Will We Learn From History?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

This Saturday night, Jewish people around the world will mourn Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar year. Some of you may know that a lot of bad things have happened to the Jewish people on this date, the first of which was when the spies returned with an evil report of Canaan, the Promised Land, recounted in Numbers 13 and 14. Both the first and the second Temple were destroyed on this exact date, hundreds of years apart. The Crusades began on this day in 1095. The Jews were expelled out of England on this day in 1290, and again were expelled from Spain and Portugal on Tisha B'Av in 1492. And there are many more examples of this infamous day in Jewish history!

The number "nine" is sometimes associated with "judgment" or "fruit" in scripture. Not taking this too far, yet we may still see repeated expressions of the Lord's judgment through this recurring historical pattern. Moses warned, especially in Deuteronomy, of the terrible things which would happen to the Jewish people throughout history were they to abandon the Lord, worship false gods, and forsake His covenants. And He often used idolatrous nations who hated or were jealous of Israel, to bring judgment upon their disobedience, though they often went way too far and angered the Lord bringing His judgment against them as well.

But God's judgments are almost always tempered with His mercy and grace, for one constant purpose — and that is to bring people back to Himself! We see this in our own lives and in the history of nations throughout the world. But as the saying goes, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". And we have a powerful example of this in Tisha B'Av. Israel's idolatry brought God's judgment upon her. And as the Jewish people around the world are fasting in preparation for the observance of this "day of judgment", we may remind ourselves of our own past failures which we don't want to repeat!

Will we remember and learn from these past failures? We are not doomed to a fate of failure. If repentance is sincere and deep, we can avoid the judgments and consequences of past sins, and learn from history. If we seek the Lord to expose the roots of failure in our lives, and pray with faith for healing and deep repentance, trusting Him for the power to overcome the sinful nature…we really can avoid a pattern of judgment. Let's spend the time with Him now… so we don't need to return to Him through the terrible shame and sorrow of "Tisha B'Av."

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

Understand the Times!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

1 Chronicles 12:32 And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Among the mighty men of David were those of the tribe of Issachar whose special gift was their understanding of the times, a gift of prophetic insight; and this was such a precious gift because included in their discernment was the ability to know how to apply it. In our time prophecy is everywhere. Yeshua (Jesus) warned us that there would be false prophets in the last days, especially approaching His second coming, and He said the prophecy would be so subtle and the false signs so powerful that even the elect might be deceived if that were possible; [Mt. 24:24] While it's clear to many of us that we're living in prophetic days, there are also millions who have no clue of the current times and seasons.

So we're faced with a challenge and a profound, multi-faceted responsibility: to acknowledge the significance of our times, to awaken others to this reality, to rightly discern true from false prophecy, and to know what to do about the things we rightly discern. Wow! Not an easy task. How do we even begin?

I believe that we have a prophetic "anchor"…a fundamental sign, missing throughout all of Church history, until our day. This sign is the rebirth of Israel as a nation. Many of the OT prophets foresaw the ingathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland in the latter days. [Jeremiah 30; Isaiah 43:5-6; Amos 9:14-15; and many others]. Isaiah prophesied the nation's rebirth in a single rhetorical question, "Can a nation be born in a day?" [ Isaiah 66:8]. One hundred years ago Israel, (then called "Palestine" by the Romans, as an insult to the Jews), was a barren, sparsely inhabited province in the Ottoman empire, and Jerusalem was hardly ever mentioned in conversation unless someone was reading scripture. Today, Israel is a thriving resurrected nation, reclaimed from desolation, established in one single day, (May 14, 1948), and Jerusalem is in virtually every daily newspaper, the subject of intense controversy throughout the civilized world. This one sign assures me, personally, that we are really and truly living at the end of the age.

I believe we must acknowledge this, share it, WATCH very carefully, and PRAY as the developments in the Middle East conform themselves to the Word of God. The prophetic clock is ticking toward the final hours of this age when the Lord Yeshua will return in power and great glory to judge the entire world of men.

The sons of Issachar understood their times, and knew what to do. Watching and praying, we can too. Preparing ourselves with holy living for the Lord's return, we must also warn those who live in ignorance of these amazing days by showing them the prophetic sign of Israel's resurrection, and warning them to repent, believe the gospel, and be accounted worthy to escape all these things and to stand before the Son of Man!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

Fill up!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This Saturday evening begins the celebration of Shavuot. Most Christians might recognize this as the celebration of Pentecost in Acts 2. However, the very first Shavuot actually took place fifty days after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea about 1500 years before Acts was even written. It was on this day that the law was given on tablets of stone.

Interestingly, it was also fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus that Shavuot was celebrated again. But this time, the law of God was written upon the hearts of men, just as God promised through the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah.

Shavuot is both a celebration of the God's faithfulness in the early harvest and an anticipation of the abundance of the harvest yet to come. This day, a couple of thousand years ago, 3000 Jewish people came to faith in Messiah. The day will soon come when those for whom we've been weeping and petitioning God in prayer will come to know the Lord and all of Israel shall be saved!

Let's pray for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit today, and let's anticipate great things! Be praying for revelation for those we love who haven't yet seen the truth of the Lord. And please also be praying for the salvation of Israel!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

Your God Shall Be My God!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

As we continue our study in Ruth, this Shavuot season, I want to suggest a prophetic mystery hidden in this book.

We have seen that names have significant meanings, and as discussed earlier, Elimelech, whose name means "My God is King", left Bethlehem with Naomi his wife and their two sons. The birth of these two boys must have brought joy and happiness, yet, having perished in Moab actually caused their very names to lose their original meanings. The firstborn, Mahlon, which meant "ornament", over the years came to mean "sickly". Their second son, Chilion, derived his name from the Hebrew root for "joy", but his name came to mean, "pining" and "whining". Naomi, whose name means "pleasant", changed her name to Mara, which means "bitterness", saying, "the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me."

Now Ruth, whose name means "friend", remained persistent, despite Naomi's exhorting her to separate and return to Moab. Instead, true to her name and character, Ruth invokes one of the strongest, most beautiful expressions of faith and faithfulness in all of scripture: "For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me." Thus Ruth forsakes her native land and joins herself irrevocably to the nation, people and God of Israel…a truly faithful friend, even to the point of death.

I would like to draw out from the story of Ruth, a possible contemporary meaning and application for us to ponder. I would suggest that Naomi and her two sons can be viewed as a type or picture of the people of Israel, and that Elimilech's decision to leave the Land of Promise with them became a picture of Israel in the diaspora. This present exile of the Jewish people since 70 AD culminating in the holocaust, has often rendered them both "sickly" and "pining" for home, and Naomi's experience outside the land of Israel brought death and desolation upon her.

The modern nation of Israel, birthed after centuries from the ashes of the Holocaust, and a long painful exile, has been suddenly restored to her ancient homeland, yet, in much bitterness, just as Naomi had returned to her homeland from Moab. Yet Ruth's love and faithfulness must have been a profound comfort to her mother-in-law. So, Ruth can be seen as a picture or type of Gentile (Christian) believers, whose faithful love, friendship and comfort bring deep solace to the people of Israel, who are still experiencing the bitterness of the exile and even now, the misunderstanding and opposition of the nations of the world. Many Israelis already know that their truest and most faithful friends in the world today are Bible believing Christians whose love for them is unconditional, and beautifully reflects the devotion of Ruth to Naomi.

Finally, it seems significant that Ruth's loving and faithful character became inspiration for drawing out the redemptive grace of Boaz toward Elimelech's widow, Naomi, so that her family line and inheritance were restored and preserved. As their Kinsman Redeemer, Boaz was deeply moved by the humility and faithfulness of Ruth to her mother-in-law, and as such, she can be seen as a type of intercessor between Boaz and Naomi. For if Boaz is pictured as a type of Yeshua (Jesus) our "Kinsman-Redeemer", then Ruth, lying down "at his feet" can be a picture of believers' humble prayers and intercession for the Jewish people entreating the Lamb of God for the mercy which restores us all to the inheritance which belongs to Him.

If in fact, Ruth can be seen as a "type" for Gentile believers, and Naomi, a picture of Israel, restored to her land, but still in bitterness, then Ruth can be an inspiration and a pattern for Christians who love Israel and who recognize her irrevocable calling as a nation. If the faithfulness of Ruth through love and intercession helped to restore Naomi to her true Kinsman-Redeemer, can it also be that the faithfulness and intercession of Gentile believers will be a powerful influence for the restoration of the Jewish people to their "Kinsman-Redeemer, the Messiah Yeshua Himself? Our friendship with Israel in word and in deed, and our prayers, in the midst of global opposition [Zechariah 14:2] will be a powerful testimony for Yeshua, and will help to remove the veil from Jewish eyes concerning His true identity. As we support the restoration of their Land (a Biblical promise), we also help to open the way for the far greater blessing of eternal life. Doing so, we also will be blessed according to these timeless words; "I will bless them that bless thee, and I will curse them that curse thee!"

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

Stand on the walls!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Isaiah 62:6-7 6 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 till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Today, after noonday prayers at the mosques throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians will be protesting and leading marches throughout Israel as they call for a day of "Rage" to mark "Nabka Day" which means "Day of the Catastrophe". It marks the day that Israel reclaimed Jerusalem in the 1967 day war.

The U.S. Embassy warned U.S. citizens to be on high alert today believing that riots will probably break out today throughout Judea and Samaria, so what should our response be? Simply, be a watchman standing on the walls!

Interestingly, one of the ancient Hebrew words for 'watchmen' is the word 'notzrim' — which coincidentally, is the modern Hebrew word for 'Christians'. Watchmen are called to vigilance and attentive awareness of the situation. Our present situation is a boiling pot threatening to overflow. Please keep watch with us; "do not keep silence, and give Him no rest, till He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise throughout the earth."

This can not happen if Jerusalem is divided and overrun with those who hate the very existence of Israel. The Lord will use this pressure for His own purposes, to test nations and hearts, and to draw Israel back to Himself. Our heart cry is for another outpouring of His Holy Spirit on all flesh. Whatever peace we can hope for in this age will come from Him, and this Divine outpouring…then, finally, Yeshua (Jesus) will return to establish His Kingdom — and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.

Please stand as a watchman with us at this pivotal time…watch and pray fervently for a minimum of conflict…and for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit – the Lord will be faithful to answer our cries to Him.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Israel