"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."
Home from Israel!
I just returned from a wonderful time in Israel hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). More than 100 pastors and ministry leaders from 14 nations gathered in Jerusalem to receive training and equipping regarding Israel. There were 37 people from China (the biggest delegation), 12 from Norway, 7 from Finland, a handful from Denmark and Sweden, and representatives from South America and Germany. And, of course, a few of us from the United States. It was the most amazing time of being with new friends who share a love of Israel and the Jewish people.
Tuija just returned from Russia last week (just a few days after returning from the conference), where she taught in Russian synagogues and churches on God's plan for Israel and the Jewish people in Scripture. At one gathering, more than 700 people showed up to hear her teach -- and they want her to come back. Pray for Tuija, and her family.
New friends, the Scandinavians! (Above photo)
I loved meeting twelve pastors from Norway who took me under their wing. None of them knew each other before coming to the conference, but at the end of four days, the Lord had knitted their hearts together in new friendship. A network of Israel-loving friends is returning to Norway! These wonderful guys invited me to join them on their tour of the Dead Sea (see funny picture, below) Masada and the caves of Qumran--a complete surprise and blessing.
"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments." - Deuteronomy 7:9
If there was one theme I came away with from my time in Israel, it is that our God is faithful. He has made promises, and He will never break them. "The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the Word of God stands forever!" (Isaiah 40:8). He is causing His Word to come to pass regarding Israel and the Jewish people, in this generation -- promises that will impact the entire world. It is phenomenal. And, we are the first generation that has been able to actually travel to Israel to be able to see it!
The prophet Ezekiel said in Ezekiel 36 that God would do something powerful with Israel one day that the whole world would see. First, He would bring the Jewish people, scattered from one end of the earth to the other, back to the land promised to them through Abraham (Gen. 12:3). "For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land" (Ezek. 36:24).
Though this miracle will happen (and is happening) to the nation of Israel, it is not for Israel's benefit that God is going to do this great thing. "It is not for your sake, people of Israel...but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes" (Ezek. 36:22).
God promised He would bring the Jewish people to the land of Israel simply because if He did not, He would not be faithful to His Word. God's very reputation is at stake. He will bring His people back to the land so that HIS name will be glorified among the nations.
This is why it is so very profound what is happening in the world in this hour, regarding the Jewish people. God is bringing His people home. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your own land" (Jer. 29:14).
Fishermen and Hunters
"As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all of the countries where He had banished them.' For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers. "Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen," declares the LORD,"and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters and they will hunt for them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks. For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes" (Jer. 16:15-17).
For the past 1800+ years since the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jews have been scattered throughout the world with no common language and no common culture. Yet, the LORD has kept them, when for all practical purposes they should not exist as a people. "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "will Israel ever cease being a nation before me." declares the LORD" (Jer. 31:36). Miraculously, since the late 1800s, God has been slowly drawing the Jewish people back to the land -- from the Arab lands, from Russia, from Europe and recently from Ethiopia and India. Many believe this was the time of the "fishermen," mentioned in Isaiah.
Now, however, it may be the time of the "hunters." Consider the following headlines, all from within the last few months (click each to read the full article):
As antisemitism increases worldwide, Jews are fearing for their lives and immigrating to the only place they feel they can outwardly express their faith without being persecuted -- Israel. Just this past week, a Jewish security guard was killed outside of a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark. This comes on the heels of the murder of four Jewish men in the kosher deli in France, and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery also in France and another one in Germany.
Yet, God. As Joseph proclaimed to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Gen. 50:20)
This is the first part of what Ezekiel prophesied about...Israel's physical return to the land. As a result of this dramatic increase in antisemitism, hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world are immigrating to Israel. Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is now urging Jews to come home to Israel. Though the persecution of the Jews is increasing (are we back in the 1930s?) God is using it for good to fulfill His Word. The importance of of what is happening at this moment in time cannot be understated.
And lest we think antisemitism not happening on U.S. soil....
And check out what is going on across the U.S., on our college campuses (see video below):
Israel's Spiritual Restoration
Jews have been coming to faith in Jesus for centuries, increasing after Israel became a reality again in the late 1800s with the Zionist movement. The number of Jewish believers in Jesus began increasing worldwide after the Holocaust, when Israel became a nation in 1948...almost in lock step with Jewish immigration to Israel.
The primary evangelistic work in Israel is not through missions. It is being done through local Messianic congregations. Today there are 150+ congregations in Israel, with as many as 15,000 Jewish believers. God is preparing this firstfruits remnant, for what Ezekiel envisioned -- Israel's full restoration. Paul describes Israel's spiritual revival as life from the dead: "For if their (Israel's) rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" (Rom. 11:15)
The Ezekiel 27:21 Project
Don't miss what God is doing in our region!
Our friends at Beth Yeshua Messianic Congregation have started a new ministry called the Ezekiel 37:21 Project.
After many years of pursuing their own Aliyah and experiencing many of the ups and downs in the process, Beth Yeshua's leader Joshua Rubinstein and his wife Rosie realized there weren't any central resources for Jewish believers seeking Aliyah. Their desire is to open the door of Aliyah for all those who want to pursue it. They are a special resource to Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus (Yeshua) -- especially in light of the illegal discrimination they often experience in the Aliyah process for their belief in Jesus. For more information on this project, visit http://www.ezekiel3721.com
Pray for them and their family, as they pursue immigration to Israel themselves and as they press forward with this new ministry to Jewish believers in Jesus.
Look for more information in the near future about ways we can support this project, as Christians.
Netanyahu's Visit to the US...
Obama is reportedly livid at Netanyahu and said he will not meet with the Israeli leader. Among those supporting Netanyahu's planned speech is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel. Also supporting Netanyahu's stance is is Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who recently visited Israel. Speaking form Jerusalem, the former Arkansas governor said, "Americans nee to know what the dangers are with Iran and the Iranian threat is not unique to Israel, that it does, in fact, involve the United States and the rest of the world." He said Netanyahu must deliver his scheduled speech before Congress, emphasizing it should be seen in the same historic context as Churchill's wartime speeches to the House of Commons and FDR's speeches to the American people after WWII. Wow.
Netanyahu needs our prayer. Whatever he is planning on sharing before Congress must be of such importance that he is willing to take these risks.
Pray also for the elections in Israel which will take place March 17.
Understanding the West Bank
Weekly Prayer Call for Israel and the Middle East
I have set watchmen on your walls O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the Lord do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62:6-7).
To call in, dial 916-432-8246. There is no passcode.
To print out the most recent ICEJ Isaiah 62 prayer points, click HERE.
This week's prayer points for Intercessors for Israel are here: http://www.ifi.org.il
Monthly Prayer for the M.E. (Middle East)
2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
Bless Israel Ministries
This ministry exists because of the prayer and support of others. If you would like to make a tax-deductable contribution to Bless Israel, click the "Support" link below. We are still in need of monthly supporters.
Walking around the streets of the Old City
Walls in the Old City...note the distinction from the old stones and newer stones, as a result of the fire from the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD