Eyes on Israel: Who Will Have Pity?

As we watch current events unfolding in Israel Jeremiah 15:5 asks us a very poignant question. “Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?” Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and according to Ezekiel 5:5 “the center of the nations.” When I think of Jerusalem I think of all of Israel so I ask, “Who will have pity on you, O Israel, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?” I pray your answer is “I will!”

The Hebrew word for pity is “chamal.” It means to spare, to have compassion, to desire, to become responsible for and to have pity. The Hebrew word for grieve used in the verse is “nud.” It’s meanings include to have sympathy for.

During this time of war in Israel God tell us in Isaiah 40:1 to “Comfort, comfort my people.” Israel has experienced horrific atrocities perpetrated against innocent civilians. These are crimes at the level of ISIS, the Natzis and perhaps even worse on her own soil. Imagine the trauma! It is a time to have pity, to grieve and to comfort.

I am not going to go into the theology of God’s heart for Israel here. If that is new to you please read our recent series of blogs, “Do Not Be Ignorant .” Start with Part Four entitled, “The Prophetic Future of Israel and the Role of the Church” which has links to all of the series and will give you background. “Why Still Care About Israel?” is an excellent book you can download free by clicking here.

For now, let’s focus on how we can turn aside to comfort Israel. First we must go to the Lord and ask Him some important questions to prepare ourselves in these days. What we are seeing is not just an attack against Israel as a nation and people. We are seeing a war between God and satan, between good and evil. Where we stand is critical. Are we on God’s side? Are we living in a way that honors God? Are we concerned about the things that concern Him? God tells us in Deuteronomy 11: 12 that His eye is always upon Israel from the beginning of the year to the end of the year and that He cares for Israel. Do we?

We can no longer bury our head in the sand and think it’s “over there.” What is “over there” may very well come here very soon and faster than we’d care to think about. Are we ready?

Prayer and action helps us to be ready. First, let’s comfort in prayer and in action. I have compiled some prayer points below. Many are from Messianic ministries in Israel. Use them as a guide. If you want to give donations to help those on the ground there is a list of ministries that Women of the Word has personal relationship with and we know they are trustworthy. God bless you as you pray and comfort Israel.

Women of the Word hosts a weekly prayer time on Zoom. Please join us on Thursdays from 7:30 – 8:30 pm Eastern Time. Zoom meeting ID 336 129 6405 Passcode 390194 or by phone at 646-876-9923.

Prayer Points:

From Rick Riddings at Succat Hallel, 24/7 prayer in Jerusalem, succathallel.com 

  • Pray to “contain and restrain” regional conflicts, so that they do not escalate into a premature World War 3 that would greatly hinder the Great Harvest.

From the leadership team at Kehilat HaCarmel, a congregation on Mount Carmel

  • Comfort for the families of those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, for those who have loved ones who are kidnapped or missing, and for the country as a whole. Almost everybody knows someone who was killed or kidnapped.
  • Wisdom for our leaders as they seek the safe return of all the hostages being held in Gaza.
  • Protection for our security forces as they continue to make sure that all the Hamas infiltrators have been eradicated in Israel. Our security forces are made up of our husbands, sons, daughters, and others who are very close to us. Please pray for God’s presence to be very real to them. 
  • Godly wisdom for parents: One of the many challenges facing families is that all the schools and child care are closed.  Many parents need to work as well as take care of their children.  Some are grieving and the emotional burden is overwhelming.  Please pray for parents to have God’s wisdom to know what to do and how to overcome in these difficult days.

From Ariel and Shayla Hyde at Tree of Life Ministries

  • For God to pour out His Holy Spirit across Israel, bringing conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, leading to a wave of true repentance (John 16:8-11)
  • For Israelis (of all backgrounds) to see that the only place we can find true forgiveness and true protection is under the blood of the perfect Lamb, Jesus, Yeshua, who was slain for us (John 1:29)
  • For the people of Gaza to cry out to God, and that Yeshua would reveal Himself to them as He did to Hagar in her time of distress (Genesis 16, 21), so that many would come to salvation
  • That God, out of His great mercy – and though we don’t deserve it – would grant supernatural protection over Israel, the IDF soldiers, and all of those in Gaza not supporting terrorism (Psalm 121)
  • That God will intervene and miraculously deliver the hostages (1 Samuel 30:18-19)
  • For comfort and healing for all of those mourning loss (Isaiah 40:1-2) 
  • That God will anoint and empower all of the believers in Israel, and especially the believing soldiers, to be a light to those around us and boldly and compassionately share the hope within us, the Gospel of Messiah (1 Peter 3:15)
  • For our continued work in sharing the Gospel online right now – that many Israelis who are full of fear and anger and glued to their screens now would hear the Good News and find the peace, joy, and new life that is available in Messiah (Matthew 11:28-30)

From Joel Richardson at Global Catalytic Ministries.

  • Global Reaction: Pray for wisdom and discernment for leaders and nations around the world as they respond to the situation in Israel. Pray for a collective effort towards peace and de-escalation.
  • Fear and Division: Pray against fear and division, which can fuel conflicts. Pray that the spirit of love and reconciliation will prevail, bridging divides and bringing understanding.
  • Sleeper Cells: Pray against the influence of sleeper cells and individuals who may seek to escalate the conflict. Pray for exposure and for God’s intervention in their hearts.
  • End to Violence: Pray for an end to violence and for healing for all those affected by the conflict.
  • Disciple Makers: Pray for the safety of disciple makers in Israel. Pray that God would grant the opportunity for them to share the gospel and for open and receptive hearts.

In addition please pray for

  • The Church globally to awaken and repent of our sins, both corporately and personally, and to arise in support of Israel and God’s Kingdom purposes in the earth. 
  • For the United States to stand strong and to continue to stand strong with Israel.
  • For the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles including Arabs and the formation of the “one new man” according to Ephesians 2:14-16.
  • For your neighbors and communities and how you can be a blessing, encouragement and shine the light of the Gospel. Be salt and light!

Suggested Ministries to give to that are involved in relief efforts, spreading the Gospel, and teachings on Israel

  • Any of the ministries listed and linked to in the prayer points above
  • Dugit in Tel Aviv. They also minister in Southern Israel.
  • FAI Relief efforts and refurbishing of bomb shelters in the Golan Heights.
  • Heart of G-d produces high quality outreach videos and booklets to equip believers in sharing the Gospel.
  • David’s Tent produces teaching newsletters on Israel both biblically and on current events
  • Hope Nazareth House of Prayer a place where Arabs and Jews come together to pray and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and our Messiah Yeshua/Jesus.
  • Ima’s Goodies ministers to IDF soldiers and border police.
  • Abundant Hope International ministers directly to Holocaust Survivors
  • Bridges for Peace that gives food and help throughout Israel

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word and has been traveling to Israel on a regular basis since 2005. She leads prayer and ministry trips as well as tours.

Do Not Be Ignorant: Part Four

The Prophetic Future of Israel and the Role of the Church

How are we to view the role of the Church as it pertains to the prophetic future of Israel? Many eschatological discussions commonly focus on what may happen when a person goes when they die or when the rapture will be. These kinds of discussions are somewhat focused on the individual,  but we need, in this hour,  to be aware of the Lord’s purposes for His Body as a whole as this age draws to a close and the millennial kingdom nears. Our Lord will soon rule for a thousand years from Jerusalem, here on earth, and all Israel will be saved! (Jeremiah 31:34, Romans 11:26 ). Much is left to happen here on earth! So let us inquire of the Scriptures so that we do not remain ignorant.

Israel still has a central place in the plan of God, and we, as the Church, are part of that.  Do you know that God will still fulfill His purposes with Israel and that we are called to an important role as believers? 

The apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 11:1&2: “Has God cast away His people? God forbid…God has not cast away His people who He foreknew.” He goes on to say that there is a remnant in Israel who believe in Christ according to the election of grace although as a whole Israel’s eyes have been darkened for a season. Yet, even this is to a good end: through Israel’s fall, salvation comes to the Gentiles, for to provoke Israel to jealousy! (Romans 11:10&11). These are deep waters!  How does God turn sin and unbelief to salvation?

God called Israel into a covenant that He Himself would be faithful to even if Israel was not (Psalm 105:8, Judges 2:1). Israel did not recognize the Messiah who came in the person of Jesus Christ and, thus, they went into captivity. Jerusalem fell and the Jewish people were scattered into the nations.  Paul says that Gentile believers have now been “grafted in” (Romans 11:17) to partake of the salvation given to Israel. Israel was chosen by God to show forth His grace, not because they were better than any other people, but because of divine calling. Yet, Israel had to obey the Law and make sacrifices for sin because the perfect sacrifice of Jesus had not yet come. They labored under the demands of the Law of Moses and the sacrifice of animals to atone for their sins. 

Jesus came and died for us to open the door of salvation to all men, not through works of obedience to the Law and following its many demands, but by believing and accepting what He has done to atone for our sins. Structural, mechanical works are now replaced with relational faith and obedience. So what does this mean? As God calls Israel back to a place where they will recognize and worship Him when He appears, He calls us to “make Israel jealous” by showing forth that we are saved by adhering to Christ and not by accomplishing works of the Law (Romans 11:11). We have all the benefits of Israel but we have been given them freely by grace. Our freedom in Christ, rightly used, is meant to provoke Israel to jealousy by revealing what God had intended all along: one becomes relationally right with God by clinging to Him and obeying Him freely. This gift should not make us arrogant, but full of gentle compassion and great humility.

Yet, Israel is still largely blind to this and to Yeshua, the Messiah who bought her freedom. So what is our purpose? Just as if we would prepare to receive a guest who did not know their way around, so now we, who know the plan of God, are called to stand with Israel as she is prepared for her final and complete return to the Messiah–one that will involve much tribulation. We are called to stand with Israel as many prophesied things will seek to come against and destroy her. God has given us wisdom revealed in the prophetic scriptures to see the “time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and to be found as servants to her in her greatest hour of need.  

God has everything perfectly under control. He sees the end and the complete and total salvation of Israel on that Day when He comes on the clouds where “every eye will behold Him and see the One whom they have pierced.” (Zechariah 12:10). We are midwives to that event so do not believe that we will be watching this from heaven. The Church will be on earth to stand with Israel and to give her aid and direction. In Daniel 11:33 it is written that the “maskilim”, the wise ones, will instruct many in those days in the middle of great tribulation and deception. We have a formidable task and calling as believers who already recognize the Lord’s Christ and his plans for the end of the age. Let us begin to pray for our Jewish neighbors and friends who do not yet know Him. Perhaps they are not open to hear us yet. So, we wait patiently and pray as God waits patiently. 

Your role and my role are vital as we intercede for and seek to aid Israel in whatever way He shows us. We work with God and His purposes no matter what it may cost. 

Read Part One here>>

Read Part Two here>>

Read Part Three here>>

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Teams for FAI Emmaus Online School and Frontier Alliance International Homefront. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Israel. She can be reached at rmslosek@comcast.net

A Time to Rejoice

The LORD has appointed times when HE calls HIS people together for various reasons. One of these appointed times is the Fall Feast of Tabernacles also known as the Feast of Booths or Ingathering. The Bible tells us that “the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.'” (Leviticus 23:33-34).

The Feast of Tabernacles is a joyous celebration of remembering how the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob brought His people through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel. He cared for them for 40 years in a desolate place, providing shelter, food, and water. Their clothes also did not wear out.

Throughout Israel and in many Jewish communities throughout the world the Feast of Tabernacles is commemorated even today. Families build a temporary shelter outside called a “sukkah”. For seven days they eat dinner together as a family in the sukkah. They celebrate the faithfulness of the LORD and His provisions. Some families will also sleep in the sukkah.

The sukkah is made of natural materials. They are decorated with the leafy branches of palm, willow and myrtle trees as well as fruits such as citrons, grapes and pomegranates celebrating the harvest. In modern times a sukkah is also embellished with decorations such as brightly colored paper chains. The roof is not solid so that you can look up at the night sky, seeing the stars and moon, thanking God for His creation.

The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the three Feasts of the LORD when Jewish men were commanded to go up to Jerusalem in the Old Testament! Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) went up to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast as recorded in John 7. He taught in the Temple during the Feast, and on the last day of the Feast he stood up saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38. As a result many in the crowd said, “This is the Christ.” (see verse 41)

The Feast of Tabernacles also has a future fulfillment. When Jesus returns to reign and rule from Jerusalem as King of Kings and Lord of Lords,  “it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16) Currently many Christians from all over the world travel to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles to celebrate and show their love and support of the Jewish people. Visit icej.org to learn more and take part online.

As Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts of the LORD in his first coming, many believe that he will fulfill the Fall Feasts at his second coming and may return during this season. An overview of both Spring and Fall Feasts is given in Leviticus 23. A very good resource that gives both biblical background and cultural/traditional perspectives is a book entitled The Feasts of the LORD.

As Gentile believers we are not commanded to keep the Feasts, but since we are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel (Romans 11:17, Ephesians 2:11-13) it is a blessing and great joy to participate in them. There is much to learn by studying and celebrating the Feasts of the LORD.

In conclusion, since this Fall Feast is also known as the Feast of Ingathering and celebrates the harvest, it is also a wonderful time to pray for a harvest of souls. Please join me in asking the LORD to bring in a great harvest of souls, both Jew and Gentile, from every nation.

Psalm 118 is traditionally read during “Sukkot” (The Feast of Tabernacles). Here are a few verses……..

v. 14 The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.

v. 21-25 I will praise You for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O Lord! Amen!

May you be blessed and experience much joy as you celebrate that Jesus tabernacles (dwells) with us and we with Him. Hallelujah!

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, a women’s event ministry. She leads trips to Israel on a yearly basis. Betsy and her husband Jim have 3 children and 5 grandchildren and live in New England.

Do Not Be Ignorant Series: Part Three

How Can We Do Better? The Ungodly Blight of Antisemitism in Christian History

Read Part One Here>> Read Part Two Here>>

There is no doubt that the Jewish people have suffered immensely throughout history. Some of the suffering has been, sadly, at the hands of people, some of them professing Christians, who had an unscriptural view of Israel or were putting all the guilt for the death of the Messiah upon them.  It is important to view Israel properly and seek to support and encourage her in a biblically correct way. If we don’t get this right, we stand to get much wrong, especially as future events concerning Israel unfold.

As Christianity rose to be the sanctioned state religion in Europe under Constantine it became easy to blame the death of Jesus upon the Jewish people without owning that Jesus came to die for ALL of humanity’s sins (1 John 2:1-2), and that all of us had a direct part in why He had to die (Romans 3:23-24). As blame, hatred, and misunderstanding snowballed, so did the persecution of Jewish people. Some contributing factors were theological ideas such as the concept that the Church now “replaced” Israel. 

Martin Luther fostered the idea of replacement theology when it appeared that trying to convert Jews was not met with openness.  His “advice” initially went from trying to be patient with them to ultimately urging the burning of their synagogues, putting them in settlements, confiscating their literature, threatening rabbis with death, and not allowing them free passage. You can understand how hostility could arise on both sides. Other factors were events like the Crusades, which sought to reclaim the Holy Land for Christians by force. Violence was added to theological or cultural viewpoints so that by the time Hitler came to power in the 1930s, a maelstrom of hatred against the Jews was again poised to happen. The Holocaust was a dark day for the Jews but a darker one for those administering it. At least six million Jews were murdered. 

 Antisemitism, aided with fuel from Satan’s hatred of Israel, spread and increased, and is still increasing to this day.  We cannot stand by and allow this to happen without doing all that we can to aid our Jewish neighbors.

We as Gentile believers, are not divorced from Israel but are of “the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:11-13). We are “wild branches” grafted into the branches of the olive tree that is Israel (Romans 11:17-18). The apostle Paul tells us not to be arrogant toward the original branches. He shows us that through their unbelief, Jesus redeemed ALL of us, and salvation came to us who were “afar off.” 

God has made irrevocable promises to Israel that He will not renege on (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:17-18; Genesis 17:8; Jeremiah 31:2-4; Ezekiel 36:22-24). Israel’s current spiritual blindness will be overturned at the end of the age, and “all Israel will see “He whom they have pierced” and repent (Zechariah 12:10). It is now the place of the Church to stand with Israel and to pray for her complete salvation. The apostle Paul tells us that the Gentile church is to “provoke Israel to jealousy” (Romans 11:11). What in the world does that mean? Isn’t jealousy bad? Paul means that just by having a relationship with God that is not built upon obeying rules and regulations but freely receiving the grace of God, we can cause the hearts of Jewish people to be provoked to genuine faith. God freely pours out love, peace, salvation, joy, and every good thing upon us as trust in Him alone and not our works or our sacrifices.  It is the goodness of God that leads us all to repentance and salvation (Romans 2:4)

It does no one, Jew or Gentile alike, to be mocked or held in derision, or rejected or blamed. This is not going to make anyone want salvation! Our hearts cannot hold malice toward our Jewish friends and neighbors. Many will be our future brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God. Difficult times are ahead of them and it is up to us, even our God-given calling, to stand with them in their hour of trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). Our love for them must be patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, irritable, or resentful, it must never rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice in sharing the truth. We must be able to bear all things, hope for all good things, endure all things. Our love, the agape love we receive from God, must not fail. This does not mean that we approve of all things that are said and done by the nation or people of Israel or the Jewish heritage. It means that we will be there to help as God shows us, even amidst misunderstanding, trouble, or rejection. It means that we know the Scriptures and stand with what God says: for His love for and faithfulness to Israel is linked with His Name (Genesis 22:16-17). 

With notable exceptions, especially those who saved, protected, or hid Jews during World War Two, Jewish people have not always found a place of safety and reception amongst their Christian neighbors. Let us be a generation that is found interceding, upholding, and advocating for the Jewish people. The time of God’s mercy, the set time, is quickly coming to Israel (Psalm 102:13). So let us stand in our place and do as God directs to aid Israel and her people at the end of the age. 

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Teams for FAI Emmaus Online School and Frontier Alliance International Homefront. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Israel. She can be reached at rmslosek@comcast.net

Do Not be Ignorant Series: Part Two

The Danger of Replacement Theology

Definition

Supersessionism, fulfillment theology, replacement theology….they all refer to the same non-biblical doctrine that has crept into the church…a teaching that says the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan, that all of the promises God made to the Jewish people and Israel now pertain only to the Church.

There are several variations of this doctrine ranging from a belief that God has completely disinherited the Jewish people to a gentler form which states that God has an end-time plan of salvation for the Jewish people as a group but does not include a restoration to the land. The mildest form says that God’s plan for Israel has been completed and that a transition has occurred in which His plan only comes through the Church.(1)

Any form of replacement theology negates the nation of Israel as being a fulfillment of the biblical promises. No matter the range of the belief, the core principle is that the New Testament church is the new or the true Israel, sometimes

called spiritual Israel, that has forever superseded the nation of Israel and the Jewish people as the people of God.  In other words, all the promises that God made to the Jewish people are null and void and apply only in a spiritual sense to the New Testament predominantly Gentile church.  

History

This principle crept into the church as early as A.D. 160 with Church Father Justin Martyr who was the first to state that the church was the true spiritual Israel.(2) His contemporary Marcion tried to purge the Church of what he considered to be Jewish errors and influences. The Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) codified it under Emperor Constantine, the first “Christian” emperor, who called together non-Jewish Christians to define Christianity.(3) Everything related to the Jews was removed from the church including the celebration the Feasts of the Lord and the Sabbath. Easter was moved away from Passover aligning it with the more pagan celebration of the spring equinox.

The result of the Council of Nicea was an increase in anti-Semitism and violence against the Jews.(4) Although mistreatment of the Jews was not a new practice, a marked increase can be seen after this edict. A timeline of anti-Semitism can be found many places on the internet showing an increase in anti-Semitism from then into the present time.(5) After all, if we can convince ourselves that God has rejected the Jews, surely it would be appropriate for them to be rejected by all.

Somehow the church lost the facts that the early church was almost exclusively Jewish, that the apostles were Jewish, the writers of the Bible were Jewish, the first congregation was Jewish, and the first missionaries were Jewish. Most importantly they seemed to have lost the fact the Jesus was Jewish!

Why did this doctrine continue into modern times? Didn’t Bible scholars understand that what happened under Constantine, whose Christianity should be questioned, was wrong? In defense of the church, before 1948, when Israel became a modern nation, the idea of the Jews returning to their land, seemed absolutely impossible. Jewish people were scattered among the nations, so how were they to interpret the promises in the Bible?  

 “In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.” (Isaiah 27:6 ESV)

They held onto replacement theology because it seemed the logical thing since the existence of a future Israel seemed out of the question.

So why has this false doctrine continued to plague the Church even after Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948? God’s promises are now obviously being fulfilled.

“For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” (Jeremiah 30:3 ESV)

“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God:  I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”  (Ezekiel 11:7 ESV)

It is clear from the Word, that the promises specifically refer to a physical restoration of Israel as a nation and as a people. Once the restoration became a historical fact, why has so much of the modern-day church continued to hold onto this doctrine of man? 

When something has been ingrained for so long, it is hard to break. Even if the established Church doesn’t teach against Israel, it tends to ignore her.  That too is dangerous and a form of anti-Semitism. Genesis 12:3, as explained in part one of this series describes the dangers of that. “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses (despises, dishonors, treats lightly) you…”. I don’t even want to go into what it means to be cursed by God.

Also consider the source: the devil’s hatred of the Jewish people. His kingdom opposes the establishment of God’s kingdom. First, he tried to stop Messiah from being born. To do that, he had to destroy the Jews because the One who would destroy his plan would come from the Jews. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2 ESV)

He failed then; time and time again he tried to wipe out the Jewish people. What about his hatred today? His plan now is to stop Jesus from returning; he still thinks he can win. He knows that the Jews need to be in Jerusalem to welcome their Messiah. If he destroys the Jews, he thinks Jesus cannot return.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! …And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”  (Matthew 23:37, 39 ESV) 

But the devil will not win and Jesus will return and Jewish people will welcome their Messiah. “But Israel will be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.” (Isaiah 45:17 NIV)

Problems with Replacement Theology

First, the church is never referred to as Israel in the New Testament, so the idea of the Church as spiritual Israel has no biblical foundation.

Second, to hold this doctrine not only causes an increase in anti-Semitic ideas, but also distorts the scriptures because the subject of Israel is found on just about every page of the Old and New Testaments. To have a distorted view of the Bible then leads to a distorted view of God! 

Most importantly, if God breaks His promises to Israel, then what good are His promises to us? Either He is the covenant-keeping God or He is One who changes His mind about His promises. “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6 ESV)

To accept replacement theology, a person must completely ignore Paul’s teachings, especially in Romans 9-11. “I ask, the, has God rejected his people? By no means! …” (Romans 11:1 ESV)

The truth is that God had not replaced Israel with the Church. His plan includes both Jews and Gentiles. If our failures negated the promises of God, we would all be in dire trouble. But our God is merciful and despite the shortcomings of His people, both Jew and Gentile, He is a loving, covenant-keeping God.

Can We Fall into the Trap?

As Gentile believers, we must be careful not to misuse the Bible taking verses that apply to Israel and assigning them to the church or to ourselves. Who has quoted Jeremiah 29:11(ESV)? “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Do we know the preceding verse which clearly makes this a promise of God to Israel? “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:10 ESV) This was a part of the prophet Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon.  

Is it a type of replacement theology when we take scriptures out of context ignoring their application to Israel? It can be…if we are ignoring that the promise was first given to Israel. Rather we should use the scripture with the following attitude:  “Lord, I know You have a plan and a promise for good for your people Israel, so I know that you have a plan for me too.”  

The church, which began with Jews only, was not complete without the Gentiles. In the same way, the church today is not complete without our Jewish brothers and sisters. God’s plan includes both. “…He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.”  (Ephesians 2:15 NLT)

We owe a great deal to the Jewish people. “They are the Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” (Romans 9:4 ESV) Without them we wouldn’t even have the Bible!

What a blessing it is to be grafted into the promises of God! It is our duty to live lives that provoke the Jewish people to jealousy so that they may see the love of their Messiah through us. And we must guard our hearts maintaining a biblical attitude in all things, including toward Israel and the Jewish people.

“Now I am speaking to you Gentiles…For if their rejection means the reconciliation for the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?…But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” (Romans 11:13-18 ESV)

ENDNOTES:

(1) Hedrick, Dr. Gary. “Replacement Theology:  It’s Origins, Teachings and Errors,” Shema Congregation Shema Yisrael, October 5, 2012.

(2) Ice, Thomas D., “What is Replacement Theology?” (2009), Article Archives 106. Liberty University, https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/pretrib_arch/106.

(3) Hedrick

(4) Price, David, ”How the Council of Nicea intensified antisemitism and a Bible ban,” Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2017.

(5) The Jewish Agency, “A Brief Chronology of Anti-Semitism,” https://archive.jewishagency.org/jewish-history/content/36936/

Author:

Sue Priebe is the Pastor of City of Hope Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, and serves on the Board of Directors for Women of the Word. She is passionate about teaching the Word of God in ways that are relevant and applicable to daily life. She also has a deep love for Israel and travels there frequently connecting with believers there and teaching God’s Word on location. 

Women of the Word is hosting a trip to Israel Feb 20 – March 3, 2024. The focus of this trip is to build relationships with local believers. There will be times of service and ministry. We will have focused times of prayer, worship and Bible study. We will also visit some Biblical sites. Click here for more information and registration.

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee

Do Not Be Ignorant: Part One

The Mystery of Israel

The Bible teaches us to not be ignorant of several things. We are not to be ignorant of the Gospel. We are not to be ignorant of spiritual gifts. We are not to be ignorant of satan’s devices. We are not to be ignorant of God’s righteousness, nor of the fact that the Gospel includes afflictions and sufferings. We are not to be ignorant of the mystery of Israel. Regarding Israel Paul tells us in Romans 11:11 – 27 (NKJV),

“I say then, have they (Israel) stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’”

We cannot be ignorant of this topic as God is bringing the issue of Israel center stage in these last days. That is not to say that we shouldn’t be about evangelism, discipleship, caring for the poor, etc. We absolutely should be! But, we cannot afford to leave the subject of Israel as a side-line issue. 

Since the mystery of Israel is something we are not to be ignorant of and since Israel is a central theme in the Bible, the subject is worthy of our attention, study and time. How we deal with Israel is very important to God. God’s Word exhorts us to bless Israel in Genesis 12:3 and to comfort her people in Isaiah 40:1

Many Christians have heard the verse in Genesis 12:3 but do we know what it is actually saying? If you know this verse in NIV, KJV, NKJV, or NASB then you are reading the second half of it as “those who curse you (Israel), I (God) will curse.” There are those who do curse Israel but probably not Christians, or at least hopefully not. What is important here is that the translation is not clear. In the Hebrew, two different words are used for the word translated “curse,” and they profoundly affect the meaning. (Please see the Interlinear here.) Notice that the first usage of “curse” is the Hebrew word qalal which also means “to esteem lightly, to think of as insignificant, and to dishonor.”  The ESV and NLT versions make this distinction and do not use the word “curse” in the first usage of the word. When God says, “I will curse,” the word curse is the Hebrew word arar which means what we think it means “to curse.” Therefore as ESV says, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” It is a better rendering of what is meant. Therefore, according to this verse, it is not enough just to refrain from cursing Israel; those who ignore Israel or think she is insignificant in God’s plan are also under His curse!

When it comes to “Comfort my people.” (Isaiah 40:1) no further explanation is needed. It means the same in Hebrew and English. We see the Apostle Paul in agreement when in Romans 15 he says, “At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.  For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.” Please keep in mind that the “saints” in Jerusalem at that time were Jewish believers. Following Paul’s example, Gentile believers should bless the Jewish believers, especially those in Israel.

Bringing comfort to “my people (Israel)” also entails bringing them the Gospel. This is the highest comfort we can bring to anyone. In Matthew 15 Jesus said that he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As he was sent, so he sends us! The Great Commission includes bringing the Gospel to the Jews. When entering a town, Paul always went to the Jews first! He said,  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) They may resist, but it is still our responsibility to exemplify our love for them and make them jealous of what we have so they are drawn to the Lord.

Our theology concerning Israel must be aligned with what the Bible teaches. The Church does not replace Israel. God still has a plan for Israel and because He is a faithful God, the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled. 

The next installment in this series of blogs will explore the theologies concerning Israel further. For now reading Romans Chapters 9 – 11 will be of great help! Shalom in Yeshua/Jesus. 

Read Part Two here>>

Read Part Three here>>

Read Part Four here>>

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word and leads trips to Israel. The next trip focused on prayer, worship and ministry alongside believers in Israel is Feb 20 – March 3, 2024. Click here for trip details.

Yom Teruah – The Biblical Feast of Trumpets

What is it about?

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath rest, a memorial of blowing (of trumpets), a holy convocation.’” Leviticus 23:24

The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the three Fall Feasts of the LORD. These Feasts are “appointed times” when God called His people to gather. He spoke to them and met with them. They are celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar and so the dates vary from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. This year (2021) the Feast of Trumpets is celebrated from sundown on September 6 to sundown September 8.

A shofar (a type of trumpet) is made from a ram’s horn.

God wants us to remember to celebrate His faithfulness with thanksgiving, praise and offerings. The Feasts also have prophetic meaning pointing to events yet to come. They also teach us important lessons of how we should live as disciples of Jesus in the here and now. 

“The memorial of blowing of trumpets” was to remind Israel of the time God called them to Mt. Sinai during the Exodus when God spoke and His presence came down. (See Exodus 19:16-20). The sound of the trumpet was very loud!  

A Shofar (type of trumpet) is made from a ram’s horn. Trumpets are used

Prophetically this Feast foreshadows Jesus’ return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords when He will rule in the Millennium. “When the last trumpet sounds an angel and loud voices in heaven will announce ‘The Kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

How then should we live?

God spoke, making His presence known in ancient times. He also wants to do that today. Celebrating the Feasts helps us to remember what He did in days past. The Feasts also give us object lessons in how to live now. God wants us to hear (listen to) His voice now and live in obedience to Him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear (listen to) my voice; I know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Let’s ask the LORD to sharpen our hearing so that we may live in accordance with His ways. He speaks in many ways: through His Word, through circumstances, by a still small voice, by the inner leading of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes through a loud sound! What is HE saying to us in this hour both individually and corporately as the Church so that our lives become a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1)? We must hear and know HIM and prepare for HIS return by living according to HIS ways!

Jewish traditions at Yom Teruah

The Feast of Trumpets is often times called Rosh Hashanah (“The Head of the Year”), celebrating the civil New Year. The biblical new year is in the spring on the first day of the biblical month of Nisan. Yom Teruah falls on the first day of the seventh biblical month of Tishri. It the time of the ending of one agricultural season and the start of another. 

“Rosh Hashanah” is a rabbinical tradition which has been practiced for a long time. Israel adopted a secular reckoning of the months to align with the calendars of neighboring (and pagan) cultures. Even our Gregorian calendar is based on a pagan calendar.

Jewish people customarily greet one another with “Shana Tov” meaning good year. Among the foods eaten are apples with honey to signify a “sweet year”. Rosh Hashanah also begins the 10 days of Awe (or Repentance) leading up to Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) when Jewish people pray to be written in the “book of life”. Let’s pray that they awaken to their Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) –  the Way, the Truth and the Life! 

How can Christians participate in the Feasts?

As believers in Jesus we are not commanded to keep the Biblical Feasts. However since we are grafted into the rich, nourishing root of the olive tree (which represents the Jewish people), we can also partake in the joy and the blessings of the Feasts. As previously stated they teach us to commemorate what God has done, how to live as disciples of Jesus and point to future events such as the return of the LORD and the Millennial Reign of Christ as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords. Let’s also remember that Jesus himself celebrated these Biblical Feasts.

Women of the Word is blessed to host a special Zoom with Karen Davis, a messianic worship leader who lives in Israel. We invite you to join us on September 29, 2021 at 10:30 am Eastern Time. Karen will lead us in anointed worship and prayer and teach on the Fall Feasts. Find more information here.

Watch Karen here as she shares a song and blessing for Yom Teruah – the Feast of Trumpets.

Karen Davis

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Israel 2020: Maranatha, Ministry, Prayer and More!

by Betsy Roy 

It’s always an adventure to go to Israel and there is always more to learn.

This trip in January 2020 was no different! This was not a tour, but rather a trip to attend the Maranatha Conference in the Golan, visit and pray with believers in the land, and do some scouting for the upcoming Amazing Israel Adventure tour in 2021. Rose-Marie Slosek, a Women of the Word Board Member, Kathleen Annis of Thirsty Soul Ministries and I traveled together. We really had some adventures along the way. It rained a lot but this is a blessing. The Sea of Galilee is almost full. Israel has had more rain this year than in the past 50 years! Glory to God!

Everyone loves pictures so let me begin with that! You can find pictures of this trip on Flickr. To see pictures of past Israel tours click here.

We began by visiting with believers in Tel Aviv and having the blessing of attending Shabbat dinner with the wonderful Mizrachi family. Avi is an Israeli born Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, Hallelujah! His beautiful daughters have all served in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Chaya, his wife is a strong believer and we had a wonderful time of worship and prayer together in their beautiful ministry center (Dugit) overlooking Tel Aviv. Their daughter OrEl led us in anointed worship and she also has started street worship and ministry in a popular gathering place around a fountain in Tel Aviv. She is taking worship to the streets, Glory to God!

Then it was off to the Golan in northern Israel for the Maranatha Conference with FAI (Frontier Alliance International). The word “Maranatha” is an Aramaic word meaning “The Lord has come!” and can also be an expression for “The Lord is coming (back)!” It is a declaration of our faith! People of every age and from many nations including Israel attended this gathering. Rose-Marie had taken a year long online course with FAI and invited Kathleen and I to join her at the conference. Personally I felt this conference to be very authentic. There was a simple but beautiful love for the Lord exhibited. Speakers came from many different nations with the central theme being making disciples through personal relationships and around the table. In the USA we tend to “invite people to church”. We were challenged to “invite people to your home around the table” having open dialogue about Jesus’ teachings. I am still processing  how to incorporate what I learned within our culture, which is not as hospitable as Middle Eastern Culture. FAI reaches previously unreached people groups primarily in the Middle East.  There were also speakers from places like Tibet, Uganda, South America, Germany and Israel talking about making disciples. So what about the USA?  Well, we have “unreached people” right here. Pray to the Lord about how to reach them beyond our traditional methods. I was very challenged to think outside the box. You can read more about this strategic event here.

After the conference we spent several days in the Mount Carmel region visiting with both Arab and Jewish believers, attending another Shabbat dinner in the home of beloved friends, and Saturday Shabbat service with the congregation at Kehilat Carmel where Karen Davis and Colin Mitchel spoke on “Pursuing God’s Presence”.  While I felt the Lord minister to me personally, I also felt challenged to press into prayer and worship for the lost and the next generation. I received a promise from Isaiah 29: 22-24. While in context this verse is speaking to Israel, we as grafted-in believers, can also pray this promise over our households and our nation. Will you join me in believing the Lord to accomplish it?

A highlight of the trip was going with Renee of Ima’s Goodies to visit with IDF soldiers to give them goodies and let them know they are loved.

We drove deep into the heart of Samaria. Renee has an amazing way of lovingly relating with the soldiers. She is completely disarming and they love her. She goes out at least two nights a week, driving to bases around the country including along the borders. Young men and women are required to serve in the IDF! It is quite something to see 18 and 19 year olds carrying loaded machine guns ready to defend their nation. Currently Renee is preparing to give out 900 goodie bags to soldiers for Purim. She has an oven, donated by a church in Malaysia that can bake 280 cookies at one time. Most of what she gives out is home-made so this is a tremendous amount of work. And she doesn’t give out little bags. She gives out BIG amounts to each soldier. Her car trunk was completely filled up the night we went out and quickly emptied! If you’d like to give to this worthwhile cause please visit Ima’s Goodies

We spent some special time on the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum and at the beautiful Magdala site and hotel. While I have visited the amazing archeological

part of the mosaic at Magdala

site of the First Century synagogue discovered there before, the hotel had just opened recently. What a lovely place! I’ve already reserved rooms there for the 2021 Amazing Israel Adventure so come on along! We had the opportunity to spend time with Hermana, an intercessor and we prayed and talked together about how the Lord is moving today. Hermana ignited my heart with some prayer strategies I am going to incorporate into Women of the Word. More on this to come so stayed tuned!

Our last days were spent in Jerusalem. Really there is no city like it !

We stayed in an apartment that overlooks the Mt. of Olives and Mt. Zion and spent one day driving down to the Beersheva area for prayer and worship at the home of Avner and Rachel Boskey. Rachel blessed us by taking us to the Fountain of Tears in Arad, and also to see some incredible views of the wilderness and the southern end of the Dead Sea. Amazing! We did spend a day in Jerusalem going to the Old City (of course) and the “Shuk” (marketplace) as well as praying at Succat Hallel. Jerusalem is a must experience for every believer in my opinion.

A hot topic of conversation was the “Deal of the Century” which was unveiled while we were in Jerusalem. I always love to get the perspective of believers in the land because they are the ones “living” it. Rachel Boskey gave us some background from years ago and this was very helpful. Also, this article, written by a leader in the Messianic community in Israel adds some perspective that we here in the US typically do not consider. Take the time to read it, especially ponder the last paragraph. Hmmm…

While we visited and prayed with Arab and Jewish believers, we were also able to bless them financially thanks to the generosity of many at Women of the Word. 

As we have come to share in the spiritual blessings of Jewish believers, so we aught also to be of service to them in material blessings (Romans 16:27). Thank you ladies for obeying God’s Word — it was a joy to bless them on your behalf! While seeing the biblical sites is wonderful, spending time with fellow believers in the land is the best! We get to share in their joys and their struggles and learn how to pray and support them more effectively.  God cares about Israel and so should we (Deuteronomy 11:12). Israel is about people and land. When I travel to Israel my desire is to touch both. More pictures of the trip here.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

 

Ministry to Refugees, Soldiers and Believers in Israel

by Betsy Roy

On January 14, 2020 I will be departing again for Israel with one of our Women of the Word Board Members Rose-Marie Slosek. I would love for you to be part of this trip. We need your prayers and support to bless refugees, soldiers and believers in Israel.

Our first stop is in Tel Aviv where we will have time with our brothers and sisters at Dugit Ministries. We will be going to their new ministry center and prayer room and sharing a Shabbat meal together. Then it’s on to the Golan for a thee day conference with FAI Missions who minister to unreached people groups in Syria and amongst the Kurdish people. We are looking forward to hearing about the work the Lord is doing there, how to pray more effectively for the Middle East and how Women of the Word can come alongside in support of the region.

Along our way we have scheduled times to visit with both Jewish and Arab believers in various parts of Israel. We will spend time with our brothers and sisters at Carmel in worship and prayer and blessing the Women’s and Children’s Shelter there. We have a unique opportunity to be with Renee of Ima’s Goodies to visit Israeli soldiers and bless them with goodies. We are also doing some one-on-one visits with some Arab sisters, including Rania and Randa, and Messianic sisters like Carolyn Hyde and some others that live on a kibbutz.

Going to Beersheva to be a part of Avner and Rachel Boskey’s worship watch is also on our itinerary as well as time in Jerusalem to pray and bring blessings to brothers and sisters there.

I will be scouting out some places for the Amazing Israel Adventure tour scheduled for April 2021 where we read the Bible on location at sites, pray, worship and visit with believers in the land. Always more to learn in Israel. God’s eyes is always upon His land (Deuteronomy 11:12) and ours should be too!

Please pray for us and for Israel. You can give a donation towards blessing the refugees, soldiers, and believers and their ministries in Israel. Mark your donation “Israel” please. Together with your help we can be a blessing and share God’s love and care. Thank you and the Lord bless you with His peace.

“Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”                                                               ~ Jeremiah 15:15 

 

The International Flavor of Serving in Israel

by Jill Czelusta –  Representative for Bridges for Peace

This is the fourth summer that the Lord has provided the funds for me to volunteer with Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem.  Each summer has become more and more enjoyable because of the friendships that have formed while serving the Jewish people in His Land.  Bridges for Peace (BFP) is an international organization with offices in at least eight different nations, so there are volunteers who come from all over the world.  Since I have had the privilege to return each summer, I have made friends with several long term volunteers that I keep in contact with throughout the year, and I make new ones with each visit.

This past Shabbat the volunteers who are here by themselves, like me, decided to get together for dinner.  As a short term volunteer, you are always invited to someone’s home for Shabbat, but this time we hosted ourselves at one of the volunteer’s apartment.  With the 10 of us around the table, nine countries were represented:  France, England, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States.  Ages ranged from early 20’s to 60 something.  The evening was filled with questions about how each of us ended up volunteering with BFP.  One by one, amazing stories were told of how God directed their steps and then faithfully provided for the call.  Over and over I heard my story.  First it was a dream to come and serve in Israel.  Each one had heard of BFP and how you could volunteer. Each one did not think they would have the funds to come, but God miraculously provided.  Three of them were young people who participated in the Zealous Project – an 11 month discipleship program for 18-30 year olds. When they completed that, they chose to return and serve some more.  Some were in midlife and just wanted to serve here in Jerusalem.  Some, like me, are spending their summer vacation here both serving and taking in the sights of Jerusalem and greater Israel on the weekends.

The other amazing thing that I have noticed is that when we go out on a delivery to bring food to the elderly Holocaust survivor, they always ask, “Where are you
from?”  One time I am with someone from Japan.  The next time I am with someone from New Zealand, then Canada, then England, then Ireland.  Each time, the Jewish person is so surprised that people from all over the world love them enough to spend their time and resources to carry a bag of groceries to their small apartment and to sit down and visit with them.  We listen to the stories – some very hard to hear – but necessary to hear, and remember. We cry together, and then laugh together as they tell of their children, grandchildren and great grand-children.  Then there are the hugs…the best part!

I am so thankful that the Lord has chosen to use me for this amazing ministry to the poor, the elderly and new immigrants of Israel.  I had the opportunity to deliver new school supplies and backpacks to a school in Bet Shemesh that BFP has been working with for 14 years.  The parents and students arrived and immediately began to hug the BFP staff and those from the Jewish agency that we partner with for this project.  I was surprised to see such appreciation for what I consider such a small gift – a backpack and assorted school supplies.  I also learned that BFP helps to pay the book fees for some of these students.  One of the parents thanked us because her son was one of those who received the help.  She said that for the first time last year, he received his books on the first day of school like most of the other kids.  He came home so happy that day and it made a difference for the whole year. She could not say thank you enough.

I will end with this.  As a Food Floor Worker, I come in contact with the families that come in once a week to receive their food parcels of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and canned goods.  I have the opportunity to greet them and, if they speak English, get to talk with them a bit.  Regardless, every one shakes my hand and says ‘Toda,’ or thank you.  One couple came into the work area because they insisted on saying thank you to everyone there.  They had ‘graduated,’ and this would be their last time to pick up food.  They had been on the program for one year and it was enough to get them on their feet and to get a job to provide for themselves.  They were so full of joy and so thankful.  They had experienced the love of Jesus through perfect strangers and the generosity of Christians from around the world.

I know that I am there to be a blessing, but I know I receive way more than I give out! Thank you to Women of the Word for your prayers and support throughout the years!

About Jill Czelusta: Jill visited Israel for the first time on a Bridges for Peace tour in 1995, returned in 2004, and has had a love for the Land and a heart for the Jewish people ever since. Jill is a friend of Women of the Word and has also been to Israel with WOW.  This is her fourth summer volunteering at the BFP Jerusalem Assistance Center.  She is a graduate of Institute of Israel Studies and is currently enrolled at Master’s International University of Divinity pursuing a Master’s Degree in Judeo-Christian Synergism.  During the school year, she teaches AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and pre-calculus at a private Christian school in northern Vermont.  Her undergraduate degree is in Chemistry from Virginia Tech. Her other favorite pastime is visiting her 2 children and their families. Jill will be leading a tour of Israel in the summer of 2020.