Does God Love Israel's Neighbors and Why Does it Matter?
Joel C. Rosenberg
God has indeed chosen the Jewish people and given them the land of Israel, but how does He view Israel's neighbors? As we dive into God's Word, we'll see He has not given Israel license to oppress their neighbors or to create injustice. Let's listen closely to this important reminder of God's love for the world and His promises for the children of Ishmael.
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Thank you brother, I appreciate it. It's good to be with you guys. Thank you very much. I am most excited when I think about this message, not because I don't believe in all the others, I do and I'm very grateful to skip for not only inviting me back here.
The first time a pastor invites you, maybe they don't really know who you are and they're just rolling the dice as it were with good analogy.
But when they invite you back, it's a tremendous honor. And to be able to do this series obviously, I do believe scripturally, that Jews are the chosen people which as a Rosenberg, I'm happy about that.
I do believe that God has given the land of Israel to the Jewish people. He just decided to do that. He didn't have to but He did. And the reason people hate Israel is because God chose them and God wants to bless them and God wants to show Himself to the Jewish people and then through the Jewish people to the rest of the world and Satan hates it, absolutely.
And this has been what we've been talking about, these two great threats to Israel and the Jewish people. One is radical Islam and one is replacement theology. The radical Islam threatens to annihilate the Jewish people, it threatens them with annihilation.
Replacement theology threatens Israel with delegitimization, that God is done with the Jews, that He's finished with the Jews. He has no plan or purpose for the Jews and in fact, this replacement theology teaches the Jewish people all of those promises that went to Jews and to Israel have -- they now only go to the church and the church has just replaced Israel as the apple of God's eye and we look at those and understood those scripturally as not true.
So to recap, for those of you that weren't with us. Yes, the bible teaches that Jews are the chosen people. Yes, the bible teaches that God gave all of the Promised Land to the Jewish people as an everlasting possession. That's the term, that's the phrase that the bible used -- an everlasting possession. And I asked in the previous service, does everlasting mean everlasting?
It does. But okay now, having set that up, let me say "but". But let's be absolutely clear that this does not mean that God hates Israel neighbors. It doesn't mean that God has given the Jewish people a license to oppress their neighbors or given Jews permission to create injustice. That's not what the scriptures teach at all and we're going to look at that. So the contrary, I want to say as a Rosenberg, as a Jewish person, who loves Jesus, that God loves the Palestinians. God loves the Syrians. God loves the Lebanese, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Iraqis, the Iranians. He loves the Saudi Arabians, those in the Gulf States. He loves all of those people in that region. He loves them so much that He sent his son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die in a cross for them as well, to rise again for them as well.
He's coming back as for them as well if they will but receive Christ as their savior. The wellbeing of the neighbors in this world and in the world to come should matter to us because it matters to God. Genesis 17, turn with me to Genesis 17 and we're going to begin this because we know that God described Himself as the God of Israel, right? But before he described Himself as the God of Israel, He described himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And so there's no question and if you go back and watch all the messages, it's clear from the scriptures, God has a plan for the Jewish people, Amen. But a lot of people think -- okay, well Abraham had his son Isaac and God clearly blessed Isaac and then Isaac's son Jacob and Jacob became Israel and then the 12 tribes and so forth. So God must have cursed Ishmael, is that what the text says?
Now, the text in Genesis 16 would note that Ishmael's descendants are going to be in conflict with Isaac's descendants. The scripture talks about brothers are born for adversity. I've got four sons. I can tell you that brothers are born for adversity. My wife and I were not sure, are they born to create adversity or to be there when your other brother is in adversity? I think it's both. I'm just saying.
So in Genesis 16, there's no question that Lord indicates prophetically and clearly, the Lord has been right, that these two brothers and their families are going to live in some conflict. Yes, but did God curse Ishmael and blessed Isaac? He certainly blessed Isaac, but let's look in Genesis 17, beginning in verse 18.
Now God had just told Abraham and Sarah that He's going to give them a son through Sarah. He told them He was going to give them a son and that's like great, and Sarah ends up giving Abraham to her maid, not such a good idea. But there's a son out of that and that's Ishmael.
Now God is now telling Abraham and Sarah, "I really meant it. When I said I was going to give you a son, I meant through you two." I'm like, "You got to be kidding? That's more like 90 to a hundred -- 99." And I was like, "Let me be in charge of that, okay? I'll just tell you what's going to happen and you just believe me, okay?" Wouldn't that be nice if we just believe things that seemed impossible in our eyes? Lord says He's going to do these things, "Let me figure out my own way to do it." That never works.
Now, in this case, Abraham has this son, Ishmael and he says, "Oh god! Oh that Ishmael might live before you." Meaning, "Okay, You're going to give me this son, but just please bless Ishmael, may he live before You. May You not forget about him", because Abraham loves him.
God says, "Stay with me", God says, "No." But "Track with me". "But Sarah, your wife, will bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him". Now again I would ask, doesn't the word "everlasting" mean everlasting?
In other words, this promise that God has uniquely making to Abraham through Isaac to Jacob to the 12 tribes and so forth, that's everlasting. That's an unconditional promise that even the Jews, no matter how much we try -- and we have tried historically to sort of shake ourselves loose from God, He sticks with us.
So God reaffirms and makes this very clear. But then He says in verse 20 something really important and really special. The Lord says, "As for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold I will bless him. I will bless him and I will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of 12 princes and I will make him a great nation."
Wow! God didn't curse Ishmael. He didn't curse Ishmael's descendants. He said there's going to be conflict. Sadly, this all came out of sin. There's going to be consequences and there's going to be conflict. But the Lord says, "I'm going to bless him and make a great nation." But Verse 21, "My covenant" the Lord says, "I will establish with Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year."
And this is a really important distinction that I just honestly do not hear church leaders around the world teaching -- that God loves Ishmael, that God loves the children of Ishmael. He has blessed him, He has blessed him differently. It's not that He didn't bless him, it's that He blessed with different promises, with different goals and aspirations for them than for Isaac, okay?
I think it's similar. Though, if I haven't dived into controversial waters deep enough, now I'm going to it's similar to God's plan and purpose for men and women. God loves us both. He created us both, but He has different roles for men and different roles for women. They're not unequal or inferior. God has a plan and He wants us, as men to do our part, to "man up" as they say these days, and for women to play the part that He has uniquely called them to play.
Now, I'm not equating men and women. I'm just saying that would be for us in the church and understanding God loves us all. He has different roles for us and that's clearly what the scriptures begin teaching in Genesis and it goes all the way through the scriptures.
Now, turn with me to Leviticus, Chapter 19. Leviticus Chapter 19, beginning in verse 33, the Lord is speaking of course to Moses and he says, "When a stranger..." okay, the context. These are laws that go for the Jewish people, the nation of Israel right? That's what the Book of Leviticus is all about.
Now, the Lord says through Moses, "When a stranger resides with you in your land..." Okay, God has given this land to the Jewish people. But when somebody who's not Jewish is living there, "You shall not do him wrong." That seems pretty clear to me, right? The stranger who resides with you shall be as to you as a native among you and you shall love him as yourself. Why? "Because you were aliens in the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God."
And He goes on to talk about not defrauding people and not mistreating them and not cheating them. This is interesting, okay? And where's that verse, "As you were aliens in the land of Egypt" and not said but clearly implied is "And when you were down there, a stranger is in a strange land." Like, it wasn't your land, that's the land of Egypt and you're Israelites, but when you were there, were you treated well? Were you loved? Were you treated with honesty and fairness and justice?
Now, you know weren't, 400 plus years of slavery, remember that. When I take you to your land, don't do unto those who are not Jewish or people who are not Egyptian, or the Egyptians did to you. That's really clear and yet that's not talked much. The Pro-Israel movement, I love the people who love Israel. I love them. But sometimes, we're not teaching the whole truth or we're not teaching the whole context of the scriptures and we're not saying, "Look, there are injustices being done. There are unfairness's being done." And the scriptures are clear. Yes, the Lord says, "I'm going to chose the Jewish people, bless them, and give them land but those who are not Jewish in that Land, you are not to oppress them, you're not to treat them wrong, you're not to commit injustices.
Deuteronomy 14, let's turn over to Deuteronomy Chapter 14. You can see, I'm not doing line by line, verse by verse this morning so stay with me and take the notes. We'll also have some of these notes soon up on a website with the messages online. But Deuteronomy, Chapter 14 verses 28 and 29, again the Lord speaking through Moses says, "At the end of every third year, you, Jewish people, you people of Israel, shall bring out all the ties of your produce in that year and you shall deposit it in your town."
Now Levite or the priest, because he has no portion or inheritance among you and the alien, meaning the stranger, the non-Jewish person in the area, and the orphan, and the widow who are in your town shall come and eat and be satisfied in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
See, yes God loves the Jewish people. Yes, God had blessed them. Yes, God has given them land, but he's saying, "You need to care for, treat well everybody in your land because I will bless you if you do." And the implication is "I'm not going to be happy if you don't."
Now, turn to the next page, Deuteronomy 16. Deuteronomy 16 verses 13 and 14. Now we're talking about some of the Jewish festivals. That's the context of this chapter. It's Jewish festival that Israelites do. Now in verse 13 He said, "You shall celebrate the feast of Booth", the fun festival, The Feast of Sukkot, and you literally build on your outside or your back porch or something. You build a little hut and you live there for a little why to remind yourselves as Jews that you once lived not in these nice apartments or homes that you now are in when you were in Egypt. It was not quite that way.
"You shall celebrate the feast of Booth for seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat and you shall rejoice in your feast. You and your son, and your daughter and your male and female servants, and the Levite, and the stranger -- ", meaning, the person who's not Jewish " -- but lives in your town, and the orphan, and the widow who are in your towns. Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and all the work of your hands so that you will be altogether joyful."
"Do you want to be blessed in the land of Israel? Bless your neighbors, bless those widows and orphans who have nobody to take care of them." This is God's heart and it's building a pattern that will continue all the way through the Old Testament and into the new. And we, who are convicted scripturally of God's heart and plans for Jewish people, we dare not miss God's love for the neighbors -- His plan for the neighbors, which is a different plan but it has nothing to do with Him not loving them, of course He loves them.
Isaiah, turn with me for a moment to Isaiah. Boy! I love this verse. Isaiah Chapter 49, actually it's not just one verse, there are two verses in this case. Isaiah 49 verses six and seven, the Lord says, "It is too small a thing that you, this coming Messiah, should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved ones of Israel." Really, that's too small a thing to save the Jewish people? To come as the Jewish Messiah and reach them with the good news that God loves them. He wants to transform them and save them and redeem them and use them to be a great blessing to the rest of the world, that's too small a thing? Yes, it is.
The Father is speaking to the son and He says, "It's too small thing for you just to bless the Jewish people. I will make you also a light to the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Wow! It's too small a thing for the Messiah to just bless Israel. He's going to bless the neighbors. He's going to bless the enemies. He's going to bless everybody. So His salvation message reach at the end of the earth. "Thus" says the Lord, "The redeemer of Israel". God's not shedding His love for Jews and Israel there, but He's saying, "It's bigger than this".
And He says, "To the despised one, to the one abhorred by the nation, to the servant of the rulers, kings will see and arise, princes will also bow down because of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who is chosen." The chosen one in this case is the Messiah himself and it's too small a thing just to be a bless in the Jews. First and foremost is this takes us to the Book of Romans, right? We're not ashamed of the gospel for it's the power of salvation, first for the Jews and then for the Gentiles, for the whole world.
Now, Matthew Chapter four, we're working our way forward. Now we're in Matthew chapter four because all of these things that were sort of set into motion, all these biblical principles that were laid down including this messianic prophecy is now coming to pass in Matthew Chapter four beginning in verse 23. "Jesus -- in Hebrew Yahushua, was going throughout all of Galilee." Okay, that for one second. How many of you have had the opportunity to go to Israel before?
Okay, that's good, but that's not enough. I want you to pray about coming with Skip and myself to an Israel tour next May and to an epicenter conference. I'll talk to you more about that in a moment. But this is exciting when you get to travel through Galilee and that's one of the things we'll be doing. Yahushua, Jesus was going throughout all of Galilee, what was he doing? Teaching in their synagogues -- well, synagogues, that's Jewish. He was ministering the Jews, right? That seems to make sense, he's the Jewish Messiah. He's proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. He's healing every kind of disease, every kind of sickness among the people. Now, the news about the Messiah coming and this extraordinary development with this person who's speaking in words of God and he's doing healing and miracles and this message doesn't simply spread throughout Israel. Verse 24, the news about him, about Jesus spread where? Throughout all of Syria and they, who? The people of Syria, they brought to him all who are ill, those who were suffering with various diseases and pains, demon posses, epileptics, paralytics and he healed them.
Jesus didn't say, "Oh I'm sorry, you may have misunderstood. I am here only for Jews. I appreciate you coming all the way Damascus, but you know Damascus gets destroyed", in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49. "So it's all about destruction and curses for you. I'm sorry, I really can't help you."
Is this the Messiah that we know and love? No, why? Because he's fulfilling Isaiah 49, it's too small a thing just to bless you. He's certainly going to bless them, but he's going to reach out beyond that. And large crowds, verse 25, large crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. Now, I've been to the Decapolis, that's on the other side of the Jordan River, in the nation that we now call "The Kingdom of Jordan" and it says from beyond the Jordan.
It's kind of amazing that God was saying people are coming from Jordan, people are coming from Syria to find the Jewish Messiah and they were so excited about him. Now, I can't say -- just guessing the work of the disciples and their understanding of all these early on. I'm not guessing they were really thrilled about this. We know that later, Peter can't believe the concept that he's supposed to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
I mean the Book of Acts is like, "Lord, you got to be kidding me. You're not even supposed to touch these people. You're not supposed to even go to their houses. I'm not going to Cornelius' house." The Lord commands him to do it and then he sees that once he preaches the gospel to Cornelius, a Roman occupier -- a Roman Centurion, Cornelius comes to faith. He and his whole household get saved. They're all filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter's like, "That's kind of funny. Apparently, God loves Gentiles." Who knew?
Now, bless Peter. I mean, he wasn't the sharpest knife from the drawer, right? I'm not saying we are either but isn't it interesting that the early church, the Jewish believers are like "I don't think God loves the Gentiles." In fact, if you go to Acts Chapter 11, the church fathers -- the other apostles, they call them up to Peter back in Jerusalem and say, "What are you doing? Have you completely gone crazy? You can't go doing stuff with the Gentiles?" And he says, "Let me tell you the story. What happened, God has pointed out his mercy on the Gentiles." Who knew?
Now, Matthew Chapter five verses 43 through 45, just one page over, "Jesus who --", I'm guessing at this point knows that his disciples are a little put out by the idea that Jesus is ministering to Syrians and Jordanians. They weren't called that at the time, but that these neighbors were getting blessed. If you guys remember, the disciples, at that times, when people came around Jesus that they didn't like they're like, "Lord, would you like us to call fire down from heaven and then consume these people?" He's like, "Oh my gosh! No, no."
I mean but that's -- I'm sorry, but that's our instinct sometimes. Israel got enemies, nuke them until they'll go.
That's sort of the texts as I understand it. Sort of "Nuke them until they'll go." No, no. Now, that's not to say there won't be wars and rumors of wars and all kinds of conflict that's prophesized, but that's not the Lord's heart. The Lord doesn't want to consume people by fire. That's not His first instinct, sometimes it's the churches, and it shouldn't be.
And so responding to this I think in verse 43, he says to his disciples and to the people up in Galilee, this is where the sermons are going on, "You have heard it said you shall love your neighbor." Well, they've heard that because that's in the Old Testament. And you heard it, it said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. That's not in the Old Testament. "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who's in heaven. For He causes his son to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain in the righteous and the unrighteous." Jesus is saying, "Yes, you should love your neighbor", and some people are going, "No, they're not neighbors, they're enemies."
So Jesus says, "Okay, love your neighbors." I knew it [Inaudible]. That pretty much covers everybody. I mean here's the Jewish Messiah standing in Israel saying "Love your neighbors." And of course, you have later people going, "Uh, who's our neighbor?" Like they're trying to in some ways get out of, "You don't really actually mean people who aren't Jewish do you?" Yes, I do, and as well as people who are Jewish. And then they say, "We don't want to consider these people neighbors, they're enemies."
Okay. Jesus says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" and I can guarantee you, from traveling through that region, the "Love your enemy strategy", we, followers of Jesus Christ, pretty much have that want all to ourselves, no one else is trying this.
Imagine if we were to obey these principles, how the church would be set on fire and I -- maybe the fire would be the wrong analogy in that case, but I mean grow significantly. Matthew Chapter 15, do you see a pattern building here as we work our way through the scripture? Mathew 15 verse 21, Jesus goes away from there. Where was he? In the Galilee, he goes away from there and he withdraws into the district of Tyre and Sidon. Now, where is that? That's southern Lebanon.
Now a Canaanite woman -- meaning, not a Jewish person, a neighbor, theoretically, an enemy in this case, right? The Canaanites were enemies of the Jewish people. She cries out, "Have mercy on me, Lord, son of David. My daughter is truly demon possessed", and Jesus did not answer her word and the disciples came and implored him saying, "Could you just send her away because she keeps shouting at us. The lady is crazy. She's like, "please help me"." And they see it as annoying. This is a Canaanite. We're in Lebanon. They're probably thinking, "Why are we Lebanon anyway? Did he get lost? Doesn't he have a GPS? Isn't he the Messiah? I mean come on, what are we doing up here? This is not friendly territory."
And this woman keeps crying out for mercy and Jesus gives it to her. Now he challenges her first, it's interesting and I don't fully understand it to be just candid. Jesus answers them and says, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and she bows down before him saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered and he said -- now he challenges her again and said, "Is it not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs?" But she said, "Yes Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs from which would fall from their master's table."
She is so determined to get the Messiah to bless her and her child -- her daughter, to be set free from Satan that she's willing to humble herself and beg, and the disciples wouldn't have any of it. "Could you just sort of get her away because she's shouting at us?" Well darn right, her daughter is possessed by a demon and Jesus test her to see how much faith does she really have in a Jewish Messiah? And she did it.
In fact, I would argue she had more faith at that moment than some of the disciples' words demonstrating. And Jesus says to her, "Oh woman, your faith is great. It shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once. See, this is God's heart. He loves the Jews and He loves the neighbors and He loves the enemies and He calls us to do the same.
Once you start going through the gospel messages about presenting the gospel, what do you see? You see in Matthew 24:14 the Lord Jesus says to his disciples, "This gospel of the King, this good news that you're going to be saved through faith Jesus Christ, shall be preached." Where, only in Israel? No, in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end shall come; that's heart for the Jews but also for the rest of the world.
Matthew 28, 18 through 20, right? This is where Jesus says to his disciples, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, therefore go." And what? Just tell Jewish people about Jesus? No, he says "Go and make disciples of all nations -- baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you and I'll be with you even to the end of the age." Even to the end of the end of the days prophetically given for the world, Jesus said he'll be with us as we go and we make disciples of all nations, not just friendly nations, not just capitalist nations, not just democracies but difficult nations, dangerous nations, deadly nations. This is our God, this is His heart, and this is our call.
Jesus himself said it very clearly, John 3:16, right? "For God so loved just the Jewish people that he came --" oh, I'm sorry. Oh no, I'm sorry, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son" and if only Jewish people believed then -- oh no, who so ever believed? A Jew like my father, a Gentile like my mother. Whosoever believes? A Rosenberg like me or my Lebanese brother-in-law? Whosoever believes in Him, in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not just of Jews but of the whole world, whoever believes in Him shall not perish and die and go to hell forever and ever separated from God with no hope but shall have eternal life.
Acts 18, the gospel goes forth from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria and then just stops there. No, the Lord Jesus tells his disciples that when he gives the Holy Spirit and when he comes upon, the Holy Spirit comes upon them in power, they will have the power to take the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria -- by the way, Judea and Samaria is now with the world called, "The Occupied West Bank."
But take the gospel there from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, even to the ends of the earth. Revelation Chapter seven, verse nine. These sums up the whole thing, the heart of God starts in Genesis. We bring it to Revelation and when you get to the Revelation Chapter seven, verse nine, what are we saying? The apostle John, a Jewish believer says, "I looked and behold a great multitude", where were they? They were in heaven, he could see them in heaven which no one could count from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb clothed in white robes.
So the early Jewish believers didn't believe God loved the Gentiles, that was a flaw in their theology and it was corrected by the Lord. Many Gentiles today in the church believe that God doesn't love the Jews, that's a flaw and it needs to be corrected and it is being corrected by the Holy Spirit. We dare not go to either extreme. God loves the Jewish people and he loves the neighbors and what's amazing to me is that more neighbors and more enemies are coming to faith in Jesus Christ than the Jews, I'm insanely jealous.
More Muslims have come to faith in Jesus Christ in the last three decades than in the last 14 centuries put together. And I, as a Rosenberg, out there doing this work, teaching on these things, I'm amazed how God has asked me to begin building friendships with Palestinians, with Iranians, with Iraqis and it's been exciting because for me, who with an aid, for a season, working for then former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now the current Prime Minister, I don't imagine myself ever going to meet with Iranian radical Muslims.
I have not been to Iran myself. My Iranian friends say I could probably get a visit in, not so sure of giving what I'm teaching and saying if I would be able to get out. But I have a friend named Hormoz Shariat in 1979, he and his wife were radical Muslims -- Shia Muslims in Iran. Every Friday, when millions of radical Shia Muslims would show up for the Ayatollah Khomeini to give a death to America-death to Israel sermon which was pretty much every weekend, they would show up and say, "Death to America", he and his wife every week.
And then they thought, "Okay, maybe not death to America quite yet, we'd like to go to graduate school over there." So they applied a school in southern California, they got in. They got Visas somehow into our country. I mean, it all worked out but you think, what was going on there? But they get there and what happens? They start going through culture shock, weather shock, food shock, traffic shock. Their marriage starts breaking up and things are not going well and they actually set a date for their divorce. Islam was not helping them. It wasn't bringing them the peace they expected that they needed. It wasn't happening.
Now, the wife got befriended by some young women at a local church. They showed her love and they said, "Well, why don't you come to church with us?" Okay, so she goes to church, she gets saved. She becomes a follower of Jesus Christ. The husband's like, "You've got to be kidding me." He freaks out. But after a little while, he thinks, "Well, she does seem nicer to me."
So what's the deal with that? And I thought we were radical Muslims, that's not doing anything for us. So he starts an intensive study of the Qur'an and the Bible. And he concludes that the bible, not the Qu'ran, is the word of God. That Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one could come to the father expect through Christ and he gives his life to the Lord. These two canceled the divorce. They start growing in their faith. After a few years, they plant a congregation of Iranian Muslims who have left Islam and become followers of Christ. It's the largest Iranian-ex-Muslim congregation on the nation.
Then they think, how are we going to reach our nation? We're not allowed back in. So they start using the satellite television and God starts using them. Hormoz Shariat, I like to describe him as the Billy Graham of Iran. He's preaching the gospel from San Jose on satellite television. It's watched at nine o'clock primetime television in Iran. People are sitting there, watching. Do you know it's illegal to own a satellite dish in Iran, which is why everyone has one.
These days, the people of Iran hate their government so much that the government says "No!" They're like, "Okay." And so, people are sitting there, flipping through. Okay, state-run television, state-run television, state-run television, soccer, state-run television, state-run television. Some guy is saying, "Tell me about Jesus" "What was that? Go back." And people are watching and you can call him live. So Hormoz and I got to be friends and I wrote about him in the book "Inside the Revolution". We included him in the documentary film "Inside the Revolution".
So invites me to come out to California and be on his show. And I say, "Brother, you want me to share the gospel and teach bible prophesy live on satellite television into Iran?" He said. "Yes." "Have you gone crazy?" I mean, "A guy named Rosenberg who works for Netanyahu, who loves Israel, isn't that like not the message you're trying to send." He goes, "I think that would be interesting, it would be like counter programming." I said, "Yeah." I said, "I don't know brother, I've got to think about it. I've got to pray about that."
I'm not scared of Iranians, I'm scared of Jesus. I don't want to wind up in heaven one day and have them say, "Joel, welcome, I'm so glad you're here and can we just -- I just need a second here. Did I see you on Hormoz Shariat's television show into Iran? I mean, what was that? I had a real good thing going with Hormoz until you showed up." I didn't want to do that. But after several years of us both praying about it, this April, I had the opportunity to go on. I flew out there and for two days, I was on this satellite television program and Iranians were calling in from Iran -- Shia Muslims, as well as Iranians who lived in different places and they were calling in with live questions about the gospel and about, "What? Joel, you're teaching from the scriptures that God loves Israel's neighbors and her enemies? You're saying that God have a plan and a purpose for the people of Iran?" Yes, I am.
And we started seeing Shia Muslims pray to receive Christ on the air. It's an important thing when Jewish people not only know our savior but say publicly, "God loves the people of Iran, He loves the Palestinians. He loves the people of that region."
It's important for us to say it. And it's important for us to show it. If is about one new man that the dividing wall between the Gentiles being hustled of Jews and Jews being hustled by Gentiles, that's supposed to come down when Jesus Christ has changed us, when he's transformed us, when he's filled us with his Holy Spirit. And we have just seen some amazing things. I'm going to land the plane here in a moment but I want to tell you one other story. I want to tell you a lot. I'll say a few of them I guess for tonight, but if I can just take two more minutes.
The chief newscaster in Damascus, in Syria, one of the leading newscasters is a woman. She's sort of like the Katie Couric of Syria. She has better ratings than Katie but still, she's highly regarded and she's very well respected. So anyway, she read a book called "More than a Carpenter" by Josh McDowell that had been translated into Arabic. And she comes to say, "Oh my god! This is amazing!" She becomes a believer in Jesus. She started studying the scriptures and she said, "Oh my gosh! Syria is in here a lot." In Mathew Chapter 4, the news about Jesus spreading into Syria. In Chapter nine, the Apostle Paul comes to faith on the road to Syria, on the road to Damascus and she even --"Oh my goodness! The believers of Jesus were first called Christians, where? In Antioch, in Syria. She's like, "This is new."
Then she comes to her senses and think, "Well, it's 2000-year-old news, I can't really put in tonight's show." So she decides to write and produce a documentary film about how Saul(ph)was a religious terrorist on his way to Damascus and then came to faith in Jesus Christ. And she made this documentary film, she's walking down the street, in Damascus, it's still there and she's explained, "This is where it happened. This is Judas's house. This is were Saul's eyes were opened", it's just an amazing film.
Then she thought, "Oh, I've got a problem", she and her colleagues. They're like, "We can't show this film here. We live in a country ran by Bashar al-Assad" The guy's a terrorist. He's friends, buddies with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They're like, "We can't show this." But they had it done. So they ask people to pray. And I was one of the people they asked, "Would you pray that God would open this door -- this Damascus film?" That's what they call it, Damascus, "-- to be shown." So I said yes but I have to tell you, there's just no way. It's never going to happen. I mean, I don't have the faith for that. I am just being honest with you.
So she gets a call a couple weeks later from the Senior Advisor to the President, Bashar Al-Assad and he says, "The President likes the film very much, very impressed with the role of Syria in Christendom and he would like you to premier the film at his personal movie theater on March second." She's like, "Who is this really?"
Wow! And March second, that was in last year. So she is thinking, -- she says, "Well, the only things is -- Your Excellency, I'm very grateful, that's very nice, but the only thing is we don't really have the money to put on a big lavished gala premier. We were just thinking, can we just have permission to show it anywhere." He said, "But I would get back to you." Calls back a couple of days later, "The President said don't worry about it. He will take care of everything. He will pay for everything and the Minister of Culture, he will be in charge of the invitations. Now, you just give your list of all the Christians you want, we will invite all of the Muslim leaders and the government cabinet and they will show it." That's what happened March second of last year. God presented the gospel in a film called "Damascus" in Damascus.
Now, after that was done, just to give you the Paul Harvey of the story, that was amazing and I can't tell you that I had the faith for that. But we got a call from one of the producers on the film that I knew and he said, "Listen, we now have permission. We didn't just show the film, we have permission to produce 300,000 copies of this Damascus film on DVD and distribute it all throughout Syria and other places. With the Joshua Fund, be willing to fund the $300,000 cost to do this project." I thought, "The Joshua Fund to bless Israel with Jewish people." But no, that's not our mission statement. Our mission statement is to mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus according to Genesis 12, verses one through three. Those are the famous verses right?
God said, "I will bless those who bless the children of Abraham and curse those who curse them." Now, yes, Isaac and the Jewish people were some of those children but so is Ishmael. And so as we pray about, we thought this would be an incredible honor. We don't know where we're going to get the money but yes, we will do it and the Lord provided it. And we thought, this is part of our mission statement. This is God's call in our heart. What better than a Rosenberg and a team that God has given us to go bless our brothers and sisters as believers in that country, reaching the unbelievers.
Because Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 says, "Damascus will be destroyed". Someday, in the end of times, I can't tell you when, that city is going to be obliterated. And I don't want to stand before Jesus Christ one day and have Him say, "You had an opportunity to help your air brothers and sisters in Christ, reach that city and that country with the gospel and you said no? Didn't you understand anything that I was doing here? Didn't you understand the news about me was spreading into Syria? You would have chanced to bless Israel and her neighbors when there was still time."
Friends, I just ask you to ask the Lord. Lord -- ask the two questions that Paul asked on the road to Damascus. Who are You Lord and what would you have me to do? Those are good questions -- who are you Lord? Let me know You better. Let me see you more clearly. Help me follow you more closely. Who are you? Reveal Yourself to me Lord and what would You have me to do?
And I ask you, as we close this service now and prepare for the Q&A tonight. What is the Lord asking you to do? I would hope that some of you, the Holy Spirit is turning, to come with Skip and myself to Israel next May and to be part of this tour. You'll meet Israeli believers. You'll meet Arab believers. You'll meet people in ministry on both sides. We will be having this epicenter conference. Skip will be teaching, Ray Bentley from Maranatha Chapel, Anne Graham Lotz, Kay Arthur, myself, some other people we're not ready to release yet -- the names.
It's going to be amazing. You're going to see how God is moving. The day of the Lord is coming and we're supposed to teach it and be a blessing to Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I would also encourage you to get involved in the Joshua Fund. We're all going to be signing books in a few minutes. It will be Joshua Fund table. One of my colleagues is here -- a Jewish believer in Jesus who loves Israel and her neighbors. Ask him a question. We've got information you can learn about praying with us, maybe financially getting involved as well. We would appreciate that.
This is a moment for the church to realize and then to teach consistently and with great love -- God's heart for Jews, His heart for the neighbors and His heart for the enemies because we're going into a deep and intense battle. And I just want to end with this point, some of you are thinking, "Aren't you saying there could be some massive war between Israel and the enemies next year?" Yes, I am. "And now, you want me to go with Skip and you to Israel and be part of this conference?" Yes, I do. So deal with that son. I mean, hello? I know, I know. If there are missiles inbound for Israel at the moment, that's what travel insurance is for. Okay?
If the war is imminent -- I mean, if at any moment, everything is getting ready, that's what travel insurance is for. I'm not asking you. Skip and I are not asking you to come into a hot zone, a missile zone. That's what our staff would do. That's what I will do. That's what I've already done when the missile war was inbound with Southern Israel last year, our team went, I went.
As bombs were dropping, we were delivering food and other relief supplies in the name of Jesus. That's what our job is. I'm not asking you to do that but we would like you to pray about coming and maybe it would be special if true followers of Christ came and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem in Jerusalem; lifted up the name of our King of kings in the city of the Great King; was a blessing to Israel and her neighbors right there where Jesus started the church and said, "You will be my witnesses when my Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses with great power in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria even to Albuquerque."
May God bless you as you ask the Lord, "Who are you Lord? Reveal yourself to me and show me what I'm to do." Thank you so much!