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Israel: Past and Present

by Dan Stolebarger


Israel is a “must” for all believers, and Israel, as you know, is in the middle of what God is doing today. He is not finished with His chosen, and as believers we have been grafted in and are in some way connected.

In 2004 I was blessed to travel with Chuck Missler and Bob Cornuke to the island of Malta to examine the lost anchors of Paul. The tour had an extension that included Israel and Chuck was unable to lead that portion and asked me if I would do that. My response was, of course, yes, but I had to tell him that I had never been to Israel!

His response was, “No problem… the guides do most of the work!” Who would have known that my world was about to be turned upside down!

Chuck did have another tidbit for me; he said the following words that I will never forget! He said, “Dan, when you get off the plane and your feet hit the ground, you are going to have a strange sensation… you are going to feel like you are home!”

I smiled and thought: “That’s another one of those ‘Misslerisms’ that I need to file away!” Again, who would have known? That trip changed my life and birthed a passion to take as many people as possible to the “land where it all began” so that they can experience Yeshua in His backyard! Words cannot express my personal transformation, but suffice it to say—Chuck’s words were spot on! I felt at home!

On that first tour I met our guide and now dear friend, Jane Benari. Her passion for the Land was contagious and I caught whatever she had. But it was more than just a tour seeing the sites; God began to plant in me the Land and also to plant a love for Israelis in my heart.

It’s now been 8 years, 20 plus tours and over 1000 folks who have traveled with us and I still have that fever! Israel is a “must” for all Believers, and Israel, as you know, is in the middle of what God is doing today. He is not finished with His Chosen, and as Believers we have been grafted in and are in some way connected. God has brought us many friends and very unique contacts through our trips (both Israelis who are Believers and those who are not yet Believers.)

Besides our tours, my wife and I have also had the experience of living in Israel for three months in order to explore new opportunities. At that time we met Don Finto and were introduced to the Messianic movement in the Land. Then came more and more contacts, those Godly coincidences of bumping into folks that God had arranged (Divine appointments). That’s how we met our friends from Gateway! We did not meet in Dallas but at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, and from that “chance” meeting we have expanded our understanding of the Messianic movement in the Land. Needless to say, God is doing amazing things in Israel today and most of them are not on the evening news or even on the radar of most Christians today.

With that in mind, I wanted to include the following article from my friend, Don Finto, in order to expand your perspective of what is going on in the Israel of today.

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Unrealistic Optimism!

I am an unrealistic optimist and intend to stay that way! As John Acuff used to say, “I’ve read the end of the book! We win!”

 “Darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you,” Isaiah said to Israel over 2700 years ago (Isa 60:2). Isaiah not only saw conditions arising in his day, but he was peering into the future when the deepest darkness of all time would engulf the earth, but the people of God would shine like the stars of the heavens (see Daniel 12:3, 10 and Matthew 13:43) in the midst of the wickedness.

 The day Isaiah predicted is upon us. Juergen Buehler, Executive Director of International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, recently wrote an article that speaks of some of the light shining through the darkness of the Arab world:

Some 70,000 Egyptian Christians gathered recently for a joyous outdoor worship service… Iran’s underground churches are currently experiencing an annual growth of 20%—the highest rate worldwide, followed by Afghanistan at 16%… An Algerian pastor… reports that today the Evangelical churches in his country can claim more than 200,000 members… Libya also holds surprises… the spiritual climate in Libya has changed significantly since Ghadaffi’s fall… not enough Bibles for those seeking them… A Moroccan Church is emerging and accelerating in growth and maturity… New believers [in Tunisia] have increased and new church groups have come into being over the past few years… In Jordan, the evangelical Church is experiencing encouraging growth, doubling from 1995 to 2010… Similar reports are emerging from Syria and Lebanon… One of the most sustained revivals is taking place in Indonesia which has the world’s largest Muslim population but is now around 30% Christian…

Paul foresaw our day. “How much greater riches [for the whole world] will their [Israel’s] fullness bring” (Rom 11:12). More Jewish people have come to faith in the last few years than in all the centuries previous. The “greater riches” world revival is increasing.

 Look beyond the darkness. Look at the light. Pray for the salvation and transformation of Israel and the nations. Agree with God’s purposes for our day. Do not be discouraged. Be filled with hope.

Blessings,
Don Finto

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If you have yet to visit the land “where it all began,” then please check out our upcoming fall tour to Israel…the Issachar Tour whose tag line is The Israel of the Bible and the Israel of Today. This is a ONE bus tour and besides visiting all the Biblical sites that can fit on the tour, we also seek to give you an updated briefing on the Israel of today. We bring in Israeli speakers from a mixture of sectors within Israel…the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet or the Knesset, etc.

This type of tour is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Our dates this year are Oct. 31–Nov. 9 (in Israel dates—not including travel days). It always fills up quickly, so if you are interested, be sure to contact Sharon Stolebarger at sharon@khouse.org for details.

I look forward to walking the Land with you! Shalom!


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