This weekend, security forces in Syria shot into crowds of protestors, killing 120, bringing the total number of protestors murdered this past month to 300.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has been aligned for years with Ahmadenijad in Iran and Hizballah in Lebanon – what has been called the "axis of evil." Since Syria is located strategically between Iran and Lebanon, his regime provided a land bridge for weapons and terrorist activity from Iran to the rest of the Middle East.
Other than Israel, there are no governments in the Middle East with democratic values, let alone Judeo-Christian moral values. All the rest are Muslim dictatorships. This year has seen popular uprisings in many of those nations. The response of the dictatorships has been bloody.
The uprisings have been motivated by a desire of the people for freedom. Yet that desire has been exploited by Muslim extremists who in many cases represent even more of a danger than the dictators. With the overthrow of the current regimes will likely come more bloodshed and even more extreme Islamic regimes.
Within the Muslim world there are two main streams: Shiite – identified with Iran; and Sunni – identified with Saudi Arabia. Both streams have their extremists: El Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood, and El Wahabi are Sunni. Ahmadinejad, Hizballah, and Hamas are Shiite. Some commentators are predicting that if the Assad regime falls, a Sunni coalition run by the Muslim Brotherhood will take over. Therefore Iran remains supportive of Assad.
Hatred for Israel is a unifying factor among Muslims - whether Sunni or Shiite. As to the question which outcome would be better, the answer is neither. During this time of unrest, all sides intensify their rhetoric against Israel, vying for the loyalty of the masses. On the other hand, while factions are fighting with one another, they cannot marshal forces for an offensive against Israel. (Pray for division per Luke 11:17.)
As the international diplomatic community continues to pressure Israel to make concessions, Netanyahu's government rightly argues that any agreement under the current circumstances will not be valid because further Islamic uprisings would simply nullify the terms of the treaty.
Among the Palestinians, certain groups connected with Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been calling for a Third Intifada against Israel, starting on May 15. A Facebook page had 300,000 clicks in favor. One of the leaders, Muhamad Hatib, is quoted as saying, "There is a group that is pushing for this intifada, but the Palestinian Authority is not interested in it. The next few months will be critical."
Hatib also stated that he thinks that an intifada probably could not take place before September. Those pushing for the intifada have taken inspiration from the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayad have both spoken against any violent uprising.
Across Israel, Messianic believers participated in Passover Seders, either with extended family or in congregational settings. Our community hosted many Seders. One of the most successful was organized by Idan P and Avichai O in a large Bedouin tent structure with over 120 in attendance.
the Passover as the biblical setting for the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Orthodox Jews reject this connection, yet Messianic Jews are bringing the historical
context back into awareness in Israeli society. This week a television show
with secular scholars spoke of the Jewish-Christian polemic about the Passover.
The text of the traditional Seder is found in the Talmudic Mishnah "Pesachim." This tract was codified in the early 3rd century, some 150 years after the New Covenant. In the gospels most of the elements of the Passover Seder are recorded. Thus, the gospels should be considered the original Jewish literary source for the traditional Seder.
While there are many connections between the Passover and Yeshua, three biblical elements particularly stand out in my mind:
Several hundred Arab Christians and Messianic Jews gathered Saturday evening at the Garden Tomb in front of the empty grave of Yeshua in East Jerusalem. Our purpose was to thank God for the resurrection, and to demonstrate the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians through Yeshua. The service was led mostly in Arabic. For the Hebrew and Jewish side, Chaim W led some worship and Youval Y gave a brief message. Both were powerfully anointed. Glory to God!
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