[Israel 101] Explaining the Israel-Syrian-Iranian connection
According to a recent interview between the N.Y. Times and outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Israel has “dropped 2,000 bombs on targets in Syria in 2018 alone.”
In order to understand the Israel-Syrian-Iranian connection, one has to explore the unusual and unlikely partnership between Syria and Iran and what each hopes to gain from it. Oddly enough, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s late father, Hafez Assad carried on a long-time feud with those he considered to be revolutionary Islamists in the 1970’s and 80’s in order to prevent a revolution in his own country, one which has seen itself as more secular than religious.
So it’s ironic that today Syria is closely connected to Iran, a country whose revolutionary army has been among the most extreme Islamic purveyors of theocracy where all of its laws emanate from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Yet, Syria and Iran, despite these differences, came together back when Saddam Hussein was viewed by both of them to be a threat in the region. Another common thread between the two countries was their mutual hatred for Israel. For Syria, there was a tremendous loss of face after the 1967 Six Day War when Israel successfully won control of the Golan Heights, a sore spot which has festered with the Syrians since that time. Iran simply loathingly looks upon Israel as the “Little Satan,” (the U.S. being the “Big Satan), calling for death to the Jewish nation at every turn.
America also considers both of these countries as enemy nations and, finally, few others in the region support them, so this makes for a strong partnership between them. In short, Syria is happy to have strong Iranian intervention and Iran is happy to utilize neighboring Hezbollah as proxy forces in order to do its dirty work against Israel. In fact, Assad admires and nurtures Hezbollah who he encourages to be the thorn in the side of Israel who he feels constitute a threat to Syria. Neither Israel nor the U.S. has been able to reign in this imposing partnership and has sometimes had to do their best to make unhappy compromises in order to avoid more serious catastrophes.
Yet, as a result of the stockpiling of Iranian weapons being brought into Syria, as well as tunnels being built by Hezbollah in order to penetrate Israel and attack her population, Israel has had no alternative but to protect its interest and that is why so many bombs have been dropped on Syria over the past year as these threats unfolded. This included strikes both in the capital, Damascus, as well as on their airport where arms warehouses were discovered.
The problem is that Russia has also been part of the mix in its desire to prop up the Assad government, and so although Israel and Russia have been able to coexist relatively well, Israel’s need to defend herself has complicated that Russian relationship since an Israeli attack on Syria is seen by Russia as one which is contrary to their interests and agenda in the region.
Of course, Israel has no choice but to protect its citizens and failure to seal up tunnels or eliminate weapons’ factories would prove disastrous for the small Jewish country which must fight for its survival by those who are set on her destruction. Russia, also understanding this dilemma has tried to get Iran to reduce weapons’ smuggling, knowing that the only way to stabilize the Assad government would be to not risk further Israeli attacks on it.
But Israel has not always openly admitted attacks upon Syria and has done its best to operate covertly in order to sow some ambiguity on who really is behind the attacks. However, as more and more tunnels began to be discovered and the location of large caches of weapons was disclosed, Israel’s attacks became apparent and even openly threatened to be intensified. It was just recently that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly admitted that “the IDF has succeeded impressively in stopping Iran’s military buildup in Syria and in this context the IDF has attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets hundreds of times.” (JPost, January 14, 2019)
Lt. Gen. Eisenkot confirmed this by saying, “We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit.” (JPost, January 14, 2019) However, these disclosures by the Prime Minister and his general have been met with harsh criticism from the opposition who believe that such admissions put the nation’s security at risk. Of course, with the upcoming Israeli elections only a few months away, many among the opposition also accuse these disclosures as being intended for political gain.
Whether or not this is true, Syria, Iran and Lebanon all have a vested interest in doing great harm to Israel and ridding the region of its strong Jewish presence once and for all. But “Moscow promised Jerusalem that it would keep the Iranians 80 kilometers away from Israel’s border in the Golan Heights,” (HaAretz, Dec. 26, 2018) in order to maintain the continuation of the Assad regime.
So the cooperation between Russia and Israel – another strange bedfellow relationship may be a helpful buffer in making sure that no Iranian or Hezbollah threat to Israel is met with a strong response by the Jewish nation, even though Russia has condemned these recent Israeli strikes in Syria, calling them “provocative acts.“
What is for sure is that Israel’s enemies will continue to try to put an end to her existence and Israel will continue to defend herself, even at the risk of alienating those whose agenda is hurt by future Israeli actions.
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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Intercessory Prayer (Part 1)
Recently I was sitting with my wife Betty early in the morning, sipping tea, going over the day’s tasks, and praying for our family, ministry, spiritual life, and current events. We realized that this was not only a devotional time, but how we work. It is our “methodology.” We live by intercessory prayer, by praying over each and every thing.
At this stage of my life I am looking to turn over all our “ministry” operations to younger leaders. Thank God, we have amazing teams of gifted and motivated people, serving in almost every area. They are students of the word, covenant friends, “five-fold” ministers, anointed musicians, effective administrators, and talented communicators.
I was wondering if anything was missing. One question came to my heart. Have they really grasped that everything we have pioneered and developed has been done first through intercessory prayer? Have we succeeded in passing that essential value on to them?
In order to “pass on” the baton of intercessory prayer, I thought it would be good to try to summarize some of the essential aspects of prayer in a short article:
- By Faith – Yeshua taught us that when we pray, we need to have faith in God and the faith of God. Prayers backed by faith can move mountains (Mark 11:22-25). Words of faith act like “bull-dozers” to get things done in the spirit. With faith-filled words, nothing is impossible. By the same rule: without faith-filled words, nothing of kingdom value is possible. Much of prayer is simply declaring verses of scriptures out-loud by faith.
- With Yeshua – Yeshua preached and did miracles for 3 to 4 years. He has been interceding in prayer from the throne of God for 2000 years. Apparently, He thinks this is an efficient way to operate, an effective use of His time! He is a full-time intercessor, praying for us at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). We should not pray by ourselves, but “with Yeshua” in cooperation and partnership.
- With Authority – Although we pray with a humble heart, submitting to the will of God, we also must pray with spiritual authority. Yeshua not only rose from the dead, but ascended into heaven “above all authority” (Ephesians 1:20-22). From that position of authority, He prays. He invites us to be seated with Him there (Ephesians 2:5-7), and to pray with Him from the same perspective and authority.
- In Tongues – Praying in tongues is an amazingly effective tool. Paul said that he prayed in tongues more than anyone else (I Corinthians 14:5, 18). This was not a statement of pride but an exhortation for us to understand how important it is to pray in tongues. Prayer in tongues allows for intercession beyond our limited understanding and ability to express words (Romans 8:26).
- By the Spirit – We pray by the leading of the Holy Spirit, with the Holy Spirit, and actually allow the Spirit of God to pray through us (Romans 8:16, 26; 9:1; 10:1). We pray not only by our own thoughts, but through the Spirit in a dimension beyond our thoughts (I Corinthians 14:2, 13-17; Judah 20). Prayer is a spirit-led activity, that is akin to prophesying, in that we are “moved” by the Spirit (II Peter 1:21).
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, January 3, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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The Lamb of God
PARASHAT BO (COME)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 10:1–13:16
The Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh) are full of references that connect to Messiah, and point to His fulfillment of the perfect, unblemished Lamb. In this week’s scripture portion, we find many of these connections, but I want to focus on verses 5 and 6 in Exodus 12:
Your lamb shall be an unblemished (perfect) male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. (between the evening or afternoon)
There are three main points that I would like to highlight from these verses, because they directly point to Messiah Yeshua, and how He fulfilled the prophetic image of the Lamb:
- The “Unblemished Lamb” here in Hebrew is translated as “Seh Tamim.” The Hebrew word “tamim” refers to honesty, simplicity, innocence, completeness, integrity, and without any flaw or defect. You can find a similar description also in Deuteronomy 15:21,But if it has any defect, such as lameness or blindness, or any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God.
Isaiah 53 speaks of a person, which we know is the Messiah, that the LORD would use as a “lamb that is led to the slaughter” and would pay the penalty of sin for all of us:
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
The disciples also referred to Yeshua in a similar way:
The next day he saw Yeshua coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.
1 Peter 1:18–19
- Specific instructions on how to keep and slaughter the lamb:The instruction here was to take the lamb on the 10th of the month, and then keep it (or watch over it) until the 14th of the month. For what reason? I believe that it was in order to check or observe it and make sure that there was nothing wrong with it. In Matthew 22:15–33, just a few days before Yeshua gave Himself as the Sacrificed Lamb, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were questioning Yeshua on different issues so as to “check” Him and observe Him.
- The command to slaughter the lamb at twilight (between the evenings):The command here was to “kill it between the evenings” or in other words, in the afternoon. It makes sense then that Matthew recorded the time that Yeshua was on the tree (Cross) in these words,
Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.
My dear friends, the more we read and learn of the amazing work of our Messiah, the more we will see the perfect fulfillment of every detail!
I leave you with two questions: Do you know Him? Have you received His perfect sacrifice as an atonement for your sin?
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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Ideas – Good and evil
‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.’ -Isaiah 5:20
For lack of a better word, and to avoid cliches and the pitfalls of misunderstanding, I will use the word Ideas to describe that which lays behind the concept of Good and Evil.
On the very simplest level, Evil (and Good) exists outside the individual person and his physical makeup in the form of Ideas. Those Ideas may be indoctrinated into the person, such as a young Muslim who is taught from childhood that it is good if he straps on a suicide belt and kills Jews in a pizza parlor, and he will be rewarded with 72 virgins in paradise. This is an evil Idea. Such Ideas may be spread to permeate an entire society, such as was the Nazi Idea in Germany with its murderous anti-Semitism, which is an evil Idea. Ideas, good or evil, are spread from outside the individual through writing and art and education and the media, and thus affect the behavior of persons and societies, and bring about good or evil results into the world.
There are Ideas which are bad in that they are built upon a false premise of errant assumptions, and therefore lead to evil results. The pleasant banner over the French Revolution- Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite- led to national chaos and the guillotine and streets running in blood. The ‘equality’ meaning ‘sameness’ promised by atheistic, materialistic Communism based on a false Idea contrary to the nature of humans, led to oppression, poverty and the murder of millions. Islam of the Quran based on primal fear and forced submission has long been known by its fruits of hatred, intolerance, backwardness and unending wars and terror. Bad Ideas.
In the marketplace of Ideas there are some very good ones. There are good Ideas, such as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which have been passed down from the biblical writings for over 3000 years, and have had some positive effect upon humanity. The basic Idea at the very foundation of the Bible is “You shall love”. E Pluribus Unum (‘out of many, one’) and One Nation Under God are good Ideas, but their reversal becomes a bad Idea that leads to division and dissolution of the unity of a free nation, just as the good Idea of Christianity has caused evil when tragically misused contrary to its Founder’s tenets. Fire may cook the food and heat the house, or burn the house down if misused.
Ideas existed long before Muhammad and pre-dated Plato and Buddha and Zoroaster, and even Moses. Ideas are like clouds that build to fullness and then precipitate into ideologies and philosophies and those to political movements and those, when two contradicting Ideas attempt to occupy the same space, to conflict, and the last place the Ideas meet in conflict is on the battlefield of war.
But if one were to part the curtain to find the source of Ideas, and what fuels them, one might find Truth and its opposite, Lies. Ideas shape Ideals, true or false ones. The introduction of the Idea that the God of Truth is ONE and only was revolutionary, an affront that shattered the multiplicity of gods and goddesses that had shaped the paradigm of the ancient thought world, even the intelligent philosophical Greek world that has shaped much of Western thought. The oneness of the Creator- an Idea so simple that many find it hard to grasp- who had created a beginning with purpose, implied the oneness of all his creation, and thus the promise of an eventual coming of shalom (a dynamic of all things working together for the good, not a cessation of anything- except evil). Then the oneness of reality will cause a unity of the Creator, mankind, and all creation, without further conflict. As it is written prophetically, “In that day YHVH will be king over all the Earth, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).
YHVH the Creator is outside of His creation as much as I am outside of the art that I create- but I do exist out here. YHVH is especially outside of rebellious men, who do not seek to invite Him inside. To be forever outside the light of YHVH is Hell, trapped inside of our own lonely selves and Ideas and desires, and separated unto a long self-chosen exile in outer darkness. A sad Idea.
The greatest Idea has been given from Heaven. “It is not in Heaven” (Deut. 30:12), which means it is now given to humankind in the Torah and the Prophets and the King Messiah, and thus the free choice is given to us: “This day I lay before you life and death, the blessing and the curse, therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live!” (Deut. 30:19). Which is a very good Idea.
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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Don’t keep your hands to yourself—How to heal the sick
In 1989, I was working selling copiers. We had a big office with many people and the office manager had just given four ibuprofen to the secretary, who happened to be Jewish. I asked why she was about to take so many pain relievers and she told me how badly her head hurt. I asked, in front of a few others, if I could pray for her. I did and she turned to the office manager and returned the ibuprofen! She was healed.
No, it was not cancer, but it did cause this young lady to be open to hearing about Yeshua.
There is much written about our calling to healing evangelism in the New Testament. In Mark 16, Yeshua lists five supernatural things that we are to do as believers. One of them is to lay hands on the sick and, it says, they will be healed!
Why are we to lay hands on people? Because God has used this to symbolize the transferring of spiritual power and authority. A leader who sins is to lay hands on a goat before it is sacrificed. (Lev. 4:24) The priest laid hands on the goat during Yom Kippur.
He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. (Lev. 16:21)
The Bible talks about having clean hands and that this is akin to having a pure heart. (Ps. 24:4) If God was for you, His hand was with you. If not, the Lord’s hand was against you.
We see this more clearly through Yeshua’s ministry. We read that when they arrested Yeshua, they tied his hands (Matt. 27:2). Why? Maybe because they, too, understood, both from Jewish history and from Yeshua’s ministry, that the power of God was released from one to another through the hands.
- Through Yeshua’s hands, He healed the sick. (Peter’s mother-in-law, the leper in Matthew 8)
- He raised the dead by taking the hand of a young girl who had died and by touching a dead boy’s body.
- He took the fish and loaves in His hands and fed 5,000 people.
- He made mud with His hands and put it on the eyes of the blind man, healing him.
What faith it took to touch the man with leprosy! It was a contagious, horrible flesh-eating disease. I am reminded of the story of John G. Lake and bubonic plague. Lake was a missionary in Africa during a time when scores of people were dying from the plague. People were afraid to bury the bodies for fear of contracting the disease. When doctors asked Lake what he was using to protect himself, he replied:
“Brother, that is the ‘law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.’ I believe that just as long as I keep my soul in contact with the living God so that His Spirit is flowing into my soul and body, that no germ will ever attach itself to me, for the Spirit of God will kill it.”
He asked the doctor to put the foam that was coming out of the mouths of the corpses in his hand. When he did so, and then put Lake’s hand under a microscope, he could see that upon contact with Lake’s hand, the disease died.
That same power is in you! Take a look at your hands. The Spirit of God can be released to the sick through your hands.
A Drunk Man Made Sober
Once I was in Port Jefferson, New York, with a team sharing Yeshua. A young man who was quite drunk was not so interested. I told him, “If you let me pray for you, God will make you sober!” He thought it was a joke and allowed me.
Suddenly, he started going crazy, shouting, “What did you do? What do you do? I am sober!” He seemed quite scared by the encounter.
You can do MORE than Yeshua!
One of my favorite verses is John 14:12. Yeshua says,
“The things that I do, you will do and greater things than these will you do, because I am going to my father.”
Yeshua doesn’t say we can merely do what He did—but even greater things! Why? Because he has gone to the Father.
What does that mean, because He has gone to the Father?
- He has risen from the dead and conquered sin and death!
- We are now born from above.
- He has sent the Holy Spirit to us.
- He lives to make intercession for us. (Heb. 7:25)
Think about that…when you go out to share the gospel or pray for the sick, the Bible says that Yeshua – that great intercessor – is praying for you. Check out this verse:
“Messiah Yeshua who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Rom. 8:34)
What a joy to know that Yeshua is at the right hand of the Father—you can’t get any closer than that—praying for us, right now! We are immersed in the Holy Spirit to be anointed to do the works of Yeshua before unbelievers. Two of the gifts of the Spirit are healing and miracles.
Why Are so Few Being Healed?
So, why don’t we see more sick people healed? One reason is that most people don’t pray for the sick. Like anything else in life, you have to do it a lot to become good at it.Michael Jordan didn’t wake up one day to find out that he was the best basketball player in the world. No, he practiced…day and night, before games and after games.
Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers, speaks of a study that says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. No, I am not suggesting that you pray for people for 10,000 hours, but merely that the more you pray for the sick, the better you will get at moving in the Spirit.
Get Out of the Building!
Another reason we might not see so many healings is that we pray for believers only. It is so much more fun to pray for unbelievers! What is the first healing we see in Acts? A crippled beggar (Acts 3) receives new legs. Philip goes to Samaria (Acts 8) and casts out demons and does miracles—and the people believe. Our playing field is not inside the congregation but outside – at work, in the university, at the store, etc. God loves to heal unbelievers. Most of the unbelievers I pray for are healed instantly.
If we have such a great gift as healing, why do we keep it to ourselves? There is a story in 2nd Kings where four lepers decide to surrender to the Assyrians. They are dying anyway and wonder what they have to lose. When they arrive, they find the Assyrians gone and all their supplies still there. Food, gold, silver, iPhones!
As they are enjoying the spoils, they come under conviction.
“What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” (2 Kings 7:9)
In the same way, we cannot keep this great gift to ourselves, but must share it with the lost. It is time to stop keeping our hands to ourselves!
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, January 4, 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.