“WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN HERE?”

Last year on Purim (March 7th, 2023), an announcement was made that there would be a historic global prayer initiative for Israel which would take place in May. By all accounts, this global prayer initiative, called “The Isaiah 62 Fast\Global 21 Day of Prayer for Israel”, was unprecedented: over five million believers from around the world committed to stand in prayer for Israel during that time.

One of my fellow worshippers at Tiferet Yeshua who had also heard about this prayer movement for Israel said to me, “What is going to happen here that God is raising up so much prayer for us right now? It’s kind of scary. There is definitely a reason that we are going to need this prayer.” If we had known what was really in store for us exactly 7 months later…frankly, we would have been terrified.

That horrific tragedy would strike our people on October 7th, the dimensions of which we are still living out today. However, as we gathered together as a congregation on zoom that day to seek the Lord, we recalled a prophetic word which was shared in our midst less than one month before and realized with awe that God had been lovingly preparing us for this moment.

GOD IS SPEAKING TO US AND TO YOU

The idea of suffering and enduring persecution is terrifying and naturally something one wants to avoid. This is perhaps one of the main reasons the theology of pre-tribulation rapture is so largely embraced and advanced (Tiferet Yeshua leadership does not hold to a pre-tribulation rapture of believers). The point here is not to argue the theology of those differing positions. What I want to convey is that, here in Israel, we are experiencing a tribulation: a condensed, microcosm of the worst of human horrors (sadistic rape, torture, murder, captivity in abominable conditions) which has then been followed by a growing chorus of hate, blame and offence from many in the world.

God, however, in His mercy, spoke to us before it happened. Even though we had no idea how quickly and how literally the prophetic word would come to pass, it continues to be an encouragement and guide to us as we navigate this difficult, frightening and often confusing situation. This prophetic word strengthened us in the knowledge that God is sovereign, that He is motivated by perfect love for us, and that He will clearly speak to us inorder to prepare us beforehand.

In this tribulation, we are discovering how incredibly present He is. We are also discovering how this tribulation is causing so many frivolous pleasures and worries of the world to simply evaporate. It is causing His Word and promises to burn within us. We do not see explicit promises in the Word of God to take us out of tribulation: on the contrary, Yeshua promises that we will have tribulation in the world (Jn. 16:33). However, the Word promises that God will be a very present help in tribulation (Ps. 46:1). Discovering that through experience is gold refined by fire!

A WORD FROM THE LORD

In September of 2023, Oren, a greatly gifted teacher at Tiferet Yeshua, submitted a word he had received from the Lord to Gil, our lead pastor. Oren, a truly humble and sincere man of God, explained to Gil that he had never heard a “word” from the Lord before and, furthermore, that nothing like this had ever happened to him. Oren described how on the evening of Rosh Ha Shanah he experienced an overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit and was moved to write words which he felt were barely His own.

After prayerfully considering the word and sharing it with our elders, Gil felt that Oren needed to share it with the whole congregation at the next service which was the service right before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The timing was perfect, of course, because it was God’s timing: that service was dedicated to standing before God in humble repentance and intercession for our people.

 

Oren sharing the word at Tiferet Yeshua on September 22, 2023

Humility and the Fear of the Lord

Tiferet Yeshua elder David Trubeck who led the service on the day that Oren shared this word asked everyone to listen to it in a spirit of the fear of the Lord. In the same way, may you all who read this word consider it in the same spirit. The original word was received and shared in Hebrew, and some portions of the word are specifically for the Jewish believers in the Land. However, I translate here the portions which I feel God wants shared and through which, I believe, He would speak to and encourage you.

DVAR HA RUACH – THE WORD OF THE SPIRIT

The Jews are my people, the apple of my eye, I will never forsake them because I am faithful.

I returned them to their Land to prove My faithfulness and to fulfil my plan of redemption for them. Right now, they are discovering that without Me there is nothing that connects them one to another. What connected them in past was the hope inside and difficulties from without.

Pray for them always.

Pray for your people in order that their ears may be unstopped and the eyes of their hearts may be opened

And they will see Me, the One whom they have pierced.

Their love for me is trapped in a shell of religion.

The day is near when that shell will crack, and they will understand that there is no more need for it:

“But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD. I will put My law in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquities and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

This shell will crack through great pain and suffering which this people has not known.

If there were a way to prevent this pain, it would be prevented.

I suffer My people’s affliction.

How I have longed to gather them under my wings, but they prevented it!

Pray for my people

…They have returned from the exile, but their hearts are still in exile from Me, the source of living water.

For the sake of My great Name, I will save them so that all will know, lest heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not one stroke of the pen will pass away from My Law until everything is accomplished. The enemy will attempt to destroy in order to prove that I am not sovereign. But all his plans will fail, even though they will cause no small amount on pain.

Pray for my people.

He who loves my people loves Me and is faithful to Me.

He who knows Me will keep My laws.

The Keeper of Israel will neither slumber nor sleep and will be to them a hope and a future

The day is not far off. The time is not far off.

I will not forsake them, I will not relent until they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.”

“Then you will live in the land that I gave your forefathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:28)

Then all the nations will know that the LORD has returned to His people.

Like the Egyptians who heard Joseph weeping when he revealed himself to his brothers, then all will be silent in fear and trembling.

And all will know that My people have returned to Me and will not forsake Me again.

We ask all of you, our friends in the nations, to continue standing together with us in prayer for Israel, that He will accomplish His perfect plan of redemption for them through this present pain and suffering.

We invite you to listen to our brother Oren’s amazing testimony here!

My story starts when I was very young. I was ten years old when the harsh reality of life hit me full force. My very best friend, someone who was closer to me than a brother, died from a malignant brain tumor. I had no way to deal with this great loss because I was what one could call the textbook definition of an abused child. I had a mother who would put cigarettes out on my body. I endured physical and emotional abuse in the worst way you can imagine throughout my entire childhood. That was the reality that I was born into. – by Yechiel Aviv

 

Yechiel telling his story

My Starting Point: Abuse, Violence, Loss

After losing my very best friend at age ten to cancer, it’s no surprise that I found myself in a boarding school for troubled teens just a few years later. My life at the boarding school, however, didn’t improve, and continued to be defined by by violence and abuse—a reality that just became routine. Being torn down and humiliated, abused, witnessing difficult things was how I grew up.  It’s also no surprise where it eventually led me: by the age of nineteen, I was using hard-core drugs and hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. By the age of twenty-five, the sky collapsed on me.

After medicating my pain for years with powerful drugs, I suddenly lost all sense of who I was. One day I got up and didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I didn’t know my name. I didn’t know the people in my family I was living with. I experienced a complete blackout, a complete disconnect from reality. It was the most terrifying experience—there’s nothing darker than realizing that you are standing on the edge of insanity. At that moment, I was faced with two options: either commit suicide or fight for my life. And fighting for my life meant fighting for my sanity, which was the hardest part.

The Fight for Sanity

When I decided that I was going to fight for my life, I somehow knew that there was someone on the other side, someone who heard me. During this journey, the battle for my sanity, I asked this someone for help. I would cry out, “If you can hear me, I am begging for help, that someone will save me because I am in complete darkness!”

God sends me three emissaries

In response to my cry, God, of course, sent help. Over the years in my struggle back to life, three different people came to me with the Isaiah 53 prophecy about the Messiah. However, without even reading the prophecy, I rejected them. I told them, “Guys, this just isn’t the direction.” The one thing that I did know is that God speaks in the language of love and light. Everywhere I searched for what spoke of these concepts, love and light. My search led me in many differet directions: I went to an ultra-orthodox Yeshiva (religious school). I tried Buddhism. You name it, I tried it. But nothing was “it”.

The Fourth Emissary

One morning while I was waiting for a bus, I was approached by a woman who started sharing the gospel to me. The best way I can describe her is an “energy bomb for Yeshua”. She was excited and full of passion, and my reaction to her was, “Wait a minute. Slow down for a moment because you’re coming on really strong here.” Needless to say, I rebuffed her, but, at the same time, I realized that something strange was going on: this was the fourth time that someone was bringing me this same Yeshua in the prophecy of Isaiah 53.

God ambushes me

God would not let me off the hook so easily. He heard me when I cried out to Him when I was twenty-five, and He continued pursuing me with the right answer to my plea. Not long after this “pushy” woman Adriana from the bus stop tried to share about Yeshua, I started a new job at a special education facility. On one of the first days on the job, I suddenly heard a loud, familiar voice saying, “Shalom, good morning everyone!” I turned around and whom do I see but Adriana from the bus stop.

“What are you doing here?” I asked her in surprise.

“What are you doing here?” she asked me.

When we realized that we both worked there, we started laughing.  “I think God is planning something here!” she told me with a twinkle in her eye. In our time working together, I discovered what an amazing, compassionate and passionate woman of God Adriana is. She told me that she was praying for me and that she would gladly connect me to a couple guys from her congregation if I ever wanted to learn about Yeshua.

The Encounter

Eventually, I decided that I needed to understand what this Isaiah 53 prophecy is all about. I finally opened the book of Isaiah and began reading this powerful prophecy about the Messiah for the first time. As I was reading, I prayed, “I don’t know who you are, who this Yeshua is, but I’m asking You, God, please, I need an answer. ” At that moment, I felt something that is hard to describe: I felt as if two hands were physically holding my own hands, and I began trembling all over. When I finally calmed down, I immediately called Adriana and asked her to put me in touch with the two men from her congregation. Moti and Kosta, two amazing men from Tiferet Yeshua, reached out to me and we began studying the New Testament together.

Coming Home to Yeshua

Reading the New Testament, I discovered the spiritual concepts that I always knew were the language of God: love and light. The more I read and learned, the more I realized that Yeshua was the love and the light I was always looking for.

I continued studying with Moti and Kosta and attending services at Tiferet Yeshua every week. One evening during worship at Tiferet Yeshua, I had a powerful encounter with Yeshua: we were singing “How good is your lovingkindness to me, O God of my salvation,” and suddenly I felt like I was standing in a waterfall of love. I began weeping like a baby, and from that moment I knew that I had come home and gave my life to Yeshua.

It is simply a miracle what Yeshua has done in my life. Today I understand in a deeper way that I didn’t go through that long, difficult journey in my life for nothing. I understand that I have a purpose to share my story and to help others who are in darkness. Yeshua is the only hope, He is the light, and even in the darkest times in your life, you can lift up your head because there is hope in Him.

Yechiel sharing his testimony in Tiferet Yeshua

Redeeming the Irredeemable

One of the greatest miracles in my life was how God redeemed my broken relationship with my family. In the darkest period of my life, I cut ties with my family because they weren’t there for me. The whole difficult story of my parents, how they had treated me over the years, the abuse, I just put it all aside and blamed them for everything. When I started walking with Yeshua, I began to learn what true forgiveness and love  are. He taught me to open up the darkest places in me to His love. After twelve years of not talking with my family, I got back in touch with them, and God began healing our relationship. The love and respect that exist between us now is something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. The love and the light of Yeshua have changed me miraculously!

 

I was traveling in the US with my family when Hamas attacked Israel, and, because our flights were canceled, it took us several days to make it home. Miraculously, we all got onto an El-Al flight back to Israel. We were honored to fly with almost one hundred young Israeli reservists who had dropped everything to return home to fight: most of them would go straight to their bases from the airport. I am amazed because these are the exact same scenes my parents told me about during the Yom Kippur war.

Supporting Soldiers and Civilians on the Homefront

Once home, we realized how much better it felt to be here during this crisis – something which must sound strange. It was difficult being in the US where life was continuing as normal while a horrific massacre and war were happening at home. Once in Israel, we discovered an amazing solidarity and unity among the people unlike anything I have ever felt before. Everyone is sharing the same shock and sadness. And everyone is doing what they can to support the soldiers on the front and the southern communities that have been displaced: the blood banks are full, IDF units in the south fighting the terrorist incursion and preparing for a land invasion into Gaza have been overwhelmed with care packages to the point that they are saying, “Don’t bring anymore! We have all we need.”

A Call for Help

At the same time, we have been hearing of needs and shortages in army units called to the northern border, especially in reserve combat units which are lacking some basic essentials. We made a call to our supporters abroad that we want to prepare 400 care packages for these combat units experiencing shortages in basic essentials. Thanks to the support of many who answered the call, we were able to put together 200 care packages with help from volunteers at Tiferet Yeshua. In the same afternoon, a group of several young adult volunteers and I caravanned in our cars to the border with Lebanon in the Upper Galilee: our team had done some investigating through army channels and were connected with a paratroopers platoon that would be grateful for supplies.

A Surprise Welcome on the Lebanon Border

By the time we were ascending the Galilee, it was late in the day and a beautiful red sunset was flaming over the mountains. It was nearly dark when we made it to the paratroopers base at the top of the Galilee. At the main gate of the base, we were met by guards and expected to be told to unload the packages there at the gate so that the soldiers could bring them into the base. However, they warmly welcomed us and let us in – they said it was their first time allowing civilians onto their base! Once inside, we were welcomed by all the soldiers there. The army contact with whom we had coordinated the delivery had said that the platoon would be away at a training exercise until late into the night, so we were surprised then to find the whole platoon there when we arrived.

An Even Greater Surprise

When we began unloading the packages, suddenly I heard a booming voice call out, “Gil Afriat, is that you?” I turned around and saw a dear face I know well: Yehuda Bachana, a leader at Netivya congregation in Jerusalem. Seeing that we had a personal connection with one of their own made our visit with the soldiers of this platoon even warmer and more personable. But the surprises did not end there.

After unloading the packages, the soldiers invited us to sit with them for coffee. When one soldier heard that, in addition to serving at a Messianic Jewish congregation, I work part time as an engineer at Intel, he told me excitedly, “Hey, I work at Intel too!”. When I asked him what engineering group he worked in, it turns out he works in the same group I do, just in a different city, and that he sometimes comes up to our branch to work with our team! At that point, he yelled out to one of his friends, “Hey, get over here!” The friend he introduced me to I recognized: he is a young engineer who recently joined my group at Intel. We talked for a while: he shared their experiences fighting the terrorists in the south before they were transferred to the northern border. We talked about engineering and about God as well. “When this is over,” he said, “let’s have lunch in the cafeteria together.”

In the time we spent on the base with the soldiers, we had wonderful conversations, and many wanted to talk to us about our faith. I am still in awe at the amazing grace God poured out on our visit. One soldier who lives in Tel Aviv told me, “When the war is over, I’m coming to visit you all.” We were invited to stay for dinner (what an honor!), but, because it was late and we still had a long drive back, first making it down the small winding Galilee roads in the dark, we decided it would be best to be on our way.

I am in awe at how God surprised me in so many ways during our trip! We are so honored to be able to serve these amazing soldiers who are giving their all to serve Israel. God also blessed me with so many special personal connections during our visit. Yehuda told me that the soldiers love the things we put into the care packages (protein bars, energy bars, caffeine gel packs, among other items) which are perfect for long strenuous training and days on end combat. I told Yehuda that he will probably have a lot of great opportunities to answer questions about his faith after our visit (each soldier got a care package with a blessing from “Tiferet Yeshua, a Messianic Jewish congregation in Tel Aviv”). We let them know that we want to prepare another 200 packages for them and asked them to update us about their needs.

Sincerest thanks to all those who supported this project “Supporting Our Soldiers”!

Please help us continue to bless and show God’s love to these dear soldiers

 

 

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.

-John 1:5

We are living in unprecedented times in Israel: the gospel in Hebrew is more widely available than ever through numerous online platforms and digital outreach. Beginning in the covid crisis, we witnessed a dramatic increase of Israelis reaching out to us for information about the New Testament and Yeshua, surprisingly, mostly young men. That trend of seekers reaching out to us and to other outreach ministries continues today. We also see that God is using different societal pressures today to draw Israelis to seek the truth. Instead of the confusion, fear and disconnection experienced during the covid epidemic, Israelis today are facing a highly polarized and divided country, the likes of which modern Israel has not experienced in its 75 years of existence, to the extent that many are talking about the real possibility of a civil war or a separation between secular, pluralist Israeli society and religious, traditional Israeli society.

Seeing the Light

More Israelis than ever before are reading the New Testament and finding themselves drawn to the person of Yeshua and His teachings. When confronted with the powerful Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible, most see almost immediately that they clearly point to Yeshua. For years, I have shared openly with my family, friends and co-workers about my faith. Numerous times, I have seen the revelation from the Messianic prophecies hit them with the realization that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah. But it almost always stops there: most people understand immediately that accepting this truth and following it to its logical conclusion (denying themselves and following Him), would radically change the status quo of their lives and maybe even cost them dearly in terms of family, social relationships and social status.

For the last five years, our discipleship team has led an increasing number of seekers and new believers through studying the foundations of the faith: going through the Messianic prophecies pointing to Yeshua and understanding what a New Covenant relationship with God means. However, the reality is that a high percentage of those who reach out to us and want to learn about Yeshua ultimately ends up falling away. This dynamic, however discouraging it may be for our discipleship team, is not surprising. Even in Yeshua’s time, there were many, even among the elite religious leadership, who believed that He was the Messiah. But when it came down to it, the follow-through of following Him cost too much:

“Nevertheless, many of the leaders believed in Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” -John 12:42-43

Walking in the Light

The reality for those Jews who chose to follow Yeshua as the Messiah two-thousand years ago and those who choose to follow Him today is very much the same: believing in Him is one thing but choosing to follow Him another. The obstacles facing those who choose to follow Him are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes their decision harder. On the other hand, their ultimate decision to follow Yeshua requires coming to terms with the real cost. In fact, Jewish believers who choose to follow Yeshua today are overcoming an even greater obstacle than those who made that choice in Yeshua’s day: a two-thousand-year legacy of persecution in the Name of Yeshua by the historic church and an inherited cultural paradigm that the New Testament is a forbidden, anti-Semitic book stand as a great obstacle between every Jew and the message of the New Covenant.

While the numbers of seekers and new believers who ultimately remain steadfast and committed is less than those who fall away, the transformation that we witness in the lives of those who choose to follow Yeshua is amazing. At the same time, we are indeed seeing a steady increase in the number of Israelis committing their lives to Yeshua from all ages and backgrounds: secular, atheist and religious. It is a small foretaste of what we know is ultimately coming when God fulfills His promise to pour out His Spirit on the whole house of Israel:

“Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, when I regather them to their own land, not leaving any of them behind after their exile among the nations. And I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.” -Ezekiel 39:28-29

Until then, we will continue steadfastly praying for that day. At the same time, we are also keeping in prayer all of those who have already received the revelation that Yeshua is Messiah: may God cause all the seeds of truth in their hearts to sprout unto a harvest of salvation!

 

 

 

 

 

The call to “make disciples” often entails dimensions beyond teaching the foundations of the faith: it requires sensitivity to someone’s mental and emotional needs, giving guidance and encouragement, and offering support through difficulties and challenges. Through my experience with Shai, a young man who got connected with us to study the New Testament, I am reminded of this important spiritual truth: God does amazing things in our lives when we have a genuine desire to know Him and a willingness to change.

A Different Kind of Sickness

When I first reached out to Shai, I realized that he was in a dark place and had numerous addictions and emotional problems. After our conversation, we set a date to meet, but, on the day of the meeting, he called saying he was sick. So, I scheduled another meeting for the following week, but when the day of that meeting rolled around, Shai called again to tell me that he was sick. This time I knew that something other than a virus was keeping him from our meetings.

I started asking him questions and quickly realized that Shai had a debilitating anxiety to leave his house and be around other people. Instead of suggesting I come to his place, I simply told him, “The right thing to do is to come and learn to deal with spiritual issues with spiritual tools.” Amazingly, Shai listened—rather, God gave him the grace to overcome his debilitating anxiety—and an hour later he arrived at the congregation. This would be the first breakthrough of many that Shai would experience.

Overwhelming Desire

I have discipled many new believers, and I can say that Shai is different from most. From our first meeting, he showed an incredible desire to get to know God. The more he learned, the more convinced he became that only Yeshua could save him, so he clung to Him fervently and sought Him in the Word and in prayer. Over five months of meeting weekly with Shai’, often twice a week, I witnessed steady growth in his self-confidence and his ability to deal with everyday challenges which once paralyzed him.

Every positive step we suggested, he implemented, no matter how frightening or challenging. And through every critical step he took, God did wonders in him. When we told Shai that It was important to connect with believers in his area, he immediately found a home group and started attending their weekly meetings. Through this process, he started changing his circle of friends and the environment he surrounded himself with.

The Transformation

Shai’s immerson in the Jordan River

Over a period of five months, we have witnessed a steady and powerful transformation   in Shai. If someone is willing, God will do amazing things in them, and that is exactly what we have seen with Shai: he’s been set free from powerful addictions and anxieties, received grace and strength to radically change his lifestyle, and He continues to be filled with Yeshua’s transforming love.

Two weeks ago, Pastor Moti and I were honored to be a part of Shai’s immersion to declare his surrender and commitment to follow Yeshua. The witness of Shai’s life is a great personal encouragement for us, and we are grateful and blessed to be a part of God’s plan to save and restore His precious people.

Please keep Shai and all the new believers we disciple in your prayers for continued grace, growth and protection!

(*Shai’s name has been changed to protect his privacy*)

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!

 

 

 

Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on highLk. 24:49

As Jewish believers in Messiah, when we think of the Festival of Weeks (called Pentecost in the Church) we primarily think of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit two thousand years ago on the first Jewish believers gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate this biblical first fruits holiday. This day nearly two-thousand years ago was indeed the beginning of the Holy Spirit ministry in the New Testament context which jump started the gospel from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

When considering the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we tend to first think of the gifts, the power and anointing which the Holy Spirit imparts. While that is an incredibly exciting and important element of Holy Spirit’s ministry, I believe that the Spirit is asking us to first spend time meditating on the word that defines the Spirit – Holy.

Be Holy for I am Holy (1 Peter 1:15-16)

It is natural that our attention tends to stay on the dramatic and outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, but the ministry of Holy Spirit should first and foremost empower us to live holy lives. We all discover sooner or later that when someone operates in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, it does not mean that the person’s personal walk with God is in good standing. In fact, someone can be living in egregious sin and still minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. If that minister does not repent, eventually the sin will be revealed, and it brings shame on the name of Messiah and places a stumbling block before young and immature believers. Therefore, to focus on ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit without living a life of holiness through the Holy Spirit is damaging and dangerous.

Religious Holiness

At the same time, some believers emphasize holiness without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit. A holiness emphasis without the power of the Holy Spirit is equally damaging and dangerous because it can lead people into a religious mindset and an attempt to struggle against sin without the help of the Holy Spirit. We also cannot experience God’s love for us without the Holy Spirit. In fact, we cannot truly know God and have an intimate relationship with Him without the Holy Spirit because God reveals Himself to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean to live holy lives?

Like many basic spiritual truths, there is quite a bit of misunderstanding about what it means to live a holy life. Most would describe living “holy” as hardly ever stumbling in sin. That definition makes “living holy” seem like a near impossibility. But the fact is, that is not what it means to live holy! Living holy is first and foremost the mere desire to do what is right in God’s eyes, repenting when we fail, and continuing to desire to do God’s will. That is the standard of holiness for us. The more we desire to do God’s will, the more the Holy Spirit fills our souls with grace, strength and conviction to choose the good and reject the evil. Over time, we will experience more victory in our struggles with sin. But it doesn’t mean we become immune to sin and live perfect lives. There is only One Righteous Man who did that!

The End-Time Bride: holy and endowed with Power from on high

This year as we celebrate the Festival of Weeks, I am filled with the urgency for the need of the Body of Messiah to step into the full calling God has given us – to live holy lives and to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. Not one on the account of the other. In these end times, the Spirit is calling all of us to desire to experience God’s love poured out in our hearts, to live lives of holiness, and to earnestly desire and operate in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

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.

When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. ” -Luke 22:14-16

 

Right before His suffering and crucifixion, Yeshua expressed something extraordinary to His disciples: He told them that He fervently desired to eat that last Passover with them.

Just thinking that Yeshua expressed fervent desire for that moment is amazing to me. He knew full well what was waiting for him—the shame and ridicule, the pain and torture—and He was not indifferent to it. Quite the opposite. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He tells His disciples that His “soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death” and, falling facedown, He pleads with the Father to let the cup of His suffering pass from Him (Matt. 26:38-39). Despite that, Yeshua expressed His fervent desire for that Passover meal, and the question is What is it? What is it that the Lord desired so much that dwarfed even the terrible darkness that was about to come immediately after this Passover meal?

Jeremiah’s prophecy of a New Covenant realized (Jer. 31:31-34)

The first part of the answer is explained by the Lord: “For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God”. Yeshua knows that this is His last Passover meal, after which He will serve as the complete and eternal Passover sacrifice which will usher His followers into the new covenant that Jeremiah prophesied over 500 years earlier. The moment He has so fervently desired is the beginning of this new covenant which will allow all His followers to have a close, intimate relationship with God the Father through Him. But His fervent desire is for even more than that: Yeshua tells His disciples that He has fervently desired to eat His last Passover specifically with them. Something special and unprecedented happened between Yeshua and His disciples during that extraordinary Passover meal.

Messiah’s Extraordinary Last Passover

During His last Passover meal, Yeshua forges a deep, intimate connection with His disciples on the highest level. This amazing and unprecedented fellowship is described in the Gospel of John in chapters 13-17. After Judah Iscariot, who was about to betray the Lord, left the meal, Yeshua shared with His loyal disciples some of the deepest, most amazing revelations found in Scripture, revelations which are given to us from a heart of profound intimacy. After finishing their meal, Yeshua told His disciples that He no longer considered them servants but  “friends” and that He loved them with the love which the Father loves Him –perfect, all-powerful, absolute love. When I pause to ponder what these revelations mean, I realize that they are beyond my understanding: we need divine revelation to begin to comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height of this divine love, just as the Apostle Paul prays in Ephesians 5:18-21.

Entering into the Holy of Holies – John 17

In chapter 17, Yeshua takes His disciples into the Holy of Holies by allowing them to be witnesses of His intimate, personal prayer to the Father. By doing so, He essentially brings them into the perfect, holy relationship between the Father and the Son, allowing them to witness the deep, personal connection they have as the One God. Yeshua loved His disciples so completely (He loved them to the end) that He allowed them to be in the most intimate place of love and connection between Him and the Father:

Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. -John 13:1

As Yeshua said, there is no greater love than laying one’s life down for another, and that is the expression of God’s complete love through Yeshua’s ultimate sacrifice. The goal of that love, however, is His fervent desire: allowing His disciples and all of us to come into the intimate place of communion of the Father and the Son, to come into God’s house. We understand then that when Yeshua expressed His fervent desire, it was the desire to include us and bring us into the intimate relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This inclusion, this special relationship, happens only within the context of the New Covenant. We are adopted as God’s own sons and daughters (Rm. 8:14-15) and not as “second class” children: The Father loves us with the same love He has for His Son:

I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. -John 17:23

Not only are we now in God’s family, but the Father is also preparing us to be a bride for His Son (Eph. 5:22-33) – the marriage relationship being the pinnacle of intimacy and partnership. Furthermore, Yeshua loves us in the same way the Father loves Him:

As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. -John. 15:9

God has not withheld anything from us. He loved us until the end (perfectly), He has brought us into His house, into his family, into the special, intimate relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are united in perfect love which flows from the Father to us through the Son. He has filled us with the Holy Spirit. Yeshua, who is forever God and forever human, is the connection point between us and God. Through our communion with Yeshua as the Son of Man, we are able to be in a relationship with the perfect God. We are able to enter God’s house and family.

So much of this is hard to fathom, and may we never let ourselves take for granted the fact that the holy, majestic God of the universe has opened His house to us, where everything is perfect, pure love, and invited us in to be a part of His family – with all our sin and darkness—through the purification and sanctification in Yeshua the Messiah.

The Goal of Creation Realized

I believe that this was the goal of creation: God created us to become part of His family. Therefore, when Yeshua says, “I have fervently desired” this moment, He is expressing the deep desire of God from creation culminating at that point. Yeshua’s intimate fellowship with His disciples during that last Passover meal is the moment that the goal of creation began to be realized. It will be fully realized when the Body of Messiah attains to the full stature of Messiah and ultimately connects to God in the perfect way He desires. (Eph. 4:13, Rev. 21:3-4)

John 17 – Invitation into the Holy of Holies

During this Passover season, I would like to encourage all of us to devote time to the immensely powerful chapters of John 13 through 17, most especially John 17. When you spend time reading these chapters, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the power and depth of what Yeshua so fervently desires for us. If this is indeed the goal of creation, that means that this is our ultimate and highest identity and destiny. Today Yeshua is saying to all of us: “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you”. This is also the end-time invitation to all of us: in Revelation Yeshua makes this same desire known to us – although we do not usually hear the fervent desire in His voice the way we hear it in the gospel of John, the same passion is there when He says to us:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me. -Revelation 3:20

 

 

 

 

 

My country is facing an internal crisis, the likes of which I have never seen. On Wednesday evening, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog delivered a serious address to the nation in which he soberly warned about the possibility of civil war. For two months, demonstrations across Israel have been increasing in frequency and intensity, and the rhetoric on both sides of the divide is becoming extreme. We all have said or heard someone say, “Our nation is being torn apart.”

Civil war over what?

In February, the far-right government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has been furiously pushing a sweeping judicial reform though the government: it seeks to reform the power of Israel’s Supreme Court and High Court of Justice which have become increasingly liberal and activist over the last decades.

Everyone agrees that there needs to be judicial reform which will restore the balance of power between the judiciary and legislative (lawmaking) branches of government. However, the ruling government’s reform proposal includes an element which will allow the ruling party lawmakers to pass laws that will be “immune” from Supreme Court review or revoke.

What this means is: any ruling party could pass laws that limit the civil rights of minorities in Israel. Minority rights in Israel are protected by Israel’s Basic Laws (like a Bill of Rights). If this extreme clause in the Netanyahu government judicial reform passes, minorities in Israel, including religious minorities like Messianic Jews, could have their basic rights taken away.

Civil rights of Israel’s minorities at serious risk

Right now there are religious parties in Netanyahu’s coalition who would love to pass laws seriously limiting the ability of Jewish believers to share their faith. Last week when associate pastor Moti Cohen was opening our service with prayer, he said, “We do not take for granted that we are able to gather here and openly declare our faith in Yeshua. There may come a time when we are no longer able to do it.”

How do we pray in this situation?

This situation does not surprise us. In fact, Yeshua prepared us for this situation already:

They will put you out of the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.

-John 16:2

On the fast of Esther, we held a prayer and worship evening at Tiferet Yeshua during which we interceded for our nation at this critical moment. We sang and declared God’s prophetic promises for Israel and prayed that He would have mercy on His people, that He would use the current crisis to cause many to seek Him, that He would pour out His Spirit on this nation so that many from all walks of life would experience powerful revelations of God’s love and truth.

Yes, we hope that our civil rights will not be taken away so that we can continue declaring Messiah’s message to His people. Democracy is the best form of human government, but it is not our savior. In fact, we know that the gospel is spreading like fire in places like Iran despite the repressive religious dictatorship there.

Dear friends, during this time, we ask that you join us in lifting the nation of Israel in prayer that all of God’s plans and purposes for this nation would be done and that He would be glorified in the eyes of all nations as the Keeper of covenants!

(In 2021, Tiferet Yeshua won a victory in the Supreme Court against political religious oppression. You can read all about it here.)