In the Gospels, Yeshua compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed –a small, unassuming seed which, according to the parable, becomes a tree. When I started researching this parable, I was initially confused: an online search for “mustard tree” offers results for the mustard plant which is a small flowering herb from which we harvest seeds to make mustard. When I narrowed my search for mustard trees in the Land of Israel, I discovered something different. Horticulturalists classify the mustard tree (salvadora persica) which grows in the Middle East and Africa, as a shrub or a small tree. So, is it a tree, a garden plant, or both? And why does Yeshua choose this particular plant to make His point about the kingdom of God?

In Matthew 12:32, Yeshua describes the mustard tree as a “garden plant” that then becomes a tree where the birds make their nests. It is worth noting that this is not the first time the Scriptures use the metaphor of a tree to describe a kingdom: in Ezekiel 17:23 the kingdom of Israel is prophetically described as a tree, and birds find shelter in it. Similarly, in the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom is described as a large and mighty oak tree visible from the edge of the earth. This great, strong tree symbolizes earthly royalty, power, and strength.

Birds nesting in the branches of a mustard tree

How is it, then, that in the New Testament, an unassuming, unremarkable desert bush is used to describe the kingdom of God? Yeshua uses the parable of the humble mustard tree, a desert shrub, which spreads out like a shrub when it grows and can eventually reach up to seven meters high, like a tree, to define a kingdom, but not an earthly kingdom as we usually understand it.

Expecting a Physical Kingdom

In the Second Temple period during Yeshua’s ministry, the people of Israel were anticipating physical redemption and salvation from the Roman Empire and the reestablishment of the kingdom of Israel. However, Yeshua came to establish a different kind of kingdom—a kingdom that is not seen with the eye because it first takes place in people’s hearts (Luke 17:20-21). The imagery of the mustard tree parable brings to mind Yeshua’s parable of the kingdom of God like a woman who hid a small measure of yeast in a large amount of flour which leavened the entire batch.

Yeshua was teaching us that what is small and seemingly unnoticeable has a remarkable natural ability to spread and fill the whole earth. He spoke often about the nature of this kingdom because it was so different from what they were expecting: the kingdom of God would not be easily observable—like the great oak tree symbolizing Nebuchadnezzar’s earthly kingdom in the book of Daniel—but it would spread far and wide among diverse peoples and tribes. This kingdom is also not majestic like a great oak or cedar tree. Its nature is humble and unassuming like Yeshua Himself. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul put it this way:


“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards. Not many were influential. Not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him.” -I Cor. 1:26-29


This internal kingdom of God was the one He established in His first coming as the suffering servant King. He is coming again, but this time as a conquering King to establish a physical kingdom. Recalling one of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams which the prophet Daniel interpreted, this end-time kingdom is the stone not cut by human hands which appeared and pulverized the great statue representing earthly kingdoms. That stone then grew into a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Dan. 2:34-35) The kingdom which the Lord Yeshua will establish at His second coming will be physical and visible: in fact, every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7), every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue confess the He is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11) when He comes again as a conquering King.

God Defies Our Expectations

Everyone, including Yeshua’s own disciples, at first misunderstood the nature of the kingdom He came to establish. The reason for that is because the prevailing expectation among Jewish society at the time was that a literal, physical redemption would take place and Israel’s kingdom would be reestablished. When I read Yeshua’s prophetic warnings, I hear the magnificent, even terrifying Messiah King who appeared to John in the book of Revelation saying, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Perhaps we have certain expectations about His second coming because it is what we were taught by others, rather than having it revealed to us by the Spirit enlightening our hearts through the Word. May God give us tender hearts and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us today about His second coming!




Today something historic is happening: over a million followers of Yeshua around the world are answering a call to fast and pray during the next twenty-one days for Israel to fulfill her prophetic calling from the Lord, for the opening of the eyes of the Jewish nation to her Messiah and for the fulness of the Gentiles. (Romans 11:25-26)

Many spiritual leaders around the world are saying that they have never felt such a burden to pray for Israel like they do now.  Believers in Israel feel deep gratitude and even trembling about this great initiative. We have great faith and desire to see “all Israel saved” , but my question is, “Are we as believers in Israel ready for the place God has called us to as the Jewish Body of Messiah in the Land?”

During the coming twenty-one days of fasting and prayer, I choose to pray for us as the Messianic Body of believers in Israel, for our congregations, to pray that we would mature into the calling that God has given us to be true disciples of Yeshua, to transform from those who attend Sabbath services to active workers of the Kingdom because the fields of harvest are full and the work is great indeed.

I am not calling all my brothers and sisters in faith here in Israel to go out into the streets to share the gospel with fliers (of course there is a time and a place for that!) The reality is that God is sending people directly to our congregations every week. And He will continue sending people to our congregation. We need to open our eyes to see them and invest in them. I am calling my brothers and sisters in faith here in Israel to leave their comfort zones and to offer their hands to actively build up the house of God in Israel.

When the world is praying for a spiritual awakening in Israel, I start wondering, “How many seekers and new believers we are able to welcome into our midst? How many people would we able to disciple and care for?”

The reality is that we are unable to do all that we are called to do—we do not have the strength, the love, the patience and all that is required for it. We are weak and broken vessels.

But there is good news:

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. (Rom. 5:5)

The main question that I wank to ask myself  is one that I encourage my fellow believers in Israel to ask themselves as well:

“Lord, what do you want to do through me during this season?”

To all of us who will be dedicating prayer and fasting for revival in our nation Israel, remember to pray for the Body of Messiah in Israel!

Revival is not a comfortable place.

It is also a place that will require a lot from us.

And it may require everything.

For information about the Isaiah 62 Fast and Global Prayer for israel: Isaiah62fast

*Victoria Trubeck is office manager and women’s pastor at Tiferet Yeshua and regularly contributes to the Hebrew outreach channel ShelanuTV.

Several times in the Gospels, Yeshua used leaven symbolically in order to make a powerful point. In order to understand the deep spiritual ramifications of what He was teaching us, it is important that we first understand the nature of leaven.

Most understand more or less that leaven (yeast) is used to make dough rise. Leaven exists naturally in the environment around us, and, in ancient times, people discovered that allowing flower, water and sugar to ferment together for several days would produce a mixture which would cause dough to rise. What leaven actually does is change the chemical composition of the dough. One could say that when leaven is added to the dough mixture, the character of the dough changes. Yeshua was highlighting something that will change our hearts and our perceptions of God if we allow it into our lives.

The Leaven of the Pharisees

In Matthew 16:11, Yeshua warns His disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees. Since we already know the nature of leaven, we need to make sure we understand who Pharisees were.  After the Babylonian exile, the sect of the Pharisees developed with the goal of advancing study of the Law (Torah). In contrast to the Sadducees (the Jewish sect associated with the elite temple priesthood) the Pharisees claimed authority from Moses and, as such, claimed Mosaic authority to interpret the law. They ultimately developed and codified the Oral Law (Torah Shebaal Peh) which has been the cornerstone of Rabbinic Judaism until today. Through the lens of Oral Law, the Pharisees had a very specific way of viewing and interpreting God and His written Word.

It is interesting to note that Yeshua warned his disciples about this leaven specifically after the Pharisees asked Him for “a sign from heaven” to prove He was the Messiah (Matthew 16:1). It seems strange they would ask for a sign when He was constantly performing miracles which they themselves witnessed. What the Pharisees were actually asking for was not a miracle of healing or casting out a demon but a visible demonstration of heavenly power like the people of Israel witnessed when Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai or Elijah calling for heavenly fire on Mt. Carmel.

The Pharisee Prism  

When speaking to Orthodox or religious Jews today, you discover that they have a difficult time looking at the Word of God without the prism of the Rabbinic interpretations (the Oral Law). The leaven of the Pharisees is therefore viewing God and His Word through a specific, man-made religious lens.

The lens of the Pharisees focuses solely on carrying out the law in action, down to miniscule, obsessive and even mind-boggling details. Considering that leaven causes a change in the makeup of its host, how then does the leaven of the Pharisees change the makeup of our hearts? It hardens our hearts to God’s heart and puts self-righteousness in its center. Can New Testament believers be susceptible to this religious leaven? Absolutely! We are all human, capable of shutting out God’s love and turning His Word into a formulaic doctrine for good behavior and personal justification.

The Leaven of Herod

In Mark 8:15, Yeshua warns His disciples about a very different form of leaven: the leaven of Herod. Even though he was born in Judah and kept a certain measure of Jewish law, Herod was raised in Rome and embraced Greco-Roman culture. During Yeshua’s ministry, Herod openly lived a life of sin, having married his brother’s wife. But he also had many ritual purification baths (mikvaot) in his personal palaces and was interested in the teaching of John the Baptist. Herod represents a person who is living in both the world of traditional faith and the world of popular culture.

Herod’s leaven is mixing the philosophy of the world with the Word of God. Today we find ourselves surrounded by a popular culture that is post-postmodern where lines are blurred, there are no ultimate truths and every individual determines their reality, their identity, even their gender identity. Yeshua warns against this leaven because it also changes the way we view God and His truth: we start interpreting God’s Word to fit our personal preferences, to make it permissive of the world’s philosophies we have adopted, whether cultural or political, and end up shaping God into the image of who we want Him to be.

 The Good Leaven

Yeshua also presented a positive leaven teaching. In Matthew 13, He taught that the kingdom of heaven is like leaven. What is the kingdom of heaven? God’s rule supreme. The good leaven, the rule of God in our hearts, changes us on the inside. The leavening process is a chemical reaction happening inside the dough: we don’t see the it, but we see the results. The kingdom of heaven is not something observable (Luke 17): it is a process of surrendering to God’s reign in our hearts, and His transforming us into something different, something new.

The One Ultimate Truth

In today’s culture, particularly among the youth, it is a battle to declare “There is only one truth.” In John 18 when He is being interrogated by Pilot, the Roman governor of Judea, Yeshua says, “For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.” Pilot, who represents the world’s system, cynically retorts: “What is Truth?” That cynical question is resonating today, and the world’s answer is, “Whatever you want it to be.”

The Critical Question

“When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith in the earth?” (Luke 18:8) What time more than now can we feel how far humans are from belief in one ultimate truth, the Word of God? Being a person of faith is becoming controversial, and our faith is challenged on every side.

Now more than ever, we need the Word of God to be the double-edged sword, dividing between spirit and soul, God’s truth and the wisdom of the world, cutting away religious perceptions or theologies through which we want to interpret God and His Word.

I believe that it is important that we ask God to show us where we have let the leaven Herod, the leaven of the world, influence our faith and allegiance to God’s ultimate truth. We also need to ask God where we allow the leaven of the Pharisees, the theologies of man, to twist or skip over parts of God’s Word and focus us on being in the right and doing the right things instead of having a right heart before God.


 Jews demand signs (demonstrations of power on par with the giving of the Law on Sinai) and Greeks look for wisdom (rational, human knowledge) 23 but we preach Messiah crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Messiah the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

-1 Corinthians 1:21


The Shock of War

No one believed that Russia would attack Ukraine, and when they did, everyone, including the Ukrainians, were shocked. I have friends all over Ukraine, and they started sharing with me harrowing stories of bombings, constant fear, confusion, food and water shortages. I was in shock that this could be happening in Europe today.

A Great Desire to Help

Day after day as I followed news of the war, I felt an intense need to help but had no idea how. So, I began asking God to send me an opportunity where I might help: I immigrated to Israel from Latvia when I was a little girl and grew up speaking both Russian and Hebrew. With my language skills, I felt that I could offer practical help with the refugees who were beginning to stream into Poland and Germany.

Within a week, God sent me an opportunity through a ministry my husband works with: I was chosen to put together and lead a team of Russian\Ukrainian-speaking Israelis to volunteer for a week at a refugee intake center in Berlin, Germany. Financial and practical support for the refugees was pouring in from all over the world, but there was still a great need for Russian-speaking volunteers.

Choose Your Team Wisely

While I was choosing my team of volunteers, the team we would be replacing debriefed me: the hours are long, the work intense and emotional. I knew that I had to choose the volunteers who would join us carefully and prayerfully: they needed to be strong believers, able to withstand the challenging physical conditions and also have the emotional maturity to be able to offer the refugees spiritual and emotional support. The eight individuals who joined my team are amazing people: ranging from ages 22 to 60, each one was willing to put their lives on hold and to invest their time and energies in this important undertaking. We spent a lot of time in prayer together before we left—we knew that we would need God’s grace, protection, strength and wisdom to be able to do what He had called us to do.

Overwhelming and overwhelmed

Our team arrived in Berlin and were brought to the central train station where refugee transports arrived all day-long. We went through an orderly briefing, were cleared as volunteers and received a special orange vest indicating that we were qualified to volunteer (orange meant we spoke Russian or Ukrainian). At first, we were overwhelmed by the size of the train station—it is enormous, more like a city. But very quickly we learned our way around and, within a day or two, knew it like the back of our hands.

As we were receiving our orientation at the train station, we came to a platform where a train of refugees had just arrived, and I found myself suddenly overwhelmed by the sight of all those refugees, mostly women with children, exhausted, confused and broken. I wasn’t sure how I was going keep it together to be able to help them. But amazingly, God gave all of a certain numbness to our emotional shock so that we could do the work He had called us to do.

Mothers traveling alone with their children with everything the had in the world packed into their strollers

What was special about our team   

There were many volunteers from Germany and all over Europe, but Russian\Ukrainian-speaking volunteers were few. We got along amazingly well with all the different volunteers and were blessed by the cooperation and teamwork there was between us. All the local volunteers and the refugees knew that we were from Israel. They also came to know that we were Israeli followers of Jesus who were there to share the love and hope of God with them.

Trains arrived every couple hours all throughout the day with anywhere from 300 to 700 refugees per transport. Our job was to help the people off the train, direct them to their connecting trains or to buses going to temporary housing, or to various rest areas in the train station for food, medical help, diapers or hygiene products.

Sometimes we only had a short time bringing them from one train to another in which to share a few words of encouragement. If there was time, we always asked if we could pray for them: everyone wanted prayer. No one who refused.

One of our volunteers holding one of the many babies fleeing with their mothers

Predators and human traffickers

One of the disturbing things we discovered was that human traffickers were there at the train station trying to exploit the vulnerable women and children. Quite a few times there were warnings sent out among the volunteers that predators were spotted trying to take young women and children – this is a sad reality that my friend and colleague Moti Cohen at Tiferet Yeshua knows through our outreach ministry in the streets of Tel Aviv where he has seen an alarming number of young teenage girls from Ukraine showing up on the streets. Each time the volunteers received a message about human traffickers, our team came together and prayed: each time, praise God, the perpetrators were caught and the children returned.

What was special about the refugees

Ruth, a volunteer from Tiferet Yeshua who joined our team, shared that she was struck by how kind and thankful the refugees were. We never heard anyone complaining or angry at their situation. Every single one expressed sincerest gratitude and thanks, which is amazing considering that these were mostly women with children who had left their husbands behind in a war zone, with all they had in the world packed into a couple bags, arriving in a place they don’t know the language and have no idea where they’ll be staying.

This woman’s husband brought her and their 3 month old to the Polish border. I helped her onto the train and asked, “Where is your bag?” She said, “I don’t have one.” All she had was what she could fit into the baby stroller

We were amazed by how much love we received in return from the people we were serving. We felt that God directed us to those who needed our help the most. Countless times we were able to pray with people, and many opened their hearts to ask God to come into their lives. We got so many warm, heart-felt hugs from people! The mother of two young girls I had time to take McDonalds for lunch told me, “Seeing you come all the way from Israel to help us gives me hope there is still good in the world.” I told her, “It is the goodness of God that brought us all the way from Israel to help you.”

Some very special connections

Every connection was special, but there were a few instances that were extraordinary or that left a powerful impression on me. One afternoon I arrived on a train platform and a German volunteer who saw my orange vest indicating that I was a Russian\Ukrainian-speaker motioned for me to come help her. She was trying, unsuccessfully, to communicate with an elderly woman in a wheelchair. I started speaking with the woman and quickly discovered that she has a son living in Israel – many of the refugees arriving did not have cell phones or cell phone service. This woman gave me her son’s number and I immediately contacted him in Israel on WhatsApp to let him know that his mother was okay and sent him a picture of her. He was so incredibly thankful: it had been many days since he had last heard from her and didn’t know whether she was alive or dead.

The elderly woman who got to connect with her son in Israel through us

Alone, lost and traumatized

One day I approached a thin, pale young woman with one small bag in her hands who looked completely lost. She did not know English or German and asked me to accompany her to the next train she needed to take. She told me that she had escaped her city in a hurry on a bread truck and that all along the way out of the area they were exposed to intense bombardment from Russian tanks. I could see that she was very traumatized. I prayed for her and encouraged her that God is close to her: all she needs to do is to call out to Him in Jesus’ name and He will be there to help her through every situation. She thanked me with tears in her eyes before she got into her next train.

A lost teen

Before I left Israel, I posted on social media that I would be in Berlin helping with refugee transports. In Berlin, I started receiving calls from people in Israel asking me to meet their relatives who were on their way to Berlin from Ukraine and had lost contact along the way. One family asked me to look for a 17 year-old girl who had been on the road for a few days by herself with no internet and no possibility to call. Her family sent me a picture and, amazingly, we were able to find her, let her talk to her family in Israel, and help her onto her next destination.

I can’t begin to even scratch the surface of all the stores we heard, all the connections we made, how God put us in the right place at the right time to help people in distressing situations, and how many opportunities God gave us to simply show these precious people His light and love and to sow seeds of hope and faith in their hearts.

Please do not forget about what is happening in Ukraine, even though the headlines might be losing their impact after several months of war. Please pray that through all this difficulty and suffering the Ukrainian people would find comfort in God and draw closer to Him!

by Victoria Trubeck


by Victoria Trubeck

There’s something that I would like to share with you that has been burning in me since the coronavirus outbreak began. In light of the extraordinary period that we are living in right now, when our day to day reality has been disrupted and we don’t know what to expect, many of us are asking, “Why is this happening? How and when is this all going to end?”

Looking for answers is a perfectly natural human thing to do. More than that, we are living in a generation that is used to having an abundance of information at its fingertips: a steady stream of news, information and updates are available to us on our smartphones at any given moment so that we can always know what’s happening right now. The one piece of information that is sorely missing from all our information options is: what is going to happen next? One of the greatest challenges that most of us are facing right now is uncertainty, the inability to plan and navigate our lives in the near future because we don’t know what will be the day after tomorrow or even three months from now.

Are We Turning Prophetic Words into Horoscopes?

One of the things that I’m discovering when I look at my Instagram or Facebook feeds is that people are frantic for answers and solutions: “This is going to be over by Passover!” I saw a video post that someone shared which calculated the gematria values of the Hebrew word “coronavirus” and the Hebrew phrase “after Passover” to prove that the coronavirus will be gone after Passover. As much as I found that post ridiculous and humorous, it clearly shows how desperately we want to be able to determine when this will end so that we can get back to our day to day lives. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know when we can get back to our lives. It’s also possible that we will never get back to the “business as usual” that we knew before corona. I can’t count the number of posts I have seen which cite this prophet or that word saying “It’s all going to be over by this and this time” or “It is all going to end this way…”

If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain on the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where it falls, there it will lie.
  Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

  As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.

~Ecclesiastes 11:3-5


Our ability to comprehend God’s plans and ways are limited. Always looking to external sources that may be as wily as the wind and clouds in order to figure out what to do will cause us to be inactive and unfruitful. If our focus is on the latest prophetic update or the latest word from this or that high profile preacher or speaker, we will most definitely miss the incredible opportunity that God is giving us right now: He wants to teach us something about the things we actually have control over in our lives—the condition of our hearts: what motivates us, what is the state of our thought-life, how are our relationships with others?

An Amazing Opportunity

More than anything, this crisis is offering us an incredible opportunity to bring our hearts before the Lord. And if we make that our focus during this time, we will be less drawn to trying to figure out the external issues at play in this pandemic and focus on that which will be fruitful and bring a harvest in our lives. In that place, I believe that God will give each one of us His deep understanding through time in prayer and meditation on His Word. He will renew and re-calibrate our understanding of the truly important things in our lives, like our relationships with our families and loved ones, how to let God transform us into better people through this, and how we can be there for others during this crisis who are in worse situations than our own.

Victoria is part of Tiferet Yeshua’s leadership team and office manager