On Saturday morning, May 18, 2019, an arsonist firebombed Daystar’s studios located in Jerusalem destroying most of its facility.
Founded in the US in 1993 by Marcus Lamb, Daystar is the second largest Christian TV network in the world with over 70 TV stations in the US. In 2004, it moved into satellite broadcasting and is reaching over a 100 countries.
Daystar was in the final stage of a major renovation of its studio when it was attacked. Security cameras showed a person climbing to the top of the building around 2:30 in the morning, and a short time later, there was an explosion and a fire that destroyed much of the new studio, including its control room and equipment, and remaining facility.
Daystar’s studio is located in Abu Tor, a mixed Jewish/Muslim section of Old Jerusalem. Police speculate there may be a religious motivation behind the attack since it happened during Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, and in addition to being Christian, the station is pro Israel. A second theory has also surfaced involving an Arab person working with a neighboring business who got in a scrap with the people renovating the Daystar studio. According to reports, the individual did not show up for work the next day.
When Israel granted Daystar permission to start broadcasting in that country in 2006 it was met with criticism from Jewish leaders in both Israel and America who were concerned Daystar’s messianic broadcasts would convert Jews.
This resulted in one Israeli cable company, HOT, dropping Daystar from its programing because of the complaints. However, when Daystar took legal action, accusing HOT of religious discrimination, the cable company reversed its decision in 2009.
In an interview with CBN, Dave Sharett responsible for the renovations at the Jerusalem studio said:
“I believe God has a reason and purpose and at the very least he’ll redeem what has happened here. So, these ashes will raise up, be raised up and proclaim the glory of God.”
Daystar stated it plans to rebuild the Jerusalem studio.
But such attacks should not surprise us as the Apostle Peter warned about fiery trials:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; (1 Peter 4:12 NASV)
It’s thought that the Apostle Peter was in Rome when he wrote the letter because of a veiled reference to being in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). If this is the case, Peter was in Rome during the reign of Nero who initiated a horrific persecution of Christians.
The Roman historian Tacitus described Nero’s brutal treatment of Christians writing:
“Besides being put to death, [Christians] were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed” (Annales 15.44).
So the fiery trials that Peter was referring to may be an allusion to Christians literally being set on fire, or at the very least the apostle was describing an intense time of persecution. Tradition states that Peter was martyred as part of Nero’s persecution.
But twice in this verse the Apostle tells Christians not to be “surprised” or consider it “strange” that Christians will be persecuted.
This is not something that believers, particularly those in the west, are used to.
For years, Western Christians have lived in a bubble where we have avoided persecution. That is changing and believers need to prepare and harden themselves for persecution.