“I put my Bow in the Sky…” (Genesis 9:13)
Rainbow in the Hinnom Valley Just southwest of Mount Zion,
taken by the authors some years ago during the Former Rains.
1. A PRAYER FOR RAIN…THE NEED IS BECOMING SERIOUS.
On Shmini-Atzzeret—the last day of the fall festival of Sukkot (1 October this year), it is traditional to pray for rain. For the “former rains”, which in Israel begin in the fall. The “latter rains” fall roughly from Passover in the spring, until around middle May. Afterwards, there is usually no measurable rain in Israel for five months—we are dependent upon the former and latter rains.
We have often mentioned in these prayer updates the need of rain in Israel. but during the past five months acuteness of this need has become more evident. Israel recently completed her fifth year of an officially-declared drought. On August 26th, an article in The Times of Israel was entitled, “Israel enters 6th year of worst-in-a-century drought, girds for even worse.” The article points out how “Many of Israel’s lakes, riverbeds and aquifers are at unprecedented 100-year lows, with the Sea of Galilee [the nation’s largest natural water source] dangerously close to its “black line,” the level below the intake pipes of the water pumps that send the lake’s water to nearby towns.” Many of the springs in the north, whose streams supply much of the waters to the Sea of Galilee, have slowed to a trickle. In May, the Water Authority launched a public awareness campaign to make Israelis aware of the shortage and to encourage them to conserve their water usage.
But with the construction in recent years of five large desalinization plants (which now effectively provide drinking water from the Mediterranean for the country’s most populated regions along the coast), Israelis have tended to put away concern about water. After all, Israel invented “drip irrigation” (virtually all her produce is now economically watered that way); 86% of her wastewater is purified and used for agriculture. And now redeeming water from the Mediterranean Sea seems to be taking care of our needs. Except that it isn’t—even with the two new plants which are being built, there will not be enough for crops necessary to feed this population. And if the Sea of Galilee continues to sink, it will mean an ecological disaster there, down the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Israel is planning to pump desalinated water into the lake—but that is really a stop-gap measure. And the de-salinized water is lacking in many nutrients, and is even being presently studied in Israel as a possible contributor to heart disease.
Israel—and our neighbors—are desperately in need of rain water. The scientists are pointing towards Global Warming as being the most probable cause of the drought. Yet, the Scriptures often connect the coming or withholding of rains in Israel with the favor and mercy of her God (the Creator of the “globe” which is warming!), and with the humility of His people in acknowledging awareness of their need of that mercy:
“But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart…They do not say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear YHVH our God, Who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us the appointed weeks of harvest.’” (Jeremiah 5:23-24).
“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:13-14).
“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hosea 6:3).
“Elohim, You are my God, at the dawning I will seek you. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water…” (Psalm 63:1).
“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, YHVH, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them…” (Isaiah 41:17).
“So rejoice, O children of Zion, and be glad in YHVH your God, For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before.” (Joel 2:23).
It remains for the remnant to intercede…to “seek water”…to ”humble ourselves and pray”…realizing that,
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:17-18)
* That God will in mercy send abundant rains on His Covenant Land this year…a land which was meant from the beginning to, “drink water from the rain from heaven, a land for which the LORD God cares; the eyes of the LORD God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:11-12).
* That Israel will awaken to her need for water—and an awareness that her God is the source of that water—as He was for our Fathers in ancient times, when they drank from the spiritual rock which followed them around the desert…and that rock was Messiah! I Corinthians 10:4).
* That believers in the Land will ourselves take this need seriously, will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from evil ways—cry out to Him for this need, that He may hear from Heaven and heal our land.
2. NOTES FROM NORMA
This month marks my 29th year in Israel, my 29th year as a citizen! I am so honored to live here and to be part of the believing remnant of the Land! I am thankful for all the Lord has enabled me to be a part of: starting and expanding a nationwide youth ministry that still strongly exists today; helping to begin Succat Hallel, a 24/7 prayer and intercession ministry in Jerusalem; impacting hundreds of interns from many countries who have come through Succat Hallel since the year 2000. We have hosted people from around the world in our home and been able to see a bit of God’s desire for the nations. And now I have the privilege of helping to begin and facilitate an indigenous national women’s movement. I love this verse: “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Yes, I have a good inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)
It certainly has not all been easy! I arrived here in 1990 facing a possible war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. I spent quite a few hours in a bomb shelter, wearing a gas mask as I heard scud missiles flying overhead. There has been loneliness. There have been struggles as a woman in leadership in a very male dominated country. I could only read Hebrew when I arrived and have had to learn to function in a second language although I am far from fluent even now. Praise God, He sent me Martin after I had lived here for six years!
I have seen so many changes in Israel since arriving. Here are a few:
*When I arrived, all believers in Yeshua here were called ‘Jews for Jesus’ by the media. Today that term is rarely used and we are clearly known as “Messianic Jews”.
*The Body in Israel has grown tremendously and there are now many more fellowships than there were in 1990.
*Today, there are many Believers in positions of leadership and respect in the military. When I first arrived, there was much persecution against Messianics in the IDF (Israel Defense Force). Of course, harassment for one’s faith can still exist, but there has been a shift. Believers make good soldiers. Today young believers entering the force are encouraged to make their commanders aware that they are Messianic right from the start!
*There are many, many new Hebrew worship songs being written each year, many by young Israelis.
*There is a Messianic school in Jerusalem
*There is a Messianic school for the arts for children and youth in Jerusalem.
*There are well-known believing lawyers, doctors, nurses and businessmen throughout Israel.
Many challenges still exist. It is not always easy for Messianic Jews to “make Aliyah” (emigrate to Israel). If it is discovered that they are believers, they are told that they are “no longer slaves” and their citizenship is denied. This unjust discrimination is especially acute when ultra-Orthodox parties are given control of the Ministry of the Interior, which is the case now.
The economy is difficult. The minimum wages is equivalent to $7.85/hour. Gasoline is approximately $8 a gallon. A dozen organic eggs is $4.96. A dozen regular eggs is $3.30. A liter of milk is $1.54 and a loaf of white bread is $1.84. The average monthly rent of a one bedroom apartment in a city center is $1000!
Men are in army reserves until they are 42 years old. Reserve duty can be from one week to one month each year.
And, as has been the case since Israel’s re-birth, there is the constant threat of war and terror.
In spite of these challenges, it is an honor to live here! It is a privilege to be able to walk and pray and stand with God’s promises for this nation and to believe for the salvation of Israel.
Thank you all for standing with this nation and with us as we live our days here!