|Israel Prayer Update - February 16, 2015|
Israel Prayer Update
February 16, 2015
Martin and Norma Sarvis
1. "IRAN QUIETLY ADVANCES..." Part I. YEMEN.
"Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, so that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter" (Obadiah 9).
Yemen is the 'heel' of the fat boot which comprises the Arabian Peninsula. Early last year, having, as was thought, successfully transitioned from autocracy to an elected president, this second-largest nation on the Peninsula was being seen by American officials as a model of post-revolutionary Arab states ("At Risk of Fragmenting, Yemen Poses Dangers to U.S.: The New York Times, 21 Jan 2015). Yet, on October 17th, The Times of Israel bore the following ominous headline, "While the world watches IS ["Islamic State"], Iran quietly advances". The article focused upon the way in which the Houthi, Zaidi Shi'a sect in Yemen was, with the support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its al-Quds Brigades, rapidly gaining ground in that country: "While the American (and Israeli) media focuses almost obsessively on the maps of IS's takeover, 'moderate' Iran is succeeding with a little less noise to gain control over even larger chunks of territory: Lebanon, parts of Syria and Iraq, and now Yemen" ("While the world watches IS, Iran quietly advances": The Times of Israel, 17 Oct 2014; 1:43 pm).
The article in the Times has proven prophetic, and now the 'model' has come crashing down. In January, Yemen's President was forced to step down, and on the 6th of February, the Shi'ite Muslim group announced that it was dissolving parliament and forming a new government. The Houthis now control the north of Yemen, and the Capital Sanaa. Sunni al-Qaida Islamists still control the south and the country is rapidly descending into sectarian civil war. But with Shi'ites now in control of the capital and government, in a proxy sort of way, the chief determining influence on the region is rapidly becoming seen as Iranian.
As a Revolutionary Guard official recently boasted, "The Islamic Republic of Iran now controls four Middle Eastern capitals: Sanaa, Beirut, Baghdad and Damascus ("Yemen falls to Iran in regional proxy war": JPOST.com, 02/08/2015, 19:43IST). Sunni Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are gravely concerned at this strengthening foot-hold of arch-enemy Iran to their south. But the Saudis attempted a war with the Houthis in 2009 in which they were soundly beaten, and their new King is reluctant to send his troops into a sectarian conflict which is looking similar to that going on in Syria. One specialist on Gulf affairs put it this way, "The Gulf monarchies were distracted by Iraq and the Islamic State when the Houthis launched their offensive.In the meantime, much of Yemen fell to Iranian-backed radicals who hate the Gulf States, hate America, and explicitly hate not just Israel but specifically Jews as well" (Ibid.). One means through which this hatred for Israel and the Jews might manifest against Israel if Iran gains firm control over Yemen, would be closure of the straits at the bottom of the Red Sea, over which Yemen commands oversight and through which is Israel's only access to the Indian Ocean.
Among the superpowers, the United States, which has for the past two decades been seen as a staunch ally of the Saudis, is not likely to come to their aid. Some even see them going to the other side, "with the US increasingly favoring the Shi'ite axis led by Iran as it does not want to ruin ongoing nuclear negotiations with the country. It also seeks to use Iran to counter Sunni jihadists such as Islamic State and al-Qaida. Recent reports reveal that the US is cooperating with the Houthis to target AQAP (Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) (Ibid.).
Its Hebrew name for Yemen is Teman. This happens to be the same as the Biblical name used for a region in Edom in ancient times. That Teman was probably located in what is today the Ma'an region of southern Jordan. Ma'an is itself thought to have been founded between the 2nd and 4th centuries BC by Minaeans, a people based in Yemen ("Museum With No Frontiers", p.203, quoted under "Ma'an".Wikipedia.)). And so we see a physical historical connection between the two regions as well as their sharing the same name. We believe there is prophetic significance in these connections which is relevant for today.
In Genesis 36:15, a chieftain named Teman is listed among the sons of Eliphaz, the first-born of Esau (Edom). Also listed among the brothers of Teman is another chieftain named Amalek. As we have seen in the Torah studies, the spirit behind Edom is historically manifest in the covenant-hating spirit of Amalek - which is most-often expressed in anti-Semitism against the covenant people Israel. YHVH (the LORD) Himself has declared war against this spirit forever, and it is His banner over believers who war against anti-Semitism which is their victory today (Exodus 17:8-16). A number of places in the Hebrew Bible suggest that Teman and his descendants obviously came under the same spirit as Amalek - and the northern land given his name therefore came under the same judgment from God (Jeremiah 49:7, 20; Ezekiel 20:46, 25:13; Amos1:12, and Obadiah 1:9).
We see this same spirit rising up in the modern domain of Teman (Yeman). As quoted above, "much of Yemen fell to Iranian-backed radicals who hate the Gulf States, hate America, and explicitly hate not just Israel but specifically Jews as well" (Emphases ours). The trademark slogan of the Iranian-backed Houthis is, "God [Allah] is great; death to America; death to Israel." To return to the article from last October with which we began, "What is clear, is that in the shadow of attacks and massacres from the Islamic State, the Shi'ite axis headed by Iran is not resting for a moment. During the Houthi demonstrations, passwords appeared that sounded like they were taken directly from the Iranian Islamic Revolution's phrasebook: "Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews" ("While the world watches."; Emphases ours).
*God's mercies on Yemen (Teman).that the powers focused upon that land with evil intent against God and His covenant nation and people would not be allowed to go beyond the boundaries God has presently ordained for them. That YHVH Nissi (the LORD MY BANNER) will arise and conquer the Amalekite spirit currently gaining dominance there.
* Ezekiel 20:46-48 (Hebrew) and Amos 1:12 speak of God "kindling a fire" in Teman (in Edom). It was a fire of judgment, but which would result in the inhabitants becoming aware that YHVH (the LORD) had kindled it. Pray that the fire of God would be ignited in Yemen - devouring that which is set against His ways-and freeing the inhabitants to know that the LORD, Elohei-Israel, is the Most High God of all the earth.and loves them.
* Jeremiah 49:7 implies that ancient Teman once had a reputation as a place of wisdom, "Is there no longer any wisdom in Teman? Has good counsel been lost to the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed?" (The chief 'comforter' in the "wisdom book" of Job-Eliphaz, was a Temanite). Pray that wisdom would return to Teman (Yemen). Pray God's Kingdom COME! there - that His redemptive purposes for that corner of the Arabian Peninsula would awaken and come forth.
*God's protection over the several hundred Jews still living in Yemen (some 50,000 emigrated to Israel from that country during the mid-20th century). That they will find opportunity to return to the Land of their Fathers.
2. "IRAN QUIETLY ADVANCES."
Part II. DÉTENTE and THE PRIME MINISTER'S SPEECH.
For me He was chastised, for me He was hated
For me He was rejected by a world that He created
Nations are angry, cursed are some
People are expecting a false peace to come
Well, I'm hangin' on to a solid rock
Made before the foundation of the world."
--From "Solid Rock" by Bob Dylan, © 1980 Special Rider Music
On Wednesday October 29th the Wall Street Journal quoted senior US and Arab officials as saying that the Obama administration and Iran have "moved into an effective state of détente over the past year, as they hold direct nuclear talks and face a common threat from the Islamic State" ("Report: US, Iran entered state of 'détente', facing common Islamic State enemy": ynetnews.com; 10.29.14 08:04). A subtitle to the article cited quoted the Journal as saying that "Washington has reassured Tehran that strikes on IS fighters in Syria will not be used to oust Assad" (Ibid.).
The Oxford Dictionary of English defines "détente" as "the easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries." This "easing of hostilities" from the point of view of the White House has continued, in fact, accelerated. At a security conference in Munich last week Sec. of State John Kerry met for over two hours with Tehran's foreign minister Mohammad Zarif. This time it was the Iranian who was warning the Secretary regarding "consequences" should a multilateral agreement over Iran's nuclear program fail to be reached soon. There is presently a March 24 deadline for reaching an agreement, with a final deal by June 30th. The Iranian minister stressed to Kerry that failure to reach an agreement [i.e. suitable to his ] might well undermine the leadership of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whom Washington presently depends upon as a strongly pragmatic element in its relations with the Islamic republic. The President's weakening, the minister implied, could serve the empowerment of the country's conservative hardliners. ("In Munich, talks with Iran broaden beyond the nuclear file": JPOST.com; 7 Feb 2015 22:06 IST). This might be seen as a somewhat dubious assertion, given that everything the President does is already done under the auspices of those same religious hardliners. In the end, the Secretary and Foreign Minister announced that they intend to complete a framework agreement by the end of March.
The meeting in Munich came a week after reports began surfacing "that the Obama administration is offering Iran technical concessions on its nuclear infrastructure in exchange for Iran's use of its leverage to temper regional turmoil" (Ibid.). Then this past Saturday a report was released (again by The Wall Street Journal) to the effect that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has responded to a letter sent to him by the American president last October by sending Mr. Obama himself one. Mr. Obama's letter is said to have "stressed the two countries' shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, and said cooperation between the US and Iran on combating the militant group was tied to a deal being reached between Iran and other nations on its nuclear program" ("Report: Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei sent Obama secret letter": JPOST.com, 14 Feb 2015 9:26 IST). It has become evident for some time that the President is convinced that integrating Iran into the international diplomatic and economic system is a much more effective method of moderating its aggressive behavior than applying more pressure (such as re-imposition of the sanctions, as the nation continues working towards its nuclear arming) ("Obama's Secret Iran Strategy: mosaicmagazine.com, 02/2015). The contents of the "secret letter" sent by the Ayatollah Khamenei to President Obama this week have not been disclosed, except to say that it is "respectful".
Not so respectful was a "tweet" released by this same Khamenei on Twitter regarding Israel last summer, which read, "This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated" ("Khamenei on Twitter: No cure for barbaric Israeli regime but to be annihilated": jpost.com; 9 Nov 2014, 4:11 IST). Israel certainly has no reason to believe that the Supreme Leader has altered these sentiments - nor his designs towards bringing them to fulfillment. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to hold doggedly to his decision to speak at the joint session of Congress on March 3rd , to which he was invited by House Speaker John Boehner. Neither the U.S. President nor his Secretary of State will meet with the Israeli head of state when he arrives in Washington, claiming that it violates a long-standing protocol of not meeting candidates before an election. (The protocol cannot have been too long-standing; as has been pointed out, in 1996 Democrat Bill Clinton hosted Shimon Peres at the White House right before Israeli elections.) Vice President Joe Biden, President of the Senate, will be out of town during the speech. Some Democrat congressmen and senators are threatening to boycott it, most behind the claim that it is politically motivated.
The real issue is related to expectation that the speech will be diametrically opposed to the direction presently being pursued by the White House. As the world, in the face of what is perceives as being a more immediate threat, becomes pacified to the powers ruling Iran, Israel sees the [demonic] domain of the Prince of Persia spreading. With the fall of Yemen, that domain will virtually encircle ¾ of the Arabian Peninsula-Yemen at the south, Iran to the east and Iranian controlled southern Iraq and much of Syria and Lebanon to the north. In Syria, Assad and his government (with support from Iran and Russia) are suddenly being seen as almost allies of the West because of the threat of ISIS. Iran is capitalizing upon that "détente", thrusting into the breach to draw nearer to the nation her leaders have continually vowed to annihilate. In mid-January, Israeli intelligence discovered and its military destroyed, a convoy bearing an Iranian brigadier general traveling with seven Hezbollah operatives on a secret mission just outside Israel's border on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Another top Iranian general met shortly thereafter with Hezbollah chief Nasrallah in Lebanon ("No one immune from Israeli preemptive strikes, says Netanyahu": The Times of Israel, 1 Feb 2015 1:19 p.m.). This past Thursday Israeli P.M. Netanyahu spoke of six fronts which Iran has opened up against Israel-Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Sinai, efforts to carry out terrorist attacks abroad, and its march toward nuclear weapons ("PM says Iran is facing off against Israel on 6 fronts": jpost.com, 02/13/2015 17:31 IST). As this power continues to extend its array on the ground, the nuclear threat continues to grow. Israel believes that the "deal" currently being planned by the P5+1 would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium in over 7,000 centrifuges -mere months from producing enough material for a bomb - and that in securing this deal, the US will have agreed to 80% of Iran's demands (" 'Israel: US deal will leave Iran with 6,500 centrifuges spinning, months from a bomb'": The Times of Israel, 31 Jan 2015 3:15 am).
It is to speak a warning to the West regarding this scenario that PM Netanyahu is determined to accept the invitation offered him by the Speaker of the House, and to address in English on March those who have an ear to hear. We have not seen such fierce opposition - both from the White House in the US, and from the opposition on the left here in Israel. Last week the Prime Minister acknowledged the presence of serious disagreements:
"We do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran.This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields. Equally, I know that the president appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel. I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the president, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country. I intend to speak about this issue before the March 24th deadline and I intend to speak in the US Congress because Congress might have an important role on a nuclear deal with Iran."
("Netanyahu admits 'profound disagreement' with Obama': news.yahoo.com, 10 Feb 2015 3:38 pm).
Yesterday evening Israeli news media reported that the Obama administration is responding to Netanyahu's plans by stating that the United States will no longer provide the Israeli government with regular updates on the status of the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran ("Report: US to halt updates to Israel on Iran nuclear talks in response to Netanyahu speech plans": jpost.com; 02/15/2015 20:34 IST).
Yet we are encouraged by those within the American Congress who are rallying to the Prime Minister's cause. And support is arising in other arenas. This week it was announced that Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel will be lending his support to the speech. A New Jersey rabbi is placing full-page advertisements in both The New York Times and The Washington Post, in which Wiesel says he plans to attend the Prime Minister's address
"on the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran. I plead with you to put aside the politics that have obscured the critical decisions to be made. Surely it is within your power to find a solution that will permit Israel's prime minister to deliver his urgent message. Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?" ("Nobel winner Elie Wiesel lends support to Netanyahu's US speech": jpost.com, 13 Feb 2015 7:49 IST & Eli Wiesel pleads: Let prime Minister speak" : The Jerusalem Post; 15 Feb 2015).
In the ad, Wiesel likens the modern Iranian leaders to the biblical Haman (a descendant of Amalek), pointing out that the speech takes place the week of Purim, "As Queen Esther said when addressing her king: 'How can I behold the destruction of my people?" (Ibid.)
*For God's mercies to be released over the Middle East. For angels to be released on behalf of those who will inherit salvation. For the lights of the remnant to shine brightly, to intensify (Daniel 12:3). For courage to come through a deep revelation of the love of Jesus/Yeshua/Yasua which will enable them to stand (even in death) in the word of their testimony and the blood of the Lamb. Only today has the world become aware of the massive execution of Christians by ISIS forces in Libya; for months similar reports have been coming out of Iraq and parts of Syria.
*For Iran. We do not consider it a "Great Satan" - but the power which has it in its grasp is satanic - and expanding quickly. Pray for the Body of Messiah among the Iranian people and wherever the power is expanding its influence. Pray that they see a great light.
*That Mr. Netanyahu will be allowed to make his speech; that the Lord will grant him words of truth and wisdom beyond his own natural capacities or motivations.
*For the American government - that God will grant mercy and courage to the congressmen He has allowed into power during this season - that they will experience the Fear of the Lord and seek His help in knowing what direction their nation should go during this critical time.
*For protection for Israel - for God to be a wall of fire around her. For righteousness to rise up within her and for her to seek the God of her Fathers. For God to raise up the Prime Minister and government of His choice in the elections on March 17th.
THIS WEEK'S TORAH PORTION:
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parasha) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God's Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. All texts are those of English translations of the Scriptures.
The readings for 15-21 February 2015 are called T'rumah-"Donation".
TORAH: Exodus 25:1-27:19
HAFTARAH: I Kings 5:12-6:13
MISHKAN - "DWELLING PLACE"
The rest of the book of Exodus (except for the incident regarding the golden calf) will be related to the setting up of the "Tabernacle". The Hebrew for this word is mishkan-which means "a dwelling place." Its root shakhan is used in the modern Hebrew word for "neighbor"-someone who dwells nearby. God longs to shokhen with, to dwell-to "neighbor" closely with His people. The word is used in Exodus 25:8 when He instructs that a "holy place" (sanctuary) be constructed so that He may dwell within Israel. This would be the tent-covered Tabernacle used in the wilderness and in the days of the Judges. At the end of this week's Haftarah (I Kings 6:13) Solomon, some 500 years later, has completed a Temple on Mount Moriah-and the same words are again repeated, "And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel." Around 440 years later still, a pre-incarnate Yeshua twice more released these words through the prophet Zechariah, "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of Hosts has sent Me to you." (Zechariah 2:10-11).
Yet, "the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48), and today, through the work of the Messiah Yeshua, His Body on earth is "being built together for a dwelling place (Hebrew translation: mishkan) of God in the Spirit" (Ephesian 2:22). Finally, John tells us of a day when a Voice from heaven will proclaim, "Behold, the tabernacle (Hebrew translation: mishkan) of God is with the children of Adam, and He will dwell (shokhen) with them and they shall be His people. Elohim Himself will be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:3-4).
* Exodus 25:2 . "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering."
* Exodus 25:10 . "And they shall make an ark of acacia wood." The word "ark" is aron, a word used today for a cabinet, closet or wardrobe (Noah's "ark" and that of the baby Moses is a different word (teva), meaning 'box'). This ark would later be called the "Ark of the Testimony, --of the Covenant", --of God", and "the Ark of YHVH (the LORD)".
*Exodus 25:13-15. "You shall cast four rings of gold for it [the Ark of the Covenant], and put them in its four corners.and you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by then. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it." It is remarkable the lengths this passage goes to to stress the importance of the poles and that they are to stay in the rings at all times! Yet by the time of David, even though he read the Torah continually and loved it, this would have faded in significance in his mind to that of a minor, unimportant "detail". Tragedy would occur when he allowed the Ark to be carried a different way (II Samuel 6:1-8). It is crucial to employ the whole counsel of God; there are no details of His instructions which are more important than others. "Thy Word O LORD is Truth!"
We would also stress here that ALL of the articles of the Tabernacle were essential in the completion of the perfection of the whole-whether the beautiful golden menorah, the cherubim, the intricately embroidered inner curtains, or the more homely boards for the sides, the skins over the top, the instruments of bronze such as the "pans to receive the ashes, the shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans" (27:3). So with those "vessels" making up the Body of Messiah on earth today.some may be in positionings which appear more honorable than others, but before God, each part being in the place for which it have been specially fashioned by the Master Artisan in His preparing the Whole, that is the important thing.
* Exodus 25:17 . "You shall make a mercy seat (Hebrew: kaporet) of pure gold ." Kaporet means both "atonement" and "covering". Upon this the blood would be sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. It was above this that the Presence of the LORD would dwell between the Cherubim, Hence the (non-Biblical) word shekinah, related to shakhan above, refers to the manifest dwelling-presence of the LORD.
* Exodus 25:22 . "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel." "Meet with you" here means "at an appointed fixed time and place." In God's mercies, we now "have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us" - so as to meet with and be spoken with by our Father (Hebrews 10:19-20).
* Exodus 25:30 . "And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always." Showbread is literally "Bread of the Face" or "Bread of the Presence". Leviticus 24:5-9 clarifies that it would consist of 12 loaves made from wheat flour, corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel. Each Sabbath they were placed before God on the golden table, across from the menorah whose light shone upon it. Psalm 44:3 says that Israel's victories did not come by her own prowess, but "It was Your right hand, Your arm and the Light of Your Face, for You loved them!"
*Exodus 25:33. "Three bowls [of the menorah] shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch." The Hebrew for "almond" or "almond blossoms" which were to decorate the Menorah is sha'ked. This is also the root for another similar-sounding Hebrew word sha'kad meaning "to watch, to wake, to be diligent." This is the word used in Psalm 127:1, "Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." Since the almond is the first tree to blossom in Israel, in mid-winter while other trees are still sleeping, it bears this same root and has become a symbol for wakefulness, and alertness. This is why both of these words are used in Jeremiah 1:11-12. The LORD asks Jeremiah what he sees, and he responds, "The branch of an almond (sha'ked) tree." The LORD responds, "You have seen well, for I am watching over (sha'kad) my word to perform it." Even so, the menorah, which illumined the darkness when all else were sleeping was decorated with these flowers - among other things, a symbol of He who watches over Israel and neither slumbers nor sleeps -who also watches over His word regarding her to perform it. As we write, the almond flowers in Jerusalem are ready to pop open (see picture at beginning of Update). PLEASE PRAY for the Body in Israel to be alert, and awake, diligently seeking the Light of the Spirit to illumine the Word which nourishes us with life and guidance during this hour!
* Exodus 25:40 . "And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain." All of these things -the Ark; the rings of gold; the poles of acacia wood; the Mercy Seat; the Cherubim; the Table of Showbread; the golden Menorah - point to the work of Yeshua, our heavenly High Priest and mediator of a New Covenant, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:3-13).
Martin & Norma Sarvis
[The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week 22-28 February 2015 are called Tetsaveh-"Command/Charge". TORAH: Exodus 27\:20-30:10 (+ Deuteronomy 25:17-19); HAFTARAH: I Samuel 15:2-34]
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