[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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PARASHAT KI TISA (WHEN YOU LIFT UP)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 30:11–34:35
This week, we read of one of the most well-known, yet tragic accounts in the history of the people of Israel. It begins with Moses on Mt. Sinai, receiving the stone tablets, which were written with God’s finger. During that time, the people grew impatient because they thought Moses was “late” in coming down from the mountain. They gathered against Aaron and told him to make them a god that would walk before them since they did not know what happened to Moses.
The people’s impatience was rooted in selfishness, which caused them to take matters in their own hands. Often times we are also impatient! We don’t want to wait upon the Lord, and take matters into our own hands. And the results are the same as those of the children of Israel i.e. we make for ourselves a different “god” that we trust in and follow.
Aaron feared the people more than he feared God. This fear caused him to surrender to the people, and therefore, he collected all the golden earrings and turned them into a molten calf. He then blasphemously declared, “This is your god, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)
The blasphemy against the one and only true God did not stop there; Aaron built an altar and said to the people that, “tomorrow will be a festival to the lord”. The next day the people rose up to offer “burnt” offerings, to bring “peace” offerings and they sat down to eat, drink and to make “merry”. Most Bible translations translate the word “לְצַחֵֽק” Letzachek as “to make merry”, but a more accurate meaning would be the sound resulting from a licentious kind of debauchery. In other words, the children of Israel were engaging in a form of lewd idol worship!
God wanted to destroy Israel and rightly so! However, we once again see that despite their human selfishness, God was moved to compassion because of His love and His faithfulness. Moses “reminded” Him of His unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).
As Moses was coming down from the mountain he met Joshua, who reported to him in verse 17 “the voice of war (battle) in the camp.” Moses’ reply has a very significant meaning in the Hebrew, which gives us the key to understanding what was truly happening in the camp. Moses responds in verse 18, “It is neither the voice of signing (response) of victory (“עֲנ֣וֹת גְּבוּרָ֔ה” anot gevura) and not the voice of singing (response) of weakness (“עֲנ֣וֹת חֲלוּשָׁ֑ה” anot chlusha), but the voice of selfishness (“אָנֹכִ֖י” anochi) that I hear.”
I find interesting that Joshua heard the sound of war and Moses heard the sound of selfishness. I believe that both are true as what was happening was one big spiritual battle, due to the blasphemy that took place in the camp of Israel. Moses’ rage and anger caused him to throw the tablets that he was holding, causing them to break. He then burned the golden calf. Moses had no tolerance for idol worship, and neither should we followers of Messiah.
As I reflect upon this story, I am reminded of the words of exhortation from 2 Peter 3:3–8:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
God is never late! Don’t allow your selfishness to cause you to take matters in your own hands — which will result in sin — but rather, remember all that He has done for you! He is faithful — take hold of His promises so that you can follow Him and walk with Him today. Do not grow weary in waiting for Him!
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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Lasting, bonded relationship of love
What is life all about? That is a question that incalculable numbers of people have asked over the course of human history. The Bible provides an answer. The meaning of life is primarily found through succeeding in establishing lasting, bonded relationships of love. That love also compels us to extend the circle of love in the Kingdom of God by serving others and introducing them to the liberation of the Gospel and discipleship so that they also might succeed in the great task of establishing bonded relationships of love. This is easier said than done, especially for people who were raised away from any context of seeing this lived out in before their eyes. However, through the power of God in Yeshua, we can all find healing and establish such relationships.
The first bonded and lasting relationship the power of the Gospel leads us into is with God, where we discover – as the Reformers taught – that the primary purpose of our lives is to love God and enjoy Him forever. This relationship is a key to learning to love and to overcome self-centeredness.
The next most important bonded relationship of love for most people, is with their spouse, with the potential for an amazing depth of joy. I am privileged to know that joy.
Then for most people, the next bonded relationship is with their children. We go through the struggles and, for the wife, the great pain of childbirth and raising young toddlers, for the joy set before us of the potential of a lasting relationship of intimacy with our children.
Those not called to marriage and family are still called to deep bonded relationships with others. We have relationships with relatives and friends. God more than makes up for the lack of marriage and children for those who are called to a single life. God also gives us a heart to love people with great differences of interest and in many different stations in life. He broadens us.
The patterns of our modern Hi-Tech culture are arranged for fleeting relationships, for shallowness and trivia. They replace real intimacy with superficial information. They encourage zero or low commitment engagements and prioritize the immediate over the important. Many books have been written on this. I want to encourage you to stand against this trend. Internet Church is not Church. Facebook may be good for minimally keeping in touch, but can never be the relational basis for our lives.
Many years ago, I asked the Lord to give me a contingent of leaders who would walk with me in covenant love (bonded relationships of love) that would last a lifetime. God fulfilled that prayer, and I think the Tikkun story is largely a ripple effect initiated by those bonded relationships. We appreciate your connection to the Tikkun story and pray that your life would increasingly be given to establishing lasting, bonded relationships of love.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 5, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.
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Taking the bull by the horns
LOVE is a word much spoken of, but most often as a noun. Love as a noun becomes an abstraction of little use other than as a tennis ball to be bantered back and forth across a court of speculation. But love as a verb is love indeed, manifest in action on the real stage of life, not only in Heaven.
Love is real and may be felt and seen. If ‘love’ is the word spoken but is experienced as ‘loathe’, something fundamental has been lost in translation. Love is dynamic, not passive: “God so loved the world that He gave,” expressing His will on earth as in Heaven. Love is transmitted, and if the beloved does not know that he or she is loved, it is not love at all, but something less. For love to live it cannot lie inert. If love is not expressed it is a mere personal sentiment lodged alone inside one individual.
For Love to live it must find a language, and to be communicated it must learn the language of the beloved. If I were to say to one who knows only Japanese ani ohev otach (‘I love you’ in Hebrew) it will not be understood. But if I cannot soon learn Japanese, I may express my love by offering a cup of coffee or a sandwich. Love requires the investment of time and the very minimum of a cup of coffee.
Faith is not sufficient to prove love, as one may believe he is loved, but if it is not experienced, it is futile. I knew a young man who believed he was not loved and, when I told his girlfriend that he had tragically taken his own life she exclaimed, “But I loved him.” To which I informed her, “He did not know that.”
Real love when reciprocated from both sides with Heaven’s blessing forges bonds that are not fragile, but is a strong threefold cord not easily broken. If it quickly unravels like a single thread that is unable to bear any weight, it was not love, but its counterfeit. Love requited renders one naked and vulnerable to both pleasure and pain, but it weathers the storms that threaten to quell it and, forgiving, rekindles love from the coals. Love is not for the fearful but the brave, nor for snowflakes, who melt at the first unpleasant heat.
Love is not a mere ceremony of abstract symbols, but the reality to which the symbols point. Love is a voyage of adventure through rough seas and dangers as well as placid lakes and sunrises, through pleasures and pains, fully expressed and fully lived. It is taking the bull by the horns, nothing less.
‘Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and truth.’ – 1 John 3:18
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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Love compelling effective intercession
SUMMARY: This week’s parasha, Ki Tisa, explodes with the fire of love that ignites and compels effective intercession. As we read and engage with Moses’ prayers of passion for Israel, we are escorted to the inner chambers of God’s heart. There we discover depths of friendship with Him that drive history shaping intercession.
The parasha opens in Exodus 30:11 with God giving Moses details pertaining to liturgical worship. A census of the Israelites is to be taken for the purpose of funding and outfitting the Tabernacle. From this instruction comes the name Ki Tisa, meaning “When you take” [the census].
The parasha goes on to prescribe sacred elements and furnishings for the Tabernacle, as well as Sabbath observance. Then, as God finishes speaking with Moses, He gives him two stone tablets engraved with His holy commands. (Exodus 31:18) At this, Moses is presumably awestruck with joyful expectation for the future of his people. But any joy he may feel is short lived.
“Go down,” God tells him, “for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have become debased. They quickly turned aside from the path that I commanded for them. They have made a molten calf, worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’…I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore, leave Me alone, so My wrath may burn hot against them, and so I may consume them and make from you a great nation!” (Exodus 32:7-10)
The Hebrew word used for “leave Me alone” in verse 10 means “let me be” or “let me be pacified.” God is deeply grieved and angered. But He is not losing his temper or discharging rage as we might understand such emotions. Rather, the fire of holy righteousness, mixed with passionate, jealous fervor for His people, compels a radical response in order for Him to have a people fit to be His people. The expression of His wrath would be a merciful execution of justice fueled by the sanctity of love.
In this rubicon moment, Moses does not leave God alone. In a certain real sense, he dares disobey the Almighty.
“O Lord,” Moses replies, “why should Your anger burn against Your people, whom You brought out of Egypt…? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that He brought them out … to wipe them off the face of the earth?’ Turn from Your fierce anger; relent….Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom You swore by Your own self: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them and it will be their inheritance forever.” (Exodus 32:11-13, NIV)
In a related encounter, Moses further pleads, “Please forgive their sin. But if not, please blot me out of Your book that You have written.” (Exodus 32:32) In history shaping intercession, Moses gives tangible expression to the command of Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and strength.” Many years later, Messiah Yeshua would highlight this command as the greatest. (Matthew 22:37)
Moses loves according to the greatest command because YHVH has opened to him the innermost chambers of His own heart. There Moses has embraced and shared the Father’s bittersweet grieving and anguished, passionate longing for intimate fellowship with His “firstborn son.” (Exodus 4:22) The ancient leader of Israel has engaged in an unprecedented, personal sharing of divine anguish over sin. In this holy communion, he appears as jealous and zealous for God’s reputation and glory as God Himself.
Nevertheless, Moses can rightly appeal to YHVH on only one basis. In bold humility and faith, he presents to God the terms of His own unconditional, everlasting covenant—made for His own sake. He “reminds” God, so to speak, that He swore by His Name to fulfill His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the process, Moses sacrifices the opportunity and blessing of fathering a new nation consecrated to YHVH.
The man known through history as Israel’s deliverer goes still further. If God will not or cannot forgive Israel’s sin any other way, Moses will lay down his own calling and destiny—even his life—for that of Israel. Consider this in context of Yeshua’s teaching: “No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
In the compelling power of covenant love, Moses moves the heart of sovereign God. “And so Adonai relented from the destruction that He said He would do to His people.” (Exodus 32:14)
Now, God knew from the beginning that Moses would ask Him to relent from destroying Israel and that He would indeed relent. But that does not mean He would have relented without Moses standing in the gap in prayer. It is much the same today. God seeks intercessors who will stand in the gap for His people, driven by Messiah-like love, for the fulfillment of His covenant purposes—for His Name’s sake.
Like Moses, the apostle Paul excruciatingly embraced God’s heart for His people. In and by Messiah Yeshua, he writes, “I would pray that I myself were cursed, banished from Messiah for the sake of my people—my own flesh and blood, who are Israelites.” * (Romans 9:3-4) Are you perhaps called to the same?
In Ki Tisa, after God responds to Moses’ plea not to destroy the nation, He re-commissions him to lead the Israelites to their promised land. “But,” He says, “I will not go with you.” (Exodus 33:3) Though forgiven for their sin of the golden calf, the people remain grievously disposed toward sin. If God were to go with them, He might destroy them before they ever reach the land.
Again Moses intercedes, prevailing on God not to withdraw His personal presence from Israel. He speaks with YHVH “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) And again God agrees to Moses’ request. Specifically for Moses’ sake, He blesses the entire nation. (Exodus 33:5, 15-17) But Moses is still not satisfied. The more he engages with YHVH, the more it seems he must know Him. Boldly he asks, “Please, show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18)
In stunning response without hesitation, God agrees. He says He will cause all His “goodness” to pass by Moses in a manner Moses can humanly endure. In this unparalleled encounter, YHVH declares to Moses His Name: “Adonai, Adonai, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, showing mercy to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means leaving the guilty unpunished, but bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children…to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
The divine attributes of God revealed here are regarded as His fundamental disposition toward humankind. Accordingly, recital of these so-called “Thirteen Attributes” is extolled within traditional Judaism and remains an important element of liturgical worship.
Ki Tisa continues with various commands, including the celebration of God’s feasts. The covenant tablets of stone which Moses breaks in Exodus 32:19 are replaced in 34:1-4. In the ancient Near East, breaking a tablet on which a contract was engraved served to legally void the contract. But God graciously forgives and reinstates the contract, now referred to as the Mosaic Covenant.
Ki Tisa concludes with Moses’ face shining so brightly, reflecting the glory of God’s presence, that he must veil it before the people. (Exodus 34:29-35) This week, may your face shine brightly from His intimate presence—as an unveiled testimony of His goodness. May you be blessed with the incomparable joy of loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, compelling effective intercession.
*Most Bible scholars agree that neither Moses nor Paul consciously intended to relinquish eternal life with YHVH or consign themselves to eternal separation from Him.
Scripture quotes and references are from the Tree of Life Version unless otherwise indicated.
This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, February 17, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Sandra is co-founder and director, along with her husband Kerry, of Light of Zion Ministries. Light of Zion is an Israeli Messianic Jewish, prophetic intercessory prayer ministry in Jerusalem with humanitarian outreach. Sandra is a prayer mobilizer and network leader, international speaker, prophetic liaison, professionally published author, Bible teacher, and retired attorney.