, President and CEO
Christian Coalition of America

Murfreesboro, TN – Today, Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, affirmed to Susan Michael, US Director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), his support for five principles guiding a strong US-Israel relationship. This came in response to a request made to Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton to agree to the principles presented by the ICEJ and its network, American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI), which represents 60 million Evangelicals. 

A petition addressed to the candidates signed by some 40,000 grassroots Americans, and the ACLI letter signed by 650 Christian leaders across America, emphasized locating the US Embassy to Jerusalem, supporting security aid to Israel, monitoring and acting on Iran’s terrorism and violations of the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement, rejecting third party solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict forced on Israel, and opposing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions efforts levied at Israel.  

The ACLI letter was signed by Evangelical leaders representing diverse groups and denominations including Hispanic and African American Christians; among them Dr. Jerry Johnson, CEO- National Religious Broadcasters; Roberta Combs, President-Christian Coalition; Rev. Dr. Sam Rodriguez, President-National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Penny Nance, CEO-Concerned Women for America; Rev. Harry Jackson, Presiding Bishop-International Communion of Evangelical Churches; Jane Hansen Hoyt, President-AGLOW International; Dr. James Dobson, President-Family Talk Radio; Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated talk show host; and Jim Showers, Executive Director-The Friends of Israel. 

In a meeting on September 25 with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at Trump Tower, the Republican presidential candidate already declared, “If I’m president, I’ll recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.”  Then on October 26, in a video at a Republican event in Jerusalem, Trump commented, “My administration will stand side-by-side with the Jewish people and Israel’s leaders to continue strengthening the bridges that connect, not only Jewish Americans and Israelis, but also all Americans and Israelis. Together, we will stand up to enemies, like Iran, bent on destroying Israel and her people, together we will make America and Israel safe again.” 

Susan Michael responded to his comments saying, “The policies Mr. Trump has agreed to will enhance Israel’s standing in the world and directly benefit the United States in security, innovation, technology, and intelligence.”

Secretary Clinton is yet to respond to the ICEJ’s request to agree to the five key principles guiding a strong US-Israel relationship. 

 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Daryl Hedding, US Deputy Director: (615) 895-9830, daryl.hedding@icejusa.org 

About American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) On behalf of the tens of millions of American Christians that we collectively represent, we the members of ACLI seek to provide a unified voice of truth to the American public in support of Israel and the Jewish people. American Christian Leaders for Israel is a project of the U.S. Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Learn more at aclforisrael.com. 

About International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was established in 1980 in recognition of the biblical significance of all of Jerusalem, and its unique connection with the Jewish people of Israel. Today it represents millions of Christians, churches and denominations to the nation and people. Our work with its head office in Jerusalem reaches more than 140 countries with branch offices in over 85 nations. Learn more at icejusa.org. 

 

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The old phrase of “not being able to see the forest for the trees” is now a veritable truth when it comes to Western society and especially the United States.  Identifying, or at least accurately naming, the source of terrorism seems to elude many in the United States. That old adage was often associated with a degree of levity however that “forest” now includes changes in law that are not so funny to millions of Americans.  Allowing Sharia law to secure a foothold anywhere in the United States is a very serious mistake yet it is happening. Just ask Google. The liberal left is either unable or unwilling to name this cancer and exercise a cure and this could mean the downfall of our American way of life and the values and freedoms we embrace and enjoy. 

The US president, thought by many to be a secret Muslim, has consistently failed to identify the numerous murders of innocent American civilians by terrorists who 1) are explicitly Muslim, and 2) avow their purpose of multiple murders to relate to Islam and/or some well-known group with a reputation for Jihad.  Instead, the American president uses these despicable, brutal acts perpetrated on US soil to rant against a presidential candidate, make a case for gun control and threaten the free speech of American citizens. He also works hard trying to draw a distinction between home-grown terrorists and those who come from outside the United States but this is irrelevant.

The American public must rally against the poisonous ideology of the Orlando shooter and others who have clearly declared their evil actions as an expression of support for ISIS but instead America’s leaders seem to be making excuses glossing over the truth that Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam’s apparent friend in the White House uses every opportunity to divert the publics’ attention away from this truth by singing the praises of Islamic organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relation commonly referred to as CAIR.  Established to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America, this benevolent-sounding organization is directly associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. 

How does this relate to Israel? The Israelis have been warning America and the rest of the world for years that Islam is a serious danger and a threat to freedom and democracy but it has fallen on seemingly deaf ears.  Seems the American president and the liberal left prefer to ignore the real problem and instead promote gun control as if guns are somehow responsible in and of themselves for murder and acts of terror.  Let’s not forget that household pressure cookers have also been used to perpetrate acts of terror. Neither guns nor pressure cookers are responsible for assaulting anyone. It’s the acts of people who embrace evil ideologies that assault innocent people. Gun control will not stop terrorists who want to commit mass murder and, despite what President Obama says, climate change is not the number one threat to the world today. 

It’s high time the leaders of the non-Muslim world identify and name the root of all acts of terror and it’s time for those Muslim leaders who claim that Islam is a religion of peace to speak out loudly against those who commit acts of terror in the name of Allah.  In fact, it’s time they are prosecuted as being criminals instead of celebrated as martyrs. 

Sadly, much of the world now understands that the American president has given Islam a free pass. His blindness and his unknown ideology remains unpredictable and therefore dangerous. On his watch there has been an increase in murders in major U.S. cities and race relations have taken a turn for the worst.  Furthermore, the American-Israeli relationship is viewed as contentious at best. Truly the world is on fire yet the people are smiling and dancing as the fiddlers of deception play on.

 

 

Dear friend,

Christian Coalition voter guides are one of the most powerful tools Christians have ever had to impact our society during elections.  This simple tool has helped educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for public office stand on key faith and family issues.

I encourage you to help spread this important information to others by making additional copies for distribution.  You can make voter guides available in every way possible – in churches, at Christian bookstores, as neighborhood handouts and even outside your local polling station.  

Visit our webpage at cc.org/voterguides to join our 2016 Voter Guide Project.

Please be in prayer for our nation, as we continually need God’s hand of mercy and protection.

This is a crucial election and too much is at stake for God’s people to sit on the sidelines.  Be sure to make your vote count by going to the polls this coming Election Day!

Thank you for the stand you are taking as a Christian citizen and may God bless America!

Sincerely,  

Roberta Combs 

President, Christian Coalition


Download Your Presidential Voter Guide Today!

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 how that the prophet Zechariah had foretold of a day when all the nations of the world would celebrate the fulfillment of this Feast. Therefore, they began an annual Christian celebration in Jerusalem in 1980. Some thirty-six years later churches all around the world now celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in anticipation of its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus returns and the Kingdom of God is established in our midst.

Jesus also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles and we read about that in John 7 – 9. While there, He used the special ceremonies taking place around Him to point the people to Himself as the ultimate fulfillment.

He Offered Living Waters

Each day of the seven-day Feast began with a water-drawing ritual which was a great time of rejoicing over God’s provision of water for the crops that year and of the Holy Spirit which would provide personal refreshment. A priest would take a golden pitcher and lead a musical procession to the pool of Siloam where he plunged the pitcher into the waters while reciting “Therefore, with joy you shall draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

Jerusalem’s sole water supply was from this pool and the Gihon Spring that feeds it. Therefore, water was precious. Yet, the priest returned to the Temple with the golden pitcher of water and began to pour it out over the altar while reciting “Hosanna, I pray, O Lord… send now prosperity!” (Psalm 118:25). The pouring of the water symbolized the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and was followed by a great silence that descended on the sanctuary as the people reflected upon the Holy Spirit–the only true refreshment for their thirsty souls.

This ritual took place every day but on the seventh day it took on an intensity filled with excitement and anticipation. It was on that day that Jesus “stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me, and drink’” (John 7:37). In this context it was clear to the people that He was inviting them to accept Him as the one who would give them the “living waters” of salvation (John 4:10).

He Proclaimed Eternal Light

Another fascinating ceremony associated with the Feast of Tabernacles involved lights. Each afternoon four huge menorahs illuminated the court of the Temple and the pious men would dance before the lamps with burning torches in their hands. It is said that the light from these menorahs was so bright it penetrated every courtyard in Jerusalem. This festivity would last all night until dawn.

The light of the menorahs had two meanings: the first was symbolizing the Glory of God that had filled the first Temple (I Kings 8:10-11). The second was anticipating the “Great Light” who would soon come and bring light to those who were spiritually dead and dwelling in darkness (Isaiah 9:2).

Perhaps it was during the light celebration, or when the lights were extinguished on the eighth day, that Jesus said for all to hear, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). The crowd understood that Jesus was proclaiming that He is the Great Light who Isaiah said would come, and is God in the flesh–the Glory of the Temple (John 1:14).

He Affirmed Who He Was

The eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles was called the “Last Good Day.” It was a Sabbath day, designed for rest and reflection on all that had been celebrated during the previous seven-day festival. On this day Jesus came to the Temple and healed a blind man by anointing his eyes with clay and then sending him to the pool of Siloam to wash (John 9:7).

With this miracle Jesus validated everything He had said and done during the Feast. By doing the impossible, He proved He was God in the flesh–the true dispenser of the Holy Spirit and the only source of light and life.

 

Susan Michael is US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The ICEJ sponsors the annual Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles and can be viewed live online at www.feastoftabernacles.live

 

 

Enlightening.... It seems such an appropriate word to describe an energy summit. Informative, educational, and intriguing would have all been accurate as well, but enlightening seems to capture the essence best. Intrigued was what we were when we left for the summit, but enlightened is how we returned.

Together, we represent a very diverse cross-section of conservatives. Generation X and Y, millennials, College Republicans, black, white, middle eastern, single, married, military parents, West Michigan, Greater Detroit area, Lansing, private sector, public sector, non-profit, employees and business owners. One area where we are unified is in our commitment to a strong, diverse, and secure energy future for Michigan, and for our country.

All of us have just returned from the second annual Conservative Clean Energy Summit, in Washington DC. It was hosted by the Christian Coalition and the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, and co-sponsored by AWEA, SEIA, Defend Our Future, and CRES. Hundreds of conservatives gathered from all around the country to hear from members of Congress, clean energy and business experts, national security leaders and pollsters.

For too many years, energy policy has been a partisan issue, with conservatives standing for fossil fuels, and progressives standing for renewable energy. This partisan divide has been largely driven by the debate over climate change and the environment, and has ignored the economic, national security, cost stability, and poverty issues that are tied directly to our energy policy. With the constant unrest that plagues the Middle East, and our globalization of natural gas prices, diversity in our portfolio has never been more important.

For the past two years, the Michigan House and Senate have been embroiled in discussion about what our state’s energy future will look like. It has become clear that for the present time, we are going to maintain a regulated market for electricity in Michigan. With that in mind, it is important that our legislators take that responsibility of “regulating” seriously. We cannot, and should not, treat our incumbent utilities as if they were operating in the free market, but rather should include in our regulation a requirement that our portfolio be diversified, to include a greater mix of clean, domestic, renewable energy. This not only gives us greater control over the cost of our energy, but it keeps our hard earned dollars right here in Michigan, instead of sending them to countries who often wish to do us harm.

A wise investor would never invest 90% of their retirement funds in one company or sector. Equally, we should not be dependent on globally priced energy for 90% of our portfolio. Use of locally controlled hydropower, solar, wind, biomass and other forms of renewable energy will give us greater stability and security when it comes to the price of our energy. Even the 2016 RNC Platform calls for the expansion of renewable energy, and we support that call. We encourage the Michigan Senate, House, and the Governor to stay strong in their commitment to a secure energy future, and to expand Michigan’s role as a clean energy innovator and leader in our country.

 

This commentary was submitted by Adi Sathi, Coalitions Vice-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party; Blake Edmonds, former Youth Vice-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party, an Advisory Board Member of the Christian Coalition of Michigan, and the Michigan Chair of the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform; Hank Fuhs, secretary of the Michigan Republican Party; Kelly Mitchell, the Outreach Vice-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party; Linda Lee Tarver, President of the Republican Women’s Federation of MI, and former Ethnic Vice-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party; Michael Banerian, Youth Vice-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party; and Nick Hawatmeh, former Grassroots Vice-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

In 2005 a team of Christians traveled to Israel to join the Jewish people at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount to pray for eight hours each day for that entire year asking G-d to make peace in Jerusalem and seeking His protection for the tiny Jewish state. Soon another Christian prayer team will arrive at the Western Wall again praying for eight hours each day for blessings to be upon Israel and her people; the people G-d Himself calls the “apple of His eye.”

In reading the Book of Psalms in the Bible, it’s interesting to discover that so many of the Psalms include prayers to G-d for the peace of Jerusalem and the Israel of that day. Though penned long ago, they sound as if they were written for today. In the days of the Psalmist David, Jerusalem was obviously in some peril and surrounded by enemies. David continually begs G-d to keep his country safe and free.

Each day hundreds and even thousands of Israeli men and women go to the Western Wall to pray. If you ask them what they are praying for they will tell you, “For our country, for G-d to keep us safe so that we can live with our families and communities in peace.”

Christians stand with the Israeli people in these prayers. We also plead with our G-d, whom we acknowledge to be the G-d of Israel, to keep the lone Jewish nation strong, free and prosperous.

It’s amazing to review how G-d has fulfilled His Biblical prophecies concerning Israel over the past centuries. The Jewish people were dispelled from their own country and dispersed around the world in the first century as punishment for worshiping idols and for their rebellion against the terms of the special covenant G-d made with them as His chosen people. But G-d, as He said He would, helped the Jewish people to retain their identity and He eventually brought them back to their ancient homeland. And 68 years ago, in 1948, He restored their ancient nation.

G-d promised through His Biblical prophets that He would bless the restored nation of Israel causing it to flourish and promising that they would never again be removed from off their land which is their rightful, G-d given, inheritance. G-d also said that, "The desert would blossom as the rose," and Israeli agriculture today is a marvelous development. The same is true of Israeli industry, its economy and its government. In so many ways, Israel is definitely a miracle nation.

Christians the world over rejoice with the Jewish and Israeli people over what G-d has done for Jerusalem and for all the land of Israel and her people. G-d has truly blessed Israel but the best is yet to come.  The Bible says Israel will one day be a light unto all the nations and The L-rd will rule and reign from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel.

 

Numerous prophecies have been fulfilled over the last century, but one of the most exciting is Isaiah 43: 5-6. In that passage, the Lord is speaking through the prophet Isaiah, declaring that He will bring the descendants of Israel from the east, the west, the north, and the south.

 

Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth—

(Isaiah 43:5-6, NKJV)

The partial return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland after the first exile took place under the Persian Empire and was largely from the northeast. We read about it in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra. However, Isaiah 43 describes perfectly the second return of the Jews to their homeland which took place after being dispersed to the ends of the earth over a period of 2,000 years. This return to the land, known today as Aliyah, has taken place over the last 150 years and includes several waves of immigration.

The earliest waves of Aliyah back in the 19th century emanated from Russia. But, once the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948, a large wave of immigrants came to Israel from the Muslim world. They were called Mizrahi, or “Eastern,” Jews. Almost overnight the majority of Israel’s population was from “the East.”

Then, in 1989-1990, the world witnessed the amazing moment when the Iron Curtain fell and the Jews of Russia were allowed to immigrate to Israel. After years of persecution, and even imprisonment for wanting to move to Israel, it was as if the Lord said to the land of the North: “Give them up!” Over the next decade a wave of some one million Jews left the land of the North for Israel. Today, one in five Israelis are Russian speaking. 

This brings us to the wave of Aliyah from the South. The very existence of Ethiopian Jews is extraordinary, but the story of their journey to Israel is nothing short of a miracle. In spite of poverty, civil war, and dictatorial governments, some 100,000 Ethiopian Jews, claiming descent from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, have now come home to Israel.

 

Now is the Time

The final wave of Ethiopian Aliyah is now in progress following the Israeli government’s approval for the absorption of the last 9,000 Jews from Ethiopia. But the process will take years and they face increasing danger as escalating conflicts in the region put them at great risk.

Anti-government demonstrations, ethnic conflict in the northern part of Ethiopia where the Jewish Ethiopians live, and fighting in nearby South Sudan where some Ethiopian Jewish refugees are stranded is causing instability and limiting options.  There is also a severe drought which some predict may be followed by severe floods this fall.

Because of the worsening security situation, the Jews waiting in transit camps for their departure to Israel are in what some have called “mortal danger.”

 

Bring Them Home! 

Christians today have the privilege of not just watching prophecy being fulfilled, but of being a part of it! In Isaiah 43, the Lord says that He is the one who will bring the Jews back from around the world. Then, in verse 6, He commands us to, “Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.

That verse is a clear directive to bring the exiles back to their homeland! In response, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is helping to bring these precious Ethiopian Jews home to Israel. 

 

Susan M. Michael is the US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.  The ICEJ has helped over 120,000 Jews to make Aliyah. For information on how you can help go to www.icejusa.org/ethiopia.  

 

 

 

Following the Israeli investigation of Mohammed El Halabi for being a terrorist, it was disclosed that El Halabi had been a life-long member of the Islamic terrorist organization known as Hamas. Why is this important?  Because El Halabi is World Vision’s director of their Gaza branch. While in detention, El Halabi reportedly confessed that in 2004 he was tasked by Hamas to “infiltrate an international aid organization and exploit its resources.” It was learned in the investigation that El Halabi was diverting tens of millions of dollars annually to the militant arm of Hamas to fund military salaries, dig tunnels to terrorize Israel and buy arms. It was also learned that high ranking Hamas officials had been pilfering money for themselves. Is anyone really surprised?

World Vision is one of the largest charitable Christian organizations in the world. It is based in the USA and has been supposedly serving the world’s poor and needy since 1950. World Vision raises millions upon millions of dollars annually from well-meaning donors.

The people of Gaza are in need of humanitarian aid but it’s because their government is top-heavy with corruption. Those who need the aid are receiving barely a fraction of what is being reported to the world.  Based on this report, it is very likely that many unsuspecting charities are funding terrorism instead of feeding the poor. Yet, in spite of there being a serious humanitarian need in Gaza, Hamas is siphoning funds and is also reported to be providing a safe haven and medical aid for ISIS members.  Hamas, the government of the Palestinians living in Gaza, is sending out mixed signals to the world and Israel seems to be the only country which recognizes this and is not afraid to act. The rest of us are being duped.

Since it is now known that Hamas has successfully infiltrated a well-known Christian charity such as World Vision and diverted significant amounts of financial resources into the hands of terrorists, are we in the United States so naïve as to think that those NGOs - those humanitarian aid organizations contracted by the U.S. government to resettle Syrian refugees into quiet, suburban communities often under the cover of darkness and to the reported tune of $1,000.00 per person - have not also been infiltrated by terrorists such as ISIS?  The U.S. government is actually relying on these NGOs to perform background checks and fully vet the refugees.  Talk about the “fox guarding the hen house!” It’s hard to believe but it’s true.  The mainstream media in the United States is not reporting on this but the information is readily available on the internet from very credible international news sources.  We need to cast a wary eye on these “charities” otherwise we will be complicit in the demise of America as we know it.  World Vision was blindsided. How many others? It seems impossible that El Halabi could have been acting alone. A large organization such as World Vision has accountants and bookkeepers and checks and balances in place.  El Halabi had to have been very crafty otherwise how could they not have known something was amiss when there was no appreciable change in the living conditions of the Palestinians despite having been given huge sums of money for humanitarian aid?  Perhaps there are more infiltrators at the top of the corporate chain in this charity and if here, then surely also in others.  Hamas was simply given huge sums of money without any accountability. Although Hamas is the recognized government of the Palestinians living in Gaza, it is also a recognized terrorist organization and by definition any terrorist organization is a criminal organization. Who would expect any terrorist organization to provide truthful accountability even if asked to do so? For this reason, how could World Vision have so naively provided humanitarian funds without proper investigation of its resource allocations?  Is the U.S. government guilty of the same lack of oversight?

All charities and especially those operating under the Christian banner have a moral and fiduciary responsibility to handle donor funds with the utmost care and prudence. World Vision’s antennae should have been raised from the beginning. The people they were trusting are Islamists; a group that is steeped in Islam’s code of conduct which “allows” the criminal activity of stealing and lying when doing so to an infidel.  Who is an infidel?  Anyone who is not Muslim. Infidels may be lied to and stolen from with impunity and if Islam will ultimately benefit from such immoral and criminal behavior, then such behavior is even encouraged. Shocking but true and it is common knowledge around the world but those who live in the West seem to be “thick-headed.”  We tend to think that everyone is playing from the same set of rules and with the same moral standards and values and this will be our downfall. 

Fundamental Islamic organizations operate like well-oiled machines.  They have a plan to conquer and establish a world-wide caliphate and they are at work everywhere putting their plan into action – even in small town, Middle America.  News such as Hamas hijacking a well-meaning humanitarian organization will not be embarrassed by this discrediting revelation. The only lessons they and others like them will learn is to be better practiced and more clandestine in the art of deception. 

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 who walked in darkness” are those who lived prior to Christ and without knowledge of His saving power. 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 verse 6, “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Jesus is the light that would one day shine upon the Galilee, according to Isaiah.

 

Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee

Galilee had become largely gentile after 722 B.C. when Assyrian forces exiled most of the Israelites and replaced them with pagan and idolatrous Assyrians causing spiritual darkness to fall over the region. While many Jews had returned to the area and repopulated it over the centuries, significant idolatry remained and was encouraged by subsequent Greek and Roman invaders.

In chapter four of his gospel, Matthew explains that Jesus conducted the bulk of His ministry in the Galilee in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1-7. Just as Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and His return from refuge in Egypt (Hosea 11:1) was a fulfillment of prophecy, so was his upbringing in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23) and subsequent ministry in the Galilee.

Jesus travelled throughout the Galilee healing all manners of sickness, opening blind eyes and deaf ears, raising the dead, and casting out demons. It was on the Sea of Galilee that He performed two of His most dramatic miracles: stilling the storm and walking on the water.

 

Walking Where Jesus Walked

Tourists today can visit the archeological remains of some of the cities in which Jesus ministered. The remains of the first century synagogues in those cities are of the most exciting finds, because one can be fairly certain Jesus visited, and even preached in, them. Both Mark and Matthew say that He preached in all the synagogues of the region.

The synagogue visible today in Capernaum dates to the third century, but it is built over the remains of the first century synagogue that Jesus likely taught in. Another incredible find there is the possible home of Simon Peter. We know Jesus visited this home and on one occasion healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. It is even possible He lived there while in Capernaum.

Mark 1:29 tells us that Peter’s home was very near to the entrance to the synagogue. Archaeologists have uncovered a first century home in that area with a number of indications to its historical significance. The house had eleven coats of plaster on the walls indicating it was a special place that had been well cared for over a long period of time.

The threshold stone is broken but never replaced indicating someone important may have stepped on that stone, and numerous pieces of wall plaster have writing on them referring to Jesus as Lord, the Most High, the Savior, and Messiah, while three of them mention Peter himself. A fifth century church was built over the site indicating it was known by the locals as Peter’s home which had been frequented by Jesus.

 In nearby Magdala, a first century synagogue has been uncovered where visitors can see the very floor Jesus may have walked on. Another exciting find in that synagogue is an altar or stone table that is the earliest known artistic depiction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus probably rested the Torah scroll upon this stone table as He taught.

 

The Three Impenitent Cities

While these archaeological finds are exciting and help us to imagine the life and ministry of Jesus, they are also a stark reminder of what happens when light is rejected. Darkness remains.

Matthew refers to Capernaum, Korazin and Bethsaida as the cities in which most of Jesus’ miracles were performed. Yet, Jesus rebuked these three impenitent cities and said that if the mighty works which had been done in them were done in the gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon, or the sinful city of Sodom, they would have repented. He then declared that judgment would result and Capernaum would be “brought down to Hades” (Matthew 11:20-24).

All three cities were destroyed by a series of earthquakes between the fourth and eighth centuries and remain in ruins to this day. What a powerful reminder of Jesus’ words that “everyone to whom much is given, much will be required.” Those privileged to have enjoyed the light of His presence in their midst, and witnessed the miracles He performed, would suffer judgment for rejecting that light.

To better understand the words of Jesus one must read the scriptures in their geographical, historical and cultural context. Thankfully, the Israeli government safeguards archaeological finds and holy sites, so Christians can visit them and not just recount, but experience, the words and ministry of Jesus on a whole new level.

 

Susan M. Michael is US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem www.icejusa.org. This article is seventh in a series to introduce Israel and various biblical sites of interest to the Christian reader. For information on ICEJ tours to Israel: www.icejusa.org/tours