I had just landed several days before in the U.S. Elana and I were in Israel leading our second Israel tour. It was only my third visit to the place I have called home for the past 15 years and I was wild-eyed and dreamy. I could not wait to move! I was intoxicated on all things Israel! It was Saturday night in the Holy Land, and about 4pm in Maryland, when I turned on the T.V. 

Yitzhak Rabin, the ninth Prime Minister of Israel, had been shot dead! Despite not being a fan of Rabin’s risky policies and overtures to the PLO—I burst into tears and did not stop crying for a week. 

Peace Process

While in Israel on the tour, many questions came up about the peace process. The right-wing political party Likud had been ousted from power because of the Intifada (the violent Palestinian uprising). Israelis wanted peace with their Arab neighbors and they didn’t think Likud had the willingness to negotiate. Shimon Peres, as foreign minister, had already persuaded King Hussein to agree to a set of principles. 

In a secret meeting in a London home, the two met and got along so well that the King suggested that he and Peres do the dishes together after the meal. What a sight that would have been—the king of an Arab enemy nation doing dishes with the foreign minister of Israel. Of course, their host would have none of it. 

But when Peres presented the set of principles to the prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir (of the Likud party), he was cold to the idea. Peres was stunned. 

A couple years later, after the fall of the Soviet empire and the turmoil between Middle Eastern Arab nations (when Iraq conquered Kuwait), there was a feeling that peace was achievable. Rabin defeated Peres in the Labor party primaries and, once again, became prime minister of Israel (he had been prime minister in the 1970s).

Arafat comes to Israel

He set an agenda for peace with the Palestinians and the Arab nations. Arafat, a man with Jewish blood on his hands, was brought from Tunisia (he had been kicked out of Jordan and the Israelis forced him to flee Lebanon) to rule in Gaza. The PLO, a terrorist organization, was named the sole representative (as opposed to Islamic terrorist groups like Hamas) of the Palestinian people. 

The feeling, around the world, was that Arafat could be rehabilitated into a statesman; that, yes, a leopard could, in fact, change his spots. It was wishful thinking. He would speak peace in English, wowing the masses, and war and terror in Arabic, appeasing the Arab world. The west said that he had to do that to save face, while the Arabs said that he was just lying to Israel. Israel put up with it because there was no one else with whom to make peace. 

Who can forget the most awkward of handshakes:  President Clinton in the middle, Prime Minister Rabin, with a somber face, embracing the hand of the murderer, Arafat, as he (the father of modern day terrorism) smiled.

Terror Continues

Despite all the overtures to Arafat, terror increased. Arafat claimed he could not control the Islamic extremists, but we know that the PLO was complicit in many attacks. Israelis were starting to lose faith. Those in middle, who brought Rabin to power, were fleeing to the right, with the realization that it simply did not matter how much we wanted peace—the PLO had no interest. 

A Peace Rally

In an effort to shore up support, a peace rally was announced to take place in Tel Aviv next to City Hall—at what we now called, Kikar Rabin – Rabin Square. This very square is where most demonstrations—often against Prime Minister Netanyahu—take place today. It is minutes from my house. 

They came in droves and Shimon Peres said, “It was the happiest I’d ever seen him—possibly the happiest day of his life.”[i]He said he heard Rabin sing for the first time in his life. The anthem of the event was a song called Shir l’Shalom—A Song for Peace. 

Three shots!

As the prime minister and foreign minister were about to leave, the security teams were informed of a threat against the leaders. This was nothing new. The political environment had gotten out of control. Far-right activists portrayed Rabin as a Nazi. They would have pictures of him dressed as Hitler. 

They left separately and, as Peres was getting into his car, he heard three shots. Before he could find out what happened, he was pushed into his car and whisked away by security forces. Rabin was rushed to the hospital, where he died shortly thereafter. 

If his death were not enough, another gut punch soon followed. It was announced that it was not an “evil, bloodthirsty Arab terrorist” who shot him, but a Orthodox Jewish man. Yigal Amir was part of a group of fanatical Jews who felt it was their duty to stop the peace process at all costs. And that they did. They believed that Jewish law allowed for this. Amir felt he was doing a mitzvah—a righteous act.

In truth, it would only have been a matter of time before it became clear that the Palestinian leadership was not serious about peace. Labor would have lost power in the next election, for sure. It was only the outpouring of compassion, because of the death of Rabin, which caused the election to be close. 

A Kiss Goodbye

When Peres found out what happened he was stunned, speechless. He demanded to be taken to the hospital. His security detail refused—it was not safe. He told them that if they did not take him, he would go alone. It was only there that he found out that the shots were fatal. 

“Mr. Peres,” [the doctor] said, with a crack in his voice, “I am sorry to have to say, the prime minister is dead.” It was like someone had attacked me with a knife, my chest laid bare, my heart punctured. I had forgotten how to breathe. I had just seen Rabin’s face, smiling like I’d never seen before. There was so much life in him, so much hope and promise. And now “Shir l’shalom,” our song for peace, was quite literally stained with blood—in the pages of the songbook Rabin was holding when attacked.[ii]

These bloodstained lyrics were taken from Rabin’s jacket pocket, near where he was shot. 

He walked into the room with Leah Rabin and the two of them of kissed him goodbye—the wife of his youth, and the man who was his political rival for decades, now his best friend. 

Peres was sworn in as prime minister and he was urged by his party to call for early elections. He knew that he would win in the wake of the murder, but he also knew that “to call an early election was to choose to win power using the spilled blood of Rabin.”[iii]So, a year later, he lost to Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Over the next few years, Arafat rejected peace deal after peace deal. It is much easier to be a freedom fighter than to actually govern your people, oversee an economy and take care of things like electricity and water. 

Shalom Haver

At his funeral, President Clinton, who had become close with Rabin, ended his remarks with the phrase, Shalom Haver…Goodbye friend. For the next several years, you could see those words on bumper stickers all across the nation. 

The anniversary of Rabin’s death was yesterday. I just happened, by chance, to read an account about it today as I was finishing a book (during my workout). To this day, his death affects me greatly. I could not hold back the tears—even while exercising on the elliptical machine—as I read Peres’ account of the tragedy. Suddenly, it was 23 years ago in my bedroom. I turned on the TV. “Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin has been shot.”


[i]Peres, Shimon. No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel (p. 207). Custom House. Kindle Edition.

[ii]Ibid

[iii]Ibid 

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One Hundred Things I Love About Israel #001

Many of you have heard about Israel’s “Start-Up Nation”reputation. Israel has more start-ups (new cutting-edge businesses designed to grow rapidly) per capita than almost any other nation. Why are we so successful? Simple: Because when you are fighting for survival, losing is not an option. 

The Loser?

I have to be honest. I have never been a fan of Shimon Peres. In my lifetime, he was known as a leftwing dov—even nicknamed “loser”because of number of political campaigns helost. However, I decided to read his appropriately titled autobiography, No Room for Small Dreams, published just after his death. I was stunned to find out how crucial his contribution had been to Israel’s survival. 

In 1960, Shimon Peres was a civil servant. Prime Minister Ben Gurion kept him out of politics, so he could use him as he wished. Already in his twenties, Shimon proved himself indispensable. When the first leader of the Israeli army told Ben Gurion it was impossible to arm the military,  because it was illegal for other nations to sell Israel weapons, Peres was tasked with the job. With no experience, the “dreamer” found a way and made secret deals that resulted in Israel winning the War of Independence.

Dare to Dream

Next, he teamed up with an American pilot to create Israel’s aviation industry. Israel had no money and Peres had many detractors. But the dreamer dreamed on, and with the Prime Minister’s blessing, he succeeded.

When everyone told him that it would be impossible to rescue the hostages at Entebbe in 1976, he kept looking for a military option—so that there would be no negotiations with terrorists. He remembered his mentor, Prime Minister Ben Gurion, saying, “If an expert says it can’t be done, get another expert.” In the end, the hostages were rescued and a movie was made about it. 

Peres goes Nuclear

However, I was deeply moved by how his tenacity and never-say-never mentality resulted in the acquisition of nuclear power for Israel. On a whim, one day in France, he asked the Prime Minister if he could have permission to speak to the French about helping Israel obtain nuclear power—for energy. It was preposterous.  As a nation, we were a mere twelve years old. But after just a few moments, the French leaders came back and said they would help. Peres was stunned.

Once back in Israel, more senior politicians ridiculed him. 

“Golda Meir [who would become Prime Minister] insisted that such a project would hurt Israel’s relationship with the United States, while Isser Harel, the Mossad chief, raised fears of a Soviet response. Some predicted an invasion by ground forces, while others envisioned an attack from the air. The head of the foreign relations committee said he feared the project would be ‘so expensive that we shall be left without bread and even without rice’.”[i]

Not to be Dissuaded

Peres pushed on, looking for scientists and engineers. Despite the rejection from top officials, he had the confidence of the prime minister. I have always found that, in ministry, if I have the backing of leadership, I can face any critic or opposition. However, even the scientists thought he was nuts. Even if the French helped, how could they learn nuclear science in a matter of months?

“Innovation, I have come to understand, is always an uphill climb. But rarely does it find so many obstacles arrayed against it at all once. We had no money, no engineers, no support from the physics community or the cabinet or the military leadership or the opposition.”[ii]

Because the government would not give this “fantasy” a budget, Peres went around the world and raised millions of dollars. He then approached the physcist that Albert Einsteinsaid was the best and he joined the cause. In short order, Peres assembled a team and they went to France to study. 

The Desert Blossoms (Is. 35)

Next, they would start building the reactor in Dimona. You have to understand—Dimona is in the middle of the desert. His team lived in upscale Haifa and Tel Aviv. Who wants to raise their kids in sand and dirt? But, the dreamer sold his vision and they came. He explained to them, and to their French counterparts, that he would build a city for them—and he did!

Shimon Peres and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion visit Israel’s the Dimona nuclear reactor.

When we think of the prophetic passages in Isaiah about the desert bursting into bloom, we think of the fact that Israel grow roses in the desert, has a highly successful dairy farm and has learned how to grow root vegetables in the wilderness heat (Normally these vegetables grow in colder climates like Russia.). But building a nuclear reactor in the middle of the desert is just as prophetic—if not more.

Near Disaster!

However, everything nearly fell apart when the French Prime Minister was about to be voted out of office. Peres needed his signature, and that of his foreign minister, to ensure that the relationship would continue with the next administration. Panicked, he hopped on a plane to Paris. First, he met with the foreign minister who was against the proposal. 

“I wanted to be sure he understood the power he held in his hands, and the consequence of his decision, one way or the other. This was not a moment that would be forgotten; it was one upon which history would hinge.”[iii]

Peres persuaded him. Stunned by his good fortune, he now sought an audience with the prime minister, who was in parliament, fighting for his job. He took time out to meet with Peres and told him to wait for him in his office, but he never came back to sign the document. By the end of the day, he was ousted from office. 

The next day, Peres met with him, downcast, knowing that they had failed. Finally, the dreamer had come face to face with reality. There would be no nuclear Israel. But then…

“[The former prime minister] took a piece of stationery from a desk that was no longer his and drafted a letter to the chairman of the French Atomic Energy Commission. The French government had approved the deal, he confirmed, and the chairman should fully cooperate in its execution. He signed it as France’s prime minister. At the top of the page, he wrote the previous day’s date.”[iv]

Maybe this was one reason why Peres did not allow this book to be published until after his death—Israel obtained nuclear power through a forged document! 

Peres goes on to say, being careful not to reveal if we actually have nuclear weapons, (psst…we do) that the idea that we mighthave them, served as the greatest deterrent to war. 

As a believer, I have learned that the biggest miracles come when you dare to dream big. 

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:23-24)

Footnote: Recently Prime Minister Netanyahu, once a bitter political enemy of Shimon Peres, announced that the Dimona nuclear reactor would be named after Peres. 


[i]Peres, Shimon. No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel (p. 85). Custom House. Kindle Edition.

[ii]Ibid pg. 86

[iii]Ibid pg. 92

[iv]Ibid pg. 94

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One of the responses I received, from my warning concerning the new Sanhedrin and the building of the third temple, was that we have to obey the rabbis as they have God-given authority over the Jewish people. This is not the first time I have heard this. It is based on Matthew 23. Yeshua tells the people:

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matt. 23:2-3)

Moses’ Seat

The idea is that, even in unbelief, they “sit in Moses’ seat” and therefore should be obeyed. The term “Moses’ seat” seems to indicate the place of authority that Moses held in the community. As you will recall, Moses was judge over the people. He would “sit” (hence, Moses’ seat) all day and judge disputes:

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. (Ex. 18:13)

The word (kathizó) that refers to these Jewish leaders “seating themselves in Moses’s seat” in Matthew 23:2 is also used 1 Corinthians 6:4 and means “appointing judges.” In many cases, the idea of sitting on a seat or throne was allegorical to having authority (1 Kings 1:35462 Kings 15:12Psalms 132:12).

The job became too much for Moses and he, in response to the advice from his father-in-law Jethro, appointed other men to assist. This group in Yeshua’s day was known as the Sanhedrin. The very word, Sanhedrin, means “sitting together,” as in a judging council. In every synagogue, there was a seat called “Moses’ seat” where one of these authoritative teachers would function.  

So, yes, Yeshua recognized their authority to sit in judgment. Of course, he also called them out during the rest of the chapter, using the harshest rhetoric in all the gospels. It was time for a change!

Changing of the Guard

It appears, however, the New Testament lays out a new system of authority. He takes it from the Sanhedrin and gives it to His apostles. It is no wonder that the first few chapters of Acts reveal a power struggle between the Pharisees and the Jewish apostles. To be clear, the apostles were merely fulfilling the words of Yeshua in preaching His kingdom. The Sanhedrin responded with violence against them. There was a war in the spirit

There are at least four places where Yeshua affirms this authority transfer. 

Binding and Losing

In Matthew 16, He gives His disciples the keys of the kingdom and begins to reveal what Paul calls the mystery of the ecclesia, the One New Man. 

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my ecclesia, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:18-19)

He speaks of this new thing he will build—the congregation of Yeshua followers—starting with Peter and his disciples. Unbeknownst to them, it will expand to include the nations. 

Many have attributed “binding and loosing” to casting out demons, when in fact, He was referring to the authority of the upper and lower houses of the Sanhedrin. These were legal terms referring to interpreting Jewish law. Yeshua uses the word “keys”—which clearly symbolizes authority. 

We see this authority first exercised in a ‘binding way’ in Acts 1, when they add Matthias to their number. Then again, many years later in Acts 15, when the apostles decide that Gentiles can enter the Kingdom without becoming Jewish. 

When Yeshua spoke of binding and loosing, He wasn’t talking about spiritual warfare. The people to whom He spoke understood that He was talking about what was consistent with Torah and what wasn’t. This matter of binding and loosing wasn’t unique to Yeshua. It was entirely familiar to them all because it was how the rabbis would sanction something or ban it according to the teachings in Torah. —Lonnie Lane

Only Two are Needed

Then, in Matthew 18, he mentions it again and adds something:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt. 18:18-20)

Under Jewish law, you needed ten men of Bar Mitzvah age to have a religious meeting. This is called a minyan. I can remember during my years of religious training, that the men would often recruit a couple of us for the afternoon prayers because they did not have the required ten men. We were thrilled to get out of class! 

But here Yeshua says, “No, if just a couple of you gather in my name, I am there.”

Taken and Given

In Matthew 21, Yeshua explained how the Sanhedrin had abused their authority and rejected the prophets. Their final act would be to reject the Son. 

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matt. 21:43)

This passage has been wrongly used to promote replacement theology. But he never says he was taking the authority away from Israel, but merely the religious leaders. Hence, the passage continues with this: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.” (v. 45) It doesn’t say they knew he was talking about all Israel or the Jewish people, but merely, “the chief priests and the Pharisees.”

Next, in Matthew 28, he tells the soon-to-be Jewish apostles:

All authorityin heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

Yeshua says He has all authority. That means he can take it from whom he wants and give it to whomever He wants. He takes it from the Sanhedrin and gives it to the disciples. Part of that authority was to teach and interpret Scripture. Even as the Catholic church for centuries told everyday believers that they had no business reading the Bible on their own (you need an approved priest to tell you what it means), the Jewish people were (and are) overly reliant on the rabbis to tell them what the Scriptures say. If I had a nickel for every time a Jewish person said to me, “If Jesus were the Messiah, my rabbi would believe,” I would…well, I would have a lot of nickels!

Take some time to read Ephesians 3. Paul reveals the mystery “which was not made known to people in other generations” (v. 5)that God was doing something new, creating One New Man made up of Jews and Gentiles, that would shake the world. A new authority structure would be needed. 

And this is why Yeshua spent three and a half years training the disciples. These Jewish men did more in a few years than the rabbis had done since Moses! Even their enemies recognized this. 

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also!” (Acts 17:6)

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As Solomon grew older, he compromised greatly. As a result, God raised up Jeroboam to lead the northern tribes. A prophet of Yahweh tells Jeroboam that he will be king, and that Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, will only have one tribe, Judah. 

Lesson One—God doesn’t need your help

After Solomon dies, Rehoboam succeeds him. I love what happens next. Jeroboam already had received the prophecy that he would lead the northern tribes. All he had to do was wait for the Lord to act. But still, he seeks peace. He goes to Rehoboam and seeks to make a deal. He pleads with the young king to lighten the load on the people, assuring him that they would serve him. 

Just because you have a prophetic word from God doesn’t mean you should seek to bring it to pass. Let God do it. I believe that when David snuck up on Saul and cut off part of his robe, it was to show his men that he could take matters into his own hands whenever he wanted. But he then rebukes his men for wanting to touch God’s anointed. 

Jeroboam actually is willing to sacrifice his opportunity to be king, hoping that Rehoboam will choose peace. He simply tells the king, “Lighten our load and we will serve you loyally.”

Lesson Two—Consult with Elders

Rehoboam consults with the elders as to what to do. They gave him great advice. 

“If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” (1 Kings 12:7)

They understood the lesson that Yeshua would spend three years trying to impart to his disciples (see video onYeshua’s Greatest Challenge). Leading means serving. When you serve those under your authority, it invites loyalty. When you lord it over them, it produces resentment. 

Lesson Three—Avoid Nepotism 

Rehoboam had a great opportunity to build a solid kingdom. But instead he goes to “his boys” or “his posse” to get their take. 

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” (1 Kings 12: 8-9)

This is a huge mistake and is the result of his immaturity. What do “the young men who had grown up with him” know, compared with the elders?

Rehoboam spurned those who were qualified to advise him. It is human nature to want to have your friends and family with you, as you rise to power. We see this all the time. President Kennedy brought his brother Bobby. President Trump has Ivanka and Jarod. Ministry leaders often want to turn things over to their children. Oral Roberts. Kenneth Hagen. Jerry Falwell. Sometimes, this is absolutely the will of God. Other times, it is simply nepotism. 

How do you know? Ask yourself…if this person were notrelated to the leader, would they be considered for the job? In the case of Rehoboam, the answer is obviously no. Just look at the results. 

He takes their advice, which was to increase the load on the people, and it caused a great division in Israel. The kingdom was split into two. It is much better to have with you qualified coworkers, subordinates and advisors, than people whom you simply like having around.

Lesson Four—Finish Strong

After Jeroboam is given the kingdom by God, he relies on his own wisdom to keep the people with him. Why could he not simply rest in the fact that God had taken a former exile and made him King, according to the word of His prophet? The rest of the prophecy was that he would have a dynasty. 

If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. (1 Kings 11:38)

But he got scared, thinking that when the people would go to Jerusalem to worship, they might return to Rehoboam. So he built two golden calves (of all things!) and put them in Dan, and told the people it would be much easier to worship God there. 

“It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (1 Kings 12:28)

I know exactly where this is! We take our tour groups near the border of Lebanon in the Tel Dan nature reserve. Jeroboam started out faithful and God rewarded him with favor and honor. But he did not finish strong! I know many believers who started with great zeal, only to end in defeat, addiction, adultery or worse. Anyone can start a marathon, but can you finish?

And that, my dear friends, are some leadership lessons from ancient Israel. 

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We recorded a 4-part video series from the Book of John. This is must-see TV for anyone in leadership. Part one focuses on Yeshua’s greatest Challenge. Then, His greatest Cconcern, greatest Joy, and lastly, His greatest Fear. We will add an episode each week.

Yeshua’s Greatest Challenge Part 1

I have just finished a 4-part series on the final days of Yeshua's life:Yeshua's Greatest Challenge is the first one.

Posted by Ron Cantor on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Yeshua’s Greatest Concern Part 2

Here is part 2 in our series on Yeshua's final days:YESHUA'S GREATEST CONCERN!Yeshua was overcome with concern for His disciples, knowing that they would be confused by His death. In John 14-16 he seeks to prepare them. I find his words absolutely fascinating!

Posted by Ron Cantor on Thursday, November 1, 2018

Yeshua’s Greatest Joy Part 3

What was Yeshua's Greatest Joy? Check out Part 3 in Yeshua's Final Days.

Posted by Ron Cantor on Friday, November 9, 2018

Yeshua’s Greatest Fear Part 4

Yeshua's Greatest Fear!

We don't often think of Yeshua being afraid, but in part 4 of our series on Yeshua's final days, he expresses his greatest fear!

Posted by Ron Cantor on Friday, November 16, 2018
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