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 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.

A Clash of Two Festivals

March 16, 2022, marks the convergence of two festivals: The Feast or Festival of Purim and the Festival of Fire (Chaharshanbe Suri which means “the scarlet Wednesday”). Both began in ancient Persia, now modern-day Iran. The exact date on the Gregorian calendar is different each year. Purim is celebrated on the 14th and 15th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (normally late Feb/early March). The Fire Festival is on the last Wednesday of the last month of the Iranian calendar before the start of their New Year at the Spring equinox (late March). Celebrations for both begin on the “eve” before. 

Why should we as modern-day people care about these two festivals? 

Both festivals are “spiritual”. Many people today are seeking out spiritual things and think that as long as it’s “spiritual” it’s good. This is not true. The question we need to ask is “Of what spirit is each festival?” 

The Feast of Purim is found in the biblical book of Esther. It tells the story of a Jewish girl named Esther who became Queen of Persia. The King of Persia, now modern-day Iran, reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1). The King’s advisor Haman had devised a wicked plot to annihilate the Jewish people because they were different. The King agreed! 

The Persian King did not know that Esther was Jewish. She kept it a secret.

Her cousin Mordecai heard of the plot to annihilate the Jewish people and implored Esther to intercede on behalf of her people. Esther was afraid knowing that if she went to the King without being summoned, she would be killed unless he extended his scepter of favor to her. Mordecai pointed out that Esther would not escape the decree just because she lived in the King’s palace. She would be found out and die also. 

The Jewish people in the City of Susa fasted for three days at Esther’s request. She then went bravely to the King who did extend his royal scepter of favor to her. Esther invited the King and Haman to two banquets.  At the banquets the King offered Esther whatever she would want, up to the half of his kingdom! At the second banquet, Esther pleaded for the life of her people, exposing Haman’s plot to annihilate them. Now knowing that his Queen was Jewish, the King became angry at Haman which resulted in Haman’s death. Another decree was written. Hallelujah!  So, instead of being annihilated on the set day of the 13th of Adar, the Jewish people were able to defend themselves and overcome their enemies. The original decree’s intent was reversed. A great celebration happened on the 14th and 15th of Adar. From that time on, the Feast of Purim has been celebrated by the Jewish people commemorating the courage of Queen Esther and the deliverance of her people from death to life! Gifts are traditionally given, especially to the poor and needy. 

In contrast, the Festival of Fire is in honor of the spirits of the dead. It includes such things as “fire jumping,” which is meant to purify those jumping over the fire. Fortune telling and eating “wish granting” snacks are among some of the other practices during the festival. Does that sound at all superstitious and even occultic? It is!! 

It’s a spiritual war between satan and God. 

Both festivals are celebrated today all over the world wherever Jewish and Iranian people live. Many people of other cultures participate not even knowing what they are doing.  Some modern-day Jews and Iranians don’t know the whole story either. 

These festivals are not just meaningless “let’s have some fun” celebrations. They are rooted in an ancient conflict between death and life, between satan and God. While Purim celebrates the life and the victory brought by our covenant-keeping God, the Festival of Fire celebrates death!  The powers of darkness try to entice us with “fun and games”.  This is true with the Festival of Fire. After all we just want to have fun, right??  It’s all a disguise to entrap people, to get them to open a door in their hearts allowing the enemy of our souls an entrance into lives which will only lead to torment and destruction.

God, on the other hand, does require us to stand in faith and sometimes even risk our lives to be part of His eternal plan of redemption just like He did in the book of Esther. He promises to always be with us and to lead us in paths of righteousness and peace. 

Right now and right here in 2022 the power of satan is trying to defeat the power of God! We see this not only in the celebration of death, but wars and rumors of wars are growing daily. Our world is in great turmoil on every level. The Bible tells us there is a path that leads to life and a path that “seems right to man” but leads to destruction. Which path will you choose?  

The path of life!

When we choose the path of life in Christ Jesus we have favor with God because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. We have access to the throne room of grace to ask for help in time of need. What a comfort! What an assurance! Though the earth is shaking, we have an unshakeable God. We can ask Him to reverse the wicked decrees of the “kings” of the earth bent on war. May God give us the grace and courage to be a modern day Mordecai or Esther. Our world surely needs us!

Believers in Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) also have the privilege of co-laboring with him in prayer and intercession through the power of the Holy Spirit! So let’s pray right now….

Father, in the name of Jesus we thank you that we have access to the throne of grace to find help in time of need because of the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. We can come to you knowing that we will receive favor as we join together in Spirit led prayer. The earth is shaking but you remain steadfast and faithful. We trust you Lord and we do not lean on our own understanding. We ask you to shed light into the darkness. Reveal the plans of the evil one and deliver us from his schemes. Strengthen us to stand strong and be your instruments of peace. May your kingdom come and your will be done. Maranatha!

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

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.

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

Why celebrate the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot)?

I urge you to pray for the salvation of all the people of Israel, both Jew and Arab, and for a cessation of violence and peace within her borders. Come, Yeshua (Jesus) come we pray!! As a ministry we are also preparing ‘material blessings’ (Romans 15:27). Pentecost is a perfect time to give offerings. Please consider making a donation here which will be sent directly to help ministries that we have personal relationship with in Israel.

The Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot)

Many Christians have some familiarity with the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1 – 4) mentioned in the New Testament and if you have been part of any organized church tradition you may have heard of it. Did you know that it’s roots are in the Old Testament and actually a Feast that the LORD God commanded the children of Israel to celebrate?

This year (2022) The Feast of “Shavuot” begins the evening of June 4th which is Sivan 6 on the Hebrew Calendar. It is one of the three “pilgrimage” feasts when Jewish males were commanded in the Old Testament to go up to Jerusalem to present offerings to the LORD. The other two are Passover and Tabernacles.

Because the Hebrew calendar is different from the Gregorian calendar the Biblical Feasts are on different days of the Gregorian calendar each year and coincide infrequently. This year (2022) however they do as June 5th is Pentecost Sunday on the Gregorian calendar and Shavuot begins at sundown on June 4th ending at sundown June 5th in Israel. It is a true convergence. Let’s be expectant that as the Gentile church joins with our believing Jewish brothers and sisters in this celebration a new unity and love will flow between us as we are joined into one Body in Messiah Yeshua. How beautiful and exciting!

Shavuot means “weeks” in Hebrew so it is also known as the Feast of Weeks because it occurs 7 weeks after the Feast of Firstfruits which today is included in the eight day Feast of Passover (also knows as Feast of Unleavened Bread). Because it starts on the 50th day following Firstfruits, we call Shavuot Pentecost. Pente means 50 in Greek. Since Christians follow the Gregorian calendar “Pentecost” this year is Sunday June 5th. (Read about the Feast of Firstfruits and Weeks in Leviticus 23:9 – 22).

In the Bible Shavuot is also known as the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16) because it celebrates the beginning (first fruits) of the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22).

The Wave Offerings

On the Feast of Firstfruits (after Passover), one sheaf of barley was waved as a celebration of the the barley harvest and one male lamb without blemish was offered as a sacrifice unto the LORD. Can you see how this relates to Jesus who is called a spotless lamb and sacrificed himself on the cross for our redemption and salvation? Christ is the first fruits! (1 Corinthians 15:23)

On Shavuot a new grain (wheat) offering is brought to the LORD in the form of two loaves that were waved by the priests (Leviticus 23:16 – 17). Animal sacrifice was also involved in this Feast. However animal sacrifice ceased when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD. As Christians we believe Jesus is the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins. Animal sacrifice is no longer necessary for redemption.

The Two Loaves of Bread

What could the two loaves of bread symbolize? They could represent a double portion harvest. In Old Testament days it was the blessing of actual grain because Israel was an agricultural society. But in the New Testament Jesus said, “The fields are already white for harvest” (John 4:35), indicating a harvest of souls!! This is part of our mission as believers — to make disciples. While the Feast of Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, it is also about 3,000 souls coming into the Kingdom! Who were these people? They were primarily Jews because Jews came up to the Temple at Shavuot from all over the known world. 3,000 souls came to know Jesus as Messiah that day and the “church” was born in power. (Read Acts Chapter 2). What an awesome “first fruits” offering and harvest! Many of these new believers empowered by the Holy Spirit would have returned to where they lived across Israel, Asia and even to Rome after Shavuot and spread the Gospel to their neighbors. Glory to God!!

The two loaves could also represent the “One New Man”, the coming together of Jew and Gentile, now one in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). Together we make up the “church”. (Ephesians 2:11 – 22). God is not done with Israel and will keep His covenant promises to her. The Apostle Paul taught this in Romans Chapters 9 – 11.

The Book of Ruth

A Jewish tradition begun by the Rabbis is to read the Book of Ruth during Shavuot. The story of Ruth begins at the beginning of the barley harvest (Feast of Firstfruits) and continues through the wheat harvest beyond Shavuot. It is very meaningful!

The story of Ruth is of how she, a Moabites came alongside her Jewish mother-in law Naomi to care for her. Ruth emphatically states in Chapter 1, verse 16

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.’

Here is the story in a nutshell! Ruth fully identifies with Naomi and returns with her to Bethlehem leaving her own country. Both Naomi’s husband and Ruth’s husband are dead. In that culture widowhood was extremely difficult. Additionally they had no children; Naomi’s sons have also died and Ruth is childless which was another difficulty within the culture.

Naomi’s purpose in returning to Bethlehem is to seek out a “kinsmen redeemer” among her relatives. One is found in Boaz, who foreshadows Jesus, and Ruth marries him. Together they had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the Father of King David and therefore in the lineage of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)!!

Here we see a Gentile woman being accepted into the House of Israel. What a beautiful foreshadowing of how the Church is made up of both Jew and Gentile becoming “one new man” in Yeshua. Hallelujah! May we be like Ruth, coming alongside the Jewish people to love them, bless them, care for them and draw them to their Messiah Yeshua!

We need Torah (the Word) and the Spirit

While we can not prove it from the Scriptures, the Rabbis teach that the Ten Commandments (Torah – teaching) was given on Mt. Sinai to Moses at the time of Shavuot. Observant Jews believe this today. We can glean from this as we celebrate the bringing together of the celebration of Shavuot/Pentecost in the Old and New Testaments! As believers in Jesus we want the power of the Holy Spirit and His manifestations but they must be rooted in God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will never contradict what the Word says because He is One with the Father and the Son!

Can you see how it enriches our understanding of the Scriptures and our walk with the LORD when we understand the richness of our inheritance as demonstrated in the Feasts of the LORD and in the Old Testament? We pray this season of harvest is a blessing to you as you bless others in Yeshua’s name. Click here to make a donation which will be given to our brothers and sisters in Israel according to Romans 15:27.

View videos to learn more….

Wave Offering with Pam Singer from Israel>>

The Church and Israel with Betsy Roy >>

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.  Join us on the Amazing Israel Adventure next year Feb 26-March 10, 2023.