The mystery of Shemini Atzeret: God’s post-Sukkot Feast
The jubilant Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) has come to its annual close. I hope, like me, you were able enjoy the sweet seclusion of tabernacling with the Lord last week. The fragrance of His fellowship in our modest outdoor booth still lingers in my heart—and I don’t want it to end.
Shemini Atzeret: October 1, 2018
Apparently, God is not eager for it to end, either. For when Sukkot’s week long festivities and sacrifices are over and done, He gives us one more day, just to linger with Him: “For seven days present offerings by fire to the Lord; on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering by fire to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; do no regular work.” (Leviticus 23:36, see also Numbers 29:35)
The eighth day (Tishri 22) after Sukkot begins is set apart “merely” to “be” with the Lord. It is a Sabbath. No extraordinary rituals on our part are required. We are told merely to hold a solemn or sacred assembly, presenting only the most basic fellowship offering. This solemn assembly is known as Shemini Atzeret, meaning literally, “Eighth [Day] Solemn Assembly.” The word “atzeret” comes from a Hebrew root meaning to hold back or tarry. Based partly on this root definition and other grammatical aspects of Leviticus 23:36, the rabbis have interpreted Shemini Atzeret as a lingering time with the Lord. It is a type of Sukkot afterglow.
Some rabbinic traditions attribute additional significance to Shemini Atzeret.They regard Sukkot as the feast on which Israel sacrificed to God mostly on behalf of the nations. (This is because God commanded Israel to sacrifice 70 bulls on Sukkot and they interpret 70 as representing the nations. Moreover, Zechariah 14 directly associates Sukkot with the nations.) So after seven days of busily offering priestly sacrifice for others, Shemini Atzeret marks an occasion of private, family-like intimacy between God and His people.
As you probably know, Sukkot likely foreshadows the Lord’s dwelling with His people in the Messianic Millennial Age to come. Now, as gloriously resplendent as that age will be, it is not the climactic end to our union with God. A still greater, infinite glory awaits His people.
Recall that in Scripture, the number 8 often represents new beginnings. Accordingly, the Feast of Shemini Atzeret on Day 8 could well represent our continued fellowship with the Lord after the Messianic Millennial Age, fulfilled in the new heaven and earth.In that case, Shemini Atzeret seems to prophetically foreshadow our joyful lingering in the presence of Adonai forever.”Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away…I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people and He will dwell with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation21:1-3) Hallelujah!
In Israel, Shemini Atzeret is officially combined with the holiday of Simchat Torah (Joy of the Torah) on Tishri 22. Outside of Israel the day is observed on Tishri 23, one day after Shemini Atzeret.
Simchat Torah is a rabbinic based and extrabiblical holiday. But it is not intrinsically nonbiblical. Traditionally, the focus is on the happy completion of our annual reading of the Torah—and immediate restart of the next year’s reading cycle. To express joy for God’s Word, there is festive singing and dancing with Torah scrolls in hand.
Simchat Torah can be observed in a worshipful, Yeshua centered way, expressing gratitude for the immeasurable gift of the Word of YHVH. “Oh, how I love Your law…Your commands make me wiser than my enemies…My lips overflow with praise for You teach me Your decrees.” (Psalm 119:97, 98, 171) “Do not think I have come to destroy the law…but to fulfill it.” (Matthew 5:17)
However you observe Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, may your joy in the Lord be full and rich.
This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, September 29, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Sandra is co-founder and director, along with her husband Kerry, of Light of Zion Ministries. Light of Zion is an Israeli Messianic Jewish, prophetic intercessory prayer ministry in Jerusalem with humanitarian outreach. Sandra is a prayer mobilizer and network leader, international speaker, prophetic liaison, professionally published author, Bible teacher, and retired attorney.
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When the mighty are fallen
Revelation 18:1-2a says; After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”
This final “fall” of the Babylonian system (I wrote a blog about my thoughts on this system a few months ago) has been pre-figured several times in history by the “fall” or socio-political dissolution of great empires and nation-states.
The last time it happened was in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell. My wife and many of our friends were born and grew up in the Soviet Union and they speak of those days with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they acknowledge that the Communist regime which ruled the Soviet Union was very tyrannical and wicked. On the other hand, it provided physical security and social and economic stability for tens of millions of people, and when that regime fell from power, it resulted in much suffering.
Wars broke out between rival nations and factions which the Soviet regime had kept under control. Organized crime and violence skyrocketed in Russian cities while millions of women were forced into prostitution in order to survive the economic crash which accompanied the fall of the Communist regime. The physical infrastructure, healthcare system, etc. which the Soviet regime had maintained slowly began to decay and fall apart, to the point where today in many parts of what was once the Soviet Union, especially the impoverished Central Asian states, the population is slipping back into pre-industrial levels of human development and quality of life.
That’s what the fall of a superpower looks like.
I know it’s not a popular topic, but I think the time has come when all of us need to start thinking about what we’ll do if the US falls apart the same way the USSR did. As I’m writing this I can hear people scoffing at the absurdity of this idea, but my dear brothers and sisters I implore you to take it seriously. Ask anyone who was living in the USSR when that country fell and they’ll tell you that even a few months before it happened almost nobody was seriously talking about the possibility of it happening.
The US is a country where somewhere around 330 million people live, and every day brings more headlines about the increasingly hateful and even violent divisions between them. The most visible schisms are along racial lines, but there are also divisions between religions, generations, regions, socio-economic classes and even professions. This is happening at a time when the US economy is booming and there is relative material abundance, low unemployment, etc. One shudders to think of what will happen the next time there’s an economic downturn and all of a sudden millions of people who are already inclined to anger and resentment against their neighbours regarding political and cultural issues add economic worries to the mix. There’s a limit to the strain any system can take, and America seems to be very close to the breaking point.
While it’s true that there’s also plenty of good news that you rarely hear about and there’s also strengths in American society that have been its saving grace in past crises and could yet rescue it out of the current crisis as well, in my humble opinion, it is simply not responsible to assume that “it’ll be alright” because it always has been (more or less) up until now.
Israel would be deeply affected should America fall apart in a similar way to what happened to the USSR. It would be in a highly vulnerable position and I know there are even some self-described “prophets” out there who say that something along these lines MUST happen in order to trigger the events prophesied about in Ezekiel 38-39, as well as other prophetic scenarios.
That might turn out to be true and it might not. But in any case, the fall of America, or even a chain of events which left it sharply less able to project power into the Middle East, for whatever reason, would have a very immediate and decidedly negative impact on Israel. It might also have some positive impacts, such as a large number of American and Canadian Jews immigrating here, just like over 1 million Jews immigrated to Israel after the Soviet Union fell.
In any case, these are things the Body of Messiah in Israel and Israel’s Christian friends around the world should start thinking about and making contingency plans for. It might seem absurd and unthinkable today but then again it might happen tomorrow.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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With friends like Egypt and Jordan at the UN, does Israel need enemies?
JERUSALEM, Israel – In his remarks before the UN General Assembly in New York Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the conditions for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are already known. The parties just need to “reach agreement.”
“The final conditions to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians are known,” he said. “The perseverance to renew negotiations and to reach agreement is needed here.”
The solution, according to el-Sisi, is “the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
But el-Sisi is well familiar with the facts on the ground in the Middle East. He knows the Palestinians don’t want an Israeli state next to theirs.
The following day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and el-Sisi held a long, private meeting, looking like best friends as they shook hands.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, last night (Eastern Daylight Time), in New York City, met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The two met for almost two hours and discussed regional developments and the situation in Gaza,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
Since his election in 2014, the Egyptian president has ordered the destruction of dozens of Hamas smuggling tunnels to preserve his own country’s security. He created a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, later doubling it, and he keeps the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt closed most of the time.
Additionally, efforts by Egyptian mediators to create a Palestinian unity government have failed time and again, as has Egypt’s periodic ceasefire diplomacy with Israel on behalf of Hamas. It’s an endless cycle because the truth is no Palestinian faction is interested in peaceful coexistence.
Jordanian King Abdullah II basically said the same thing in his UN speech.
“Only a two-state solution based on international law and relevant UN resolutions can meet the needs of both sides: an end to conflict, a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital, and a secure Israel, fully part of its own region, recognized by Arab and Muslim states around the world,” he stated.
The king alluded to President Donald Trump’s decision to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, barely masking his displeasure. According to Abdullah, Jerusalem’s “historic” identity is Christian and Muslim.
“Above all, we need to safeguard the heritage and peace of Jerusalem, a holy city to billions of people around the world. The Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem is a duty that Jordan is proud to carry, and we will counter any attempts to change the holy city’s historic Arab Christian and Muslim identity,” he said.
Oddly enough, Egypt and Jordan are the only two countries in the region with peace agreements with Israel. Neither Abdullah nor el-Sisi is naïve about such proclamations. Both understand that the pre-1967 borders are indefensible (that’s why the late Abba Eban called them “Auschwitz borders”). They also know Israel will not re-divide Jerusalem as it was during the 19-year Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967. It’s a nonstarter for Israel.
Beyond that, neither Hamas nor Fatah is even remotely interested in a peace deal with Israel. That’s the glue that holds them together.
One might wonder why these two savvy leaders keep repeating the same mantra and beyond that if they really believe what they’re saying.
This article originally appeared on CBN News, September 27, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Tzippe Barrow is the CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem. She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) nearly two decades ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.
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What is the connection between the Transfiguration and Sukkot?
To understand the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot you have to first understand what the Church calls the Transfiguration. Because it is impossible to fully realize the importance of the Feast of Tabernacles to all believers in Yeshua if you don’t keep Sukkot in the full context of Scripture.
We read about the Transfiguration in Matthew 17. In these few verses we read about one of the most amazing events in the New Testament as Yeshua, Peter, John, and Jacob are together on top of a Mountain. What makes this event so powerful is that within the written text itself we get to experience both the temporal world where John, Peter, and Jacob lived; the eternal world where Moses and Elijah are; and the reality that Yeshua was and is still living in both worlds at the same time. The scene described allowed humanity if only for a few moments to see not only into both worlds, but we were able to have a glimpse into the reality that both worlds intersect. The eternal and the temporal are not separate but connected in a way that we cannot fully grasp. But through Yeshua drawing back the curtain for a brief time, the Disciples as well as all who reads their words were able to see the unique joining of the two realms; one inside of time and the other without time.
In Ephesians 1:9-10, we find a powerful verse of Scripture in the middle of a whole section of powerful verses. Because of its location in the text, these words often become blended into the text, and the statement made gets someone lost in to the reader.
He made known to us the mystery of His will, in keeping with His good pleasure that He planned in Messiah. The plan of the fullness of times is to bring all things together in the Messiah—both things in heaven and things on earth, all in Him.
Notice the wording that the plan of the fullness of times is to bring together, both things in heaven and things of earth. Those moments in time that we read about in the verse below are an example of bringing together things in heaven and on earth. At this point you may be wondering okay, so I see the bringing together of the heavenly and the earthly as we see John, Peter Jacob, Moses, Elijah and Yeshua all in one place at one time. But what does this have to do with the Feast of Tabernacles and more importantly what does it have to do with believers in Yeshua today. To find this answer lets read the immediate reaction that Peter, John, and Jacob had to their supernatural experience. They have just seen Moses and Elijah with their own eyes, and they were talking with Yeshua. Their response is found in verse 3 below. They wanted to build three sukkot (booths) one for Yeshua, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.
After six days, Yeshua takes with Him Peter and Jacob and John his brother, and brings them up a high mountain by themselves. Now He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Yeshua. Peter responded to Yeshua, “Master, it’s good for us to be here! If You wish, I will make three sukkot here—one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
Why would they want to build sukkot for them what would cause these disciples to feel the urgency to build sukkot? In order to understand we must first take a look at the other times in the Scripture where sukkot were built and why. The first time we find the word sukkot in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 33:17
but Jacob journeyed to Sukkot and built a house for himself, and for his livestock he made booths. That is the reason that place is called Sukkot.
Jacob is on his way back to the Promised Land after his time as a servant with Laban. If we remember back just a few chapters we know that G-D promised Jacob that He would take care of Jacob and bring him home in Shalom. Now over 20 years later Jacob is on his way home, G-D has fulfilled His promises. Jacob meets with his brother Esau, who at one time wanted to kill Jacob because Jacob deceived Isaac and stole Esau’s birthright blessing. But when Jacob arrives contrary to his fears Esau greets him with peace just as G-D had promised. So, what does Jacob do? He builds sukkot. So, we see That Jacob (also known as Israel) leaves the Promised Land and enters becomes a servant to Laban and when he through G-D miracles becomes free and returns to the land of his fathers, he builds and lives in sukkot. Years later Israel the Nation, after having left the land of their fathers and became servants to Egypt for over 400 years is delivered by the miracle power of G-D and upon their deliverance they build and live in sukkot.
The patter of building sukkot when Israel is set free from bondage is established it is no wonder that in John 1:14 we read:
And the Word became flesh and tabernacled (sukkah) among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.
And in Revelation 21:3 when describing the promised fulfillment of our redemption we read:
I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God.
You see the disciples understood something we are only beginning to come to understand that the commandment found in Leviticus 23:42-43:
You are to live in sukkot for seven days. All the native-born in Israel are to live in sukkot, so that your generations may know that I had Bnei-Yisrael to dwell in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your God.”
It was not given so that we can celebrate the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness. After all the reason Israel spent 40 years wandering was because of their unbelief. We are commanded to keep this feast by living in sukkot because living in sukkot is what G-D’s children do when we recognize that G-D has kept His promises. G-D has set us free from bondage. We have been returned to the land of our fathers. Living in sukkot on the Feast of Tabernacles is our way of spending 7 days living in the future. We may still be living within the temporal on Earth, but for those 7 days we live as if the Ephesians 1 has been fulfilled and The Earthly and the Heavenly are together. Or put another way we live by faith Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen.
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, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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I am looking for the FOURTH Temple
Last week I wrote about the danger of supporting Orthodox Jews in the establishment of a third temple. It generated quite a bit of interest and some requested that I continue to share on this subject. One gentleman wrote:
“I agree with most of this article except the part about the third temple. Yeshua will remain in heaven until all things are restored. Without the restored temple, how does Yeshua defeat the antichrist and rule and reign from Mt Zion?”
First, the Bible does not say, “Yeshua will remain in heaven until all things are restored.” It says, “until the times comes for God to restore everything.”(Acts 3:21) Some things God has already begun to restore. In the church, we can see that tongues, revival preaching, purity, immersion in the Holy Spirit and the power of God have been and are being restored. Restoration to Israel includes the rebirth of the actual nation, Jerusalem, a place of leadership among the nations as a light of technology, military leader, and the believing remnant of Jews. Yes, God is restoring!
But not everything will be restored beforeHe returns. He remains in heaven not until all things are restored, but until the time comes for the restoration.
The Third Temple is the Temple of the Antichrist!
But is the third temple a part of that restoration? Simply put, no. The third temple is absolutely a part of end-time prophecy, but that doesn’t make it a blessing. The antichrist is part of end-time prophecy, but I am not praying for his appearance! And I am certainly not excited about it, or giving money to his campaign, as many believers are to the Third Temple Institute. The third temple will be a temple of deception, leading Jewish people back to a pre-Yeshua sacrificial religion.
How the Third Temple is Built
You see, I am excited about the fourth temple. I’ll address that in a minute. First, how will the third temple come about? Well, looking through a glass darkly, this is how I see things.
1. A world leader will arise, possibly out of the massive Israeli military victory prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and bring peace to the Middle East—beginning the seven-year tribulation. This leader will make provision for the rebuilding of the temple. My guess is that the Muslim mosques on the Temple Mount are destroyed in this war.
[The antichrist] will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’ (seven years). In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
Refer also to Daniel 11:31 and 12:11, which seems to speak of the antichrist putting an end to sacrifices in the third temple.
In order for him to “put an end to sacrifice,” there must be a third temple. This rebuilding will lead to a Jewish revival and, probably, the persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel.
2. The second part of the verse says that he will defile the rebuilt temple, “he will set up an abomination that causes desolation.” We see this confirmed by Paul.
[The antichrist] will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
(2 Thess. 2:4)
3. The antichrist will suffer (or fake) a fatal wound, but will rise (or appear to) from the dead at this time (Rev. 13:3). This will give him the cred to simply declare himself to be God. He will defile the temple and take it over, causing the Jews at the temple to flee.
So, you can see why I am not encouraging people to get behind the restoration of a Yeshua-less revival in Judaism. I am looking for the end-time prophecies that speak of the Jewish people turning to Yeshua (Rom. 11:26; Matt. 23:39), not to the blood of bulls and goats!
Some have argued that we should get behind the third temple because it will lead us closer to the coming of Yeshua. Personally, I find that disingenuous. That is like loving the Jewish people, just because you know that Jewish acceptance will lead to the Second Coming (Rom. 11:15). Yes, we should long for the Second Coming, but our love for the Jewish people should stand alone, being grateful that the gospel came through them.
As temples go, there is one coming that will be amazing! But it is not the third temple. The Bible speaks of one that will be built in the millennial kingdom. Scholars refer to it as the fourth temple or the millennial temple. It will be constructed only after the Messiah returns, while the third temple is clearly built before the return of Yeshua. (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4)
The most detailed description of the Messiah’s Temple (as I call it) is in the last eight chapters of Ezekiel. Ezekiel who witnessed the destruction of the first Temple is taken captive to Babylon. There he has prophetic visions. He is given a tour and instructions by none other than the builder himself, Messiah Yeshua. In chapter 44, He is referred to as Yahweh.
Nations Will Come
It appears that this fourth temple will be a learning center for the nations to be discipled. Isaiah speaks of this:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
The gospel will be preached during the Millennium. The “survivors” from the nations will need to learn the Word of God. From Jerusalem, the Word will go back to their communities. People will be born during this time and need the message of salvation!
The Dead Sea Lives
Last week, I was at the Dead Sea. It is drying up. It is stunning to see the former shoreline and how far you must now walk to get to water. However, when Yeshua comes back and builds the fourth temple, the Bible speaks of a river coming out from under that temple that will flow all the way to the Dead Sea, making it live! There will even be fisherman!
“This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah (desert next to the Dead Sea), where it enters the Dead Sea.When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
I have a theory: The more the water evaporates at the Dead Sea, the closer we are to the coming of Yeshua.
What happens to the third temple? How do we know we will not simply convert it or renovate the structure?I don’t think Yeshua will use the antichrist’s leftovers.The temple will have been utterly desecrated. It is what the Bible calls, “the abomination that causes desolation.”
Furthermore, we see many references to a massive earthquake in Jerusalem at the time of His coming. One passage (Zech. 14:4) says His touchdown will cause the Mount of Olives to be split in two. The Mount of Olives faces the Temple Mount. Revelation 16 speaks of Jerusalem dividing into three parts.
It is reasonable to assume that the antichrist’s temple will be destroyed along with him, making way for Messiah’s temple.
It is this author’s belief that the third temple is the antichrist’s temple–even though it will be built at the place of the previous temples. It will begin with a Jesus-less Jewish revival and is then taken over by the antichrist. At no time do I see where this temple is used to honor the Lord. Therefore, I cannot see why any believer would send money or pray for its construction. It would be far better to sow those funds into feeding the poor or evangelism. Supporting it is misguided religious zeal. It is the fourth temple, the Messiah’s temple, for which we should be longing.
Footnote: End-times prophecy is never crystal clear. After writing this there was one thing that troubled me. In both 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1, the Temple is called “the Temple of God.” How can it be of God when it erected by anti-Yeshua unbelieving Orthodox Jews and then taken over by the antichrist?
I could not find much written on this. One theory is that even though the Temple will not have much to do with real worship, it is built in the place where both previous Temples stood, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem—thus making it the temple of God. Or, just as the Bible says in Romans, Orthodox Jews are enemies of the Gospel and yet beloved on account of Abraham. So too the third temple can have this dual sense of divine destiny, and yet, corruption. Remember, Paul speaks of the Jewish people having a true zeal, but missing the key component (Rom. 10:1-2)
Either way, it will be the fourth millennial temple to which the nations will stream in the age to come. I am longing for that!
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, September 27, 2018, 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.