Shalom from Tel Aviv!
Syria now speaks openly of preparing to attack Israel with her recently developed VX nerve gas. Israel has confirmed Syria's claims of possession. (Jerusalem Post, 9 May 97)
This nerve gas is reported to be fatal upon breathing or even by touching the skin. In a recent poll, 75% of Israelis fear they would be hurt in a chemical weapons attack and Israel's civil defense program against a chemical missile attack has been thrown into disarray. (Ibid.)
Yet only 2.2 million of the 4.1 million eligible residents have collected or updated their gas masks. Now Israeli intelligence sources are saying that a few weeks ago the Syrians have managed to install VX nerve gas on a Scud C warhead. (Ibid) The army's Home Front Command researchers say a gas attack could kill about 2500. (Ibid) But that was before the reports on the new gas. Now analysts are saying a VX missile attack could kill as many as 25,000 Israelis. (Ibid)
I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace...And it is the time of Jacob's distress, But he will be SAVED from it. Jer. 30:5, 7
What is Syria waiting on? A Bar Ilan University researcher says that in a few short years Iran will have nuclear weapons. "I am sure that Iran will have nuclear weapons and give her ally, Syria, a nuclear umbrella. The minute that Syria has the umbrella it will not hesitate to use chemical weapons against Israel because it won't fear an Israeli nuclear attack." (Ibid)
The State Comptroller's yearly report released last month found our elite Golani troops so split between their dual tasks of training to fight a conventional war and maintaining security and patrolling on the West Bank that they can do neither very well. The army in general was found to suffer from serious deficiencies in its training programs at all levels. (Yediot Aharonot, 8 May 97)
The front page of the large daily Ma' ariv newspaper reported that according to their military sources, Israel is closer to war than to peace, (9 May 97) and all the media is focusing on the controversy over the Comptroller's charges of the army's lack of readiness "for the next war." For example, reserve troops are receiving less than minimal refresher courses. Much of the army's equipment is rundown and outdated. Current equipment is poorly stored and maintained "due to a cut in funding." (J.P.8 May 97) Israel's Minister of Defense says he needs a minimum of $600 million immediately to close the gap in preparation for war. (Ibid.)
Three years ago the State Comptroller examined the Religious Affairs Ministry allocation of funds to extreme Orthodox organizations. It's conclusion: "It would seem that all value of morality and principles of truth and fairness had passed from the world." (Ibid.) Under the Likud administration, corruption and financial abuse have become more impudent and brutal, with religious parties publicly declaring that because they are in power they have the right to allocate funds to their institutions any way they see fit. (Ibid.)
The cabinet recently voted down the request of the army's Home Front Command for an extra 50 million shekels (3.3 shekels equals $1.00) needed to complete the distribution of new gas masks to nearly half the population of Israel. Yet in the 1997 budget, the Orthodox-controlled Religious Committee upped its allocation to certain religious institutions from 21.3 million shekels to 41.5 million shekels. The Orthodox continue to receive massive funding from numerous other departments in the government such as the Interior Ministry. (Ibid.)
And it will come about that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the Lord has said, Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls. Joel 2:32
Yosef Lapid, editorial writer for Ma' ariv wrote a blistering article about the state of the country. Quoting some of this article will give an example of the kind of despair Israel's intellectuals are experiencing as they watch war approach and internal strife deepen. His article begins by saying that Israelis have not known such despair since the Yom Kippur War.
"It's the despair that comes from disenchantment, from the plummeting of the spirit, from the demise of hope, from the closing of windows. . .The chance of peace with the Palestinians is fading even as we look."
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle... Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations. . . Zech. 14:3-4
Lapid says that the U.S. is sick and tired of being the only nation that votes for us (except Micronesia, a Christian nation of 1500 people) while "138 nations condemning Israel, just like in the bad old days when all the world was against us."
"So our few hundred messianic madmen (meaning extreme Orthodox settlers who are ready to make a 'last stand' rather than give up land) can relax. We're on our own again; it's back to what we know, us against them [The Palestinians]. And they're getting ready to finish us off. Fantastic!”
Not only is the world against us, writes Lapid, but Prime Minister Netanyahu, "in a rare combination of lousy timing and sheer, blind stupidity, thought it a good idea to pick a fight with American Jews by supporting the conversion bill. (Outlawing Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel.) American Jews need now feel no guilt over assimilating; after all, Israel isn't interested in them, their money, their support, or their loyalty. . .
I will go away and return to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. Hos. 5:14b-6:1
"Meanwhile, Israel society is disappearing into the black hole of haredism (extreme Orthodoxy). Tens of thousands of…youngsters are squeezed into yeshivot (Orthodox Talmudic schools), evading IDF (army) service, avoiding productive work and study that is of any real benefit to a modern country.
"Observing the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply," their ratio in the general population is increasing. Fewer and fewer seculars who do army service and work for a living are supporting more and more idlers, who are amassing political power while hating everything Zionism has created here in the last 100 years. What can we tell our secular youth in search of tomorrow? What future awaits them in a society like this?"
For they have turned their back to Me, And not their face; But in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.' Jer. 2: 27b
Yosef Lapid concludes that there seems to be no hope and no direction for Israel. '
"Peace is moving out of reach; the future is shrouded in radioactive mist. The country is being taken over by small groups of nationalistic fanatics running around the territories with caravans and by haredim sure that the answer to every problem lies in Rabbi Kadourie's amulets. . .that's the enlightened society.
"The average Israeli, asked to tell a foreign visitor what the (Netanyahu' s party) Likud government's policy is, the direction it is facing, and what it hopes to achieve, wouldn't know what to answer. Not even our cabinet ministers know. Netanyahu? He doesn't know. Nobody in the world knows where Israel is headed."(J,P, 11 May 97)
And I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into
light before them, And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone. (Isa. 42:16)
A Center in downtown Tel Aviv. . .
We have never felt the winds of revival lust ahead as we do now.
We have never seen the results that we are seeing now.
We have never had such confirmation as we do now that as we press ahead in faith to conquer new spiritual strongholds, we will see greater and greater numbers of Israelis turn back to the God of our Fathers and to the Messiah of Israel, instead of to the tradition of man.
There is greater unity among Messianic leaders than we have ever known. The threat of a new law outlawing the Gospel is only serving to solidify the Body of Messiah in Israel. God is gracing this Body with boldness, resolve and tenacity.
The vision that God has placed on our own hearts is for an OUTREACH CENTER in downtown Tel Aviv. We are ready NOW!
The Center we are praying for must be in a public area where there are many pedestrians who can find us when they are seeking answers to the hopelessness they see all around them.
The Center must be a place where there will be plenty of room for our Israeli believers to serve coffee and share the Word of God. We have the workers ready to go!
The Center must have space for a growing congregation to meet.
The Center must have space for classrooms, both for seekers and for discipleship courses.
The Center must have rooms for children and youth.
Such a place in Tel Aviv will cost a very large sum of money. But we MUST reach out to our people, and allow for the congregation to grow rapidly.
We ask you to PRAY that God will provide the building and the funding for this opportunity to reach our Israeli people! Write us and tell us you are praying. We ourselves are earnestly seeking God's face concerning this NEXT STEP!
Your faithful and generous help is needed every month as the momentum toward Israel's day of national salvation speeds toward us.
For the lost sheep of Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram