(Jerusalem, Israel) — Amidst the terrible geopolitical crises in Syria and Egypt — and the nuclear threat growing from Iran — the Middle East faces a far greater crisis: the absolute disconnect between the people and the Word of God. Israel and the Middle East is the land where the Bible was written. Yet most of the people in the epicenter have never read the Word.
Only 16% of Israeli Jews say they ever read the Hebrew Bible known as the Tanakh (the five books of Moses, the prophets and the writings), according to a sweeping survey of Israeli attitudes towards faith conducted by the Guttmann Institute and the Israel Democracy Institute in 2009.
The vast majority of Arab Muslims have never even seen a Bible, much less read one.
Is there really any wonder then that if the half billion people in this region don’t know God’s Word, that they are not experiencing His peace, much less peace between nations and ethnic groups?
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has begun addressing the need for his people to rediscover the power of God’s Word. He is quoting Scripture in his key speeches and even started a Bible study in the official residence.
Other Israelis are becoming interested in the Bible, too. In the introduction to his book, My Heroes: Four Biblical Journeys (2008), Yair Lapid — an Israeli TV journalist who is now the nation’s Finance Minister — describes his rediscovery of the Bible: “In the last ten years I’ve dedicated a great deal of my free time to the Bible. . . . I plunged into the text with great enthusiasm and passion, tinged with a sense of a loss. I wish I could get back all those years I ignored it.” (cited by Yael Zerubavel, “A Secular Return to the Bible?”, AJS Perspectives, the magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies, Spring 2011 issue.)
This is good. But much more is needed. The Bible is clear that when people read and listen to and obey the Word of God, they will be blessed. But disasters befall individuals and nations that ignore the Word.
That’s we the theme of our conference this year was, “The Power of the Word.” You and I don’t have much influence to make geopolitical peace. But we can rediscover the power of the Word in our own lives, and help the people of the Middle East rediscover it, too. I’m pleased, therefore, to announce that you can now watch online the videos of the messages from the 2013 Epicenter Conference at www.epicenterconference.com. You can also find and watch them on our mobile app.
The messages include:
- Why Is Our Theme, ‘The Power of the Word’?” — introductory message by Joel C. Rosenberg, founder of The Joshua Fund [to read the text of this message, please click here]
- “The Power of the Word To Change A Leader (story of King Josiah)” — message by Pastor Joe Focht, senior pastor from Philadelphia
- “The Power of the Word To Change A Nation (story of Ezra and Nehemiah)” — message by Dr. Erez Soref, president of the Israel College of the Bible
- “The Power of the Word To Change The World (John 1)” — message by Joel C. Rosenberg [to read the text of this message, please click here.]
- “The Power of the Word To Change The Arab World” — interview with Dr. Hanna Shahin, a Palestinian Arab from Jerusalem who used to run Trans World Radio’s Arab language division and now runs Endure International
- Panel discussion — featuring Pastor Joe Focht, Dr. Erez Soref, Dr. Hanna Shahin, and Pastor Shmuel Aweida, an Israeli pastor from Haifa (moderated by Joel C. Rosenberg)
Please watch them, share them, and give us your feedback on the “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. And let’s be praying that everyone will begin reading and listening to the Bible once again.