“No Room for Small Dreams”
Regardless of what you think of former Israeli President Shimon Peres’ politics, his life story is a parable of the rebirth and the flourishing of modern Israel. Reading his autobiography, No Room for Small Dreams (London, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2017), I am freshly inspired to plant my life in this miracle nation.
Peres was born in Poland in 1923, into a family whose dream was to live in Zion. He arrived in pre-state Israel in 1934. During his youth Peres was shaped by the rugged demands of kibbutz agriculture and was one of the founders of Kibbutz Alumot, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. During his more than seventy years of public service, this man’s accomplishments encompassed the fields of defense, technology, economy and national politics. His roles included serving as Prime Minister. Shimon Peres continued to actively serve his nation until his passing at age 93 on September 28, 2016.
His life story inspires me through statements like these:
“…we were all keenly aware that we were part of a mission—something far bigger than ourselves.” (p.14)
“…rather than run from the challenge, I fully embraced it.” (p.39)
“Never once, in our two thousand years of exile, had there been a more ambitious dream for our people than the dream to return home.” (p. 43-44)
“And yet I knew that we would never achieve great things if we let austerity become an obstacle to audacity. To build a stronger, more prosperous state, we had to set our gaze higher than our temporary limitations.” (p.60)
With determination, perseverance, sacrifice, intelligence and ever-guided by an optimistic vision for the future, Peres helped forge this nation—bringing us from the trauma of rebirth before statehood, through warfare that challenged our very existence as a country, through tackling hyperinflation as a struggling economy in the 1980s, into our current place as a young/ancient nation resurrected and blooming both agriculturally and technologically.
Pioneers still greatly needed!
We may now be a highly developed nation, on par with Western European societies, but there is still a need for a Peres-like approach of “building for the future.” This Zionist pioneer, had the “faith” to assist in Israel’s miraculous rebirth, even without believing in the God of Israel. How much more then, can we envision a bold faith view of what “can be.” This is profoundly true for us as Messianic Jews and all followers of Yeshua who grasp His unabated love for Israel and for all mankind. May we be fueled with passion to set in motion the dynamics of faith—declaring and living for those things that are not yet, as though they are (Hebrews 11:1).
There is so much more God intends to do in our generation here and globally. Here, we are back in the “land,” but not yet fully alive in the Spirit (Ezekiel 37:8). Strengthening, refreshing, equipping, and empowering the body of believers in this land is a high priority. As we intercede and give ourselves to the coming of Yeshua’s Kingdom, I believe that we are following in the footsteps of both the Zionist pioneers and the heroes of faith recorded in Scripture.
“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (Hebrews 12:39, 40).
It is said of Abraham, the father of us all, that “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:20, 21).
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, August 2018, 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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There are many different forms of leadership, and there are many motivations for wanting to become a leader. As I was driving through the Jordan valley, I looked at the mountains on the other side of the Jordan River, and I thought about Moses standing with the Lord on one of those mountains. The Lord had taken him up to Mt. Nebo so that he could look into the Promised Land that he would never enter. I thought about how loving and humble a man he had to be in order to lead the people of Israel for forty years, knowing that he himself would never enter into the promise.
Earlier in their journey in the wilderness there was a place where the complaints of the people with Moses brought him to a point of frustration. He was instructed to speak to a rock in the sight of Israel and bring water out of it. But in anger, he struck the rock and water came out. For this, God told Moses that he would not enter into the land of Canaan as promised.
When I think of this situation, wouldn’t it be so easy for Moses to blame the people for why he disobeyed God and hense received such a punishment? It is safe to say that most of us would probably have chosen to pick up and leave and wash our hands of these ungrateful, stiff necked people. Moses could have wrapped himself up in bitterness, but instead he chose to continue leading God’s people. What an amazing man to be able to see past where the people were at and to believe in the promises of God to transform them into what He was calling them to be. Moses continued in the wilderness to partner with God in the slow process, to intercede and teach this rough band of former slaves because he believed in the God who was able to complete what He had started.
It is very possible that Moses was aware of the transforming power of God in the life of a person because he had spent so many years of his own life in that same wilderness before anyone was following him. He had seen in his own life what God can do and it enabled him to continue to love and serve people who were very difficult to be with. Walking with others may not be an easy thing to do, but when you recognize how gracious God has been in His dealings with you, it may help to make it easier to see beyond where they are now and concentrate on what God has called them to become. This is the godly calling of leadership. It is not a place of authority and power so that others can serve you. It’s a place of allowing God to use you to serve others so that they come into their inheritance.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, July 19, 2018, 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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Commentary on Parashat Ekev (Because of)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12–11:25
God’s Word is consistent! As I was reflecting on this week’s reading, I was amazed once again by this, and also by the fact that Yeshua our Messiah’s teachings always consistently echoed the Hebrew Scriptures. Let’s take a look at a few key verses from this week’s parasha:
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.
As I mentioned, I love the consistency of God’s Word, and I would like to highlight a few key points from the verses above:
- Love God through obedience to His commands. I focused last year’s blog on the issue of love (Parashat Ekev (Because of )). Again, I want to stress the importance of obedience as evidence of our love for the Lord. Basically, the byproduct of our love is obedience, which comes from a soft heart toward Him (not legalism):
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15)
That word “if” is such an important word that we find throughout Scripture. Our love of God ought to be reflected through the way we apply His Will to our lives.
- The entire heaven and earth are His. Before entrusting us with the greatest call on earth (i.e. to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to obey His commands), Yeshua reminded us of the fact that He is the one who has all authority in Heaven and on Earth:
And Yeshua came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
- God’s amazing love and faithfulness. The fact that Israel is God’s elect is repeated for a very specific reason in the New Covenant: God is faithful to keep His promises. The fact is that He is not finished with Israel, His chosen people. To claim that He has rejected Israel would be calling God a liar, and accusing Him of being unfaithful. Paul wrote about this very clearly in the book of Romans:
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all. (Romans 11:28–32)
- The Circumcision of the Heart. Circumcision of the foreskin is a key part of the covenant between Abraham and God, so we can understand that circumcision of the heart is also a key part of the covenant. God desires us to have a “heart of flesh” rather than a “heart of stone”, so that our hearts would be soft to His instruction. In Messiah Yeshua, everyone receives a heart of flesh (not of stone), which is circumcised as a sign of our belonging to Him (2 Corinthians 3:3). A circumcised heart is a sign of love for the Lord, and so we obey Him because we love Him (John 14:15).
- The Superiority of God. He is God Almighty. In the Book of Revelation, we are reminded of the fact that Yeshua is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, just like it says in verse 17 of our Scripture portion:
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16)
- God does not show partiality. In many places throughout the New Covenant (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:16 and Ephesians 6:9), we find references to the fact that God does not show partiality. Our God is a just God that cared in the past – and still cares today – for the orphans, the widows, and even the aliens in the Land, and He has called us to do the same.
In closing, I would like to highlight and summarize verses 20–22: Love the LORD, serve the LORD, cling to Him for He is your praise, and He has done, is doing, and will always do so many great things for you! He is the One who redeemed you and opened your eyes to the truth; He is the same God from yesterday in whom you can take great comfort, hope, and assurance for the future!
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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The foundational statement of Israel and the Jewish people
This past Shabbat in synagogue, we read our weekly Torah Parsha, which includes the most well-known portions of Scripture in the entire Bible, especially to Jewish people. It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, known in short as the Shema and VeAhavta. These verses begin with the statement:
“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
These words are often spoken of as being the foundational statement of Israel and the Jewish people. For thousands of years, these words have been prayed every morning and every evening by Jewish people as a proclamation of their commitment to the One and Only True and Living G-D. There are many stories told of Jewish martyrs at their executions speaking these words out with their last breath. These words are, in fact, very powerful and as one reads them in the Torah, or as they pray them daily, they are, in truth, professing their faith in the G-D of the Torah, the G-D of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Yet, while extremely powerful and important, the text doesn’t stop with the end of verse 4. It continues with a statement concerning verse 4. Reading verse 5-9 helps us understand a little more.
Love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These words, which I am commanding you today, are to be on your heart. You are to teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your hand, they are to be as frontlets between your eyes, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We are not simply just to shema (hear and obey) that G-D is One; we are to love G-D with our entire self. But it doesn’t stop there. The text continues to state what I really believe is the foundational verse or statement of Israel and the Jewish people. I believe the foundation of our faith isn’t just that G-D is One. The foundation is that we teach that truth to our children. As followers of Biblical Judaism, we teach our children when we sit in our houses, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. The foundation of our faith isn’t just that we know who G-D is. The foundation is that we know who He is and we teach who He is to the next generation.
This is the reason that G-D is known as the G-D of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He isn’t known only as the G-D of Abraham. Even when we go back to the days of Isaac, in Genesis 26:24 we find G-D speaking to Isaac and stating;
“I am the God of your father Abraham…”
Notice the immediate connection presented: G-D didn’t just say, “I am the G-D of Abraham.” He said “Your father Abraham.” We are a part of a faith that always has always been and will always be generational and we have a G-D that we believe in because who He is has been taught diligently to our children. This responsibility to teach our children who G-D is cannot possibly be overstated. It is the foundational commandment of our faith.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".
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Abraham had three wives
When we read the stories of the patriarchs, we have to ask what the purpose of God was behind all the events, even those that may seem strange. My understanding is that God sent Abraham back to the land of Canaan to “restart” the original plan from the garden of Eden. (Genesis 12:1-4)
Through Abraham’s first wife, Sarah, was born Isaac, to whom was given both the promised seed of the Messiah Savior, but also ownership rights of the land. (Genesis 18, 21)
Through Abraham’s second wife, Hagar, Ishmael was born, who was blessed and circumcised into the family covenant even before Isaac was born. Through Hagar a family and covenant connection was made with the people of Egypt (Mizraim) and through them to all the sons of Cush and Ham, living in Africa. (Genesis 10:6)
After Sarah died, Abraham married Keturah. The sons of Keturah were sent northward and eastward, and joined in with the sons of Ashur (Assyria). This established a family covenant connection spreading out into Europe and Asia. (Genesis 25:1, 3, 6)
God promised Abraham to be a blessing to all nations, to take possession of planet earth, to be a father of many nations, and to bring the savior of the world. (Genesis 12, 22, Isaiah 19:23-25, Romans 4)
The sons of Ishmael and the sons of Keturah were not a mistake. They were part of God’s predestined plan to restore planet earth and extend the family of God through covenant with father Abraham.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 1, 2018, 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.