Direct From The Jerusalem Conference
Bible Magazine Editor Addresses Benjamin Netanyahu:
Thursday, March 23, 2006
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Welcome to a special edition of The Bible in the News. Here is election news, and I am speaking to you from the Jerusalem Conference here at the Regency Hotel where speakers have included the President of Israel Katsav, Natan Sharansky, Benjamin Netanyahu and other high profile personalities.
We want to take you into the Conference and hear what we recorded at the close of Benjamin Natanyahu's speech--he was formerly Prime Minister of Israel.
At the Conference:
Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the conference...
Conference Chairman: We have here with us a guest who has come from Canada. He has come specially for this Conference. He is not Jewish. He is Christian, a lover of Israel, and he has some very important words to say to us.
Paul Billington: Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, it is a great privilege for me to be able to speak to you. I am not Jewish and I love you people and I know that you are going through a very difficult time at the moment. Terrible decisions have to be made amongst you. We have been listening to the speakers during the Conference during the last few days and especially after the Gush Katif episode, Amona, now Hamas and I am sensing amongst you, some doubts. I am sensing that there are giants. There are Anakim that are perhaps too big for us. But they're not too big for us, because you have on your side the God of Israel. There is no doubt in my mind about that whatsoever. Faith you see is not irrational, as was suggested yesterday. Faith is not superstition. Faith is something that is very logical and is in touch with reality. And do you know, you people have survived for 2,000 years. Through many different Holocausts. Why have you done that? Because the Almighty is with you. Because He has a purpose with you people. And those people who are put into power have a tremendous responsibility in this regard, to see that there is a great destiny for the people of Israel. A remarkable destiny for you people. You may not want to be the chosen people but you are. It wasn't your choice. It was God's choice (Applause).
Conference Chairman: Sir, Mr Netanyahu has to leave. I think it was so nice of you and it was so warm of you and we really appreciate your words and we love them. If Mr Netanyahu wants to refer to it which we shall all be proud of hearing about it. Thank you very much.
Paul Billington: Thank you very much.
Mr. Netanyahu: Thank you very much (Applause). What is your name, Sir?
Paul Billington: "Paul Billington."
Mr. Netanyahu: Mr. Billington, How's your Hebrew?
Paul Billington: Very poor, but my sons are learning it for me.
Mr. Netanyahu: Well, one of the candidates for the job of Prime Minister said that we are tired of defeating our enemies. We're tired of victories. We are not tired and I think that there's only one thing that's worse than people who lose confidence in their leaders is leaders who lose confidence in the people. This is a strong people. It is not a weak people. It is a people, that has, as you say, overcome the greatest odds in history. And has rolled back enemies a hundred times its size. It is in fact as you say a matter of faith and conviction. We have the faith and conviction in this room. We have the faith and conviction outside this room. The important thing is to muster that faith at critical times. It should be said honestly that the Jewish people could have been a lot stronger, a lot stronger than we are today. Had we identified at critical points in our history the dangers that face us. There is the common and human tendency for denial. I am switching to Hebrew because I'm talking to my people (Continues in Hebrew).
This created a small stir at the Conference--and it led to this next interview.
Israel National Radio with Yishai Fleischer: "Yishai and Alex are back... The highlight of the day of course was Bibi Netanyahu's speech. He came in, you know. Bibi's got this energy around him. And when he comes in, man, I wouldn't say he's an electrifying person but he has this 'Speaks to kings atmosphere' about him.
Alex: He speaks from the gut with that deep voice. He means business.
Yishai Fleisher: He means business but he has that kind of aura. Now he spoke about defence and about security and about economy. And then at some point the Conference chair asked somebody to get up and speak. And he introduced him as an English speaker and a non-Jew called Paul Billington. That's his name. And he said, Paul, please say your words. And Paul, instead of talking questions about security, or the Diaspora or whatever it is. He said, You guys have a problem. Your problem is that you don't see one simple thing, that you have the God of Israel behind you. And the God of Israel promised you the Land of Israel and he started talking 'the stuff.' I call it, 'the stuff.'
Alex: Sort of makes everything else seem real trivial.
Yishai: And it changes the whole thing, you know. So many times in Judaism it takes a non-Jew to get up and say that to the Jewish people, You have the God of Israel behind you. I wanted to turn to one of my colleagues and say, 'The God of Israel? What's he talking about?' You know, as a joke. Somebody's talking abut the God of Israel? The God of Israel came into plain view in a sense. And that is actually what sanctification's about. Putting it into people's minds and talking about it. And we have Paul Billington with us now. He's a very special person. He comes at least once a year with his entourage to film and to talk and to put out what he calls 'The Bible Magazine' and he is the publisher and editor of The Bible Magazine. I also want you to understand something about Paul. He is non-Jewish and he is also a part of a...I wouldn't call it a sect. I don't know what to call it, but it's called Christadelphians. I don't know. It's a type of Christian who looks at our Torah and the Christian Bible in a kind of new eyes and sees it more fully, I guess. We're going to hear all about that. Paul, welcome to the programme.
It's good to have you. And Paul, first thing. I love your accent...
You send me your magazine from time to time and I see what it's dedicated to. A lot of it at least is dedicated to love of the Land of Israel and of the Jewish people. What has brought you to this? Why do you put so much effort into it?
Paul Billington: Because I believe the Scriptures. That's what's behind it. You see, in that Book there is a power. A power that affects the mind and the mind affects what you do and that's the power I want to talk about today. It's that power that's got to motivate and empower the Jewish nation to rise again because that is what is going to happen and that is what is predicted in the Scriptures.
Yishai: Do you think Bibi Netanyahu when you reminded him, after his very secular, I'd say, kind of discussion, you spoke to him about the God of Israel. What do you think it does to people or to a Jewish person like him in a position of power?
Paul Billington: Well, who knows what it does to him but you hope it jogs a few cogs inside his head. But let me just tell you what I said to the audience this morning and Benjamin Netanyahu was there of course. I said, which is quite true, that as I've listened to the Conference and we've listened to all the speeches and everything. You get the idea that there is a little bit of disappointment since Gush Katif and the various things. You'd almost say there's some confusion in the minds of people. Where are we going?... Now of course you see Amona's happened, that tragedy. And now Hamas comes to power. There were some speakers there yesterday talking about doubts. So you are going through a phase when the giants are out there--the Anakim. There's an attitude of mind in some people that they're too big for us. You can't go up and take the Promised Land if you don't have the faith to do it. And it's that conviction and that faith that's needed to go in and take the Land. It's promised but you've got to do your bit too. You look at this and see this state of confusion in peoples' minds and wonder where are we going and what's happening to us? I want to say two words, Nachamu, Nachamu... Comfort ye, Comfort ye...
Because there is a destiny out there for the Jewish people. It's all inscribed in the Book and every Jewish person should be reading that Book. Believe me, that is what is needed in Israel today, to read that Book. Somebody was talking about faith the other day as though it was something irrational. Faith is not irrational. Faith is not a superstition. There is a very big difference between faith and superstition. Faith is logical. It's in touch with reality. Very much so. It's not a mystery. We're not talking about three gods in one and we can't explain it or something like that. It's nothing to do with that kind of mystery attachment. I want to demonstrate to you what I mean if I can. Israel has survived for over 2,000 years. I don't know how many Holocausts you have gone through. You talk about the Spanish Inquisition. You talk about the Shoah in Nazi Germany and so forth (Yishai: The Crusades). All that Benjamin Netanyahu was talking about this morning. But you're here! Why are you here? Because the Almighty, Hashem, is with you. He has a purpose with you. He's going to do something. Yes, there's disappointments. Yes there is some times when there is some cutting back. When you're growing a vine and you want it to produce good berries. Occasionally you've got to take the pruning hook to it and you've got to cut off.
Yishai: You're saying not only that it's not actually a regression. It's actually a necessary regression. And will yield the real fruit that we're yearning for.
Paul: You see that the Almighty will be with you as long as you are with Him. He will be with you as long as you are with Him.
Yishai: And that is the question about the Jewish people right now, Paul. Are they with God? I guess that's one of the biggest things... the biggest disappointment that this society, that's part of this Conference has, is that the greatest aspirations for the Jewish people to reconnect to the Torah. But they're not connected yet, Paul. That's the issue.
Paul: God will bring the Redemption in His time. It says so and it will. Look! Let's get down to a little detail here.
Yishai: Let's do it.
Paul: I want to turn you through to the prophet of Ezekiel.
Yishai: Now, you've got a beautiful book in front of you. It has the Torah in it and also the Tannach and the Christian Bible. The King James Version. The classic--and you've got it marked up. Like the classic person who wants to live it.
Paul: Okay, I'm taking you to Ezekiel chapter 34 and I want to just read you what it says: "And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel."
Well now, look. Has God gathered them from the countries?
Yishai: Undoubtedly. At least a big chunk. We're still waiting for the big... It's started. It's started big.
Paul: Okay. But notice what He says there. "I'll bring them on the mountains of Israel." Where's the mountains of Israel?
Yishai: Judea and Samaria.
Paul: Judea and Samaria. You see how exact it is. Now are you going to tell me, 'That's just a coincidence?' Right? This Book is saying that there has to be a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria; On the mountains of Israel. That is what this Book is teaching us. It says it. It's happened. So why doubt? Who's going to doubt anything on the basis of that?
You know, I asked a young settler girl, "Do you believe in the Promises to Abraham and the Promises made in the Tannach. Do you know what she said to me? She said "I'm here." That's all she said.
Yishai: That could be explained in two ways though Paul... Sometimes by being here, by being the tree itself, you cease to see the forest. A lot of times people like myself and Alex--we've come from the outside. We've come from America and we've come to Israel. Sometimes when you're born here you cease to see the miracle.
Alex: Because you take it for granted...
You said something really cute. You said something really sweet, about the Jews being chosen. You said that we were the Chosen people even if we don't want to be. That carries a great burden and a great responsibility. It's not just something that's a privilege that's bestowed upon you. It's a right and responsibility you have to live up to every day whether you want to or not.
Paul: Absolutely. You have to shoulder the responsibility that comes with it and that means sacrifice. And that's why there has been so much suffering. It's part and parcel, I'm afraid. It's something that the Almighty has put upon you to be able to do.
Yishai: You mentioned Ezekiel 34. Ezekiel 36 & 37, the sacrifice of the valley of dry bones and that's so Holocaust imagery. And God says 'I will bring you up out of that.'
Paul: A national resurrection is what it is talking about. And that is a process. If you notice the prophecy there. It starts with dry bones, then the sinews. No breath in them yet, you know. So you get an Israel coming to being as this happens. But there's no spirit in it to start with. But then that starts to germinate and that starts to grow.
I want to take you to another prophecy and this is the prophecy of Hosea. In Hosea chapter 3 verses 14 & 15: "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:" That has happened, "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days."
Now notice what it says there--that you have got the children of Israel shall return. Well so far we have got a little return going on, okay, but then it says "and seek" that means to research to look for, okay, I looked at the Hebrew word and this is exactly what it is. It is to look into, to seek into, there has got to be a spirit of enquiry, people are going to say "I want to know about this" and they are going to have to look into it. And that is what God wants people to do; what he wants the Jewish people to do.
Yishai: I tell you Paul, another big problem that we have in the land of Israel is the Arabs, and our enemies within, and if we were to follow the Bible more strictly, there is also an element of kicking out those enemies that are within, that form a fifth column.
Paul: You go back to the Torah, what does God say, "I'm not going to give you the land all at once, I'm going to give it to you little by little." He gives you the reason for why that would be--incase you get swallowed up. Look at it since 1948. You had a little bit of land to start with. In '67 it grew. Do you see that is exactly what is happening. And now you've got Hamas. You've got their friends, Iran and you've got Abbas. They start squabbling amongst themselves and they're setting an attitude now, which is in effect saying, Look on! We're going to take on the whole of the world. They're going to take on all of America's nuclear arsenal, are they? Is that what they're going to do? The point comes when it is totally ridiculous. And this must be realized. George Bush says he has a vision. He has a vision of two states living side by side in peace. How can you live side by side with a terrorist state? It's illogical. It won't work. It can't work. It never will work. And you know what? It won't work. Because the children of Israel will have a presence on the mountains of Israel because the Book says so. And I believe the prophet will be right and George Bush will be wrong.
Alex: Well Paul, thank you so much for your words of inspiration. It's so many times we have to hear it from the outside in order for it to ring home. We've read it so many times over and over again. Yet sometimes we need to hear it, just a little bit of reinforcement from a third source. Somebody else to make it sound clear, than you already know what it's supposed to be.
Yishai: It's like both speakers that we had in this last hour. They have said to us simple things. This is your Land. This is what the Bible tells you. The prophecies will come true. Don't doubt it. Paul Billington, your work; I know you go around and you tape us and tape other people, tape images from the Land of Israel and you're fighting the anti-Jewish sentiment. You are fighting the wars of the Jewish people and in a sense fulfilling the prophecies that even non-Jews will fight your wars for you. We thank you so much for being a fighter for us, and we appreciate you very much.
Paul: Thank you very much...
Yishai: You will join us when we are giving sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem.
End of interview.
Well, That's what is going on here. It has been a busy, intensive few days particularly in interviews and attending the Conference.
Talk to you again from Israel next week, God willing.
Printed: Thursday, March 23, 2006
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