Whatever you did for one of the least of these
My husband and I suddenly had a free Friday morning together. We debated going out for breakfast but decided to pick up some groceries instead and do a breakfast date at home. We parked at a supermarket we passed on the way. I decided that I wanted to get fresh juice, a pre-cut salad, cheese, and a nice loaf of whole wheat bread.
As soon as I walked in I realized that I wasn’t in ‘my’ supermarket. The bread counter was right in the entrance of the store. The bread offered was simple and the selection limited. They didn’t have any of the breads that I liked. I got some simple white rolls instead. I passed the meat counter and noticed that also there the selection was limited. I continued towards the vegetables. No pre-cut salads. And no ‘luxury’ fruit or veggies either. Simple and basic. I got some lettuces, cucumber and tomatoes to cut up and make my own salad. Fresh juices were not to be found. The dairy section was next and also there the selection was limited.
I was kind of bothered that I could not find the things I wanted. I almost regretted not going out for breakfast instead. But then I started to look around me, at the people in the store.
In ‘my’ supermarket people fill up their carts for the weekend but here people where buying very modest amounts. People compared prices. No one was buying snacks or soda. Only real food. And this was their Shabbat shopping. They were buying the basics. The items that the government subsidized. Payment was done in cash and more than once people put items back due to insignificant funds.
But is wasn’t just the items in their baskets or carts. Their coats & shoes were worn. Clothing was clean but dated. Haircuts were simple and hair color done at home. After the shopping groceries were not loaded into the car, but people walked home or took the bus.
Israel is a modern country, we are the startup nation. There is a lot of advancement. We are doing well. But minimum wage is low, so low that it doesn’t cover the cost of living. Even families with two incomes struggle to make ends meet. Many people work very hard but are only able to provide the bare minimum. The financial struggle is even greater for single parent families. They live paycheck to paycheck with nothing left for extra things.
It was uncomfortable to be confronted with how hard life is for so many people. But it was important for me to have this experience, took look outside of my bubble. Because this kind of living is the reality for the families that we help at CBN Israel. Hard working families and single moms who simply don’t have the funds to buy a new refrigerator when theirs breaks, or get winter coats for their children, or simply have some extra’s for the holidays.
We want to bless these families by helping them with their very real needs. We want them to know that we care and reassure them that they are not alone. But most of all, we hope that we get to show them the love of the Messiah.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 35-40
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, December 5, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
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One-ness in God’s lovestyle
I believe that when a person knows he has reached the end of his life, his last words and parting message are the most important and meaningful of all that he has spoken throughout his life.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-8 Paul, knowing he was nearing the end of his life, spoke his last words to Timothy. This was his final instruction to his beloved disciple.
Spoken before he died, Deuteronomy chapter 32 is known as the song of Moses. It was an expression of praise to the Lord, as Moses spoke His final words to the nation.
In John 17 Yeshua lifts up His eyes to heaven, knowing that the journey of His life here on earth is ending. He is interceding for us, that God our Father would protect us here on earth. Yeshua prayed in verse 15 that God would keep us from the evil one and that we would be made sanctified by His truth (verse 17).
When I read this chapter I see one-ness. One-ness of Yeshua and Abba, one-ness of Yeshua and us, and one-ness of us and Abba through Yeshua.
Yeshua ends in verse 26 with this unique word love – in Hebrew, Ahava. He declares the following, “that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” If you take the 3-letter Hebrew word for love, two of its letters spell the word “AV” (Father), and the other letter stands for God (H’). This kind of love can come only from the Father God because He is love. This is not about earthly empathy but divine love – a love which gave His own son for us. The Son loves us, and thanks to His sacrifice given in love, we are one with Abba.
Do we as Believers walk in this definition of love? Are we one, living in unity? Or are we saying “I belong to Paul…I belong to Peter” (1 Corinthias 1:12)? In our days we have different denominations, and even non-denominations are a kind of denomination. Is that what the Lord asks of us, to be defined according to our individual denomination or to be one in Him?
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part…” (Corinthians 13:9). Is it possible for us to love, respect and honor each other and our different ways of expressing our faith in the Lord? Our difficulty with this distances us from Yeshua.
Yeshua on the cross in that moment of pain and suffering spoke these words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Do we understand the fullness of the Grace of God thanks to Yeshua? Are we fully aware of the character which should be reflected through our lives to the unsaved and to the saved? Are we able to love one another as He first loved us?
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, December 2018, and reposted with permission.
Guy and his wife, Tali, founded and lead Harvest of Asher, a Messianic congregation of Jewish and Gentile believers in Akko, Israel.
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When out of order is really in order
Judah and Tamar, school of Rembrandt (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
There are times when we are reading the Bible that we come a place where, in the middle of an event, it seems as if an unrelated story or series of verses appears within the text. We know that every word in the Holy Scriptures was written by G-D’s design, so that means that these seemingly unrelated verses must, in some way, be related to the text found both before and after them.
One such text is found in Genesis 38, which is the story of Judah and Tamar. This chapter is found folded between chapter 37, which tells of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, and chapter 39, which continues the narrative of Joseph’s life in slavery. Basically, if you read chapter 37, then turn past chapter 38 to chapter 39, we find a seamless continuity of the narrative of Joseph’s life.
So, we must ask why the story of Judah and Tamar is placed in-between chapters 37 and 39 in such a way that it breaks up the story. When reading the text, it almost feels as if we turn the page and find that someone has bound a page from another book in the wrong location. Or, to put it into more modern terms, it seems as if for a few minutes, the channel gets changed and we begin to view a completely different program.
Yet, because we know that the Bible is perfectly constructed, we know that chapter 39 was placed where it is in the text because it belongs there. Knowing this, we, as the intended audience, must take the time to read the text to find the connection between these two seemingly disjointed events. Then we can find how these chapters become part of the Torah (instructions) for our lives.
So, let’s take a look. In chapter 37, we read that Joseph’s brothers hate him enough to kill him. Judah convinces his brothers that instead of killing Joseph, it would be better for them to sell him into slavery. After selling Joseph into slavery, his brothers inform their father, Jacob, that an animal has killed Joseph. Then, we read that Jacob mourns the death of his son.
As we enter chapter 38, we find that Judah experiences the loss of two of his sons. Judah learns first-hand what his father went through when he and his brothers lied to Jacob about the death of Joseph. Judah feels the deep loss and pain of losing not just one, but two of his sons. It is this experience in Judah’s life that causes such repentance in him when later he is willing to become a slave in the place of Benjamin to keep his father from experiencing the pain of losing a second son.
Genesis chapter 44:33-34 says:
So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave in the boy’s place, and let the boy go up with his brothers. For how can I go up to my father and the boy is not with me? Else I must see the evil that would come upon my father!”
As we see this subplot involving Judah, we realize the two stories are not separate; they are intertwined. Judah’s painful experience in chapter 38 shaped his life so dramatically and unto true repentance that he is willing to give his life for his brother. The placement of chapter 38 isn’t a mistake; it isn’t out of proper order at all. In fact, it is the events of chapter 38 that brings the story of Joseph and his brothers into proper order. Chapter 38 also brings the repentance, which makes it possible for Joseph and his brothers to be brought back into proper order.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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His perfect plan (Part 2)
PARASHAT MIKEITZ (FROM THE END)
BERESHEET (GENESIS) 41:1–44:17
I titled my last blog, “His Perfect Plan”, which focused on the reason I believe the story of Judah and Tamar appears in the middle of Joseph’s story. I wrote that I believe the reason for this is to emphasize the importance of God’s sovereign will, and the fact that it cannot be thwarted. God’s plan was for Messiah to fulfill two roles, of which Joseph and King David were very important forerunners (Messiah Son of Joseph, Messiah Son of David). King David was a direct descendant of Perez, who was the son of Judah, from which the Redeemer was prophesied to come. Isn’t it amazing to see God’s plan come to fruition, even in ways that we cannot possibly foresee?
In our portion this week, we find three very important verses that I believe put an even stronger emphasis on God’s perfect plan:
When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he made himself as a stranger to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, “Where have you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them, and said to them, “You are spies; you have come to look at the undefended parts of our land.”
Joseph’s brothers came down to Egypt for food, and when they came to Joseph, he made himself as a stranger (non-Israelite) to them. Scripture says that Joseph spoke harshly to them, and as I was reflecting upon this, I was trying to imagine the emotions that Joseph must have felt when he saw his brothers. Was there anger and bitterness at that point? Were there hard feelings, un-forgiveness, or a desire for revenge, all which would be natural feelings for one in Joseph’s shoes?
But then comes a crucial point, at which Joseph remembered the dream he had years before, about his brothers. It was the dream about them bowing down to him:
And he said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
I believe that God reminded Joseph not just of the dream that he had, but also reaffirmed to Joseph that He was in control, and that He had a plan! God’s amazing and perfect plan was to bring life and redemption to Jacob (Israel) and his family, which would ultimately lead to the children of Israel’s redemption from the hand of the Egyptians, which came about 60 plus years later.
But I’d like to also to point out to something even greater, which is that in the same way that Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not recognize him until an appointed time, so it is with Yeshua our Messiah. He knows His brothers (i.e. Israel, the Jewish people), but Israel as a whole will not recognize Him until an appointed time which God alone knows:
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.
I would like to close with one more point from this week’s Torah portion, which is a challenge for us, followers of Messiah:
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
A more accurate way to translate verse 15 from the Hebrew is:
And Joseph replied to Pharaoh to say, “Without me, God will answer the peace of Pharaoh.”
Joseph made it clear to Pharaoh that it was not his ability to interpret the dream, but rather God’s ability, which would bring peace back to Pharaoh.
My dear brothers and sisters, if you are in Messiah, you are a new creation, which means it is not about you, but all about Him. That knowledge ought to give you the power to forgive and forget, as well as to walk by faith, trusting that He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion in Messiah Yeshua. (Philippians 1:6)
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.
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Of Arabs, Jews and gallbladders in Israel
Very few of you have thought for a moment about your gallbladder today, for the simple reason that it is going about its wonderful functions without making news. So it is with the daily life of Arabs and Jews in the nation of Israel. Approximately 20% of Israeli citizens are non-Jews, mostly Arab Muslim and Christian, and Druze (an offshoot of Islam), who freely go about their lives here in every area of society, contrary to media reports and negative world opinion.
Our world is now anchored in the muck of The New Age of Confusion. It is informed and misinformed and deformed by a percolating media daily producing fake news in place of fact news, that is as misinformed as it is corrupting. There is a biased spin roving around the planet and echoed by the United Nations that Israel is a racist and apartheid nation- something that could not be further from the truth.
I would like to take you by the hand and lead on a tour throughout Israel, where you will see everywhere and always Jews and Arabs (both Muslim and Christian) working together in every walk of life- in all hospitals as doctors and nurses as well as patients, in universities and garages, at printing houses and restaurants, in government offices and even in the Knesset (parliament) where Arabs have their own representative parties.
An Arab judge, Salim Joubran, sat on the supreme court of Israel, and Arabs serve in the Israeli police department, and even up to high positions (voluntarily) in the military.
You will see Arab families and Jewish families having picnics in the parks, shopping together and working together peacefully in the malls and the supermarkets, and enjoying the Mediterranean beaches and cafes unmolested, far healthier than the strained relations between blacks and whites in many American cities.
All are free to practice their own religion and wear their traditional dress. There are prosperous Israeli Muslim villages like Abu Ghosh where Jews daily enjoy the many restaurants and shops. At the same time you will see black Ethiopians integrating into the Israeli society- in the markets and in the military, etc. But these things go on quietly every day and do not make news, or appear in your media at all. No, Israel is neither racist nor apartheid.
On the other hand, in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza, even in the Judean city of Bethlehem, a Jew can take his life in his hands if he ventures therein. Even the proposed Palestinian state would be Judenrein– Jew-free- as it would be called an Arab-only state, where a Jew could neither live on that land of our biblical ancestors and their tombs, nor take any part in its function. That, it would appear, seems to fit much more the definition of ‘racist and apartheid’.
There are many well-intentioned people among the Arabs who call themselves Palestinian who would be glad to have a peaceful co-existence with their Jewish neighbors. But it is never the quiet and peaceful people of the land who are the driving force, but those zealots who make and carry out threats on those people, who carry the day.
Having served in the IDF in Judah and Samaria, I know for a fact that this is the case, having spoken directly with some of those inhabitants of the Palestinian camps such a Balata near Nablus. Fear is the great driving force in the Islamic world. The State of Israel is the only nation in the Middle East where Arabs are free and without fear.
A fog of confusion and electronic misinformation has covered the Earth, and today one must wield a very sharp sword to cut through that blinding fog to get to the Truth.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.