Zionism and justice
Ten or so years ago I walked into an airport bookstore and saw Jimmy Carter’s (then) new book on Israel and the Palestinians. At the time, there was been quite a commotion over this book. Carter used the word ‘apartheid’ to describe the potential of Israeli policies – I feared the worst. What I found was a rehashing of the same ideas as the “peace now” groups in Israel: Israel should pull back from the “West Bank” and return to the 1967 U.N. accepted borders. Minor adjustments could be made for security, including keeping some settlements. This would entail trading some land on the Israel side of the old border (the green line). Really, this was not much different than the Barak negotiated plan offered to Arafat in 2000. Carter’s book sadly had a tone of blaming Israel for the present stalemate. I found it to be over the top. Many factual errors were documented by reviewers such as Harvard University’s Alan Dershowitz.
For the sake of our readers then and now, I think it is important to have a short and solid statement of response. Messianic Jews are Biblical Zionists. Zionism is the view that it is important for Jews to return to the Land of Israel and that this is a just and right cause. Biblical Zionists add that this land has been given to the Jewish people as their homeland, which is a Scriptural teaching. There is a clear promise of a returning to the Land repeated again and again throughout scriptures. The question remains, where should followers of Yeshua stand, both Jew and Gentile?
Does God Have a Say?
Most justice commentators and policy makers today ignore the most important point: God is the owner of the whole earth, He has the right to allocate land as He sees fit. Eventually all land will be allocated by God, but as a precursor to this just allocation, God challenges the world to accept His allocation of one very small piece of property, a property the size of New Jersey. Although former President Carter means well, and does claim to be representing Christian values, his unwillingness to embrace God’s Word on this matter places him strictly within the camp of secular humanism.
The most important thing for us as committed disciples of Yeshua is God’s will. This is always the first justice issue. Looking back on the 19th century, England was influenced by the Bible and had embraced as their national destiny the role of restoring Israel as a nation. God was allowed to speak. What a difference a century makes!
But what about Palestinian rights?
Some say that the Palestinians have been displaced from land they had occupied for hundreds of years and this is unjust. It is crucially important to break the deception of this argument. First, we must ask at what point a people cease to have claim to their land? Let us say that one nation displaces another and then occupies that land for ten years. Can the former people who were displaced come back and justly retake their land? Most would say yes. What about in fifty years? What about in five hundred years? An absolute right is not given to keep possession of a land that was obtained by expelling the original occupants, even many years after the fact. Native Americans lost most of their land but now seek compensation after hundreds of years. We think that such arguments are credible; otherwise we would say that the occupation of the land by Europeans for hundreds of years nullifies any claim. Justice issues cannot be solved by this argument, especially since God has spoken on this issue.
In addition, most of Israeli land was not gained by pushing Palestinians off their land. From the 1880s to 1948, the Jews returned to a desolate land that was sparsely populated and purchased the land for their settlements. State owned land passed from the Turkish Empire to Britain and then to Israel. In the 1948 and 1967 wars, Israel did displace some Palestinian occupants, but many of these were for security reasons.
On the basis of the justice issues, the U.N. voted to form the state of Israel in 1948. For a brief period, the world entertained the just cause of the Jewish people. The countries of the world had proven that they could not be trusted with the protection of their Jewish minority. Therefore the U.N. voted to give the Jews their own state on land they reclaimed from desolation as well as land purchased from Arab owners who gladly sold the land in exchange for the funds they received.
Two of the wars fought after this decision led to border changes, these were in 1948 and 1967. Throughout history justice was played out this way: the aggressor rightly loses land and is penalized if defeated in war. This principle of historic justice is ignored by U.N. resolutions. Aside from reference to God’s promise, Israel has a justice issue to have their own country in their own land. This is the most outstanding claim of justice in history. This is a claim that should be recognized by the whole world in the light of Jewish historical suffering.
In her classic study “From Time Immemorial,” Joan Peters debunks the idea that most Palestinians are from long term landed descendants. She uses census figures from the Turkish Empire to show that the majority of the Palestinians are recent 20thcentury immigrants to the land.
The Palestinians do have one justice claim. It is the claim of the stranger in the midst of Israel. They are to be treated generously and with justice. However, this refers to a category of people who are willing to live in a land they accept as having been given to the Jews by God. This is not referring to a people that seek to destroy the Jewish State! The big justice issues are all on the side of Israel (we could refer to them as macro-justice issues). The Palestinians do have some micro-justice issues as “strangers in the midst”. The Arabs have property in the Middle East that is so extensive that the justice issue is made even clearer.
The Bible indicates that there will be a great return to the land of Israel before Israel comes to faith in Yeshua. We see this in Ezekiel 36 and 37 as well as Matthew 23:37-39. Only after this return will Israel be filled with the Spirit. Until then, there will be ups and downs.
Why does the world oppose Israel?
So why is the world so against Israel? Among the Arabs, the issue is not really empathy for Palestinians. The Arabs prove they are more than willing to murder each other in Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza. The issue is spiritual. It is the pride that the land was under Moslem government and therefore should always so remain. The loss of Jerusalem strikes at the heart of the pride of Islam: that is, Islam has superseded Judaism and Christianity. The rest of the world wants to have peace by appeasing the Muslim world. This is sheer foolishness. They fail to realize that Islam’s intentions for world conquest cannot be appeased. All the nations seek a world order that excludes the God of the Bible, who is the God of Israel. But God will not allow this. Israel, even in her unbelief challenges this view, but will fulfill that role completely when she comes into her fullness of faith through Yeshua Hamashiach.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, May 3, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.
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Cleanse the unclean
PARASHAT EMOR (SAY)
VAYIKRA (LEVITICUS) 21:1–24:3
The Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) have a great deal to say about cleanliness. Nothing unclean could come before God, because He is holy. As I was reading this week’s Parasha (Scripture portion), two specific instances caught my attention because they connect to Messiah’s ministry of cleansing while He was on the earth:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the bread of his God. ‘For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles. ‘No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, is to come near to offer the LORD’s offerings by fire; since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. ‘He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy, only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, that he may not profane My sanctuaries. For I am the LORD who sanctifies them.’” So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel.
In light of these above verses, it’s quite astonishing that Yeshua reached out and healed those who, on the outside, had some type of a “defect”; He healed the blind, the leper, the lame, etc. While the restriction was specifically against the Priests, there is an important spiritual principal at work here. Yeshua healed people so that they could be clean and made whole before God the Father. He makes us all worthy of coming before a holy God to offer our lives as a sacrifice.
It is also interesting that an animal with any defect could not be offered to God as a sacrifice:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘Any man of the house of Israel or of the aliens in Israel who presents his offering, whether it is any of their votive or any of their freewill offerings, which they present to the LORD for a burnt offering —for you to be accepted — it must be a male without defect from the cattle, the sheep, or the goats. Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you. And when a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a special vow, or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. Those that are blind or fractured or maimed or having a running sore or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD, nor make of them an offering by fire on the altar to the LORD. In respect to an ox or a lamb which has an overgrown or stunted member, you may present it for a freewill offering, but for a vow it shall not be accepted. Also anything with its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the LORD, or sacrifice in your land, nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a defect, they shall not be accepted for you.’”
When reading the above scriptures, I am reminded of a well-known story from the book of John, chapter 5:
After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] And a certain man was there, who had been thirty-eight years in his sickness. When Yeshua saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Yeshua said to him, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk.
Yeshua went up to Jerusalem since this was one of the appointed times to offer sacrifices before the LORD. The account tells us of the pool of Bethesda, which in Hebrew means “the house of grace”, and was located near the Sheep Gate. The location of the pool is significant because sheep and goats were offered as sacrifices, so there is a connection between the cleansing pool and the sacrifice. And, as we read before, if the animals had any defect, they could not be offered as a sacrifice.
Yeshua came to this specific place to perform an amazing miracle of healing a man who was lame for 38 years. This man could not physically go and offer sacrifices, and was anyway forbidden from entering the sanctuary. The fact that Yeshua had compassion on him and chose to heal him shows His heart for making a person worthy before God Almighty.
Yeshua’s blood cleanses and heals us so that we may be worthy to come before the Almighty! As our High Priest, He is constantly interceding on our behalf, and presenting our lives as a sacrifice to the Father. I am so grateful for His sacrifice and His work on my behalf. I hope you are too!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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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.