Israel – Miracle nation
The modern state of Israel is a young country born merely 69 years ago. It is a small nation with approximately 8.5 million people in an area the size of New Jersey that has been plagues with conflict, war and terrorism even prior to becoming a state, and certainly since then. It is therefore surprising that Israel has developed to become one of the leading and most innovative countries in the world in fields as diverse as high-tech, bio-medical, agrotech, renewable energies, defense systems and many more.
Dozens of technologies that have changed the world were either developed in Israel or by Israelis. Some surprising examples are the Flash Drive (aka disk-on-key) that forever changed how we store and transfer data. What is less known is that it was developed by an Israeli company called Mirabilis and was bought out by another Israeli-owned company – SanDisk. Another Israeli development are the Intel 8088, Centrino, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Skylake and Kaby Lake processor chips, designed and developed by the Israel Intel team. More examples include Instant Messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), WhatsApp, Waze social navigation, the Amazon Kindle, the PillCam and many more.
Israel’s economy is sturdy and resiliant, and Israel is a proud member of the OECD group of economically developed nations. It boasts a robust and stable economy, ranks number one in the world for inflation stability, and continues to have a low unemployment rate. During the recent 2008-2009 global recession, when most developed nations declined into negative growth, Israel’s economy remained strong with positive growth demonstrating that although dependent on foreign economies, it is still strong intrinsically.
How then has the nation of Israel achieved such astounding breakthroughs and achievements, despite its small size and much opposition? The answer is simple – this is God’s doing! There is no other way to explain how a people that was dispersed among the nations for 2,000 years were regathered back to the Land given to them by God thousands of years ago. There is no other explanation to how their ancient but dead and unspoken language was revived to be their official language and their small and inexperienced military force (the IDF) was repeatedly victorious against multiple enemy armies that far outnumbered them in all parameters. And, in the midst of so many difficulties, Israel has become a shining light of innovation, advancement, economic stability and democracy in a region where many still live under tyranny and in poverty.
God foretold of these events through the prophets of Israel thousands of years ago. The prophet Ezekiel said: “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land… Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.” -Ezekiel 36:24-29
Zechariah said in chapter 1 verse 17, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity…”, while the prophet Jeremiah said, “I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first… all the nations of the earth [which] will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the abundant prosperity and all the peace that I make for it” (33:7,9).
This is the time when God is restoring Israel and making her the head of the nations. This is seen through her miracle rebirth as a modern nation in 1948 and continued successes on all fronts. Believers around the world not only have the opportunity to bless Israel and be blessed (through investment possibilities in Israel’s economic success, donations etc.) but also are called to do so. Will you respond to the call?
Being passionate about both ministry and business, Stefan serves as the Executive Pastor at the vibrant Messianic-Israeli congregation Kerem-El in Haifa along with his wife Keren, an Israeli worship leader and songwriter. He serves as a Director at Wise Money Israel, the first Jewish believer-run Investment Portfolio Management firm in Israel working with individuals, ministries and organizations around the globe to invest in Israel.
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Is there an Immersion in the Holy Spirit?
Some teach that there is no immersion of the Holy Spirit or Second Blessing. However, we can see clearly in Acts 8 (The Samaritan Revival) the distinction between the salvation experience and the Holy Spirit coming upon believers.
“When [Peter and John] arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been immersed in water in the name of the Lord Yeshua.” (Acts 8:15-16)
No Sinner’s Prayer in Acts
Immersion in water, a very common Jewish practice at the time, was the sinners’ prayer of the book of Acts (Acts 2:21, 8:12, 36, Acts 10:47-48) and there was no such thing as “Baptism Classes”. It was the immediate, first expression of your new faith. When you went into the water, you were saying, “I believe in Yeshua, that He is the Messiah and died as a sacrifice for my sins.” (Acts 8:15-16)
But then the apostles came down to lay hands on the Samaritans and see them also immersed in the Holy Spirit, because, “the Holy Spirit,” although He was in them, “had not yet come on any of them.”
The purpose of the two distinct experiences is clear. The first is for personal salvation; forgiveness of sins. We see this in Romans 6, one of my favorite verses.
“We were therefore buried with him through water immersion into death in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”(Romans 6:4)
Immersion in water was the perfect picture of dying to the old way and being raised to newness of life. The water symbolized a grave. What an awesome picture of death and resurrection! Can you imagine on the day of Shavuot, thousands of Jewish people all over Jerusalem going into the, more than 100, mikvot (immersion tanks) in the Old City, only to rise up out of the water, free and forgiven!
Why do we need more?
So why do we need the second blessing? The first blessing, salvation, is for you. But the second is to empower you to reach others. God would come upon these new believers with His Spirit so they could preach with conviction and do signs, wonders and miracles. The best picture of this is Simon Peter. This fellow cut off a guy’s ear and denied he knew Yeshua just 50 days earlier. When they met in Galilee he was dejected. But after the Holy Spirit comes on him in power, he stands on the Temple steps and proclaims Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, saying, “Men of Israel…”
His message was so powerful that his hearers were cut to the heart, and 3,000 Jewish men, plus women and children, came to faith in Yeshua. (Acts 2) And then, he sees a crippled beggar. He prays for him and the paralyzed vagabond jumps up, praising God. That is the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
Have you received Yeshua? He is ready to forgive you and receive you and give you newness of life.
Have you received the Holy Spirit’s empowerment? If not, ask God for it. It is his great joy to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, June 26, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.
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YHVH God will not be thwarted!
Recently, the verses at the end of Jeremiah ch. 31 and 33 came to me in a new way. Those verses speak of YHVH having control of the solar system and of the universe, and that as long as He does, Israel will remain His people and His covenants with David and with Levi will be fully kept. Usually these verses are used by believers in God’s faithfulness and power to fulfill His covenant promises and to emphasize that Israel has not been replaced by another people. BUT, SHOULD GOD LOSE CONTROL OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM AND THE UNIVERSE, WHAT BECOMES OF ENGLAND, OR THE U.S., OR TO THE ARAB NATIONS, OR EVERY OTHER CREATED THING?! The LORD has bound up EVERYTHING in His promises to His chosen people. It is not about Israel only; and it all about Israel. No one has anything unless Israel gets hers; no one can live should the Lord ever lose control of His created system and order. Israel is God’s surety of life, and as is written in Rom. 11, the return and salvation of the Jewish people/Israel back to YHVH their God [through repentance and faith in Yeshua following Jacob’s Trouble/Great Tribulation] will be life from the dead for the world!
As the world continues to show its irrational opposition to Israel, as witnessed once again by UNESCO voting that a historically and religiously important site to the Jewish people and to Israel long before Islam and Christianity came forth belongs to the Palestinian Muslim heritage, the prophetic Word of God continues towards fulfillment. This time, UNESCO and the Muslims say that the burial place in Hebron, which Abraham purchased at full price in order to bury Sarah (Gen 23), and where also Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are buried — the fathers and mothers (including Rachel) of the people of Israel — is actually a Muslim holy site! God will judge the nations for their refusal to accept His sovereign choice of Isaac and of Jacob and of Jerusalem in the Land of Canaan, as He will also continue to press His own chosen people Israel over their refusal to accept His Son, Yeshua, as the Lord and Messiah. PRAY FOR ALL THESE THINGS FOR THE SAKE OF THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND THE LORD YESHUA THE MESSIAH/JESUS CHRIST. HIS NAME WILL BE SANCTIFIED AND GLORIFIED!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, July 9, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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“Between the Straits” on the Hebrew calendar
July 11, 2017 was an important day in the Hebrew Scriptures and calendar, called “the fast of the fourth month” in Zech. 8:19. On this day, Tammuz 17, in both 586 BC and 70 AD, foreign armies breached the walls of Jerusalem. This led quickly to the city’s tragic fall and exile of the Jews. (2 Kings 25:3-4) What are the implications for followers of Yeshua today?
Tammuz 17 launches a period of three weeks, ending on Av 9, called “Bein Hametzarim.” This translates in English to Between the Narrow Places or Between the Straits. The period is sometimes also called Dire Straits or Narrow Straits. (The name derives from Lamentations 1:3 in the original Hebrew.) Many terrible disasters have befallen Israel and the Jews during Bein Hametzarim through the millennia. Therefore, this is a sober season of reflection and realignment with YHVH. Spiritual and natural warfare often seems to intensify, especially—but not exclusively—toward Israel. Observant Jews fast today and at the end of the period on Av 9, mourning the whole time in between. For those who follow Yeshua, this is an hour of increased watchfulness and intercessory prayer. We are sober and alert, yet encouraged in Yeshua.
Here are three keys to help you navigate Between the Straits fruitfully by the Holy Spirit: (1) Realign your heart, mind and will with YHVH, so the enemy can not take undue advantage of your weak areas or unrepentant sin. Then walk confidently in Messiah’s holiness by the power of His grace. (2) Intentionally worship and joyfully exalt the Lord. Daily declare the sovereignty and supremacy of YHVH over all that concerns you, Israel and her enemies. (3) Be faithful to your call as a watchman or woman on the walls of Jerusalem. Pray protection over Israel’s restoration. For help in learning how to pray with wisdom for Israel at this and other times, check out our Prayer Guide for Israel at lightofzion.org/prayer/guide.
Lastly, be encouraged! In the Messianic Age, the fast of the fourth month “will become [a] joyful and glad occasion and happy festival for Judah.” (Zechariah 8:19)
This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, July 11, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Sandra is co-founder and director, along with her husband Kerry, of Light of Zion Ministries. Light of Zion is an Israeli Messianic Jewish, prophetic intercessory prayer ministry in Jerusalem with humanitarian outreach. Sandra is a prayer mobilizer and network leader, international speaker, prophetic liaison, professionally published author, Bible teacher, and retired attorney.
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What running in a marathon taught me about following Christ
The Epistles of the Apostle Paul are filled with comparisons of the life of a Believer to athletics.
1 Corinthians 9:24 says; “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
Hebrews 12:1 says; “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
There are many others.
Last Monday evening, I was among almost 1,000 people from Israel and around the world to participate in the 5 kilometer segment of the “Jerusalem Night Run” which was part of the 20th Macabbiah Games, aka the “Jewish Olympics,” which take place every four years here in Israel. Many more people participated in the 10K and half-marathon races.
I’d like to tell you that these passages of Scripture cited above passed through my mind as I was getting warmed up for, running and finishing the race, but I’m afraid that wouldn’t be true.
Let me tell you what DID happen.
The assembly point for those who would be participating in the races was the Jaffa Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City, and a half hour before the race was to start, they opened a path and let us stroll down to the starting line. I tried to use that time to stretch and warm up, but mostly I just wanted the race to start. It was the first time I’d ever run in a long-distance event like this, and I was uncomfortable and nervous.
I didn’t feel very sleek or athletic looking in the Spandex Dri-fit T-shirt that was provided to runners, despite getting the biggest size they had. I imagined that if I started running and got a cramp, or if I started huffing and puffing, gasping and wheezing etc.like the upper-middle-aged man I undeniably am, people watching the race would probably laugh at me and I might even end up on someone’s youtube channel as an object of ridicule.
To mix metaphors, at that point I had a pretty bad case of stage fright and second thoughts about whether this had been a good idea and I just wanted to get it over with, whatever “it” was going to be.
When the bell sounded for the running to start, there was a few people ahead of me in the starting area so I just started to walk forward, but soon there was a clear path so I could start to jog. Before I reached the marker which told me I’d completed the first kilometer, I was passing people who had already stopped running and were walking instead. A few minutes later, I reached the half-way point at an intersection on Hebron Road and turned around to start heading back towards the finish line.
At every moment, I expected my body to send a signal to my brain that I needed to stop running and start walking, but before I knew it, I saw the marker on the side of the road (next to a place I’ve eaten pizza on many occasions) which said I’d reached the 4K mark. I was 80% done with the race and I was feeling just fine.
Then, I could see the finish line up ahead. I put my head down and tried my best to finish strong, coming through the finish line with immense satisfaction after seeing the clock on the side displaying a finishing time WAY ahead of my most deliriously optimistic hopes.
A step or two later, I saw my wife and sons waving at me from the side and I made what I thought was a smooth transition from the easy running pace I’d maintained throughout the race to an easy walk…and my legs almost collapsed under me.
Somehow, while I’d stayed in motion, they’d been fine, but all of a sudden they felt like they were made out of jelly and I had to fight with them to carry me the last few steps to where my family waited to greet me.
As I hugged my wife and accepted my eldest son’s enthusiastic congratulations, a non-Scriptural-but-still-good thought finally did make it into my head.
It was something I heard once in a sermon, or a podcast maybe, or something, and it went like this.
“The life of a follower of Jesus Christ isn’t like a sprint, it’s like a marathon.”
Some of you are probably thinking that a 5 kilometer race isn’t a real marathon, and technically you’re right. But it was close enough for me, and this whole experience prompted the following takeaways, which I hope bless someone out there who might be reading this.
First of all, I signed up for this race months ago and started training immediately. I got up early in the morning and did an hour of training every single day except Saturday for almost four months. That’s what our spiritual lives require as well. We should get up early every morning to read the Bible and pray for at least an hour. That way, when the tests come, we’ll be ready.
Second, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, but what’s on the inside, just like the Bible says in Samuel 16:7; But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
My heart and lungs were in the shape they needed to be in to carry me through that 5K race, even though I DID look kind of chubby in a Spandex race T-shirt.
Finally, as we move forward on the path that the Lord has set for us, we need to keep up a steady pace. Don’t try to do too much too quickly. There will be times when that’s needed, but for most of us, most of the time, what’s called for is a steady pace, moving forward every day, day in and day out. The important thing is to keep moving forward. If we stop (or even slow down too much) before the finish line, we might not get to the finish line.
So that’s what I’ve got for you brothers and sisters. Like I said, I hope this blessed someone out there.
One other thing. If you pray, pray for my legs. They’ll probably still be sore by the time you read this.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.