Things are temporal but lives are eternal
My grandfather was a brilliant man who stepped in to help raise my brothers and sisters after my father passed away. I was only seven when my father died, so my grandfather had much to teach me. He taught me to fish, he taught me right from wrong, he taught me to be a gentleman, and he taught me about G-D. He made sure that I attended synagogue regularly and that I went through Hebrew School and that I became a Bar Mitzvah.
Because of my grandfather, I know many things. Because of him I was raised to put great value in education. But the most valuable lesson my grandfather taught me was that you can only have a truly great life if those around you were a part of your great life. He taught me that Torah taught us to Love G-D with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It takes both for us to have the full-blessed life that G-D wants us to have. We must love G-D as Torah teaches us in Deuteronomy 6:5: Love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. We must also love our neighbors as we read in Leviticus 19:8.
We as believers often put much of our effort into loving G-D through worship, and we tend to put our effort into loving our neighbors through charities, such as outreaches, food pantries, and clothing drives. But my grandfather said that meeting the physical needs of those around us through charity is actually still a part of loving G-D. That loving our neighbor was not about meeting physical needs but actually opening our hearts and lives to them. Not just being friends but truly welcoming them into our lives. Because as he said you can have a large house with all the best furniture, You can have a new top of the line car. You can have the best clothing and jewelry. But you will not have a great life until you welcome life into it. Everything in our world falls into two categories: They are either objects or lives. We can fill our world with objects and never have happiness or peace, or we can fill our world with lives and find great happiness and peace. My grandfather taught me that things are temporal but lives are eternal. That is why the two greatest commandments are about loving that which is eternal: G-D and People.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".
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Reflections of redemption in Nisan, Part 5
The Second-Chance Passover (Iyar 14)
The first time Israel celebrated Passover in the wilderness, some unnamed people were barred from offering Pesach sacrifices because of ceremonial uncleanness (contact with a human corpse). Moses consulted with God and received instructions for them to observe a substitute Passover on the 14th of the second month, with its duration shortened from seven days to one evening meal (Num.9:6-12). It is marked on the Jewish calendar as Pesach Sheni (“second Passover”). However, God makes it clear (v.13) that this provision is not an optional replacement for the original Passover; anyone who can keep the latter but doesn’t “will be cut off from his people [and] will bear his sin.”
The Torah passage is interesting for several reasons. In God’s response, He adds two categories that were irrelevant to the petitioners (v.10): “If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey….” Moreover, the original word order (changed by translators) reads like a single addition, and one that seems to address a spiritual distance like estrangement: “Each man who will be unclean for a dead person, or on a far road to you or to your generations…” (literal Hebrew).
From this, the sages derived a teaching that Pesach Sheni symbolizes God calling for the wayward Jew to repent/return to Him, even if it seems too late. But Torah records that these people had to protest being excluded before God provided the alternative; so it also symbolizes God waiting for His chosen people to cry out for the Redemption they are missing.
And what made those first Israelites cry out (v.7)? The sight of others feasting and rejoicing before God, while they could not participate because of uncleanness. In a word, jealousy. Paul writes (Rom.11:11-14) that those redeemed by Messiah from all the nations will provoke Israel to jealousy. This situation is in turn a fulfillment of Torah (Deut.32:21, quoted in Rom.10:19).
As the “second-chance” Passover approaches, we examine an ancient Passover tradition that was dismantled some 18 centuries ago, for no other reason than its unmistakable resemblance to Yeshua. Perhaps our people will become jealous enough over this lost heritage to belatedly reclaim it.
The severed link: Passover and Isaac
It’s universally accepted that Akedat Yitzhak, the Binding of Isaac (Gen.22), is associated with Tishrei 2. The idea appeared in the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 16a) and today it’s firmly embedded in the shofar blowing and Torah reading for the second day of the rabbinically mandated New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
Few know that this tradition was invented by post-Temple rabbis in order to destroy an earlier one. The original place of the Akedah in the Jewish calendar was Nisan 14, Passover Eve. Historical evidence for the switch was documented years ago by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer (“Torah Reading as a Weapon: Rosh Hashanah and the Akedah”).
During the time Talmudic teaching was developing (40-500 AD), the entire life of Abraham’s son of promise was intertwined with the Passover story. Rabbis Eliezer and Yehoshua, two leading Talmudic sages, agreed that Isaac was born on Passover (Rosh Hashanah 10b-11a). The near-sacrifice of Isaac was elsewhere compared with the sparing of the Israelite firstborn sons in the tenth plague – both occurring on Nisan 14. The only connection to Tishrei at that time was one Midrashic tradition that Isaac’s birth was foretold on Tishrei 1.
Kaunfer noted that in the Mishnah (Megillah 3:5), the Torah reading for Rosh Hashanah (Tishrei 1, no second day) was not Genesis 22, the Akedah story; or Genesis 21, the birth of Isaac; but Leviticus 23, the command to blow the shofar as a memorial on Yom ha-Truah. The Mishnah’s discussion of this holiday never mentioned the Akedah.
In contrast, the Jewish book Jubilees (dated around 150 BC, considered Scripture by Ethiopian Jews) tells of the Akedah taking place in Nisan (Jub.17:15–18:19). Prince Mastema, a fallen angel, challenges God to test Abraham, which He does on “the 12th day of the first month.” On the third day after that (Nisan 14 or 15, depending on how one counts the days), Abraham and Isaac reach the mountain, where Isaac is bound and nearly sacrificed.
Kaunfer: “Following that ordeal, Abraham institutes a 7-day festival called ‘the feast of the Lord.’ The account in Jubilees ends with: ‘And thus it is ordained and written in the heavenly tablets concerning Israel and his seed to observe this festival seven days with festal joy.’ This holiday is likely Passover.”
Kaunfer cited scholars who suggested that the Nisan Akedah tradition dates back even before Jubilees. Several agreed that “the Akedah narrative was assigned to the holiday [of Tishrei 2] relatively late,” and that attempts to present this as a first-century custom were probably later insertions. That (sort of) answers the question of when the Akedah was uprooted from Nisan – but not why.
Why the Akedah was relocated
According to Rabbi Kaunfer, the connection of the Akedah and Pesach was deliberately broken after the destruction of the Temple, in an effort to erase its powerful association with Yeshua’s sacrifice:
The selection of Genesis 22 as the reading for the second day of Rosh Hashanah reflected a conscious decision by certain of the Rabbis to move the Akedah away from its original calendrical home: Passover.
This transfer was completed in order to distance the story of the Akedah with [sic, from] a time of the year that was increasingly associated with another martyr/sacrifice narrative, that of Jesus.
The transfer of the Torah reading to Tishrei represented but one strategy on the part of the Rabbis to combat the Christological associations with the Akedah….
This liturgical development, which may have occurred as early as Tannaitic times [70-200 AD], gave the Rabbis a ‘weapon’ used to eject early Christians from the synagogue.
Regarding that last statement, another well-known rabbinic “weapon” designed to drive Jewish followers of Yeshua from the synagogue was the curse against “Nazarenes and heretics” embedded in Birkat Ha-Minim. It was composed 90–100 AD by order of Rabbi Gamliel II, who apparently realized that the Nazarenes were not “heretics” (hence, two separate targets for cursing). These measures show how far post-Temple rabbinic leaders were willing to go in defacing Torah Judaism to fight a perceived threat to their authority. The author’s implicit admiration for their “effective set of tools” shows that for some rabbis, these priorities remain justified to this day.
Nevertheless, the strategy was only partly successful, as Kaunfer admits: “The association between Passover and the Akedah, while absent liturgically, remained in certain midrashic formulations.” Indeed, passages like the following (dated 900-1000 AD) preserved the original Nisan teaching (emphasis added):
After the Holy One (blessed be He) had chosen His world, He established the order of the new moons and the new years. And when He chose Jacob and his sons, He established the new moon of redemption, in which Israel was redeemed from Egypt, and in which they will in the future be redeemed…. This [Nisan] is the month in which Isaac was born, and in which he was bound. (Exodus Rabbah 15:11)
The atoning Passover son – who came first?
Logic would expect rabbinic scholars to claim that Isaac as an atoning sacrifice was a rabbinic teaching copied by the Nazarenes. Oddly, Rabbi Kaunfer insisted the opposite:
The other, equally daring move [besides transferring the Akedah from Nisan 14 to Tishrei 2] was to reappropriate the martyrology imagery of the Jesus narrative and read it back into the Isaac story. Taken together, these two moves offered the Rabbis an effective set of tools in battling to distinguish Judaism from Early Christianity.
Rabbinic adoption of Yeshua’s message would certainly be “daring” – and self-defeating! An atoning sacrifice by the son of Abraham not only fails “to distinguish Judaism from Early Christianity,” it cements the similarity between them. And regardless of rabbinic intentions, the similarity grew over time.
For example, the 4th-century Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael reinforced the association between Yeshua and the Akedah by describing a blood atonement. Commenting on God’s promise in Exodus 12:13, “When I see the blood [of the Pesach lamb] I will pass over you…” the Mekhilta stated: “I see the blood of the binding of Isaac.” This was apparently drawing on another tradition handed down in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, which said that although not actually sacrificed, Isaac gave a quarter of his blood as an atonement for Israel. (“Vayera: What Happened to Isaac?” Israel National News, 21/oct/10)
And that’s not all.
The atoning Passover son, resurrected
More astonishing are the Jewish sources that spoke of Isaac as having been really sacrificed, and then raised from the dead. The Shibbolei HaLeket (Avraham Harofeh, 1230-1300) recorded this resurrection tradition: “When Isaac was bound on the altar and reduced to ashes, and his sacrificial dust was cast onto Mount Moriah, the Holy One, blessed be He, immediately brought upon him dew and revived him.”
Two centuries earlier, Rashi argued that God had only asked Abraham to “offer” his son, not to sacrifice him – thus, He never would have allowed Abraham to act on that misunderstanding. Yet when commenting on Gen.22:14 (“….as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it will be seen”), Rashi interpreted this verse to mean: “On the mountain God will look upon Isaac’s ashes heaped up and standing for atonement.” He was relying on still earlier sources, like Pesikta Rabbati (850 AD) and Midrash Tanhuma (600 AD).
The contradiction here is every bit as troublesome as the claim of a crucified Messiah who lives forever. The author of the above-mentioned INN article (Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple) quoted these sages but felt compelled to criticize them for diverging from the written Torah… a glaringly anti-rabbinic position.
The Isaac paradox may well date back to second-Temple times, since the book of Hebrews also refers to it (11:17-19): “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac…. He considered that God is able to raise even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type [lit: in a parable].” In fact, Rabbi Kaunfer made a scholarly case that Isaac’s death and resurrection “was a concept existing pre-Christianity.”
But Kaunfer himself was unable to digest that reality. “Even if it did” predate Yeshua, he credited the post-Temple rabbis with wisdom for using it as “direct competition to the figure of Jesus.” In other words, this striking oral tradition about Isaac circulated for centuries without any relevance for the Jewish people… until it became useful to shield them a real-life illustration of itself.
Equally revealing was Kaunfer’s other rationalization: “The death and ashes of Isaac and his subsequent resurrection can be reasonably understood as an attempt to enrich Judaism with a figure that was as colorful as the one known to Christian exegesis.” This “one” must be fearful competition indeed. Observe that after 2000 years, rabbis still cannot risk naming Him and “resurrection” in the same sentence!
“On a far road”
The Akedah may be exiled six months away from Nisan, but it still carries its original Nisan message. The Amidah prayer for Rosh Hashana refers to Isaac being bound “for his seed,” while the Musaf service begs God to grant us justification by remembering “the son who was bound” and “the merit of the innocent one” – without naming Isaac.
Instead, another name is spoken.
The name that generations of Hebrew-speaking rabbis have avoided with the euphemism, “ha-ish ha-hu.” “That man.”
The name is invoked only once, in a silent whisper, during the first shofar blowing on the second day. It’s printed in the tiniest type size possible for Hebrew prayer books. But it bypasses all of church history by honoring Him with an elegant Midrashic title unknown to Christians: “Yeshua, Sar Ha-Panim.”
No one knows how this micro-pointer to the Nazarene got into the synagogue. But there are others. They are proof that for those who missed Him during Israel’s appointed Day of Salvation, God has ordained a Pesach Sheni.
(to be concluded)
Hannah Weiss lives in Israel with her husband Hillel, their three children and two grandchildren. Besides writing on issues relevant for followers of Yeshua, she also works as an English writer, editor and translator for Israeli exporters and academics. Hannah is part of a small home fellowship, Restorers of Zion, which serves the Body of Messiah by focusing on neglected or dysfunctional areas of Scriptural teaching and practice.
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A time to mourn and a time to rejoice
It has been another very volatile and intense few days here in Israel. Just one day after Holocaust Remembrance Day in which the nation stopped and solemnly honored the memory of those who died in the Holocaust, we awoke on Shabbat morning to the news of an unending barrage of missiles raining down on Southern Israel – AGAIN! The fierce fighting continued unabated for two days with a total of over 700 missiles fired over Israel. Four Israeli’s were killed and dozens injured. Israel retaliated with over 350 targeted strikes on Gaza. Early Monday morning, we heard the news that an Egyptian brokered truce was in effect and seemed to be holding.
We have experienced this very same scenario too many times before. The citizens of the south are crying out for change – how many times each year can they continue to be assaulted and their lives uprooted and their children traumatized by these missile attacks? And when it ends, it all seems as it was before. Nothing appears to have been accomplished and there are no significant changes observed.
According to the “Times of Israel”, bouts between Israel and Gaza terror groups happened 7 times last year, each one similar, though this last one is considered to be one of the most intense with the largest number of projectiles ever fired from the Gaza strip in a 48 hour period.
Hamas and its partner Islamic Jihad demonstrated that its arsenal of weapons continues to be well supplied with new and more advanced rockets. Although a cease fire went into effect, Hamas has said that the conflict will continue. Though they were hit hard, they continue to declare victory.
Please pray for a new strategy to end this conflict. It is a difficult and complex situation, both politically and militarily and one that is not easily solved. Our government leaders need the wisdom of God in order to end these attacks once for all and effectively destroy the Hamas and Islamic Jihad control of the Gaza Strip.
Pray for the Gazans to rise up against the terrorists who are their real enemy. It is Hamas who oppresses them and keeps them living in abject poverty, taking the funds given to help the people and investing them instead in armaments and in their military infrastructure.
Pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu as the pressures on him are immense. Pray he looks to the God of israel for guidance as the conflicts both within and without heat up in this day. Pray that he will see his Messiah, Yeshua as he seeks divine wisdom.
Memorial Day and Independence Day – The country begins observing Memorial Day on Tuesday night. This is a very solemn time as the nation honors all those who were killed defending Israel in all its wars, as well as all those killed in terrorist attacks over the years. Regular TV programming is preempted with stories remembering different ones who gave their lives in service to the country throughout the history of this nation. There are ceremonies in every city and town and in the cemeteries as people remember those loved ones who have fallen.
As the sun goes down on this day of remembrance and mourning, the whole atmosphere changes as the nation explodes in joy that Israel still lives and so begins the festive celebration of Independence Day. On Wednesday evening, there are fireworks, ceremonies and all kinds of fun filled activities throughout the country. The next day is a day for parks and grills and fellowship time with family and friends.
This year our congregation Ahavat Yeshua will be having a picnic with our sister congregation, Tiferet Yeshua. In this stress filled time, it is so important to have a day to relax and enjoy each other. Please pray that it would be a blessed time as families come together and have fun- rejoicing that Israel is a nation and that Messiah Yeshua is its true and coming King!
As Israel begins its 71st year, we are amazed at the growth and development that we see here in this Land. Israel is truly a miracle nation, brought forth and sustained by the hand of God. It is such a joy and a privilege to live here. In these days of rising anti semitism across the globe, it is so wonderful to know that there is a place that the Jews can come home to that is theirs, never to be uprooted again. For those of you who have never been here, we encourage you to come and visit and experience the specialness and uniqueness of this Land of Israel. It will change your life!
On a personal note, we want to thank you for standing with us in this time. Your support both in finances and prayer are so deeply appreciated. We are fighting the good fight of faith as we continue to plant seeds and are a testimony of the goodness of the Lord to whomever we meet. We are overwhelmed to see how the love of the Lord and His light that shines through us affects everyone who comes into our house.
God is truly amazing and we know that if God is for us, no one can stand against us! We are more than conquerors in Him and His grace is really sufficient!
This article originally appeared in Zion’s Glory Update, May 7, 2019, and is reposted with permission.
Eddie and his wife, Jackie, are senior leaders of Ahavat Yeshua Messianic Congregation in Jerusalem and also serve in positions of senior leadership in Revive Israel.
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The day after the barrage of rockets on Israel
In 48 hours a total of 690 rockets and mortars were fired against Israeli civilians by the Islamist jihadi terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). At 04:30 local time on Monday May 6 both jihadi groups unilaterally and anonymously announced a cease-fire:
A third terror group (the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine / DFLP) was given permission to present information about the cease-fire to international media.
The mediation was sponsored by the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar though all three sources insisted on anonymity:
Israel has not acknowledged a cease-fire. PM Netanyahu stated that “the campaign is not over. It requires patience and deliberation. We are preparing to continue” (www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/netanyahu-israel-hit-gaza-terror-groups-hard-but-preparing-to-continue-campaign/).
What does this all mean? What is actually happening?
Jihadi perspectives – ‘jihad at any time is good’
Hamas and PIJ reflects the Koranic view that the rough-and-tumble of jihad involves the real possibility of death – either of the non-Muslim or of the mujahid (jihad warrior). Article #15 of the Hamas Covenant explains: “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad … We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise. ‘I swear by that who holds in His hands the soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill’” (https://davidstent.org/hurtling-through-the-fog-of-war-a-messianic-perspective-on-the-new-hamastan/). The Koran says, “They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed (Quran, Surah at-Tawbah 9:111;https://quran.com/9/111; see also Sahih al-Bukhari 51:1)
For these terrorists, dying in battle is honorable – similar to Japanese kamikaze in World War II. What is important is to attack and kill the ‘unbelievers’ in the land of Israel. This religious motivation drives Hamas and PIJ and overwhelms other military considerations.
The recent conflict on Friday, May 3, 2019 began when Islamist snipers shot into Israel from Gaza, wounding two IDF soldiers. Israel’s military response on a nearby Hamas observation post resulted in a pre-planned Hamas/PIJ campaign of rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli farms, kibbutzim, towns and cities (www.timesofisrael.com/idf-nabs-gazan-armed-with-knife-who-breached-border-fence-into-israel/).
A similar ambush/setup occurred on January 22, 2019 when a PIJ sniper fired into Israel and wounded an IDF officer (www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-tv-airs-footage-of-gaza-sniper-shooting-idf-officer-in-helmet/).
- The hair trigger response of PIJ and Hamas on Friday reveals their preparedness and extensive pre-planning. This was a jihadi attack waiting to happen.
Jihadi perspectives – ‘Palestinian rights are not the issue’
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated on Monday, “Our message is that this round is over, but the conflict will not end until we regain our rights.” This is a politically correct soundbite, but it actually is deceptive disinformation on Hamas’ part (www.timesofisrael.com/as-ceasefire-goes-into-effect-netanyahu-says-gaza-campaign-not-over/).
According to the Hamas Covenant, separate national identities have no Islamic validity. Only one international Islamic Caliphate is acceptable. This applies regarding Israel and the world: “The Platform of The Islamic Resistance Movement: Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors” (Hamas Charter Introduction).”
- The ‘rights’ described by Hamas are not based on Jeffersonian Democracy or the French Revolution, but on jihadi conquest of the whole world.
Jihadi perspectives – cat and mouse
Hamas and PIJ see themselves as the cutting edge of an international Islamist movement. They can afford to initiate and even lose battles because they are convinced that they will ultimately win the final war:
- “The Movement(‘s)…time dimension extends back as far as the birth of the Islamic Message and of the Righteous Ancestor. Its ultimate goal is Islam, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution” (Article #5).
- “The reinstitution of the Muslim state” (Article #9 – Motives and Objectives).
- “The land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf (ed. irrevocably Islamic land, never to be owned again by non-Muslims) throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection. No one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President…has that right … This is the status (of the land) in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force … Any demarche in violation of this law of Islam, with regard to Palestine, is baseless” (Article #11).
Hamas and PIJ initiated this round of fighting. They fired many rockets and mortars, caused four Israeli deaths and many wounded. Though Islamist forces also endured casualties (including the removal of some top Hamas leadership), their organizations are intact and most of their tunnels, command-and-control centers, long-range rockets and short-range mortars are safe. Hamas/PIJ see this as a tactical victory. Their spokesman says, “The resistance succeeded in deterring Netanyahu’s army, and dragged its nose through the dirt. Our message is that this round is over but the conflict will not end until we regain our rights” (www.timesofisrael.com/may-6-2019/).
Hamas/PIJ are planning for the next round of attacks. Probably Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamic Republic of Iran are sitting in on some of these meetings. The war is by no means over.
Israel made the decision not to destroy Hamas and PIJ, since that would have caused many Gazan casualties. The terrorists locate their HQ’s and rocket launchers smack dab in the middle of Gaza’s civilians. They aim their rockets directly at Israeli civilians. So for right now the jihadis are still in the Gazan saddle.
The political and military leaders of Israel are doing the best they can in trying circumstances. It is sometimes said that a bad peace is better than a good war. However, faced with the combined Islamist forces of the Middle East who see jihad as a high religious calling, the above proverb needs to be reworked.
As God is raising up His Ezekiel 37 army (see Ezekiel 37:9-14), it is worth meditating on some prophetic Scriptures that have special relevance for days ahead.
The first from Isaiah 11 describes a future Israeli complete takeover of Gaza, as well as triumph against enemies who use Jordan as a base of operations against the Jewish state:
- “Then it will happen on that day that YHVH will again recover the second time with His hand, the remnant of His people, who will remain – from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west. Together they will plunder the sons of the east. They will possess Edom and Moab, and the sons of Ammon will be subject to them” (Isaiah 11:11-14)
The second is from Psalm 83 which describes a future Israeli triumph over its many Middle Eastern enemies:
- God, do not remain quiet! Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” For they have conspired together with one mind. Against You they make a covenant: the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal and Ammon and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have become a help to the children of Lot. Selah.
- Deal with them as with Midian, as with Sisera and Jabin at the torrent of Kishon, who were destroyed at En-dor, who became as dung for the ground. Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb and all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna who said, “Let us possess for ourselves the pastures of God.” O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like chaff before the wind. Like fire that burns the forest and like a flame that sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm. Fill their faces with dishonor that they may seek Your name, O YHVH. Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever, and let them be humiliated and perish – that they may know that You alone, whose name is YHVH, are the Most High over all the earth.
The ultimate result of these ‘Wars of the Lord’ will be very different from the halting steps we now see.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for God’s strategies to guide Israel’s leaders and military
- Pray for the frustration of the enemies’ strategies, planning and communications
- Pray for Messiah Yeshua to be revealed to many hungry Jewish hearts
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
This article originally appeared on David’s Tent, May 6, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Avner and his wife, Rachel, live in the Beersheva region of Israel and are dedicated to stirring up the creative arts, worship, intercession, evangelism and the prophetic gifts within a Jewish and Israeli matrix. They oversee Final Frontier Ministries.
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Love your enemies – Jesus is not joking
Jesus was not interested in messing around with normal levels of niceness. He was starting a whole new revolution called “Love your enemies”… and challenging us to join him.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than anyone else? Even the pagans do that, don’t they? Therefore be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Keeping the Law of Moses was challenging enough, but “be perfect”? Come on! Be reasonable. And love our enemies? Seriously? Who does that?
Jesus was introducing the New Covenant, not based on good behaviour, but based on the powerful blood of his own self-sacrifice. Only God incarnate has the power to rescue and redeem, to save and transform. But the amazing thing is that it’s true: Jesus living in us really can give us power to do the impossible. To love the unloveable. To forgive the unforgivable. This fact is proved by his disciples all around the world, all the time.
Jesus living in us really can give us power to do the impossible. To love the unloveable. To forgive the unforgivable. This fact is proved by his disciples all around the world, all the time.
“We are hurt. We are angry also, but still, as the senior pastor of Zion Church Batticaloa, the whole congregation and every family affected, we say to the suicide bomber, and also to the group that sent the suicide bomber, that we love you and we forgive you.”1
These are the words of Reverend Roshan Mahesen from Sri Lanka after 28 people from his church were murdered and another 70 were injured by Islamic extremists. He added:
“Jesus Christ on the cross, He said, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. We also, who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we say for the Lord to forgive these people.”
It is only the experience of the inexhaustible love and forgiveness of Jesus that can free us to act in this way. Reverend Roshan Mahesen’s reaction was similar to words we have heard from the bereaved families of those 20 Egyptian Christians executed on the beach by ISIS.2 Even children in Iraq who know and love Jesus have extended love, forgiveness and prayers to their persecutors.3 This is the real mark of a disciple of Jesus. They know they are forgiven, and they know that they are destined for eternity with Jesus and their lost loved ones. They know they cannot lose… but that their enemies are desperately lost.
With the constant violence and atrocities happening all around us, we may be tempted to forget the revolutionary ways of our Messiah. He was not just noble – he was self-sacrificial towards those who hated him. He was not just kind to his own company – his heart broke for his own tormentors. This radical enemy-love was not just a nice theory – it was a real expectation. He personally led the way, leaving us not only with a perfect example, but with his own Spirit – the Spirit of Jesus – to help us to do the impossible.
When Jesus told us to love our enemies, he meant it.
 ‘We love you and we forgive you:’ Sri Lanka pastor has powerful message for radical terrorists, Caleb Parke, April 30 2019
[2} Sat7 Network – relatives of slain Egyptian Christians forgive
premier.org.uk – TV anchor stunned after Egyptian Christian says she forgives her husband’s killers
 Sat7usa.org – Iraqi child forgives ISIS
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
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