How to cope with turbulence and uncertainty, according to an Israeli soldier
“Get up! Get up now!” The soldier had become somewhat used to being woken up like this in the middle of the night, but the shock never wears off. Eli HaiTov was serving in the Search and Rescue Brigade in the Israeli Army. They needed to be trained to be ready for action at a moment’s notice, and so the “surprises” came thick and fast.
Even when it would more natural to be groggy with sleep, they would obediently jump up, put on their uniform – orange berets and black boots, along with a heavy vest of equipment – and off they would go. Most often they had no idea what would be waiting for them, or how long it would take. They plunged into the dark, into the unknown.
The Search and Rescue Brigade is a highly skilled force trained to execute special search and rescue missions, both in Israel and abroad. In order to maintain the high standards necessary, the training was tough. These are the ones that other soldiers and civilians depend on for help in an emergency.
Dealing with the unknown
One of the toughest parts of the training was deliberately throwing the soldiers into the total unknown – a complete lack of certainty. They did not know where they were going, or what they would have to do. One time they were dropped Eli and his unit off in an abandoned wasteland for three days. They learned to survive on four hours of sleep. It was important that they were fully trained and experienced to deal with situations that are very challenging for the human mind.
Uncertainty, instability, insecurity… whichever word you choose, a lack of clarity is difficult for every human being to deal with. But just as the IDF drills soldiers by plunging them into the unknown, so God trains us to walk with him, asking us to trust him without knowing the details.
God girds us with strength for battle in our minds by stretching our faith muscle. Here’s how David expressed it in Psalm 18:
God girds me with strength
and makes my way straight.
He makes my feet like those of deer
and makes me stand on my heights.
He trains my hands for battle,
so my arms can bend a bronze bow.
You gave me the shield of Your salvation.
Your right hand upholds me,
Your gentleness makes me great.
You broaden my steps beneath me,
so my ankles have not slipped.
God, like a good commander, plunges us into situations that develop our ability to cope, come what may. We might feel as if he is withholding help, information, or provision from us. But perhaps he is not taking away from us, but rather GIVING to us. He furnishes us with skill to endure as he teaches us how to walk with him. He makes our feet like those of a deer, able to stand in high places.
By taking away our safety nets and our crutches, God forces us to depend on the only reliable source of strength and help: Himself. And suddenly we find capacity beyond what we even thought was possible.
For with You I rush on a troop,
with my God I scale a wall. (v.30)
Keep your eyes on the horizon
As has become something of a tradition for an Israeli soldier, Eli went traveling after his army service. It was while he was exploring Norway’s beautiful lakes that he discovered that he gets sea-sick. He was in a boat, and in the dark he was unable to fix his eyes on any stable point. The turbulence got the better of him. As anyone who has suffered with motion sickness will know, the internal conflict your body experiences and loss of inner balance can be very unsettling. Your body doesn’t know what is going on, and nausea ensues.
The solution is to find a stable point, and keep your eyes fixed upon it. The horizon is usually the answer.
So in life, we realise sooner or later that nothing is stable. Nothing is certain. There is no secure place that we can truly rely upon other than God himself. When uncertainty and insecurity swirl around us, and unsettle our souls, fear can arise.
Insecurity is basically fear. And the opposite of fear is faith.
But the author of Hebrews confirms that the way to strengthen our faith muscle is to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus is our horizon.
He is our source, and he is our destiny. We are encouraged to fix our eyes on the final outcome, just as Jesus himself did when contemplating the cross.
As true disciples, we are here to serve in God’s army – we are not civilians – and we are being trained to withstand whatever may come. We are subjects of an unshakable kingdom, and our future is 100% certain. We might protest at the rigorous regime God puts us through, but when we are made strong for him, we can serve like a well trained soldier in his elite search and rescue team.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Today Eli HaiTov works with ONE FOR ISRAEL, as a researcher and writer for our Hebrew-speaking audience. Eli loves to worship God, and you can listen to his music here.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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Letter to a thinking atheist
How, my fellow voyager through life and time, can you believe in Nothing? Nothing, by definition, does not exist. When we both look at the spectacular beauty around us, and remarkable complexity of living things, we might find the idea that everything came into being from nothing, and by mere chance alone, a bit far-fetched, wouldn’t you think? In fact, it might seem a bit more reason-able, and easier to digest, to assume that the entire universe came into being from some supreme wisdom outside the material universe. Even the great mystery and wonder of what we call consciousness would seem to reflect a greater consciousness, especially considering that consciousness, which seems to exist to some degree in all living things, is arguably not merely the sum total of brain cells functioning together.
Rather recently science has come to a conclusion based in evidence that the cosmos came into being by a great burst at its beginning, and has been expanding ever since. Previously the paradigm of ancient Greek thought- that the universe had always existed- held sway in most scientific quarters. Incidentally, hundreds of years before the Greeks came up with such a concept, the Hebrews began their book with, “In the beginning”. If indeed the universe had a beginning, then we are stuck with some difficult, and perhaps ultimate, questions, the most obvious being, What was there before the beginning, and what caused that Big Bang?
Some very keen minds have been swift to solve that problem and, to avoid the idea of a Beginner, came up with the brilliant theory of multiple universes, from which this one exploded into being. Even other thinkers propose that all came into being by a quantum warp in nothing, according to natural laws of nothing. The problem being with such solutions is, from whence or what came those universes, or those laws? By pushing the problem back and away, we cannot avoid the question, which might be: why is there something as opposed to nothing at all? But it would seem that the concept that something comes from nothing is a bit preposterous, and certainly a less than rational or satisfying answer.
But there are some, as a fine gentleman I spoke with this morning, who solve it all by saying, “Who cares?” That may be one expedient way of pushing off the question, but may yet leave the ultimate issue there only to be dealt with at a later time.
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.
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Hearing and obeying the voice of G-D
One of the most exciting things for me to experience is when watching what happens when people I love hear and obey the voice of G-D in their lives and see the blessing and fruit that comes from listening to His voice. There is a special feeling of fulfillment within them that is visible. The Bible tells us in John 10:27:
27 My sheep hear My voice. I know them, and they follow Me.
So as His sheep we should all learn to know His voice and how to follow Him. I say learn how to follow Him because it is possible to do what G-D says, while at the same time not be following him. I know that may seem contradictory but allow me to explain. There are times when G-D speaks to us that we have to determine when and how we are to follow. One example of this can be found in Exodus 25:1-2:
1 Adonai spoke to Moses saying, 2 “Tell Bnei-Yisrael to take up an offering for Me. From anyone whose heart compels him you are to take My offering.
In these verses we find G-D speaking to Israel and telling them to take up and offering to build the Tabernacle. His words are simple, take an offering from all who are compelled or willing to give to build the Tabernacle. As we read on we find that the Children of Israel responded so generously that in Exodus 36:6-7 we read:
6 So Moses gave an order, and they proclaimed it throughout the camp saying, “Let neither man nor woman make anything else as an offering for the Sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing more. 7 For the work material they had was sufficient for all the work, with much left over.
But in between Exodus 25 and Exodus 36 is Exodus 32, when the Children of Israel followed what G-D said but didn’t follow G-D.
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what’s become of him!” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He received them from their hand, and made a molten calf, fashioned with a chiseling tool. Then they said, “This is your god, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
Notice that when the Children of Israel didn’t hear from G-D through Moses they reverted to what they had heard previously. So they took up and offering from those with a willing heart and used it to build a Golden Calf. The similarity between the collection for the Golden Calf and the collection for the Tabernacle is clear. Both offerings were given willingly and received from the people. Both followed a pattern or example spoken by G-D to Israel. However, when Israel took up the offering to build the Tabernacle, they did what G-D said and followed Him, but when they built the Golden Calf they did what G-D had said but they did not follow Him in doing so.
The point I am trying to make is that to often believers take what G-D said out of the context of what He said and then apply it to our lives in the way we want. When we do this end up with a Golden Calf instead of a Tabernacle.
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".
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Shine His light
PARASHAT TETZAVEH (YOU SHALL COMMAND)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 27:20–30:10
The weekly Scripture portion (parasha) starts with a very interesting verse that says:
And you shall command the sons of Israel, that they shall take to you pure olive oil of crushed olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually.
There are two key elements in this verse that we should take note of: the directive to use pure olive oil and the need for a continuously burning candle/lamp. Let’s look first at the significance of the olive oil. An olive in itself is good for nothing — it’s hard, bitter, and will give you a stomach ache if you eat it raw. But when you crush the olive in the olive press, you get pure olive oil!
Olive oil has many uses, from culinary to medicinal to spiritual. One of its many popular uses is for anointing someone; in fact, this is where the Hebrew word, Moshiach (“Messiah” — Anointed One) is derived from. It is not by coincidence that Yeshua chose a place called (in Hebrew) Gat Shemanim (Gethsemane), which means “Olive Press”. That is the place where He chose to crush His will and submit to the Father’s will. (Matthew 26:36–46)
Now, what about the continuously lit lamp? As our verse from Exodus tells us, olive oil was to be used to light this lamp. The Hebrew translation of “lamp continually” is “נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד” (Ner Tamid). I found a very interesting commentary on this phrase that suggests in the days of the Tabernacle, the “eternal lamp” was the middle candle of the menorah that was always lit until twilight, the time between sundown and when the stars become visible. All the other lamps were extinguished at dawn once the sun began to rise, and relit from the “Ner Tamid” once twilight fell. The “Ner Tamid” was rekindled at twilight, as far as we understand.
There are a couple of interesting connections for us here. First, Yeshua is the Light of the World, whose light never grows dim. He is the Eternal Flame, the One that brings light and whose light shines through us. Secondly, let’s not miss the importance of the “twilight”, which is the time that Yeshua laid down His life for us. This is not by coincidence! He fulfilled His role at that time as the Messiah — the perfect sacrificial Lamb — and charged us to be the “light” in the world.
In order to be His light in this world, we need to crush our will in submission to the Father’s will, just like Yeshua did. It is only then that we can walk in the fullness of His anointing over our lives. Just like the children of Israel were charged to make God known throughout the world, so are we! We are to daily crush our will — deny ourselves — and walk within His anointing as He shines His light in and through our lives.
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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Compusure, persaverance leads to victory
Naomi Osaka is the #1 female tennis player in the world, becoming Japan’s first #1 player. Her road was not easy. Her father is black and born in Haiti. Naomi’s mother was supposed to marry a Japanese man in an arranged marriage. However, she met Leonard in New York while studying and against her families wishes, they were married.
Being biracial in Japan is not popular. One in 50 births is to interracial couples today, and that is considered huge growth. Most biracial Japanese individuals suffer from discrimination. One man said that just getting on the bus is like being a museum, the way people look at him.
Don’t give up
The Bible says a lot about perseverance, about not giving up. Yeshua challenged His disciples who fell asleep, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” Proverbs says, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10)
Saturday afternoon, I remembered that the Australian Open Finals were on. I looked at the clock and realized it might be over. I turned on the television and saw that Naomi Osaka was about to win. She had three match points in front of her.
However, the stage was too big. She gave into the nervousness—she choked—and lost three straight points. No worries—she would serve now (in tennis, you are supposed to win when you serve) and close out the match. But she didn’t; she lost the game. Now, they were tied, and the older, more experienced opponent won the next two games and the set.
She lost it!
Now, there would be a third and final set. But Naomi was undone. She was slamming her tennis racket, yelling at herself. She had lost all composure and was about to lose the championship. Then again, she is one of the youngest players ever to play for the Grand Slam championship. What did people expect?
However, somewhere between those two sets, she found her calm. She got control of her emotions. In the third set, she expressed no emotion; it didn’t matter whether she won or lost a point. You are not allowed to be coached during a match, so somehow, this young lady, fresh out of her teens, understood the importance of being in control of her emotions.
After losing the first game, Naomi steamrolled her opponent and won the last set 6-3. Only once, after she won the final point did she allow herself to emote—to express joy. It was amazing to watch.
Sleeping through Tragedy
You do understand that I am not talking about tennis, but life. Jesus and disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a storm erupted. The disciples thought they were going to die. Yeshua was napping. Yes, on a small boat in the middle of a life-threatening storm, the Messiah was catching up on some “Zzzzs”. Now, that is composure.
Daniel was thrown into a lions’ den. Joseph was sold into slavery. King David had to run for his life for more than a decade. Life will throw some difficult situations your way. If you don’t have the ability to trust God, you can crumble. Certainly, the disciples did in the storm. But look at that same crew a few years later, as they stood boldly, under arrest, before the Sanhedrin. There was no panic or fear.
Composure. Controlling your emotions. Not losing your temper…all these things will help you find the grace of God when you are under attack or going through a trial. God is in control. That is all we need to know.
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, February 8, 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.