Category Archives: Isaiah 19

Israel & America

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu before the US Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu before the US Congress

America has always stood with Israel. In these days this position is even more important. With the address of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu before our US Congress this morning, we have been urged once again about the importance of taking the strongest action necessary to protect the people of Israel, the surrounding nations under attack of ISIS, and the nuclear objectives of Iran.

We stand with God’s eternal purposes for the nations of the region according to His Word, especially Isaiah 19. So, let’s agree together:

Father in Heaven, thank You for Your eternal purposes for the people of Israel, the Palestinians, the Assyrians, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian — and all the peoples of the region. We ask that You thwart all the plans and strategies of evil against Your people and continue to protect their borders. Expose all the enemy’s intentions and reveal their hideouts. Protect our USA troops there as well.

Bless Israel and her people today. May she again experience victory over every enemy who seeks her destruction as in the days of Queen Esther. May Israel be strong and of good courage in the God of her salvation.

May God continue to bless America. Amen.

To read the full transcript of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu today before the US Congress, click here.

View the video of his speech.

 

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THE SACRED BRIDGE

Adventure on the ancient main trade routes of the Middle East.

Ron on Camel

Some years back, I saddled a camel for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

A relatively thin slice of land along the Mediterranean Sea has been called, “The Sacred Bridge,” by scholars. In the place where nations have rubbed shoulders with one another for thousands of years, the changes have been only in the surface of the highways: narrow dirt paths gave way to Roman paving stones, later to asphalt, then to super-highways. A region with thousands of years of history make the mind reel for those of us birthed in a nation that is a mere 238-years old.

(Photo: Map of the ancient international trade routes.)

(Photo: Map of the ancient international trade routes.)

The vast desert to the east of the bridge kept international trade routes in a narrow corridor near the Mediterranean Sea. The Via Maris, “the Way of the Sea”, (in aqua) runs parallel to the Mediterranean Sea near the coast. The Kings Highway (in red) runs along the crest of the mountains of Moab and Ammon on the east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea (known as the “Salt Sea” in biblical times). The Spice Route (purple) ran from the Arabian Peninsula through Petra, intersecting both the King’s Highway and the Via Maris, then on to the sea at the southern-most port at Gaza.

By no accident, the Sacred Bridge was the site of God’s greatest advertising campaign. The choice was dictated by location — the place where the nations continually passed by. In the midst of cultures given to the worship of many gods, God’s people living in Jerusalem stood as a beacon of truth: the worship of One God, the only God. The book of Acts, chapter two, reads like a United Nations gathering on the day in which God’s fire was poured out. The nations mentioned ring the Sacred Bridge like the spokes of a wheel. No one present would return home silent about what they witnessed that day. In the next week over 8,000 locals and visitors came into the Kingdom of God and were publicly baptized.

This bridge plays no less a role in the future than it has in the past in spite of modernization and progress. Isaiah 19 spells out it’s importance explicitly.

On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyria will go to Egypt, Egypt to Assyria, and Egypt will worship with Assyria. On that day, I Israel will form a triple alliance with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing within the land. The Lord of Hosts will bless them, saying,

‘Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance are blessed'” (Isaiah 19:23, 24, HCSB).

I am not alone in wanting to visit, see, smell, taste and experience the cradle of history. It is alive with the glory of our God, recorded in the Love Letter He left us. Millions come annually, in spite of danger and turmoil, to breathe in the most historically-famous place in the world.

It’s a place where the “Greats” passed through: from Alexander the Great to Napoleon Bonaparte. However, they were mere visitors on a web of ancient highways taking goods and people from Africa to Europe and Asia. A network of byways connect the major highways and have remained as ancient as they were thousands of years ago. It’s to this place that my wild heart is drawn. I love the adventure and the extreme heat, scorpions and dangers of that famed dusty path known as the “Spice Route”.

CAMEL -TREKKING THE ROUTES

Carol and I have recently traveled the King’s Highway through Jordan: from the Red Sea Port, to Saudi border and all the way up to the Syria border in the north. Many years ago, before fully understanding Isaiah 19, I led a group of adventure-seekers on a three-day camel trek on the Spice Route in the Aravah on the Israeli side. This route runs perpendicular to the King’s Highway and the Via Maris, and crosses both of those famous routes.

Seffy, our seasoned desert guide.

Seffy, our seasoned desert guide.

A most important ingredient: a sense of fun.

A most important ingredient: a sense of fun.

Target: the Aravah Desert.

Destination: the Aravah Desert.

The photos above show Seffy, our camel-trek guide, as he gives important instructions about the dangers of the desert before we leave the safety of the encampment base on the crest of the mountains above the great African Rift. Lots of sunscreen, water, hats, and most of all, loads of fun. Never forget the fun! Then, it’s off across the desert we go. Velvety hills, carved into terraces by the tiny feet of hundreds of thousand of sheep and goats over the centuries, create a photographer’s paradise.

A normal hike, or desert journey, is magical in and of itself, but, to know you are on the same route trodden by great men for several thousand years is overwhelming.

We take off across the wadi.

We take off across the wadi.

 

Ancient road signs.

Ancient road signs.

 

A winnowing fork.

A winnowing fork.

Each two people are assigned a camel. One will walk, the other rides, trading off every few hours. There are ups and downs for our ships of the desert. We cross wadis (dry river beds) and climb mountains on the ancient dusty paths. Our guide points out an almost perfectly round flat stone. We learn that this is an ancient directional road sign that has been used for thousands of years. Upon closer inspection we see ancient writing scraped onto the surface of the stone.

Well-acquainted with the desert, our guide, Seffy, knows where to find hidden agricultural tools in cracks and crevices along the way. This winnowing fork and the ancient road sign deepen our sense of awe of where we are.

MEALS IN THE DESERT

Deciding on the camp site.

Deciding on the camp site.

 

No fancy catering, just ancient methods of cooking.

No fancy catering, just ancient methods of cooking.

 

Knives, forks and spoons unnecessary.

Knives, forks and spoons unnecessary with communal dining

 

After meal rest time.

After meal rest time.

The nuts and bolts of the trek were setting up camp late in the afternoon, baking bread like the Bedouins on a large metal wok turned upside down over the fire pit, eating with the hands group style, and of course resting in the heat of the day under a shade anchored by four camels at each corner.

Then instructions for bedding down at night: “Check your sleeping bag area for scorpions!” Very important. The yellow ones are small but very poisonous. Sure enough, one of our ladies slept on top of one. Thankfully, no harm done; the scorpion stayed put all night long.

Small, pretty and poisonous.

Small, pretty and poisonous.

Our guide tells us of the camel caravans, numbering as many as two thousand manned by only 20 men, bringing salt from Ethiopia. The worth of such a caravan could reach as much as $12-million dollars in today’s currency. A tribe of Nabatean desert dwellers controlled the Spice Route as it wound its way through what is now south-central Jordan. These desert dwellers knew the secrets of the arid wilderness–where to find water and food supplies. The Nabateans made their living by taxing the traveling caravans who had to pass through their territory.

The infamous salt mines.

The infamous salt mines of Ethiopia.

 

Like scenes from a movie, yet still the same today.

Camel Caravans: Like scenes from a movie, yet still the same today.

 

The Ethiopian desert is a harvest of salt to be transported by camel caravan. Only a few men were needed to tend large numbers of camels.

The Ethiopian desert is a harvest of salt to be transported by camel caravan. Only a few men were needed to tend large numbers of camels.

 

Along our route were ancient Khans (simple Inns for lodging and food for caravaners). Some ancient structures remain partially intact. The antiquities authority has provided information stations along the way to make the journey more meaningful.

Few tours to Israel have time for these journeys. The map shows two spice routes from Jordan through Israel to the Mediterranean port.

Few tours to Israel have time for these journeys. The map shows two spice routes from Jordan through Israel to the Mediterranean port.

Nubian goats: whom you might see along the way.

Nubian goats: whom you might see along the way.

 

The big boys: massive gazelle buck, guardian of the desert mountains.

The big boys: massive gazelle buck, guardian of the desert mountains.

 

Previous structures punctuate the landscape on the Spice Route.

Previous structures punctuate the landscape on the Spice Route.

 

Our route towered above the canyons. Staying high on the mountain crest was the only way to keep cool as valley floor temperatures could reach 115-degrees fahrenheit.

Deep and beautiful canyons.

Deep and beautiful canyons.

ANCIENT CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

In all this history and beauty, one thing has struck Carol and I repeatedly and that is the history of the spread of Christianity in this Sacred Bridge. Our journey through Jordan was conspicuously punctuated with that fact through the ancient Christian church mosaics unearthed by archaeologists from the north to the south. Though Jordan is an Islamic country each hotel we stayed in proudly displayed large mosaics on their lobby walls. Each of these mosaics was from an ancient church. The heritage of the area is clear: Christ reigns there.

Our mandate is to declare Him Lord of the region and call forth this ancient heritage and inheritance once again until the Light of the world is once again blazing bright.

Jerusalem in the sixth century AD.

Jerusalem in the sixth century AD.

 The Church of Jerusalem

In the Cardo, in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, there is also a mosaic uncovered in Madaba, Jordan, near Mount Nebo. It is a mosaic map of ancient Israel focusing mostly on Jerusalem and the Nea Church there in 540 AD.

Sixth century Jerusalem is depicted in the center of this mosaic map. The red lettering in the white area at top reads, “Hagia Polici Yerusalem” — “The Church of the City of Jerusalem,”  The main street of Roman times, the Cardo, is central in the mosaic: the colonaded shopping mall that bisected the city.

A Sacred Bridge of the Future

The story of the Sacred Bridge is not finished. What seems to the thousands of tourists that visit, a historical era of the past, has yet to see its crowning splendor. Israel’s own, Ben Gurion declared that the future of the region would be brought to fullness when technology brought life and agriculture to those deserts. There are those who know, and can appreciate, what God has proclaimed about the region. Not just the bridge itself, but the surrounding neighboring nations and peoples being pulled into the vortex of His glory: Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Assyria (Syria, Lebanon, Nineveh, and Iraq. Though the boundary lines of the region have changed multiple times through the centuries, the dawn of God’s intentions for His people remains firmly intact. He sends us as forerunners to make the path straight and prepare the way.

Pray for the peoples of the region as God draws all men to the light of His glory.

The Prophet’s Dance

Prophet Isaiah (Drawing by Ron Cantrell)

Prophet Isaiah (Drawing by Ron Cantrell)

The prophet sat in a daze with that thousand-mile stare of one seeing beyond the shadowlands of the physical world. Isaiah’s scribe knew the look, and immediately took up pen and scroll ready for what was coming. He was a trained scribe—God’s secretary—recorder of the timeless world of a holy throne room.

scribes-Photo-creditWGBH-Educational-Foundation - Version 2

Isaiah rose, lifted his hands, and began to move about the room almost in a dance, looking first toward the north, then the south, and not neglecting east and west with his intent gaze and squinted eyes as if trying to make something out in a haze. Circling and circling, the prophet moved until he was finally spinning so that his robe responded to the centrifugal force in a great circle. Dust rose from the stone floor and Isaiah’s growling other-worldly voice began repeatedly pronouncing,

“Mitzraim, Mitzraim, Mitzraim…..!”

His countenance turned toward the south in the direction of Mitzraim (Egypt)—Israel’s southern neighbor—who had at times been a friend, at other times a foe.

The words were tumbling forth now, painting the vision for the hand armed with pen and scroll.

scribe at work ii

The great and mighty nation’s woes spilled out of the prophet’s mouth like a waterfall. Isaiah spoke like a thunderstorm in another voice, a perfect voice filled with authority and majesty colored by Heaven. The scribe shuddered. It seemed that the prophet controlled the atmosphere in the room like a mighty storm so that the everyday objects of the palace faded into a shroud of the dark prophecy.

The very God of Heaven rode down on Isaiah’s words to touch Earth in His fire.  “Kings . . .” and “war . . .” spilled out; “brother against brother”; “terrors…” and “devastation…” darkened the room. Depression swirled in the circle with Isaiah’s flowing robe. There was no time for emotional paralysis—the words were coming in a rush. The hand hurried to keep up; the swift scrawling letters imprinted matched the urgency of the prophet’s message.

Then Isaiah stopped; his head tilted as if to hear something more clearly. A light seemed to break through the dark clouds of the prophetic flow reflecting in the prophet’s face. His lips began to slowly, silently, form another word,

“Sun . . . sun . . . the sun . . . Heliopolis will speak Hebrew,” the prophet whispered.

The city, named for the sun god of the Egyptians, would speak Hebrew? The scribe shifted in his seat, sitting more uprightly . . . more was pouring forth from Isaiah’s mouth.

“It will be a sign to the Lord of Hosts . . . “

Isaiah bent at the waist, groaning as if giving birth. Tears spilled as he began slowly spinning again. For awhile, no words came, just the dance: the bent stature, the spinning in silence. Then Isaiah stopped abruptly.  “Come, Yuval . . .”

Isaiah hurried out of the palace toward the stables. He didn’t speak a word as if on pause between segments of a download from Heaven. He merely gestured to the stable boy—two horses. Yuval managed to quickly gather up his inkpot and scroll but hoped the prophet’s words would not flow on horseback. He would have to try to remember them.

From the palace they traveled west and moved to the ridge road that connected Jerusalem with Bethlehem. Turning south they rode in silence; Isaiah’s face set like a flint. Determined, yet not harsh, was the prophet’s appearance. In the distance the hill rose where the southern military armory was located at Talpiot. A smaller path led up the hill eastward to the armory. Isaiah guided his horse east and upward. Upon arrival, they skirted the armory to the east and turned the corner to the south side and a long promontory that seemed to end in space, high above the deep valley that separated Jerusalem from Bethlehem.

There, Isaiah stopped, dismounted, and stared southeast. As if in a dream, he spoke to no one in particular,

“The King’s Highway.” He stroked his beard, “Oh God! My God!” the words escaped his lips on a soft breath, not pleading, rather in wonder.

He lifted a hand as if tracing the route of the King’s Highway that traversed the far ridge of mountains on the other side of the River Jordan.

The King's Highway, Jordan

The King’s Highway, Jordan (photo: Jordan Travel)

“That’s the highway . . . Right there it is,” turning slowly southward his hand changed history tracing the highway toward the border of Egypt. “There . . . there . . . Yuval, do you see it? There will be a memorial pillar to the LORD, and beyond, in Heliopolis, an altar. He will rescue them from themselves.

“Three nations, Yuval, three nations . . .”

Ancient King's Highway, Jerash Jordan.

Ancient King’s Highway, Jerash Jordan.

The prophet bent again as if giving birth. He groaned deeply. He sank to his knees both hands extended upward.

“On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyria will go to Egypt, Egypt to Assyria, and Egypt will worship with Assyria.”

kings-highway-0014

Yuval could hardly write . . . What could the prophet be saying? What? Had he lost his mind? 

Isaiah now turned northeast, and with hands still extended he uttered,

“On that day Israel will form a triple alliance with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing within the land. The Lord of Hosts will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”

Looking from the mountain ridges of Jordan along the King's Highway route into Israel, "The Beautiful Land."

Looking from the mountain ridges of Jordan along the King’s Highway route into Israel, “The Beautiful Land.”

Isaiah ceased speaking. It was a good thing . . . Yuval sat stunned. In his years with the prophet, he had never known him to be wrong, but this . . . Yuval could not speak. He merely stared with Isaiah at the eastern horizon where the highway lay—that famed ancient trade route connecting so many nations of the world.

The ancient King's highway through the southern wilderness of Jordan (photo: Jordan Travel)

The ancient King’s highway through the southern wilderness of Jordan (photo: Jordan Travel)

This, the prophet had uttered, is where hundreds of thousands of feet had previously tread a world-renowned trail would one day be a highway of holiness unto the Lord of Hosts. Enemies would embrace one another in the fear of the Lord.

Google earth image of the "King's Highway."  (Photo image from netours.com)

Google earth image of the “King’s Highway.”
(Photo image from netours.com)

The King's Highway begins from the Port of Aqaba at the Red Sea

The King’s Highway begins from the Port of Aqaba at the Red Sea

A tear fell from Yuval’s cheek.

In stunned silence Isaiah rose, gathered himself together, and mounted his horse, awaiting his scribe to do the same.

The sun was sinking in the west and the color embraced them in golden hues as they made their way back to the city of the Great King—where history was fashioned by the hands of a servant of the Almighty, the Most High and Holy God.

Jerusalem of Gold. (Photo: A scene from National Geographic Entertainment's “Jerusalem.” NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENTERTAINMENT.)

Jerusalem of Gold.
(Photo: A scene from National Geographic Entertainment’s “Jerusalem.” NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENTERTAINMENT.)

(Based on Isaiah 19.)

Aswan :: Gateway of Exploration

Mizo overlooking his village

Mizo overlooking his Nubian village

God knows how I love history. On the second day here, to our amazement, we realized He has situated us in a powerfully rich historical section of Aswan, Egypt, and even more specifically, right next to an ancient Nubian village of Aswan.

Aswan actually means “gateway”…it has always been a gateway city.

Three of the four books I wrote are historically-based. The book on the Mahdi, the Islamic Messiah, is particularly focused on Egypt for some of its elements. Two books that I used for research on the Mahdi have been banned here in Egypt: The Blue Nile and The White Nile. Why were they banned? Because the content of these two books deal with the conquest of Egypt by the French under Napoleon Bonaparte and again by the British under General Charles Gordon. The Egyptian government may have looked at these books as some kind of propaganda biased against them.

The White Nile review is compelling: “Relive all the thrills and adventure of Alan Moorehead’s classic bestseller The White Nile––the daring exploration of the Nile River in the second half of the nineteenth century, which was at that time the most mysterious and impenetrable region on earth…[This book] capture in breathtaking prose the larger-than-life personalities of such notable figures as Stanley, Livingstone, Burton and many others. The White Nile remains a seminal work in tales of discovery and escapade, filled with incredible and historical detail and compelling stories of heroism and drama.” Needless to say, it is a good read.

The Blue Nile is no less exciting. The review for this book states: “In the first half of the nineteenth century, only a small handful of Westerners had ventured into the regions watered by the Nile River on its long journey from Lake Tanna in Abyssinia to the Mediterranean––lands that had been forgotten since Roman times, or had never been known at all. In The Blue Nile, Alan Moorehead continues the classic thrilling narration of adventure he began in The White Nile, depicting this exotic place through the lives of four explorers so daring they can be considered among the world’s original adventurers– each acting and reacting in separate expeditions against a bewildering background of slavery and massacre, political upheaval and all-out-war.”

Just this week I took a walk to explore my neighborhood here in Aswan. Our community is very near to the High Dam. My initial intent was to pray around our nearest mosque at the time of their evening prayers––around sundown. As I walked around the mosque only a block from our apartment––praying the Muslim worshipers would encounter God through dreams and visions of Jesus of Nazareth––I realized we are perfectly situated at the edge of a Nubian village on the east bank of the Nile. I ventured into the village in my usual bold happy manner and was hailed down by a young Nubian man.

“Hello!” Mizo greeted me. “What you need? Can I help you?” He offered his assistance to find what ever had brought me to his village.

“I know the Nile River is very close to here…Can you show me how to get there from here?” I asked my new friend.

“Sure! Let’s go.” Together we wound our way through his neighborhood to the river. There, falukas (Nubian sail boats) dotted the bank. The sun was low in the sky and the atmosphere was theatrical––the Nile gilded by the golden setting sun. I breathed in deep pleasure at the panorama before me.

Then Mizo dropped the bombshell. “This is a very ancient Nubian village…” He went on to explain to me that his village was actually the transit camp where explorers had to leave their ship excursions and proceed on foot up the mountains through which the Nile cascades down to level ground headed to the Mediterranean. The history that I knew so well almost embraced me physically as I stood there taking it all in. I could see the explorers who had stood in this very spot. General Charles Gordon climbed into Sudan unknowingly to his death at the hands of a self-proclaimed Mahdi in the 1800s. I knew he had to have stopped here. There are two movies that tell the story: “Khartoum,” starring Charlton Heston, and “The Four Feathers,” a modern remake of an English movie. I highly recommend both of these movies to appreciate the backdrop of our present location here in Egypt with its amazing history.

By the way, General Gordon is the same General stationed in Jerusalem for which “Gordon’s Calvary” is named. His reputation was that he fought with a weapon in one hand and the Bible in the other.

A BBC documentary called “The Sign and the Seal” explores the possibility that the Ark of the Covenant of the Jews being exiled to Egypt in troublesome times and resting here in Aswan on Elephantine Island before danger drove it on to Ethiopia to Lake Tanna. The truth of the story is questionable, but a Jewish community did, in fact, exist here at this historical junction on this historically-famous river. The ruins of a temple––its dimensions exactly matching those of the Temple in Jerusalem––rest, in part, on Elephantine Island. It is the only place outside of Jerusalem where an exact replica of the Temple existed.

We now join explorers of another kind. The desert surrounding us drew famed mystics of the early Church called the “Desert Fathers” who sought solitude and freedom from everyday life. They had a passion know God apart from the mundane and their desire drove them into the desert to seek the very face of God. We believers of the Modern Church represent a new breed of explorers––those invited by Heaven to explore the mind of Christ in which we encounter a universe of possibilities beyond earth’s natural order and restrictions.

Yes, Aswan is a gateway–a door of exploration to northeast Africa and beyond.

Since our arrival here in Aswan, Carol and I are discovering a refreshing and uncommon friendliness of the Egyptians. There is an absence of suspicion and anger that we have experienced in other neighboring nations. It is easy to envision God doing a great work here. As I was before the Lord one morning, I had a stunning revelation about the majesty and sovereignty of our God. The fact of the matter is that all forces tremble in the face of the Master of the Universe. No god, demon, or idol can rise up because He is the highest Sovereign. That is good to keep in mind in our present surroundings. One can fall victim to untruths about facts on the ground if not careful to keep perspective. This truth has held me in a place of peace, rest, and great joy as I have stood to proclaim God’s intents toward this great and ancient nation whose genetics are signs, wonders, and miracles. God demonstrated better supernatural demonstrations of His own power through His servants He sent here. He loves the Egyptian people and is still going after their hearts to this day.

Heaven’s seeds of fire have been hosted here repeatedly and the residue is still evident––Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Mary and Joseph, Jesus, the Apostle Mark, the Desert Fathers, and many more. And, with the Scriptural decree in Isaiah 19, “Blessed be Egypt My people…” God has decreed ownership of the Egyptians with His blessing and we are His servants here now to see those declarations be manifested. The cloak of Islam forced upon Egyptians––once a Christian nation––will be thrown off and Jesus will be proclaimed Lord and King here once again.

Our first week here has been more than expected…above and beyond. We stand to decree what the Father decreed over this nation: a future, a blessing, a return to better times and stability for believers here. We believe it lies in the hands of His servants to take territory back and reinstate Egypt’s heritage under the Wings of the Master. We are here to lift the arms of the warriors who fight here­­–spiritual giants who only see God’s goodness and all that He has promised to them. It is needless to fall into untruth by apparent situations on the ground. We are the ones who have the power and authority to change things. One can feel Egypt responding in kind to a brazen faith––a crazy faith––that is bold enough to simply believe God in this hour.

Egypt will Know the Lord

Christians on the streets of Cairo

Amidst all the chaos, angry and violent responses initiated by Islamists, they will in the end be unsuccessful. Their activities must always be measured against God’s full intentions for the people of Egypt of whom He says: “Egypt will KNOW the Lord” (be on intimate terms) and “Blessed be Egypt My people (Is. 19).” There are only two nations of God possess as His own: Israel and Egypt. Nothing will stand in the way of God restoring Egypt to her full inheritance.

Now just look at these faces of Egyptians who KNOW Him…

Continue to pray for Egypt from this position–what God has declared will be for the people of this ancient nation.

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