The epicenter is on fire. Radical Islamic jihadists are pressing their offensive in Syria and Iraq. Iran continues marching towards nuclear weapons. Hezbollah briefly attacked Israelis on her northern border yesterday. U.S.-Israeli relations are frayed. Anti-Semitism is rising.
And amidst all his national security briefings and strategy sessions, Israel’s premier is studying the Bible.
Indeed, one of the most interesting but least known aspects in the life of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is that he has developed quite an interest in studying the Bible in recent years. The premier was not raised in a religious home growing up. But as he has gotten older, he has developed a noticeable curiosity in the ancient Scriptures.
- Netanyahu occasionally quotes the Bible in major speeches (such as the time he spoke at Auschwitz and said Ezekiel 37 had come to pass.)
- In his most recent address to world leaders at the United Nations, he quoted chapter 62 of the book written by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah. “Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak truth to power,” Netanyahu said. “‘For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still until her justice shines bright and her salvation glows like a flaming torch.'”
- Netanyahu told Larry King that he likes to study the Bible on Saturday mornings with his son, Avner.
- In 2011, the premier started a Bible study group that meets every few months in his official residence.
- On Sunday evening — amidst the High Holy Days in Israel and the Jewish world (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, which begins with another full blood moon tonight) — the premier and his wife, Sara, held another Bible study session in his home.
Here is some news coverage of what was discussed: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a Bible study session attended by the parents of three Israeli teens killed in June,” reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Iris and Uri Yifrach, Rachel and Avi Fraenkel, and Ophir and Bat-Galim Shaar joined the Tanach Study Circle at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem on Sunday evening. Netanyahu renewed the circle two years ago. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had started the tradition. Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron also joined the study group, which focused on the upcoming weekly Torah portion of Beresheit, the opening chapters of the Bible.”
“We are preparing to celebrate Simchat Torah, when we will conclude reading the Torah and begin it again,” the Prime Minister said as the meeting began. “The cyclical nature of reading the Torah and starting it again from Genesis also symbolizes the renewal of our people in our land. Despite all attempts to destroy us, each time we build ourselves up again, deeply linked to also growing the tree called the Jewish People, with our deep roots and branches that reach ever higher.”
These are excellent steps by the Prime Minister, and he should be commended for them.
One would have to go back to Menachem Begin — and before him, to David Ben Gurion — for Israeli premiers who have publicly studied the Bible and openly encouraged others to do the same. It is simply not a typical activity of Israeli leaders.
- Let us pray that the study of the Word of God has a powerful, personal impact on the Prime Minister and his family and each of his colleagues and guests.
- Let us pray that many Israelis would follow the Prime Minister’s lead and begin reading the Holy Scriptures again.
- Let us pray that Bible studies in people’s homes would spring up all over the Land of Israel.
- Let us pray that pray that more and more Israelis — Jews and Arabs — would develop a new and deeper curiosity about Bible prophecy, both the dramatic prophecies in the Scriptures that have already been fulfilled, and those that will come to pass soon. We explored such themes during the 2013 Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem this summer, which focused on “The Power of the Word to Change A Leader,” “The Power of the Word to Change A Nation,” and “The Power of the Word to Change the World.” I commend these messages to your attention.
Are you studying through the Bible this year? I hope so.
Currently, I am studying the life of Abraham in the Old Testament, and I Thessalonians in the New Testament.
Would you like to join me?
How deeply blessed you will be as you read and meditate on the Holy Bible, the very word of God, each and every day.
As we read in Psalm 1….
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
- PM’s Bible study group touches on God’s promise of Israel to the Jews (Jerusalem Post)
- FLASHBACK: NETANYAHU TO START BIBLE STUDY IN HIS HOME: Pray that all Israelis follow his lead and begin reading the Word, like in the days of King Josiah (December 13, 2011)
- FLASHBACK: NETANYAHU HOSTS TWO-HOUR BIBLE STUDY IN THE BOOK OF RUTH: Says “the Bible is the foundation of our existence.” (May 25, 2012)
- FLASHBACK: Amidst Iran & Syria crises, Netanyahu holds 4th Bible study session with Jewish scholars. (September 18, 2013)
- Learn more about The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com). This is an organization my wife and I founded in 2006 to educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her Arab neighbors in the name of Jesus, including caring for the poor and needy with food and other humanitarian relief. Read our 2013 Donor Report. Please pray for our team, especially as they care for people in the rocket zone. And please prayerfully consider making a generous, tax deductible, secure, on-line contribution.
- We are moving up release of my new thriller about the ISIS threat, THE THIRD TARGET. It will be published on Jan. 6.
- To pre-order THE THIRD TARGET, please click here.