"Rebuke the company of spearmen... scatter thou the people that delight in war." (Psalms 68:30)

Delighting in War

Dear Friends,

Greetings. It has been a memorable week, the United States has a new president, their first black president, the Israeli army has pulled out of the Gaza Strip, the flow of gas has been restored to much of Europe following an agreement made between Russia and the Ukraine. The economy around the world continues to deteriorate at an ever increasing rate; plus the myriad of other problems facing mankind today.

Is it any wonder that Jesus said that in the endtime there would "be upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth. (Luke 21: 25-26)

Thank God for the many promises we do have in the Bible to help us make it through such troublesome times. One such verse that has been a great comfort to us has been Isaiah 26:3; "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."

Below we have reprinted two newspaper articles which we thought you would find of interest. One is from "Haaretz" Israel's oldest daily newspaper, the other is from a Christian news writer. Both are related.

From Wikipedia

Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet.

Its editorial pages are considered influential among government leaders.

Haaretz's readership includes Israel's intelligentsia and its political and economic elites. Despite its relatively low circulation, it is more influential than Israel's other major daily newspapers.

Haaretz was first published in 1918 as a newspaper sponsored by the British military government in Palestine. In 1919 it was taken over by Russian Zionists.

Gideon Levy was born in 1955 in Tel Aviv the son of European immigrants.From 1978 to 1982 he served, together with Yossi Beilin, as an aide to Shimon Peres. Since 1982 he has worked for the Israeli daily Haaretz and from 1986 has written extensively in its pages on 'the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and Palestinian life under that occupation'. In 1996 he was awarded the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel

By Gideon Levy

January 22, 2009

On the morrow of the return of the last Israeli soldier from Gaza, we can determine with certainty that they had all gone out there in vain. This war ended in utter failure for Israel.

This goes beyond the profound moral failure, which is a grave matter in itself, but pertains to its inability to reach its stated goals. In other words, the grief is not complemented by failure. We have gained nothing in this war save hundreds of graves, some of them very small, thousands of maimed people, much destruction and the besmirching of Israel's image.

What seemed like a predestined loss to only a handful of people at the onset of the war will gradually emerge as such to many others, once the victorious trumpeting subsides.

The initial objective of the war was to put an end to the firing of Qassam rockets. This did not cease until the war's last day. It was only achieved after a cease-fire had already been arranged. Defense officials estimate that Hamas still has 1,000 rockets.

The war's second objective, the prevention of smuggling, was not met either. The head of the Shin Bet security service has estimated that smuggling will be renewed within two months.

Most of the smuggling that is going on is meant to provide food for a population under siege, and not to obtain weapons. But even if we accept the scare campaign concerning the smuggling with its exaggerations, this war has served to prove that only poor quality, rudimentary weapons passed through the smuggling tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip to Egypt.

Israel's ability to achieve its third objective is also dubious. Deterrence, my foot. The deterrence we supposedly achieved in the Second Lebanon War has not had the slightest effect on Hamas, and the one supposedly achieved now isn't working any better: The sporadic firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip has continued over the past few days.

The fourth objective, which remained undeclared, was not met either. The IDF has not restored its capability. It couldn't have, not in a quasi-war against a miserable and poorly-equipped organization relying on makeshift weapons, whose combatants barely put up a fight.

The heroic descriptions and victory poems written about the "military triumph" will not serve to change reality. The pilots were flying on training missions and the ground forces were engaged in exercises that involved joining up and firing weapons.

The describing of the operation as a "military achievement" by the various generals and analysts who offered their take on the operation is plain ridiculous.

We have not weakened Hamas. The vast majority of its combatants were not harmed and popular support for the organization has in fact increased. Their war has intensified the ethos of resistance and determined endurance. A country which has nursed an entire generation on the ethos of a few versus should know to appreciate that by now. There was no doubt as to who was David and who was Goliath in this war.

The population in Gaza, which has sustained such a severe blow, will not become more moderate now. On the contrary, the national sentiment will now turn more than before against the party which inflicted that blow - the State of Israel. Just as public opinion leans to the right in Israel after each attack against us, so it will in Gaza following the mega-attack that we carried out against them.

If anyone was weakened because of this war, it was Fatah, whose fleeing from Gaza and its abandonment have now been given special significance. The succession of failures in this war needs to include, of course, the failure of the siege policy. For a while, we have already come to realize that is ineffective. The world boycotted, Israel besieged and Hamas ruled (and is still ruling).

But this war's balance, as far as Israel is concerned, does not end with the absence of any achievement. It has placed a heavy toll on us, which will continue to burden us for some time. When it comes to assessing Israel's international situation, we must not allow ourselves to be fooled by the support parade by Europe's leaders, who came in for a photo-op with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Israel's actions have dealt a serious blow to public support for the state. While this does not always translate itself into an immediate diplomatic situation, the shockwaves will arrive one day. The whole world saw the images. They shocked every human being who saw them, even if they left most Israelis cold.

The conclusion is that Israel is a violent and dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about international law. The investigations are on their way.

Graver still is the damage this will visit upon our moral spine. It will come from difficult questions about what the IDF did in Gaza, which will occur despite the blurring effect of recruited media.

So what was achieved, after all? As a war waged to satisfy considerations of internal politics, the operation has succeeded beyond all expectations. Likud Chair Benjamin Netanyahu is getting stronger in the polls. And why? Because we could not get enough of the war.

Following is another article which speaks volumes about the state of much of the "Christian" church in the United States.

Imperial Christianity in the U.S.

Post Date: January 23, 2009

By Maria Fountaine

This article is a revealing look into the state of Christianity in the U.S., and exposes the sad fact that many U.S. Christians are very warlike and aggressive when it comes to foreign policy.--To the point that, as the author says, "Christian pulpits all across this land are dripping with blood, and it is not the blood of Christ."

How sad that Christians, followers of the Prince of Peace, would allow themselves to be so misled and be such poor samples of their Lord! As the author says, quoting the Bible, "They know not what manner of spirit they are of" (Luke 9:55).

The Triumph of Imperial Christianity

By Laurence M. Vance, November 17, 2008

John McCain may have lost the [U.S. presidential] election, but some of his core beliefs are alive and well among the majority of conservative Christians.

True, some of these Christians had their doubts about the genuineness of McCain's pro-life position, his devotion to real conservative values, his faithfulness to the Constitution, and his commitment to reducing wasteful government spending, but there was one principle that they were sure of: McCain is a war hero who served his country in the military, supported the war in Iraq, and would make an ideal choice for a commander in chief to lead the U.S. military in the perpetual war against Islamo-fascism.

It is bad enough that McCain is an unrepentant war criminal, but it is even worse that he is an incorrigible militarist, imperialist, interventionist, and all-around warmonger who thinks that there is no job in the world too small for the U.S. military. This is the man who jokes about killing Persians. This is the man who told a reporter that U.S. troops "could be in Iraq for ‘a thousand years' or ‘a million years,' as far as he was concerned." This is the man who wants to start another cold war with Russia. Yet, instead of rejecting McCain outright, many conservative Christians supported him until the bitter end.

But it is not just Christian support for McCain that signals the triumph of imperial Christianity. Every Republican presidential candidate, with the exception of Ron Paul, supported Bush's wars and the aggressive, reckless, meddling, militaristic, and imperialistic evil that is U.S. foreign policy. Conservative Christians would have gotten behind any Republican who received the nomination no matter how much he supported war and militarism.

The election was certainly a repudiation of George Bush and the Republican Party. However, it was generally not conservative Christians who did the repudiating. McCain, after all, still received 46 percent of the vote. Many of the 58 million people who voted for McCain had to be conservative Christians. They certainly didn't vote for Obama.

Instead of rejecting war, empire, militarism, imperialism, an aggressive foreign policy, and the warfare state with its suppression of civil liberties and destruction of the economy, many Christians openly embraced these things in the person of John McCain. Now, not every Christian who voted for McCain openly embraces these things, especially those who fought back a gag reflex and cast their vote for McCain because they thought that he was the lesser of two evils.

The problem with this latter group, however, is that the war was not even an issue, even among those who voted for McCain for the sole reason that he was more pro-life than Obama.

The terrible truth is that the vast majority of conservative Christians who voted in the recent election were not the least bit concerned about just war theory, U.S. foreign policy, the morality of the war in Iraq, the conduct of American soldiers in Iraq, the wedding parties in Afghanistan destroyed by the U.S. Air Force, the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, the dead, maimed, homeless, and orphaned Iraqi children, the thousands of American troops that died for a lie, the number of devastated American military families, a trillion-dollar-a-year defense budget, the proper role of the U.S. military, domestic spying programs in the name of fighting terrorism, the loss of civil liberties in the name of national security, or the open-ended perpetual war on terror.

The election is historic, all right. Even though McCain lost, the election still marks the triumph of imperial Christianity over biblical Christianity.

Imperial Christians have a warped view of what it means to be pro-life. I have had Christians tell me that they despise everything about McCain, including his warmongering, but that they voted for him anyway because he was more pro-life than Obama. But don't adults and foreigners have the same right to life as unborn American babies? There should be no difference between being for abortion and for war. Both result in the death of innocents. Both are unnecessary. Both cause psychological harm to the one who signs a consent form or fires a weapon. Why is it that an American doctor in a white coat is considered a murderer if he kills an unborn baby, but an American soldier in a uniform is considered a hero if he kills an adult?

Imperial Christians have a warped view of the military. Although many of these Christians may criticize the government, they have nothing but praise for the military. They equate U.S. soldiers killing for the state in some foreign war that has nothing to do with defending the United States as defending our freedoms. They publicly honor veterans who bombed, maimed, and killed Vietnamese, Cambodians, Afghans, and Iraqis who were no threat to them, their families, or Americans (until the United States invaded their country), as war heroes, not only on every national holiday, but on special "military appreciation" days as well. Christian soldiers are expected to blindly follow their leaders when it comes to the latest country to bomb or invade. To question the morality of their orders is to question God.

Imperial Christians have a warped view of patriotism. McCain appealed to the militaristic, nationalistic impulses of the Republican base. This, to the everlasting shame of Christians, is the home of the Religious Right. To imperial Christians, patriotism is supporting militarism, imperialism, and especially, nationalism. Patriotism is love of country; nationalism is love of state. Patriotism results in love for the people of one's country; nationalism results in unconditional allegiance to the government of one's country. The patriot knows his country isn't always right and seeks to change its policies; the nationalist thinks his country is always right and that those who seek a change in policy are traitors. Government tools of propaganda used to get young men to fight have always been the same: nationalism and religion. And what a deadly combination they are.

Imperial Christians have a warped view of Christianity. Aggression, violence, and bloodshed are contrary to the very nature of Christianity. And so is defending, making excuses for, condoning, encouraging, and supporting evil--even if it is committed by one's government. Although God commanded the nation of Israel in the Old Testament to fight against heathen nations, the president of the United States is not God, America is not the nation of Israel, the U.S. military is not the Lord's army, the Christian's sword is the Word of God, and the only warfare the New Testament encourages the Christian to wage is against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. The Gospel of Luke alone records an exchange between our Lord and His disciples that is relevant to the conduct of some conservative Christians today:

And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him.

And they did not receive Him, because His face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from Heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village (Luke 9:51–56).

Christians who call for U.S. air strikes on some uncooperative Iraqi or Afghan village (or Gaza) know not what spirit they are of. It is certainly not the Holy Spirit. Christian pulpits all across this land are dripping with blood, and it is not the blood of Christ. We hear more from pulpits today justifying American military intervention in the Middle East than we do about the need for American missionaries to go there. Our churches have supplied more soldiers to the Middle East than missionaries. Can you imagine the Roman army in the days of the early church recruiting from Christian churches? It is sad that the unregenerate soldier kills on behalf of the state; it is tragic when one who professes the name of Christ does likewise.

I am not optimistic about reversing the triumph of imperial Christianity. Not when blind acceptance of government propaganda, willful ignorance of U.S. foreign policy, and childish devotion to the military is the norm among conservative Christians instead of the exception.

Jesus said in John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Paul wrote in the book of Colossians chapter three verse fifteen; "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts".

One day, in the not too distant future, Jesus is going to return to finally bring peace to this war weary world and set up His kingdom on earth and rule this world with righteousness and peace.

If you would like to help Jesus one day rule this world with righteousness and peace, as well as have peace in your heart right now as we travel though this world it is there just for the asking.

Just pray this simple childlike prayer and you can have "the peace that passeth all understanding. Dear Jesus, I want peace in my heart and in the world to come, I ask that you please forgive my sins, come into my heart and give me eternal life. Help me to show your peace and love to the world. In Jesus name I pray.

If you would like to contact us or one of our Christian mystics we invite you to do so via the web site.

May God bless and keep you and give you a peaceable week ahead.

Almondtree Productions

" And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

(Micah 4:3)