Employment Desert – 17 May 2015

Three small Negev cities face severe unemployment.  The towns of Arad, Dimona, and Yeruham are essentially factory towns, dependent on the major industrial chemical companies for most of the employment.

Due to weakening profit margins, these companies (and other companies in the textile and ceramic industries) have been laying off workers and closing factories and plants, a situation that has been going on for years in Israel’s southern region.  Whole cities are becoming economically impoverished by these actions.

We have seen many times of promises and incentives being given to Israelis to move to the Negev to live, and for companies to invest in the region, only to see that nearly every time other forces and “priorities” take over that brings confusion and doubt into the viability of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee to faithfully carry out its mission.

The vision of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, of the Negev’s essential necessity for Israel’s future has seen great strides beyond anyone’s realistic expectations.  Yet, the vision of the Biblical Prophets of the God of Israel for Israel’s desert is distinguished from Ben-Gurion’s:  they saw YHVH God as a vital participant in the blooming and blossoming of the desert, still waiting for the Chosen People to return to Him, so that He will bring it to pass in righteousness and justice. (Is 35:1-10; 51:1-3)

Here is a link to today’s story of the cities of Dimona, Arad, and Yeruham striking today to protest the companies’ policies, and the government’s:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/southern-cities-shut-down-to-protest-factory-layoffs/

The Negev is Now

Construction work and roadworks are going on all around us here in Beer Sheva, and southward towards Yerucham.  The major investment and development is due to Beer Sheva being chosen as the ‘cyber hub’ of Israel, or as Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President, Rivka Carmi, quips, “silicon wadi“.  (A wadi is a dry river bed, waiting for the waters to stream into it.)   Beer Sheva and the Negev are also developing in preparation for major re-location of military bases and operations to the area.  Real estate and housing prices have skyrocketed, yet still much more affordable than in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.   Investment in the blooming desert, anyone?

You  can read more on this story in a Jerusalem Post article here:  http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/The-Negev-is-now-352560

Record May Rainfall in All of Israel – 9 May 2014

Israel experienced a rare nation-wide lightning and thunder storm, pouring record amounts of rainfall, accompanied by hail, going back to 1920.  On Wednesday night, May 7, the storm began, continuing through much of the day on Thursday.   The Negev region suffered flash floods and stranded hikers and tourists.

In the Negev, May is usually a dry month, following the rainy season of the Israeli winter.   This winter was exceptionally dry throughout much of the country, and the rainfall of the last two days was more than January and February combined!  The roads into and out of the southern-most city of Eilat were closed due to flooding.  Beer Sheva received app. 36 mm of rain; Arad 44 mm!

You can read a fuller account, with a video of the falls at Ein Gedi across from the Dead Sea, in this news article from the English version of HAARETZhttp://www.haaretz.com/news/national/1.589491

Beer Sheva and Negev Development Accelerating – 13 Apr 2014

The Israeli government is promoting and enhancing development opportunities in Beer Sheva and the Negev.  The primary impetus here is military re-location of some large bases from the population center to the vast periphery of the southern desert, of which Beer Sheva is the largest and capital city.

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David  Ben-Gurion, always believed that the future of the country depended on the development of the Negev.  He lived what he believed by moving to Kibbutz Sde Boker after completing his service (twice) as PM.  The Prophets of Israel, who spoke the Word of YHVH in truth, also foresee the coming day when the Negev shall become as the Garden of Eden, the Garden of YHVH.

Here are links to some recent significant moves towards building up Beer Sheva as the information technology (IT) center and Silicon Valley of Israel:
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/179143

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Controls/SendFriend.ashx?print=1&type=0&item=179452

“Move South”, young man!

Ariel (Arik) Sharon Buried With His Fathers – 13 Jan 2014

The 11th Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, died on Shabbat, January 11, after being in a coma for eight years following a massive stroke in 2005.   Whether the Spirit of God accomplished something in the soul of this man while he lay these last eight years we do not know now.  What we can know is that whether so or not, Arik knows who Jesus Christ is now, and would want all Israel to know while they still can.

Sharon is one of the last of the founding fathers of the modern State of Israel.  He was wounded in the Independence War of 1948-49.  He was a great military leader and strategist, known for his courage and decision-making, his charisma and attentiveness to others, earning great respect and admiration from those who served with him and under him, especially during 1956 Suez War, the 1967 Six-Day War, and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and from those who were his personal friends.  He also irked some of those who had authority over him, both militarily and politically, for acting at times on his own initiative against standing orders.  Despite the controversies surrounding him, especially during the first Lebanon War in 1982 and for the 2005 disengagement from Gaza which uprooted Jewish families and their livelihoods, Sharon’s legacy is great by any human measure.  Even his large appetite and body size were great, and his humor about that was self-effacing.   Sharon was also the architect of the Jewish settlements in what are considered the disputed territories.   He devised the military and defensive strategy for fighting terrorism.  And it was Sharon who turned from his ideology which so many had followed after his leadership, and authorized the disengagement and forcible evacuation from Gaza.

(Israel has been in a war of attrition for the entirety  of her existence as a modern sovereign state.   Just as in the days when Joshua led the campaign to take possession of the land from the Canaanites, yet found it humanly impossible to fully do so, so today the people are weary of fighting and suffering and death.  While Israel may make an agreement to ‘end hostilities’, those who love death more than we love life will eventually be unable to restrain themselves.  Only the personal, bodily return of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah — the Lamb who was slain, the Lord Messiah Yeshua — will bring war to an end, will bring in everlasting righteousness, and lasting peace and security and joy.)

Ariel (meaning ‘lion’, the Hebrew name he chose for himself) held many ministerial positions in his political career, which almost ended following the condemnation against him for indirect responsibility in the massacre of refugees in the Shabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon during the first war in Lebanon in 1980.  Yet, being the ‘bulldozer’ that he was known as, and given his inherent popularity and abilities, he ultimately became the leader of the Jewish people through his election as Prime Minister.  From this position as a sitting elected leader of his nation he did not move, but was struck down by a second and ultimately mortal stroke while still PM, power being constitutionally transferred to his successor, Ehud Olmert.  His impact on very many areas of Israeli life is felt until today.  His legacy as a ‘warrior’ fittingly also describes his battle to hang onto life, even in the last days of his comatose life when his vital organs began to give up.  Sharon’s inner contradictions, and the incessant targeted attacks against him personally — whether justified or not — are all part of what makes him “Israeli”, a “Jew”, and within him was that undefeatable determination to live and survive, while seeking peace and security for his children and his people.

Sharon considered himself first of all a family man.  He said that his strength and inspiration came from his beloved wife, Lily, next to whom he is buried today at their grand private ranch and farm in the western Negev, and from his sons and grandchildren.  Sharon was greatly affected by the accidental shooting death of his young son from his first wife, who was killed in a car accident.  During the eight years of his coma, his sons were daily concerned with his well-being and provided the best medical treatment possible — not only for a standing Prime Minister, but also for their father.

The efforts taken to keep Ariel Sharon alive, in some small hope that he might revive out of his coma, were taken partly due to the value placed on human life in normative Judaism.  The paradox is, that during this same month, the Israeli law-makers approved for the government to provide government-paid abortions for any reason for any woman up to the age of 33.

Record December Storm – 15 Dec 2013

Today in Beer Sheva we woke up to a bright sunny day, with clear blue skies, clean from all the wind, rain, hail, snow, and cold which hit the entire country from last Tuesday night till yesterday (Sat.) afternoon.  There has not been a major storm of this magnitude to hit Israel (and the rest of the countries round-about:  it even snowed in Cairo and parts of Saudi Arabia!) in the early part of December since records have been kept.  The last storm of this intensity and duration was in 1897.  It may be that we will see more record-breaking weather more frequently as the end-times progress with its troubles.  This storm even received a name — Alexa — perhaps hinting of its source in Siberia.

“In the 24 hours from Wednesday, [Dec 11], at 8 a.m. to Thursday at 8 a.m., the largest amounts of rain – between 60 and 100 millimeters – fell in the hills of Judea, Gush Etzion, the southern Coastal Plain and the northern Negev, according to IMS data.  The IMS station recorded 113 millimeters for this time period, while Beersheba measured 71 millimeters, the greatest amount of daily rainfall recorded there since 1921.”   Beer Sheva received more than 3-times the normal amount of rainfall for the whole month of December in the 4-day period.  “Out of all the water drenched regions, the Western Negev received the greatest quantities, at approximately 200 millimeters, the Water Authority said.”  “Out of all the water drenched regions, the Western Negev received the greatest quantities, at approximately 200 millimeters, the Water Authority said.  The rains also led to strong flows in the Shikma, Lachish, Basor and Ayalon streams. At Nahal Shikma, located in the Western Negev, such strong flow occurs only once every 25 years, the Water Authority said.”
http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Temperatures-remain-low-as-weekend-storm-blows-over-335049

Here is a great NASA satellite photo from today showing the snow on the mountains and cities of Israel, and round-about:
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/satellite-photo-of-the-snow/2013/12/15/

And in the flurry of all this both wonderful and damaging weather system, our first grandson experienced his first full week of life which God gave him!

THE NEGEV IS ‘HOT’; VISIT IN 2013 – 26 Oct 2012

According to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide, the southern region of Israel is worth visiting.  They have rated the Negev as the second best region in the world to tour in 2013, before it becomes over-developed, and to enjoy what is already available for travelers. 

You can read the full story here:  http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/best-in-travel-2013/top-10-regions/#ixzz2AJC9CbUV 

Imagine what it will be like after the Lord Yeshua returns and the desert is turned into a veritable Garden of Eden! (Is 51:3)

TRUTH, AND THE LYING SPIRIT – 23 Aug 2011

Greetings from the land where the lie is often spoken as truth,

Thanks to the many of you who have written in, and to those who didn’t yet lifted a voice to our Father in Heaven.

From the time that the serpent got Eve and Adam to listen to him over the clear Word of God, we have inherited the tendency to believe lies over truth.  And when the lie is repeated enough and taught and passed on as being true, it takes a rude awakening sometimes to open our eyes and ears to reality.  I was always brought up to believe that the truth of Jesus was not true — at least not for Jewish people.  If something is true, it is true for everyone.  Today Israel and Jewish people curses — although not always knowingly — both Jesus and those who believe in Him.  And Israel herself finds the nations delegitimizing and cursing the truth of her existence, and her witness to the one true God — even in her unbelief.  We reap what we sow; as we judge, we shall be judged.

In the present state of war preparations, Israelis were attacked and murdered.  Israel responded by killing the terrorists, and also some Egyptians, who may or may not have been complicit in the attacks near Eilat last week; and the news media, including some of Israel’s own, give a picture that Israel is the aggressor against Gazans and Hamas.  I heard a BBC newscast just two days ago, with the story stating that Israel had killed 15 Palestinians, including civilians, in response to a militant raid which killed  eight Israelis.  NOTHING about the civilians that the terrorists killed, including the injury of two children.  NOTHING about all the rocket attacks which had already begun on southern Israel towns and cities.  And with all this, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations involved who started the latest salvo during Ramadan, threatened Israel should Israel retaliate during Ramadan! 

The terrorists who chose to start the killings and attacks then also decided when the “cease-fire” should begin — 9:00 pm on Sunday.  Since Sunday at 9:00 pm (2100), rockets have been fired towards Ashkelon and other Israeli towns near Gaza.  Israel, once again, finds itself in a dilemma that no matter what she does, it is wrong.  Believers in Jesus/Yeshua, whatever we do or say about the truth of who He is, are never right in Judaism thinking. 

Praise the Lord for His righteousness!  His thoughts and ways are just and true, and His wisdom is awe-inspiring, and His judgments past finding out! 

Here is a link to a pretty amazing video about Hamas tactics against their own people and Israel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUuhw0RpRMY

Here is a very wry response to the U.S. demands for Israel to always apologize:  http://yossibarnegev.wordpress.com/  (I do not know who the author is, as far as I know.)

And here is a video of rocket attacks in Beer Sheva this past Saturday night, with most being intercepted:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n5ICddnSJk

BEER SHEVA UNDER FIRE – 20 Aug 2011

This morning before we left home for our congregational service, the sirens went off, and we went down to our bomb shelter.  The rockets from Gaza this morning, and also on Thursday night, fell not too far from the section of the city in which we live, and on one of the rocket falls, the house shook from the vibrations of the impact.  This evening we have had twice to go into shelters while we were visiting friends from the kehila (congregation) who lived within sight of what we were hearing this morning. 

The missile interceptor system, called Iron Dome, has been brought back to the city after being taken out a couple of years ago.  It has successfully taken out some of the rockets which have been fired these past days.  Hamas has taken responsibility for these attacks, after denying any for what took place in Eilat a few days ago.

Sadly, this evening a grad rocket hit in a neighborhood, destroying a car and seriously damaging the house.  Worse, one person was killed, seven seriously injured, at least one mortally.  All of these remained outside during the attack, rather than get inside under cover.  Very likely, they were curious to see the Iron Dome work to intercept the missiles.  It is interesting to watch, but dangerous:  curiosity killed the cat.  The guidelines the news and the security authorities are stressing is to get into shelters, and remain there for some minutes after the alarm finishes.  We also know that not all neighborhoods have bomb shelters prepared to use, and many complaints are being heard for the city and the state to do something about this, which has been very clear since the Gaza War.

During the war in Gaza in 2009, no one was killed over a month in Beer Sheva.  One young boy was seriously injured.

I do not believe that any believer is exempt from being harmed, either directly or indirectly.  What will distinguish us is our reaction and response in the event of personal suffering, and how we relate to others who do suffer:  the issue is glory to our Father in Heaven, and honor to the name of the Lord Yeshua Messiah/Jesus Christ.  Before the event, it is difficult to ‘plan’ for our reaction, but the Holy Spirit within us wants to steady us as quickly as possible on The Rock of our salvation.