Today is Yom Kippur, the most sacred and solemn day of the year in Jewish synagogues around the world. This is the “Day of Atonement,” one of the seven biblical holidays commanded by God when Moses led his people out of Egypt.

Here are some things about the Day of Atonement I find most interesting.

Israel’s modern-day, water-into-water miracle

Extended docks show how far the Sea of Galilee is below its former fill line. See the row of houses in the distance? Twenty years ago, the lake reached them!

Visit the Sea of Galilee today and you’ll certainly want to ride one of the “ancient boats” that take tourists out on the famous lake.

But to get there, you’ll have to walk on docks that have been extended … and extended … and extended.

The reason? After a 20-year drought, the Sea of Galilee is 38 feet below its old fill mark!

Important information? In biblical times and in our own day, water is a matter of life and death in the Middle East.

This current drought has helped create the horrendous civil war in Syria. When Syrian farmers were left to deal with the drought on their own, they ran out of water and money in only a few years. Farmland turned to dust and 1 million people became refugees in their own country. This was the beginning of the civil unrest in Syria a decade ago.

In the meantime, Israel faced the same crisis. Yet today, Israel has an excess of fresh water because of its determination to turn ocean water into fresh water.

The modern-day miracle of Israel’s desalination technology is making an impact around the world, including in water-starved California.

This week’s EIN Photos of the Day will tell the story of this modern-day miracle. If you’re already getting this free resource, watch for five new photos this week, starting today.

Want to sign up? It’s free and takes seconds. Use the sign-up form you’ll find right here on our web site!

Obviously, no one was praying …

A bystander looks at the boulder that fell out of its place in the Western Wall on Sunday.

It’s a little strange being thankful that no one was praying at a particular place on a Sunday morning, but for once, it makes sense.

It doesn’t happen often at the Western Wall (thank God!), but on Sunday, a 220-pound stone shot out from the wall and crashed to the platform below.

The area in question has recently been declared an area where men and women have been allowed to pray together.

This, of course, led to a great deal of anguish among some of the Orthodox Jews, who have begged the Almighty to never let such a thing happen. They’ve been quick to interpret the stone falling on the new area as being an answer to their own prayer, and a warning to the rest of us to pay attention. Men and women, you see, should not be praying together!

I don’t think my wife is going to be pleased with this development.

Ten who made an incredible difference

For the next two weeks, we’re telling the stories of ten amazing individuals through our free Photo of the Day. Want to sign up? Check out the form on the right side of any page on our web site!

More than 1,200 people already get our EIN Photo of the day five days a week. Join us … and learn something new about the land – and the people – of the Bible!

He’s small, furry … and in the Bible!

In Proverbs 30, one collection of small creatures takes the spotlight as a lesson for us.

Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces. – Proverbs 30:24-28

Feeling a little small and insignificant today? Take this lesson to heart.

Ants are small, but they work together and thrive like few other living things. There are millions of them just a few steps away from where you are, right now. Their homes around your home are incredible!

The hyrax (coney) is a small creature who would be easy prey for most of the meat-eating world. But because it makes its home in the crags of rocky mountains and canyons, he’s safe.

Locusts get amazing things done despite having no political party affiliation. Hmmm … maybe we should pay closer attention, no?

Lizards are quick, a little creepy and definitely hard to catch. Just last week I was assigned the task of trapping the one that had found its way to one of our bathrooms. When I finally caught it, I flushed it down the king’s throne.

Flushed lizards aren’t the lesson of this passage. Instead, it is this: No matter who you are, where you live, how small you might feel or how vulnerable your existence, you can still do great things. Just be the person God designed you to be, live where He wants you to live, and follow His ways.

That’s the message of the ant, lizard, locust … and that chilled-out coney, hiding in the crags.

News media bias on full display as US Embassy moves to Jerusalem

News media coverage of the US Embassy move to Jerusalem has focused as much on violent protests in the Gaza Strip as it has on the peaceful and monumental decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The news coverage today of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem is nearly as important as the event itself. Millions of people will form an opinion today not on the facts of the situation, but upon the way those facts are presented by national and international news media sources.

Consider:

Many news outlets continue to focus on the Gaza Strip as if the 1 million people who live there are equal partners in decisions made in Israel, by Israel. In plain talk, any non-resident of Israel is not an equal partner with the people who are citizens of Israel. But no doubt, many people watching the news today will assume Palestinians have somehow been unfairly left out of this decision-making process. To make matters more absurd, Israel didn’t make the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. The United States made that decision. Shall the United States ask the residents of Gaza permission of where we establish an embassy in other countries? Congress voted to move the embassy in 1995. If we’d moved it immediately, we wouldn’t be in this tragic situation today.

By its own choice in 1948, residents in Gaza and the surrounding area separated itself from Israel. Many others did the same thing. But the people of the Gaza Strip have been caught in a complicated trap of maintaining a hatred for Israelis and yet remaining in one of the world’s most crowded and tragic communities on the edge of an ever-prospering Israel. No one seems to know what to do with a people imprisoned by their own boundaries. But this is not Israel’s responsibility.

US Embassy move will be quite the birthday gift for Israel

These war-damaged frames of small armored vehicles alongside Highway 1 are decorated in celebration of Israel’s 70’s birthday. These trucks led the way through the treacherous hills that lead from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1948.

When tourists visit Israel, one of the first things they are likely to see are four groups of what appear to be junked truck frames alongside the main highway linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Few people know the story of why the metal frames have been carefully preserved for the last seven decades.

When modern-day Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, getting supplies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was critically important.

For several months, a small group of Jewish fighters struggled to hold the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City. They were vastly outnumbered and in constant need of food, water, ammunition, medical supplies and new troops. If they were going to survive, it would be because ordinary citizens in Tel Aviv would keep the supply chain moving.

From Israel’s perspective, killing the Iranian “nuclear deal” was the right thing to do

April 30, 2018: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows off 55,000 pages and 183 CDs said to contain documents, photographs and videos of Iranian plans to create nuclear weapons.

When President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, the criticism from most national and international political leaders and media outlets was loud … and predictable.

Perhaps that’s because most political leaders and news reporters don’t live anywhere near Iran.

It’s a little different in Israel.