PRAYER UPDATE FROM ISRAEL (May 22, 2017)
“Look, a people rises like a lioness, and lifts itself up like a lion…” (Numbers 23:24)
“Awake, Awake! Put on your strength, O Zion…O Jerusalem, the holy city! Shake yourself from the dust, arise…Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!” (Isaiah 52:1-2)
PLEASE PRAY GOD’S BLESSING AND REVELATION OVER ISRAEL DURING THIS WEEK IN WHICH SHE CELEBRATES 50 YEARS SINCE THE LIBERATION OF JERUSALEM.
1. PRESIDENT TRUMP ARRIVES IN ISRAEL.
As we write, President Trump is meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in the President’s residence. It is the place where all visiting dignitaries come first, where they are greeted by our President with the words, “Baruch haba!—‘Welcome! Blessed is your coming!’” He was met earlier at the airport by Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rivlin, members of the Cabinet and other dignitaries. He is the first U.S. President to include Israel in his maiden journey abroad after taking office. Within the hour, he will be driven to the Kotel (the Western/Wailing Wall), where he will become also the first sitting American President to visit that holy site. From there he will visit the tomb of the Holy Sepulcher—both of these lying within the Old City of Jerusalem, whose liberation 50 years ago is being celebrated this week. Later in the evening, President Trump and his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner will go to the King David hotel where they will be residing during their visit, and meet with the Israeli prime minister. Later in the evening the President and his wife will dine with the Netanyahu’s. Tomorrow morning the Mr. Trump will fly by helicopter to Bethlehem in the West Bank for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Then it is back to Jerusalem to visit the Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem. Lastly, he will give a speech in the Israel Museum before departing for Rome and the Vatican tomorrow afternoon at 4:00.
The security requirements for the President’s visit (not to mention the costs for implementing them) are staggering. During the past three days a parking lot 2 ½ blocks from the writers’ home underwent a transformation. A shuttlebus station was removed, all the lamp polls were dug up, the near-by supermarket was told to close, and an enormous “H” was painted in the middle of the pavement. Shortly after noon today, seven enormous U.S. helicopters (shipped over from the States a few days ago) landed one after the other on the H, one of them bearing the American President. For much of these two days every-day life in many parts of Jerusalem has come to a standstill. Dozens of roads are blocked. Some 10,000 police officers are being utilized in guarding Mr. Trump’s movements around the Holy City. There are reportedly around 1000 persons in his entourage! Beginning last Thursday, around 30 C-17 military planes arrived in Israel from the US, laden with equipment and dozens of vehicles (plus the helicopters). The presidential suites in the King David are bomb and rocket proof, and contain independent air conditioning as guard against a gas attack. If the entire hotel fell apart, the Presidential Suite, it is claimed, would remain intact. And of course, there are helicopters, balloons with infrared cameras, even cameras in the sewers beneath the hotel. In addition, the hotel’s 233 rooms will not be occupied only by the Presidential party, but also “U.S. Secret Service, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, as well as Israeli security officials.” (“Trump’s Israel Visit: Major Security in Jerusalem, Bethlehem”: nbcnews.com, 5/21/2017).
This visit is being viewed in different ways and with different emotions here in Israel. Among many, there is a cautious hopefulness. After eight years of a U.S. President whom most Israelis sensed to be unfriendly to us (not to mention openly hostile towards our prime minister), President Trump seems to genuinely care about Israel and its leaders. The last president began his first trip abroad by, in his first speech in Cairo, sharply lecturing Israel, sternly informing her of what would from henceforth be considered acceptable and unacceptable in her behavior. Nor would Mr. Obama mention “Islamic” or “Islamist” in connection with terror, with which Israel is faced every day. President Trump, two days ago in his first speech abroad, also to an Arab audience, spoke of the necessity of “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.” And in the speech, he made mention of Israel and his coming visit with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Furthermore, from the beginning the President has emphasized that his plans regarding Israel are without a motive of imposing anything on the Jewish state, rather to offer friendship and assistance on behalf of the U.S. in any way possible.
On the other hand,some in Israel are uneasy—for example, when they see the $110 billion defense purchase (plus over $350 billion more during the next ten years) signed in Riyadh earlier this week. For all the fact that this is meant to shore up the Saudi’s against arch-enemy Iran, and create jobs, Israel is well aware that under other circumstances, Arabia has no love lost for Israel. In fact, she supplied troops against her 70 years ago, and still considers her an enemy. And among the right-wing government members who at first had the idea that Mr. Trump was not bothered by the Jewish “settlements” in Judea and Samaria, that a “two state” solution was not high on his agenda, and that the U.S. Embassy would certainly be moved to Jerusalem within a few months of his assuming the presidency—some are now alarmed that the President does not have the embassy at the top of his agenda at all, and in fact, will be delivering a speech tomorrow afternoon which he hopes will activate yet another “peace process” with the Palestinians—perhaps which will include pressure on Netanyahu to once again freeze settlements.
Believers in Jerusalem are fervently praying over this important visitation, in groups, large and small, about the city (and throughout Israel). Some happened to be positioned in locations very close to some of the stops along the President’s itinerary visit. We are grateful for your joining with us—both for the visit and during its aftermath.
* That God’s mercies will be over President Trump throughout his visit to Israel. That he be protected. That an alliance of friendship and trust be strengthened and deepened between the two countries through his visit.
* That President Trump will have a new revelation while he is here (and in retrospect afterwards) regarding the purposes and covenants of God regarding Israel. That a new sense of the “holy” and the “fear of the Lord” will be awakened and serve to guard him in the future, which will bring blessing on Israel and on his own land.
* That the President would not back off on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem—but that he will also not make the move outside of God’s timing. He promised to do it, but not within the first five months. We are concerned that too many Israelis (and Christians!) are making his doing it or not doing it in the first six months of a 4-8 year presidency a benchmark as to respecting his integrity.
* That he will be protected from counsels of man regarding Israel which are out of line with those of God (Psalm 33:10-11). Pray that should President Trump make a miss-step or blunder in his early dealings with Israel, believers here (and elsewhere) will not “jump ship” in praying for him; but rather have courage to trust God to correct him, and that he will have grace to receive it and to learn.
* That Benyamin Netanyahu look to God for guidance in his relationship with President Trump…that he has courage to “adjust” where he needs to adjust, and to stand firm where he needs to stand firm—both in relation with the U.S. President and with his Cabinet. That he has grace to fulfill the years which God has appointed him to minister as Prime Minister in Israel, and that he does so with honor and the reverence of the Lord.
“This is what YHVH says, ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD [i.e. YHVH, the Covenant God of Israel). He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives” (From last week’s Haftarah portion Jeremiah 17:5-6, NIV).
Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, is expected to begin at sundown this Friday (May 26th) and to last through Saturday June 24th. Ramadan means “intense scorching heat or dryness, especially as of the ground.” Fasting this month during daylight hours (to include both food and water) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and except for certain specific cases, the is binding upon all adult Muslims, regardless of sex. The month migrates backwards through the seasons, coming each year about eleven days earlier than that previous. This means that it occurs again this year in the very heat of the fierce Middle Eastern summer, placing a frightfully difficult physical hardship on those Muslims living and working here. It is sometimes explained that Ramadan “scorches out sins with good deeds, even as the sun burns the ground.”
Yet “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins” (Heb. 9:22). Dependent only upon his own righteous works, man is under a curse (see Jeremiah 17:5-6 above), and only the dryness remains.
* One Muslim hadith declares that “When the month of Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of [Hell-] Fire are closed and the devils are chained”. But of course the opposite is true! During this time in which fervent fasting and worship to another god is taking place, the demonic is given reign, and great turbulence may be stirred up in the heavenlies over those nations. Pray for protection over Israel during this month—that the Body of Messiah here (and throughout the world) would be sober-minded, alert and attentive to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
*For that sounds of high praise and worship to the true God of Israel and His holy Messiah will break through the heavenlies during these days, supernaturally over-riding the false sound emanating from mosques.
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. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.
The Parashah for this week 21-27 May 2017 is called B’Midbar— “In the Desert”:
TORAH: Numbers 1:1—4:20
This is the Hebrew name for the book called “Numbers” in most English Bibles—after the “numbering” in the census lists of Chs. 1 & 26. The book describes key events taking place between Israel’s leaving Mount Sinai and her arrival at the borders of Canaan some 38 years later.
*Numbers 2:2-3: “The sons of Israel shall camp, each by his own standard…On the east side, toward the rising of the sun, those of the standard of the forces with Judah shall camp according to their armies; and Nahshon the son of Amminadav shall be the leader of the children of Judah.” The tribe of Yehuda (Judah), along with Issachar and Zebulun, was to camp facing the East. The Hebrew root for Yehuda is related to hands or arms raised in the giving of praise or thanks (cf. Gen 29:35). Judah was to camp on the side of the Tabernacle facing eastward—as though to “awaken the dawn” with praise (Ps 57:8). Psalm 63:1-4 bears a beautiful picture of this holy principal being demonstrated hundreds of years later by David (himself a descendant of Nahshon and Amminadav). He is also “in a desert” –and his Hebrew literally says, “Elohim, my God are you, I will ‘dawn’ you (i.e. seek You early)…my lips shall praise you…I will lift up the palms of my hands in Your name.”
In the reading two weeks from now, Numbers 10:14 will show that the tribe of Yehuda was also God’s choice to be in the lead when the camp broke up and moved forward. Hundreds of years after David, Jehoshaphat, heading out to engage an overwhelming foe (II Chron. 20:21) would place singers and praisers in front of his army, singing “Hodu la’Adonai ki tov, ki le-olam hasdo!” (“Give thanks with the raising of your hands to the LORD for He is good, for to forever is his lovingkindness!”). A tribe epitomizing thanksgiving and praise, Judah is also the “royal tribe” which must always come first, from whom a scepter would arise which would never depart. From this tribe would come the King of Kings, Yeshua/Jesus—of whom Jacob had prophesied that his brothers would praise, and his father’s children bow down before Him (Genesis 49:8)! Zechariah 12:10 prophecies the repentance and renewal of “the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem”—yet 12:7 reveals that first must come salvation of the “tents of Judah.” We believe that spiritually this implies that the rebirth of Jerusalem and eventually all of Israel must be ushered in by an outpouring of Praise and Worship in Spirit and in Truth. There are many signs that this is beginning to happen! In recent years at least four houses of prayer and worship, some of them 24/7, have opened in Jerusalem.
PLEASE PRAY: For praise, thanksgiving and worship to again rise to its place in the forefront of Israel (whose call includes being a praise in all the earth (Isaiah 62:7; Zephaniah 3:20). Pray for strength, inspiration and vision in houses of worship and prayer which God has raised up in Israel in recent years.
Pray for believers in the Israeli Defense Force and police to have grace in making praise and thanksgiving a priority. Since Nahshon was to be Judah’s leader—his name has come to be one of the synonyms in modern Hebrew for “pioneer” (Tradition says that he was the first to place his foot in the Red Sea after the command came to cross over). Pray for those called to pioneer worship in a resurrected Hebrew language in restored Israel today! There are many, both old and young, male and female, Jew and Gentile through whom praise and worship in the ancient language has, during the past 30 years, begun again to be awakened!
Numbers 4:4-6, 15. “This is the work of the descendants of Kohath in the tent of meeting, concerning the most holy things. When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and they shall take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it; and they shall lay a covering of porpoise skin on it, and shall spread over it a cloth of pure blue (Hebrew: tekhelet—a sky-blue dye made from a special mollusk), and shall insert its poles…When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and dies. These are the things in the tent of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.”
Given the clarity of these instructions, it is strange the pictures and figurines one may see in souvenir shop windows in Jerusalem depicting Levites carrying the golden Ark of the Covenant, with the Aron— “chest” and its Cherubim plainly visible. As is here and in other passages make clear, no one ever was allowed to look upon the holy Ark, except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (and then amidst clouds of incense). On the road, it was not paraded out for everyone to gaze upon. Before leaving, the Aaronic priests (not the other Levites) came in, took down the veil; it appears that they then moved forward holding it as a screen, until, upon reaching the Ark, they draped it over the holy object as a covering. Upon this, other coverings were then laid (upon this holy chest upon which kippur—another word for ‘covering’—was made in blood once a year on behalf of the people’s sin). But the Ark of the Presence was Holy…and touching it or even looking upon it was more than even the especially set-apart priests were allowed to do. Each person involved was expected to embrace the special responsibility of his office—and not seek another. The Levites cared for the outer courts; from among the Levites, the sons of Kohath would be the ‘carriers’ of the Ark; from among the Levites, only descendants of Aaron (kohenim— “priests”) could approach the holiest chamber to dismantle it—and from within the descendants of Aaron, only he and his successor could actually enter, once a year, within the veil.
*Hosea 1:10: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the Life-God.’”
PLEASE PRAY: For more and more of the millions of returned Children of Jacob to be awakened to their true identity—to recognize that they are not merely an ancient people related to certain Patriarchs; they are, in fact, beloved children of El Hai—the “Life-God” Himself, Who has sent forth His Son that they may “have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)!
*Hosea 2:16; 19-20: “‘And it shall be, in that day,’ says the LORD, ‘that you will call Me “My Husband,” and no longer call Me ‘My Master’…I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD.”
PLEASE PRAY: For awakening of a longing in Israeli hearts for these wonderful attributes—righteousness, justice, loving kindness, mercy, faithfulness---with which her God is wooing her. Pray that grace will be released on that longing which will result in the ‘knowledge’ of her Lord prophesied at the end of the verse! It is interesting that in verse 16, the substituted word “my husband” is “ishi”, which literally means ‘my man’. This knowledge can only come about in revelation of “the ‘man’—Yeshua the Messiah!”
*Hosea 2:14-16 (NIV): “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” Achor means ‘trouble’. “Door (or ‘Opening’) of Hope” is Petah Tiqva (There is a large city by that name in central Israel). PLEASE PRAY that Israel will find grace to lift her eyes from her troubles to the God of Hope (Romans 15:13), finding entrance into His life through the Door which He has provided (John 10:9).
[The Parashah for next week 28 May—3 June 2017 is called Naso— “Elevate” TORAH: Numbers 4:21—7:89; HAFTARAH: Judges 13:2-25. May 31st is SHAVUOT (Pentecost). READINGS: Exodus 19-20, Numbers 28:26-31; Ezekiel 1:1-28, 3:12. Book of Ruth]
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