“I have been very zealous for YHVH God of Armies…”
(II Kings 19:14; From the Haftarah usually accompanying Parasha Pinhas)
Statue on Mount Carmel of Elijah slaughtering the prophets of Baal.
1. “FOLLOWERS OF JESUS WHO SERVE IN THE IDF:
Two Messianic Jews, including one currently in Givati tell the ‘Post’ why they moved to Israel to serve in the IDF.”
This was a headline on the front page of the June 13th issue of The Jerusalem Post – along with a picture of four young men, brothers, one in uniform following his swearing-in ceremony in Jerusalem into the Israeli army. The article later appeared in an on-line version under a different title, “Following in Jesus’ footsteps to serve in the IDF.” There are several aspects of this article which we find remarkable. First, it makes mention of “Messianic Jews”, not only in its subtitle, but throughout the article. We can remember when we would rarely if ever have found that expression used in this or any other Israeli paper, English or Hebrew. Perhaps it was for fear of alienating religious readers. Rabbinical Orthodoxy teaches that a man or woman of Hebrew ancestry is nevertheless, no longer a Jew if he or she believes in Jesus. But now, here is an article in this paper which even goes to lengths to describe who they are:
“Zauber is a Messianic Jew, Christians who believe that Jesus, or Yeshua, is the Messiah and is the only path to redemption. There are an estimated 20,000 Messianic Jewish believers in Israel, but due to their beliefs [they] have been subjected to discrimination, such as being ineligible to make Aliya because it is not accepted that a Jew can believe in Jesus, even though they consider themselves to be Jewish.” 1)
There is something else in this paragraph which would most likely not have appeared in a newspaper a few years ago–it mentions Jesus’ Hebrew name, Yeshua. This is the name given to Joseph and Miriam (Mary) by the angel in Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31. It is a shortened form of the Hebrew for “Joshua,” which was used often in the post-Exilic book of Nehemiah, and means YHWH is Salvation. But all Israeli school children are taught that the name of the one who claimed to be Messiah was Yeshu—an acronym devised by the Rabbis meaning (although many of the teachers themselves are unaware of it), “May His Name be Blotted Out.”
Lastly, in former years, we don’t remember this particular paper ever running a story related to Jewish believers in Yeshua which didn’t give “equal time” at the end to an “anti-Missionary” rabbi who gave his thoughts on the subject. But that didn’t happen this time.
Neither did it happen in an April 24th article about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s new deputy social media adviser Hananya Naftali, which bore the title, “From praising Jesus to tweeting Bibi [Netanyahu’s nickname], PM’s New recruit has colorful past.” The opening sentence describes how Naftali, “a popular Israel advocate online, served in the Armored Corps, fought Hamas in Operation Protective Edge, and calls himself a Jew who loves Jesus.”
These appearances tell us something—the presence of Messianic Jews in Israel is growing—and Jews in Israel and abroad are becoming aware of who Yeshua is, that there are a growing number of His followers in Israel! The Post, via its Internet Edition, is read by English-speaking Jews around the world. Most native Israelis of course read the Hebrew papers—but those too, are rising above the taboo of writing about the presence of Messianics in Israel.
It is important to realize that until recently, the vast majority of Jewish Israelis were not even aware that a sector of Jewish believers in Messiah existed in the Land—that there were any Jews who believed in Jesus, much less in Israel. Nor are they anymore made up chiefly of those who have brought their faith with them when they immigrated. Now there are congregational communities of Believers throughout the land made up primarily of young adults who were born in Israel, and raised from childhood to believe in their Messiah. They cannot be threatened, like the new immigrants, with having their citizenship revoked! The military, university, civil workforce and government are beginning to notice believers who are excelling in their work, and who are not afraid to share their strength and vision. We have personally known young believing men and women in the military who have been recognized by their commanders for their excellence – and been asked to share publicly with their platoon about their beliefs.
And not only adults! A few weeks ago, an 11-year-old believing neighbor of ours was asked by his teacher where he would be going to summer camp. He told her it would be to a “Messianic” camp. She asked, “What is that?” He replied, “One for young people who believed in Yeshua.” The teacher then asked would he do a presentation to the class on “Yeshua.” Which He did!
“How beautifully the feet of those bringing Good News adorn the mountains!” (Isaiah 52:7). That “beauty” is beginning to be noticed, throughout the nation of Israel. Still very small—but it is growing—and the holy anointing it carries is beginning to make room for itself throughout different sectors of the society!
* For the Messianic Body of Messiah in Israel, that the truth they carry will be recognized; that Jews throughout the nation will become aware of their existence—and be drawn to the Lord they serve.
* That the lie that a person loses their “Jewishness” by believing in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, would be exposed.
* That legislation would be passed which affirms the Jewish identity of those who believe in Jesus. At present, proof of Jewish identity is based upon race. According to Jewish law, one’s true Jewish identity is passed through a Jewish mother. Except—when a Jew believes in Yeshua (or becomes a Muslim)—in which case, it becomes based upon his religion, which he is said to have abandoned. If it is known that a Jew is Messianic, he or she will not be allowed to immigrate to Israel. Pray that this injustice will be overturned—by the God of Justice, who sent His Son “to save His people from their sin.”
* That Messianic Jews in Israel will be filled with the Holy Spirit, “Now Lord, look on the threats [of the enemies of your Holy Word], and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they [the Messianic Body in Israel, young and old] may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Yeshua!”
2. THE 17TH OF TAMMUZ, THE “FAST OF THE FOURTH MONTH”—AND THREE WEEKS “BETWEEN THE STRAITS”.
“From the straits I called to Yah. Yah answered me in a wide-open place. The LORD is for me, I shall not fear. What can humankind do to me…All the nations surrounded me. With the LORD’s name I cut them down. They swarmed round me, oh they surrounded me. With the LORD’s name I cut them down…You pushed me hard to knock me down, but the LORD helped me. My strength and my might [song] is Yah, and He has become my rescue [Hebrew: yeshu’ah—‘salvation’]” (Psalm 118:5-14—Robert Alter translation).
On June 14th we entered into the fourth Hebrew month, Tammuz. It is not mentioned in the Bible by this name (which is in fact the name of a Babylonian deity). Yet most certainly “the Fast of the Fourth Month” of Zechariah 8:19 refers to an ancient memorial set within this month to soberly remember the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (II Kings 25:3-4; Jer. 39:2; 52:6-7). Observed originally on the 9th of the month, it has since the destruction of the Second Temple been observed on the 17th —the date in 70 C.E. when the wall was again breached, this time by the Romans. This year, the 17th of Tammuz fell last Saturday on the 30th of June (Because that was a Sabbath, the fast was observed on July 1st).
The 17th of Tammuz marks the beginning of a three-week period sometimes known as “the Dire Straits” or in Hebrew Bein haMetzarim—“between the narrow places.” The expression comes from Lamentations 1:3, “All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits” (NKJV). It alludes to many calamities which have overtaken Jews and Israel herself over the centuries during these three weeks. The period ends on the 9th of Av (21 July this year, observed 22nd), when the First Temple was destroyed.
Jews within Israel and around the world are very aware of this period. In Israel, religious weddings do not take place during these three weeks. And at the end of the weekly Torah reading in synagogues, special readings of “affliction and admonition” take the place of the passages from the Prophets which would normally close the service. Many Israelis, secular as well as religious, are wary, even fearful of this period of time—trying to walk carefully, not to do anything which might “rock the boat”—make God (or “the gods”) angry. Although it is certainly true that through the centuries much superstition and falsehood has arisen regarding this period, we see it, nevertheless, as a time for special sobriety and watchfulness among believers—especially as regards Israel and the seed of Jacob. It is as though, with the coming of this season, an increased activity occurs amongst spiritual powers of evil assigned to areas of vulnerability, gaps in the armor of God’s covenant people. This is a time for stressing the sovereignty and omnipotence of Elohei-Yisrael—The “GOD OF ISRAEL” (Genesis 33:20); of Magen-Avraham—the “SHIELD OF ABRAHAM” (Genesis 15:1). T
The Earth is the LORD’S—and He is expanding His Kingdom through both space and time, including this season associated with distress! It is a time for believers in Israel to look forward with the spirit of Caleb and Joshua, to ‘take the territory,’ a time when the very giants which loom shall “be our bread; their illusion of protection has departed from them, and YHVH is with us. Do not fear them!” (Numbers 14:9).
*Angelic protection over Israel during this three-week period, 30 June—21 August—over her borders, over the minds and integrity of her leaders. Indeed, pray protection over Jews throughout the world during this time.
*For spiritual discernment and integrity over the Body of Messiah in Israel in separating the true from the superstitious! In being sober-minded and on the watch. (I Peter 5:8; Col. 4:2)
*For the merciful conviction of Jewish hearts by Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) during this period—Who convicts of sin and righteousness and judgment; Who washes and regenerates; Who helps and brings comfort (John 16:8; Titus 3:5; John 15:26). Pray for revelation of the ONE who came to redeem us from the straits of sin to release us into a wide place of freedom and life!
*We would strongly recommend praying Psalm 118:5-14 (See beginning of this section)—as well as Psalm 4:1:
“When I call, answer me my Righteousness-God—In a narrow place you have made wideness for me. Grace me and hear my prayer!”
1) “Followers of Jesus who serve in the IDF: The Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2018.