Celebrating Israel’s 70 Years of Independence!
This week Israel will reach a massive milestone in its history: celebrating 70 years of independence. Israel’s re-establishment and its achievements over the past seven decades are astonishing and by far beat the odds of the cards dealt to it on May 14th, 1948.
Looking back to the past 70 years, and even beyond that, tell an amazing story of faith, hardships, perseverance, morality, resilience, resolve, comradery and much more that clearly points towards Israel’s bright and promising future. This is a unique opportunity in time to honour and celebrate Israel’s amazing achievements and progress.
To appreciate Israel’s standing today, we need to recall what it sprouted from. Just before the turn of the previous century, Israel (then called “Palestine”) was nothing but a desolate desert of sand, rocks, ruins and Malaria infested swamps. When Mark Twain travelled through the land in the 19th century he described the land as “desolate and unlovely”, “devoid of inhabitants” where “one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings”. Others who travelled through the land also recorded similar descriptions.
Since then waves of Jewish immigration began to hit the Israel’s shores as the first pioneers turned the desert into fertile land, dried up the swamps, built roads, cities, schools, universities and infrastructure, albeit not without tremendous opposition. As soon as David Ben-Gurion declared Israel to be a homeland for the Jewish people it came under attack by an overwhelming number of Arab armies. Israel not only overcame an almost definite defeat but increased its territory significantly.
In the years that followed Israel triumphed in many additional military conflicts, some of them on multiple front simultaneously, and has become an internationally recognized military powerhouse that contributes volumes to the security of dozens of nations, most of the time without the knowledge of their own citizens! Nations flock to Israel to seek its game-changing military and defence systems such as the world renown Iron Dome, UAV’s, optic and vision devices and much more.
Israel’s economy has developed into a leading economy, and despite being barely 70 years old, has been defined as a “Developed Economy” for years, and is part of the OECD nations. Its international credit ranking has been upgraded multiple times by all three major credit ranking agencies (S&P’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings) with a current A+, Stable outlook.
Israel’s market is booming with a multitude of technologies and solutions that affect the daily lives of countless people all over the world in many facets of life. Of the world’s six largest companies in the world, five of them have significant R&D centres in Israel (Apple, Alphabet Inc. – Google’s parent company, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook), and the sixth, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, has made significant investments in Israel. In fact, their first major purchase of a foreign company outside of the U.S. was done in Israel!
Through agricultural technologies, water saving, desalination and production, Israel is changing the lives of farmers all over the globe, especially in rural nations where the population majority live off the produce of their land. Israel recycles 90% of its wastewater and is ranked first in the world for this capability. The second nation, Spain, recycles less than 20%! Now Israel is teaching other nations with water shortages how to do the same thing. Not only saving water but also producing it out of nowhere! WaterGen, an Israeli company, has developed a technology that extracts water from the humidity in the air, making it possible for families in Africa to drink clean, fresh water daily without walking for hours to the nearest well.
Do you use Google Maps or Waze? Social Navigation was created by Israelis. The popular social-based navigation App “Waze” was developed in Israel and later purchased by Google for a reported $1.6 Billion. Presently, the Israeli Waze technology that allows drivers to avoid traffic jams, reports hazards and know in advance of speed cameras is the underlying technology for Google Maps as well.
In the coming years we will see the first autonomous cars rolling into the markets. The joint venture between several companies from different industries will revolutionize the automobile industry, and perhaps life as we know it. BMW is supplies the vehicles, Intel the processing power, but the core technology that will allow cars to drive themselves is being developed by Mobileye. This Israeli company with its headquarters located in Jerusalem, was purchased by Intel for a staggering $15 Billion USD in 2017.
Volumes more could be written about Israel’s achievements as a nation over the past 70 years, socially, militarily, economically and politically. But the point is clear – Israel has thrived and despite its small size in land and population, constant threats and challenges, it has risen over them and is influencing the world far beyond its weight.
We salute Israel on its 70th birthday and look forward to the next 70 years far outshining the first.
This article originally appeared on Wise Money Israel, April 18, 2018, and reposted with permission.
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.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
The state of the State of Israel: The Gospel and the Body of Messiah
What is God doing in Israel? What is the spiritual state of the State of Israel as she celebrates 70 years as a sovereign nation among the nations of the world?
Her successes in many fields far surpass the normal expectation of other nations. By the long list of numerous innovations and developments that Israel is known for, God is drawing attention to Himself through His miracle nation! (Isa. 11:11-12) But how do we assess the whole of Israel by the Word of God? There are many perspectives on Israel and many opinions by believers concerning the current spiritual situation here in the land. One thing is for sure: Israel as a nation is still resistant to the good news of Jesus (Yeshua) being the Messiah.
The Apostle Paul wrote that Israel is the enemy of the gospel for the Gentiles’ sake, and beloved for the Fathers’ sake. (Rom. 11:28) The fathers are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel, with whom YHVH cut/made a covenant, promising them with an oath to give their descendants an inheritance and everlasting possession of the land of Canaan. He promises that a faithful remnant of their physical descendants would become His holy people, and He would become their God. These promises still remain to be fulfilled, and the LORD is faithfully fulfilling them until the day of salvation. (Isa. 14:24-27; Ezek. 36:22-28; Rom. 9:11) Fear the LORD, and give Him glory!
What does it mean to be an enemy of the gospel? It does not just mean that most Jewish people do not believe in Jesus. Nor does it mean that we are not free to evangelize here, even though it is not socially approved of. It means that the Jewish religion (and all other religions) requires its adherents to earn their righteousness through works of the law of that religion. Whatever hope of reward in this world or in the world to come is dependent upon having earned your future life. . . . if there is one. The faith which was once-for-all delivered to the saints is that the good news (the gospel) of God is that salvation and eternal life are a gift from the Father to all who genuinely believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who paid the penalty and ransom for each of us and our sin through His sacrificial death on the cross. We are then justified by faith in His resurrection from the dead. Rabbinic Judaism does not and can not accept Jesus for who He is; if it did, it would no longer be the religion that it is. Most Messianic Jews today in Israel agree that we are not under the authority of the rabbis or of the Oral Law. In other words, we are not practicing Rabbinic/Talmudic/ Pharisaic Judaism. So then, under traditional Jewish law, we are not accepted as kosher Jews. (John 9: 16-41)
In this year of celebrating Israel’s 70th Independence Day, 43% of world Jewry, or close to 7 million Jews, are living in Israel. More than half of the Jewish people who do live in Israel have been born in Israel. The reality is that more than 99% of the Jews in Israel are not currently believers in Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. They (and all of the other unbelieving Jewish people around the world) are in spiritual exile – separated from their God because of their sin of unbelief in the Father and His Son. (John 15:23-25; 1 John 2:23) Jesus told His disciples to take the gospel of salvation and the Kingdom of God to the Jews first, and to all people groups in all the world. Israel and the Jewish people were the first to be told how to be saved, and through them that same way went out to the Gentiles. This way of salvation – being born-again by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in the gospel, is still the only way for both Jewish and Gentile people to be saved, and is still being resisted. Even so, it is the only way for Israel as a nation to be saved. (Zech. 12:10; Rom. 11:25-27)
My wife and I first immigrated to Israel in 1981. At that time there were estimated to be about 200 believers in the country. We got to know each other through national music conferences and annual national Passover conferences. Today, there are estimates ranging from about 14,000 – 30,000 believers in Israel (these figures are difficult to verify). We have seen the development of Messianic groups and congregations throughout the land. Today, immigration of Jewish believers is becoming increasingly difficult due to what was said above: Israel is the enemy of the gospel. This does not prevent, though, many Jewish believers from successfully immigrating, according to the will of God. Evangelism occurs most commonly through personal witness and testimony. A new development is internet evangelism in Hebrew which is reaching large numbers of Hebrew-speaking Israelis wherever they may live. Occasionally there are larger evangelism campaigns conducted by different groups. The same things are happening among the Arabs, who also have only a tiny percentage of born-again believers amongst them.
Most of the Jewish believers in Israel speak Russian as their mother-tongue, and many of the congregations throughout Israel are Russian-speaking. In our congregation, Yeshua’s Inheritance, we use Hebrew as a unifying language, with a significant number of Russian speakers, and several other languages, and we offer translation to these languages from Hebrew. Delightfully, we have seen nearly two generations grow up as Israeli believers. This means that they speak Israeli Hebrew to each other and are able to understand each other in a natural way. This is a dynamic development that has come out of the believing veterans remaining here and raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is a real testimony that so many young believers serve in the IDF and have brought a good name to the believing community.
Despite the abiding tension in Israel, a sense of family is a predominant characteristic in congregations, and also throughout the land among Israelis. I believe it is a reflection of the truth that YHVH is a Father to Israel, and He has chosen a family to be His people: the children of Jacob/Israel. The 12 tribes were actually one large family. Similarly, the Body of Christ is a family on a much grander scale. So, too, the believers in Israel — a small country with a small percentage of believers – have a sense of being a family: we are brothers and sisters in the Messiah, with God as our Father. This certainly helps us to put up with each other over a longer period than if we did not feel that bond of brotherhood.
Being brothers and sisters in Christ also includes our Arab brothers and sisters. We all desire to express that love and unity which Jesus prayed for. Jesus taught His disciples that manifesting love and unity was a necessary reality to prove that we are His disciples, loved by the Father as He is. It shows that He was sent from the Father to Israel and to the world. (John 17:20-23) Israel is a land of constant conflict; however, we know that the answer is Jesus. It is imperative that we proclaim and express love and unity to our peoples in good times and bad. For our prayers and our worship to be acceptable, we must truly forgive one another in obedience to our one Father and one Lord. Forgiveness is a great challenge for all believers.
Until the fullness of Gentiles comes into the Kingdom through repentance and faith in the gospel, Israel will remain partially hardened and blinded to the truth of the gospel. The Bible says that this is the wisdom of God. That being so, more Arabs will be saved before we will see large numbers of Jewish people being saved. Many Muslims of whatever nationality will be saved and forgiven (since virtually all Muslims are Gentiles) before many Jews will be! And God will give them a new heart and a new spirit – His Spirit – and cause them to provoke Israel to jealousy while also showing mercy to them, rather than displaying their everlasting hatred and seeking her destruction.
Jacob (unbelieving Israel) is still trying to establish his own righteousness, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and therefore not submitting to it. Israel is proud of all of their amazing accomplishments, and attribute them to their own power and skills, rather than thanking and praising God, who has made it all possible.
So stand and understand that God’s plan of redemption is patiently being fulfilled in His long-suffering to break the rebellion in His chosen people and family, so that His name will be sanctified in them, and in their enemies, when all will know that YHVH is the one true and most high God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and the seas, and all that is in them, and the Redeemer of His universe that He created and made. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is LORD/YHVH, to the glory of the Father!
As you humbly pray for Israel, remember this word to them and to us: “’Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom; let not the mighty man boast in his might; nor let the rich man boast in his riches. But let him who boasts boast in this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am YEHOVAH, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the Earth. For in these I delight,’ says YEHOVAH.” (Jer. 9:23-24; 1 Cor. 1:31; Gal. 6:14)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, April 18, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Israel remembers at 70
As Iran (Persia) this week has vociferously threatened to destroy the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv, some 190,000 old Jewish survivors of the Nazi holocaust dwelling in those cities listened. Many with the tattooed numbers still on their arms from the Nazi death camps, and the horrors forever seared into their memories of that attempt to annihilate the Jewish people of Europe. Those who could still stand rose to the sound of the air raid sirens that wailed across this nation like a weeping woman for three minutes of remembering on Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom ha Shoah) this same week.
But has not the Prophet Daniel pre-visioned such a day in the scroll? He has foretold that the very Prince of Persia would be a driving force to confront the people of YHVH. In chapter 10 of Daniel is written of the heavenly Messenger Gabriel:
“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the Prince of the kingdom of Persia resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the latter days (aharit hayamim), for the vision concerns a time yet to come…. However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince (10:21)…Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued” (12:1).
Today the power of Persia has risen to become the epicenter of the Islamic Revolution, which began in 1979, the very year I arrived in Israel. Since that time threats of Israel’s destruction have not ceased from the Islamic Republic of Iran, to this day. Iran is far from the borders of Israel, which offers no threat to its existence, and yet it appears willing to sacrifice itself for the sake of its irrational hated of Zion.
Also the Prophet Ezekiel foretold of a time that G-d would re-gather the daughter of Jerusalem to her former estate, and at the same time restore the daughters of Samaria and of Sodom to their former estates, and the latter two would hate the daughter of Jerusalem (chapter 16). And in chapter 36 foretold of this re-gathering of Israel to the land for G-d’s name’s sake, not for the people of Israel alone, and it would be done before the eyes of all the nations. It would be a gathering of the desolate dry bones of the Jewish people (chapter 37) who declare their hope is gone. The Hope (Ha Tikva) is now the national anthem of the State of Israel. The prophecies are now today’s news and current events.
As we come to the significant 70 year of Israel’s amazing rebirth after 2000 years, rising from those very ashes of the Holocaust, may the Guardian of Israel remember, for His own name’s sake, the promises made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, and in him who all the promises of G-d are yes and amen, the Messiah Yeshua. I am a descendent of those who perished in the Holocaust, three years older than this amazing and sudden phenomenon of the rebirth and restoration of Israel in 1948, a sign much spoken against and spread out before the eyes of all peoples to behold and to discern the times and the season.
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.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Israel Remembers 23,646 fallen soldiers
Today, April 17, 2018, is Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) in Israel, and the nation remembers the 23,646 soldiers who have been killed in battle and 3,134 victims of terrorist attacks. Since last year, 71 soldiers and 12 terror victims have been added.
We remember and pray.
Special Yizkor Prayer Memorializing Israel’s Fallen Heroes
May God remember the souls of His heroic children: The fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who fell in the wars of Israel, in defensive, retaliative, and security actions and during the fulfillment of their duty, including the souls of the underground fighters and brigades who fought in the national struggle – all those who sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of God’s Name.
And with the help of God, the Lord of Israel’s campaigns, they brought about the revival of the nation and the state and the redemption of the land and the city of God. They were quicker than eagles and stronger than lions as they volunteered to assist the nation, and they saturated our holy land with their pure blood.
The memory of their self-sacrifice and heroic deeds will never disappear from us. May their souls be bound in the Bond of Life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and with the souls of the other heroes and martyrs of Israel who are in the Garden of Eden. Amen.
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Whose right of determination?
Israel remembers tonight all her sons and daughters who have died in the numerous wars and terror attacks since her birth as a nation 70 years ago, according to the Hebrew calendar. (The Western calendar Independence date is May 14/15.) Every war and attack against Israel is an existential threat to her existence. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Through many tribulations we enter the Kingdom of God!” (Acts 14:22) There is much suffering, even death, before entering into glory.
YHVH God of Israel called and destined His people to be separate from the Gentile nations, a holy people to Himself, and a priestly nation to the nations. But in the days of Samuel the prophet, the Children of Israel asked for a king like the Gentiles have, to judge them and lead them in war. God gave them what they asked for: He gave them Saul to be their king. (Shaul in Hebrew, which means, “asked for”.)
The LORD through the Prophet Ezekiel (20:32) asserts His claim upon the determination of His people’s identity and character: “What you have in mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’”
It is often said by even Israeli government ministers that we, the Jewish people, have the right of “self-determination” to be a Jewish nation-state. This can never be a justification by Jewish people for having our own sovereign country. The Palestinians could — and do — make the same claim for themselves. Our only basis for being here is YHVH’s covenant promise and oath, and the faithfulness of God to bring us back here — for His holy name’s sake. We are not like the other peoples to God in this respect: only Israel has He known (Amos 3:1-2), and He has given us a calling and destiny of who He has determined we are to be. This is true also of the Body of Christ/Messiah: our identity and destiny are determined by Him before the world began. (Eph. 1:3-6)
Megillat HaAtzmaut, by the Maccabeats, with this line concerning the Jewish State of Israel: “this right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all the other nations”.
But, as the Lord has said: this is not so, and will not be!
“As I live,” says the Lord YHVH, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you! I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you were scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the desert land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am Yehovah!” (Ezek. 20: 33-38)
The national anthem of Israel is called HaTikvah, The Hope. God has built into His people the hope of a better world. The hope put before them is predicated upon repentance and faith in YHVH’s Anointed One — Yeshua/Jesus. May we see this hope fulfilled in our generation — for Israel, for the nations, for the Body of Christ.
At the end of the day, all who are the Lord’s will know this to be true: we will have struggled with God and with man, and prevailed! Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Gen. 32:24-30 ; Rom. 11:33)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, April 17, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.