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. 

Roadblocks

by Bethany Wuerffel

2018 seems to be the year for road construction in our county and more specifically, in our exact location. Every single road we use in our immediate vicinity, except our own quiet little street, has been repaved in the past few months. The culmination of this roadwork confronted us three days ago when they closed two different places of a main highway our street connects with. Our street lies right between these two closures, meaning most destinations these days involve a detour.

While the outcome of this work is good as it was desperately needed and has created wider, smoother roads, the process has been exhausting. No matter which direction we go we’ve been confronted with ‘One Lane Road Ahead’, ‘Prepare To Stop’, ‘Detour Ahead’, and the least favorite, ‘Road Closed’ signs. Delays, unexpected stops, and new travel directions have all become the new ‘normal’ in our lives.

Lately my heart has been acting like the highway in front of my house. Every normal thought, processing, and action from my past now dead ends into a large, bright-orange ‘Road Closed’ sign. Except in the case of my heart, the signs read ‘Death’, ‘Loss’, and ‘Tears’…

…I go to change the shower curtain in my parents bathroom and am struck with a tears delay as I remember so many sweet moments of chatting with mom in that bathroom as she curled her hair and prepared for the day, and then at the end of her life when she could no longer do those things and I did them for her. I long for those times again.

…I make deliveries for my brothers egg business (a job my mom used to do for him) and every customer sweetly checks in on our family and we detour from our typical conversation to spend time reminiscing together, often with tears, of the many special memories of Mom.

…Our kitchen table is covered with sympathy cards, clean dishes that need to be returned to friends who incredibly blessed us with meals, and letters going out to supporters with memorial service information and an update on life without Mom. Every time I walk in the door I’m confronted with that table and the large orange ‘Road Closed Ahead’ sign that reads ‘Mom’s Gone’.

Unfortunately, sometimes the road closed signs have no warning. You just come flying around the corner and find yourself face to face with orange cones and a closed road.

A few days ago we picked up mom’s ashes from the funeral home. As soon as I picked up the bag holding the box and felt the unexpected weight of it, a whole flood of thoughts and emotions swept over me. Another detour to life as I walked down memory lane once again, remembering mom in her last days, her sweet presence and I how I loved to just sit in her room with her for hours at a time. There wouldn’t be much talking as her voice was quite weak, but we would hold hands and listen to music or sermons together and it was enough. Then I remember her the last time I saw her- at the funeral home for the viewing and how natural and unnatural she looked at the same time.

It’s this thought that causes my detour to take me past a gorgeous scenic overlook as I remember Mom isn’t really in the box I’m holding. Her empty shell is. The mom I know and love is rejoicing in heaven, having the time of her life. She’s free of stress, anxiety, and pain. She’s worshiping her beautiful Maker with every tear wiped from her face. Instead of holding my hand she’s holding His and basking in His presence. I stop for a moment and soak up that gorgeous view. I am so happy for her, but for me right now, it’s just a glimpse of that beauty and the ache of an empty hand. The latter overcomes the former as the large orange construction signs obscure my vision.

I could ignore the signs and plow through the closed section of the road. Two of my brothers (who will remain anonymous), actually did this recently. Unfortunately for both of them this didn’t work out so well. One of them had to call in reinforcements to get pulled out of a ditch, and the other tore off his bumper. Thankfully neither of them were hurt and no serious damage was done but it’s a poignant reminder to me that those signs are there for a reason both on the road and in my heart right now.

The Lord is good and sovereign and has a plan and purpose through this. I trust that He has put these road blocks and detours in my life right now because He is upgrading my heart and mind. He is blowing His healing power into the hurting places and working through the pain in ways He couldn’t have otherwise. And He is creating good because that is what He promises He will do in every situation. If I continue to submit to His roadblocks and detours, and seek Him daily, I trust the outcome will be worth all the delays and frustration along the way.

May I patiently submit to His plans and trust He is working even through the unexpected sorrow, the detours of pain, and the road blocks of loss. He is good.

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Bethany Wuerffel grew up with her 7 siblings as missionary kids in Papua New Guinea where her parents served with Wycliffe Bible Translators. As a young adult she pursued missions herself, moving to the Philippines for two years to study midwifery and serve the people there through childbirth with the love of Jesus. While she now calls North Carolina home, she continues to enjoy

Bethany at the Dead Sea, Israel

international travel and ministry work. Through Women of the Word, Israel has become one of her passions and she has traveled there several times for both tours and ministry. In 2018 she lost her mom to aggressive brain cancer. This post was written soon after her mom’s death as a form of processing the incredible loss of an amazing mentor, Mom, and dear friend.

How should Christians Relate to Israel: Part 2

by Rose–Marie Slosek

Click here for Part 1: How Should Christians View Israel

Part 2: A hundred years ago, one could not have even seen that Israel would come back on the world stage as a country. If you read books concerning eschatology and end time issues written before 1948, they do not seem to focus directly on Israel because Israel did not even exist as a sovereign country.  

In 1948, Israel was once again a nation! This was a mere 70 years ago! But Israel is now, and will be increasingly, at the center of much world controversy.  Jerusalem is the most contested city on the earth and will be until Jesus comes. It is now essential to realize that God is not finished with Israel. He who has begun a work in her, will finish it, and why is this? It is because of covenant.  Although we can be happy that the embassy of the US has moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem we must also realize that we cannot relate to Israel, nor does God relate to Israel, through political avenues. Because Israel is both a sovereign country and a political state, many Israelis may not remember or pay heed to Israel’s covenant with God, and those that do may be mistaken in its application and meaning at this time in history.

So we need to be able to relate to Israel according to biblical wisdom and not secular or political protocol. So let us turn and search the scriptures. God has spoken to Israel by means of The Law and the Prophets. When Israel was straying from God, God sent prophets to call Israel back to Himself. When they did not return, then there were consequences. God allows free choice, but He was sovereign over the nation, and sovereign He still is and will forever be.

Blessed be He! To our way of thinking, God’s ways can be difficult to understand or appear harsh. But God is God and acts from wisdom and covenant love.  We must stand with Him and trust Him.

There is much humanism that surrounds both Jewish thinking about its own nation, and also our thinking as Christians about who and what Israel is and what God will do to accomplish His purposes with His nation on the earth. If we find ourselves on the wrong side of God, we will find ourselves of no use to Him, or worse, to be at odds with Him and He will have to sweep us aside. At some times, in some crucial moments in history, there is little place for error.

Many stand with Israel no matter what she does. Yes, it is our place as Christians to stand with her, but not without discernment and clarity as to where God stands with her.  To the degree that she is astray, we cannot fully support her. So it behooves us to know the covenant. God has a history of using other nations to come against Israel to bring His people back to Himself.  We cannot forget this. He controls the discipline, but He allows it, even causes it, make no mistake. (Ezekiel 38:14-18, Ezekiel 8:7-18).

Just as the bible says, “God disciplines everyone He loves and chastises everyone He receives.” (Hebrew 12:6) So it is individually, so it will be corporately with Israel. He cannot now accept them because in many ways they are not right before Him and because they have not yet “Looked upon He whom they have pierced and… mourned… and wept bitterly” (Zechariah 12:10). Make no doubt about it, national repentance is in Israel’s future. But gloriously, when they have, He will raise them up. God’s heart is restoration and salvation and grace, but all things must be in order. So let us, even if we do not not understand everything, begin to pray with a spirit of brokenness and supplication, that God will have His perfect way with us, as the Branch, grafted in, and with the original branch, the nation of Israel. We are in this together. May God give us great wisdom and compassion. 

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. 

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How Should Christians View Israel? Part 1

by Rose-Marie Slosek

It is really important for a Christian to correctly understand how we are to view Israel in the plan of God.  There is much misinformation that is widespread and often Christians will mix different schools of thought together without realizing it is confusing their thoughts about Israel. Let’s discuss a few critical points for a foundation.

God chose the nation of Israel to be His own nation in the world, a priestly, prophetic people who would show forth to the world around them Who the Living and True God is. Deuteronomy 7:7 & 8a says, The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than the other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers…”

God chose a people, not because they were strong or special in themselves, to reveal Himself to the peoples of the earth. Israel did not choose God, God chose Israel.  He made a covenant with Abraham and swore by Himself (Gen. 22:16) to uphold it. This made him the chief Upholder of the covenant. Abraham did not hold back his son, Isaac, from God (foreshadowing God not holding back His Son from us)  and so God promised to make the descendants of Abraham as the “stars in the sky and the sands of the seashore” (Genesis 22:17). God honored Abraham’s faith but God swore by Himself and not by man when He made the covenant.

God knew that man was fallible. Israel’s history is a checkered one: they strayed from God, they did not heed the prophets nor obey the commandments of God, they wandered in the wilderness because of “unbelief.” (Hebrew 3:19).  God has always been looking for faith, not just lineage. So not everyone of the household of Israel is or was right before God. What now qualifies both Jew and Gentile is belief in the atoning work of Jesus Christ to save us. Paul says, “ 28 He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is external in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly. And circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit, and not by the letter.” (Romans 2:28-29).

The nation of Israel, as a whole, rejected Jesus as their Messiah. There were individuals who accepted Him, but Jesus was not accepted by the nation as a whole. Jesus said, “they [Israel] missed the day of their visitation” (Luke 19:44). Judgment was sent: they were sent into a deep spiritual and physical exile. A veil now covers their spiritual eyes (2 Cor 3:15). Paul says that a “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.“ (Romans 11:25).

We, as Gentile believers, are the wild vine that has been grafted into the vine of God. Some of the original vine (natural Israel)  has branches that have broken off because of unbelief. We do not replace the original vine (Israel), but we are blessed to be able to be added to the household of God. When the “times of the Gentiles” are over, God will bring the nation of Israel to full salvation as a nation! There will not be one Jew who does not know the Lord on the Day when they shall look upon HIm whom they have pierced! (Zech 12:10). ALL Israel shall be saved! (Romans 11:25-26). Let us pray for that Day, but also pray that individual Jews, each come, today, to a heartfelt conversion during their individual  lifetimes. During this season, the “times of the Gentiles,” the gospel is presented to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, and each must make an individual choice before God, although collectively the “veil” still remains over Israel.

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. 

Greek Brain, Hebrew Brain: The Way Parables Worked

Jesus’s parables fit perfectly into a non-Western, Jewish culture that expressed itself through tangible metaphors. He was engaging in sophisticated theological teaching, but we miss it if we are looking for the deductive abstract arguments of the Greeks. Jesus often based his reasoning on experience rather than if-then logic. He did this in multiple ways:

Experience of the Natural World

Jesus frequently used observations about nature and daily life to shed light on spiritual realities. Sometimes he highlighted a lesson by pointing out what was obviously true: grapes don’t grow on thorn bushes. Likewise, people are known by their “fruit.” That seems pretty logical.

More often, however, Jesus used physical examples that have a surprising illogic about them to shed light on the mysterious ways of God…..

  • A speck of a mustard seed can grow into an enormous tree.
  • A blossom that wilts in a day is more gorgeously adorned than a king’s robe.

Tiny clues from creation give us a glimpse into God’s unfathomable ways.

In contrast, Western reasoning often attempts to systematize theology by reducing and affixing God’s thoughts onto a logical grid, flattening and straightening them so that they fit into predictable patterns.

Jesus’s parables, however, embraced the fact that our material world is multifaceted and complex. If God’s creation surprises and perplexes us, shouldn’t its Creator do so even more?

Click here to read the rest of this blog: How Jesus used the Experience of Human Behavior and the Experience of the Scriptures to make his point.

From Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus (Baker, 2018), p 96-100. This is from chapter 5, “Greek Brain: Hebrew Brain,” in the section called, “How the Bible Thinks.”

Lois Tverberg

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

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