The answer to our prayers!

Return to me with all your heart, says the Lord (Joel 2:12)

By Charles Gardner | | Topics: CHRISTIANS, Christmas
An Israeli soldier pray at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, November 6, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90
An Israeli soldier pray at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, November 6, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

We were amazed the other day as we watched a social media update on the Israel-Gaza war from the Aliyah Return Centre, who help Jewish immigrants to settle in the land.

Their spokesman, an officer of some standing, was being introduced and welcomed to the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), and duly made a passionate call to prayer – for the soldiers and the nation.

His host then told members how the Bible College of Wales, led by the legendary Rees Howells, had earnestly prayed for Israel through the horrors of the Holocaust and the run-up to the UN vote for recognition.

Yes, Israeli parliamentarians were being urged to pray – could you imagine that in modern-day Westminster? And they were reminded how British Christians bore them up in prayer through their darkest days.

They say the darkest hour is before the dawn and I have recently alluded to the biblical pattern of The Dragon’s Fury: that when God is about to do something marvellous and miraculous, Satan does his utmost to stop it.

As in:

“The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.” (Revelation 12:4)

It’s a picture of major turning points in Israel’s history – the deliverance from Egypt, Messiah’s birth and the Holocaust preceding the reborn nation.

Now we have the spectre of Hamas, representing all the fury of the dragon, seeking to obliterate the chosen race and prevent the return of the Prince of Peace to rule and reign in majesty and splendour and inflict total judgment on his enemies.

But revival is coming to God’s ancient people as their hearts are stirred by the only one who can save them.

The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary – a German-based international ministry committed to living wholeheartedly for Jesus and loving the Jewish people for whom he came – was birthed amidst the horrors of World War II.

When the city of Darmstadt was flattened by RAF bombers (sent from Doncaster, my hometown) on the night of September 11, 1944, (their own 9/11), it brought revival to a girls’ Bible class as they responded in repentance and confession for their own sins as well as those of their nation.

“The night of terror had become the hour of birth,” wrote the movement’s founder Mother Basilea Schlink in I Found the Key to the Heart of God, a revised English language edition of her 1975 autobiography published this year.

Writing of the joy they felt at the time, Mother Schlink said: “…not even the horrors of war could diminish that taste of heaven’s glory.”

God is so ready to answer our prayers. I just heard the testimony of St Thomas’ Church in York on the BBC’s popular Songs of Praise programme. Ten years ago they were on the brink of closure, with little funding to keep them going. But they prayed earnestly.

Then, at Christmas, a bin-liner full of cash was dumped at the vicarage door. It amounted to an astonishing £100,000! Suspecting criminal activity, the vicar’s wife called the police. But after a lengthy inquiry found nothing untoward, the church was allowed to keep this bountiful – and miraculous – Christmas gift!

The supreme gift of the season is, of course, Jesus himself, who moved in among us to share our joys and sorrows. One of the most famous carols, O Little Town of Bethlehem – sadly not as peaceful now as when its author, Phillips Brooks, paid a visit in the 19th century – includes this verse:

O Holy child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray,
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell,
O come to us, abide with us,
O Lord Emmanuel.

May we offer our hearts in worship of the God who came to tabernacle with us in the wilderness of our lives without hope or future. The Wise Men came from a far country asking the right question:

“Where is the one who is born King of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him?” (Matthew 2:2)

King Herod didn’t know, but the religious leaders did, quoting Micah 5:2:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Herod, the Idumean puppet king, duly reacted with fury by murdering all the babes of Bethlehem. But the infant Christ had escaped with his parents to Egypt following a divinely inspired dream.

Strangely, the rabbis did not follow the Wise Men to Bethlehem, only six miles away! But those who seek God with all their heart will certainly find him (Jeremiah 29:13). And these Wise Men from the East, whose forbears were possibly influenced by the prophet Daniel, led us to the true Messiah of Israel. Wise men still seek him today!

 


 

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew FirstA Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.

 

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