Breaking through the walls
The walls of Jericho were demolished by the sound of the shofar and human throats shouting. This profound breakthrough occurred through the unlikely weapon of a ram’s horn. Centuries of idolatry and a formidable defense were shattered. A rag-tag “nation” of ex-slaves managed to pierce the walled city of Jericho. In an instructive blend of divine firepower and worshipful human obedience, thick walls were no longer a barrier.
In ancient times the walls that defended a city were thick. I’m looking at a photo’ of the walls around the city of Akko. Today it is a small city on the northern coast of Israel not far from the Lebanese border. But in days past it was a mighty fortress, a strategic Mediterranean port positioned on the route between Egypt and Syria. Napoleon tried to conquer her and could not. He was bested by a salty old Turk named El-Jazzar, the Butcher. El-Jazzar’s defensive walls enclosed the city. They were 39 inches (one metre) thick and 33 feet (10 metres) high!
We are now facing these walls, not so much the physical ones as those in the spiritual realm. What will it take to break through with the love of Yeshua, to establish a Messianic congregation in a city steeped for millennia in idolatry and bloodshed? For that matter, what walls are blocking you from changing the spiritual complexion of your city? What fortress defies penetration in your pursuit of the will and calling of God on your life? I believe Joshua’s experience can help us.
The walls of Jericho stood, imposing, on the other side of the Jordan River. Joshua had already seen the walled cities of Canaan forty years earlier as a spy. He well knew the perils of attempting to take the city of Jericho. His dialogue with God on the subject of crossing the Jordan and taking Jericho creates a valuable sequence we can now apply  to our personal preparation (Joshua) and  to our congregation or ministry team (Israel) if we are to break through the walls in our lives. The applications I see are printed in bold type.
Joshua’s personal process:
- After the death of Moses – For many it is a new season, requiring greater faith.
- Joshua, Moses’ assistant – We must be discipled, disciplined and submitted to God-appointed leadership as Joshua was.
- Arise, and go over this Jordan – We will have to leave our comfort zones.
- I am giving you this land … every place your foot touches – It is God who sovereignly grants access to your region, city or neighborhood. Residence = Inheritance.
- No man will be able to ‘get in your way’ for I will be with you … – God’s presence is what enables us to stand before the enemy.
- Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land … – You will be opposed, but do not yield to fear and discouragement. Then others will enter the inheritance with you.
- Command the people, saying ‘Prepare provisions … for in 3 days you will cross over this Jordan to … possess the land.’ – It is time to prepare well, as God’s people in solidarity.
Israel’s Shared Sequence:
- Spies scoped out the city of Jericho. Know your territory. What are the strongholds in your city? Historical research, prayer walking, and local interviews will be helpful.
- They crossed the Jordan with priests in the lead, setting stones as memorial. Worship, Intercession and Thanksgiving precede breakthrough.
- The men were circumcised as soon as they arrived in the Land. Strongholds of fear, rejection, etc. in our own lives must be broken. A tender heart toward God is essential.
- The commander of the Lord’s army appeared to Joshua. Unless Yeshua is our Commander in Chief, and we have a revelation of His AUTHORITY we will not break through strongholds.
- The city was securely shut up and the Lord told Joshua to march around the city blowing shofars and carrying the Ark of the Covenant for six days. The more resistant the walls of the city before us, the greater must be our dependence on God, our singular focus on His will and unity among us.
- The priests and armed men circled the city, blowing shofars, shouting on day seven. Simple obedience and persevering declaration of God’s purposes and greatness brings His power.
- The wall of the city fell flat and the Israelites took the city. Personal breakthroughs and city-transforming revival will come as in faith we follow the sequence God gives us.
Not only in Akko, but in the Haifa Bay area we are operating in territory that has virtually never been touched by the Gospel. I’ve been wondering “How can I ever possibly break through to the people where I live?” At times I feel remote, disconnected, unable to touch them. It must be that God is drawing me to Himself. Out of my aching sense of inadequacy compared to the vast need of the tension-soaked faces around me, I can only turn to the Father of Mercy and appeal to Him.
I am asking God for heart surgery, to give me His intense love and persevering compassion for the region where I live. God is also deeply interested in the people where you live. You see them every day, driving to and from your neighborhood. They are next to you in the shopping mall. They are your fellow 10s, 100s or 1000s of employees on the job.
How to break strongholds? I’m no expert in spiritual warfare. Necessity is pushing me to read books and to dig into The Book. Yet in any army it is the responsibility of the Commander in Chief to make sure that his troops are prepared. So, I’m confident that Yeshua is equipping me, even as I experience moments of frustration and apparent failure.
Truthfully, I’m not super jazzed by warfare terminology. I was a “flower child” in the 60’s, a peace-love hippie who wanted nothing to do with war. I still find it hard to be as aggressive as I need to be to function in Israel. But my personality and background are irrelevant in this issue. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that I am at war. I am not only under attack, but I am called to take territory back from the enemy. I will have to fight in order to fulfill God’s calling and commission. “We have been summoned to this battle by the Commander in Chief” as John Dawson says in Taking our Cities for God. The Battle is the Lord’s. The Earth is the Lord’s. Yeshua has called us as His disciples to withstand the enemy and to see the walls of unbelief and idolatry come down.
He said “I will build my congregation and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 21, 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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Is Israel a racist country?
What if I told you of a people that thought that they were a superior class of humans. They were stronger, smarter and more attractive. They were going to rid their land of immigrants and foreigners, rid it of anyone not like them. Those who stayed would be persecuted minorities.
Is that how you think of Israel? More and more, that is how she is portrayed. But, in fact, that would be Iran, Nazi Germany or any ISIS-controlled territory. Contrary to the lies of anti-Semites like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said two weeks ago that Muslims do not have freedom of worship in Israel, Israel Muslims are the freest in the Middle East. To be clear, when she said that Muslims are not free to worship, she was dead wrong.
Created out of Necessity
In order to understand why Israel is the antithesis of racism, you have to understand her origins. Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel never sought to create a master race. Unlike the Islamic state, that wanted to control the world through Islam, Israel was created out of the necessity to survive. There was an existential threat against the Jewish people.
After 2,000 years of wandering the world, the Jewish people came under increasing persecution at the end of the nineteenth century. Not that things were easy before that. In seventeenth-century Ukraine, as many as 100,000 Jews were murdered by the regime of Bogdan Chemelnitsky. Tens of thousands of Jews were forced from their homes and livelihood in Spain in the latter fourteen hundreds. Thousands of Jews died during the crusades.
A Father is Born
But, in the late eighteen hundreds, pogroms (violent demonstrations against the Jews) broke out in Russian, Poland and Ukraine. During that time, a young Theodore Herzl did not think the Jews needed their own country. He just wanted to see people of all countries accept the Jews that lived among them as equals. He was an anti-Zionist.
However, when he covered the trial of Alfred Dreyfus in France for the Vienna-based newspaper for which he worked, he was shocked. It was clear Dreyfus was innocent. The Jewish officer was arrested on trumped up charges, brought by anti-Semites in the French military. When he was convicted and sent into exile at Devil’s Island, a conviction overcame Herzl: The Jews will never be accepted among the nations. We need our own country!
He wrote a book called “The Jewish State” and began to promote Zionism all over the world. A secular prophet, he called for the restoration of Israel on her own land.
The Opposite of Racism
So, you can see that Israel was not birthed because of Jewish racism against others, but because of racism against Jews by virtually every other nation. However, we implored the Arabs in the region not to leave, but to stay and become equal citizens in our new nation. Read the following excerpt from our Declaration of Independence, spoken by our first Prime Minister on the day of our birth, May 14th, 1948:
WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
Did the Nazis give an invitation like this to the Jews? Does ISIS seek to give minorities equal rights? No! Half a million Jews chose to leave their nations after Israel’s independence for fear of their lives. Racism broke out against the Jews after Israel’s rebirth and the only nation that could protect them was the newly-formed Jewish state—proving her need to exist!
Some 800,000 Arabs fled Israel during the War of Independence at the urging of the surrounding Arab states. They were going to destroy Israel before she began. These Arabs were told (by the surrounding countries) to leave temporarily and that they could come back for the spoils after the victory. The 600,000 Arabs who did not leave became Israeli citizens, while those who left in hopes of Israel’s destruction became refugees. The descendants of the Arabs who stayed are full and free citizens of Israel.
For more than 70 years, oil-rich Arab nations have done everything in their power to keep the 800,000 Arabs who fled (and now their descendants) in refugee camps. They could have absorbed them into their nations, but, instead, they treated them terribly, so they could continue to be used as a political issue against Israel. Thousands of Palestinian refugees have been murdered in Syria’s civil war, yet you never even hear about it. The fact is that the racism other Arabs nations have towards Palestinian Arabs is tremendous. In English, they talk about the poor Palestinians and, in Arabic, they curse them.
The Palestinian Issue
Palestinians are not the same as the Israeli Arabs. Palestinians are actually Jordanians. After Israel became a nation, Jordan swallowed up the West Bank (ancient Judea and Samaria). They never once offered to build that area into a “Palestinian State”. There was no such thing as a Palestinian Arab ethnicity. They became Jordanians. The word Palestinian referred to any person living in region—Jewish, Arab or European.
But, during the Six Day War, after Israel promised not to attack them, Jordan decided to attack Israel. Within two days, Israel drove them out of Jerusalem and over the West Bank. It was a swift and unexpected victory. Suddenly, Israel was in a pickle having to administrate the lives of more than 1,000,000 new people. Giving back the land—that again, we gained only because we were attacked—was illogical from a security point of view. It is a complicated issue for sure. But it is not connected to apartheid or racism, but to security.
I would be lying to say Israel is racism-free – no country is. But I can say two things that are true: Israelis’ negative feelings toward the surrounding Arab nations and Palestinians have everything to do with the fact that they hate us. We would love to live in peace with them. And, secondly, if you come to Israel, you will see that Israel is most embracing of other cultures and ethnicities in the world. It is a wonderful country!
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, February 25, 2019, 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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[Israel Politics 101] A Hopeful marriage – the Political merger between Gantz and Lapid
Yesh Atid party head, Yair Lapid wasn’t joking when he suggested that he and Israel Resilience party head Benny Gantz lock themselves in a room and emerge only when white smoke can be seen from the roof (the system used when choosing a new pope).
Indeed, the white smoke resulted from intense negotiations which yielded the coveted merger of the two hopefuls whose sole aim is to take down the ten-year veteran Likud party prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Together, the party’s new name is Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) which stands for the colors of the Israeli flag and refers to anything made in Israel. This new party is poised to win the needed amount of votes required to form a coalition and unseat the ruling party which has dominated the country for a decade. Already one poll is predicting a win of 36 seats for the new party, leaving Likud with only 26. Another poll has the numbers at 36 to 30 respectively and yet another poll brings the race a bit closer with 35 to 32. Either way, for the moment, Blue and White is expected to win with the hope of changing the landscape of the political monopoly.
Of course, it should be noted that the aforementioned expected results is only the beginning. Even if the Blue and White party attains the highest number of votes, they still must succeed in building a coalition of other collective parties in order to reach the number of 61 Knesset member recommendations which would then put them in a strong position to be the ruling governmental party. While many of the centrist and center left parties would be inclined to support the Blue and White party, some of their own minimal membership numbers make them ineligible to be considered as a supportive group to be counted as part of the Gantz/Lapid coalition.
Yet, a Blue and White win would be an amazing upset with far-reaching impact, both for the secular population and the believing community in the land, it’s important to understand what led to this moment in time.
The past ten years have brought a stronger choke hold by the ultra-Orthodox which have largely determined day to day life issues of birth, marriage, death, Jewish citizenship and registry – all based on Orthodox worthiness – often being decided with what many have viewed as much political corruption and self-interest. To the Israeli population, which became fed up with the status quo, and has sought to enjoy a more pluralistic, democratic and less overtly religious society, this move has been a long time coming. Now that it’s here, many feel, for the first time, that the possibility exists for a dramatic change to take place in how Israelis can enjoy more freedom to live their daily lives as they please.
In order for this merger to happen, both Gantz and Lapid had to be willing to make generous compromises for what they felt was “the good of the country.” As revealed by both men, “having seen the country being torn apart” motivated them to “put their egos aside to decide on a mutual agenda and run together.” (JPost, 2/22/19). For Lapid, this meant surrendering the top spot to the former IDF general as he stated, “A winning team needs to be led. I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t believe that Benny Gantz could lead us to victory and then lead the country. He’ll be an excellent prime minister. I believe in him.” (Ibid)
Of course, that number one spot is expected to be rotated if a party win is realized. As expected, the current Prime Minister reacted to these developments angrily and defensively, stating that the Blue and White party will “endanger Israel’s security and economic success.” (Ibid) He also used the threat of such a win being the catalyst which will ultimately contribute to the official formation of a Palestinian state, while at the same time reminding the public how safe life has been for them over these past ten years.
Unquestionably, a Blue and White win would bring sweeping changes to Israel, likely freeing up Sabbath transportation practices which have greatly limited buses from running on that day. It would also likely oversee some changes in the very stringent marriage laws where only Israeli Jews (one born to a Jewish mother, according to Jewish law) are permitted to marry in the country and only by an Orthodox rabbi. It could also mean the end to government stipends for ultra-Orthodox men who are paid to study Jewish law while being exempt from the mandatory military service that is required by all Israeli young men and women.
For believers, perhaps, the most important change would be taking the Interior Ministry – the government agency which determines who is a Jew and has, for the last many years, sought to block all Jewish believers from freely immigrating to their land, out of the hands of the ultra-Orthodox and recognizing Messianic Jews as having the same ethnic legitimacy which would grant them the right of return to the Jewish homeland. Such a move could have a tremendous impact on many Jewish-born believers who have not dared to immigrate, knowing just how hostile the present government has been in that regard.
With an uptick of anti-Semitic acts in recent days, both throughout Europe and the U.S., moving to Israel could become a viable option for the first time to those who have felt excluded.
With the possibility of such freedom, it would behoove many Zionist Christians who have believed in and supported Netanyahu to be willing to see this election from the perspective of their Jewish counterparts in the faith who either live here already and are viewed as unworthy and non-Jewish by the ultra-Orthodox and also from the perspective of those believing Jews who wish to live in the land of their forefathers but have been unable to do so for fear of having their faith discovered and then ultimately being rejected. It, indeed, might be time to usher in a new era which which would make it possible to fulfill the scriptures which categorically state that EVERY Jew will return to their land.
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.
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The children of Israel found themselves in the wilderness of Zin (Num. 20:1-13). They desperately needed water, so God instructed Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water. Moses, however, frustrated with the complaining of the people struck the rock, and bitter water issued forth. As a result of Moses’ disobedience, he could not lead Israel into the Promised Land. That responsibility fell to Joshua.
God rebuked Moses and Aaron for their disobedience saying, “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me, before the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore, you will not bring this assembly into the land which I gave to them” (Num. 20:12). Two things stand out in the Lord’s pronouncement: 1) He equated “believing in Him” with human obedience, and 2) God’s name is sanctified through our obedience.
We frequently speak of believing in God in a way where what we mean is believing something about God. Faith then, for us, is often merely belief about God. In the Bible, “to believe” in God requires our obedience. It’s not our belief or opinion about God, but our obedient response to His commands and directives. As James stated, “faith without works is dead” (2:17). Moses and Aaron’s disobedience meant that they did not believe in God in that moment.
Moses and Aaron’s disobedience to God’s command meant that they did not sanctify God’s name before Israel, rather, they profaned it. The verb translated in this passage as “to sanctify” literally means “to make holy.” Think about that. Our obedience has the ability to make God holy before people, and our disobedience profanes Him before the world. Perhaps the reason why the world around us does not treat God as holy is because we, His followers, do not live in submitted obedience to Him, making Him holy in the world.
If believing in God equals our obedience, our obedience, then, sanctifies God’s name within our world. Our disobedience results in His name being profaned. In the Bible, a person’s obedient actions determined their faith in God. That obedience makes God holy in the world.
What an incredible thought: the God of the universe, who is holy, relies, in part, upon our obedience to make Him holy within the world. What an awesome responsibility. Do we through our obedience show ourselves to believe in Him? Do we seek to sanctify Him, make Him holy, before our world through our daily obedience to Him?
Father, may our obedience demonstrate that we believe in You, and may Your name be sanctified in our world through our obedience to Your commands. Amen.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, February 20, 2019, 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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What if it is both?
In life, we are often confronted by, questions such, as is the glass half full or half empty. We are told that the answer to the question depends on our point of view or our level of optimism. In the world of faith, a Scriptural belief of these types of questions can be even more forceful with the answer drawing lines and many times forcing those answering to choose sides. And these choices sometimes divide friends, congregations and even families.
To be sure there are certain truths that are not half full-vs-half empty type questions. Truths such as but not limited to there only being one G-D. That there is only one way to be saved. That all have sinned. That Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.
But there are many things the Bible shares that can be legitimately viewed from different points and both points being accurate. For instance, the Bible says being Married is a good thing Proverbs 18:22:
22 Whoever finds a wife finds good, and receives favor from Adonai.
And it also teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:
8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them to remain as I am.
Another example is found concerning children. In Psalms 127:3-5, we read happy is the man whose quiver is full of children.
3 Behold, children are a heritage of Adonai —the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the gate.
Yet in Micah 7:6 we find:
6 For son treats father with contempt; daughter rises up against mother; daughter-in-law against mother-in-law: a man’s enemies are the people of his own house.
There are many other examples of topics where the Bible can be seen as showing that the cup can be half full or half empty. Are the above examples contradictory? Only if we are viewing them out of their context. Is finding a wife a blessing? Absolutely! Can a man also be blessed and be single? Absolutely. Are children a blessing? Absolutely! Can they also become enemies? Absolutely!
The truth is that once we go beyond the doctrinal absolutes of Scripture much of what we read depends on where we are viewing the verses from. Great divisions are caused in the Body of Messiah simply because we have been taught that the glass must be half full or half empty when the truth is many times the glass is both half full and half empty.
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, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".