The blood of Amir Simachon
Late one evening just over fifteen years ago, Tuesday July 13, 2003, to be exact, Amir Simachon sat with Shalhevet Okashi, a woman friend from the Tel Aviv municipality where they both worked, on the Jaffa promenade overlooking the moonlit bay and shore. About 1:40 AM a crazed terrorist ran up behind them, shouted “Alla Akhbar” and stabbed Amir in the back with a 30-centimeter (that’s one foot; twelve inches long) blade knife.
Amir managed to stand to his feet as the terrorist raised his knife to stab Shalhevet. Amir lunged forward between them, embracing Shalhevet as the knife stabbed the second time into his back. As the terrorist ran off, Amir turned to Shalhevet and said, “I feel faint.” He died a few hours later in the emergency room at Wolfson hospital. The terrorist was later captured and underwent interrogation.
Shalhevet’s response to journalists was simply, “He hugged me, and his hug saved my life.”
A Life Saving Hug
I can’t stop thinking about that embrace. An act of self-sacrificing love saved her life. Amir volunteered to have himself pierced by a satanically-inspired terrorist in order to save Shalvevet. How like Yeshua’s act of sacrificial love on the cross for us!
As Amir embraced Shalhevet, his blood from the double stabbing spilled onto her. She’ll never be able to forget the impression of that mortal, precious, scarlet, steamy blood of her co-worker. In one moment, the blood of Amir changed Shalhevet’s life for eternity. Not only saved, but changed.
Amir was a handsome young man of 24, who often volunteered for civilian guard duties. His parents’ response was, “As Amir was in his death, so was he in his life – always sacrificing himself for others – that’s just the way he was.”
What a challenge that is to us! Yeshua’s death on the cross was not an isolated incident, but rather the culmination of a lifetime of sacrificial love, service to others and absolute obedience. The blood of Yeshua not only saves us, but influences us to change. We are in Shalhevet’s position, being embraced by Yeshua’s outstretched arms on the cross.
His blood not only erases our sins, but motivates us to live a lifestyle like Him – a lifestyle of love, faith and integrity. As the imprint and impression of the blood of Amir will haunt Shalhevet every moment for the rest of her life, so are we to be traumatized and transformed by the blood of Yeshua every day. The power of the blood of Yeshua is not just in the one-time historical event of 2,000 years ago, but in the constant and continual, internal and eternal, re-recurring reminder of His sacrifice. As Shalhevet said, “He shielded me with his own body.”
One difference of course is that three days later, Yeshua rose from the dead. Imagine the shock for Shalhevet if Amir had come back to life and appeared to her saying, “Come follow me. Let us make a covenant together. Not only have I saved your life in this world, I have the power to give you eternal life in the world to come. Will you trust me? Will you lead a life of purity and love for my sake? Will you receive my spirit in you?”
Yeshua also had a few last words on the cross. The power in those words comes from the witness that his blood had been poured out. In some ways, all of the gospels are Yeshua’s final words to us that are backed up by the power of his blood. What if Amir’s last words to Shalhevet had been a request? – Such as, “Watch out for my parents.” Or “Donate some money to charity.” Do you think she would have fulfilled that request? I’m sure she would have.
Perhaps Amir’s “I feel faint” doesn’t sound that profound. On the other hand, it makes me think of Yeshua’s statement, “I’m thirsty.” Sometimes we get caught up in the theology of the cross so much, we miss the raw physicality of the event, the humanity, the guts.
By the way, why did the terrorist kill Amir? For one reason alone: he was a Jew. Again I am reminded of Yeshua, that the stated crime that He was crucified for was being “King of the Jews.”
One of Yeshua’s blood-backed declarations on the cross was for us to be forgiven of our sins. You see, we are not only like Shalhevet, in some ways we are like the terrorist. It was for our sins that Yeshua was crucified. We are like the jailed terrorist to whom Amir-Yeshua might come to say, “Even you I am willing to forgive.” Or suppose Shalhevet had been his wife who had committed adultery, to whom he would say, “I forgive you, go and sin no more.”
What repentance, what forgiveness, what freedom, what victory, what consecration, what empowerment there is, when we completely identify with the blood-soaked embrace and the life-changing message of Yeshua on the cross.
People Just Didn’t Get It
Some people did not take note of the story of Amir. They were too busy with politics and economics. But others saw in that story the most important event of the week – so important in fact that nothing else might seem to matter. Let us put ourselves in Shalhevet’s shoes: nothing else matters. Nothing else will ever matter – only that embrace, only that blood, only that life-saving sacrifice.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun Ministries International, December 30, 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.
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[Israeli Politics 101] Making sense of the four legal cases against PM Benjamin Netanyahu
How did one of Israel’s most successful and long-time prime ministers end up facing the imminent possibility of being criminally indicted for corruption including bribery and fraud charges? It’s not an easy web to untangle, but here is a background composite of what contributed to these astounding developments:
In the investigation labeled” Case 1000,” the prime minister is accused of having received gifts from wealthy and powerful individuals, one of them being an Israeli Hollywood producer and another being a casino mogul, who in exchange, received personal favors or special status, despite the fact that Netanyahu denies the personal gifts/return favors connection.
In yet another investigation labeled “Case 2000,” it is alleged that Netanyahu traded regulatory favors to Bezeq, Israel’s leading telecommunications company in exchange for favorable media coverage on their Walla news website also owned by them.
These charges of fraud and breach of trust extend to his wife Sara who is also being accused of improper use of public funds at her personal residence and also having received personal gifts which are illegal for government officials and their family to accept.
Two other cases include “Case 3000” and “Case 4000.” Case 3000 centers around the sale of German submarines to Israel through corrupt means including a conflict of interest as Netanyahu’s personal lawyer became the legal representative of the accused businessman who allegedly bribed government officials to facilitate the negotiation of the sale.
Case 4000, concerns Israel’s director-general Minister of Communications, personally appointed by Netanyahu, illegally allowing Bezeq to buy shares in Israel’s satellite cable provider YES.
All of these legal woes come at a time when Bibi is fighting desperately to finish out his political term amidst a growing sea of discontent amongst many secular Israelis who are fed up with the Netanyahu government coalition which always grants too much power to the ultra-orthodox, allowing them to control much of Israeli day to day life as they would prefer. The lack of Jewish pluralism as held by many other streams of the faith, which are not recognized as valid expressions has certainly helped to fuel the desire for early elections and a change in the status quo.
Consequently, Netanyahu remains vulnerable to lose his power and his control which he has enjoyed off and on for the last few decades. He was elected prime minister in 1996 and served until 1999. He returned to that role in 2009 and has been there ever since. But as these charges continue to hound Netanyahu, the once beloved and respected Prime Minister could be headed for sure political demise.
Although he continues to tout his innocence and forcefully state how he is merely a victim of his political enemies and rivals, multiple recommendations have been made by the Israeli police chief to indict within the next few weeks. This comes before the already scheduled April 9th elections and will surely impact the political landscape quite dramatically.
Back in October of this year, HaAretz, one of Israel’s well-known daily newspapers wrote: “The seriousness with which top politicians are handling the idea that Netanyahu could be immune from prosecution demonstrates how Israel has gone off the rails.” (Yossi Verter, October 12, 2018)
Likewise, Bloomberg Opinion stated, “Many of Netanyahu’s critics see this as golden opportunity to bring him down. But I think they are too optimistic. For one thing, the prime minister is popular, more so than any of his key rivals. For another, it is not certain that he will be indicted before the election. And finally, even if he is, that may not stop him from running and winning.” (Zev Chafets, December 11, 2018)
But that was then, and this is now. It all rests in the hands of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit who will make the final decision whether or not to indict Netanyahu. Undoubtedly, Israel’s citizens are waiting anxiously to see the outcome, because, for them, this may end up being the most important election in decades – one which could turn the tide and direction of the country in a massive way.
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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The Lord remembers His covenant (Parashat Vaere)
In this week’s Torah portion we continue reading in Exodus. It is the famous story of Moses and his brother Aaron who repeatedly kept asking the Pharaoh to let the people go. But the Lord had hardened the heart of the Pharaoh and he refused time after time. And the Lord sent plague after plague. Blood, frogs, gnats, flies, death of life stock, boils, hail are the ones we read about in this portion. The last three plagues are for next week.
This portion is full of horrible events and suffering that befell the Egyptians. However, it starts with the Lord speaking to Moses. Words of encouragement and full of promise.
“I am the Lord, I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians enslaved, and I have remembered my covenant.”
The Lord continues and instructs Moses to say the following to the Israelites;
“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted arm to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. It will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord”
The Lord is both a righteous judge and a loving father. He is about to bring plague after plague on Egypt. The Egyptians who had enslaved an entire nation, even murdered the baby boys, taking away any hope or future. That same God who is going to judge the nation of Egypt, remembers His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He heard the groaning of the Israelites. The same God who hardened the Pharaoh’s heart, made Himself known to Moses by His name. A long time may have gone by but the Lord remembers and He will do as He promised.He did so for the Israelites a long time ago, and He will do so for us too.
“Father God, thank you that you are the same throughout time.Thank you that you are faithful to do as You have said. Thank you that you heard the groaning of the Israelites and delivered them from slavery.Thank you for hearing us when we call out to you and sending us Jesus the Messiah who delivered us from being enslaved to sin”
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, January 2, 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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Strength and weakness
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Messiah’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Cor. 12:9
There are times when we stumble badly at temptation and blow it. We get into an angry outburst when we know we should return good for evil and turn the other cheek. And then we feel terrible about ourselves and our weaknesses and, discouraged, say:”Well, there goes our lovely testimony about the Messiah. What’s the use. I give up.”
I remember just such a day in Jerusalem. I had been up early in the morning before going to work, to water the large garden I was caring for in our apartment complex, until some irate neighbors said out their windows, “Why do you water in the morning– we can’t sleep!” So I watered in the evening, and was told by another disgruntled neighbor, “Why do you water in the evening– we can’t sit on the grass!” It had been a long hot summer day and I was tired and I exploded at the neighbor and went home. I told my wife that I had just ruined our testimony of the Messiah, and we should return to where we had come from. But then the Lord whispered to me, “Go and apologize to him.”
That is a very novel approach here in the harshness of the Holy Land, as pretty much any negative occurrence is deemed the other’s fault, without exception. To ask forgiveness is nearly as unheard-of as fish in the Dead Sea. So I pulled myself together and went down the steps from our apartment and knocked on that neighbor’s door. When it opened I just said, “I’m sorry I blew up at you, I was exhausted and…” “No problem,” he said immediately with a very surprised smile, and we became friendly neighbors from that day forth.
The principle is the same whether it is with our wives or children or our brothers in the faith. They may see us blow it, but then let them see us also fix the mess and reconcile. Perhaps if we practiced more of what we preach, we might have more unity, and a more healthy body of believers.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). In other words, this lamp is lit inside a cracked pot- the cracks of our weaknesses often being from where the light of the Lord may come forth to be seen. A ‘perfect’ pot has not a crack, and often can display only its own strength and beauty, and folks often resent ‘perfect’ people, which only challenges their own egos and weaknesses. Better, perhaps, to be a ‘crackpot’, though it may at times be rather humbling.
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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Give your children happy memories
I was born and grew up far away from my extended family in a time before the internet, so I had little contact with them and no heirlooms except for a handful of sayings. Among them was one my mother had heard from her aunt and which she was fond of repeating, that it is important to “give your children happy memories.”
The Bible has a lot to say about child rearing, including Ephesians 6:4, which says; “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”
There’s two parts to that command, and the first one is no less important than the second. In fact, the first is a pre-requisite for the second, and therefore giving my children happy memories isn’t just a good idea I heard from my mom, it’s a Biblical command. Failing to do so is to more or less guarantee that they’ll be provoked to anger and contempt towards me and their mother. Under those conditions, when they’re old enough to start making their own decisions, the last thing they’ll do is take us seriously when we attempt to discipline and instruct them about the Lord, or pretty much anything else.
All this was on my mind a lot this last month and a half. My sister-in-law’s children (and their wider circle of friends, most of which came to Israel from the former USSR) already had it pretty good before I entered the scene, as they got tons of presents, special food and fun from celebrating Hanukkah, Western Christmas, New Year’s and Russian Orthodox Christmas around this time of year. Then their aunt married me, an American, and Thanksgiving entered the mix as well. There’s also a couple of birthdays for different family members in December and January so we kind of go from one party to another at this time of year. The rest of the year we make sure to get together at least once or twice a month for group trips to the zoo, or a ballgame, or maybe just to the mall.
In between those big family trips, I make sure to spend at least an hour a day with my sons. My older son likes to play checkers and other board games with me while my younger son just likes it when I sit on the floor next to him while he plays with his little trucks or builds stuff with his wooden blocks or magnet sets. If the weather allows I take them out to the park and we play soccer or pass around the football or whatever. Before they go to sleep, my wife and I take turns reading Bible stories to them.
The result is that these kids get LOTS of happy memories from all these things we do together as a family, and although it costs a fair amount of time and money, all the parents and grandparents agree that it’s not so much an expense as it is an investment in the long-term cohesion of our extended family. Also, these activities provide endless opportunities for teaching these kids lessons about God and the Bible from everyday encounters with ordinary circumstances, people, events and locations (and don’t think that just because we’re in Jerusalem you can’t do the same thing with your children where you live. You can and you MUST!)
I don’t know everything about children but I do know one thing, they need to feel loved and valued and they’ll usually believe anything, and follow the example of anyone, who gives them those things. If they don’t get them from their parents, they’ll reject their parents instruction and example and follow something else. Usually, that something else won’t be good for them.
May God give us all the wisdom, patience and foresight to give our children happy memories, to love them, enrich them, give them our time and attention, so that they will take their instruction from us and follow our example instead of leaving us confused and devastated in our old age, wondering what went wrong.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.