Hanukkah continues through Wednesday
PLEASE PRAY FOR U.S. VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
DURING HIS VISIT TO ISRAEL AND EGYPT THIS WEEK
This week U.S. Vice President Pence will be traveling to the Middle East. He is scheduled to arrive in Egypt on Tuesday, then to fly on to Israel Wednesday afternoon. His original plans included meeting with Palestinian leaders and a visit to Bethlehem—but in protest of President Trump’s recent public recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and his activation of procedures towards removal of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority has announced it will not meet with the Vice President.
While in Israel, Mr. Pence will meet with President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and he will visit the Western [“Wailing”] Wall. In a briefing last week to Israeli journalists on the Vice President’s upcoming trip, a White House representative mentioned Mr. Pence’s planned trip to the Wall, and added “the administration cannot conceive of a peace deal in which the Western Wall would not remain a part of Israel.” This last statement has infuriated Palestinians who, backed up by a UNESCO bill passed earlier in the year, claim the Western Wall and all areas captured by Israel in 1967 to be “occupied” Palestinian land.
While in Israel, Vice President Pence also will be addressing Israel’s seat of government, the Knesset. He will be the first senior US official to do so in nine years. In contrast with former President Obama, who turned down an invitation in favor of a meeting with university students, Mr. Pence has declared himself “humbled” by the opportunity to speak before the Israeli house of government. We see Mr. Pence’s acknowledgment of “being humbled” as a special and promising sign. Israel is not used to leaders and politicians coming to Jerusalem in humility. More often, they come with strong agendas, including demands regarding the Jewish State and the lands under its control. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”…this spiritual law most assuredly applies with regards to His covenant land and people Israel!
The Vice President arrives at a time of continued rumblings following President Trump’s declarations on Jerusalem. Most of those rumblings continue to be loudest outside of Israel. On Wednesday an emergency summit of Muslim and Arab nations in Istanbul declared East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, and urged other nations to recognize a Palestinian state. Turkish President Recep Erdogan has vowed to establish a Turkish embassy in East Jerusalem. There have been massive demonstrations in Jordan and Pakistan. Today (Monday) the UN Security Council will vote on a bill “annulling” any declarations on Jerusalem such as that made by President Trump. In Israel itself, there has been little serious violence following Mr. Trump’s announcement—but there has been continual unrest in the contested territories—although much of it is obviously staged. A friend visiting Bethlehem witnessed such a demonstration—in which there were many more journalists than demonstrators. At the same time, violent demonstrations have been stirred in Gaza—and during the past week over a dozen rockets have been fired towards Israeli territory. Most of these are thought to be the responsibility of Islamic Jihad militants rather than Hamas, which controls the Strip. But their continuance is dangerous. Hamas has called for a new intifada against Israel, and the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah movement has called has called for staging “Day’s of Rage” throughout the Vice President’s visit.
Mr. Pence, whose personal Christian faith is well known had hoped as part of his visit to call attention to the plight of persecuted Christian minorities in the region. The persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and in Libya by ISIS has had some exposure to the media—the intense persecution of Palestinian converts to Christianity in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has not. It is also rampant in Turkey…and only yesterday news came out of Iran of the raiding of six house churches an hour’s drive from Tehran, the four leaders dragged off by authorities. Yet, the Coptic church in Egypt has (under pressure?) announced that due to President Trump’s speech, it will not meet with the Vice President. Nor, as mentioned, will the Palestinians.
We believe this visit by Vice President Pence to be ordained by God, and that it is important that he be surrounded with prayer during his journey to Egypt and Israel this week.
* God’s blessing over the Vice President throughout the trip, that he will know God’s agenda and walk in it. That Mr. Pence will entrust himself to the counsels of the LORD and the thoughts of His heart. (Psalm 33:11).
* That during this trip, Mr. Pence will not only be taken into Israel’s confidence—but will be granted God’s confidence regarding Israel. Psalm 25:12,14 promises the man who walks in the fear of the Lord, that he will be granted guidance in making choices, access to the secrets of the Lord. And as he waits on the Lord, integrity and unwaveringness will preserve him (vs 21).
* That God would guard the Vice President and his family. That he would be protected physically, emotionally and spiritually throughout the trip. That his mind would be protected with God’s shalom (Philippians 4:7). Pray that God will guard his mind and tongue from any traps or snares laid by the enemy (Psalm 91:3; Proverbs 15:2; 16:1).
* That there be sound bonds of friendship formed between the Vice President and the Israeli leaders. And a deepening love and understanding of Israel by Mr. Pence.
* That God would grant grace, wisdom and counsel in his conversations with President Sisi in Egypt.
* That angels will be released to guard Israel’s peace during the Vice President’s visit—that demonic powers would not be allowed to incite violence in Jerusalem and Israel during his visit.