A Time to Rejoice

The LORD has appointed times when HE calls HIS people together for various reasons. One of these appointed times is the Fall Feast of Tabernacles also known as the Feast of Booths or Ingathering. The Bible tells us that “the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.'” (Leviticus 23:33-34).

The Feast of Tabernacles is a joyous celebration of remembering how the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob brought His people through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel. He cared for them for 40 years in a desolate place, providing shelter, food, and water. Their clothes also did not wear out.

Throughout Israel and in many Jewish communities throughout the world the Feast of Tabernacles is commemorated even today. Families build a temporary shelter outside called a “sukkah”. For seven days they eat dinner together as a family in the sukkah. They celebrate the faithfulness of the LORD and His provisions. Some families will also sleep in the sukkah.

The sukkah is made of natural materials. They are decorated with the leafy branches of palm, willow and myrtle trees as well as fruits such as citrons, grapes and pomegranates celebrating the harvest. In modern times a sukkah is also embellished with decorations such as brightly colored paper chains. The roof is not solid so that you can look up at the night sky, seeing the stars and moon, thanking God for His creation.

The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the three Feasts of the LORD when Jewish men were commanded to go up to Jerusalem in the Old Testament! Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) went up to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast as recorded in John 7. He taught in the Temple during the Feast, and on the last day of the Feast he stood up saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38. As a result many in the crowd said, “This is the Christ.” (see verse 41)

The Feast of Tabernacles also has a future fulfillment. When Jesus returns to reign and rule from Jerusalem as King of Kings and Lord of Lords,  “it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16) Currently many Christians from all over the world travel to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles to celebrate and show their love and support of the Jewish people. Visit icej.org to learn more and take part online.

As Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts of the LORD in his first coming, many believe that he will fulfill the Fall Feasts at his second coming and may return during this season. An overview of both Spring and Fall Feasts is given in Leviticus 23. A very good resource that gives both biblical background and cultural/traditional perspectives is a book entitled The Feasts of the LORD.

As Gentile believers we are not commanded to keep the Feasts, but since we are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel (Romans 11:17, Ephesians 2:11-13) it is a blessing and great joy to participate in them. There is much to learn by studying and celebrating the Feasts of the LORD.

In conclusion, since this Fall Feast is also known as the Feast of Ingathering and celebrates the harvest, it is also a wonderful time to pray for a harvest of souls. Please join me in asking the LORD to bring in a great harvest of souls, both Jew and Gentile, from every nation.

Psalm 118 is traditionally read during “Sukkot” (The Feast of Tabernacles). Here are a few verses……..

v. 14 The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.

v. 21-25 I will praise You for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O Lord! Amen!

May you be blessed and experience much joy as you celebrate that Jesus tabernacles (dwells) with us and we with Him. Hallelujah!

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, a women’s event ministry. She leads trips to Israel on a yearly basis. Betsy and her husband Jim have 3 children and 5 grandchildren and live in New England.

Do Not be Ignorant Series: Part Two

The Danger of Replacement Theology

Definition

Supersessionism, fulfillment theology, replacement theology….they all refer to the same non-biblical doctrine that has crept into the church…a teaching that says the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan, that all of the promises God made to the Jewish people and Israel now pertain only to the Church.

There are several variations of this doctrine ranging from a belief that God has completely disinherited the Jewish people to a gentler form which states that God has an end-time plan of salvation for the Jewish people as a group but does not include a restoration to the land. The mildest form says that God’s plan for Israel has been completed and that a transition has occurred in which His plan only comes through the Church.(1)

Any form of replacement theology negates the nation of Israel as being a fulfillment of the biblical promises. No matter the range of the belief, the core principle is that the New Testament church is the new or the true Israel, sometimes

called spiritual Israel, that has forever superseded the nation of Israel and the Jewish people as the people of God.  In other words, all the promises that God made to the Jewish people are null and void and apply only in a spiritual sense to the New Testament predominantly Gentile church.  

History

This principle crept into the church as early as A.D. 160 with Church Father Justin Martyr who was the first to state that the church was the true spiritual Israel.(2) His contemporary Marcion tried to purge the Church of what he considered to be Jewish errors and influences. The Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) codified it under Emperor Constantine, the first “Christian” emperor, who called together non-Jewish Christians to define Christianity.(3) Everything related to the Jews was removed from the church including the celebration the Feasts of the Lord and the Sabbath. Easter was moved away from Passover aligning it with the more pagan celebration of the spring equinox.

The result of the Council of Nicea was an increase in anti-Semitism and violence against the Jews.(4) Although mistreatment of the Jews was not a new practice, a marked increase can be seen after this edict. A timeline of anti-Semitism can be found many places on the internet showing an increase in anti-Semitism from then into the present time.(5) After all, if we can convince ourselves that God has rejected the Jews, surely it would be appropriate for them to be rejected by all.

Somehow the church lost the facts that the early church was almost exclusively Jewish, that the apostles were Jewish, the writers of the Bible were Jewish, the first congregation was Jewish, and the first missionaries were Jewish. Most importantly they seemed to have lost the fact the Jesus was Jewish!

Why did this doctrine continue into modern times? Didn’t Bible scholars understand that what happened under Constantine, whose Christianity should be questioned, was wrong? In defense of the church, before 1948, when Israel became a modern nation, the idea of the Jews returning to their land, seemed absolutely impossible. Jewish people were scattered among the nations, so how were they to interpret the promises in the Bible?  

 “In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.” (Isaiah 27:6 ESV)

They held onto replacement theology because it seemed the logical thing since the existence of a future Israel seemed out of the question.

So why has this false doctrine continued to plague the Church even after Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948? God’s promises are now obviously being fulfilled.

“For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” (Jeremiah 30:3 ESV)

“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God:  I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”  (Ezekiel 11:7 ESV)

It is clear from the Word, that the promises specifically refer to a physical restoration of Israel as a nation and as a people. Once the restoration became a historical fact, why has so much of the modern-day church continued to hold onto this doctrine of man? 

When something has been ingrained for so long, it is hard to break. Even if the established Church doesn’t teach against Israel, it tends to ignore her.  That too is dangerous and a form of anti-Semitism. Genesis 12:3, as explained in part one of this series describes the dangers of that. “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses (despises, dishonors, treats lightly) you…”. I don’t even want to go into what it means to be cursed by God.

Also consider the source: the devil’s hatred of the Jewish people. His kingdom opposes the establishment of God’s kingdom. First, he tried to stop Messiah from being born. To do that, he had to destroy the Jews because the One who would destroy his plan would come from the Jews. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2 ESV)

He failed then; time and time again he tried to wipe out the Jewish people. What about his hatred today? His plan now is to stop Jesus from returning; he still thinks he can win. He knows that the Jews need to be in Jerusalem to welcome their Messiah. If he destroys the Jews, he thinks Jesus cannot return.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! …And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”  (Matthew 23:37, 39 ESV) 

But the devil will not win and Jesus will return and Jewish people will welcome their Messiah. “But Israel will be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.” (Isaiah 45:17 NIV)

Problems with Replacement Theology

First, the church is never referred to as Israel in the New Testament, so the idea of the Church as spiritual Israel has no biblical foundation.

Second, to hold this doctrine not only causes an increase in anti-Semitic ideas, but also distorts the scriptures because the subject of Israel is found on just about every page of the Old and New Testaments. To have a distorted view of the Bible then leads to a distorted view of God! 

Most importantly, if God breaks His promises to Israel, then what good are His promises to us? Either He is the covenant-keeping God or He is One who changes His mind about His promises. “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6 ESV)

To accept replacement theology, a person must completely ignore Paul’s teachings, especially in Romans 9-11. “I ask, the, has God rejected his people? By no means! …” (Romans 11:1 ESV)

The truth is that God had not replaced Israel with the Church. His plan includes both Jews and Gentiles. If our failures negated the promises of God, we would all be in dire trouble. But our God is merciful and despite the shortcomings of His people, both Jew and Gentile, He is a loving, covenant-keeping God.

Can We Fall into the Trap?

As Gentile believers, we must be careful not to misuse the Bible taking verses that apply to Israel and assigning them to the church or to ourselves. Who has quoted Jeremiah 29:11(ESV)? “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Do we know the preceding verse which clearly makes this a promise of God to Israel? “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:10 ESV) This was a part of the prophet Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon.  

Is it a type of replacement theology when we take scriptures out of context ignoring their application to Israel? It can be…if we are ignoring that the promise was first given to Israel. Rather we should use the scripture with the following attitude:  “Lord, I know You have a plan and a promise for good for your people Israel, so I know that you have a plan for me too.”  

The church, which began with Jews only, was not complete without the Gentiles. In the same way, the church today is not complete without our Jewish brothers and sisters. God’s plan includes both. “…He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.”  (Ephesians 2:15 NLT)

We owe a great deal to the Jewish people. “They are the Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” (Romans 9:4 ESV) Without them we wouldn’t even have the Bible!

What a blessing it is to be grafted into the promises of God! It is our duty to live lives that provoke the Jewish people to jealousy so that they may see the love of their Messiah through us. And we must guard our hearts maintaining a biblical attitude in all things, including toward Israel and the Jewish people.

“Now I am speaking to you Gentiles…For if their rejection means the reconciliation for the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?…But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” (Romans 11:13-18 ESV)

ENDNOTES:

(1) Hedrick, Dr. Gary. “Replacement Theology:  It’s Origins, Teachings and Errors,” Shema Congregation Shema Yisrael, October 5, 2012.

(2) Ice, Thomas D., “What is Replacement Theology?” (2009), Article Archives 106. Liberty University, https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/pretrib_arch/106.

(3) Hedrick

(4) Price, David, ”How the Council of Nicea intensified antisemitism and a Bible ban,” Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2017.

(5) The Jewish Agency, “A Brief Chronology of Anti-Semitism,” https://archive.jewishagency.org/jewish-history/content/36936/

Author:

Sue Priebe is the Pastor of City of Hope Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, and serves on the Board of Directors for Women of the Word. She is passionate about teaching the Word of God in ways that are relevant and applicable to daily life. She also has a deep love for Israel and travels there frequently connecting with believers there and teaching God’s Word on location. 

Women of the Word is hosting a trip to Israel Feb 20 – March 3, 2024. The focus of this trip is to build relationships with local believers. There will be times of service and ministry. We will have focused times of prayer, worship and Bible study. We will also visit some Biblical sites. Click here for more information and registration.

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee

Do Not Be Ignorant: Part One

The Mystery of Israel

The Bible teaches us to not be ignorant of several things. We are not to be ignorant of the Gospel. We are not to be ignorant of spiritual gifts. We are not to be ignorant of satan’s devices. We are not to be ignorant of God’s righteousness, nor of the fact that the Gospel includes afflictions and sufferings. We are not to be ignorant of the mystery of Israel. Regarding Israel Paul tells us in Romans 11:11 – 27 (NKJV),

“I say then, have they (Israel) stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’”

We cannot be ignorant of this topic as God is bringing the issue of Israel center stage in these last days. That is not to say that we shouldn’t be about evangelism, discipleship, caring for the poor, etc. We absolutely should be! But, we cannot afford to leave the subject of Israel as a side-line issue. 

Since the mystery of Israel is something we are not to be ignorant of and since Israel is a central theme in the Bible, the subject is worthy of our attention, study and time. How we deal with Israel is very important to God. God’s Word exhorts us to bless Israel in Genesis 12:3 and to comfort her people in Isaiah 40:1

Many Christians have heard the verse in Genesis 12:3 but do we know what it is actually saying? If you know this verse in NIV, KJV, NKJV, or NASB then you are reading the second half of it as “those who curse you (Israel), I (God) will curse.” There are those who do curse Israel but probably not Christians, or at least hopefully not. What is important here is that the translation is not clear. In the Hebrew, two different words are used for the word translated “curse,” and they profoundly affect the meaning. (Please see the Interlinear here.) Notice that the first usage of “curse” is the Hebrew word qalal which also means “to esteem lightly, to think of as insignificant, and to dishonor.”  The ESV and NLT versions make this distinction and do not use the word “curse” in the first usage of the word. When God says, “I will curse,” the word curse is the Hebrew word arar which means what we think it means “to curse.” Therefore as ESV says, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” It is a better rendering of what is meant. Therefore, according to this verse, it is not enough just to refrain from cursing Israel; those who ignore Israel or think she is insignificant in God’s plan are also under His curse!

When it comes to “Comfort my people.” (Isaiah 40:1) no further explanation is needed. It means the same in Hebrew and English. We see the Apostle Paul in agreement when in Romans 15 he says, “At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.  For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.” Please keep in mind that the “saints” in Jerusalem at that time were Jewish believers. Following Paul’s example, Gentile believers should bless the Jewish believers, especially those in Israel.

Bringing comfort to “my people (Israel)” also entails bringing them the Gospel. This is the highest comfort we can bring to anyone. In Matthew 15 Jesus said that he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As he was sent, so he sends us! The Great Commission includes bringing the Gospel to the Jews. When entering a town, Paul always went to the Jews first! He said,  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) They may resist, but it is still our responsibility to exemplify our love for them and make them jealous of what we have so they are drawn to the Lord.

Our theology concerning Israel must be aligned with what the Bible teaches. The Church does not replace Israel. God still has a plan for Israel and because He is a faithful God, the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled. 

The next installment in this series of blogs will explore the theologies concerning Israel further. For now reading Romans Chapters 9 – 11 will be of great help! Shalom in Yeshua/Jesus. 

Read Part Two here>>

Read Part Three here>>

Read Part Four here>>

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word and leads trips to Israel. The next trip focused on prayer, worship and ministry alongside believers in Israel is Feb 20 – March 3, 2024. Click here for trip details.

Why I Stopped Celebrating Good Friday

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.

Nisan 14 – 18 adapted from Danielstimeline.com

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.

chart by Laura Petrosky at Pinterest.com

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

Adapted from endtimepilgrim.org

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.” 

1“Good Friday: History, Origins, Traditions and Rituals” Feb. 4, 2021 by FaithGiant, https://faithgiant.com/good-friday

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. 

Set a Trumpet to Your Lips!

I am writing this on September 11, 2020. I’m sure you remember that eventful day back in 2001 when almost 3,000 lives were lost and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in NYC fell. Also a hit on the Pentagon and a flight that went down in PA. I know exactly where I was and you probably do too. It was a terrorist attack perpetrated by the Islamist group al-Qaeda. We saw America come together and churches were filled ——— for two weeks. May that sink in! 

Nineteen years later we see cities burning across America due to lawlessness and violence. We see the West Coast burning up with fires! I wonder where will we be a year from now? Today we face an enemy within. This enemy is shaking the foundations of our Nation because it is a fight not just of ideologies but actually a fight for the very soul of our Nation. Whose side are we on?  I humbly pray that we are on the LORD’s side. In this season we must continually ask “Lord, what do you want me to do?” I have been asking the Lord that question both on a personal and ministry level again since Covid hit back in February/March.

In 2014 the Lord gave me two scriptures that propelled me to start a bi-monthly prayer meeting at my church to pray for the Church (locally and globally), Israel and the Nations. It has remained a small group, but a very faithful and consistent group of prayer warriors. The Scriptures the Lord gave me then are Hosea 8:1 “Set a trumpet to your lips! One like a vulture is over the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant and rebelled against my law.” And Zephaniah 2:1-3 “Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff—before there come upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands, seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.” 

Prayer has increased somewhat as there are more prayer meetings since Covid, but it’s pretty much all those that have been praying for years. Yes, there is some increase in how many people but I wonder where is the rest of the Church? Still sleeping, or pre-occupied, or lethargic, or apathetic?  At home?, on the couch?, too afraid to gather in even small groups to pray, worship, and read God’s Word together?  Yes, you can pray at home. Yes, you can watch services on live-stream, etc BUT God’s Word says “GATHER!” It doesn’t have to be a large gathering, but “GATHER!” Two or three will do! Please understand that I am not talking to those at “high risk” for Covid here. Sadly, there are lots of folks though that are out and about and not gathering to be with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

I was ready to stop the prayer meeting mentioned above. However, I waited on the Lord and He brought an answer via a message given by Pastor David Davis (now home with the Lord) from the Carmel Congregation in Israel in 2008! It is entitled “The New Wine is in the Cluster” from Isaiah 65:8. (Listen here) A timeless message! All about prayer and worship! And well guess what? God confirmed that the prayer meeting is to continue! This isn’t the time to stop prayer meetings! 

The upcoming Fall Feasts of the Lord are very strategic and critical. In the Bible these are called “appointed times” when Israel was to gather and go up to the Tabernacle or Temple (the House of the Lord). At his first advent, Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts. It is likely that at his second advent he will fulfill the Fall Feasts. It is not my intention here to teach on the Feasts. What I am saying is that they are important times on God’s calendar and so it behoves us to have some understanding of them. They are prophetic! In the Fall, they include the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. You can read about them in Leviticus 23 and other places. Jesus celebrated these Feasts and in Zechariah 14:16 we are told that “everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King; the LORD of hosts and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths).” 

Jewish people traditionally fast for 25 hours on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). I am not saying this is a mandate for us as Christians, nor that we even have to follow celebrating the Feasts because the Apostle Paul clearly taught that Gentiles are not mandated to do that. I am saying that I believe there is heightened spiritual warfare and it will intensify during the season of the Fall Feasts. I believe the Lord has called me (I’m not saying you) to fast from the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets (traditionally known as Rosh Hashanah) through the Day of Atonement. That would be beginning at sundown on September 18th until sundown on September 28. I am asking you to join my as the Lord directs you. Ask Him, “LORD, what do you want me to do?” I am also asking you to consider joining in on our weekly WOW Zoom prayer calls. You may not be able to commit to weekly, but can you join this coming Tuesday September 15th and/or on September 22nd at 8pm EDT, 7pm CDT? We need to pray as a “cluster” for many things, including this ministry if we want the NEW WINE God wants to pour out. We are in perilous times, but God has mercy for His people! 

The Women of the Word Prayer Zoom meeting held every Tuesday at 8 pm (EDT) ID 336 129 6405  or phone 646.867.9923 Email WOW for the password.

Karen Davis, an internationally known worship leader from Israel taught on the relevance of the Fall Feasts and how Gentiles are grafted into the beautiful olive tree of Israel and now part of the Commonwealth of Israel. She also led us in beautiful and anointed worship. Click here to hear the message and to hear the worship click here

In conclusion, like it or not we are in a war. It’s more than time to call the army of prayer warriors to attention and duty! With God we have the victory but we must engage in the battle! I know many of you have been engaging for many years and some are probably weary. I know I’m largely speaking to the “choir”. There are times when I am very weary. This is when we need reinforcements. We need the “cluster”. All armies have reinforcements. Let’s continue to ask the Lord for more warriors to join His army and stand on this scripture too:

“ When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord you God, and you will be saved from your enemies.” Numbers 10:9 

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

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

Why is this Night Different from All Other Nights?

by Betsy Roy

Good question! This is the question asked by the youngest member in a Jewish family during the Passover Seder Meal celebrated each year.

The question in the Bible is actually “What do you mean by this service?” The answer is “It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our house.” (Exodus 12:26, 27). The LORD also instructed them to keep this feast at its appointed time from year to year so that they would remember what HE did for them throughout their generations. (Exodus 13:3-10)

Passover this year (2020) begins at sundown on April 8th and goes to sundown on April 16th. Many of us are familiar with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the basic teaching of Passover when the death angel passed over the homes of the Hebrew people who had the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels so as to spare the death of the first-born (the last plague Exodus 12:21-24).

How is it pertinent in our day especially this year as the world is under the scourge of COVID-19?

Passover is not only a feast of remembrance. It is also a present reality with prophetic meaning. There is much to be learned as we study the prophetic scriptures. God has a plan. Much has been fulfilled but much is still to be fulfilled as we await the glorious return of the Lord!

Many of us are under a “shelter at home” or “shelter in place” directive right now here in the USA. People in Israel are forbidden by the government to leave their homes for 3 days during this Passover. Also, they are not allowed to celebrate with their extended families (which is traditional) but only with those who live under the same roof. Is God saying something to Israel and to His Church throughout the nations? I believe that He is.When I reflect on the Exodus and the Passover meal the Lord Jesus shared with his disciples (Luke 22:14-22), his suffering, his death and his resurrection I am reminded that God is a God of Covenant! He is a Covenant-keeper. We see this theme throughout the Scriptures in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant. The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Covenants with us.

God has made A Covenant of Peace with us. 

“‘For the Mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10) We certainly need that peace, that shalom, in these days. In Hebrew the word shalom (peace) is not the absence of trouble, not the absence of war. Rather it speaks of wholeness and completion in our lives which includes provision and health to us physically, spiritually and emotionally. This covenant of peace was promised to the Levitical priesthood in Numbers 25:10-13 and for us as believers this is extended to us today as we are also a part of this perpetual and royal priesthood (1 Peter2:9). Remember that one of Jesus’ titles is “Sar Shalom” which means Prince of Peace! Even in this time of great distress in the world and very difficult circumstances we can be a people that have God’s peace as an anchor to our souls and a witness to others.

Let’s remember that the Lord isn’t finished with us yet. Yes, it’s a very difficult season but it is the beginning of birth pains (Read Matthew 24:1-14), not the Great Tribulation. It is a very important sign and I believe one we must pay attention to individually and corporately as the Church. It is a huge shift; the ending of one era, and the beginning of another era. We cannot return to “the way we were”.  Let us be about our Father’s business and usher in the return of the Lord. May our cry be “Maranatha! Maranatha!”, Come Lord Jesus Come. As surely as God has fulfilled His promises through the first advent of our Messiah so the final promise of His return will be accomplished also at His second advent. (Revelation 19:11-16).  Hallelujah!

Lastly, allow me to pray for you please. Father God, in the mighty name of Jesus I lift up the reader right now. Father, I ask for your assurance of peace for them in the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. You know what is going on in their life. Please reveal yourself to them. If they are in need of repentance then I pray for your loving conviction upon their hearts to draw them to ask forgiveness knowing that you are willing to forgive and to cleanse their hearts. If they are in emotional or mental turmoil I ask that they cast their cares upon you knowing that you care for them and will shelter them under your wings of love. If they are fearful, anxious, or in grief, I ask that you comfort them and make provision for them. If they are ill, I ask for your healing touch on their bodies restoring them to health. Father, I apply the blood of the pure and spotless Lamb, the blood of Jesus over our homes and families. Thank you that it is protection, a place of shelter for us. Father, I thank you that you hear us when we call out to you and that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us before Your throne of grace. I thank you that you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May our eyes look upon Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen

Women of the Word has corporate prayer on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm (EST). We invite you to join us. Please visit our website by clicking here. 

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

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

 

 

 

Defensive and Offensive Weapons against the Coronavirus

by Betsy Roy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Israel 2020: Maranatha, Ministry, Prayer and More!

by Betsy Roy 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

part of the mosaic at Magdala

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Sign of the Almond Blossoms

 by Betsy Roy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.