Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is upon us. Beginning tomorrow evening, Yom Kippur marks the holiest of all holy days on the Hebrew calendar. It is the anniversary of the fall of man and it is the climax of the time of Teshuvah (repentance). Starting tonight night and into Saturday, all around the world, the religious will fast from food and water and read prayers in the synagogue, as will the majority of traditional Jews.
If you ever have the chance to visit Jerusalem, one place you must see is Solomon's quarries – also known as Zedekiah's cave.It's a gigantic underground quarry beneath the old city of Jerusalem, an amazing archeological site which offers a glimpse of the handiwork of the builders of the first temple of King Solomon. Can you imagine, as the Temple was under construction, what the craftsmen and the builders must have been thinking about this glorious house they were building?
One of the more beautiful ceremonies of the Jewish faith is called "Tashlich". Tashlich means to cast away. Every year between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur, Jewish people around the world journey to a nearby river or stream and cast in bread crumbs as they confess their sins. As the bread crumbs are swept downstream soon to be out of sight, so they believe God will sweep away their sins.
Last night began the feast of Rosh Ha Shannah, or Yom Teruah — the Feast of Trumpets. At the end of the summer the Hebrews are commanded to blow the shofar — the ram’s horn, all day long. The sound of the shofar was a sound of alarm — it told the people to get ready. It marked in the calendar that the summer harvest was over and the day of atonement was near and it was time to stand before God.
Tonight begins one of the highest holy days of all the feasts of the Bible, Rosh ha Shana (Head of the Year). According to Jewish tradition, Rosh haShana is the Day of Judgment, the day when the righteous have their names inscribed in the Book of Life and the wicked are judged for their transgressions. It is a day to commemorate the creation of the world, the creation of mankind, and the Akeida, the binding of Isaac to the altar. On this day only the ram’s horn (or the shofar) is blown in synagogues all over the world to commemorate the ram that was provided in lieu of Isaac’s life and call us to repentance.
With rockets daily being hailed down from Gaza, this is yet another of Satan's many attempts to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people in any way he can. Satan is actively at work, trying to rob the world of its blessing.
Last night, Hamas called for a third intifada and the Palestinian Authority called for a "Day of Rage". As riots broke out last night around Jerusalem, sadly two Palestinians died in the riots. Riots will probably break out today throughout Judea and Samaria, so what should our response be? Simply, be a watchman standing on the walls!
Abraham's rescue of Lot and his household from the four Mesopotamian Kings in the middle of the night was an act of holy chutzpah! Israel's first patriarch demonstrated great faith, courage, family loyalty, and military strategy during this successful rescue operation.
As the war continues in Israel, much has been made of the success of the Iron Dome defense system which shoots down incoming rockets from the Gaza Strip. While we are very thankful for the protection this system affords, it does present a certain public relations challenge for Israel. Somehow, regardless of the differences in both size and intention between Israel and the Arab world, the global media frequently emphasizes what they call, “moral equivalency”. The perception of Israel's military strength and technical superiority somehow makes her the aggressor with an unfair advantage.
Throughout the history of the modern state of Israel, there have been accounts of angelic interventions protecting Israeli soldiers in the midst of intense warfare. One instance recounted by an Israeli military historian after the 1973 Yom Kippur war, describes an Israeli soldier in the Sinai taking captive an entire Egyptian column and leading them to where the Israeli troops were. The Egyptian commander was asked why he and his men gave themselves up to the lone Israeli soldier. He responded with surprise, ”One soldier? There were thousands of them.”
Many of you know that we've been in Israel a little over ten years now. I am still trying to adjust to the spiritual atmosphere, culture and language. Those few things, in and of themselves, are enough to become overwhelmed. But if that's not enough, we are pioneering a new ministry here, trusting totally in God for His provision, trying to raise two young children in a way that is pleasing to Him and all the while, going through our own personal trials.
When Joseph became ruler over Egypt, his name was changed, and his identity was altered so that he no longer appeared or lived as a shepherd son of Israel from the land of Canaan, but as an Egyptian Prime Minister. The transformation was so thorough that when his ten brothers arrived in Egypt he was totally unrecognizable to them. This true story beautifully illustrates Mashiach ben Yosef (Yeshua/Jesus at His first coming), and contains a prophetic picture pointing to Yeshua and His Jewish people living today as we approach the Second Coming.
Israel is celebrating its Independence today. Just before Israel celebrates its independence, it mourns those whose blood was shed for its freedom and then celebrates its freedom.
As we are entering Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, I want to share a touching story about a an exceptional woman who assisted 2,500 young Jewish children out of the ghettos during World War II.
One of my favorite "hidden" lessons in the Pesach (Passover) celebration "Seder" meal is the mystery of the “afikomen.” This specially prepared meal– during which the participants are reminded of Israel's supernatural deliverance from Egyptian slavery by the mighty hand of God– also includes 3 particular pieces of matzah, (unleavened bread). These three are placed in a "matzah tash" — a special pouch containing three compartments…
The Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem has been preparing temple articles, priestly garments and studying for years to prepare a priesthood for service in a proposed rebuilt temple on the Temple Mount. A recent news article reported that training had begun for the preparation of the Passover sacrifice. The day for the training was the 10th of Nisan, the day designated in the Old Testament for choosing the Passover lamb. Since the eyes of the Jewish people are still partially blinded to the true identity of their Messiah, most of them don't know that the ultimate Passover Lamb was already sacrificed 2000 years ago.
In Israel, Shabbat (the Sabbath) is an extraordinary day. People spend much effort to get everything perfectly prepared for this special season that lasts from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. For those of you who have ever visited Israel, you'd know that Friday morning is the time that everyone here is rushing around doing errands before everything closes.
There are many who are not aware of the very deep significance of Bethlehem,Yeshua's (Jesus') birthplace. Everyone knows that Bethlehem was a place where shepherds grazed their sheep, and where the Messiah was to be born, but do not realize that it was a town designated as the birthing place for lambs which were used for the Passover sacrifice. The Scriptures give significant details about this little town lying slightly south of Jerusalem.
A National Geographic article published a few years describing a real celestial event which took place at the time of the birth of Jesus reminded me of Risto Santala’s explanation in his book, "The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings". He wrote about a conjunction of major planets that took place which could have led the wise men from the east, to Israel.
Over the past few weeks, rockets have been landing roughly 30 miles from where we live in southern Israel, and we've been overwhelmed with the number of emails from people who are praying for us– which we so appreciate!… more than you could imagine! We're living in a unique time in history, as once again Israel finds herself surrounded by enemies with few friends willing to stand with her. So often we are asked, and we wonder, how things will turn out here…we've found it's usually foolish to try and predict; but one thing is absolutely certain; the God of Israel is watching over this tiny nation!