The God who goes through walls: Prayer is a VIP pass
You might not feel like a VIP, but you are. If you are in communication with God, you have access, through his Spirit, to all areas. And I mean, ALL areas.
There’s this brilliant story in the Bible where the King of Aram keeps getting scuppered in all his plans to overcome Israel. He gets very frustrated. He’s sure there must be a spy in their midst, and demands to know who it is. Here’s what was actually happening:
“Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God.
Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
“None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”” (2 Kings 6:8-12)
Elisha, the prophet and man of God, was getting tipped off by the Almighty, who could see everything, everywhere, because he was everywhere, filling everything. Where can you go from God’s Spirit? Nowhere. There is no escape, As Jonah found to his great angst. God was even there to care for him in the belly of a whale in the depths of the deep.
God sees all, knows all, and hears every word spoken in every private chamber. He is the ultimate super spy.
Traversing walls again
It didn’t stop with the King of Aram. The Messiah went on to cause quite the furore in the New Testament. Ostensibly dead and buried, he appeared, uninvited, in a private, locked room.
“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish.” (Luke 24:36-42)
The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost – a wafty, flimsy spirit. Less real than them. But, as my friend Kalevi said, when a knife goes through butter, which is the more solid of the two? The thing that is passed through, or the thing that is passing through it? Jesus is far more real and solid than the atoms of the earthly walls that one might foolishly think to be impenetrable.
Our God goes through walls.
He is not stopped by any border, wall or division. He does not need permission to march into the rooms – or even the minds – of leaders, kings and rulers. Their hearts are like water in his hands.
God does not need to tap telephones or install CCTV to know what’s going on in top level meetings. He does not need special pass to enter the Oval Office. He’s just there, all the time. He is not just a VIP, he is the MIP – the Most Important Person, with access to all areas.
But here’s the crazy thing: we have the ear of this MIP.
The ultimate VIP pass
People all across the Middle East are experiencing Jesus showing up in their homes. Villagers in Jordan, housewives in Iran, a Palestinian judge of Shari’a law… Jesus appears to them, right in their rooms. An Arab pastor happened to be actually on the phone to the guy in the West Bank while he was seeing this remarkable sight.
“Tell Jesus not to move!” Pleaded the pastor, “I’m coming over!” But when he arrived, the lounge was back to normal. The Shari’a judge, however, did not return to normal. He, like countless others, has been forever changed by his encounter with the risen Jesus.
Omnipresent and omnipotent, God can work wonders anywhere, any time, with anyone.
We can ask him to act. We can ask him to move in the highest echelons of society, or indeed the lowest. He can be in the Queen’s chambers in Buckingham Palace, or a corrugated iron shack in a Brazilian favela. He can sit among the students in the strictest yeshiva in Jerusalem, and he can meet Muslims in the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. He can go into cabinet meetings in the Knesset, or march right into the Hamas headquarters in Gaza.
Moreover, like Elisha, we can ask God for his insight into what is really going on behind the scenes. Truth is getting harder and harder to discern, but God sees it all. He knows who said what, who did what, and what is going on in the hearts and minds of leaders around the world. He also knows what is coming next. We need to keep our ears trained to the throne and our eyes fixed on our Master, ready to perceive his movements and act in line with his will.
Don’t neglect this extraordinary treasure you have in your possession: your two-way VIP prayer pass. All authority has been given to Jesus, and he has invited us to enter the very throne room of God.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:7-8)
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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Shavuot/Pentecost – Feast of [Seven] Weeks/50 Days
Sonday, is the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, and the Christian holiday of Pentecost. They are one and the same, except that the two calendars have diverged. In this case, the celebration on the Sonday, the 50th day of the seven weeks since the resurrection of the Passover Lamb of God, is in line with the Word of God through Moses to Israel, and to us who believe in Yeshua/Jesus as both Lord and Messiah, our God and Savior. He is YHVH who came in flesh and blood to redeem us from our sins.
YHVH, God of Israel, gave instructions to His people that the days of counting after the Passover began with the First Fruits — what New Covenant believers understand to have been fulfilled with the resurrection of Yeshua from the grave on the third day from His death. This resurrection occurred on the day after the Sabbath, early on the first day of the week. Jesus is the First Fruits from the dead. He is the Living Bread of Life that God brought forth from the Earth. From this new beginning of new and eternal life, the count begins until the First Fruits of the wheat harvest, which New Testament believers understand to have been begun on that Pentecost/Shavuot close to 1990 years ago, when the 120 disciples in the upper room were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and became first fruits to God of the harvest of born-again believers yet to be filled full at the end of the age.
I want to draw attention to God’s instruction to Israel to bring to Him a new grain offering, containing leaven, in two loaves of bread, at the end of those counted days. (Lev 23:16-17) This is an exceptional offering, in that until this new grain offering, God would not accept any leaven in any offering by His people. (Lev 2:11) From the New Testament, we learn that leaven is a symbol for sin. Yet, on Shavuot/Pentecost, YHVH God requires that His people bring Him a grain offering containing that very thing! What are we to make of this?!
Before Messiah came, Israel looked forward to Him, the sinless Son of God and sacrifice. They did not really know what the leaven-less sacrifices spoke of, but God knew. But now that He has come, and lived His sinless life unto God, we look back — and live in the present — remembering His death, until He comes. (1Cor 11:23-26) Yeshua became sin/leaven for us, that we might become the unleavened/righteousness of God in Him! Praise God! Matza/Unleavened bread looks ahead to the One who would be that perfect sacrifice; the Showbread/Challot (leavened Sabbath bread) reminds God and us of that sacrifice for sin accomplished once-for-all to redeem and save all who believe, both within Israel and also among the nations.
Both Jewish and Gentile believers — called out from Israel and from among the nations — in New Covenant relationship with God through Yeshua’s shed blood, offer (i.e., remember) the sinless, blameless Lamb of God — the only acceptable sacrifice to our Father for our iniquity, transgressions, and sins — who bore our sins on His body on the cross/tree, becoming sin, who knew no sin, that God could be reconciled to us sinners, and open the way for all who repent and believe this gospel/good news to come with thankful hearts and also with full assurance into a personal relationship with God our Father, with His Son — the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah — and with one another in Holy Spirit unity and love.
Today is still the day of salvation and acceptable year of YHVH to all whomsoever will hear His voice and believe.
Hag sameach! Happy Holiday! A celebration of unity in Messiah Yeshua our Savior!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, June 8, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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The Messiah and Shavuot
The holiday of Shavuot is upon us. It began Saturday evening on June 8 and ends the evening of June 10. If you haven’t heard of the Biblical holiday of Shavuot, that’s probably because you are more familiar with its Greek name: Pentecost.
On Shavuot, Jews celebrate the events that took place on Mount Sinai. The Bible recounts that fifty days after the Hebrews were miraculously rescued from slavery in Egypt—a miracle marked on Passover—Moses returned to the same humble spot where God first spoke to his servant through the burning bush.
In Exodus 19, it says that when God descended on the mountain, thunder ripped through the sky and the ground shook. A shofar blew a long blast. A dense cloud of smoke and fire surrounded the summit. God instructed Moses that no one, not even the animals, were to touch the mountain. Disobedience equaled certain death.
Moses spent forty days on the mountain where he was given the Ten Commandments and the Torah. God’s promise to the Israelites was that from that day forward if they obeyed Him fully and kept His covenant, they would be a “nation of priests.”
God’s promise was quickly put to the test. When Moses came down from the mountain and saw that they had already resumed idol worship in his absence, he allowed the Levites to take up their swords. 3,000 were killed that day.
Fast forward 1300 years, give or take, and we come to the day of Pentecost. Fifty days after Christ’s resurrection and just ten days after his ascension, the disciples journey to Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot. Shavuot was one of three times a year that the Hebrew people were required to worship in Jerusalem and make sacrifices at the Temple.
For these important feasts, Jerusalem would be filled to the max with worshippers from all over the world. The Temple priests led the masses of people in song and prayer as they celebrated the giving of the Torah and marked the anniversary of their becoming a covenanted people.
But on that day, as God so mysteriously designed it, another covenant was born—not one that would supersede or replace the first covenant but expand it. Acts 2 tells us that suddenly “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
You know the rest of the story. Witnesses assumed the disciples were drunk. Peter corrected them in one of the more humorous lines in the Bible saying “these people are not drunk… it’s only nine in the morning!” From there Peter gives the sermon of his life, commissioning the crowds to repent and be baptized so they too would receive the Holy Spirit. 3,000 were added to their number that day.
The feasts and festivals of the Bible are replete with types and symbols that all perfectly point to the Messiah. The divine connections between Shavuot and Pentecost are so especially obvious that it’s thrilling.
On Shavuot, Moses acted as the intercessor between God and his covenanted people. Jesus had already intervened on behalf of the world.
At Sinai the fire descended only on the summit of the mountain. At Pentecost the fire came “to rest on each of them” individually.
On the first Shavuot, God established his covenant with the Hebrew people. On Pentecost, a new covenant was made available to all who believed.
On Shavuot, the Holy Law was inscribed on stone by the finger of God. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit wrote the Law on their hearts.
At Mount Sinai, 3,000 were killed due to their disobedience. In Jerusalem, 3,000 were granted eternal salvation in response to their faith.
On Shavuot, God declared the Israelis a “nation of priests.” On Pentecost, believers became priests to all nations.
There you have it. Distinction and then inclusion. One covenant grafted into the first. Death and now life. Law and Spirit.
The Talmud describes Shavuot as the “wedding day” between God and the Jewish people. Now, the Bride of Christ waits anxiously for the day when we will be united with our Bridegroom.
Mark your calendars for this special holiday of Shavuot. We are celebrating God’s revelation and the anniversaries of receiving that revelation at both Mount Sinai and in Jerusalem. Let us use this feast to make a public commitment, just as the people of Israel did, that “we will do and we will listen.”
Shelley Neese is the author of the newly released book The Copper Scroll Project and Vice President of the Jerusalem Connection.
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Worship in the kingdom
Recently during a time of worship, I glanced around the room and noticed that the looks on peoples faces seemed so serious. This didn’t make sense to me. We were singing about the nations loving and worshipping Yeshua forever in His kingdom. Imagining this put a big smile on my face, and I wanted everyone else to feel the joy I was feeling. (The highest levels of joy I experience in a given week usually happen during times of corporate worship).
Next, a picture, which I believe the Holy Spirit gave me, began to form in my mind of the benefits we receive as kingdom citizens. I saw us believing in Yeshua for our salvation, repenting of our sins, receiving forgiveness and new citizenship (Phil 3:20). Then crossing the border into His country (kingdom). We crossover into a new amazing reality. Rags to eternal riches!
Sin, sickness, selfishness, hopelessness… are no longer our inheritance. We enter into a new “normal” which includes life and life to the full (John 10:10). Healing, love, joy, righteousness, peace… are the new norm in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).
Picturing myself standing inside Yeshua’s kingdom, I looked around at those worshipping Him together with me and saw only joy filled faces. Exuberant expressions of worship were normal. Sour faces didn’t exist. Shouts of joy and praise were accompanied by unhindered dances of celebration to the King.
I sensed the Lord say that we don’t have to wait for the full kingdom reality in order to worship like that. But He greatly delights in our wholehearted worship now, in the midst of the trials of this life. This childlikeness in worship moves His heart (Matt 18:3-4). The problem is we so easily forget the new kingdom reality we have crossed over into. The opinions of man, and the struggles with our fleshly desires and demonic opposition, can easily hijack our times of faith-filled corporate and personal worship.
Make the Choice
Engaging our free will in vibrant worship now, in this life, is a unique and temporary dynamic. One day we will have resurrected bodies and we will not feel the resistance we do now. The war in our body and soul will come to an end. Worshipping the King will be so easy and natural.
So, my encouragement is: let’s picture ourselves inside His kingdom now and live accordingly! Let’s connect with the exuberant worship happening 24/7 around His throne in heaven and bring it down to the earth. Forget about what others will think or say. Your worship is not a show for them but is for an audience of One.
Even when feeling weak, tempted or like we got up on the wrong side of the bed, we can still choose to make the most of our personal and corporate worship times, bringing our sacrifice of love and praise to Him. He will cherish and remember these decisions forever.
*A little tip for the days you ‘feel’ down and want to just “coast through” worship: choose to smile as you sing. Don’t stop smiling until your emotions begin to follow. By thanking God for the benefits you have as a kingdom citizen, and choosing to press on passed those negative emotions, you set yourself up for a transformational time of intimate connection with the King!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, May 29, 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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An authentic Ruth
I was a new believer in Messiah, and was so incredibly excited about the trip to Israel. It was my first trip, and we packed bags of humanitarian aid in old suitcases that we were going to donate. The bags bulged with baby clothes, socks, toothpaste, aspirin, and feminine products. We just couldn’t bring enough, and we were giddy with excitement! We traveled on El Al, and during those years they would play Haktikvah as the jets encircled the plane, and we prepared to land. I turned to my husband and wept as we landed.
My trip to Israel consisted of a trail of tears everywhere I went. Every historical site that we visited, I wept at. During that visit, I fell in love with the land, the people and with the God who blessed me to be able to see Israel with my own eyes. The trip came to a close quickly, and before I knew it, I was on a bus back to the airport. I cried on the way to the airport, and tried to convince my husband to move to Israel. My husband had a very nice trip to Israel, but wasn’t having the same intense feelings that I was going through. On the plane going home, I vowed that I would come back to Israel, and the Lord was gracious to have me visit again two years later.
On my second trip to Israel, things were different. During my first trip, the air was clear, the streets shimmered with gold and the Israelis I met were sweet and God’s cherished people. This trip, the streets were filthy, cigarette butts were everywhere, the air was thick with smells that weren’t pleasant. The people were rude, pushy, sweaty (where was their deodorant?), and unlike the first trip, I couldn’t wait to go home.
When I returned from my second trip, my pastor’s wife asked me to speak to a women’s bible study about my recent trip to Israel. I tried desperately to decline, because it had been such a terrible trip. I didn’t understand why I had felt so differently this past trip. My pastor’s wife was not releasing me from speaking at the bible study so I went to the Lord, asking Him for something positive to say about my trip. As I prayed the Lord led me to Romans 9:1-3, “I am telling the truth in Messiah, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”. At this time in our lives, my husband had just started being interested in ministry, and as I read these verses, I knew that they were for me. I knew that the Lord wanted me to share this burden that Paul was speaking about. The burden for the salvation of His people. Even though I had not been brought up in a Jewish household, they were to be “my brethren” now. It wasn’t just going to be my husbands ministry, it was to be mine also. The Lord wanted me to commit to minister to His people, even though they weren’t perfect, even if they were difficult, and even if my life was in jeopardy. As I prepared to tell these women what the Lord had shown me I knew that they probably wouldn’t understand, but I knew that just as Ruth followed Naomi, I was following my husband in the call to minister to God’s people.
In those two trips to Israel that the Lord had orchestrated for me, they had prepared me for being involved in the Messianic movement. The first trip wooed me to love the people, and the land of Israel. The second trip helped me to see the people with all their flaws and imperfections. If I had come into the Messianic movement with the mindset of my first trip I would have idealized the people. Jewish people are not perfect. They are chosen, loved by God but they are not perfect people!
Many times people that come into the Messianic Movement have an idealized notion of what Jewish people will be like and what coming into a Messianic congregation will be like. We must have a clear concept as we come into the Messianic movement, so we can really have a “heart of Ruth”. Before we read the famous statement that Ruth made to Naomi, remember that she had lived with this family for ten years! Living with people for ten years allows you to really get to know them with their strengths and their weaknesses. They had prospered together, suffered the loss of the father, and then the loss of both sons. They were in financial ruin and saw no future for themselves. Actually, Ruth probably may have had a better future staying in Moab then clinging to Naomi, her mother in law. Let’s take a look at this life changing statement in Ruth 1:16-17, “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”’ These verses hold the key for having the “heart of Ruth”, so let’s look at them:
- “From following you” – Notice that Ruth is not leading, she is following. We must surrender as Ruth did when we join ourselves to the Jewish people.
- “Where you go”- Ruth does not have an agenda. She is willing to go wherever Naomi wishes to go. She doesn’t want to control or manipulate Naomi’s plans.
- “Where you lodge”- Wherever you make your home it will become my home. As a Moabitess there was a great prejudice against her, yet she was willing to come with Naomi to Bethlehem.
- “Your people” – Ruth is leaving her family, her country, her traditions to become one with the Jewish people.
- “Your God”- The Moabites worshipped Chemosh who required human sacrifice. The god Chemosh was called “the detestable idol of Moab” (1 Kings 11:7). When Ruth chose the God of Israel, it was a pivotal point in her life, because she was leaving the god of her youth and she was choosing the “living God and the everlasting King”.
- “Where you die” – Ruth was making a vow to Naomi that her intention was serious. She was committed to this vow and nothing but death would separate her from Naomi.
After my second trip to Israel the Lord helped me see what an authentic heart of Ruth needed to be. It is not an easy path, but it is a path that delights our Kinsmen Redeemer! May the Lord strengthen you as you walk this path.
Diana Levine is the Rebbetzin of Kol Mashiach Messianic Synagogue in Melbourne, Florida. She has spoken at national conferences, regional conferences, women's retreats and bible studies. She is also the co-founder of the Daughters of Righteousness Conference.