(Jerusalem, Israel ) — Good morning from Jerusalem. Today begins Day #7 of The Joshua Fund’s “Prayer & Vision Trip” to the Holy Land. We have the honor of hosting 244 Christians from all over the world (including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Nigeria, Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand), most of whom have never been to Israel before. It’s been an absolutely fascinating time, especially as events heat up and move rapidly here in the epicenter.
A few observations on the Mideast crisis developing around us — especially in Egypt and Syria — as well as updates from our tour:
- Let’s start with Egypt — Today is Decision Day. A dramatic showdown is underway in the world’s largest Arab country. Millions of Egyptians have turned out on the streets of Cairo in recent days to protest the despotic regime of President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The offices of the Brotherhood have been sacked and looted. Remarkably the protestors are demanding the resignation of Morsi and the end of his regime.
- The Egyptian Army on Sunday issued an ultimatum: Morsi has 48 hours to accede to many of the demands of the protestors and find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, or the army will step in. Morsi has vowed not to step down. The army insists it is not waging a coup. But no one knows quite what will happen next, and the deadline for action is 5pm local time today (Tuesday).
- Please pray that God would have mercy on the people of Egypt. Pray the Lord will bring down this evil Radical Muslim regime and replace it with a moderate, peaceful government that will restore peace and order, expand freedom, protect women and children, and protect Christians. Please also pray for the Church in Egypt to be bold and courageous and to fearlessly proclaim that the only true peace for Egyptians will come when they received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and commit themselves to reading and obeying the Word of God.
- Now, Syria — The bloodbath continues. The civil war there has left more than 93,000 Syrians dead.
- Now comes horrific news that a Catholic priest has been beheaded by the rebels. “A Catholic priest has been publicly beheaded by Syrian terrorists after accusations of collaborating with President Bashar Assad’s regime,” reports the New York Daily News. “Franciscan Father Francois Murad was executed among two others in the countryside of Edlib in northern Syria Sunday before its filming was uploaded online. The Vatican confirmed Murad’s death Monday, declaring his martyrdom by the hands of Syrian jihadists after he was pulled from the convent for the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge….Several are seen shamelessly holding up cameras to record the horrific killings, stepping as close as they can to the aftermath of bloody bodies.”
- On Friday, we took The Joshua Fund tour up to northern Israel, to two different spots the Golan Heights, giving them the opportunity to see Damascus just 30 miles away. We could hear the boom of artillery fire and see smoke rising from various points as the civil war continued. It was an eerie experience to be so close to a city and country gripped by such evil.
- At one location, I taught the Biblical prophecies of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 that indicate that the Lord God is going judge the wickedness of Damascus and bring utter destruction to that city in the End Times. As we studied these prophecies, we prayed for the people of Syria and Damascus, and for the Church to be boldly sharing the Gospel and for many to receive Christ there before it is too late. I also shared a bit of how The Joshua Fund is helping to strengthen the believers in Syria to share the Gospel (including through the evangelistic Damascus film, which premiered in the capital city with the permission of Bashar al-Assad in March 2009).
- Please pray for the people of Syria — and especially for those in Damascus — that God would have mercy on them. Pray that the Lord would bring down the Assad regime in His timing, but please also pray that the Radical jihadist rebels would not seize power. Pray that the Lord would also a moderate, peaceful government, just as we are praying for in Egypt.
- Please also pray for the Church in Syria to be bold and courageous and to fearlessly proclaim that the only true peace for Syrians will come when they received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and commit themselves to reading and obeying the Word of God.
- Today, I will ask our tour group to be in special prayer for Egypt and Syria, as well as for all the people of Israel, both Jews and Arabs.
- I will share more on our tour soon, Lord willing, but I can say that it has been so special. We have taken them from Tel Aviv/Jaffa to Caesarea, to Mount Carmel, to Armageddon, to the Sea of Galilee, to Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes, to the Golan Heights, to Beit Shean, and now here in Jerusalem. We’ve been introducing them to Israelis and Palestinians, explaining the history of the region, explaining the threats facing Israel and her neighbors, teaching the Word of God, praying and worshipping the Lord, and even doing baptisms.
- On Friday, we will host the 2013 Epicenter Conference here in Jerusalem, the City of the Great King. Tickets are sold out. But all the messages will be posted online at http://www.epicenterconference.com.