|Israel Prayer Update - March 9, 2015|
PRAYER UPDATE FROM ISRAEL
(March 9, 2015)
"Thus says Adonai YHVH: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. Like the flock of holy things, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am YHVH."
(Ezekiel 36:37-38; See Parasha Below)
1. NETANYAHU SPEAKS TO CONGRESS.
Last Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu joined Winston Churchill as the only foreign leaders ever to have addressed the US Congress on three separate occasions. It was a masterful address, focused on the topic upon which he had been requested to speak-the dangers posed by the present expansionism of Iran, and its burgeoning nuclear program-and the effectiveness to be expected by the talks presently taking place in Geneva. We are grateful for the prayers from around the world which strengthened and attended our Prime Minister in pushing through incredible opposition to deliver his message. If you were unable to watch or read it, we would strongly encourage your doing so. It is available many places on the web-at the following site it may be either watched or read: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/03/full-text-netanyahus-address-to-congress/.
In his speech, Netanyahu laid out what has taken place in Iran since the takeover by religious zealots in 1979. He mentioned its constitution and leadership which calls on the exportation of jihad around the world, and how that aim is steadily advancing. He spoke of the present Supreme Leader's "tweets" that Israel must be annihilated, of the "three tentacles of terror" with which the republic is seeking to clutch Israel from Gaza, Lebanon and the Golan Heights. But not only Israel-"beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network." He reminded his American audience how only during the previous week Iran had blown up a full-size replica of an American aircraft carrier near the Straits of Hormuz. He stressed how, as we have mentioned in recent Updates, in the Middle East, "Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa (Yemen)-and how if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. He pointed out how Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif who "charms Western diplomats" (and who was that moment conferring with Secretary Kerry in Geneva) had last year laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh, a terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden." And he warned about the danger of being fooled into thinking that the battle between Iran and ISIS could turn Iran into a friend of America:
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire...The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.
Netanyahu is convinced that the deal presently being formulated would, if accepted by Iran, rather than preventing her from developing nuclear weapons, all but guarantee that she acquires them--many of them. He said that apart from a major shift, the present negotiations would allow two major incredibly dangerous concessions to Iran, 1) They would be left with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing her leaders with a short break-out time to production of a nuclear bomb. According to Netanyahu, under this deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished; thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning, with thousands more temporarily disconnected, not destroyed.
International inspectors might at first be introduced; but inspectors "document violations; they don't stop them"-witness North Korea; and Iran has a history of hiding things from such inspection. 2) Virtually all of the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program would automatically expire within about a decade...which is "the blink of an eye in the life of a nation." Iran's Supreme Leader has openly said that Iran plans to eventually have 190,000 centrifuges (she has 19,000 today). Netanyahu also pointed out that Iran's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not even part of the negotiations..." Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reaching corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States." (Note: Only yesterday, Iran media showed tests of a new cruise missile capable of reaching Israel).
The Prime Minister said that an alternative to the present "deal" being drafted is not war, but a "better deal", one which Israel might not like, but with which she could live-literally. He proposed that before lifting restrictions on Iran's nuclear program, Iran be required to do three things: "1. Stop its aggressions against its neighbors in the Middle East; 2. Stop supporting terrorism around the world; 3. Stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state." "If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires."
In conclusion, the Prime Minister addressed Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who was in attendance for the speech:
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, 'never again.' And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over. We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why-this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand!
-But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel...Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land. And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today [Deut. 31:6, spoken first in Hebrew, then...], "Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them!" My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope. May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America."
*That such messages and warnings as reflected truth within PM Netanyahu's speech will resound in the hearts of the US congressmen, that they will be led by God in integrity and courage into taking such measures as are necessary regarding negotiations or confrontation with Iran.
*That hidden factors which would deceive the negotiators in Geneva into making a bad pact allowing evil to be released through Iran outside boundaries set by God at this time, would be exposed.
*That Israel will be protected and moved by the Holy Spirit to place her trust for her future in her God.
*For protection for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his family-a "rear guard" after having pressed through to release his word of conscience. That he will look to God for his future.
2. CRITICAL ISRAELI ELECTIONS LOOMING-Tuesday 17 March.
Please pray for God's merciful hand in the elections which will be taking place in Israel a week from this Tuesday. The entire government is up for election. After elections, the President has the task of picking from the party or parties gaining the greatest number of seats a candidate whom he believes has the best chance of forming a coalition. It is a complicated and cumbersome system-one which most often leaves the candidate picked with having to cobble together a number of disparate parties, each having their own special interests and demands for cabinet seats. At present, the right-wing Likud (of which Netanyahu is a member) and the left-wing "Zionist Union" party co-led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni are virtually neck-and-neck in polls. We believe that leadership under Herzog and Livni would be disastrous-but in order to form a coalition, Netanyahu would almost certainly feel forced to bring in two large ultra-Orthodox parties, which also can cause severe problems (especially for Messianic Jews). As we saw in the Torah Portion some weeks ago, when in Exodus 18:21 Jethro, under divine inspiration, councils Moses to select able and truthful men to lead and judge the people, he uses a word meaning "to search out with prophetic insight" in making the choice. That was one man-we are presently in a democracy, with many people making the choice.
PLEASE PRAY: that God will release supernatural "insight" into His people Israel-guiding them into His choice for leadership in Israel during this next season-a leadership containing men and women of integrity, of righteous and wise judgment, capable of sensing and being guided by God's Spirit-and of seeking His counsels.
THIS WEEK'S TORAH PORTION:
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) 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 the week of 8-14 March 2015 is in three parts:
A "Double Reading":
I. VaYakhel-"And He Assembled"
TORAH: Exodus 35:1-38:20
II. P'kudei-"Accountings of..."
TORAH: Exodus 38:21-40:38
III. Shabbat Parah
TORAH: Numbers 19:1-22
HAFTARAH: Ezekiel 36:16-38
SHABBAT PARAH : This is one of four special Shabbats preceding Pesach/Passover which contain an additional Torah reading and a replacement for the usually-read Haftarah reading. It is called Parah (Cow), and recalls the ritual involving the ashes of a red heifer for purification from defilement by death. The special Haftarah from Ezekiel 36 recounts God's judgment upon His people for their uncleanness, but also prophecies His return of them to their own Land, his sprinkling of clean water on them and giving them a new heart and new spirit.
*In this week's readings, Moses gathers together the congregation of Israel and relates to them what God has instructed regarding the construction of the Tabernacle. In effect, Exodus 35:4-39:43 carefully repeats what was recorded earlier in Chpts. 25-28 (T'rumah) and subsequent passages. But here certain details have been clarified. For instance, unlike the earlier passages, this one makes specific mention of women . Verses 35:25-26 refer to "Each woman who is a gifted artisan" and "whose hearts stirred with wisdom." Verse 29 is careful to mention both "men and women" whose hearts moved them to volunteer materials and to labor as a freewill offering for building the tabernacle. In 36:6, this had in fact been done with such generosity and cheerfulness that Moses was forced to issue a command, "Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contribution of the sanctuary!"
Please pray for hearts of Israeli believers to be moved to offer up their craftsmanship and creative energies as a free-will offering to the Most High. Pray for women and men to be equally valued and recognized in their talents and giftings. Pray for "cheerful" giving from the heart (II Cor. 9:7) on the part of Israeli believers, both of physical resources and of talents and time, not merely as a mitzva (an obedience to gain favor)-but at the moving of the Holy Spirit within their hearts.
*Exodus 35:1-3. "...These are the words which YHVH has commanded you to do: 'Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to YHVH. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day."
Attempts to observe the prohibition related to fire in the last verse of this passage continue amongst many observant Jews today, in some cases reaching extremes which, to our understanding, go far beyond the original intent of the prohibition. From the time the Shabbat Lights are lit just before sundown on Friday until candles are again kindled at Havdalah at the close of Saturday, no lights are to be kindled by Jews. Electric timers are placed on light switches and stoves so that the owners will not be guilty of lighting a fire (i.e. initiating an electric spark by flipping a switch). This is also the reason religious Jews don't drive on Shabbat (starting a car involves making the battery produce a spark to ignite the engine). Pressing a button at a streetlight in order to cross the street also initiates a "spark", as does pressing a button in an elevator (Kosher hotels and many fancy apartment buildings in Israel are equipped with "Shabbat elevators," which are set to unceasingly go up and down automatically throughout the Sabbath). We do not mock the earnestness of those who genuinely feel it to be God's will, and who are trying to please Him by observing these strictures. But we do believe them to be misguided; that in some instances, such prohibitions slip into a category which Yeshua condemned in Matthew 23:4-that of heavy burdens not intended by God being laid on people's shoulders by religious leaders, rules which often become mere works for show.
The context for this lone passage about lighting a fire on the Sabbath is God's releasing of instructions for the construction of a place for His habitation among His people-the Mishkan, Dwelling Place, the Tabernacle. It was a construction of craftsmanship requiring all the creative, "artistic" gifts, energies and skills of which humankind (made in the image of God) is capable. Yet the fashioning of this Holy place with all of its Holy furnishings was not to cancel out the pattern set by the Master Artist when He Himself fashioned the universe. He worked "creatively" for six days, then ceased work and was refreshed on the seventh (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 31:17). Much of the work being described in these chapters would require building a fire to smelt and fashion the metals-melting, bending, shaping and forming everything, from Cherubim of gold, to tools, to ornaments, to bolts and pins of brass. Making the fire involved a lot of work-finding, gathering and chopping the wood, then kindling the flame with a friction method involving much exertion (The one record we have of judgment coming on an individual for breaking this law is found in Numbers 15:32, where the offense was specifically for gathering wood on the Sabbath) . The joyous sacrifice of yielding up one's gifts and skills to God for "holy work" must also include respect for His "times and seasons" in exercising those gifts, chief amongst them being what He first called "holy"-the Seventh Day (Genesis 2:3).
*Exodus 35:36. "And He has put it in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan." Last week we read of Betzalel (a descendant of Judah) and Aholiav (of the tribe of Dan)-artisans whom God had filled with all wisdom and grace for performing and overseeing the intricate workmanship required in preparation of the Tabernacle. In this later passage it is mentioned that He also put it in their hearts "to teach." Indeed, 36:1 mentions others whom the LORD had filled with artistic grace to work under them (36:1), subject to their wise instruction.
PLEASE PRAY: that those released in the artistic skills in the congregations in Israel will focus not only on the work allotted to them for their own times-but will be stirred in their hearts with a desire and ability to pass on their wisdom and skill to the men and women of the generation rising after them.
*THIS TORAH PORTION carefully describes the concluding stages of constructing the Tabernacle, even down to itemizing the amount of precious metals used. It is noteworthy that neither in this account of finishing the work, nor in last week's account of beginning it, are the Urim and Thumim (Exodus 28:29-30) mentioned. This suggests that they were not "fashioned" by the creative skills of men, but given by God to be placed in the Breastplate of Judgment. The Portion then ends with the completion of the work of the Tabernacle (39:32), its erection (40:17), and the coming of the manifest Presence of the LORD to fill it with His Glory-that He might dwell among His people in their travel to Canaan. SIMILARLY, THE HAFTARAH (I Kings 7:51-8:21, which is usually read with this Torah Portion) ends with the Ark of the Covenant being brought up from the City of David to the new Temple built by Solomon, with its being placed in the Temple's inner court, and with the cloud of God's glory filling the House of the LORD (I Kings 8:11).
TORAH: Numbers 19:1-22
HAFTARAH: Ezekiel 36:16-38
Both of the readings this week have to do with preparing for the coming of God's Presence to dwell with His people. Although it does not appear in Scripture, a Hebrew word sometimes used for the manifestation of the glory of His Presence on Earth is sh'khinah, or in English: "Shekinah". It is related to the infinitive lishkon-"to dwell, to "neighbor." Mishkan (Tabernacle) is the dwelling place. Shekinah is a manifestation of the Presence itself! It is God's intense desire and purpose to "dwell" among or "near to" His people.
"I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am YHVH their God" (Exodus 29:45).
"And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of Hosts has sent Me to you." (Zechariah 2:11).
"Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land" (Psalm 85:9).
" 'For I,' says the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire all around her [i.e. Jerusalem], and I will be the glory in her midst'" (Zechariah 2:5).
PLEASE PRAY: for an awakened longing in Israel for the Presence of the LORD to return to His Land. Pray for grace among us as Believers in preparing the way for His Glory. And pray for revelation among Israelis that preceding Messiah's physical return to the Land, it is possible for His glorious Spirit to take up residence within the individual hearts of all of His people-to commune with them and encourage them, and to lead, even as did the cloud and the fire of His presence in the wilderness.
TORAH: Numbers 19:1-22
HAFTARAH: Ezekiel 36:16-38
The additional Torah reading from Numbers 19 deals with the contamination taking place when one comes into contact with a dead human body. For cleansing, a red cow was burned and its ashes mixed with living (flowing) water which was then sprinkled upon the contaminated one, making him or her clean. Yeshua came be a holy sacrifice, and to, in His own body, defeat Death, cleansing us with a far holier sprinkling, "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14).
THIS WEEK'S SPECIAL HAFTARAH, EZEKIEL 36:16-38, DEALS WITH THIS SAME HOLY SPRINKLING!
We find it especially useful in helping us to pray for Israel as regards the contested "territories" of Judea and Samaria, which she is being pressured to release to be converted permanently into a Muslim state in which no Jews would be allowed to dwell.
All of the prophecies in this reading are centered on an area called "The Mountains of Israel" (Ezekiel 36:1), which exactly constitute this contested area.
FOR THOSE JEWISH SETTLERS CURRENTLY LIVING IN THESE AREAS, THAT THEY BE GRANTED REVELATION OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH COMES IN MESSIAH YESHUA. THIS PASSAGE STRONGLY IMPLIES THAT IT IS ONLY WHEN THEY RECEIVE THE CLEANSING WHICH HE OFFERS THAT THEY WILL BE ENABLED PERMANENTLY TO "DWELL IN THE LAND."
Ezekiel 36:24. "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God."
Ezekiel 36:31. "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations...Thus says Adonai YHVH: 'On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt.'"
Ezekiel 36:37. "Thus says Adonai YHVH: 'I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am YHVH." PLEASE PRAY: For grace for Israelis to come to a place that they desire and enquire to be a healthy and increasing "flock" of God. That they will long for "the God of peace, who brought up our Lord Yeshua from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews 13:20). That they will come to know that Yeshua is the LORD (Yehovah)-that He and His Father are One.
Martin & Norma Sarvis
[The Parashah for next week 15-21 March 2015 is called VaYikra-"And He Called": TORAH: Leviticus 1:1-6:7. It is Shabbat haChodesh-The beginning of months for the Hebrew people (Exodus 12:2), and therefore contains an additional Torah Portion: Exodus 12:1-20; the usual Haftarah is replaced by Ezekiel 45:16-46:18.]
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