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Weekly Update: The fig tree

8 July 2021

Israel has both a new government and a new President. This week, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog became Israel’s 11th President. He took over the reins from Reuven (“Ruvi”) Rivlin, who has been President since 2014. Rivlin was greatly admired as an educator and for being a President of the Jewish people worldwide. He worked tirelessly to promote the development of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State for all its people.

The new President will bring different skills and talents to this important role. An attorney by profession at one of the country’s top firms (which was founded by his father), Herzog has held a wide variety of public positions, including leader of the Labor Party and Chairman of the Jewish Agency (2018-2021). He has a family history that is as close as one comes to Israeli royalty. He is the grandson of Israel’s first Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Isaac Herzog, for whom he is named, and the son of former IDF major general, Ambassador to the UN and then president Chaim Herzog. His brother Michael is a retired IDF brigadier general. His aunt Suzy was the wife of former Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban.

The new government is grappling with many major issues, and so far has maintained a relatively unified front. This week, Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is in Washington to talk with the Biden Administration, as well as promote bipartisan US support for Israel. One of the main topics of discussion is the Iran deal (JCPOA), which the US is trying to renegotiate (so far without success) with Iran. Bennett has made clear that even if the JCPOA is renegotiated, Israel wants the US to keep its sanctions on Iran in place, to maintain pressure on the Mullahs.

In the meantime, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has been in the UAE to build on the Abraham Accords, which were negotiated and closed in 2020 during the Trump/Netanyahu era. An Israeli embassy and consulate have been opened in the UAE.

There are many challenges and threats to Israel – from both within and without – that are cause for concern. An example of the former is the precarious nature of the new government comprising many different parties with different (and opposing) motivations and policies. Examples of the latter are the destabilizing influence of Iran and other regional powers in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, and the increasing allegations that Israel is an “apartheid” state that must be dismantled.

But it is also important to realize that there are also many good things happening, that bring blessing and prosperity to all in the country, both Jew and Arab. The fig tree’s twigs are tender, its leaves are coming out – “the summer is near”.

The Editorial team

Israel & Christians Today

Isaac Herzog sworn in as Israel’s 11th president
JNS reports: “He used the same 107-year-old Torah that his father used, which has long been in the family.”
> Read more..

The chance to head a nation like no other 
Outgoing President Reuven Rivlin published a letter to his successor Isaac Herzog: “Truth be told, I’m a little envious of you. In a short while, you will find out exactly how magnificent the privilege of the presidency is. Over the next seven years, you will meet Israelis from all walks of life, and let me tell you right now—you’ll want to embrace all of them. You’ll want to share their laughter and their tears; and all the excitement they experience.”
> Read more..

Don’t overlook Israel’s success
Dan Shueftan writes: “Those who have lamented that Israel is in a constant state of crisis must acknowledge the tremendous strides it has made, however incremental and temporary they may be. For the past two years, Israel has withstood crisis upon crisis and exhibited admirable resilience. This, despite the intellectuals who have been writing the country off, refusing to look at the big picture and focusing on the minor detail that was bothering them at each given moment.”
> Read more..

UAE-Israel peace is more than an agreement. It’s a way of life
Yair Lapid and Abdullah Bin Zayed al Nahyan write: “The Abraham Accords represent a future that we believe must become more commonplace: one in which differences are set aside in favor of dialogue. We both want to live in a world where peace is possible. We need to work hard with our peoples and with each other. In order to achieve lasting and sustainable solutions to the issues that our region faces, we will continue to champion the spirit of peace in all efforts to shape a better world for our children. Peace isn’t an agreement you sign – it’s a way of life. The ceremonies we held last week aren’t the end of the road. They are just the beginning.”
> Read more..

 

Fig tree | The Signs of the Times with Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer 

The fig tree in the Bible refers to the nation of Israel. Israel has been coming back to life before our eyes for decades. We are a very special generation seeing the special “signs of the times” that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24 being fulfilled before our very own eyes. One of the most important signs is the fig tree shedding its leaves: the restoration of Israel.

 

Romans 9-11 | New video series with Johannes Gerloff #01

How important is this whole issue about the people of Israel? And, why is it so important from Paul’s point of view? – This is what I would like to explore with you in this series about the chapters 9 to 11 in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. However, this first part explains how I personally was confronted with the theme of Israel.

 

Scripture for the week: Matthew 24:30-44

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.