As I travel, I carry a notebook in my pocket and I jot down items of interest for this letter and our program in general. Israel, New York City, and the news in general provided some thoughts of interest, I believe, and I will present some of those below.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City calls a spade a spade and a terrorist a terrorist. The New York Times reports that in October he expelled Yasser Arafat from a concert for world leaders, calling Arafat "a murderer and a terrorist." "I would not invite Yasser Arafat to anything, anywhere, any time, any place," he continued. "I don't forget." He said that "as a US attorney, he had investigated several terrorist incidents to which the PLO was linked, including the hijacking in 1985 of the Achille Lauro cruise ship." Giuliani said that Arafat "has never been held to answer for the murders that he was implicated in." He went on, "I would rather not have someone who has been implicated in the murders of Americans there if I have the discretion not to have him there." Naturally, there were many who said the mayor had his political purposes in such statements, but in reality all that he said was perfectly true, and truth is becoming a rarity in the Middle East "peace process." Our Jerusalem 3000 series, to be aired this coming spring, will feature an interview with Kare Christiansen, the Norwegian official who quit the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in protest of the coveted award being given to Arafat along with the Israeli leadership.
Mark Twain visited Israel in the nineteenth century and called it "a cursed land" rather than the Promised Land. He described the place as having "no hope," but he apparently was not a Bible reader. In reality, the Land while the Jews were away suffered terribly under the Turks and the Arabs who are now calling themselves Palestinians. It was virtually uncultivated and the forests had been removed, creating areas of swampland infested with malaria. No person on earth reading Twain's description and then seeing what the Jews have done with the land since 1948 could have the slightest doubt of who the real owners and caretakers of the Land really are.
A curious greeting on the streets of Jerusalem before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, went this way: "Have an easy fast." The Day of Atonement is a day of fasting, and the well-wishers certainly have good intentions. But if we read the Scriptures for this high holiday, they are clear that people must "afflict your souls" for the 24 hours. In view of the fact that every (unsaved) Jewish person must confess the sins of a whole year in that 24 hours, an "easy fast" would be inappropriate so far as the Torah is concerned.
Israel was most courteous to the recent Iranian hostages, who made an unintentional overnight visit in late September when their plane was hijacked by a crazed Iranian cabin attendant. They were amazed at the good accommodations and food and friendliness from people who they had been taught (as we have) to see as primitive and dangerous. Many of them did not want to go back to Iran, now that they had seen civilization in the twentieth century. Their original flight plans were for a short trip within Iran. After the hijacker took command, neither Saudi Arabia nor Jordan would allow the plane to land. Imagine the fear of the pilot of the aircraft when he radioed the Ben Gurion Airport tower that he was out of fuel and would have to ditch in the Mediterranean if they refused him permission to land. The Israeli "monsters" (as Arabs are taught to view them) were his last hope. The Jewish nation demonstrated its barbarity by allowing the plane to set down at a military base and treating the passengers kindly.
Before returning to their country, the Iranians were presented with the case of Ron Arad, an Israeli pilot who was shot down over Lebanon several years ago and who is believed to be imprisoned by Iran. The rescued hostages were asked to lobby their government for his release. Ron Arad's mother, Batya Arad, spoke to the passengers: "You are mothers. You know what it is like to have a child and raise him. . . you can help me bring about Ron's release. . . look me in the eye."
In the exciting Iraqi elections, Saddam Hussein luckily won by 99.96% of the vote and gets to rule seven more years. What a surprise! He has been the dictator of Iraq since 1979 and his policies have reduced his people to paupers and made the country — once considered a relatively enlightened nation — into an outcast of the world community. As I commented when "President" Assad of Syria won by a similar margin a few years ago, all the dissenters could be held in one small cemetery. Other Arab nations were appalled at Saddam's election chicanery, but we must remember that every one of them is a dictatorship, including Egypt, which seemed to complain the most. Some do have rubber-stamp parliaments as some kind of copy of a democracy, but in no case does any Arab person have any voice in the leadership of his country, nor any real ballot privilege.
One interview that won't be on our television program was a talk I had in Bethlehem with the owner of a tourist shop that our Fall Tour group visited. He is a Palestinian Christian, and he was really shaking over the fact that Bethlehem is to be returned to the PLO, which basically represents only Palestinian Moslems. There have already been cases of abuse of Arab Christians by the PLO in Jericho and Gaza, and the Christians of Bethlehem are very afraid of the future. As we insanely manufacture a 23rd Arab dictatorship in Israel, we are consigning some Christians to lives of fear, arrest, torture, and even death. We should bear in mind that much of this is being done with American tax dollars.
CNN International is a service of the news network overseas, and puts one in mind of how small a global village the world is really becoming. From my Jerusalem hotel room, I could review the stock markets of Japan, New York, Hong Kong and London, and I watched sports events I hardly understood at all (rugby, Australian football, etc.). The drama that is our world goes on as a leading actor, the Antichrist, awaits his entrance offstage.
CNN blithely declared on October 23 that in Israel we have "two sides at war for half a century." In reality, there has been war in Israel for a period of a few weeks over the last 50 years. The United States, by way of contrast, was at war for a total of 11 years between Korea and Vietnam.
New York City had 1361 murders last year, down about 50% from the 1970's, according to The New York Times. Jerusalem, which the Times itself trumpets as a very dangerous place, had less than 100 for the same year. CNN, always overly dramatic about Middle East problems, spoke of Bosnia and Israel as "two of the most troubled places on earth." Bosnia's casualties since the beginning of their conflict are around a quarter of a million.
Russia recently gave the PLO 40 armored personnel carriers. They are armed and capable of much destruction. The number of Palestinian "police" will come to 50,000, we are told. Israel, three times the size of the new Palestine, has 17,000 policemen.
Ten percent of all new cars purchased in Israel are stolen by Palestinians during the first year of ownership. One effect of our creating a new country for the Palestinians is that they have a retreat beyond the reach of the Israeli police, and they stole 33,000 cars and took them across their border in the past year! The Israelis are going to extraordinary lengths to protect their cars with burglar alarms, "the club" devices, transmission locks, and so forth.
One day in the old city, our producer decided to hire a donkey and a driver to properly dress a scene in the Arab market, but our crewmen were approached by Arabs who said we were "stereotyping" them and they were now modern people and resented this implication. One of them suggested that he would cut out the tongue of one of our crewmen, and so Ken Berg, our producer, released the donkey and the driver. The next day, I passed a man on a camel going into the Jaffa Gate at the same site, and finally two more men riding donkeys. (I guess they hadn't had time yet to "modernize" themselves by stealing cars to replace the animals.)
On the way back to America, I chanced to be seated right beside a member of the Israeli parliament, Avraham Burg, whom we interviewed in our Israel by Divine Right series. Burg, in favor of the peace process, said in answer to my question about how he thought things were working out, "I am delighted; I love it." I said, "Well, there are some problems." And he replied, "When there's a new birth we have pain, but there is new life!" It was said in the manner of a true politician, but some babies later on bring less joy than others.
And finally, there is beloved Jerusalem, 3,000 years old this year since David
made it the capital of Israel that long ago. Nothing anyone can see or hear
anywhere in this world can match in beauty, spirituality and meaning this
magnificent city or the pristine experience of beholding it. And so, sha'alu shalom
yerushalayeem, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
It was my privilege to assist Zola as one of the tour leaders for his Fall Festival Tour to Israel in October. While in Jerusalem, I got to visit two tombs: Jesus' and David's. The tomb of Christ was empty, but the tomb of David still commemorates the remains of the ancient Israeli king. It has so marked his grave for some three thousand years in Jerusalem, which David chose for his capital and the location of the Temple of God. Most Christian groups never get to see David's tomb, although it is quite close to a favorite site for believers, the Upper Room.
Recently, I have been studying King David's role in the unfolding of the biblical message of redemption. When I had a few hours to spare in the busy schedule of the tour, I followed the signs on Mount Zion to the traditional site of the tomb of David. Before I share with you what I found, let me review how important King David is in the Gospel of Christ.
The New Testament strongly emphasizes the relationship between King David and the Lord Jesus Christ:
(See Matt 1:1; Rom. 1:3; Luke 2:4; Acts 2:30; 13:34; Rev. 5:5; 22:16).
When it comes to the humanity of our Lord, it is His relationship to King David that is emphasized in the New Testament, but the Church has tended to ignore this emphasis. Why is this? Associated with King David are the Davidic Covenant, the Israeli monarchy, and the future Millennial kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital. These are concepts that have often been suppressed by the Church, but have been revived during this century in the evangelical movements of Dispensationalism and Premillennialism.
As for the proclamation of the Gospel, the death of David plays a prominent role in contrast to the death of Jesus, as prophesied in Psalm 16:10:
For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, neither wilt thou permit thine Holy One to see corruption.Both Apostles Peter and Paul use this remarkable prophecy to explain to Jewish listeners the necessity of the resurrection of the Messiah. Peter, in his message on Pentecost, argued that David was not speaking of himself. The proof of this was that David died and his body was corrupted long before, and his tomb was clearly visible in Jerusalem. Rather, David was prophesying about his descendant, the coming Messiah. This great Son of David would die, but His body would not see corruption and would rise from the dead.
Paul also used the same Psalm 16:10 prophecy, when he spoke to the Jewish synagogue in the Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13). He declared that this passage proved that the Messiah had to die and rise from the dead.
These scriptural passages were focused in my mind as I visited the tomb of David on Mt. Zion. The tomb is located on the ground floor of a building which is non-descript on the outside. It is approached by way of an anteroom about the size of a standard living room. The anteroom has bookshelves with Hebrew books, descriptive materials on the walls (also in Hebrew), and a table or two. This room has two doorways opening to the room which contains the tomb, but these doorways are blocked with iron bars so the visitor may not enter into the tomb room. The large sarcophagus can be viewed by standing before, and looking through, the bars in the doorways.
The tomb is large, at least twice as large as an ordinary sarcophagus, with a sloped roof covered by drapings and mounted on the top with several metallic crowns. While I was there, no more than 15 or 20 people were in the anteroom at one time, and the atmosphere was one of quiet, subdued reverence.
A group of Israeli high school students in school uniforms came into the anteroom, and spent about fifteen minutes there. Most of them were high school age girls, who appeared to be quietly excited about being in the presence of King David's tomb. They were avidly reading the Hebrew plaque on the wall of the anteroom. I had the feeling that they might break out in songs about David like their ancestresses did 3,000 years ago. I began to understand something of the close attachment these young Israelis have to David, perhaps closer than to other heroes, such as Moses.
After leaving the tomb, I wandered through the various rooms in the building, and came upon a doorway with a sign, "King David Museum." I didn't know there was a museum in Jerusalem devoted to King David! The curator invited me in to view the artifacts, which I did. All the signs were in Hebrew, and I was able to make out some of their significances. However, it was clear that this museum, unlike many in Israel, was designed for the benefit of Israelis, not for foreign tourists.
When I finished looking at these things, I went back to the entry and met the curator and his young son. We sat down, and he explained to me the authenticity of this site for the tomb of David, saying that the two biblical references to the location were in II Samuel and Nehemiah. He also opened for me a large red door in the wall, which covered the entry to a long, deep tunnel. He explained that they believe there is a tunnel between the old City of David and the Mt. Zion area where David's tomb is located.
I asked the curator if he was aware of a reference in the New Testament which might have a bearing on the location of King David's tomb. He looked up with interest, and said he was not. It was clear to me that the historian had devoted his professional life to this subject, and he was intrigued with the prospect of previously unknown information. I described for him the events of Acts 2, in which the Holy Spirit filled the believers and Peter proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. The Scriptures are not clear about the location, but one view is that this happened at the Temple, while another view is that the Pentecostal events occurred in the neighborhood of the Upper Room, which is on Mt. Zion near the tomb of David.
At any rate, the Apostle Peter spoke of David's tomb as he argued from Psalm 16:10 that David was not referring to himself but to his Messianic descendant. It's almost as though Peter was pointing toward the monument when he told his audience that the tomb with David's corrupted remains was plainly visible at that time.
My curator host was considerably impressed, and asked where this passage in the
Psalms was located. I told him and he reached for his copy of the Hebrew
Scriptures to look it up. He read and re-read the passage written by David, "You
will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption." He kept reading the sentence,
looking at me and reading it again. It was as though he had never heard of this
great Messianic passage before. We discussed these things a little further and
then I left Mt. Zion for our hotel. I got the impression that this studious curator
was going to discuss this matter at length with his colleagues, and that Peter's
comments about King David's tomb and the risen Messiah might reverberate once
again on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.
We now have a new series of programs "in the can." After our tour group left Israel, the crew and I covered the Feast of Tabernacles celebration and the wonderful festivities connected with the anniversary called "Jerusalem 3000."
It was certainly a necessity for our ministry to cover this one-of-a-kind event. We are the spokesmen for Israel on Christian television and to a great many American Jewish people also. But in doing this coverage, we have really incurred a lot of heavy expenses.
You will realize if you are watching our program that we are running a new series of programs right now. Our series The First Christians is now airing and you can see that we utilized the highest production values in making those programs. This is the first time in the history of our ministry that we have made location series on two tours in a row, and it is costing us.
There comes a time when I have to talk to you very seriously about funds, and this is such a time. It seems that we are presently overextended, and donations are slow because of our new Family Channel airtime. When we changed to 6:30 am Sundays (5:30 and 4:30 in Central and Mountain times) we temporarily lost some significant audience. People are a little slow to make the change, and some just don't hear about it and it might take them a year to find us again. Therefore, at just the time that we are in post-production on two series at once, we also have the burden of fewer donations coming in.
If we can make it until the end of the year, I know we will be okay. The problem is we will have shortfalls before that time and we do not want to be late with our bills. Particularly on the secular stations where our program runs, we want to be excellent witnesses and have a reputation for paying on time and cheerfully. It is very difficult for us when we have to ask for donations to come in. It also threatens our airtimes on those stations because they begin to wonder if they might get left in the lurch some day. While I'm sure that we'll be okay come January, I think that any of you who would be kind enough to accelerate your year-end giving to right now would be a very big help to us.
Folks give at year's end because they can still deduct that charitable gift from their 1995 taxes, but they have utilized the money to earn interest through the whole year. But actually, giving a month or so before the end of the year costs very little. In fact, if you want to deduct about 10% of what you would have given at year's end and send it to us now, it will make all the difference to us and will cost you nothing. You would lose no interest in that case, but we would have the money in time to amortize our December bills.
I realize I don't talk this way very often. And perhaps that is the reason we are strapped sometimes. But I think you know us well enough to know the money will be well used. When you see these beautiful programs celebrating Jerusalem's 3,000th birthday, you will be simply delighted. For one thing, we have interviews with both the mayor of Jerusalem and the PLO spokesman Faisal Husseini, who evidently aspires to be the mayor of a future "Palestinian Jerusalem." Those two gentlemen had extremely thought-provoking and opposite views of Jerusalem 3000, to say the least!
Where giving is concerned, I have always been satisfied to say if you would speak to the Lord about what you may do for this ministry at this time, whatever He tells you would be perfectly fine with us. Thanks for praying.
And another way that you help us is by going on our tours, and this Christmas you can save a great deal of money and see two countries for the price of one! For the first time ever, in addition to having extra time in Israel, our Grand Tour will journey into the country of Jordan to see the ancient, "rose red" city of Petra. Our Deluxe Tour will have an extended stay in Israel, traveling through the beautiful Negev Desert and enjoying the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. Both Grand and Deluxe Tours will have the one-of-a-kind experience of spending Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. The Basic Tour will run from December 11 to 20, and the Deluxe and Grand Tours from December 11 to 26. Please call Cynthia at (214) 690-1876 or our answering service at 1-800-WONDERS for a free, full-color brochure.
P.S. I want to call your attention to our latest publication, Sunshine After
Rain. I have read these lovely poems about Israel and I can very sincerely
recommend this book as a lovely Christmas gift. Charlyn wrote the lyrics for our
album Faith in the Fire. Her poems are, if anything, even more beautiful.
Running a women's ministry which addresses such controversial subjects of the '90's as abortion, spousal abuse and lesbianism, I am always prepared for accusations that I am just a "mere woman" and therefore have no legitimate right to express an opinion on traditional theological interpretation of the Scriptures. In many fundamentalist Christian faiths, I would be prohibited from holding church office or from preaching the gospel. I have, no doubt, offended the male-dominated leadership of traditional Christianity, however, I have been amazed that it is my stand on anti-Semitism that has been the sole source of my hate mail. Many of you will remember my article in the January 1994 Levitt Letter entitled "A Light Unto The Gentiles," which discusses anti-Semitism in the Christian community, and my appearances on Zola Levitt Presents, where I interviewed Zola on this very real and disturbing problem within mainstream Christianity.
Although the majority of my mail has been extraordinarily supportive, I am amazed at the depth of some Christian's compulsion to label me a "Jew lover," as if that term were to be equated with being a "Communist" or, God forbid, a "liberal." The pious, self-righteous outrage of some conservative Christians to the fact that I have suggested there is a great deal Gentiles could learn from the study of Judaism, seems to have pushed a hot button that has launched a barrage of anti-Semitic harassment equal to a Klingon attack of a Federation starship!
There was the lady who wrote to me and claimed there was no such thing as anti-Semitism in the church. She said that Christian anti-Semitism couldn't exist in such a great country like America. At the end of her letter, she confessed she hadn't lived in America for over thirty years, but had been a missionary in the Philippine islands.
Then there was the Gentile lady from Brooklyn who wrote me that she had never experienced anti-Semitism in her community. No kidding, Sherlock! You live in the highest ratio of Jew-to-Gentile city in the United States!! Why don't you try moving to the midwest or the deep south for a year.
One writer from Washington was deeply upset that I kept stressing that Jesus was a Jew. She explained to me how she was Irish and that the Irish had nothing to do with the Holocaust. Obviously, she didn't realize my maiden name is Ryan, that I used to live in Dublin, and that I hold dual Irish and American citizenship. She then proceeded to tell me how "Noah was born from Abraham's seed." I realized immediately that this poor lady was profoundly confused. It must be the Irish in her! In closing, she called me a "child of Satan," which I took as a compliment since the same thing was said about Jesus.
My favorite was the 80-year-old man from Denver who questioned my "born again" status because I had worked in the motion picture and television industry. Some Christians love to criticize the entertainment industry as being responsible for the moral decay of America, but I notice they all buy the products of the sponsors that finance the production and distribution of films and television shows.
In my office at Messianic Women Ministries, we have taken to leaving the answering machine on at all times to screen incoming calls since we have become the victim of constant telephone harassment regarding our stand on anti-Semitism and the Jewish roots of Christianity. Of course, they never leave their names and telephone numbers. Our county does not yet have "call tracing" capability, but I wonder just how courageous these anonymous "crusaders" will be when confronted with "automatic call back" by a mouthy broad like me!
Denial doesn't seem to be limited to problems such as drug and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, there are no twelve-step programs for Christians drunk on anti-Semitism. Whenever Christians make war, whether on a country, an ethnic group, or on a single individual, they always believe that Jesus is on their side — I warrant Jesus must wonder who is on His!
For further information on Messianic Women's Ministries, write to:
P.O. Box 743
Copyright © 1995 by Zola Levitt Ministries, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. All rights reserved. Brief passages may be quoted in reviews or other article. For all other use, please get our written approval.