Prayer Update From Israel (February 11, 2013)
“Watchful over My Word to perform it”
Almond blossoms frame the Temple Mount and Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
1. SYRIAN REFUGEES SWAMPING CAMPS IN JORDAN
“Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer. The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land” (Isaiah 16:3b-4 NIV).
An Associated Press article details how in one week 21,000 Syrian refugees poured into an already-bursting Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan. The camp is struggling with flooding, shortages of supplies, shelters, showers, toilets; and there are many fires erupting from stoves in the tents. Nor is there a prospect of the flood of people slowing down as desperate men, women and children seek to escape the horrors of shelling, rape and death going on across the border. More recent reports say that there are now 5,000 people crossing the borders of Syria into other countries each day. The Zaatari camp is at times being referred to as the “kids’ camp” because children make up the largest numbers there. Some 24,000 Syrian refugee children are said to have entered Jordan in the past month alone. This in-surge to Jordan (there are said to be more than 320,000 refugees presently in the kingdom) is also raising worries about water—Jordan is already the fourth most water-scarce country in the world. (“UN: Syrian refugees overwhelm Jordan camp”; by Dale Gavlak, Associated Press; Posted in The Miami Herald, 29 Jan 2013).
*That God would have mercy on the vast numbers fleeing the ravages of Syria.
*That the Jordanian government and the relief organizations seeking to bring aid to the refugees will be guided by God’s grace in showing mercy, and in provision and distribution to those who have lost all and come into the land north of “Gilead” seeking aid.
*That God’s angels would drive away darkness, and despair—and minister on behalf of those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Pray for believers ministering in the relief agencies and those in Jordan. Pray for the lives of children to be preserved.
*That we in Israel not close up our capacity for compassion and mercy to the suffering of those, even who have been our enemies.
*For “the aggressor” in Syria (which despises the children of Adam on all sides of the conflict) to be broken. For God’s redemptive purposes for both Syria and Jordan to be preserved…that His “Kingdom come!” in those lands.
2. AN OBAMA PRESIDENTIAL VISIT TO ISRAEL
It was announced this week that President Obama is planning a visit to Israel, his first since entering the White House in 2009. (He visited here before his First Term while running for office in 2008.) It is presently thought that the President will arrive in Israel around the 20th of March, during the week before Passover. At this point the visit is said to be “without preconditions”, to focus on the peace process, the Iranian nuclear crisis, and the civil war in Syria with the risks it poses for Israel. Mr. Obama is also expected to visit Palestinian leader Abbas in Ramallah and King Abdullah in Jordan. Since the announcement there has arisen speculation that he might possibly propose a mini-summit with Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas together, which would most likely take place in Amman. This will be the first international trip by the President since beginning his second term.
Although a majority of Jews in the U.S. voted for Obama, there has been great disillusion with the President in Israel. The prevalent feeling here is that Mr. Obama simply doesn’t like us—from the lecturing tone he seemed to give to Israel during the Cairo speech soon after the beginning of his first term, to the disrespect afforded our Prime Minister in some of his visits to the U.S., to the fact that he visited Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia during his first term, while failing to visit Israel, America’s closest ally in the region—all of this has been difficult for Israelis. Although most welcome his decision to make Israel a priority at the beginning of his second tenure as President, it is therefore not unmixed with a certain wariness. One question raised has been whether this visit may not in fact be timed to make it very difficult for Prime Minister Netanyahu to choose a coalition leaning towards the right (i.e. one not so in favor of the President’s insistence on a “two-state solution” and halting of all Jewish settlement activity in Judea and Samaria). Perhaps, some think, the proximity of the trip will incline Mr. Netanyahu towards bringing Tzipi Livni back into the government (Livni was Foreign Minister under P.M. Olmert and is a strong supporter of formation of a Palestinian state.
Then Israeli media were today headlining a Sunday Times report that “US President Barack Obama is willing to up pressure against the Iranian nuclear program if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will open talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on borders and security issues.” If this report accurately reflects the President’s leanings, it makes for discouraging reading, because 1) it implies that the American President might consider he has the means of preventing or delaying a possible nuclear holocaust, yet would withhold those means because of disagreement over an allied leader’s policies, and 2) such a proposal implies that Israel is the one totally at fault for lack of talks with President Abbas. This is a blatant falsehood—Israel has repeatedly given good-will gestures (including a 10-month freeze on settlement activity), while Mr. Abbas has neither been requested to make nor has granted any such gestures of his own—and has continually refused to talk.
*That the leaders of both nations will be able to meet in integrity and respect for each other and the countries they represent.
*That the fear of the LORD God of Israel would be over the meeting.
*That God will open a righteous way for Israel to proceed—which will honor both Jewish and Arab citizens and sojourners in His Land.
*That Prime Minister Netanyahu’s integrity in choosing a coalition will not be compromised by the looming visit of the American President. That God will guide him in the way he should choose—and that he in humility and courage will choose the good path.
3. STATUE INAUGURATED HONORING ISRAELI TSUNAMI AID TO JAPAN
Although little was noted in the international press, all Israelis remember the aid rushed to Japan and the field hospitals our government set up there after the devastating tsunami struck its eastern seaboard two years ago. There were almost daily reports and stories in the news media here, and our hearts were with the Japanese people and with our medical delegation working tirelessly to render aid. Now a statue has been set up on the site in Yanmei-Sanriku, honoring that effort to bless a stricken country on the other side of the world. The inauguration of the statue was attended with a concert, the attendance of the city’s mayor and other officials from the city and nearby towns, along with many children. A highlight of the ceremony was an emotional meeting between Israeli doctors and a Japanese woman whose baby they delivered amidst the devastation two years ago.” (See “Japan inaugurates statue honoring Israeli tsunami aid”: Israel Today: 5 Feb 2013)
A part of God’s call to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) was “Be a blessing!” and, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Of course, this “blessing” was met in a most special way through the birth, life and redemptive work of Yeshua the Savior of the world! But we believe that the charge has never been cancelled in the physical seed of Abraham living and returned to their ancient land today.
*Joining us in thanking God that Israel is still hearing the call and being used of God to bless the world.
*That the ability to hear and enter into that blessing will deepen as she comes into her place in her Messiah! (Romans 11:15).
*Pray that a relationship of friendship and respect may continue to grow between Israel and the people of Japan. For those lives saved two years ago to come to know the God of Israel and His Messiah, the Savior of the whole world.
THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. All texts are those of English translations of the Scriptures.
The readings for this week are called T’rumah—“Offering” or “Contribution” (“Speak unto the children of Israel to raise a contribution for Me”).
TORAH: Exodus 25:1—27:19
HAFTARAH: I Kings 5:12—6:13
The rest of the book of Exodus (except for the incident regarding the golden calf) will be related to the setting up of the “Tabernacle”. The Hebrew for this word is mishkan—which means “a dwelling place.” Its root shakhan is used in the modern Hebrew word for “neighbor”—someone who dwells nearby. God longs to shokhen with, to dwell—to neighbor closely with His people. The word is used in Exodus 25:8 when He instructs that a “holy place” (sanctuary) be constructed so that He may dwell within Israel. This would be the tent-covered Tabernacle used in the wilderness and in the days of the Judges. At the end of this week’s Haftarah (I Kings 6:13) Solomon, some 500 years later, has completed a Temple on Mount Moriah—and the same words are again repeated, “And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.” Around 440 years later still, a pre-incarnate Yeshua released these words two more times through the prophet Zechariah, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of Hosts has sent Me to you.” (Zechariah 2:10-11).
Yet, “the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48), and today, through the work of the Messiah Yeshua, His Body on earth is “being built together for a dwelling place (Hebrew translation: mishkan) of God in the Spirit” (Ephesian 2:22). Finally, John tells us of a day when a Voice from heaven will proclaim, “Behold, the tabernacle (Hebrew translation: mishkan) of God is with the children of Adam, and He will dwell (shokhen) with them and they shall be His people. Elohim Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3-4).
*Exodus 25:2. “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”
*Exodus 25:10. “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood…” The word “ark” is aron, a word used today for a cabinet, closet or wardrobe (Noah’s “ark” and that of the baby Moses is a different word (teva), meaning ‘box’). This ark would later be called the “Ark of the Testimony, --of the Covenant”, --of God”, and “the Ark of YHVH (the LORD)”.
*Exodus 25:13-15. “You shall cast four rings of gold for it [the Ark of the Covenant], and put them in its four corners…and you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by then. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.” It is remarkable the lengths this passage goes to stress the importance of the poles and that they stay in the rings at all times! Yet by the time of David, this would have faded in significance in his mind to that of a minor, unimportant “detail”—even though he read the Torah continually and loved it. Tragedy would occur when he allowed the Ark to be carried a different way. It is crucial to employ the whole counsel of God; there are no details of His instructions which are more important than others. “Thy Word O LORD is Truth!”
We would also stress here that ALL of the articles of the Tabernacle were essential in the completion of the perfection of the whole—whether the beautiful golden menorah, the cherubim, the beautifully embroidered inner curtains, or the more homely boards for the sides, the skins over the top, the instruments of bronze such as the “pans to receive the ashes, the shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans” (27:3). So with those making up the Body of Messiah on earth today…some may be in positionings which appear more honorable than others, but before God, each part being in the place for which it have been specially fashioned by the Master Artisan in His preparing the Whole--that is the important thing.
*Exodus 25:17. “You shall make a mercy seat (Hebrew: kaporet) of pure gold.” Kaporet means both “atonement” and “covering”. It was above this that the Presence of the LORD would dwell between the Cherubim, Hence the (non-Biblical) word shekinah, related to shakhan above, referring to the manifest dwelling-presence of the LORD. Upon this the blood would be sprinkled on the Day of Atonement.
*Exodus 25:22. “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” “Meet with you” here means “at an appointed fixed time and place.” In God’s mercies, we now “have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us”—so as to meet with and be spoken with by our Father (Hebrews 10:19-20).
*Exodus 25:30. “And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.” Showbread is literally “Bread of the Face”. Leviticus 24:5-9 clarifies that it would be 12 loaves made from wheat flour, corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel. Each Sabbath they were placed before God on the golden table, across from the menorah whose light shone upon it. Psalm 44:3 says that Israel’s victories did not come by her own prowess, but “It was Your right hand, Your arm and the Light of Your Face, for You loved them!”
*Exodus 25:40. “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” All of these things—the Ark; the rings of gold; the poles of acacia wood; the Mercy Seat; the Cherubim; the Table of Showbread; the golden Menorah— point to the work of Yeshua, our heavenly High Priest and mediator of a New Covenant, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:3-13).
Martin & Norma Sarvis
[The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week 17-23 February are called Tetsaveh—Command/Charge (“And you shall command the children of Israel…”): TORAH: Exodus 27:20—30:10 +Deuteronomy 25:17-19; HAFTARAH: I Samuel 15:2-34.]
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