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)?

May 16, 2021: Israel is at war! I urge you to pray for the salvation of all her people, both Jew and Arab, and for a cessation of violence and war, Come, Yeshua (Jesus) come we pray!! As a ministry we are also preparing ‘material blessings’ (Romans 15:27). 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 (2021) The Feast of “Shavuot” begins the evening of May 16th 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.

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 it Pentecost. Pente means 50 in Greek. Since Christians follow the Gregorian calendar “Pentecost” this year is Sunday May 23. (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!

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.

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

The Truth You Know

by Sue Priebe

In Matthew 11 we read the story of John the Baptist in prison.

John heard about the things Jesus was doing so the Bible tells us he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus what may seem to us a very strange question.  “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?”  How could John ask such a question?

This is the same John who is described in John 1:6-8 as the man sent by God “to tell about the light so that everyone might believe of his testimony.  John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.”

This was the same John who recognized the Messiah while they were both in their mothers’ wombs.  Remember his mother Elizabeth proclaimed that the baby leapt within her.

This is the same John whose father was given a prophetic word that “he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God…He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.”  (Luke 1:16-17)

This is the same John who was confronted by the Jewish leaders about his identity.  He replied quoting Isaiah in John 1:23, “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”

This is the same John who identified Jesus when he saw Him saying “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  He is the one I was talking about then I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel…I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him.  I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the Chosen One of God.”

So, what happened that would make John send his disciples to Jesus to ask if He really was the One?

His entire ministry had been based on declaring that very revelation.  What brought such doubt to his mind?

What expectations might he have had?  Did he expect Jesus to work a miracle and get him our of prison?  Surely Jesus would at least come to see him.  I am sure his mind was working overtime …..”maybe Jesus really isn’t who I thought He was.”  His circumstances may have been causing him to doubt what he absolutely knew to be true.

Historians tell us that John was in prison for about a year and a half.  This man who lived outdoors was now imprisoned with very little light, very little fresh air, very little company.  He was definitely in quarantine! 

Science tells us that prolonged social isolation can actually change the shape and function of our brains.  The region responsible for learning and memory can shrink in response to long-term isolation and the part that regulates fear and anxiety goes into overdrive.

Unexpected circumstances, isolation and distancing can cause us to doubt what we know to be true!  This was definitely a time of isolation for John.  Even though John said “He must increase and I must decrease,”  I don’t think he had counted on ending his life in prison.

As we enter another month of isolation and distancing, we must not let our minds “shrink” away from what we know to be true.  In times of isolation and stress, we too can begin to doubt.  We can begin to wonder where God is in the midst of this pandemic when economies are shaking, when our whole world changed in a matter of days.  We might ask,  “Where are you God?” or “Why aren’t you doing something about this?  We can’t even go to church!  People are dying!”

Jesus’ answer to John might seem strange to us.

There is a message in it for us too.  Did Jesus even answer the question? Jesus sent His answer, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”  And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

It may seem to us that Jesus’ answer was obscure, but it would have been clear to John who would have recognized that Jesus was quoting Isaiah 35 and 61, prophetic scriptures describing the ministry of the Messiah.  John also probably recognized the portion of the scripture that Jesus didn’t say:  Jesus did NOT say the phrase from Isaiah 61 that “prisoners will be freed.”  What was the message Jesus was sending? “Yes, I am the Messiah, but you will not be getting out of prison.”

Jesus also added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”  Some versions say “those who are not offended by me.”  Basically Jesus was saying to John—“Don’t turn away from me, don’t doubt what you know to be true because I don’t do what you expect me to do!  You know who I am.  Trust me even in your current difficult circumstance.”

I believe the Lord is saying the same thing to us today.  Our desire is for Him to intervene and stop this virus.  Perhaps we have an unmet need for which we have been praying.  The message Jesus is sending us is, “Don’t fall away, or don’t be offended by me because I am not doing what you think I should be doing.”  It is time for us to stand firm on what we know to be true!

An encouraging part of this story is that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when we have some fear and doubt in these difficult times.  In Luke 7: 28 Jesus said, “I tell you of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John.”  If the greatest one who ever lived (besides Jesus, of course) can have moments of doubt, so can we.

We may have those moments, but the key is not to stay in that place of doubt or fear.  Remember what the Word of God says.  Remember who God is.  Remember that He is a good God and His character has not changed.  After hearing the report from Jesus, I think John faced his situation with confidence, and we can do the same.  Jesus reminded John what the Bible said about the Messiah, and I believe Jesus’ response reminded John what he himself had seen and heard.

In times of difficulty, we must hang on to what we know to be true and not give in to doubt.  God is still God, and He is working in ways that we may not yet see, but that does not mean He is not working.  It is a time to stand firm in the Lord and the power of His Might!

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.  Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier] so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (spiritual) places.  Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].  So stand firm and hold your ground having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news].  Above all, lift up the [protective]shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18 (AMP)

Sue Priebe is Associate Pastor at City of Hope Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, a Chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains 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. 

 

 

Israel 2020: Maranatha, Ministry, Prayer and More!

by Betsy Roy 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

part of the mosaic at Magdala

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Ministry to Refugees, Soldiers and Believers in Israel

by Betsy Roy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The International Flavor of Serving in Israel

by Jill Czelusta –  Representative for Bridges for Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sign of the Almond Blossoms

 by Betsy Roy

As I was writing this recently it was very cold in New England, and very cold in other parts of the United States like Wisconsin, which had a wind child of -50 degrees last week.  Brrrrr……that’s frigid! We had a “taste” of spring for a couple of days early this week, but now it’s back to that damp raw winter feeling. 

We become inpatient in times like this, wondering if spring really will ever come this year! But, God is faithful! It will surely come! 

In February I really start to think about walking in Israel because I have been there in late February and March when it is spring in God’s beautiful land! Almond trees, often blossoming in late January or early February, announce the arrival of spring in Israel! Just looking at this picture of almond blossoms lifts my heart and encourages me! 

Almond blossoms are spoken of several times in the Bible. Numbers 17 gives the account of Aaron’s rod producing blossoms and bearing ripe almonds. Each Chief of each tribe of Israel also had a staff, but only Aaron’s blossomed. This was a sign from God that Aaron was God’s chosen man and it was also a sign against those rebelling against God at the time. They were to make an end of their grumblings lest they die. Selah! 

Remember, that Aaron’s rod was placed inside the Ark of the Covenant along with the Tablets of the 10 Commandments and some shewbread (manna). 

In Exodus 25 God directs Moses in the construction of the golden lampstand (menorah). The cups that hold the oil for lighting are made to look like almond blossoms! We find the lamp stand mentioned several times in the Bible. It is an important element in the Temple where it represents God’s presence and is also mentioned in the Revelation where there are seven golden lampstands representing seven churches. This lampstand (menorah) is Israel’s national emblem and a symbol of rebirth and restoration. There is a huge one standing in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem which you can see when you go there.

In Jeremiah 1:11 the prophet saw an almond branch to which the Lord replied “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” What a beautiful reminder! So, when you see almond blossoms remember not to grumble, that God’s presence is with you, and that HE is watching over His Word and He will bring it to pass in your life, in your family, in our churches and yes even in our nation and the nations of the world. All may seem very dark and cold right now, but take heart! HE is forever faithful and His Word is true! HALLELUJAH!!

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 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation. 

Who Will Have Pity on you O Jerusalem? – Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem

by Betsy Roy

The Bible asks a poignant question in Jeremiah 15:5. “Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”

Jesus grieved and wept over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34,35 and Luke 19:41,42) because he knew Jerusalem would be trampled down in 70 AD and an hour is yet to come when all nations will come against Jerusalem as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah. Yet the final outcome will be victorious for the Kingdom of God as King Jesus will rule from the Holy City and all who have survived of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:16).

In the meantime, much has happened in Jerusalem and Israel over the last 150 years or so as we witness the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral home, the restoration of the Hebrew language, the blooming of the land, and most astounding the increase of Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah! Hallelujah!

Jerusalem is the center of the nations (Ezekiel 5:5). Not Tehran, nor Mecca, nor Cairo, nor Washington DC, nor Moscow, nor Bejing, nor Tokyo, nor London, nor Paris, nor Rome, nor any other city. It’s Jerusalem! In this city our Lord Jesus was crucified, died, resurrected and ascended back to heaven. To this city our Lord Jesus will return as his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. There is no city like it! It is unique!

Man has tried and continues to try to bring “peace” to this city, but it is beyond us! The Bible instructs us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), but what does that really mean and how do we effectively do it? The meaning of Jerusalem is “teaching of peace”. Jeru means Torah or teaching. Salem means peace. The word “pray” in this Psalm means to “ask” so the phrase can be written to say “Ask about the prince of peace and his teaching of peace.” Therefore, when we pray for the “peace of Jerusalem” we aren’t praying for the absence of war per se although we can pray that the enemy of our souls not be allowed to bring war out of God’s timing. We should be praying that people (souls) that do not know Jesus as Messiah begin to ask about him and his teachings. We can also pray that those of us who do know him have a deeper understanding of his teachings and walk as disciples in this world. May we be salt and light and draw others to him.

We can pray that veil in front of the eyes of the Jewish people becomes thinner and thinner and that they will look up and recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and that a spirit of supplication and repentance comes upon them so they will cry “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 13:35). Only when this happens on a national level will the Lord return. Let us cry out for a great harvest of souls in Israel and throughout the Middle East of both Jew and Gentile.

In Hebrew the word “peace” means completenes, wholeness, a state when things are as God intends them to be so this is what we are asking of God. We are not asking Him to withhold the final time of war because as it is written, so it will surely come. Jesus prayed that we would understand the way of peace. May we understand it and pray for others to understand it also. That is “praying for the peace of Jersualem”.  Will you join me in it?

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 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation. 

 

The Fall Feasts

by Rose-Marie Slosek

The fall is a time of several major feasts in the Jewish calendar.  On September 9-11 of this year (2018), the Jewish Civil New Year, Rosh Hashanah (also known as the Feast of Trumpets), will be celebrated. It is the first of the “High Holy Days” and celebrates God making the world!  A shofar is blown during the service.  Giving to the needy so that one may be included in the Book of Life and have a happy year is a tradition practiced by Jewish people all over the world. 

Sweet food is eaten, such a challah bread with raisins and apples dipped in honey. The head of the fish is often served so you remember to be “the head and not the tail”– a leader instead of a follower! If you want to wish someone a happy new year you say, “L’shanah Tovah”  which means “a good year” in Hebrew.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It is scheduled ten days after Rosh Hashanah. On that day, people repent of their sins, and ask God to forgive their sins. It is called the ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths.” People fast and do not work that day so they can repent.  It is called the “Day of Atonement.” September 19th is the date this year. 

On September 24th and 25th is the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) or Sukkot. It is a time to remember God’s provision in the wilderness but also to look forward to the time when the Messiah comes and all the nations come to Jerusalem to worship God. People construct and live in hut like structures on their porches, balconies, back yards, to remember the fragility of life and to be thankful for their homes and God’s provision.  It is a time of great celebration! People gather in the sukkot structure and eat and rejoice together. This feast also has great prophetic meaning for us as believers.. Zechariah tells us that a day will come when we will go up to Jerusalem year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14: 16).

At the end of Sukkot, the Jews celebrate Shemini Atzeret where people spend an additional day with God! While Sukkot is for everyone to celebrate, only the Jews celebrate Shemini Atzeret as they celebrate the special relationship they have with God. This is celebrated on October 1st this year.  

On October 2nd is Simchat Torah.  It celebrates the conclusion of the public Torah readings for the year. People often dance with the Torah scrolls around the table where the Torah is read! In Israel Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are condensed into one day.

As Christians, we can appreciate these holy day celebrations as they often are very symbolic in nature and point to Jesus in some way.  Jesus did celebrate the Feasts and learning about them can be very enriching. 

These holidays have three parts to them:  Israel was to observe the holiday each year to remember and celebrate something God did in the past, while looking forward to some prophetic purpose hidden within each festival that is still to come!

There is often confusion as to whether Christians should or even must celebrate these festivals. Paul addresses this in the book of Colossians : Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  (Colossians 2:16,17)

Judaizers, even modern day ones, say that we must celebrate these festivals but we have liberty to honor them or to no partake in them. They have beautiful imagery, but all things find their completeness in Christ so we are not compelled to as far as religious duty.  We can easily enjoy the symbolism and history of the festivals and contemplate their prophetic meaning. Thank God that we have a once and for all atonement of our sins in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All things have been provided by God in Christ and this is nothing that we can earn of ourselves.  However, we can take this good advice from Paul as he writes to the Corinthians : Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. “  (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

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, especially Ireland and Israel , 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. Consider joining us on the next Amazing Israel Adventure March 31 – April 11, 2019.  Trips to Israel are open to men and women.