Israel’s unsolved rift
What was the source of the heated argument among the National Council on the morning of May 14th, 1948, just hours before the declaration of the state of Israel?The name of the state and the final wording of the declaration had been agreed upon, but the inclusion of a reference to God in the text was the last obstacle for the committee.
Ben-Gurion felt that in the final sentence of the declaration the phrase, ‘With trust in the Rock of Israel (צור ישראל), we set our hands in witness to this Proclamation…’ would satisfy both religious and secular Jews.
The spokesman for the religious parties, Rabbi Fishman-Maimon threatened to not sign the declaration unless the words, ‘and its Redeemer’ were to follow the ‘Rock of Israel.’ Aaron Zisling of the left wing of the Labor Party was equally determined in the opposite direction. He said, “I cannot sign a document referring in any way to a God in whom I do not believe.”
It took Ben-Gurion most of that morning to convince both sides that the ‘Rock of Israel’ could been taken as ‘God,’ or it could be interpreted in a symbolic way to refer to the ‘strength of the Jewish people.’ In the end the Rabbi Fishman-Maimon consented and ‘the Rock of Israel’ was kept without “and its Redeemer.”
This rift between religious and secular Jews has continued to this day, and probably is the greatest source of division among the Jewish people. This subject is a sore spot in Israeli politics, and it seems each Prime Minister acts like a pin-ball, bouncing from side to side trying to appease everyone, but never fully succeeding.
Unfortunately, such serious divisions/rifts are nothing new among the Jewish people-just think back to the time of the split kingdom after Solomon, or the severe divisions that existed among the Jewish sects during the time of Jesus and his disciples—Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, Essenes, etc.
After the splitting of Israel and Judah in the time of King Solomon, Israel had 19 consecutive bad kings who did not please God and they were eventually sent into exile. Judah on the other hand had 9 good kings who sought to please God and 11 bad kings, but they also were taken into captivity.
On a number of occasions, righteous Judah fought against wicked Israel – their own brothers – as a form of God’s punishment (I Kings 15:9-16). There were also times when they made alliances, but they usually didn’t end well due to corruption and compromise.
Right before Judah was taken captive by the Assyrians, God spoke through Ezekiel the prophet saying He would one day join Judah and Israel, and they would be one in His hand (Ez 37:15-28). The context of this joining includes God gathering the Jewish people into their own land, cleansing them of their sin and setting one King over them forever. Of course, this has yet to happen.
Recently, in prayer, I’ve sensed the heart of the Father longing to unite His sons again. This also includes all of Abrahams sons of faith, Jews and Gentiles who have put their trust in Yeshua as King and Messiah. A unified people or nation is unstoppable (Gen 11:5-6). Imagine what God would do through a unified righteous people from every tribe and tongue. We live in a day where this joining together is under much attack, and the call to pray for this unity is urgent.
Let us continue praying for Israel’s division to be healed through union with their Messiah. And let’s keep agreeing and cooperating with Yeshua’s prayer in John 17 for oneness in His global body, and not stop until He gets what He has desired and asked for!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, February 20, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Cody served on staff with YWAM for four years before moving to Israel. He joined Revive Israel's staff in 2013. He and his wife, Liat, help lead the youth group at Ahavat Yeshua Congregation and work together in Revive Israel’s international department. They have a passion to see the word of the Lord go out from Jerusalem through media and by going out to the nations themselves.
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Resting from the daily grind
PARASHAT VAYAKHEL (AND HE ASSEMBLED)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 35:1–38:20
I marvel at God’s Word and the amazing wisdom and insight that it contains! In it, we find instructions that are relevant until today, and that enrich our lives when applied. Before I continue sharing a couple of thoughts from this week’s Scripture portion, it is important for me to emphasize that I am sharing my own personal convictions from God’s Word, and am in no way passing judgment on anyone who disagrees with me.
In this week’s Scripture portion, the command to keep the Sabbath is found right in the first verse. This is actually a repetition of the same command found four chapters earlier in Chapter 31, verses 12–17. When God repeats something more than once, it’s a pretty clear indicator that it’s important:
Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a Sabbath of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”
In Exodus 31, the command to observe the Sabbath comes in the middle of God giving Moses instructions for how the children of Israel are to prepare His dwelling place, the Tabernacle. The entire Tabernacle was centered around God, His precise instructions, and His holiness. But the building of God’s dwelling place on earth also contained a provision for God to commune with the children of Israel! In the midst of all the instructions, we find that God instructed Israel to stop all of their work on the seventh day — the Sabbath — and to make the Sabbath day a holy day, a day that was set apart from the other days of the week.
What does this have to do with God communing with His people? Well, the Sabbath day was also a sign of a special relationship between God and the people of Israel (Exodus 31:13). I believe that the Sabbath is itself evidence that God created us for relationship. God stopped and rested from creating after He created man so that He could spend time with him! Therefore, the Sabbath is a sign that Israel belongs to one living God, who created human beings for the purpose of relationship. The Sabbath is also a sign of trust that God is our provider and that He will provide everything we need!
I am reminded of a challenge that I received many years ago before I entered fulltime ministry. In that period of my life, I was working about 80 hours a week, 7 days a week. I was sharing with a friend about how much I was working and he asked me a very important question that I’ll never forget. He asked, “Moran, do you think that in six days, God can accomplish what you can do in your own strength in seven days?” I was so convicted by my lack of trust in God’s supernatural provision for my life, and I started to take a Sabbath one day a week to rest and to be with Him.
In essence, God shows us that part of doing His “work” — building His Kingdom — includes time to spend with Him and to trust in His provision for us and our families. Even when we are doing God’s work, we need to stop, seek Him, follow His instructions, and apply His wisdom to our lives.
I would like to encourage you to take a break from the daily grind, and simply spend some time with your Creator.
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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Deny myself? – Why?
Yeshua said to let our “Yes” be “Yes” and our “No” be “No” (Matthew 5:37). In context He was speaking of making religious vows, but we can take this a step further: Good is good; bad is bad (Isaiah 5:20).
To what do we say “Yes”? – everything good! All the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” through Yeshua (II Corinthians 1:20). We are to think about every good and pure thing (Philippians 4:4-8). Through meditating on God’s promises we develop an optimistic attitude and are transformed in our minds (Rom 12:1-3).
But we also have to say “No” to bad things. Evil comes from three sources: the World (social pressure); the Flesh (pride and lusts); the Devil (demonic spirits). We say “No” to everything that leads to sin and death.
Burying Our Flesh
Yeshua said, “Whoever desires to follow Me, must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and come after Me” – Luke 9:23. Following Yeshua brings us into all of the glorious blessings of God.
However, the path of following in His footsteps starts with: “deny yourself.” That means saying “No” to our own selfish desires. The Rabbis call this יצר הרע, yetzer hara’, the evil instinct.
- Think how many of the Ten Commandments start with “Thou Shalt Not…”!
- Psalm One starts with three “Does nots” – not walk in path of wicked; not stand in way of sinners, not sit in seat of mockers.
- Yeshua’s great prayer of Gethsemane repeated over and over, “Not My will, but Yours…” (Matthew 26:37ff).
- The last of the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Part of becoming “partakers of the divine nature” is also self-control (II Peter 1:3-7).
Paul also spoke of “self” crucifixion: “crucify myself” (Galatians 2:20); “crucify the world” (Galatians 6:14); “crucify the flesh” (Galatians 5:24). This is not speaking in any way of self-flagellation or self-condemnation, but of saying “No” to evil influences, particularly our own sinful instincts.
Self-denial is the opposite of self-condemnation; it is a work of grace by the Holy Spirit. “Now there is no condemnation to those who are in Messiah Yeshua” – Romans 8:1. Thank God, by the blood of Yeshua, we have been cleansed from all guilt (Hebrews 9:14, 10:1-3, 12:24).
However, the same Holy Spirit which frees us from condemnation, also “puts to death” selfishness and lusts. “If by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body…” (Romans 8:13). In all the wonderful, positive verses about the work of the Holy Spirit, did we kind of “glide” past that verse? The Holy Spirit puts a halt to the works of the flesh.
From the Inside Out
Why is this quality of self-restraint so important? It has to do with our destiny as children of God to take dominion over the creation (Genesis 1:26-29). We are called to “rule and reign” together with Him (Romans 5:17; Revelation 5:10; 20:6). Self-restraint is actually governing ourselves. If you can rule yourself, you are ready to rule the world.
Proverbs 16:32 – Better is he who is slow-to-anger than a mighty man; and he who rules over his spirit than he who captures a city. One has to be able to rule his own feelings and desires, before he can rule over more external things. Taking dominion over ourselves precedes taking dominion over God’s creation. This is an essential character quality to enable us to fulfill God’s highest purposes in our lives.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, February 27, 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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Breaking through the walls
The walls of Jericho were demolished by the sound of the shofar and human throats shouting. This profound breakthrough occurred through the unlikely weapon of a ram’s horn. Centuries of idolatry and a formidable defense were shattered. A rag-tag “nation” of ex-slaves managed to pierce the walled city of Jericho. In an instructive blend of divine firepower and worshipful human obedience, thick walls were no longer a barrier.
In ancient times the walls that defended a city were thick. I’m looking at a photo’ of the walls around the city of Akko. Today it is a small city on the northern coast of Israel not far from the Lebanese border. But in days past it was a mighty fortress, a strategic Mediterranean port positioned on the route between Egypt and Syria. Napoleon tried to conquer her and could not. He was bested by a salty old Turk named El-Jazzar, the Butcher. El-Jazzar’s defensive walls enclosed the city. They were 39 inches (one metre) thick and 33 feet (10 metres) high!
We are now facing these walls, not so much the physical ones as those in the spiritual realm. What will it take to break through with the love of Yeshua, to establish a Messianic congregation in a city steeped for millennia in idolatry and bloodshed? For that matter, what walls are blocking you from changing the spiritual complexion of your city? What fortress defies penetration in your pursuit of the will and calling of God on your life? I believe Joshua’s experience can help us.
The walls of Jericho stood, imposing, on the other side of the Jordan River. Joshua had already seen the walled cities of Canaan forty years earlier as a spy. He well knew the perils of attempting to take the city of Jericho. His dialogue with God on the subject of crossing the Jordan and taking Jericho creates a valuable sequence we can now apply  to our personal preparation (Joshua) and  to our congregation or ministry team (Israel) if we are to break through the walls in our lives. The applications I see are printed in bold type.
Joshua’s personal process:
- After the death of Moses – For many it is a new season, requiring greater faith.
- Joshua, Moses’ assistant – We must be discipled, disciplined and submitted to God-appointed leadership as Joshua was.
- Arise, and go over this Jordan – We will have to leave our comfort zones.
- I am giving you this land … every place your foot touches – It is God who sovereignly grants access to your region, city or neighborhood. Residence = Inheritance.
- No man will be able to ‘get in your way’ for I will be with you … – God’s presence is what enables us to stand before the enemy.
- Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land … – You will be opposed, but do not yield to fear and discouragement. Then others will enter the inheritance with you.
- Command the people, saying ‘Prepare provisions … for in 3 days you will cross over this Jordan to … possess the land.’ – It is time to prepare well, as God’s people in solidarity.
Israel’s Shared Sequence:
- Spies scoped out the city of Jericho. Know your territory. What are the strongholds in your city? Historical research, prayer walking, and local interviews will be helpful.
- They crossed the Jordan with priests in the lead, setting stones as memorial. Worship, Intercession and Thanksgiving precede breakthrough.
- The men were circumcised as soon as they arrived in the Land. Strongholds of fear, rejection, etc. in our own lives must be broken. A tender heart toward God is essential.
- The commander of the Lord’s army appeared to Joshua. Unless Yeshua is our Commander in Chief, and we have a revelation of His AUTHORITY we will not break through strongholds.
- The city was securely shut up and the Lord told Joshua to march around the city blowing shofars and carrying the Ark of the Covenant for six days. The more resistant the walls of the city before us, the greater must be our dependence on God, our singular focus on His will and unity among us.
- The priests and armed men circled the city, blowing shofars, shouting on day seven. Simple obedience and persevering declaration of God’s purposes and greatness brings His power.
- The wall of the city fell flat and the Israelites took the city. Personal breakthroughs and city-transforming revival will come as in faith we follow the sequence God gives us.
Not only in Akko, but in the Haifa Bay area we are operating in territory that has virtually never been touched by the Gospel. I’ve been wondering “How can I ever possibly break through to the people where I live?” At times I feel remote, disconnected, unable to touch them. It must be that God is drawing me to Himself. Out of my aching sense of inadequacy compared to the vast need of the tension-soaked faces around me, I can only turn to the Father of Mercy and appeal to Him.
I am asking God for heart surgery, to give me His intense love and persevering compassion for the region where I live. God is also deeply interested in the people where you live. You see them every day, driving to and from your neighborhood. They are next to you in the shopping mall. They are your fellow 10s, 100s or 1000s of employees on the job.
How to break strongholds? I’m no expert in spiritual warfare. Necessity is pushing me to read books and to dig into The Book. Yet in any army it is the responsibility of the Commander in Chief to make sure that his troops are prepared. So, I’m confident that Yeshua is equipping me, even as I experience moments of frustration and apparent failure.
Truthfully, I’m not super jazzed by warfare terminology. I was a “flower child” in the 60’s, a peace-love hippie who wanted nothing to do with war. I still find it hard to be as aggressive as I need to be to function in Israel. But my personality and background are irrelevant in this issue. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that I am at war. I am not only under attack, but I am called to take territory back from the enemy. I will have to fight in order to fulfill God’s calling and commission. “We have been summoned to this battle by the Commander in Chief” as John Dawson says in Taking our Cities for God. The Battle is the Lord’s. The Earth is the Lord’s. Yeshua has called us as His disciples to withstand the enemy and to see the walls of unbelief and idolatry come down.
He said “I will build my congregation and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 21, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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Is Israel a racist country?
What if I told you of a people that thought that they were a superior class of humans. They were stronger, smarter and more attractive. They were going to rid their land of immigrants and foreigners, rid it of anyone not like them. Those who stayed would be persecuted minorities.
Is that how you think of Israel? More and more, that is how she is portrayed. But, in fact, that would be Iran, Nazi Germany or any ISIS-controlled territory. Contrary to the lies of anti-Semites like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said two weeks ago that Muslims do not have freedom of worship in Israel, Israel Muslims are the freest in the Middle East. To be clear, when she said that Muslims are not free to worship, she was dead wrong.
Created out of Necessity
In order to understand why Israel is the antithesis of racism, you have to understand her origins. Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel never sought to create a master race. Unlike the Islamic state, that wanted to control the world through Islam, Israel was created out of the necessity to survive. There was an existential threat against the Jewish people.
After 2,000 years of wandering the world, the Jewish people came under increasing persecution at the end of the nineteenth century. Not that things were easy before that. In seventeenth-century Ukraine, as many as 100,000 Jews were murdered by the regime of Bogdan Chemelnitsky. Tens of thousands of Jews were forced from their homes and livelihood in Spain in the latter fourteen hundreds. Thousands of Jews died during the crusades.
A Father is Born
But, in the late eighteen hundreds, pogroms (violent demonstrations against the Jews) broke out in Russian, Poland and Ukraine. During that time, a young Theodore Herzl did not think the Jews needed their own country. He just wanted to see people of all countries accept the Jews that lived among them as equals. He was an anti-Zionist.
However, when he covered the trial of Alfred Dreyfus in France for the Vienna-based newspaper for which he worked, he was shocked. It was clear Dreyfus was innocent. The Jewish officer was arrested on trumped up charges, brought by anti-Semites in the French military. When he was convicted and sent into exile at Devil’s Island, a conviction overcame Herzl: The Jews will never be accepted among the nations. We need our own country!
He wrote a book called “The Jewish State” and began to promote Zionism all over the world. A secular prophet, he called for the restoration of Israel on her own land.
The Opposite of Racism
So, you can see that Israel was not birthed because of Jewish racism against others, but because of racism against Jews by virtually every other nation. However, we implored the Arabs in the region not to leave, but to stay and become equal citizens in our new nation. Read the following excerpt from our Declaration of Independence, spoken by our first Prime Minister on the day of our birth, May 14th, 1948:
WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
Did the Nazis give an invitation like this to the Jews? Does ISIS seek to give minorities equal rights? No! Half a million Jews chose to leave their nations after Israel’s independence for fear of their lives. Racism broke out against the Jews after Israel’s rebirth and the only nation that could protect them was the newly-formed Jewish state—proving her need to exist!
Some 800,000 Arabs fled Israel during the War of Independence at the urging of the surrounding Arab states. They were going to destroy Israel before she began. These Arabs were told (by the surrounding countries) to leave temporarily and that they could come back for the spoils after the victory. The 600,000 Arabs who did not leave became Israeli citizens, while those who left in hopes of Israel’s destruction became refugees. The descendants of the Arabs who stayed are full and free citizens of Israel.
For more than 70 years, oil-rich Arab nations have done everything in their power to keep the 800,000 Arabs who fled (and now their descendants) in refugee camps. They could have absorbed them into their nations, but, instead, they treated them terribly, so they could continue to be used as a political issue against Israel. Thousands of Palestinian refugees have been murdered in Syria’s civil war, yet you never even hear about it. The fact is that the racism other Arabs nations have towards Palestinian Arabs is tremendous. In English, they talk about the poor Palestinians and, in Arabic, they curse them.
The Palestinian Issue
Palestinians are not the same as the Israeli Arabs. Palestinians are actually Jordanians. After Israel became a nation, Jordan swallowed up the West Bank (ancient Judea and Samaria). They never once offered to build that area into a “Palestinian State”. There was no such thing as a Palestinian Arab ethnicity. They became Jordanians. The word Palestinian referred to any person living in region—Jewish, Arab or European.
But, during the Six Day War, after Israel promised not to attack them, Jordan decided to attack Israel. Within two days, Israel drove them out of Jerusalem and over the West Bank. It was a swift and unexpected victory. Suddenly, Israel was in a pickle having to administrate the lives of more than 1,000,000 new people. Giving back the land—that again, we gained only because we were attacked—was illogical from a security point of view. It is a complicated issue for sure. But it is not connected to apartheid or racism, but to security.
I would be lying to say Israel is racism-free – no country is. But I can say two things that are true: Israelis’ negative feelings toward the surrounding Arab nations and Palestinians have everything to do with the fact that they hate us. We would love to live in peace with them. And, secondly, if you come to Israel, you will see that Israel is most embracing of other cultures and ethnicities in the world. It is a wonderful country!
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, February 25, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.