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.
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 inDeuteronomy 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.
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.
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)
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.
There is no doubt that the Jewish people have suffered immensely throughout history. Some of the suffering has been, sadly, at the hands of people, some of them professing Christians, who had an unscriptural view of Israel or were putting all the guilt for the death of the Messiah upon them. It is important to view Israel properly and seek to support and encourage her in a biblically correct way. If we don’t get this right, we stand to get much wrong, especially as future events concerning Israel unfold.
As Christianity rose to be the sanctioned state religion in Europe under Constantine it became easy to blame the death of Jesus upon the Jewish people without owning that Jesus came to die for ALL of humanity’s sins (1 John 2:1-2), and that all of us had a direct part in why He had to die (Romans 3:23-24). As blame, hatred, and misunderstanding snowballed, so did the persecution of Jewish people. Some contributing factors were theological ideas such as the concept that the Church now “replaced” Israel.
Martin Luther fostered the idea of replacement theology when it appeared that trying to convert Jews was not met with openness. His “advice” initially went from trying to be patient with them to ultimately urging the burning of their synagogues, putting them in settlements, confiscating their literature, threatening rabbis with death, and not allowing them free passage. You can understand how hostility could arise on both sides. Other factors were events like the Crusades, which sought to reclaim the Holy Land for Christians by force. Violence was added to theological or cultural viewpoints so that by the time Hitler came to power in the 1930s, a maelstrom of hatred against the Jews was again poised to happen. The Holocaust was a dark day for the Jews but a darker one for those administering it. At least six million Jews were murdered.
Antisemitism, aided with fuel from Satan’s hatred of Israel, spread and increased, and is still increasing to this day. We cannot stand by and allow this to happen without doing all that we can to aid our Jewish neighbors.
We as Gentile believers, are not divorced from Israel but are of “the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:11-13). We are “wild branches” grafted into the branches of the olive tree that is Israel (Romans 11:17-18). The apostle Paul tells us not to be arrogant toward the original branches. He shows us that through their unbelief, Jesus redeemed ALL of us, and salvation came to us who were “afar off.”
God has made irrevocable promises to Israel that He will not renege on (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:17-18;Genesis 17:8; Jeremiah 31:2-4; Ezekiel 36:22-24). Israel’s current spiritual blindness will be overturned at the end of the age, and “all Israel will see “He whom they have pierced” and repent (Zechariah 12:10). It is now the place of the Church to stand with Israel and to pray for her complete salvation. The apostle Paul tells us that the Gentile church is to “provoke Israel to jealousy” (Romans 11:11). What in the world does that mean? Isn’t jealousy bad? Paul means that just by having a relationship with God that is not built upon obeying rules and regulations but freely receiving the grace of God, we can cause the hearts of Jewish people to be provoked to genuine faith. God freely pours out love, peace, salvation, joy, and every good thing upon us as trust in Him alone and not our works or our sacrifices. It is the goodness of God that leads us all to repentance and salvation (Romans 2:4)
It does no one, Jew or Gentile alike, to be mocked or held in derision, or rejected or blamed. This is not going to make anyone want salvation! Our hearts cannot hold malice toward our Jewish friends and neighbors. Many will be our future brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God. Difficult times are ahead of them and it is up to us, even our God-given calling, to stand with them in their hour of trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). Our love for them must be patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, irritable, or resentful, it must never rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice in sharing the truth. We must be able to bear all things, hope for all good things, endure all things. Our love, the agape love we receive from God, must not fail. This does not mean that we approve of all things that are said and done by the nation or people of Israel or the Jewish heritage. It means that we will be there to help as God shows us, even amidst misunderstanding, trouble, or rejection. It means that we know the Scriptures and stand with what God says: for His love for and faithfulness to Israel is linked with His Name (Genesis 22:16-17).
With notable exceptions, especially those who saved, protected, or hid Jews during World War Two, Jewish people have not always found a place of safety and reception amongst their Christian neighbors. Let us be a generation that is found interceding, upholding, and advocating for the Jewish people. The time of God’s mercy, the set time, is quickly coming to Israel (Psalm 102:13). So let us stand in our place and do as God directs to aid Israel and her people at the end of the age.
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.
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 5:2ESV)
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)
(1) Hedrick, Dr. Gary. “Replacement Theology: It’s Origins, Teachings and Errors,” Shema Congregation Shema Yisrael, October 5, 2012.
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.
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.
When I was a child, Good Friday was always a very serious day. Banks and some places of business were closed from noon until three, kids were supposed to be very quiet during these hours, and I was convinced that the sun never shone on Good Friday afternoon. It was a very serious religious day. The church service was always quiet, the cross was draped in black and sometimes the lights would grow more dim as the service progressed, ending the service in the dark. It was kind of scary. We didn’t understand everything, but we knew we had to be quiet AND serious.
The term Good Friday has evolved over the years. The English phrase “Good Friday” came from the Old German name Gottes Freytag which means “good” or “holy” Friday. In the present time the Germans call the day Karfreigta, which means “Care Friday” of “Friday of Mourning.” Other nicknames include “Black Friday,” (not to be confused with the day after Thanksgiving) or “Sorrowful Friday.” 1 Even when I was very young, I began to question why everyone was so sad about it. It was the day Jesus paid for my sins…a debt that I couldn’t begin to pay. He went to the cross so I didn’t have to go to hell. I thought this should be something to be happy about.
When it becomes a day of mourning instead of thanksgiving, the question comes up “Who is responsible for this death we are mourning?” There are two possible answers: the most common one is the Jews! The term “Christ killers” has been used against Jews for centuries. If you want to get it historically correct, the Jews had no power of crucifixion. It was the Romans who gave the death sentence. (I don’t see anyone blaming Italians.) The second response is more correct — my sin! However, that can cause a problem if Good Friday is a day of mourning for my sins, the focus can become my sin instead of my Savior! Focusing on sin allows the enemy to bring new accusations against us, even for old sins. Why should we spend time meditating on sins that have already been forgiven? In Isaiah 43:25 the Lord Himself says “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Now, if there are sins we haven’t repented of, mourning is still not the answer….repentance is.
Another problem was the math--I knew even as a child that Jesus said He would be in the grave for three days and three nights. No matter how I counted it out, Friday just didn’t work! Those who chose Good Friday negated the fact that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus were all related to Passover! He couldn’t have died on a Friday.
You might ask, “What’s the difference when we celebrate the Lord’s crucifixion? After all, isn’t the important part the fact that it happened? And besides, we celebrate Christmas, and we know Jesus wasn’t born December 25.”
The connection with the Spring Feasts of the Lord is the answer: Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits. The chart below shows the correct sequence of events regarding the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord during the Biblical month of Nisan from the 14th – 18th.
Separating what has come to be known as Holy Week or Passion Week from the Spring Feasts of the Lord happened in 324 CE; the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox, which is usually March 21. This decision wasn’t made just to keep the date consistent; it was made to remove from the church anything connected to Jews. The basis for moving the date was anti-Semitism! The following is from an article which discusses the Council’s decision.
… And first of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast, we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul….Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd, for we have received from our Savior a different way….and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast… it is our duty not to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord.2
Apparently the fourth century church forgot something that many today often forget: JESUS WAS A JEW! The Bible was written almost totally by Jewish people. God calls these feasts not the Jewish Feasts, but the Feasts of the Lord.
God was very specific in describing the dates and times of Jesus’ death. Why? He wanted us to see how Jesus fulfilled the Feasts that have been celebrated from the times of Moses. Understanding that Jesus fulfilled these ancient feasts to the exact day and time, would make it almost impossible to deny that Jesus is Messiah.
Passover was so important to God that He made the month in which it occurred the beginning of the year (Exodus 12:2). On the Jewish calendar, a month begins with the sighting of the new moon, so the months don’t directly match the months of our western calendar. The chart below shows the relationship of the calendars.
Overview of Spring Feasts
• The Feast of Passover comes first (Nisan 14) and is followed directly by the Feast of Unleavened Bread (on Nisan 15).
• The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the longest of the three Spring feasts, lasting for seven days.
• After the Feast of Unleavened Bread, comes the Feast of First Fruits, which is celebrated the Sunday following Passover.
• Sometimes all three feasts are collectively referred to as the Feast of Unleavened Bread and sometimes all three are called Passover (Acts 20:6; Luke 22:1).
Let’s look at the details set out in Exodus 12:1-14, 21-27
• On the tenth day each man is to take a year-old lamb without blemish for his household.
• They were to watch over the lamb until the 14th day. It became part of the family for those days.
• The whole congregation are to slaughter their lambs at twilight
• The blood was put on the two doorposts and the crossbeam of the house
• The meal had to be eaten that night (now it is the 15th) with matzot and bitter herbs
• If there were any leftovers, they must be burned in the morning.
• They were to eat it dressed and ready to travel
• This day must be a memorial throughout the generations
On Day 1 of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Nisan 15, the Israelites left Egypt in haste. (Exodus 12:31 – 34, 39).
The Feast of Firstfruits was to take place when they entered the land; it was to occur on the first Sunday after Passover. On this Sunday the priest would wave a sheaf (omer) of green barley of the new harvest before the LORD (north, south, east, then west) as a symbolic gesture of dedicating the coming harvest to Him. As they returned to the Temple with the sheaves, the choir of Levites led the worship music with these words from Psalm 30:1-3– “I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive…”
Jesus Fulfilled the Spring Feasts
Nisan 10, Lamb Selection Day was what we call Palm Sunday (which probably wasn’t Sunday, but Saturday), Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Up until that day, Jesus had avoided being called king, but on that day, He not only accepted the praise, He deliberately arranged for it to happen. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation. Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.“ Zechariah 9:9
According to Exodus 12, the people kept their lambs for four days examining them to be sure they were without blemish. What was Jesus doing during those four days? After his triumphal entry on Nisan 10, Jesus spent the next four days in the temple area: the lamb was on display for all to examine. “And in the daytime, He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.” Luke 21:37-38
Jesus the Passover meal with His disciples the beginning of Nisan 14. (Remember, that the Jewish day begins in the evening —“the evening and the morning were the first day” from Genesis) The only thing is they didn’t have a lamb at that meal. It was there that Jesus presented Himself as the Lamb. “This is my body given for you; do this is remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
We know Jesus was arrested after the Passover meal and condemned to die. He was on the cross on Nissan 14 from nine in the morning until three in afternoon, and at the exact time that the Passover lambs were being killed at the temple, Jesus said “It is finished.”
Jesus was buried on Unleavened Bread. Remember there was a rush to get the victims of crucifixion off the crosses before the high holy day…the special Sabbath being the first day of Unleavened Bread (Thursday). If the Sabbath referred to had been a regular Saturday Sabbath, when would the women have had time to prepare the spices they were bringing to the tomb before dawn on Sunday morning? They would have been forbidden to do that work on the Sabbath. The events of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion happened in rapid succession; they couldn’t have planned for it. Friday was the only day they could have shopped for and prepared the spices.
Jesus rose from the dead on First Fruits. First Fruits is always the day after the regular Sabbath after Passover (always a Sunday). “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
Summary of the Spring Feasts
• Passover represents our salvation and deliverance by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus the Messiah. We are justified by trusting in the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God (Revelation 7:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
• Unleavened Bread represents our sanctification as we rid ourselves of the old leaven of “Egypt” and die to the carnal nature. This is represented by the burial of Jesus and our identification with Him.
• First Fruits represents the resurrection of Jesus our Messiah and our future glorified state as part of the coming harvest of God at the end of the age.
So, I stopped celebrating Good Friday because it doesn’t fit anywhere in the biblical story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. So the question remains: Should we move Easter to line it up with First Fruits? That’s a hard one because it is so ingrained in our culture. I leave it at this–I am always very happy when Resurrection Sunday falls on the day of First Fruits, as it does this year (2022). Even though Passover doesn’t begin until Friday this year (2022), First Fruits is Sunday.
May you have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!
Romans 14:5-6a (NKJV) “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.”
2“Israel Betrayed: The History of Replacement Theology.” Published by Ariel Ministries in 2019.
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.
I’m going to share today something of the mystery of the Bride, and it will surely touch upon the subject of Israel, because the mystery of the Bride includes so many things. And this is what we want really to understand today. The book of Revelation, which you can say is the consummation of the revelation of God from Genesis to the end of the Bible, focuses particularly on the mystery of the Bride who makes herself ready for the coming King. And if that’s the focus and that’s the high point of the book, which I do believe it is, then I believe that the Lord would have us give this subject great priority in our lives. And it is a subject that needs much time so I will try to focus on some of the points I think are essential for us to hear today.
I would like to say that the mystery of the Bride is both an inner and outer reality. An inner reality, because it firstly speaks about our individual and our collective relationship of love and intimacy with the Bridegroom, Yeshua. And of course, an outer reality, because it works in a process that God is working on the earth in connection to Israel, Jerusalem and the nations to bring forth finally the incarnation, one can say, of the finished work of redemption of Yeshua—which is seen at the end of the book of Revelation in the marriage supper of the Lamb, which is the great goal of redemption, that is the thing that we can say that is written of in Isaiah 53, “…He will see the travail of his soul and be pleased…” (vs 11). And there is nothing more for… than the Bride …who can really bring that great pleasure to the Lord, for she is the one who fully appreciates and yields herself to the Lord for the fulfillment of that mystery in her life.
So I would like to begin with some readings, we’ll begin with a reading from: Revelation chapter 10:7 “but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished as he declared it to his servants the prophets.”
And then in Revelation 11:1-2 “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod and the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the Temple of God”…(and I believe this is speaking of the Temple of Living Stones and not a temple on the temple mount as many and most think.)…..”measure the Temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2) “But leave out the court which is outside the Temple, and do not measure it….”
And let’s read now: Revelation 19: 6-10 “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” 7 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write!: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
And as I was saying, just a few moments ago, I believe that the bride of Messiah, though obviously the whole church of the Lord is called to be part of that Bride and that bridal company, if we look more closely even to the messages to the seven churches in the book of Revelation…and beyond that…we can understand that though the whole church is invited to be the Bride, the Bride is that part of the church that responds to the Lord in a very deep and real way. And understands, the admonitions of the Lord and the encouragements of the Lord the whole way long, that God would bring us finally to this great and wonderful marriage supper of the Lamb when we come into full union with the Lord. And this of course is a process and it’s a mystery. It’s a mystery because it expresses the ultimate reality of this love relationship between God and man. It expresses the ultimate fruit of what the Lord has finally laid down his life for, in perfect love and a perfect offering.
And so I believe it is the great fulfillment. And the marriage supper of the Lamb of course is the consummation, which is then the beginning of all that is to follow. It’s not the end in any way. In actuality, it’s the beginning.
And so if we have the vision of the Bride of Christ, which comes of course from the vision of the Bridegroom Himself, we submit ourself to a process of God, of yielding ourselves to Him in faith and love and giving God full access and authority over our lives to bring this fulfillment that HE so longs to bring forth in each one of our lives. But of course the Bride is not just a collection of individuals but the Bride very much is the answer to the prayer of Yeshua in John 17. And is a company of people who have really understood the heart of God, not just in a theological way, but in a walk of Life and in a vision that includes in every aspect of one’s walk with the Lord from morning to evening and through the night until the morning.
And so we can say that the Bride is truly the one who is the resting place of the Lord. The place where, the Ark of the Covenant, The Lord, can finally rest. And as we read in Revelation, it is that part of the church that God measures in the sense of those who are worshiping and living at the altar and the outer court is left out. And in order for the Bride to become the Bride there needs to be a deep correspondence between the nature of the Bridegroom and the nature of the Bride. And therefore, we can say that the Bride is the one who has the longing to behold the true image of the Bridegroom.
I think one of the main tactics of the devil throughout the centuries has been to distort the image of Jesus. And we know that He is the image of the invisible God. The book of Revelation ultimately is not just a series of prophetic events that take place, which of course it is as well, but it is ultimately the unveiling of the face of Yeshua. And the beholding of that face which reveals the fullness of the nature of God…it’s the glory of God in the face of Yeshua, as Paul says, that captivates us! It captivates us in a way that it becomes the central reality in our lives and all that we live no matter what the ministry is or the different aspects of the ministry. All become an offering up of our love to Him for His glorification.
And this is a continuous process in our lives of responding to the Living Word of God. Because, Yeshua, Jesus IS the Word of God and His word is Spirit and Life. And therefore, has the power to an abandoned heart to bring forth a transformation of mind and a transformation of heart. And as we all know, this is a process, a continuous process that God takes us through in our lives which ultimately leads to transfiguration. Which ultimately leads to our discovery of ourself in Him in the realm of His glory, because it’s in His glory that we find our true identity.
I remember many years ago I was battling with the whole question of my identity as a Jew who has found the Messiah. After I came to Israel there were very few believers at that time, it was 51 years ago and I met the gentile believers and coming from a religious Jewish background it was a little shocking for me that what the Lord was taking me through. And I was saying to the Lord, “Lord, where am I and why have you brought me to this country? And how do I find myself in You as a Jewish believer?” It was a very special day and I was actually in Germany, and one day the Holy Spirit came upon me in a very powerful way and God let me behold the face of Yeshua, actually it was more His eyes that I had seen. And the moment I looked into His eyes I found my complete identity, I found my complete identity. I realized it wasn’t an issue of outer things of putting on a tallit, or putting on a kippah. I had known that, I mean I had lived that way for many years and that’s the way I was raised. And when I saw His face, first of all I saw the perfect man, and I saw the God-Man. But I also saw the perfect Jew. I saw the incarnation of Israel in One Man and as it says in Isaiah 49. And when I looked into His face, into His eyes, for the first time in my life, I had an experience of such a similar experience when I met Him, but this was even more complete…I knew that my entire identity was in Him. And by seeing Him, I knew who I was and there was no other way for me to know who I was except to see that I was complete in Him as a Jew and as a man.
And that the whole destiny of Israel, because there’s always this struggle of Jewish identity in Israel, was Yeshua….Yeshua who was in the incarnation of Israel my servant. And also the longed for Bridegroom as God manifested Himself to Israel as the husband God Bridegroom who then comes in human flesh and is identified first by John the Baptist not only as the Lamb of God, but as the Bridegroom. And John the Baptist hears the voice of the Bridegroom. And I think this is very important in the hearing and in the seeing. Seeing the Bridegroom, not just seeing the Savior, of course, we need to see the Savior and the Savior is the Bridegroom. But we need to see the Bridegroom and we need to hear the voice, not only just the Voice of God, but the voice of the Bridegroom and to know His Voice.
I think of when we were children, there was that RCA Victor…I think probably some of you probably know what that is…there was this little dog, I think he was a terrier. And he was standing at a gramophone and he was listening to the gramophone…a very primitive thing in comparison to what we have, and it said on it, “his master’s voice.” And the voice that was heard through that gramophone was known to that little dog. And I think when we hear the voice of the Bridegroom it is always a call to go deeper, to leave the outer court, to realize that the veil has been torn from top to bottom, that we have access to live with God in the Holy of Holies and to come into ever increasing union with Him. And to allow Him to tear that veil over our mind and over our hearts, which is the deeper circumcision that we all need, and I know that I need it, and I continue to ask God to bring it forth in the whole process of life that we live… which is a process, that has, as we all know, suffering, tribulation….but surely not only that, but in these end times we experience that very much also within the body of Messiah and also in relation to the world around us which we see that we are more estranged as the time goes on from this world. And we sense more and more God’s love for this world and God’s desire to bring salvation to this world. But we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth though we are bringing at the same time the message of salvation and holding the Kingdom for the Lord during the time that we live on this earth.
And so the Bride makes herself ready. As it says in I John 3:1-3 as well that we will be like Him when we see Him. (vs. 2 Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be, but we know that, when HE IS revealed, we will be like Him; for we will see Him as HE IS.) This is something enormous if we think about it, that we will be like Him when we see Him and everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself even as He is pure. (vs. 3)
So I can say that our walk with the Lord as bridal souls is an inner highway to Zion as has been spoken of in the Psalms. And we all have to go through the valley of Bacca (Ps. 84) so that God can bring forth that inner spring of life, those inner wells, that they can be released, to release the rivers, the rivers of Living Waters that the Lord prophesied about at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. And in many ways that’s connected to our living out the reality of our baptism and entering with Him into His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, and ultimately into His priesthood.
And so our intercession is not just a prayer that we offer up to God for different things, even with a deep burden of the Holy Spirit, but our intercession becomes an offering of our lives for the very things that we are praying for. Through the offering up our lives for those things, God begins to manifest those things in us so that we can become an expression of the Lord and even that people can eat from us the broken body and drink of the blood of Yeshua as we partake in His very life. In Revelation 19:10c we read..”Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Now I’d just like to speak about this and explain how I have come to understand this in the last years. First of all, the whole book of Revelation is a prophecy, as I said it’s the unveiling of Jesus Christ, of Yeshua Ha Mashiach. It’s the beholding of the true nature of the Lamb. And as we follow Him, wherever He goes and wherever HE leads us, HE reveals Himself to us from within. That’s part of the mystery, it’s not just a revelation that we receive, it’s a revelation that comes as we follow the Lamb wherever HE goes. He reveals Himself to us and He begins to manifest HIs Name and His Father’s Name upon our forehead which has to do with the whole way we think, the whole way we see, the whole way we live our lives which become an act of true worship. And as we all know, worship is not only through song, and what we call worship….but worship is really, again as I said of intercession, it’s the offering up of our lives to the Lord at the altar as an expression of our love and making a place for Him to live His life out more and more in us as He captivates us, as we yield to Him. The Lord begins to take deeper and deeper possession of our lives within and that taste is so sweet to us that it creates a deeper longing, a deeper desire to surrender to Him.
So the true testimony of Yeshua, of Jesus in our hearts is to live in the Spirit of prophecy. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. Not only through faith in the prophecy but that the prophecy which here, in Revelation 19, is the prophecy of the Bride making herself ready. That prophecy becomes our life vision. We live in that prophecy, we see through that prophecy, we relate to all things that are happening on the globe, in Israel, in the nations, in relation to that prophecy. When I live in Israel of course I see the various aspects of the prophecy speaking to Israel and the end times to the restoration of Jerusalem, but I see through that prophecy, I understand through that prophecy. My heart longs to see the first fruit from Israel and the nations that the prophecy becomes flesh and blood. That is we have dove’s eyes we see all things good and bad. The dealings of the nations, the dealings of Israel we see all in relation to the Lord summing up all things in the Messiah to bring the ultimate fulfillment of the mystery. Because when the Bridegroom will be married to His Bride, We know that the Kingdom age will follow and he will rule and reign with His Bride on this earth for a thousand years.
Jerusalem from above is actually the picture of the ultimate fulfillment first of all of the mystery of the Bride. That’s what John sees …the fulfillment of the mystery of the Bride. But the Jerusalem from above is also the ultimate fulfillment of the mystery of Israel who was called at first to be the Bride of the Lord. We know there is a whole chapter in the book of Ezekiel that speaks about God’s marriage covenant with Jerusalem and how God found Jerusalem and made her into His Bride and she became a terrible harlot and prostituted herself with other loves. God chasens her bitterly and finally brings her back to Himself and restores the covenant with Jerusalem. Jerusalem of course being the sign for the whole nation of Israel. So the Jerusalem from above we see the 12 foundations are the 12 apostles of Israel, the 12 gates are the 12 Tribes of Israel. And it’s a cube that is that the height, the length, the width it’s all the same measurement. Just like the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary of God. It’s also a cube. And we see the transparency of the City, the glory of the City, and it shows how the mystery of Israel who is called to be the Bride of Messiah comes into her ultimate fulfillment in the word Yeshua. And of course as we know, the Gentile part of that community has been grafted in and has been received into the full citizenship of that commonwealth of Israel.
So the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem in our day, is leading to the return of the Lord to the establishment of His Kingdom. And so we believe that what God is doing in Jerusalem today to restore His House of Living Stones is to join together, ultimately…. It’s the heart that is to join together ultimately all the different parts of that remnant church, the remnant Bride who the book of Revelation says, are the called, the chosen, and the faithful. The called, the chosen and the faithful who are the overcomers in the end time battle. And so this united Bride, and I believe that…we know that the gospel has gone out for 2,000 years and the church over many centuries was known as the church of Rome. Of course after the protestant reformation we know the whole story of how many breakaways there were and how many denominations there are. But the mystery of the Bride is the answer of Yeshua when HE celebrates that evening of the New Covenant meal and beseeches the Father that the unity and the union that exists between Father and Son through the Holy Spirit would be manifested in His people and literally that we would come into that unity.
Now Jerusalem is the city where the Lord laid down His life. It’s the city of the altar. It’s the city where the redemption has taken place. It’s the city where the wall of partition was broken down between Jew and gentile. It’s the city where the New Covenant meal was celebrated as the clear sign of the union of Yeshua and His people. And so we believe that as we move more and more into the end time and we see a growing apostasy in all of the traditional churches which is spreading also into the evangelical churches, there is coming a calling as we read in Revelation 18: “Come out of her my people.” Come out of that part of the church which has become a prostitute and has married herself to the world system. And this is the great exodus of the end time. It’s the exodus of the church from Babylon, even the evangelical church, of all that which is Babylonian and it speaks of a homecoming….a homecoming out of Babylon to Zion, but to the true meaning of Zion in the Spirit. And it’s the time of exodus for Israel as well coming out of everything that is other than the true faith in Yeshua and a restoration of Israel to the true foundations of God in the end time.
So this Spirit of prophecy is bringing all things together into Yeshua the Bridegroom. That means that all the tribulations of the end time, the purification of the earth, the preparing of the earth for the Kingdom age, the tribulation that Israel will go through, whatever it is, it’s to work redemption. It’s the work salvation, but not only salvation, but salvation that will lead to transformation. Because the goal, the goal of course is that the Bride would be transformed into the very image of the Bridegroom. I mean that is the work of the new creation…we are a new creation. All the old things have passed away, all things have become new! But the work of God through the tribulations, through the sufferings, through His dealings, through His revelations, through our worship, through our prayers it’s all to bring forth this great reality. And of course it must take place in Israel and of course the Bridal company in Israel is very, very precious to God and has a very specific calling to fulfill in the end time just as the gentile remnant…..the Bridal remnant amongst the nations has a very key calling to fulfill in relation to the Jewish people through prayer, through intercession and all the other ways God works through gentile believers to provoke Israel deeply to jealousy….but a holy jealousy that will really allow Israel to taste this amazing thing that is taking place. Because for the Jew to really consider that God has put us aside for 2,000 years and has gone to the nations and that all that we have suffered from the side of the church, that now God is working redemptively and bringing forth a holy remnant that actually loves Israel….this is the wonder of wonders! This is the ultimate sign of the work of redemption amongst the gentile believers. And bringing us together into one in the humility of the spirit. And Each recognizing each other in the one new man not to dissolve identity, but to bring identity in Messiah into true focus. Because God is a god of tremendous, tremendous diversity and variety and ultimately everything has been created through the Word Yeshua and for the Word Yeshua. And redemption is to bring us all back into that which was in the heart of God from the beginning in the Word who is Yeshua.
And that is the process that we are going through in these end times. So prophecy has many workings. But this I believe must be the great reality that should be our main focus….preparing ourselves for the marriage supper of the Lamb. And it does not in any way make the other aspects of prophecy insignificant. It, I believe, it just brings all of the other aspects into their right correspondence to that which is ultimately in the heart of God for the end time.
And so the Lord is bringing us together to share that one, let us say that one covenant meal that He celebrated on that Passover eve when He made the New Covenant with His disciples. And of course we know that the Covenant meal, the Lord’s supper, has been something that rather than expressing the unity of Yeshua with His people and the covenantal relationship between the people of God, satan has used that specifically to divide the people of God over a period of 2,000 years. And that Covenant meal is the expression, ultimately, to manifest the reality that we are flesh of His flesh, bone of His bone that we share together in His life giving blood and that we partake as the early church did in the Lamb of God together as a community. And this is the reality that the Lord has been waiting for for 2,000 years….that only the Bride can manifest the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers the joining of Jew and gentile. The true unity that Messiah prayed for. This is the ultimate destruction of the power of satan, because it’s the hidden mystery of God that is now being, not only revealed, but being made flesh on this earth as the testimony of Jesus, the spirit of prophecy, that is being complete as Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished!” And now God is completing and finishing that mystery.
And as I said, it’s only the beginning. After the marriage supper, comes the Kingdom Age where Israel will take up her place as a nation among the nations as the firstborn son. And after that we come into the eternal reality of all that which God has prepared for us. But we need to focus on what will be. And what will be, should also affect what is today. When the Lord celebrated the supper, He spoke of the supper, the supper speaks of what He has completed, what He has finished. It speaks of His Presence amongst us now and it speaks of the fact that He will not take it with us again until all is fulfilled in His Kingdom. So it’s past, it’s present, and it’s future and it’s that reality that we are to celebrate as a Bridal company. So this mystery continues in all eternity.
And just to conclude, I think it’s important with all that I said to remember Paul’s words to the Corinthian church that He was concerned that the enemy had led the church astray from the simplicity of devotion to Jesus Christ. There are so many things connected to the Kingdom of God. And they’re all, I mean the Bride is the Kingdom. If we look at the early Jerusalem church, it was already a very pure and beautiful expression of the Kingdom. That’s what the Lord spoke to them about for 40 days when the Spirit was poured out. The Kingdom came in their inner most person and they shared the Kingdom life, they lived that unity of the Bride. It was a reality of what God promised to do and what God will continue to do. But there was a simplicity, a simplicity of love, a simplicity of devotion and that’s why we need to get back to that simplicity and have those dove eyes and allow God to teach us to see all through those eyes of the Bridegroom who gave His life for this world, who is yearning for His Bride, who is calling us into intimacy who wants us to know Him in a very deep way in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings and being conformed to it with Him in His death that we might come into that union of Life with Yeshua Ha Maschiach. And really know the deeper things that are in His heart.
And I think if we have this focus and come into this simplicity it will affect all of our other ministries in relationship to the Lord. I think one of the great challenges is to be so occupied and to be so busy to lose the focus, to lose the first love for the Lord. But not only to lose the first love, but to lose that deep reality of union with Messiah, which ultimately is the thing alone that can bring fulfillment into our lives. Even if we saw millions coming to the faith, even if we saw millions being healed and we did not have that inner life walk with the Messiah, we would rejoice for the things that we would see and experience, but there would be a vacuum and an emptiness which would just leave us in many ways unfulfilled. And so the Lord wants to conquer us….the Lord wants to take possession of us, like He wanted to take of the land of Canaan. And He wants to complete this mystery of the Bride of Jew and gentile. And Jerusalem and Israel and the Messianic community are key to this mystery. And therefore, we need to see again, and with this I’m concluding. The Lord wants us to see all through the focus of the eyes and the voice of the Bridegroom. And if we do that we will see all of the other things, all of the other things in the light that God wants them to have in relation to the bullseye focus of His heart as His heart was pierced and He poured out the water and the blood to give birth to that Bride…that Bride who was before but the actual birth came at the cross and that’s the bullseye that the Lord wants His Bride to focus upon. And as we come deeper and deeper into Him we find our unity with each other. That’s the message of John 17. As we abide in Him and He in us, He shares His glory with us and we experience the unity of the Godhead and we share it with Him and we share it with each other and we have His mind and His heart and His Spirit.
Reuven’s Closing prayer:
Lord we thank you, we thank you for that which is Your Heart for this time and Lord we ask you to open these things up unseal them to our hearts that we can find fulfillment, deep fulfillment in our walk, in our life with You. Not only as individuals, but collectively and wherever we are located. Lord that we can bring that fragrance, that fragrance of love, that fragrance of Bridal union, that fragrance of life which is the most attractive thing there is. Because once we lose that fragrance Lord, everything becomes black and white. And that fragrance, Lord, makes the Kingdom life technicolor because we behold the true face of, we behold the true image of God in the Face of Yeshua Ha Maschiach which draws us, which transforms us, O God, and which brings us into the true worship of God….which we all long for. So we bless you and we thank you for this time together, Father in Yeshua’s Name.
Reuven Berger, along with his brotherBenjamin pastor the Congregation of the Lambon Mt. Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family they came to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah over 50 years ago and were called of the LORD to move to Jerusalem. The Congregation is a Hebrew-speaking Congregation that meets at Christ Church inside the Jaffa Gate opposite the Tower of David.
Thanks to Beverly Doty for taking the time to transcribe the message!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.