A prayer request for Israel’s upcoming elections
Illustration of a ballot box at a polling station in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Danielle Shitrit/Flash90)
As anyone who follows Kehila News Israel probably knows, we have a national election coming up on the 9th of April. I have a lot of opinions about the people running and who I think would be the best option to win and the general situation, but I really don’t want to ask whoever might be reading this to pray for my personal political preferences.
Rather, I’m asking you to pray for an issue to become important in this election which so far is being largely ignored by nearly everyone running.
That issue is the cost of living in Israel.
This issue is being SO ignored that Moshe Kahlon, the leader of the Kulanu Party who served as Finance Minister in the outgoing government and managed to push forward quite a bit of legislation which substantially decreased the cost of living in Israel, has built his campaign around an appeal for votes based on the slogan that he is “the only one who cares”.
It might be a sign that I’m getting soft and mushy in my old age, but that pierces me.
Frankly, I think it might be more than a political slogan. Based on the statements and platforms of most of the major parties, the cost of living (and the related quality of life) here is not something most of the people who aspire to govern this country are terribly concerned with or even aware of. This is even more astounding and infuriating when one considers the sheer number of people whose lives are negatively affected by this neglectful attitude
According to various reports I’ve seen over the years, mostly in The Jerusalem Post, nearly 20% of Israel’s general population, and an appalling 40% of children, live below the poverty line. Even among those who don’t live in poverty, there is a harsh mathematical reality that nearly everyone in Israel is familiar with whereby the money one must pay for rent, groceries, electricity, etc. is roughly equal to what one must pay for these things in Europe or North America (in some cases they’re even more expensive) but the amount of money most jobs pay in Israel is lower than a comparable job in Europe or North America.
This is a problem for Israel on many levels, but just for example think about the demographic issue.
I am personally acquainted with several people, including Believers, who were born in this country, grew up here, served honorably in the military and would have wanted to build their lives and their families here, but they left in their mid-20s and moved to other countries where they were eligible to become citizens for NO OTHER REASON than the economic one.
Israel NEEDS those people. The Believer community here DESPERATELY needs them. But you can’t really blame them for making the choice they did.
I know other Jewish people who live in the Diaspora, including members of my own extended family, who love to visit Israel and even speak really good Hebrew but they would never move here because they have a good quality of life where they’re living now and they know that if they moved here it would be much more difficult for them.
Then there’s a third category of people who moved here, stayed for a while and then moved back because the money they’d brought with them ran out and they couldn’t find an income which would allow them to make ends meet.
As good as the overall economic situation in this country is, most of the benefits of this booming economy are going to a fairly small percentage of people while the rest continue to struggle. Although I am not and never will be a “socialist” it is a fact that government policies, plans, laws and priorities can be tweaked and changed in ways that would hugely benefit many people without unduly penalizing those who achieve, innovate and create wealth.
All of this has been widely reported and commented on in the Israeli media for years, and about ten years ago there was a protest movement regarding it which started up and continued in fits and starts for a few years. But the politicians and business community paid little attention to this, and then other issues came back into prominence, mostly the ever-present and overlapping issues of “security” and what Israel is going to do with the Territories (aka Judea and Samaria aka the West Bank) as well as the diplomatic situation. All of these issues are known to be strongly emotive with voters, so politicians will focus on them and the cost of living gets almost totally ignored.
So I’m asking, as a personal favor for myself and many people like me who struggle in this situation, to pray that those who aspire to govern Israel would become more concerned with trying to find ways to make it more affordable for people to simply exist in this country. If you believe, as I do, that God wants the Jewish People to live in Israel, there are few things which are more important than this.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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A conversation with I AM
It’s only a conversation. But the immortal dialogue between God and Moses in Exodus 3 alters history and reveals an over-looked facet of the Almighty. From a blazing fire comes a voice. That voice comes from an intelligent Being. That Being is interacting with a human, conversationally!
When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush,“Moses, Moses!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I amthe God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (Exodus 3:4-6).
God is stepping out of Eternity into Time, as an Actor/Participant. This is reflected in the action words ascribed to God in the original text (my emphasis): Saw, called, said, am! As if to underscore his “being,” in verse 6 God uses an archaic Hebrew word אנכי. This form of “I” is declarative. It emphasizes personhood, not just existence.”
Their conversation is not just about God getting the attention of an 80 year old shepherd who tried to free his people from slavery and is now receiving that same assignment from the only One who can truly free them. This conversation is a new level of God revealing Himself. “I see. I hear. I am involved. I am not a vague, amorphous deity in the distant heavens, far removed from human life.”
God says: “I’ve seen the oppression of my people…and have heard their cry, because of their taskmasters, and I know their sorrows. So I’ve come down todeliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:7-8).
All of these are words of activity. Someone must “do” them. What I love here is not only that God is involved, but that He IS (although it’s awkward to ascribe the term to the Eternal Author of the universe)… He is a Person.
After God informs Moses that He’s going to send him to free the Israelites from their miserable slavery, the shell-shocked fellow asks a desperate question.
Moses: And who am I that I should do this?
God: I’ll be totally with you.
Moses: Ooof. Lord, you didn’t even answer the question. Or did you?
Moses: So, when I come to my people to announce this exodus, whom shall I say sent me?”
I love this exchange. First Moses asks, “Who am I?” Then he asks God, “Who are You?”
God: (and here’s the punchline) I AM WHO I AM. Or…I will be what I will be (which comes closer to the Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה (Exodus 3:14).
In other words, you are now speaking with ME. I have a name and this is my name forever – past, present and future. The Lord’s assurance of His personal presence empowers Moses and grants a solid inner security in the midst of a daunting task. God chooses to reveal Himself in a new, intensely personal dimension, not known to the Patriarchs (see Exodus 6:3).
Why? Because His ongoing conversational relationship with Moses will be the key to Israel’s supernatural victory over Egyptian idolatry and their inheritance of the promises. Should it be any different for us?
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 5, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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Brexit and messing with covenant
The events shaking the UK, with its legacy of Christian faith and birthing of modern democracy, are truly remarkable. The core issue is one of covenant.
God is treating unfaithful UK as a son by disciplining it, but there is mercy in judgement. It is time for the UK Church and the nation to renew its legacy of covenant – with the God of righteousness, as a United Kingdom, and with Israel.
British people barely voted on relationship with Europe. The nation slid gradually into the evolving European Economic Commission (EEC) and its hardly democratic and increasingly anti-Christian successor – the European Union (EU). Ex-prime minister David Cameron, therefore decided to offer the people a referendum on leaving. He himself thought it far better to remain, but being a democratically principled man let the people decide.
Cameron, who identifies as a Christian, in 2014 had previously offered the Scots a referendum on leaving the UK and was delighted that they chose to remain in covenant by 55% to 45%. At about the same time he introduced a gay marriage law, undermining the Biblical requirement of covenant exclusively between man and woman. Theresa May, a church-goer, was his Home Secretary overseeing this new same sex marriage legislation.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
To Cameron’s shock, the ‘Leave’ vote won by 52% to 48%. Fed up Britons chose Brexit and Cameron resigned. Theresa May, also a ‘remainer’, won the subsequent 2017 General Election, establishing herself as Prime Minister. Like Cameron, May chose to uphold the will of the people, informing the EU that the UK would leave after the required 3-year notice period – March 2019.
Issues of covenant are not new for Great Britain. In the 1917 Balfour Declaration, when evangelical Christians dominated parliament, the government promised a home land for the Jewish people in the Middle East. From 1923 to 1948 Britain, a world leader, governed the Holy Land, having every opportunity to keep their promise.
Genesis 12:3 clearly states concerning any nation’s relationship to Israel:
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you.
However, Britain’s chose cursing by compromising its covenantal promises – even abstaining in the 1947 League of Nations (today the United Nations) vote on establishing Israel. In 1948, Israel gained independence while Britain lost the ‘jewel in the crown’ of its huge empire, India. Britain then continued to appease the Middle East’s massive Arab Muslim majority, sometimes at the expense of fragile Israel.
In the latter part of the 20th Century, Britain did little to prevent Israel being attacked by its Arab neighbours in recurring wars, or even the UN. Meanwhile, the UK suffered from extreme and sustained terrorism relating to the political status of Northern Ireland, until Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic voted to approve the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, ending domestic terrorism – but only until the rise of jihadic terrorism. Meanwhile, UK anti-Semitism has been growing and Scotland pushes to leave the UK.
Back to today, from 2016 May’s government negotiated with the EU concerning trade and other post-Brexit arrangements. However, the highly compromised agreement she won was recently voted against by parliament in the biggest parliamentary loss for a ruling party in British history. The next day she faced a vote of no confidence, and only survived as Prime Minister thanks to the 10 votes of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party – the nearest thing to a UK Christian party. Now, if the UK cannot achieve a better agreement with the EU, the alternative default is the cliff edge of trading under unfavourable World Trade Organisation rules – a potential global economic earthquake. Otherwise Britain could remain in the EU at the cost of undermining democracy.
Let us intercede for the UK to understand and renew its covenants at this critical time – that our merciful God will make a way where there seems to be none, because of His covenant of love through the cross with those who fear Him!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, February 3, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Joni has worked in education and management and has been a writer for Kehila News Israel since 2016. He holds an MBA, as well as teaching qualifications. He lives in Israel with his family.
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Blood of the covenant and spiritual warfare (Part 2)
Read Part 1 HERE!
The second advantage of the blood is that it marks us as eligible to live according to the rules of the covenant and receive the blessings of the covenant. We are brought out of the afflictions, poverty and curses of “Egypt”; and brought into the “promised land” of milk and honey. (The name Egypt מצריים means the “straits of tribulation”).
The blood marks you as a vessel to receive blessings. It is a sign that you belong to a privileged group, a royal family (1 Peter 2:9). We are all invited by grace by the blood of Yeshua to become members of His blessing club.
The third advantage of the blood is that It influences us on the inside. The blood of Yeshua cleanses our souls (I John 1:7) and speaks to our conscience (Hebrews 12:24 – “to Yeshua, mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better than the blood of Abel”).
There is an ongoing, internal, spiritual influence by the testimony of the blood of Yeshua. We are led by its inner guidance and moral inspiration.
Hebrews 9:14 – How much more will the blood of Messiah, who sacrificed himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit, purify your conscience from works of death in order to serve the living God?
If we sin, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit to change (Romans 2:15, 8:16, 9:1). If we repent and believe, the Holy Spirit guarantees us that we are no longer under condemnation. Romans 8:1 – There is now no condemnation to those in Messiah Yeshua, who walk not according to the flesh but by the spirit.”
If we believe in the blood we are saved. We cross over into the covenant of grace. This blood covenant provides us with these three advantages during this lifetime:
- Marked territory – the demons cannot attack us
- Blessings restored – we receive all health, wisdom and provision
- Inner leading – we are shown how to walk in grace and purity
Through these three advantages, the blood of Yeshua gives us victory over the enemy in spiritual warfare.
Revelation 12:10-11 – “For the accuser of our brethren, who brings charges against them before our God, day and night, was cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, that they loved not their own souls even unto death.”
Notice that the emphasis of the attacks of Satan has to do with accusation. The blood is the guarantee to us that we are forgiven, and thus operates as a shield against demonic attack. The spiritual voice of the blood saying we are not condemned is stronger than the demonic voice of condemnation.
By making use of the spiritual power of the blood of Yeshua we can have victory over Satan. However, the blood must be put into effect (and backed up by our own life-and-death commitment). It must be placed on the “doorposts” of our bodies, minds, and souls.
When we understand these advantages of the covenant blood, we can believe and activate its power in our lives. There is power in the blood of Yeshua, and through it we can overcome every attack of evil.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, February 6, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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Dare to be
We are so good at putting ourselves and others in boxes. We don’t allow for people to be. Just be. We have an incessant need to figure out which box we fit best in and can’t deal with it when we meet people we can’t put in a box.
I’ve spent a lot of my life being told I was ‘too…..’ or ‘not enough…..’. I am yet to find the standards and criteria against which these judgements were being made, but what I know is that this resulted in my doubting the way I was made, and searching for a box that I fitted in ‘better’ than my own unique brand. I searched for a place where I could fit and belong so that less attention would be placed on my so-called failures. I looked to try and be another shade of grey, so that I wouldn’t be so acutely aware of all the ways I was ‘too…..’ or ‘not enough…..’.
I have met countless people that this has happened to. They’ve been told from a young age that something about how they are isn’t quite right, and this becomes the part of themselves that they fear the most, rather than celebrating their most unique feature.
It is so sad to see people who are incredibly gifted, ashamed or hiding their true selves in a box which they’ve decided the world will better accept them in. We’re so narrow minded in our definitions of who people are allowed to be. We allow our narrow version of what God is allowed to create to dictate what people are allowed to be. Rather than celebrating the creativity of God in making all humans unique, we punish people for their differences, and force them to be ashamed of the ways they’re different, so that they seek refuge in communities and boxes which they may have otherwise never run to.
This was my journey for a part of my life. I didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the culture into which I’d been born, and my gifts also seemed to never quite fit into the mould I was being graded against, so I ran away. Actually I gave up on some of those gifts ever being used.
I wasn’t a good writer, because my opinions weren’t backed up by enough scholars.
I wasn’t a good singer because I couldn’t sing like an opera singer, or a diva.
I wasn’t a good communicator because I was too direct and might offend someone.
I wasn’t a good artist because I didn’t have enough finesse.
I wasn’t good at loving others because I might get hurt.
to name a few…..
There came a point where I realised what had been going on, and I stopped dead in my tracks and resolved to be who I am. No more box fitting. No more denying who I am, what I think, or what my gifts are. No more being another shade of grey. It’s time to be true to me, true to who God made me to be, because if I don’t, this version of God’s creation will never be seen again on the planet.
What happened in that moment was that I realised that all those ways I’d been boxed in and squashed were the very ways that God wanted me to best function. That list above has moved from being a list of things I was doing all wrong and differently to why those who were judging me deemed best, to being a description of who I am and what I do best.
No, I don’t reference a ton on scholars in my writing, because I’ve come to realise that those scholars were also writing their own opinions, and we have for some reason deemed their opinions to be more important than anyone else. (Not that I disagree with learning – I am a big reader and I love to learn, but I don’t think that we should elevate people above people.)
No, I’m not an opera singer and I clearly wasn’t destined for a life of singing Mozart operas on the stage. But I can sing, my voice has it’s own purpose, audience and design.
No, I am not a communicator who loves to massage people where they’re at, and make sure they’re super comfortable and happy. I am someone who is passionately committed to helping people be fully engaged and released into their destinies in freedom, release and authority. I care more about that, than making sure I haven’t offended you.
No, I am not an art school graduate, I paint my songs and writings as I see and feel them, and what comes out is a spontaneous expression of a moment with God. I don’t believe these moments can be crafted. Yes, I practice and work at some of my skills, but I’m also ok with my lack of training.
Yes. I love deeply, and trust easily. I learned at a very young age that this will get me hurt, but it’s who I am, and to turn it off means I turn my heart to stone. I did that once, and the process of having heart surgery to replace the rock with flesh was a painful and long one. I don’t wish to repeat it. So I will continue to love others deeply, and trust others easily. And I’ll continue to get hurt every now and again. But those hurts become scars, which are just a map of my life, directing others, hopefully, to the one who gave me the heart in the first place.
Maybe you’ve not been allowing yourself to be you. Maybe you’ve been another shade of grey in order for others to not notice all the ways you think you don’t ‘fit in’. Maybe you’ve shut your gifts down so that you do’t have to deal with the ‘too…….’ and ‘not enough……’ comments. Maybe you have forced yourself into a box that isn’t really you, but you’ve found acceptance and community there. Maybe you’re just a shadow of the person you know you are really.
Maybe it’s time to dare to be. Be who you are. Be who you’ve been made to be. Allow those gifts to be cultivated and crafted by the Master Craftsman who put them there in the first place. Maybe it’s time to replace that heart of stone with one of flesh and allow yourself to be the unique, one of a kind creation, that will only walk the planet in your shoes.
This article originally appeared on Simcha Natan’s blog, January 24, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Simcha emigrated to Israel from the UK, with her husband and three children. Having studied theology and music and worship in London, and trained as a worship leader and song writer, she went on to teach music and be involved in worship teams in several congregations in the UK, and now in Israel as part of Sarah Liberman's team. Simcha is the author of the “Dare to Ask” project, comprising of the book 'Dare to Ask', and 3 CD's, Dreaming', 'Awakened' and 'Soar (To come) which each have a counterpart 30 day devotional study guide to accompany them. She is passionate about enabling people to engage with God in the way which they were made to, and is committed to multi sensory expressions. Simcha is also an artist, and paints her songs and messages to accompany the music and books. She is also the coordinator Ascend Carmel Programs.