The wrong kind of fire fell on Mt. Carmel last week
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water in the trench. – 1 Kings 18:38
For years I have been hearing believers asking God “to send His fire”. In our meetings at Carmel Assembly we often ask YHVH to “send His fire” as He did on this very mountain in the days of Elijah. However, when I hear people praying those words, I think to myself “do they realise what happens when fire from Heaven does fall.” When that really does happen some people get burnt to death, as they did when the Fire of YHVH fell on Mt. Sinai, and when He answered the prayer of Elijah.
Of course, we do need the fire of God to fall on us to do its refining work of purification. As most of you will know by now, fire from the wrong kingdom fell on Mt. Carmel and other parts of Israel. Seriously deceived Muslim Arabs, misguided by the lies of Islam, took advantage of the extremely dry situation at the end of the long hot summer, combined with very strong winds, to cause injury, major destruction and financial harm to Israel and her citizens, by lighting fires in areas with lots of trees and greenery.
Last Thursday more than 200 fires were burning across the nation. One of the hardest hit areas was the neighborhood right next to the one we live in. The fire came within 600 metres of our apartment, but praise God, the strong winds that were fanning the flames were blowing away from us. However, we did have to leave the area for a few hours until the fires were brought under control. Fire-fighting planes were flying right past our windows as they prepared to drop water on the fires.
By Friday morning most of the fires on Mt. Carmel were out, leaving more than 20 people were injured, 700 apartments damaged, 100 families whose homes are now unable to be lived in, dozens of vehicles have been destroyed, and thousands of dunams of trees and greenery is burnt to black skeletons. The financial cost is yet to be estimated and the risk of more fires will be with us until the winter rains come to dampen down the country.
Reflecting on the fire, there are three areas of serious concern for Israel:
1. Most of the fires were purposely lit by young Muslim Arabs who have inherited the ancient hatred of the Jewish people. Most of these are Israeli Arabs who are free to move around the country unchecked and who know that these dry and windy weather conditions always happen at the end of summer. Israel will face the same danger of fires every year until a solution is found.
2. These fires were extremely serious and life threatening, yet the major secular news channels did not report them until the next day, and even then the coverage was minimal. It is painfully obvious that the world does not really care when Israel is being harmed. Even worse much of the Muslim world was celebrating that Israel was burning and some of the anti-Israel statements being published on Arab social media site were disgusting.
3. The fires are should be a wake up call to all who live in Israel. The damage and disruption caused by the fires is nothing compared to what is very likely to happen in the next major war with our enemies. Hezbollah and Hamas are armed to the hilt with an estimated 100,000 plus missiles, many of which are capable of striking anywhere in the country. The resulting deaths, serious injuries and destruction would be hundreds of times worse. The question is, are the government, the military and the emergency services prepared?
Also these fires and the many other disasters happening all over the planet should be a wake up call to the Body of Messiah, invoking us to ask:
1. Are we ready physically and emotionally to survive and function as the Army of the LORD when disaster or tragedy hits the place where we live?
2. Are we ready spiritually to face what ever we find ourselves facing, including facing our Maker?
3. Are we tuned in to the Holy Spirit enough to sense the lateness of the hour and that we are living in “the days of Elijah”? It’s one thing to sing the song, but are we prepared to risk our reputation and more, if we dare to stand up and “declare the word of the LORD”, and call our family, our friends and our nations to repentance?
Finally, seeing we are very obviously living on the edge of a time of great shaking for Israel, the Church and the World, why do the majority of pastors and leaders never preach about the End Times and prepare their congregations for what surely lies just ahead? Why not encourage your leaders to do so!
This article originally appeared on Out of Zion Ministries, December 2, 2016, and reposted with permission.
David together with his wife, Josie, founded Out of Zion Ministries, whose mission is to fulfill God’s call on Israel as His ‘Chosen Nation’ to be a light to the Nations as well as to encourage the Church to fulfill God’s call to the Gentiles to assist in the spiritual ingathering of the Jewish people.
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Emunah and Bitachon – The two elements of faith
In Germany there is an interesting system for buying fresh cut flowers. There are huge fields where different varieties of flowers are grown. People go to these fields, pick the particular type of flowers that they prefer and then simply pay for them by depositing the purchase price in an unattended cash box. The growers have faith and confidence that people who pick the flowers will be trustworthy enough to pay for them. This system of “Pick Here – Pay Here,” is a paradigm for the biblical concept of “faith.”
The Scriptures clearly teach that without faith it is impossible to please Adonai. (Hebrews 11:1) However, the English word translated “faith” does not completely convey it’s significance. The concept of faith is best expressed by two Hebrew words emunah אמונה and bitachon בטחון.
Emunah is a statement of belief – I believe that God is love.
(The farmer believes that people are trustworthy.)
Bitachon is an expression of confidence – Because I believe that God is love I am able to confidently trust that God loves me.
(Since the farmer believes that people are trustworthy, he is confident that his customers will pay for the flowers using an unattended cash box.)
The concept of faith extends beyond our relationship with HaShem. Faith is also an important element in maintaining healthy personal relationships.
The akedah or the binding of Yitzchak demonstrates Avraham exercising emunah and bitachon in the following relationships: with HaShem, with his servants, and with his son Yitzchak. (Beresheit 22:1-19)
Avraham was a man who had become accustomed to hearing and obeying the voice of God so when he heard God asking him to sacrifice his son Yitzchak he responded with hineni (Here I am) a phrase that expresses emunah and bitachon. He believed that God could raise the dead – emunah. Consequently he was confident that he could trust God to raise his son Yitzchak from the dead – bitachon. (Beresheit 22:1- 4)
By trusting [emunah and bitachon] , Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz’chak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, to whom it had been said, “What is called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak.” For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him. – Hebrews 11:17-19, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
When a person demonstrates on a consistent basis that he has faith in God it follows that the members of his household, friends, and coworkers will trust – have faith – in his judgement and ability to hear from HaShem.
I am sure that Avraham’s servants understood the implications of their journey. Yet when Avraham told his servants “ “Stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go there, worship and return to you,” ” they did not challenge Avraham because in my opinion they were 100% confident (bitachon) that their master had heard from God. (Beresheit 22:5)
At the end of this story we find Avraham’s servants confidently waiting for their master and his son Yitzchak to return. (Beresheit 22:19)
Children learn to have faith in their parent’s judgment if they see a steady pattern of Godly character exemplified in their household. Godly behavior also opens the door for one’s children to also learn to trust in God.After three days Yitzchak asks a poignant question.
Yitz’chak spoke to Avraham his father: “My father?” He answered, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Avraham replied, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son”; and they both went on together. – Beresheit 22:7-8
The dynamics of this brief conversation indicate that Yitzchak was confident that his father Avraham had heard from God because they both went on [to the place of sacrifice] together.
Additionally their conversation implies that Yitzchak also believed that God could (emunah) and would (bitachon) provide a lamb. It is evident that faith of Yitzchak’s parents Avraham and Sarah was alive in him.
Shaul of Tarsus when writing to Timothy reminds him of the following:
I recall your sincere trust (emunah and bitachon), the same trust that your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice had first; and I am convinced that you too now have this trust. – 2 Timothy 1:5 (CJB)
To reiterate, like Timothy, Yitzchak’ faith had been transmitted to him by his parent’s Avraham and Sarah.
And I also believe that because of their Godly behavior his parent’s faith was imparted the members of their entire household – the souls that they had gotten in Haran. (Beresheit 12:5)
There are never any absolute guarantees but I can assure you that the best way to share and spread your faith and bring shalom bayit or peace to your household is to consistently demonstrate emunah and bitachon in everything that you say and do.
The next time that the Lord Yeshua speaks to you please respond with emunah and bitachon by saying: Hineni – Here I am Lord send me! – Yeshayahu 6:8
Those who have ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit [of Yeshua] is saying to [His Servants!] – Revelation 2:29
Yosef Koelner was born in Chicago and raised in a Jewish home that his parents characterized as “Orthodox”. At birth he was given two first names, an English one, Harvey, and a Hebrew name, Yosef, which was given to him in remembrance of his mother’s deceased brother, Chaim Yosef. Rabbi Yosef’s education includes but is not limited to a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Illinois State University and a MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College as well as a Doctor of Practical Ministry from Wagner Leadership Institute. He also graduated from Ulpan Alef (Hebrew language studies) Katsrin, Israel. Additional studies include The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and an Orthodox Yeshivah in Tzfat Yisrael. His ministry spans four decades and he is currently the Rabbi of Kehilat Bet Avinu. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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What is the Father’s heart?
One of the fondest memories from my childhood was being carried in my father’s arms. I can remember times when we pulled into the driveway and I feigned being asleep, just to feel his strong arms under me, carrying me to my room and laying me in my bed.
“… in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.” – Deuteronomy 1:31
When I was a kid the orthopedic specialist determined that I had a tight Achilles tendon that would prevent me from ever running. He recommended a simple exercise that my father began applying conscientiously. He cradled my foot in his ample hand and pushed the top of my foot back to stretch the tendon at the lower end of the leg, where the foot connects at the heel. He did that night after night. And guess what? I became an all-star baseball player – after the doctor said I wouldn’t run. I owe that to my father’s love put into patient action.
I was blessed with a dad who truly cared. Not everyone grows up with such a father. Just as Esau cried out for his father Isaac’s blessing, many have the same cry stifled within.
“When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry … ‘Bless me – me also, O my father'” (Genesis 27:34).
The influence of fathers (and mothers) on their children is incalculable. It can literally make the difference between a saint and a “satan.” Hitler’s father instilled in him the fear of losing status in society. This fed the appetite of rejection to “show the world” that he would not be belittled. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln credited the mental agility of his natural mother and the supportive loving friendship of his step-mother as major factors in his history-altering leadership.
God’s truth is incarnational. He became a man in order to convey to us who He is. God appointed fathers and mothers to embody His own fatherhood in a tangible way – the first encounter each new child has with a “greater power.”
We need examples. Learning takes place at greater depth through demonstration than lecture. I have been blessed beyond measure to have fathers in the faith who nurtured my spiritual growth and imparted a security regarding the call of God on my life. This foundation of godly confidence releases boldness with humility – a kingdom combination that can bear a lifetime of good fruit.
Regarding David, the future king, we read that “The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart …” (1 Samuel 13:14). But what is God’s heart? What is He like as a father?
I want to suggest but four of the many qualities we could attribute to God’s father heart. He is the bestower of BLESSING, FORGIVENESS, IDENTITY, and INSTRUCTION.
We begin with the patriarchs. Abraham, after receiving the original blessing from God, passed the blessing on to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, and Jacob to his twelve sons (Genesis 48:14-16). This is the father’s place – to bless his children, to grant them whatever resources he has – in character, in faith, in material goods – to launch them into a fruitful life.
Here, a book written by Gary Smalley and Greg Trent, The Blessing, can be helpful. They list five ways blessing is conveyed, emphasizing the immense impact of affirmation upon growing children (and yes grown ones, too), as well as the life-long damage caused by constant criticism. Blessing is conveyed by touch, words, communicating high value, pointing to a special future, and long term commitment to “the blessing” being fulfilled.
Rembrandt’s painting of the “Return of the Prodigal” vividly portrays the father’s forgiveness of his wayward, willful, profligate son (Luke 15:18-21). Rembrandt’s masterful image of the father’s hands placed on a kneeling son, barely clothed in rags, touches the depth of undeserved forgiveness each of us desperately needs. What a foundation for a robust life of the soul – to be received back into the loving arms of a father against whom we have rebelled!
As the story of the prodigal unfolds, his father calls for a robe, a ring, sandals, and a fatted calf. Each of these items symbolizes new, favored identity. The father not only forgave his son, he changed his garment, restored lost authority, empowered him, and created a memorable and lavish celebration. What a picture of God restoring our “Garden of Eden” inheritance, lost through sin! We have returned to His house, to become chosen and favored sons and daughters – after trashing what He first gave us.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15).
Again and again the Book of Proverbs initiates “discussions” of how to live, with the words “My son …”
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” (Proverbs 23:26). King Solomon understood that one of a father’s chief duties is to instruct his children – both by precept and by living example. Loving discipline is an indispensable element of instruction. “If you endure discipline, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7)
These manifestations of the Father’s heart give us two bedrock ingredients. First, they enable us to comprehend the love of God, and how He wants to bless us, purify us, give us unwavering identity and train us in His way of life. Secondly, they equip us to be mothers and fathers in both natural and spiritual capacities. I have never met someone who doesn’t need affirmation – the blessing of a father or mother figure. What I have been rewarded to see is young men and women emerging from a devastating lack of blessing, to become true children of the Father – radiating joy and secure in their life’s purpose.
*This message developed out of a recent “fathers and sons” evening at Tents of Mercy Congregation.
This article originally appeared in Oasis Newsletter by Tents of Mercy, December 2016, 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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Brave New World Redux
A Utopia where sex is free and without love or marriage, protected from pregnancy by birth-control pills, where family is outmoded and ceases to exist, replaced by a benevolent parental world government that supplies all necessary for abundance and continual happiness and stability, which includes genetic engineering to control and determine population, conditioning from birth, and drugs of forgetfulness to prevent depression or unhappiness. It is a future world where there is no war or strife, no conflicting ideas and no books or art other than those produced by the beloved State, so as not to provoke discontent by old-fashioned ideas such as religion or romance, both the Bible and Shakespeare eliminated from consciousness. That is the world imagined in Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World, way back in 1931.
Now we are nearly eighty-five years later in 2016, and swiftly moving forward. Has our world any similitude to that vision of the future? Yes and no. Yes, in that many of the ideas listed above have become actively a part of daily behavior in the Western world, and no, because there are more conservative forces staunchly working to prevent that from happening. Yes, in that leftist “progressive” forces have done all in their power to promote the elimination of sexual restraint, encouraging younger children to indulge in sex through education and the media, and to eliminate all reference to religion or God, the Ten Commandments or prayer in the educational system or in public places, and to discredit the Bible and its values and morality at every opportunity. That values vacuum thus created is now being filled with its antithesis.
Today many of those ‘Progressives’ mock and deem people of faith as retrograde, obsolete and enemies of progress, and in their re-writing of history, claim that was always the case. In their view religion has been happily replaced by science as the arbiter of truth. But they seem to ignore the fact that science, with all its wonders and capabilities, is still mutable, and cannot describe or compete with the Immutable. And they seek for larger and more pervasive government to meet the needs of the people.
The basic claims of Communism include its being based on materialistic science, rather than faith, which was called “the opium of the people”. Communist nations have done all to suppress religion, especially Christianity, including the destruction of churches and the murder of Christian and other religious leaders, and the forbidding of the Bible. Their vision was to create a “new man” where all is owned by everybody, and “everybody belongs to everybody” in the great commune. The latter is one of the recurrent mottos in Brave New World, taught to children from infancy in their ‘sleep teaching’.
Nazi Germany also claimed science as their own, supporting their view of the “master race”, and the inferior races such as Jews and their religion, and gypsies, which would be exterminated from society to create a “pure race”. It was only a devastating war that could stop this philosophy from spreading, though the plague of antisemitism yet thrives.
In Europe and America we are seeing the idea of the natural human family slowly disintegrating, under the powerful ceaseless influence of empty but titillating movies and television entertainment and pornography, where social and sexual norms are being eroded to a point of utter confusion of identity. Homosexual ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ have been promoted and adopted now as a social norm. In this Brave New World we are seeing the increased legalization and use of drugs for ‘happiness’, and a large percentage of people using anti-depressants and other medications for happiness and stability, as we read of Soma in the old novel, the happiness drug. But we are not seeing the increase of happiness, rather an increase in unexplainable mass murders, fatherless homes, gang violence, drug addiction, overflowing prisons, homelessness, hopelessness, and wars.
Perhaps the admonition in that 1931 classic, Brave New World, has been forgotten, and needs to be again popularized in our time for the new generation to gain some much needed perspective.
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.