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called spiritual Israel, that has forever superseded the nation of Israel and the Jewish people as the people of God.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

Many Waters Cannot Quench Love

by Karen Davis

Although written from the perspective of a widow, this article speaks to women of all ages in whatever situation they are; single, married, separated, divorced or widowed. Karen’s testimony exemplifies the truth of Isaiah 54:5; “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.”

When I first gave my life to Yeshua (Jesus), as a single Jewish woman in my early 30’s, I soon discovered the beautiful Song of Solomon in the Hebrew scriptures and I began to enter into an intimate “bridal” relationship with the Lord that far surpassed any human love I had ever experienced. The divine love of my Creator streamed into my life through Yeshua, bringing healing to every area of my heart that had been hurt by broken relationships and family tragedies. I began to walk in a deep contentment as a single woman that I had never known before and was set free from the need to be validated by being in a relationship with a man.

In the midst of this new freedom and unspeakable joy, having also received the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Lord brought David Davis into my life, a wonderful Gentile man of God. The Lord called us together as a “one new man” (Jew & Gentile) couple to immigrate to Israel and pioneer ministries on Mount Carmel. For 30 years of marriage we partnered in the work of the Lord in Israel, also travelling and ministering as a team internationally. I was exceedingly blessed to have been nurtured, released, and encouraged by my husband to fulfill the giftings the Lord had placed within me. 

The day we received the shocking news that a biopsy of a growth on David’s neck showed malignancy, great fear rose up in me. What would this mean? Would I lose my husband? Would we lose our ministry? Suddenly I heard these words in my spirit: “You have already lost your life!” “You have already died and your life is hidden with Messiah” (Col. 3:3). With a deep revelation of these words, the fear suddenly left me.

As David and I walked together through the journey of medical decisions and treatments, I became his primary caregiver. For eighteen months, I watched as this powerful man of God slowly deteriorated into a state of helplessness. Although we both strongly believed in the healing power of God and many were standing with us for a miraculous healing, we began to understand that the Lord was going to take him home to Himself. For me the process of grief had already begun in those last few months of David’s life, as I wept night after night from heartbreak and sheer physical and emotional exhaustion. 

One night after David had fallen asleep, I went into our living room and knelt in prayer before the Lord. In the midst of a flood of tears I became aware of an inextinguishable flame of the fire of the Lord’s love on the altar of my heart. The words “Many waters cannot quench love” (Song 8:7) came to me. I knew then that nothing could separate me from that vehement flame of the love of God. “Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). The source of my joy, my strength, my peace, since surrendering my life to Yeshua, had always been His love that had poured so lavishly into my life. I began to comprehend Paul’s words that I could even be “sorrowful yet rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10).

The day that the Lord took David home, He placed His loving arm around me and we continued on in the divine dance that had begun decades earlier, when I first met my Heavenly Bridegroom. As I sat on my balcony looking out over the lush green mountain of Carmel, out to the Mediterranean Sea, I understood that Yeshua would be by my side as I ventured into this uncharted territory of the rest of my life.

My daily prayer became Paul’s words in Eph. 3:19, “to know the love of Messiah which passes knowledge, that [I] may be filled with all the fullness of God.” I knew that I would not need to live out my life in a state of loneliness or emptiness, that I could truly be filled with all the fullness of God. I determined that I would not allow the enemy of my soul to rob me of that promised fullness of His love.

In Jewish tradition, on the thirtieth day after a loved one’s passing, another ceremony takes place at the gravesite with the placement (“unveiling”) of the headstone. As I prepared myself that morning to return to the cemetery with close family and friends, I went to my keyboard to pour out my heart before the Lord. My hands began to move over the keys and a new song came forth, as these words flowed from my lips: “Ever present help, ever present love, ever present peace, as a seal upon my heart. Passing through this valley with you hand in hand, You’ll turn every tear to springs of living water in this land. Yeshua, You are here! Yeshua, You are here! I’ll go from strength to strength, strength to strength, glory to glory!”

As I sang these words, the Lord lifted the raw grief from my heart, and a deeper well of fresh living water was opened to me. Through the painful loss of my precious husband, I have gained the reality of eternity in greater measure than I had ever known before. David’s passing has “provoked me to jealousy,” to continue to run hard after the Lord, to finish my course, knowing that there is a glorious inheritance that awaits each of us who are found in Messiah.  “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Karen Davis is an Israeli worship leader, recording artist, songwriter, and speaker, well-known internationally for her Messianic praise and worship music. Based on Mount Carmel, Israel, Karen has a passion to see the “warrior bride” of Messiah rising up throughout the world. Learn more>>

Karen and her late husband David are the founders of Kehilat HaCarmel, a congregation of Messianic and Arab believers. People travel to the congregation from all over the world to take part in prophetic worship and prayer watches. Karen continues on as the congregation’s worship director and to speak and lead worship internationally.

Women of the Word holds events in the United States and hosts trips to Israel where we visit the biblical sites and also the “living stones,” the people of the land. The Amazing Israel Adventure includes taking part in a worship watch led by Karen Davis and visiting the women’s and children’s refugee shelter at Kehilat HaCarmel. We also visit with other Messianic and Arab believers. Join us for our next trip February 26 – March 10, 2023.

God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Our Bible is a LOVE Story – not a romantic one, although it has elements of romance. God does draw us and allure us. The Bible is a story of God’s love first for the people of Israel and then also for the Gentiles.  It shows us His covenant love and faithfulness over thousands of years.  The Old Testament, which is also known as the Hebrew Bible contains the story of God’s love for Israel.  The Hebrew Bible (OT) consists of three parts:  the Torah (the first five books), the Prophets and the Writings.  Together they show a picture of God’s love.

To begin to understand God’s kind of love, let’s look at some words that mean love. In English we have one word LOVE. We know there are different levels of love. While I love ice cream, that’s different from a deeply committed covenant type of love as exhibited in marriage for example. 

In Hebrew and Greek the context in which a word is used is very important. 

There are basically two Hebrew words used for love in the Old Testament (OT). They are ahav and hesed. The two words used in the New Testament (NT) in Greek to describe love are phileo and agape

Ahav or aheb (to love) basically means to have affection for, love, like, to befriend.  The Greek word phileo is similar in meaning. In describing God’s divine love, the Hebrew word hesed is used  in the OT and agape in the NT. Hesed is difficult to translate into English because it has a range of meanings. Context is important! 

Hesed can be translated into English as unfailing love, steadfast love, mercy, faithfulness, faithful love, lovingkindness, goodness, loyal, unchanging love, covenantal faithfulness

One definition of hesed is “completely undeserved kindness and generosity” (John Oswalt). Hesed is not just a feeling, but it is love put into action. Author Lois Tverberg states that hesed “intervenes on behalf of loved ones and comes to their rescue.” 

The word hesed is used to describe God himself. When God revealed Himself to Moses, the Bible tells us that God proclaimed Himself as merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (hesed) and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6 )  

God has called us to be a holy people!  

In Deuteronomy 7: 6-9, the Torah says, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations….”

Just as God calls Israel to be a holy people, He also calls believing Gentiles to be holy and set apart unto Him (see 1 Peter 2:9-10). What is true in the book of Deuteronomy for Israel, is also true for us today as we are grafted into the rich olive tree that is Israel (see Romans 11:17-18). He loves us with a steadfast love. 

In the Writings Psalms 136, which is the Great Hallel (praise) Psalm, hesed is used in every verse as the Psalmist recounts many of the mighty things God has done for His people. “His steadfast love(hesed) endures forever.” It is good to remember and reflect upon how God has shown us His steadfast love throughout our lives. 

In Isaiah 54:10 (Prophets) God makes a beautiful promise to His people.  “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love (hesed) shall not depart from you and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD who has compassion on you.” We can count on His steadfast love to bring us through even the most difficult of circumstances. 

Basically, HESED is the expression of God’s covenant love for His people expressed throughout the Bible.    

Remember the children’s song, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so?” The Bible does tell us so!  There are times we don’t “FEEL IT.” That’s when we have to remind ourselves what the BIBLE says and believe it. Have faith!!!! 

To be sure God’s covenant love also involves discipline and correction.  God expects his people to keep (obey) His commandments, and He disciplined them when they didn’t. We see this pattern throughout the Bible.   Israel possessed her inheritance when she obeyed God.  When she stopped obeying and went down the path of sin, practicing idolatry and sexual immorality, she eventually was driven into exile. But, she was restored when she repented of her sin. God will restore when we sincerely repent; this requires not just words but action !!!  See , we can honor God with our lips but our hearts can be far from him and so we worship Him in vain (Matthew 15: 8,9 )

God highlighted the above verse to me once over 20 years ago. I remember where I was standing that day. I had been struggling with a sin, and God wanted to deal with me! It was time to stop talking and start doing!!  It was time to repent (change my mind), acknowledge my sin, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit working through me to change my behavior. I felt very convicted, but I also knew I was greatly loved. God took the time to CORRECT ME!! 

The question we need to ask is not so much does God love us, but have we learned to love as He loves? 

God requires surrender and obedience from His people. Whenever I have felt a distance between God and me, it’s because I hadn’t surrendered or hadn’t obeyed.  I know this can be painful to walk through, but it is absolutely necessary!!  

Proverbs 3:3-4  says, “My son (my daughter), do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love (hesed) and faithfulness forsake you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart so you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

We are to have steadfast love towards God !! 

Jesus was clear when he said, “Hear (in Hebrew “Shema” which means to listen and obey), O Israel, the Lord our God is One (Only). And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 refers to Deuteronomy 6:4. This is the GREATEST commandment. 

In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep (obey) my commandments.” He repeats this principle in John 14:21. “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” 

God spells love O-B-E-Y. Can we do this on our own? No, we can’t. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to do it, and we do it because we have learned to love God. God will still love us if we don’t obey, but we lose the blessing of intimate fellowship with God and the protection that obedience brings. 

A friend shared something that happened in her life that illustrates the above principle. 

MartyLee shared an experience she had years ago. She often struggled thinking that God did not love her when she sinned but that He loved her when she was “good.” She had two dogs that she loved very much. Fred was very obedient; Barkley was not. One day they were in the yard playing and a squirrel ran into the street. The dogs started to run after the squirrel. MartyLee yelled “STOP!” Fred stopped immediately, but Barkley ran into the street and was killed. She was heartbroken. She felt the Lord ask her, “Did you love Barkley less than Fred because he was disobedient?” Of course not! Fred’s obedience, however, saved his life. And so it is with God. He loves us no matter what. Obedience protects us. It’s really for our benefit. 

Exercises to help you live out the Word!

  1. Write out Deuteronomy 7:9. Then list some ways in which God has shown you His steadfast love and faithfulness in concrete ways in the everyday circumstances of your life. It may be helpful to list each one, and then follow each one with the sentence “His steadfast love endures forever.” Use the format of Psalm 136 to guide you. 
  2. Write out the “Greatest Commandment” from Mark 12:29-30 which Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Remember “Hear” is the Hebrew word “Shema” which means to listen and obey!
  3. Write out John 14:15 and John 14:21. List specific action steps you will take in obedience to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and He surely will! 
  4. Be accountable. Share this blog with a friend and invite her do the exercises too. Then set a time to call each other or meet to talk it over.

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

Why Hanukkah is important for Christians

Hanukkah took place around 165 B.C. and has something to say to us today. It should move us to prayer and action! 

Should Christians even care about Hanukkah? The answer is “yes” because according to John 10:22 (NLT) Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Temple during “the Festival of Dedication” (Hanukkah). While Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory won during the Maccabean revolt it also points to Jesus because it is also known as the Festival of Lights and Jesus is the Light of the World. Most importantly if what happened during Hanukkah had not happened the Jewish people would have been wiped out and so our Savior would not have been born. Jesus was prophesied to be of the House of David and God’s promise would not have been fulfilled if His ancestral line had not continued. 

God brought a victory to the Jewish people against all odds during the Maccabean revolt – the real Miracle. But there also had to be people for God to use that were willing to stand up to the injustices of an oppressive regimen. Enter the Maccabee family which were of the tribe of Levi and therefore had a divine calling to be priests of the Lord. Jerusalem and the Temple were under the control of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (means “God Manifest”- oh my!). He persecuted the Jews, decreeing that they could not keep the Sabbath, nor celebrate their Feasts, nor read their Bible. They were forced to participate in pagan practices. Antiochus went so far as to desecrate the altar in the Temple by sacrificing a pig on it to Zeus! Under the leadership of the Maccabees the Jews said “NO!”, revolted and ultimately succeeded. 

The Legend of the Hanukkah menorah.

The legend that a one day supply of oil to light the menorah was found that lasted for eight days did not come into play until about 400 years after the Maccabean revolt and is probably a fake-news miracle! 

An Eight Day Festival 

It does seem that the reason that the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah), which is a celebration of the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem lasts for eight days is because the Jewish people were not able to celebrate the eight day Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) that year because it was forbidden. So when victory was won and the Temple rededicated in the winter the people celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. This is recorded in 2 Maccabees 10:5-8, written less than 100 years after the event and is more likely. Regardless, the tradition of lighting the Hanukkah menorah is over eight days and a beautiful symbol of how God empowered a people willing to stand against oppression and for HIS ways. 

“Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments, everyone of them abandoning the religion of their ancestors, I and my sons and my brothers will continue to live by the covenant of our ancestors. Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances.  We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.”  (Matthias Maccabee, 1 Maccabees 2:19-22)

God will bring deliverance to His people even in extremely dire circumstances!

That is the real miracle! But God is looking for people who will co-labor with Him in the working out of the victory. That’s what speaks to us today. The Hanukkah story is a source of inspiration and also a call to stand-up and not bow to a godless society! As never before believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must pray and stand together for righteousness and Biblical truth.

Jesus is the Light of the World

While Hanukkah is known as the Feast of Dedication (referring to the re-dedication of the desecrated Temple back to the God of Israel), it is also known as the Festival of Lights. Traditionally some Jewish people place their Hanukkiahs (a 9 branched menorah) in their front windows as a symbol of victory of light over darkness. When I light my Hanukkiah I think of the courageous Maccabees and the victory won against seemingly unsurmountable odds. Only God could have brought the victory! I also think of Yeshua (Jesus) who is the light of the world. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV) When Jesus returns there will come a day of total victory over evil. Until then may we, His disciples, shine brightly in this dark world bringing hope and faith to others, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 3:4-5 NIV).

Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus Come!!

A Hanukkah Miracle 

In December 2020 Karen Davis and Chaya Mizrachi joined us on Zoom from Israel for a special time of anointed worship, messages and prayerfor the US and Israel. Karen spoke powerfully on “A Hanukkah Miracle” about the ongoing struggle of the Sons (and Daughters) of Zion (those that believe in the One true God) against the Sons of Greece (the world). See Zechariah 9:13. This is where we are! God is rousing us to fight the good fight of faith!. Chaya told us a very moving, inspiring and personal family story regarding how Jews were saved in Bulgaria during WW2. They were saved because the King of Bulgaria and the Church rose up and said “NO!” to Jews being deported to the death camps! The King lost his life over it! 

For more history on what happened in Bulgaria watch the 30 minute film put out by Frontier Alliance International entitled “The Fox and the Fuhrer”. Definitely worth the watch! For more understanding on Hanukkah read articles written by Avner Boskey, a Messianic believer who lives with his wife Rachel in Israel.

This blog was originally published in December 2020. It has been updated.

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 who are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

Ask the LORD of the Harvest

Ask the Lord of the Harvest…(Written last year) It’s harvest time in New England. I went to pick up my veggie share at the local farm and they have tomato plants where you can pick tomatoes when you go to the farm. The frost has mostly killed the plants but they are still laden, laden, laden with tomatoes. I went to glean as many as I could but did not make a dent in them. I could hear them calling out “pick me” (I’m joking but I almost could) but there were too many of them and only me, so far, to pick them.

Harvest time, at the end, yields a lot of abundance. At other local farms, the harvest of pumpkins and winter squash are way more abundant than can be used. Farmers pile extra produce, some with small blemishes, or in unsightly shapes into bargain bins, almost begging you to take it. Waste is sad to me. The food is grown to be enjoyed, eaten– a source of nourishment, not left to rot on the vine.

But now approaches a time for spiritual harvest also. God’s love and care for us is so great that He wants to gather us up so that none are lost. A harvest of souls is waiting like an overstocked pumpkin patch in the fields of the Lord, waiting right here in New England. But who will help them to be brought home to the Lord? Who will tell them that we are grown for a purpose, grown to bring joy and sustenance to each other and happiness to God. Some produce is more beautiful than others but who will take time to gather the bruised, the late fruit, the misshapen, the leftovers? All has worth and purpose.

Many years ago, in my senior yearbook, I wrote the verse, “Many are called, but few are chosen” underneath my senior picture. I picked that verse because I felt a sense of destiny to find my deepest purpose in God and fulfill it. So today, as I heard the unharvested tomatoes crying out to be harvested, it was not hard for me to hear the cries of souls crying out also. People are not meant to wither on the vine and die. We are meant for rich, full, purposeful lives. A young man in our town passed away unexpectedly. We do not know when our moment to pass over will come. Will we have found peace with God?

In 1734, Jonathan Edwards stewarded one of the most famous revivals in American history– a revival that changed the American landscape and history. We stand on the edge of another such time: a troubled time in our history where people are searching for meaning and hope that can only come ultimately when they are in right relationship with God and each other.

But where are the workers to midwife this? Jesus teaches on this when he says,“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:38) .

For it is surely His Harvest, and His hope that people would come out of the darkness of hopelessness into the marvelous light of the Kingdom of God. He is not willing that one should perish, that one should be sick or hurt or depressed or in need. But He has given some of that responsibility to us to partner with Him. Will we? Or are we pre-occupied with our own interests? busy with our own lives?

There is surely a clarion call being sounded, louder than the call of the wild geese migrating southward. It is time to gather the harvest of souls that is out there, waiting, clinging to the vine in hopes that their lives have some meaning, some purpose and will not be wasted. It is not just a soul here or there, but an abundant, overflowing harvest that will break our capacity to receive them unless we prepare.

Where there was no interest for God or His ways, suddenly will spring forth the Presence of God calling people home to Himself. And they will respond. So we who have known Jesus, and walked with Him, all these years through thick and thin, must get ready to gather with Him. Let nothing and no-one go to waste.

Harvesters, get ready. Get ready to help people know the Good God they never knew. The One who often has been sadly maligned and misrepresented— the Living God who is Life, and Love and Truth.

Discipleship making online classes

Want to learn more about making disciples? We encourage you to take a look here>> These classes will teach you from a biblical rather than a religious perspective and give you tools that bring people to Jesus. Gather a few friends and do them together!

Rose-Marie Slosek

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

Set Me Up Lord!

I believe we all want to be used by God. He’s placed the desire to make a difference in our hearts, entrusted us with spiritual gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit. His word tells us that we are new creations in Christ, and are called to the ministry of reconciliation. We ARE His Ambassadors! (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). 


My friend, Sandra had just finished a conference and was inspired by one of the speakers. He challenged her to pray, “Set Me Up Lord” every morning and watch for Gods divine appointments. Opportunities to encourage, pray for others and share the gospel, led by the Holy Spirit. As Sandra shared a powerful encounter she had with the woman sitting next to her on the plane, I felt stirred to do the same. Set me up Lord! And He did! When I shared my adventures on Facebook and saw the response, I felt the Holy Spirit was at work. 


We began a Facebook group and are inviting you into the adventure of the Set Me Up Lord challenge! Join our Facebook group, Set Me Up Lord. Beginning August 1, we will ask the Lord each day to set us up! Lead us to the ones He has ready! Then watch what the Lord does during the course of your day. Sense the Holy Spirit at work. Share your testimonies with the group to encourage others. Join us for the great adventure! Step into your calling as an Ambassador for Christ!


“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” John 15:16. NRSV

George and Denise Ridley

Denise Ridley founded  Waters Edge Ministries in 2003 and is the weekly host of The Waters Edge radio broadcast on The Light Radio Network in Vermont and WACE in the greater Springfield, MA area. Denise teaches God’s Word with a passionate yet practical, transparent style. She also serves as a prison chaplain and a speaker for Women of the Word.

Using examples from her own life, you will laugh with her as she “tells it like it is” and be empowered to complete God’s purposes in your own life!

Esther and the Feast of Purim

Jewish people celebrate the Biblical Feast of Purim and with good reason as it commemorates an important aspect of their history —- deliverance from the wicked Haman and his wicked plot to annihilate the Jews who lived in Persia, which is now modern-day Iran. The king of Persia at that time reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1). Haman had convinced the king that the Jewish people should be destroyed because they were “different”.

In 2006 my husband and I made our second trip to Israel. We were in Jerusalem during the Feast of Purim. We both remember seeing the children dressed up in Purim costumes. We also remember that there were many Jewish families in the hotels. Why was this? Because these families had been forcibly removed and displaced from their homes in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s disengagement from Gaza the previous August. Many Jewish families had to live in hotels! Time has proven that this policy was a catastrophe and the consequences of that decision are still being dealt with today by Israelis and the Palestinians that live in Gaza. The terrorist groups that rule over Gaza continue to wreck much harm on their own people as well as the people of Israel. It’s a very troubling situation.

Esther was in a troubling situation in her day.

The situation of Esther’s day beckoned her to make a decision also. Would she remain silent or would she stand in the gap for her people? If you know the book of Esther you know that she did stand in the gap at the risk of her own life. She won the king’s favor! The king also honored her uncle Mordecai whom Haman wanted hung on gallows and dealt with wicked Haman. Haman’s schemes turned and caused his demise.

Esther continued to intercede for her people.

Esther 8:3 tells us that “Esther spoke again to the king, feel down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews.” King Ahasuerus did just that and the Jewish people were saved and defeated their enemies. No one could withstand them. They had rest from their enemies. Mordecai established the Feast of Purim to celebrate their sorrow turning to joy. They sent presents to one another and to the poor and this tradition continues today.

The story of Esther is relevant in our day!

We are in very troubling times now; perilous times! While anti-semitism is rising across many nations including our own we also see an increasing threat against believers in Jesus. We are viewed as “different” (which we should be), and supposedly also filled with “hate speech”. Many in government and other arenas are trying to have the Bible labeled as “hate speech”. Should we remain silent? I think not. We certainly are not to remain silent in prayer. We are to go before our King and petition Him as Esther did. As believers in Jesus, we have favor with God the Father and can enter His throne room of grace asking for help in time of need! In the USA we can still raise our voice in the public arena and we must or face ever increasing loss of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. We must do as the Lord instructed. ““Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

The Church at large has been too quiet in the United States. We have been too quiet in prayer and too quiet in the public arena. We have had little effect on the culture and that is to our shame. We have also not dealt with our own ungodliness and sin. May we truly repent and turn from our own wicked ways. Then the culture will see that we are truly different in a good way because we genuinely represent the one who gave His life for us. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Come for your Bride!

Join Women of the Word at Sight and Sound in Lancaster, PA June 8 -10, 2021 for the Biblical Theater production of Queen Esther. Hotel, meals and time for shopping and sight-seeing included. An evening meeting with speaker Dr. Lynn Lucas included. REGISTRATION DEADLINE is APRIL 1, 2021. Information at GodConferences.com

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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.

Defensive and Offensive Weapons against the Coronavirus

by Betsy Roy

I am Christian, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also a nurse, a wife, a mother and grandmother.

First I will give the practical weapons against bacteria and viruses (like “flu” and “coronavirus”).
  1. WASH your hands!! Wash them well with lots of soap, water and long enough (at least 20 seconds). Get all surfaces of you hands (front, back, between fingers, under nails).  See picture
  2. STAY home if you’re sick! Don’t infect others!
  3. DON’T shake hands and DON’T touch your face and eyes.
  4. SNEEZE and COUGH into tissues and dispose of them.
  5. BUILD UP your immune system. Eat right, get rest, exercise. Take a good multi-vitamin. Extra Vitamin C and D are also a good idea.
  6. SUBMIT to and OBEY the governing authorities of your pastor, employer, community, state and nation regarding meetings, travel and health directives in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. according to Romans 13:1.
Now for the spiritual weapons. the Bible tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (natural) but mighty through God (2 corinthians 10: 4-5)  so let’s use them!

Believing prayer and saying what God says works! About 18 months ago I received a diagnosis that frankly did scare me at first. So, I understand fear but I didn’t stay there. Here are some of the scriptures the Holy Spirit gave me to fight with and I believe they will work against the flus and coronavirus also.

  1. If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are a child of God. Know who you are, remind yourself you are not of the world and declare it to the powers of darkness that try to intimidate you with fear. You are a daughter of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords and HE is in your midst and has taken away the judgments against you and clears away your enemies.  (Zephaniah 3:14 – 17) Sickness is an enemy!
  2. I do not fear bad news! My heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. I am blessed because I fear (reverence in awe) the Lord and greatly delight in His commandments! (Psalm 122: 1, 4 – 8)
  3. God’s Word is life to me and healing to all my flesh. I am attentive to His words. (Proverbs 4: 20-22)
  4. Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law becoming a curse for me. (Galatians 3:13) 
  5. Jesus healed all who were sick, took our illnesses and our diseases. (Matthew 8: 16-17; Isaiah 53: 4-5; 1Peter 2: 24)
  6. Jesus gives life to my mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in me and has set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8: 2, 11)
  7. I fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6: 12)
  8. I am strong in the Lord and put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. I pray at all times in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6: 10 – 18)
  9. I take refuge in the Lord, rather than trust in man. The LORD is my strength and my song and has become my salvation. (Psalm 118: 8-9, 14)
  10. I do not think like everyone else does. I wait for the LORD and put my hope in Him. (Isaiah 8: 11) His thoughts are higher than man’s thought and His ways are higher than man’s ways. (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Finally, stay in peace. Stay your mind upon God.  Do not give into fear or be anxious. Rejoice in the Lord! (Philippians 4: 4-6) Stop listening to and watching the news all the time, including social media. I’m not saying stick your head in the sand, but don’t let yourself get bombarded by all the hype either.

Let’s pray together………..Father God you are on the throne! You are greater than any sickness or disease including the coronavirus. I thank you that I am your daughter and that my household and those who live in it are under the protection of the shed blood of Jesus. I do not fear for myself nor my family. I do pray for those who have been afflicted by flus and coronavirus. I ask for your mercy and healing. Along with my brothers and sisters in the faith I raise the standard of the blood of Jesus against this flood of sickness knowing that your WORD prevails against all the power of the enemy. We stand firm in expectation of the victory you bring. Amen.

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.

 

Stepping It Up a Notch at 60

by Rose-Marie Slosek

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:12-14)

While we are eternal beings in an ultimately real sense, we are also mortals while on this earth. The Psalmist tells us to “number our days” that we might gain a sense of how short they are, and how imperative it is that our earthly sojourn should count much for the eternal kingdom of God.

A couple of us at Women of the Word are turning 60 this year! With that comes a soberness of heart that causes us to turn to the Lord, and implore Him to use us as He wills. There can be nothing held back from Him in this hour. As our bodies age, our spirit can burn every more brightly because we identify with our Lord and understand His purposes and ways in an even greater way. The desire and pursuits of earlier decades give way to wholehearted and unreserved abandon to our God and His passionate work to win all peoples to Himself.

There are some things that can not be done when we are young because we do not yet have the experience. Maturity in God happens over the course of decades– line upon line of faithful walking with God, day in and day out, through the many storms of life.  While youth has energy, the seasoned know that of themselves, they can do nothing and their self-trust has given way to trust in God alone, or at least the beginning of that. There are no shortcuts to some things. Knowing where you end, and where God begins is a great wisdom.

Paul writes, “Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character produces joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.  Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for us in our ungodly condition (Romans 5:3-6 Amplified).

By the time one turns 60, our character is soberingly starting to show itself for what it is. Now is our wake-up call to be awake, and surrendered, and fit for the Master’s use. For if not now, when? If we have not taken the claims of Jesus upon our life seriously, we had best get down on our knees. And if we have, there are always deeper, more wonderful depths to plumb. I feel that I am only getting to the starting line and I have endeavored to run the race with sobriety for these many decades.

God views our life from the finish point. He stands at our finish line and beckons us to run well, run with abandon, run with character, run with grace.  So let us do that, with all our mind, soul and strength. There is no time to lose, and no time like the present to press into God.

Re-posted here with permission. Original blog posted here.

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations spreading the Gospel, and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is 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.

Aging from a Biblical Perspective

by Lois Tverberg

To understand your Bible you need to grasp the assumptions of its cultural world. Sometimes glimpsing its alternative point of view can even put our own reality into perspective.

For instance, in the Ancient Near East, advanced age was not seen as something to be avoided. Aging was seen a source of honor and dignity. Job saw a long life as a source of knowledge: “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12)

We, on the other hand, live in a society that idolizes youth, where our heroes are Mark Zuckerberg and Justin Beiber. We can hardly imagine living in a society where growing older is actually seen as a good thing.

Our perspective is not universal, though. Even today, it’s an insult in the Middle East to estimate a person’s age as too young. Hasidic Jews line the cribs of their newborns with pictures of white-bearded rabbis, who are the “rock stars” of their world.

 

The Dynamic Heroes of The Prince of Egypt

Do you remember The Prince of Egypt? In Disney’s animated retelling of the Exodus story, Moses, Miriam and Aaron all look about 23 years old. But have you ever considered the fact that the real Moses was actually eighty, which meant that Miriam would have been in her mid-nineties, and Aaron even older? These three dynamic “leaders of the revolution” were all senior citizens, old-timers who’d be long out to pasture in our world.

Believe it or not, even more of the players in the “original” Prince of Egypt were distinguished by their age. When Moses went to the leaders of Israel with God’s plan, the ones he approached were the zakanim—the elders, or literally, the “beards.” Disney doesn’t seem to realize that every one of the key roles in the Exodus story was significantly aged.

Where Elders were Leaders

Throughout the Bible, communities were led by elders, zakanim. The early church continued the tradition of forming counsels from elders, presbyteroi. In the ancient world, advanced age was seen as a prerequisite for leadership, because of the wisdom that accrues from experience. This was even more important in oral cultures, where traditions were handed down from generation to generation.

Youth was actually seen as a disadvantage, if you wanted to be influential. Jeremiah protested when God first called to be a prophet, because he felt so young that no one would listen to him (Jeremiah 1:6). Likewise, Paul had to encourage his disciple Timothy by saying, “Let no one despise you for your youth.” (1 Timothy 4:12) To have no one in one’s family who lived to an advanced age was a curse. (1 Samuel 2:32)

What would it be like if Christians reconsidered our culture’s worldview and saw aging as a blessing, rather than as a burden? What if middle-aged pastors didn’t feel saddled by the expectation that they act like teenagers?  What if older folks were the most influential, sought-after people in a congregation, rather than being treated as a declining, needy group?

I’ll be celebrating my next birthday in a few weeks. With every year, I like the Bible’s positive view of aging more and more.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31

Original blog posted at ourrabbijesus.com. Reposted here with permission.

Lois Tverberg

Lois Tverberg holds a Ph.D in biology and was a college professor. While in a Bible study class she became interested in studying the Bible in it’s cultural context. Discovering the answers to head-scratching questions and sharing the “ah-hah” moments with others became a passion. She began learning Hebrew and Greek, studying in the land of Israel, and exploring recent scholarship on Jesus’ first-century Jewish world. Ultimately, she left a life in academia to devote herself full-time to teaching and writing on the topic, and now has been at it for almost twenty years. She has authored five books and also directs the En-Gedi Resource Center, an educational ministry. 

Lois will be the speaker at “Through the Eyes of Jesus”, a Bible study seminar for men and women in Janesville, Wisconsin April 13 & 14, 2018. Early Bird deadline is March 19, 2018. Registration includes Saturday lunch. Our time together will include worship, teaching, and practical application via round-table discussion. You will receive materials to take home with you for ongoing study. Information here.

Women of the Word is an inter-denominational, inter-generational, and inter-cultural ministry dedicated to transforming lives into the image of Jesus through growing disciples taught by God’s Word and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We honor our elders, learning from them as they mentor us. We value and strengthen the middle-aged. We seek to reach the millennials and younger generations to encourage and mentor them in the ways of the Lord. Our prayer is that we honor God together. We welcome men to join us at Bible seminars such as “Through the Eyes of Jesus” and on our Amazing Israel Adventure trips.