Israel has been in the news a lot lately, especially with its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, being charged in three corruption cases. Sometimes it's hard for those of us who don't live in Israel to truly understand what's going on. After all, the media is not as unbiased as it used to be when it comes to reporting on Israel.
Because of that, I invited Pastor Avi Mizrachi onto my "Strang Report" podcast to help shed light on what's really going on. Mizrachi is the pastor of a Messianic congregation in Tel Aviv called the Adonai Roi Congregation. ("Adonai Roi" means "The Lord is my shepherd.")
"I believe we're in a time that we need, more than ever, to really pray for Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu," Mizrachi says. "We want to have a righteous government and a righteous prime minister. So I believe it's important that, as believers, we pray for our government and our leaders at such a time as this."
As a strong Christian Zionist, I was happy when Netanyahu was elected. He's been a strong leader and a good friend to the United States—and especially to our president, Donald Trump. But when this news broke about him being officially charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes, I was a little surprised. In some ways, it sounds like what the left is doing here in the U.S. to Trump.
Mizrachi agrees that Netanyahu has been a wonderful leader for Israel. But Mizrachi points out that as Netanyahu's wealthy friends from all over the world came to visit him, some complaints arose that he was receiving special gifts from these people.
"To make a long story short, they came to the conclusion that those gifts that he received from all the rich people from all over the world were actually considered as bribery and, therefore, it's fraud," he says. "We're talking about thousands of thousands of shekels and champagne, cigars—things like that."
Despite the charges, Mizrachi believes that Netanyahu isn't a crooked or evil man. Instead, he calls him a "good leader" and says many on the left don't like him to the point that they are pressuring him to step down.
But Mizrachi also points out that the charges are not confined to receiving gifts of champagne and cigars. They also include a time when Netanyahu tried to convince a media publication not to publish a negative piece about him. As a result, people are now saying he tried to manipulate the press.
"Definitely, there is a lot of attack on him personally," Mizrachi says. "I pray that if he's innocent, that all these lies will come out. But if he's guilty, then he has to pay for doing what is illegal."
It's important to point out that Netanyahu isn't the first Israeli prime minister to be charged with a crime. Ehud Olmert, who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, was charged with accepting bribes and obstruction of justice. As a result, Olmert actually went to prison.
Is Netanyahu's situation the same as Olmert's? Mizrachi says absolutely not.
"That was a totally different situation," he says. "[Olmert] was not a straight person. Before he became prime minister, he was mayor of Jerusalem."
While Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem, contractors came to him saying they wanted to build a large building. Olmert was not excited to approve this outlandish proposal, so the contractors gave him a big envelope full of cash. Soon after, Olmert approved the controversial project, speeding its development. After Olmert was charged, he was sent to jail for 18 months.
Because of his charges, Olmert stepped down from his position as prime minister. Many are pressuring Netanyahu to do the same thing. After all, they reason, he will not be able to serve his nation to the best of his ability while he has to focus on his trial.
Reports say, though, that the attorney general is not forcing Netanyahu to step down. So far, the prime minister says he can handle the tremendous pressure. Of course, this adds to the pressure of him not being able to form a government after Israel's two elections. All of that creates a large burden Netanyahu must carry right now.
For that reason, Christians must rise up and pray for him.
"I pray that the Lord will strengthen him during this time," Mizrachi says. "And if he is not [innocent], may the Lord expose any wickedness and unrighteousness for His holy name's sake and that God would raise up someone else to really form this unity government. We do need a strong unity government right now to face all the challenges that we are facing in the Middle East."
Will you join Mizrachi in praying for God's perfect will in this situation? God knows the truth of the charges surrounding Netanyahu. As Christians filled with the Spirit of God, we have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to intercede for the Holy Land and its government.
Listen to my full interview with Mizrachi for more insight into this difficult situation in Israel and tips on how you can practically pray right now!
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