U.S. President Donald Trump in prayer at his first annual National Prayer Breakfast event in Washington D.C. (Reuters)
I must admit I have had many sleepless nights because of the spiritual and moral decline of western civilization—especially in the two countries of which I am a citizen—Israel and America.
Some 15 years ago I watched President George W. Bush proclaim a “road map for peace” by dividing the Holy Land into “two states for two people living in peace and security.” Moreover, his response to the 9/11 catastrophe was a declaration that “Islam is a religion of peace.” He added that Israel must not build houses in Judea and Samaria because it belongs to the Palestinians.
I had already been in Israel 35 years and I knew, as did most Israelis, that Islam is not a religion of peace. All I could think of was God’s solemn promise to “bless those who bless you (Abraham and his seed)” and “curse him who curses you.” (Genesis 12:3)
In the book of the prophet Joel, the curse becomes more exact as to time and actions: “When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations … and I will enter into judgment with them on account of My people, My heritage Israel whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided My land.” (3:2)
Incidentally, I always wondered if Bush had forgotten that in 1947 the U.N. had divided the land of ancient Israel into two states—a Jewish state and an Arab state. (In those days there were no Palestinian people—only Arabs.) But the Arabs emphatically rejected two states for two people. They would settle for nothing less than one Arab state and no Jewish state.
When Barack Obama became president, I began to realize that Muslims were immigrating to America in ever-increasing numbers. Muslim missionaries were converting prisoners in jail. Famous actors, musicians and sports heroes were embracing Islam.
Obama was filling the White House with Muslims as his advisors. Because of my personal experience living in Israel and extensive research into Islam, I knew that Muslim leaders in America had a solid plan based on Sharia law to completely overtake the political establishment of the U.S.A. Not immediately. But not in the too-distant future either.
Few people have thought about this: A democracy without God cannot win against Islam. First, Islamic refugees flood into a country because of its superior economic prowess. What democratic people can turn away masses of Islamic refugees because of their religion?
Secondly, the birthrate of Muslims is much greater than that of any democratic country. Under pressure to find enough cheap laborers, democratic governments invite more available young alien men and women to their land. Muslim supply is unlimited.
Thirdly, scientific polls all state that between 10 and 15% of the Muslim population are prone to jihadism, with a goal to conquer the world for Islam. Islamic Sharia doctrine severely warns Muslims not to integrate into western society as other immigrants have done for centuries.
Over time, the helpless democratic country invaded by Muslim aliens has no defense and evolves into an Islamic culture through elections, fear and even terror, as is happening in Europe right now.
I watched as Obama routinely avowed protection for Muslims, no matter what, but never mentioned defending Christian values. Here and there a voice rang out, like that of Franklin Graham:
“I do know that the president defends Islam and chastises Christians, rebukes our allies and befriends our enemies, and fully supports gay marriages and abortion but denies the religious freedoms of those who don’t agree. Our nation is ridiculed abroad and morally crumbling within. We are in trouble. We have turned our back on God.”
BIBLICAL VALUES OUTLAWED
Abortion rights, homosexual rights and Islamic rights have become the predominant liberal values in America. Free access of migrants and immigrants—whether criminals or not—is promoted by liberals knowing that the majority of migrants will vote for liberal candidates. The goal: To create an overwhelming majority of liberal voters. It seemed it would not be long until decadence and debauchery had conquered America.
Indeed, who isn’t aware that Christian religious freedom has been eroding? Christian business owners, by law, are forced to serve same-sex marriage parties and cater festivities of transvestites, who in turn may lawfully use boys’ or girls’ bathrooms, according to their pleasure on any particular day.
Multitudes of atheists, financed by extremist liberal tycoons, are giving their entire lives to suing anything and everything that possibly looks like it came from the Bible.
Atheistic professors have rewritten American history, and are literally brainwashing the vulnerable youth of America—promoting hedonistic lifestyles and a lawless mindset, birthing violent protest against Biblical mores. Licentiousness is called freedom of expression; God-given values are mocked and speech by its proponents is suppressed.
“No borders” became the mantra of the far left, not giving a thought to the drugs pouring over the borders, resulting in the death of 52,000 Americans from drug overdoses in 2016! Heroin killed more Americans than guns did last year.
THE VANISHING AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY
Obama also did what he could to turn America away from Israel. As liberal values have become the norm this decade, many, if not most, Jewish Americans have been a solid component of this anti-God movement.
As a result, the U.S. Jewish population in America is clearly declining through intermarriage and atheism. Abortion and homosexual rights have become more important to the Jewish community than the state of Israel; the values, ethics and attitudes between American Jews and Israeli Jews are fast growing apart. Think of Jews such as Bernie Sanders and his lukewarm embrace of his Jewishness. As The New York Times put it, “He doesn’t like to talk about it.” What kind of “Jews” will his great-grandchildren be?
Israel’s lack of importance to American Jewish lawgivers was clearly apparent when out of the 28 Jews on the Hill, 19 voted for the Iranian agreement, against the strenuous opposition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fears a nuclear attack in the future from Iran. Iran has vowed for years to destroy Israel and they can’t wait to build their nuclear weapons in order to carry out their threat.
Here is the one and only defense against an Islamic or atheistic takeover:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)
CHOSEN OF GOD FOR A MOMENT IN TIME
From 1917 to 1947, the God of Heaven gave the United Kingdom the privilege of establishing a new Israeli nation after 2000 years of exile. Britain spurned the Chance of the Ages to grant the Jewish people their own country on their own God-given land.
Now, in this moment of time, the God of Israel has given the United States the privilege of leading the way for the preservation of the Jewish state. The opposition against Israel will be massive. Those who hate Israel will be, first of all, targeting the potential protector—the U.S. president.
Will President Trump stand with Israel to help populate her land—Judea and Samaria? Approve Jerusalem as her capital? Will Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May assist or oppose? The Open Door will one day close.
This is the state of affairs as the new President of the United States has taken the reins. Can this president slow down the disintegration of a lawless generation which seems hell-bent on destruction? Can he turn around some of the anti-God laws? And foolish laws? And crazy laws? Laws which decimate the nation, and destroy its Biblical foundation?
That’s what the people of God are asking. So when my husband, Ari, who attended President Trump’s Prayer Breakfast, told me some amazing stories which could bring change and even revival to the United States of America, I felt a certain relief. I believe God is giving America a second chance.
President Donald Trump is seen on a screen as he delivers his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 2017. (apimages)
As a member of the Israel Empowerment Lobby, endorsed by the Israeli Knesset, I as a Messianic Jew from Israel have been invited to attend a number of the Presidents’ annual National Prayer Breakfasts. To tell you the truth, they were full of cross-religious rhetoric and often not very pro-Christian—so much so that even though I received a formal invitation, I didn’t attend the last few years.
Actually, I was not intending to go this year, either. But when Donald Trump won the election for president, my contacts in D.C. told me something in the atmosphere began to change. And, at the last minute I decided to attend with the other members of the Israel Lobby.
When our Israeli delegation arrived for the Prayer Breakfast, we were greeted by teams of volunteers who were obviously born-again believers. Once they heard we were from Israel, it was as though they had been waiting for us to arrive!
THOUSANDS TURNED AWAY
There was limited seating, and thousands who requested to attend had to be rejected because there was no more room in the large ballroom, including the overflow hall which also held several thousand people. The place was packed! You could feel the energy in the halls as you began to move toward the main ballroom.
One of my Israeli associates told me that when he attended last year, the room had many empty seats. But not this year!
The spirit in the room was also totally different than when President Obama was there. You could feel a genuine spirit of worship and a gathering of strong believers at the head table. All of us understood that President Trump had surrounded himself with true Christians, beginning with Vice President Mike Pence.
Of course, not every official attending was a Christian. But the room reflected the presence of a people committed to God who had come to celebrate this government’s earnest desire to follow and obey the Almighty after years of godless leadership.
This year, Chicago Cub World Series MVP Ben Zobrist prayed the opening prayer, praying in the Name of Jesus Christ before thousands of non-Christians. MercyMe’s Bart Millard gave a powerful testimony of his father’s conversion and sang his song, “I Can Only Imagine.”
But perhaps one of the most encouraging signs was when members of the Senate testified of how they have a weekly prayer meeting in the Senate where both Republicans and Democrats regularly pray together. They told how they sing, laugh and sometimes weep together in their prayers.
Members of Congress also told of their regular prayer meetings and Bible studies, with growing numbers of members attending. They boldly told us when senators, chiefs of staff, police officers and staff members come together to study, they begin and end each session with prayer.
OTHER GOVERNMENTS ENCOURAGED TO START PRAYER MEETINGS
Knowing they were speaking to visitors from 140 nations, and all 50 states, both senators, congressmen and congresswomen encouraged visiting members of parliaments in other countries to start their own prayer meetings and Bible studies! “Begin with a meal,” they said, “and study the teachings of Jesus together!”
Israel’s Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, was in attendance this year, along with other Israeli delegates, and now there is movement to establish a yearly prayer breakfast in Israel! Obviously it will be based only on the Old Testament Scriptures, but what a great start! One more step toward Israel’s salvation.
AND THEN THERE WAS SENATE CHAPLAIN BARRY BLACK!
Without a doubt, the most electrifying speaker was Senate Chaplain Barry Black who, as one of my Israeli friends said, “preached” instead of giving a speech! This man preached for 27 amazing minutes on “Making Your Voice Heard in Heaven!” He also talked about their weekly Senate prayer breakfasts which begin with prayer, and “at the end we hold hands and pray.”
Chaplain Black told how some Senators are actually ordained pastors. He said in those prayer meetings, he “feels the palpable presence of God there.” There was nothing politically correct about Chaplain Black. Can you imagine? He said that during the presidential election campaign, there were members of the Senate who fasted and prayed together for months for God’s will to be done!
All I could think was “Wow!”
Chaplain Black then preached a sermon of incredible intimacy, about how the Love of God was revealed when He sent His Beloved Son Jesus to redeem us with His precious blood. Barry told how as a poor black 10-year-old, he read that Jesus Christ had purchased us with His blood. Barry said that even at that young age, he understood something is valued according to the price someone is willing to pay! Barry never had a problem with his self-worth after that revelation.
As Chaplain Black continued his incredible sermon of how to pray for the leaders of our countries, I couldn’t help but think of His Royal Highness, King Abdullah of Jordan who was in attendance. I have little doubt that this was the most powerful sermon this Muslim ruler had ever heard in his lifetime. I couldn’t help but think if in his thoughts he compared Jesus to his god, Allah, as revealed by Mohammed—a harsh and vengeful god, calling on his devout followers to commit jihad in order to better their chances of going to Heaven.
If King Abdullah alone had attended that breakfast, it would have been worth it all. And yet there were thousands of others from other countries and other religions who surely heard the message of salvation for the first time. Many Muslim officials were in attendance. As Chaplain Black closed in a crescendo of proclamation of the Gospel, the people stood on their feet to cheer and applaud.
THE PRESIDENT ASKED FOR GOD’S WISDOM
But it was not over! President Donald Trump rose to give a short speech. He told the audience, “Your faith and prayers have sustained me. That’s what I hear most often when I cross the nation, that touches my heart.”
“I want to thank the American people who have inspired me through very tough times. All around America I have met amazing people whose words of worship and encouragement have been a constant source of strength.”
“I AM PRAYING FOR YOU MR. PRESIDENT”
He continued, “What I hear most often as I travel across the country are five words that never, ever, fail to touch my heart. That is, ‘I am praying for you, Mr. President.’”
“Freedom is a gift of God,” he told the many visitors who came from totalitarian states that have never known freedom of conscience. He said, “[It is] our right to worship according to our beliefs … My administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land. America must always remain a tolerant society where all faiths are respected and where all of our citizens can feel safe and secure … America will flourish as long as our religious liberty is allowed to flourish.”
He closed with these words: “As long as we have God, we are never alone. For us here in Washington, we must never ever stop asking God for the wisdom to serve the public according to His will.”
The masses, and I, left the breakfast encouraged and excited about the future of America. I left with a new sense of hope that God is turning around the fortunes of America—which will greatly influence the future of Israel.
Science is discovering what all music lovers intuitively know, whether their taste is Mozart or Beyoncé. Today, neurologists are discovering that music can reach almost magical proportions—even for people who were thought to no longer respond to earthly stimulation. People described as “almost unalive” are quickened by music.
Yet, while insightful, these discoveries are not establishing anything new. Scripture reveals how God (who already understood everything about human nature) used music to influence society from the birth of the Jewish nation.
Music was so important in God’s model society that He allocated an entire tribe (the Levites) for the purpose of training up the best worship makers—musicians, intercessors, etc.—for the world to enjoy.
Levitical duties included stewarding the tabernacle (and later the temple), interceding on behalf of the people, and establishing worship music as a pillar of Jewish culture. As songs were composed, they would be written down and cataloged. The book of Psalms includes 150 of these songs, and several more are recorded throughout the Old Testament.
WORSHIP MAKERS—CATALYSTS OF THE SUPERNATURAL
The Levitical worship makers served in various roles and places. Some were stationed at the tabernacle while others traveled. One such traveling group is noted in the story of Saul, who was anointed to be king by Samuel. Despite his later poor choices, King Saul’s early years were pleasing to God. But Saul was not a born leader.
After anointing him, Samuel sent Saul away to encounter a band of prophetic musicians, whose worshipful music God used to transform Saul from an undistinguished middling into a man who could rule a kingdom. Even when Saul departed from God’s path and was tormented by an evil spirit, worship music would give him periods of relief.
In times of battle, worship leaders were called upon to create an atmosphere of praise for the Lord’s presence to inhabit. Their worship also served to remind the Israelites who were fighting on their behalf. The Israelites never won a battle on their strength alone, but rather by their faith in a mighty and powerful God.
Going before the Lord prior to battle was common practice for the Israelites; hearing His strategy was vital. At times, the presence of the Lord so filled the atmosphere created by worshipping musicians that it quite literally annihilated the enemy in front of their eyes (II Chronicles 20).
SOUND WAVES OF HARPS
The battle against swords and chariots was actually won with the sound waves of harps, drums, and singers declaring God’s greatness. Picture a modern day orchestra set on a hilltop playing How Great is Our God, with planes and drones being slapped out of the air, and you get the idea of how miraculous this must have been to watch.
During the years of exile, the Israelites were not free to rule themselves or worship as they had been instructed by God. Mind you, the very reason they were exiled was because they were living contrary to God’s instructions already.
But in exile, they were forced to live under a different culture. The lifestyle of the Levites ordained by God was abandoned. When the Israelites were finally allowed to return to their homeland decades later, they needed a refresher course on exactly what it meant to be God’s chosen people. This would include a reading of the Law for all the people to hear and a thrashing from Nehemiah (where he literally beats them) when he finds out the Israelite men have taken on foreign wives along with their idols and neglected the Biblical role of the Levites.
NEHEMIAH IS DEVASTATED
When Nehemiah hears about the foreign wives and their idols, he is angered. But when he hears of the neglected Levites, he is devastated. The Levites were not interceding on behalf of the people before the Lord, and furthermore, not maintaining the atmosphere and attitude of worship among the people. The Israelites could not mature into their role as the people of the presence of God without the Levites on active duty.
Instead of being sustained in their role as ministers before the Lord, the Levites had been given plots of land as an inheritance to grow crops for themselves—the very thing the Lord had said was not to happen. God knew if the Levites were going to serve before Him with excellence, it had to be their complete focus in life. Nehemiah knew that in order to nurture the fledgling Israelite spiritual culture, the sounds and atmosphere of worship had to be restored.
Nehemiah describes the scene:
I discovered that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and musicians responsible for the service had gone back to work their fields. So I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is the house of God neglected?” Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts. (Nehemiah 13:10-11)
WORSHIP IN ISRAEL TODAY
Just as in the days of Nehemiah, Jews today are returning to their homeland from the four corners of the earth. And just as in Nehemiah’s day, the worship makers must return to their posts. To be clear, the issue at hand is not to begin a quest to track down Jews from the tribe of Levi. While fascinating, attempting to identify tribe origins today is an imperfect science at best, and distracts from the bigger picture.
King David himself, was a musician/singer/songwriter/composer/psalmist/worshipper, but was not of the tribe of Levi. The bigger picture is that skilled musicians/singers/songwriters who can create an atmosphere of worship are key to Israel’s thriving spiritual life.
Music itself remains a vital aspect of Israeli culture and is the loudest voice heard in Israel today; however, the message is dominated by godless artists. On the occasion that a song about God is released on the radio, you will find that even hardcore secular Jews are happy to sing along. Of course, they will also sing along with the next song that celebrates debauchery. But that is because they are simply following wherever the music leads.
Even when the terrorist organization Hamas wrote a song in Hebrew intending to intimidate Jews, Israelis sang along with a smirk, mostly because Hamas militants have terrible Hebrew accents and even worse grammar. So it was really funny. But the point is—Israelis listened to the message because of the music …
Today, Israel has been physically reborn, but her spirituality remains infantile. There is not yet an anointed and respected voice in the Hebrew language on a national level calling modern day Israel to worship the one true God.
Our vision is to fill the land of Israel, not with just one voice, but with many voices declaring the goodness of God. Many of these voices lay hidden in the hearts of young Israelis who long to reach their God-given potential. Our mission is to find and develop these musicians and songwriters into mature worship-makers. Then as the land of Israel is filled with worship, naturally, we will see the song of the Lord go forth from Zion to the nations!
Shani and Kobi Ferguson live in Jerusalem. They have five children, all born in Israel. Their organization, Yeshua Israel Ministries, is a music and mentoring ministry. They are the daughter and son-in-law of Ari and Shira. www.yeshuaisrael.com
Shani and band presenting Messianic Music at a New Age Festival at the Sea of Galilee.
Israelis pack out music performances from the tiniest hole-in-the-wall clubs to the highest-class theaters. From Classic to Electronic music to Jazz, Israelis cannot resist quality music. They flock to the desert or the shores of the Sea of Galilee for pagan music festivals in which they try out and trade pagan practices learned while traveling in the likes of India or Tibet.
Some years ago, we took a group of musicians to one of these pagan music festivals. Our band of skilled believing musicians and singers prepared Hebrew songs of adoration to the God of Israel. There would be no doubt which God we were singing about. We practiced several times a week for months to offer something beautiful to the Lord in the midst of the festival’s plethora of idolatry.
Our band had the most brilliant musicians I had ever worked with. They had spent years honing their craft, and we worked so well together. They were unified in the desire to represent the Lord with excellence of spirit and craft, in the midst of the spiritual depravity of the festival. After each set, Israelis approached us asking about the “presence” they felt in the tent. We were excited. We wanted to play these songs of worship in more places so more Israelis could experience His presence.
But after the festival, our musicians had to go back to their homes and back to their jobs. They worked as janitors, in hardware shops and as customer service representatives. We would get together on occasion to sing and worship the Lord, often playing for no audience at all. It was with these musicians that we recorded our two albums in Hebrew and English “Close” and “Garden of Secrets.” But we all had families to support, and we knew there were no job openings for “Levites” in Israel.
I knew in my heart that one day this would have to change! But it would only change when the Body at large would take up the vision to put the Levites back in their posts. The ears of the people of Israel must become familiar with the sounds that glorify God and know that He dwells in praise. Israel needs an atmosphere of worship in her midst. The sounds of the praises of God must drown out the revelry.
The Children of Israel were not chosen so they could wander the earth feeling special. They were chosen to be the people of the presence of God. It was meant to be that when you were among the Jews you could experience God. After years of exile and two destroyed temples, we have become the people who keep kosher, who wear fancy hats, and who do not drive cars or turn on light switches on the Sabbath. It’s time for a CHANGE!