Photo taken April 7 from Beresheet, 550 kilometers from moon’s surface.
(Photo Credit: Israel Space Agency)
Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night…
“If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the LORD,
“Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.”
Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever,
his throne as long as the sun before me,
Like the moon it shall be established forever,
a faithful witness in the skies!
Early this past Thursday, Israel’s first lunar landing spacecraft Beresheet escaped six weeks of orbit around the earth and achieved orbit around the moon. In doing this, Israel becomes the seventh nation to place a vehicle in lunar orbit. If Beresheet’s scheduled landing this coming Thursday April 11th takes place successfully, Israel will join only three other nations, the United States, the Soviet Union and China, which have succeeded in accomplishing a soft landing on the Moon. It will be the first successful privately funded voyage to the lunar surface. Beresheet will also be the tiniest vehicle to have landed. The little spacecraft is expected to operate for only two or three Earth days after landing.
Beresheet (three syllables, emphasis on “sheet”) is Hebrew for “Genesis,” and this first lander carries a time-capsule, which bears within it, among other things, a Hebrew Bible. The moon has always held a special place in God’s order for His people Israel. In Genesis 1:14 when God released it and the other lights into the heavens over the earth, He ordained that one of its purposes would be for mo’adim—“set/appointed times.” In fact, when He put forth His “set times” for Israel in Leviticus 23, they were all to be calculated by moons/months—from the First of Months (which we observed this past Saturday!). Psalm 104:19 says that God “made the moon to mark the seasons (mo-adim)”…and each “new moon” was to be recognized by His people with a special assembly, sacrifices, and with the blowing of silver trumpets and shofars (Numbers 10:10; 28:11; Psalm 81:3). The moon was to put God’s people in wonder at his marvelous works, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mortal man that you are mindful of him, and the son of Adam that you care for him!” (Psalm 8:3-4). The steadfastness of the Moon in its monthly phases was to be for Israel a “faithful witness in the skies” of God’s faithfulness that Israel would continue being a nation before Him, and that a descendant of David would sit on his throne forever (See Jeremiah 31:35-36; Psalm 89:35-37: Psalm 2). The moon, the sun, the stars were themselves created to praise and to inspire praise to their Creator (Psalm 148:3).
But often in her history, the people of Israel allowed themselves to be seduced into praising the heavenly bodies themselves, rather than their Creator.
* That Israel will not exult in the amazing success of her Moon mission (whether or not it finally sets down successfully onto the Moon’s surface on Thursday), as though it were something for which she is by her own wisdom and brilliance responsible.
* That she will return to what God said about His Moon—and its relation to His mercies and covenant over Israel.
* That God’s purposes in allowing Israel to excel in this endeavor will be accomplished. That His Kingdom come for Israel, both in her land and on the Moon!
* That the power of the “moon god” over those Muslims under its deception and bondage will be broken—that they be set free to worship the God who created the earth and the heavens.
2. ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL.
Elections in Israel were yesterday. This afternoon (Wednesday) with some 97% of votes counted, the Likud with Benjamin Netanyahu and the Blue and White party with Benny Gantz were tied, each having received 35 seats each in the new Knesset. However, because the two religious parties, the Sephardic Shas and the Ashkenazy United Torah Judaism, received an astounding eight seats each, and have vowed to join a Netanyahu government—and there are still several other right-wing parties expected to do the same, Netanyahu is being seen as winner (President Rivlin will almost certainly give him the task of forming a coalition after the final military and write-in votes are counted tomorrow). This will be Netanyahu’s fifth term. It means that Israel will go into this next season with a proven, strong defense stance against the threat from Iran. It will continue with a leader whose prowess as a statesman is respected (if not always loved) in the international community. There should continue to be a government with strong feelings for Israel’s right to a presence in the Covenant Land of the Mountains of Israel—Judea & Samaria—the West Bank. And, extremely important for the present time, the relationship forged between Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. President Trump continues in a realm of mutual favor no new Israeli leader could hope to imitate.
On the other hand, a coalition so strongly impressed with the religious parties means one which will likely continue with a “double standard” related to religious and civil responsibilities of citizens (most ultra-Orthodox demand to be allowed to study Biblical commentaries of rabbis rather than to fulfill those responsibilities). And the Shas party will almost certainly demand to maintain control of the Ministry of the Interior and other offices related to immigration—thus deciding who is considered a “Jew”, and discriminating against Messianic Jews and others it considers not lining up with its narrow religious views. In general, a far-right government is far less concerned with civil rights of Israeli citizens. Any overtures the government might wish to take, for example, towards allowing other streams of Judaism to have access to their own portion of the Western Wall, can (as happened two years ago) be nipped off at the bud by a threat from one of the religious parties to leave and bring down the government.
Another question mark, relates to the “Deal of the Century” for solving the Israel/Palestinian questions, which President Trump is due to release within a few weeks after the new government is on its feet. Will it “allow” Israel to annex portions of the Mountains of Israel, and for Jerusalem to remain undivided? Will the present relationship with Mr. Trump and America be able to remain close if there are tenets of the plan which Israel finds impossible to accept?
The Prime Minister Elect will have a month to put together a coalition; if that fails, he may ask for one short extension. That failing, the country goes again to new elections.
* That the God of Israel will watch over and guard the building of the new government. That none will be allowed to be formed which would restrict His path of mercy for his covenant land and people during the coming season.
* That grace will rest upon Mr. Netanyahu — a grace which leads to humility, and to seeking heavenly counsel for his governance during this term.
* That no occult powers would be able to influence the forming of the new coalition.
* That the most recent Shas leader (a convicted felon) will not be allowed to again hold the office of Ministry of the Interior. That the anti-Messiah spirit would not be allowed to reign over that office.
3. TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF HANDEL’S MESSIAH IN ISRAEL—IN HEBREW!
This week Handel’s Messiah for chorus, soloists and orchestra has been performed in the Hebrew language in three cities in Israel. It has provided a unique opportunity for Israelis to hear the message of their Messiah in their own (the original Biblical) language. Most are totally unaware of these Scriptures. And of course, it has provided a wonderful inspiration for those attending who have already discovered and received the gift of life in their Messiah. We know of no other work of art which so succinctly synthesizes this message, weaving it together from both Testaments—and releasing it on the wings of some of the most glorious music ever written.
During the week, several hundred Holocaust survivors were among those attending. Each was sitting in the hall with a copy of the texts, in both Hebrew and English. Among those texts is much of Isaiah 53, the contents of which most Israelis are completely unaware exist in their own Scriptures (In the late summer, when all of the surrounding chapters are read as the closing part of the Parashah in Synagogues, that particular chapter and the verses immediately preceding it about the Suffering Servant, have been cut out.).
* That the Holy Spirit who illumines God’s word would shine in the hearts of those who heard it sung this week. That they would recognize in the texts which they took home from the concerts, the God of Israel and His Son—the true Messiah and Saviour for whom they have waited. That grace would be over them to remove the Veil, and draw them in to the true Faith of their Fathers!