Secrets surrounding the birth of Messiah (Part 1)
You know what I love about Christmas? Well, it is not the eggnog or Santa imposters. Nor is it the trees, stockings, watching “Home Alone” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In truth, I have never celebrated Christmas. I did not grow up with it and, here in Israel, December 25th is just another day. You could go through the entire day in Tel Aviv and have no idea that it was Christmas.
But what I do love about it, is that each year, at this time with so much focus on the story of the birth of Messiah, I find myself drawn afresh to Luke, chapter two. Over the past few years, I have really fallen in love with this story. And, then, something happened last April—something possibly earth-shattering. I saw something that I will share a few details about, at the end of this series.
I urge you to read this until the end -the most exciting parts are in the middle.
But, first, there is much about the story of Yeshua’s birth that is slightly off and incorrect. Let’s set the record straight.
Ruth Needs to be Honored
The story of Yeshua’s birth really starts with a Gentile who loved the Jewish people. You know Ruth’s story. She was the Moabitess whose husband died. Instead of going back to her own people, she clung to her mother-in-law Naomi, and was eventually spotted by Boaz. Where was Boaz from? Why, Bethlehem, of course. Technically, it was Bethlehem Ephrathah.
“Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, ‘We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.’
” …Ruth … gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: ‘Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.’” (Ruth 4:11-17)
Ruth is the great-grandmother of David, and Yeshua is the Son of David. Those blessings over Ruth were prophetic and referred to the coming Messiah. I imagine those elders, who thought they were just taking care of some mundane business, suddenly felt the Spirit of God when Ruth legally was given to Boaz and they prophesied.
When they said, “May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem,”surely they were prophesying where the Messiah would be born! Of course, this is confirmed by the prophet Micah, who said:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, December 22, 2018, 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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Australia’s new stance on Jerusalem – half-right, or all wrong?
Australia’s recognition of “Western Jerusalem” can only perpetuate the Arab-Israeli conflict, not, as the Labor Party fallaciously charges, because it supports Israel’s claim to half the city, but because it supports the false Arab claim to any of it.
What, I have been asked, are we to make of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s December 14, 2018 announcement that his government now recognises “West Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel?
The move has been welcomed by many – the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the Australian Jewish Association (AJA), Advance Australia, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) among them.
I can identify the political considerations likely to have lent shape to both the decision by Australia’s PM and the response to it from my Jewish friends and Christian brothers.
But what I – who have longed to see Australia do “the right thing” (to quote Liberal Party Senator James Paterson) by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and relocating its embassy there – make of Morrison’s announcement is this:
– Applauded by some as a step in the right direction, it is surely a step in the wrong one.
– Instead of being “balanced”, “measured” and “well-considered” it is prejudiced against the only true claimants; it perpetuates the universal distortion of the indisputable truth, and it singularly lacks the courage of statesmanship.
– By referring (five times!) in his statement to “Western Jerusalem” Morrison is actively – if involuntarily – maintaining a malicious myth based on widespread falsehood and deceit.
– There is no Western Jerusalem.
– There is no Eastern Jerusalem.
– In its documented 4000-year history, Jerusalem has never been a city with two halves. (The 19-year Jordanian occupation of part of the city was internationally condemned as illegal.)
– In their verifiable recorded national history (Biblical and post-Biblical, written and archeologically substantiated), while in their land and during their centuries of exile from it, the Jews for 3000 years regarded Jerusalem as their capital.
– By contrast, the Palestinian Arabs have not a single day of national historical existencehere on record. They have simply never been a nation with a state. They have never been a sovereign anywhere, let alone in any part of this city. How, then, is the Morrison government’s new policy “balanced”?
– In their brief modern form as a savagely anti-Semitic political entity, the ‘Palestinians’ have consistently and violently rejected submissions that the Jews have any right to the city or the land.
– Combined with Morrison’s “commitment to a two-state solution”, his de facto re-division of Jerusalem with this recognition of its ‘Western’ part will only harden the resolve of these enemies of Israel.
– Australia’s recognition of “Western Jerusalem” can therefore only perpetuate the Arab-Israeli conflict, not, as the Labor Party fallaciously charges, because it supports Israel’s claim to half the city, but because it supports the false Arab claim to any of it.
What I’ve also noted:
– While Israel has diplomatically expressed appreciation for Morrison’s move, it has also not tried to hide its disappointment.
– Morrison’s attempt to be “balanced” and “measured” has earned him little support from friends, unleashed scorn from his political opponents, and fed fury and condemnation from Australia’s enemies.
– Australian Christians by and large have abandoned the political battlefield to the enemy; except for a relative handful of exceptions that I’m aware of, they will not speak publicly and openly enough into the question of their country’s recognition of undivided Jerusalem, nor strongly voice their opposition to a ‘Palestinian’ state being established in the Land of Israel.
– The ‘progressive’ Left, meanwhile, attacks without letup – calling relentlessly for the recognition of Palestine and division of Jerusalem into the capitals of two states, and heaping scorn on Eric Abetz, Tony Abbott, James Paterson and others who want to truly stand with Israel.
– The ANZAC spirit that a hundred years ago led in liberating of the Land of Israel from Islamic Ottoman rule is today sadly unseen.
However – and I refuse to accept that current circumstances cannot be turned around – being unseen doesn’t mean that the courage and unstoppability of the ANZACS has been lost.
I’ve met thousands of Aussies and I know how strongly they love their country and how that motivates them to want to help see their leaders do the right thing.
Australians, and Australian Christians, can be fearless; they can continue to lobby their government to be fearless.
They should note the following:
– The taboo attached to recognising Jerusalem – the log-jam – has been broken by the United States and Guatemala; the Czech Republic has taken its first step in that direction by opening the Czech House in Jerusalem; Brazil’s about-to-be-inaugurated new president has announced his intention of moving its embassy, and Scott Morrison’s move – with a course correction – can be built on. There is momentum that Australia can catch and ride.
– Donald Trump’s step-by-step approach (first announcing recognition of Jerusalem and committing to moving the embassy; then saying that it would take years and cost a fortune; then saying it could be done by the end of 2018; then setting the date on Israel’s 70th anniversary date; and finally opening the embassy on May 14 this year, just five months after his first announcement) defused the hysteria of the Islamic world and brought to virtually nothing their threats of violence.
– Even if those threats are real, Aussies have had – and I’m sure still have – the guts to stand for what they believe is right, pooh-poohing the danger. They are not known, nationally, to be self-centered. Australia has been ranked at the very top of the world’s most generous-hearted countries.
– The Australian creed of “a fair go” can and should be harnessed in service of this cause. What needs changing is the focus from the distortion framing the ‘Palestinians’ as the underdog; as Israel’s victims to, (using the documented and verifiable facts mentioned above) the also readily-substantiated truths: that Israel is the victim of international injustice and prejudice; that standing with Israel on its claims to its ancestral homeland and millennia-old capital is the right and fair thing to do.
As a Bible-believing Christian, these are also my thoughts:
– A professing Pentecostal, Scott Morrison’s stand on Jerusalem (and his support for a two-state solution) would resonate with those who say they are Christians but who widely hold the Scripturally unsupportable view that the promises God once made to the nation of Israel now apply to the Church. The Prime Minister’s political statement could suggest that he regards as no longer valid God’s specific designation of the Land of Israel within the Biblically-prescribed borders (which include not only Judea and Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights, but also parts of today’s Jordan, Syrian and Lebanon) as belonging forever and exclusively to the Jews.
– The lying assertion that they only want “Eastern Jerusalem” as the capital of the hoped-for State of Palestine only seeks satanically to mask the truth about the part of the city the Islamic world really wants: the Mountain of the LORD God of Israel, where He has inscribed His name and on which He will enthrone His King (Psalm 2:4-6).
Speaking of the Bible, it’ll soon be Christmas when Australian Christians will call to mind the following verses. Do they believe all that Gabriel says?
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33 – emphasis mine)
NB: Jerusalem – made capital 3000 years ago by King David of the tribe of Judah, hence David the Jew. The capital and site of the throne of the coming Messiah, Son of David, Lion of Judah, King of the Jews who will reign over the “house of Jacob” – Jacob who was renamed “Israel” and from whose 12 sons the tribe of Judah, the Jews, originates.
Christians – at least those who say they believe the Bible – must surely be challenged to see and understand this.
This article originally appeared on Jerusalem Watchman, December 20, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Stan has lived in Israel for half of his life even though he was born to a Gentile couple serving on the mission field in the small kingdom of Swaziland. Following three years volunteering on Israeli collective farms in the 1980s, he worked as a political reporter for the South African newspaper, The Daily Dispatch – where his pen had its training during apartheid’s waning years. He has traveled to various nations, speaking to Christians about developments in Israel. In 2011 he was accredited by the Israel Ministry of Tourism as a tour guide, and takes individuals, small groups, families, busloads and helicopter-loads of Christians around God’s Land.
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Trump’s Syrian policy undermines Israel’s security
U.S. armored vehicle in Al-Hasakah, northeastern Syria, May 2017 (Photo: screenshot Qasioun News Agency via Wikimedia Commons)
For end-time prophecy followers, last week was a big week. Many end-time prophecy scenarios forecast an alliance of Russia, Iran and other “northern” countries against Israel and a renewed Roman Empire (the European Union?). President Trump’s surprise announcement of withdrawing America’s military forces from Syria hands Russia and Iran carte blanche in Syria and essentially seals her fate as a Russian/Iranian puppet regime in the Middle East.
While Israel is most concerned by the spread of Iranian influence, Russia’s strengthening position in the Middle East does not bode well for Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu artfully has triangulated Russian and American interests in the region, but with the exception of a period of support for Israel at the founding of the State, Russia historically has bolstered Israel’s enemies. The alliance between Russia and Iran in Syria, absent a US presence, spells trouble, especially with Putin as President, who has grand designs for a greater Russia.
Many believers enthusiastically support President Trump, especially because of his “pro-Israel” policies, best exemplified by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. But this is an example of elevating symbol over substance. Simply put, Trump policies are increasing Israel’s security risks. One of his early foreign policy positions was to withdraw the US from the nuclear agreement with Iran. While the Iranian agreement, fashioned under the Obama Administration, had many drawbacks, the reality was that the US maintained clout with Iran, and an effective leader probably could have curbed Iranian aggression in the Middle East. By withdrawing from the treaty, the US forfeited any role in influencing Iranian behavior, and further thrust Iran into the hands of Russia and China. While the Trump Administration strengthened sanctions against Iran, Russia and China continually ignore them and assist Iran in circumventing them. This was not true during the Obama years when most countries abided by the sanctions against Iran, ultimately forcing her to the negotiating table.
Now, the one stabilizing force in the region, the US, is pulling out. With the help of Russia and Iran, Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s butcher of a president, should easily be able to retake territory currently under US and Kurdish control, thereby solidifying his position over the entire country. It’s almost certain that weapons transfers from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon will only increase, leading to a likely conflagration with Israel in the not too distant future.
As I said at the beginning, for Armageddon watchers this was a big week. For those who live in Israel, nerves are fraying.
Jamie Cowen is a Partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh Law Offices, Petach Tikvah, Israel; Former Rabbi, Tikvat Israel Congregation, Richmond, Viriginia; Former President, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Former Chief Counsel, US Senate Subcommittee 1978-1986
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I’ve had the draft for this blog post sitting here for a while now, and I think I was in the middle of walking through a fresh lesson on this, and needed to come through it before writing it down.
Recently I walked through a very painful season of having to deconstruct many things I hadn’t realised I’ve been doing. I was disappointed, hurt, angry and disgruntled with God.
Anyone been there?
He had walked me down a path, which I had, in all honesty, followed him down in blind obedience. He had provided for all my needs – up until a point, and then he seemed to just disappear! Over the course of weeks that followed this ‘great disappearance’ my prayers moved from somewhat holy requests for help, to pleading, to begging, to outright tantrums.
I have realised with the beautiful gift of hindsight that not only was I having a hissy fit in front of the great almighty creator of all things, but I was also threatening him. Not in a conscious, violent way, but I definitely found myself praying things like this; “God, I don’t know what to ask or say to you, but if you don’t do XYZ, I will just have to quit”.
Looking back, it’s amusing, but it was painful. I was genuinely upset, saddened and disappointment that God hadn’t ‘kept his end of the bargain’. It was a bigger lesson for me to learn, because I don’t have a problem finding faith for big things. I was raised in a home which was fuelled by faith and we saw miracles all the time. I am used to God providing in amazing and last minute ways. So when he didn’t, I felt insulted, that I, the person who had the faith, couldn’t even push through this thing I was tough for me.
And then one day it hit me.
God doesn’t owe me anything.
He can easily provide a thousand cattle on a thousand hills, but for some reason, right now, he’s choosing not to. I don’t know why, but as God – he is allowed to be above my understanding!
Then another thing hit me.
Maybe the whole process I’ve walked through wasn’t about the thing I have been working on (although I do think God will use it), but has actually been about me coming through a process?
I arrived at a place where I was so broken and smashed by the lack of ‘results’ I was seeing from God that I eventually collapsed in a heap and said those small words that always change everything “Ok God – just take it.”
This thing was twisting me up inside. I was drowning in a sea of tears of disappointment and couldn’t understand why God would tell me to do something, provide for most of it, and then just disappear with his wallet!
“Ok God – just take it’“ – Wow. It was like I suddenly felt the weight of what I’d been carrying as it lifted! I realised this project doesn’t actually belong to me anyway. It’s his. It was his words, his songs and if he wants people to hear and read them, then he has to breathe on it. Otherwise, I’ve done my best, I’ve written it for the glory of his name, and that is enough.
My wonderful friends and family say such beautiful things to me like “I’m sure it’ll do better than you think, you wait – it’s going to be epic…etc”. To these wonderful comments I found myself saying “nothing is guaranteed. Even in that response, there is a wrong motive.
Yes. One could say in the writing of books and the recording of music, there is a hope that it’ll be heard and read. Yes.
I’m not entitled to anything.
My job is to be an obedient servant. It is not to question, demand, expect or think I, in some way deserve something because God has a deal to keep with me. He doesn’t. He’s looking for a truly surrendered life that finds joy in knowing that they are walking in the centre of his will, even when things don’t make any sense. That is clay he can work with.
The moment I start making demands, put expectations on him, or worse yet – threaten him, I have turned my mouldable clay self, rock hard. He can’t work with that.
He will do as he pleases with the work of my hands. If it remains hidden, then so be it. He has his reasons.
Ok God – just take it.
Five words that change life.
This article originally appeared on Simcha Natan’s blog, October 7, 2018, 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.
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The Lion of Judah
PARASHAT VAYECHI (AND HE LIVED)
BERESHEET (GENESIS) 47:28–50:26
In this week’s parasha, we get a clear example of why we must read the entire Word of God as a whole book, rather than as two separate parts. In Genesis 49:1, many of the English translations write, “Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what shall befall you in the days to come.” A more accurate translation would be, “Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather together and I will tell you that which will happen to you in the end of days (the last days).’”
This week I would like to share some thoughts on Genesis 49:8-12, which was Jacob’s prophecy to Judah. While this blog entry may be a little longer with many scripture references to support my thoughts, please take the time to read it to the end! I believe you’ll be blessed by the richness of the Scriptures’ meaning.
Judah, your brothers shall praise (acknowledge) you; your hand shall be on the nape of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff (law maker) from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience (Or gathering in order to obey) of the peoples. “He binds his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. Red eyes are dull from wine, and teeth white from milk.
Let’s start with verse 8:
Judah, your brothers shall praise (acknowledge) you; your hand shall be on the nape of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
This speaks of the fact that Judah will inherit the place of the older brother, and that all of the brothers will look up to him and will bow down to him. Many commentaries also speak about the fact that Judah will inherit the role of the leader of the children of Israel, which is something that happened from the time of King David. As I was reading this verse, I was thinking about Yeshua our Messiah, and the fact that one day Israel will acknowledge and recognize Him as the promised One:
And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
…that at the name of Yeshua EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Then we have verse 9:
Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
The image of Judah as a lion in verse 9 is also very important in biblical prophecy. In fact, Messiah is referred to as the “Lion of Judah” in Revelation 5:5:
…and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
There is no doubt that the next verse (verse 10) clearly speaks about the Messiah:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff (law maker) from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience (Or gathering in order to obey) of the peoples.
A day is coming when a ruler – the lawmaker and the judge from the house of David — will come, and all the people of the world will gather around Him and obey Him. The name, Shiloh, is also one of the many names of Messiah in Judaism. This verse parallels another amazing verse that speaks about a ruler that will come out of Bethlehem, who was here from the beginning and will rule over Israel:
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.
Micah 5:2 (1 in Hebrew)
The final two verses are very challenging verses to understand in Hebrew; however, I personally believe that they directly point to Yeshua as the Messiah. Let’s look at verse 11 first:
He binds his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes.
Zechariah 9:9 speaks of a King that will come to Zion- a humble King who will bring salvation and will ride on a donkey:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Clearly, Yeshua fulfilled this expectation in Matthew 21:1-5:
And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Yeshua sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’”
Furthermore, when one reads of the washing of the garments in wine and with blood of grapes, it ought to direct us to two more places that speak directly about the Messiah. Isaiah 9:1-8 (8:23 -9:7 in the Hebrew Bible) speaks directly about the Messiah and in it, verse 4 reminds me of the words from Genesis 49:11… “For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.” This verse speaks of the Messiah as one that will bring victory in the war of holiness.
Isaiah 63:1-5 also speaks of Messiah in a similar way that is echoed in our portion from Genesis 49:
Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? “I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger, and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. And I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so My own arm brought salvation to Me; and My wrath upheld Me.”
The final verse from Genesis 49 is difficult to understand, but I think we can find something relating to Messiah in it: “Red eyes are dull from wine, and teeth white from milk.” While some commentaries speak of the description of the Messiah that will have “red eyes”, I was thinking of the event that took place at the Garden of Gat Shemanim (also known in English as “Gethsemane”). The event took place after the Passover meal, where the disciples would have had 4 cups of wine as prescribed in the traditional feast. We recall that every time Yeshua returned from praying, He found them sleeping since their eyes were “heavy”. Could it be that their eyes were red and dull from drinking wine, which Jacob/Israel prophesied thousands of years before?
This entire portion of Scripture is so rich with references to Messiah! It’s a strong reminder that He is the One that the Jewish people waited for, and that He will come again, as the Scriptures foretell. I’m grateful for the Word that our gracious God has given us! Let’s be encouraged and hopeful.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.