Living at the crossroads
Have you ever wondered why God brought Abraham from Ur in Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan? Mesopotamia was far more developed culturally and economically than Canaan, so why did God bring Abraham and his descendants there? Or why Samuel after making his circuit around Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah judging Israel, he always returned to Ramah, his hometown, to judge Israel (1 Sam. 7:16-17)? Or why did Paul choose to reside in Ephesus for over two years?
All of these locations—Canaan, Ramah, and Ephesus—share the same common feature: they sit at a crossroads. The land of Canaan sits along the eastern Mediterranean coast wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert. It provides the natural land bridge that connected the continents of Asia and Africa. It was also located between the major superpowers of the ancient world, Egypt in the south and the Mesopotamian powers to the north. If you wanted to travel within the ancient world, you had to pass through the land of Canaan; it was the crossroads of the known world.
Ramah sits at the juncture of the major north-south and east-west roadways through the hill country of Israel, where the majority of the Israelites lived. The easiest way for Samuel to judge the majority of the people was to place himself at the crossroads and the people would come to him.
Ephesus served as the major east-west gateway of the Roman Empire. Traders and travelers journeying from east or west passed through Ephesus. It was also a major pilgrimage site as it boasted one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis (see Acts 19:24-34), so pilgrims throughout the Roman world journeyed to Ephesus to worship the goddess.
The selection of these locations was strategic. They served as significant crossroads, places where God and His message could impact the most people. These crossroads became platforms for God to get His message out to the world. At the same time, He demanded that His people live in obedience to Him at the crossroads to demonstrate to the world His kingship. Even in the midst of a pagan city like Ephesus, Paul did not isolate himself; rather, he lived at this crossroads, and his life and message impacted the paganism of the city (see Acts 19:24-34).
Where are the crossroads of our world today? Where are your crossroads? God still desires to place people at the crossroads of our world to affect the world for His glory and to display His kingship.
Father, today make me mindful of the crossroads in my sphere of influence. Help me to be strategic in my actions to bring glory to Your holy name. Help me to live obediently at the crossroads of my world, so that many may see You in me and glorify You. Amen.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, February 20, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
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Golan Heights recognition by the US – The timing couldn’t be better
Recognition of the Golan Heights couldn’t have come at a better time for the embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose many criminal allegations have been the main source of chatter among Israelis, since the news of his indictment came out, casting grave doubt as to whether he’d be able to hold on to his post with Israeli elections only weeks away.
But all that changed Monday when U.S. President Donald Trump declared and signed a proclamation to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Here’s a small background of why this is significant.
It was just 52 years ago at the end of the 1967 Six Day War that the region came under Israeli control where Syrian Arabs comprised most of the area’s inhabitants. Although many subsequent pursuits were made by Syria to retake that coveted piece of land, attempts never proved to be successful.
Today, there are more than 30 Jewish settlements and over 40,000 residents (comprised of Jews, Druze and Alawites) who have turned the Golan into one of the most flourishing tourist destinations imaginable. Travelers come to see the many jaw-dropping gorgeous waterfalls, brooks, rivers and other imposing nature sites while tasting some of the best, award-winning wines which are grown in the region. Boasting some of the finest restaurants and boutique-hotels which redefine the word “pampering,” the Golan is home to some of the best vacation spots in the country. There is the famous Mt. Hermon ski resort, lush orchards where delectable fruits are produced and optimum soil and weather conditions which have facilitated the cultivation of many vineyards which have flourished there over the past 20-30 years.
But more important than all of that is the militarily strategic value of this area and its security implications for all of Israel. Perched high up at an altitude of 2,814 meters (9,232 feet), visibility extends about 40 miles north where Syria’s capital city of Damascus can be clearly seen, thereby giving Israel a superior advantage for monitoring any possible threats. It is also the perfect buffer zone between Israel’s enemies and the Jewish state. In addition to all of this, the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main source of fresh water is a significant part of the reason that the Golan Heights is such a precious and valuable resource to Israel.
All of these treasured and priceless assets are reason enough for Israel to hold on to land which, according to the scriptures, is part of God’s inheritance to them (both Bashan and Gilead which the tribes of Manasseh, Gad and Reuben liberated from the Amorites are part of the Golan Heights). This territory was part of the covenant made with Abraham in Genesis 15.
Historically, here are some of the events which took place, further solidifying Israeli ownership of the Golan Heights:
- Battle on the Golan between King Ahab and the army of Aram with a Jewish victory at the present site of Kibbutz Afik, which lies a few miles east of the Sea of Galilee.
- After the end of the Babylonian Exile, and during the Second Temple Period, Jews returned to their homes on the Golan. Subsequently the returnees were attacked by gentiles and Judah Maccabee brought his forces up to the Heights to defend them.
- At the conclusion of the Hasmonean Period, King Alexander Yannai finally re-conquered the Golan and Jews returned yet again. They rebuilt communities in central Golan, including the major cities of Banias and Susita, which formed part of the defense of the Golan.
- Their residents fought heroically against the Roman legions during the Great Revolt of 135 AD, known also as the Second Uprising. Some 10,000 residents of Gamla alone perished fighting against Rome.
- Second century Jewish coins were found on the Golan after its liberation during the last days of the June, 1967 Six Day War. These ancient coins were inscribed with the words, “For the Redemption of Holy Jerusalem.”
- Archaeologists have found the remains of 34 synagogues on the Golan.
- Jewish life returned yet again in the latter years of the 19th century when members of the Bnei Yehuda society from Safed purchased land on the Golan. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased around 18,000 acres in what is present day Ramat Magshimim.
- The Jewish pioneers of the First Aliyah (immigration) began to farm land they had purchased in the Horan region until the Turkish Ottoman occupiers evicted them in 1898. Their land was then seized, and in 1923 the entire Golan was given away by Britain to the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon.
- Zionist leaders had earlier demanded the Golan be included within the new Jewish National Home because of its immense historical roots in biblical and post-biblical Jewish history. But Jewish liberation of the ancestral land was not possible until Israel was forced to fight for its very survival during the Six-Day War.
- The Golan Heights was officially annexed to Israel in 1980.
There is no question that President Trump has seemingly assisted Netanyahu at a critical time in his campaign. With this boost, it’s possible that the election outcome will turn in Bibi’s favor, but maybe more significant than that is that God may actually be using Trump to further accomplish His purposes for Israel by making sure that the inheritance given to the Jewish nation remains in their hands into perpetuity.
Cookie is the former managing director of Makor HaTikvah Messianic School in Jerusalem.
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Imprints in the lives of those around us
I like to share something ,which I believe the Holy Spirit showed me to encourage us all to live a sanctified life.
I was praying for some people, and started to think how so few of our witnessing to people had an effect. I even started to complain to the Lord about this. Then I sensed the Holy Spirit showing me that it is not necessarily our words that speak, but mostly our being there in people’s lives and living before them that makes “imprints” in their memory box and in their lives.
I remembered then that new Believers often testify about how other Believers were saying this or doing that to them, before they believed. Those were imprints from God through these Believers into their lives, to draw them.
This also reminded me how one day I was weeding in my front garden, and my neighbor called from across the street without me having talked to him: “You don’t have to talk to me about God, I am watching your life!”
This revelation puts an awesome responsibility on us to live our life’s to honor God and His Word, so it will draw people around us to Him by leaving “Imprints.”
The Bible calls it the “fragrance of Messiah” 2 Cor 2:15.
One day we will not be here any longer, and those coming to faith during the big tribulation might need to only lean on these “Imprints” in their memory box. This means in every action, at home or in traffic, in shops, at work or in school, how we act , react, and live, should be a testimony to our Lord.
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Church of the Antichrist
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness! (anomia)’”- Matthew 7:22-23.
When one takes a step in a wrong direction, the next step invariably leads further in the wrong direction until, 10,000 steps further on, one finds himself lost and very far from the right direction. Many churches, especially in the Western World, find themselves now in that very position.
The theological misapplication of “we are not under law but grace” has over time created a form of Christianity where any behavior is permitted as long as there is “love.” That misguided interpretation has stated that the Law of God has been done away with in Christ, and now we are under the Law of Love alone, and virtually any behavior lawful as long as it is accompanied by “love.” That step in the wrong direction has now led many churches to perform weddings of men with men and women with women, by ministers who are themselves homosexuals. This, they claim, is now allowable because “we are no longer under the Law” that forbids such behavior. But it is the Torah of our Creator that is the track beneath us to measure our steps, and upon which we may travel by the gift of grace.
Some have tried to find the way back to the way by seeking a new “revival,” and have come up with various recipes to make one happen. But I am not certain that any of our programs and recipes can succeed in manipulating the Sovereign of the universe to perform as we would like, any more than the prophets of Baal could convince their divinity to act by leaping and yelling and cutting themselves with knives. The Messiah warned us, “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign” (Matt.16:4). But the attempt to manufacture signs and healings that do not come to pass will only succeed in furthering the predicted Great Apostasy by disappointed believers. It is in our patience and faithfulness that YHVH will perform his will in his own perfect timing, just as he did at the first Pentecost, without the strenuous efforts of men. May we thus be walking in integrity and authenticity and faithfulness, and be ready when the Lord decides to create that revival, which cannot be contrived, manufactured, or faked.
But Yeshua told us, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34), and a sword is seldom known as a tool to bring things together, but to divide. As the Creator has always been a divider from the beginning, separating light from dark, holy from profane, clean from unclean, the Sabbath from the other six days, so the Messiah divides us from our sins, separates us from the world, and is now dividing what is called “the church”: those who would go back to the paganism of Rome and Babylon and Egypt and Sodom, from those who are now following Him back to Jerusalem where the Word of YHVH came forth and is returning.
In the verse cited at the top of this article Yeshua tells those of his followers who had performed even miracles in his name, “get away from me, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness (Greek: anomia). This is the very same word describing the Anti-Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, calling him “the man of lawlessness (anomia)”. This is the one who will seduce as he did Eve, and lead the world away from the Law of God to its very opposite,lawlessness, where everyone does what is right in his own eyes, even in the name of Christ. And so the church of the Antichrist may be distinguished from that of he who hold told us that “ For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” – Yeshua
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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Yeshua isn’t coming back to Israel! What?
It is not enough to love Israel; you must love Israelis!
The Messiah is not returning to the land of Israel, but to the people of Israel—to Israelis! What brings Him back are the cries of His people. What moved God to send Moses, the redeemer, to Egypt?
“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey … I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exod. 7-10)
We know, from prophecy, that Israelis will cry out to Yeshua before He returns:
“Jerusalemites” will look onme, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child… (Zech. 12:10)
“Look! He is coming with the clouds!
Every eye will see him,
including those who pierced him;
and all the tribes of the Land will mourn him.” (Rev. 1:7 CJB)
Some translations interpret this as “all the peoples on earth will mourn for Him.” But, in the Greek, it speaks of “tribes of the land,” most probably meaning, the tribes of Israel. Israelis often refer to our country as simply the Land.
So the cry and the mourning of the Jewish people in Israel over Yeshua will precede the Second Coming.
To the Orthodox Jews of Jerusalem, Yeshua said, “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matt. 23:39) In Hebrew, the words “Blessed is he who comes” are the equivalent of welcoming someone. Yeshua is not coming back until Jewish people in Israel welcome Him.
Do you know any Israelis?
What is my point? There are millions of believers who say they love Israel—and I am sure they do—but they don’t love Israelis. How could they? They don’t know them. And it is crucial that they do, because it will be the love, intercession and compassion from the believers in the nations that will birth this end-time longing in the Jewish people for their true Messiah.
As an immigrant, I have fought for 16 years to be part of this culture. Recently, my native-born Israeli wife said to me, “Ata mamash Israeli,” meaning, “You are really Israeli.” For me, this was the greatest of compliments. My Hebrew is not perfect, nor is my accent, but I have put in the hours to understand the Israeli mindset and culture, and to become part of it.
If you are called to a people, it is not enough to love those people—you must love what they love. I know many immigrants from the U.S. who have never integrated. They still dress like Americans, act like Americans, hang out mostly with English speakers and have no idea who Neta Barzallai or Omer Adam are (popstars). They live in a bubble. They can host people from all over the world and show them the Holy Land, but can’t tell you who Micha’el ben Ari (racist politician who was just banned from running for the Knesset) or Ofira and Berkovich (popular hosts of a pre-Shabbat news/culture show) are.
Why have I “wasted hours” watching shtooyote (nonsense) on Israeli television? To fully connect to the people I love.
What does this have to do with you?
God has called you to birth revival in Israel. But most believers who love Israel actually love a fictitious, imaginary version of Israel. I recently shared with room full of lovers of Israel from all over the world in Jerusalem. I said, “Your prophetic homework, before you leave this country, is to make sure you have a five-minute conversation with an Israeli—not a believer! And, not to share the gospel (though that is encouraged), but to know them, to hear them, to feel them.”
How can YOU do that? Well, make sure to join an Israel tour as soon as possible. We, ourselves, host two tours each year. You can read the www.timesofIsrael.com. They have a blog section from locals. Through that you can feel and taste the culture. Read books about Israel. The book that changed my life and caused me to load up my wife and three girls and make Aliyah was called From Beirut to Jerusalem, written by liberal New Your Times columnist and three-time Pulitzer prize winner, Thomas Friedman. The picture he painted of his six years in Jerusalem caused me to fall in love with these people before I had ever visited the country.
There is no more important people group on earth than Israelis when it comes to the end-times. No! I am not saying that Jews or Israelis are better than any other group, but that this country has a clear prophetic role in bringing back the Messiah. And it will not be fulfilled without the love and prayers of believers all over the world. God wants to put a supernatural love in your heart for Israelis.
To be clear, the title is hyperbolic—a shock statement to get your attention. Of course, He comes to Israel, but not without the longing of the inhabitants—the Israelis.
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, March 20, 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.