November 13, 2019
Update: Israel under Attack
In the pre-dawn hours this Tuesday, Israel successfully carried out a surgical assignation strike against Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior military leader of Islamic Jihad, killing him and his wife in the Gaza Strip. In retaliation for his death, Islamic Jihad, a militant Islamic terrorist organization supported by Iran, began a rocket barrage against the communities in Israel’s south and central areas, bringing everyday life to a standstill (schools were closed, all non-essential personnel instructed to stay at home).
As of this evening, over 350 rockets have been fired at Israel which continue to put the Gaza border communities in Israel’s south in complete lock-down. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted close to 90% of the rockets fired from Gaza, but there have been several close calls, including a rocket which hit a retirement community in Ashkelon today, lightly injuring a woman, and a direct hit on a highway yesterday in which, amazingly, no one was hurt.
Netanyahu Updates the Nation on the Situation
After meeting with top officials and military leaders today, Netanyahu announced: “We have not set our faces to escalation, however, we will do all that is necessary to return to quiet and security.” Netanyahu also said that the success of the assassination of al-Ata signals “a huge change in the equation” between Israel and her enemies, stating that, “It robs [the terrorists] of the feeling that they can act against us, against our citizens, while hiding behind their citizens…They now know that we can get to them in their hideouts with surgical exactness.”
Israel had its eyes on Al-Ata for quite a while: he was responsible for most of the rocket attacks against Israel in the last year and was constantly undermining attempts to establish calm with the Gaza government. Having already survived several assignation attempts, it is said that Abu al-Ata would surround himself with his wives and children at all times in order to protect himself from further assassination attempts.
Iran’s Presence Looms Large
In the past, Hamas, the fundamentalist Islamic organization governing the Gaza Strip, led the major conflicts between Israel and the Gaza. However, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group supported by Iran, initiated this latest volley of rocket attacks which Hamas has chosen in the meantime not to join: Hamas’ approval ratings have plunged due to the carnage to its economy and infrastructure from its destructive wars with Israel, high unemployment, high taxes. If Hamas stays out of the fray, this round of violence will most likely be short-lived.
For all intents and purposes, by killing Baha Abu al-Ata, Israel was taking out Iran’s man in the Gaza Strip. Iran’s has its tentacles in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Gaza Strip where it gladly exports its militant brand of Islam. In every place where Iran exerts its influence, there is an escalation of chaos, conflict and suffering.
Please pray for continued protection over Israel, wisdom and guidance for our leaders as they navigate the complicated and deadly political landscape of the Middle East, and that the eyes of many Muslims will be opened to the ruthlessness of Islam and their hearts opened to a revelation of salvation through Yeshua!
On Friday, September 27th we had reason to celebrate! Just a few days before Rosh Hashanah, making it extra celebratory and meaningful for us, we dedicated our newly renovated sanctuary—the culmination of a four-years-long walk of faith. Four years ago the Lord confirmed to us the vision to livestream and renovate, and then He took us on a journey of trusting Him and His way of doing things. Though at times it seemed like the funds weren’t going to come through, in the end His timing was perfect.
We are humbled and deeply blessed by the great outpouring of love and support that received from our friends around the world and by their commitment to see the gospel preached in Hebrew every week here in Israel on our livestream. We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who supported us with your prayers and donations. This would not have happened without you!
A Blessing to Tiferet Yeshua
Anyone who ever has ever had the chance to visit us before our renovation, you would know that our old sanctuary left much to be desired. It was dark, outdated and awkwardly arranged. The transformation brought through the renovation is truly astounding! We feel like we’re in a new building: it is light, bright and beautiful. It makes better use of the space and can accommodate many more people.
Additionally, the update in our sound equipment to accommodate the higher quality required for live streaming has improved sound in the auditorium space and in the worship team’s earphones, blessing both worshippers and the worship team alike.
The Cutting-edge Gospel Platform
The vision to live stream our main service came from Tiferet Yeshua founders, Ari and Shira Soko-Ram who have a burden to reach the lost sheep of Israel with the gospel. The greatest tool available to share the gospel in Israel today is the internet: according to a report produced in 2018 by an American marketing research company, Israelis are second in the world for mobile phone ownership, rank seventh for internet usage, and Israelis lead the word in social media usage with the average Israeli spending a shocking eleven hours a day on social media.
Tiferet Yeshua’s worship service and main message will be broadcast live through Facebook every Friday afternoon. Afterward we will have a media team which will edit and post the best of our live worship services and powerful messages on social media.
In addition to being witness to Yeshua in Hebrew in Israel, our live stream will also accommodate our members who aren’t able to make it to services. Because quite a few of our members live outside of Tel Aviv, in Hadera in the north, Samaria, Ashdod, Jerusalem and even in the Arabah next to the Dead Sea, many make it to services about twice a month. Our live stream will give them an opportunity to connect when they aren’t able to make it.
The Livestream Countdown
We should be live on Facebook in a couple weeks: our talented media team has been working tirelessly to have everything ready to stream, but one of the new camera components malfunctioned, requiring us to wait while a replacement part is reordered from abroad.
We cannot thank you enough for your prayers and support which have made this vision a reality! We ask you to prayerfully consider supporting us as our general budget has taken a hit due to the renovation and our expenses have increased with the addition of media team members to run and edit our live steam production.
By Moti Cohen
“My daughter is hungry and it’s her birthday today. Maybe you have some food left over that I can bring her to make her happy?”
This was said to me by an older gentleman who seemed to be in his early sixties while we were taking our food out to the street in order to serve it to the needy in the area. In Tel Aviv there are streets where there are many drug addicts who are so sick and weak that they’re unable to walk a few hundred meters to the soup kitchen where we’re serving hot meals. Because of that, we send out groups of volunteers to take food to those areas where there are lots of drug addicts because they can’t come to us.
On the same evening the elderly gentleman spoke to me, it was particularly busy and a lot of people were asking for food. However, that father’s request for for his daughter went straight to my heart. I stopped what I was doing and went with. We walked a few meters down the street where there was a woman, this man’s daughter, sitting on the ground, clearly addicted to hard-core drugs. We wished her a happy birthday, and she answered, “Today I’m twenty-nine years old.” After bringing her a plate of food and something to drink, the father and daughter shared their story; both of them have been addicted to drugs for years which ultimately landed them on the streets-it’s a vicious cycle we’ve unfortunately seen many times. After they had something to eat, we asked if we could pray for them, and they agreed. We told them about the drug treatment facilities we work with and shared testimonies of people we personally know who were able to escape the deadly cycle of drugs and crime through faith in God. We embraced them and brought them another “birthday” helping of food and drink.
We have a chance to meet many people at our outreach center, almost all of whom have a story that will break your heart. But something about meeting this father and daughter who are on the street together touched me deeply, and I can’t stop thinking about them. Now that they know we’re in their area every week, I pray that they will come back with open hearts: we will be there to pray for them, support them and hopefully help them on their way to a drug rehabilitation center we have connection with.
At the end of Sukkot (Tabernacles), we mark one last holiday called Shemini Atzeret, or the Eighth Day Convocation, that is not well-known and is somewhat obscure:
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days…on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.” (Leviticus 23:34, 36)
It is the last bionically mandated holiday in the Torah and, according to rabbinical tradition, marks the conclusion of weekly Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle, starting with Genesis. Considering that Paul says that the holidays are a shadow of things to come in Colossians 2:17, what is the meaning of this mysterious holiday which only gets a brief mention in Leviticus 23:36 and 39? It seems to be tacked onto the end of Sukkot, but rabbis say it is a separate holy day in its own right and call it “the closing festival”.
Biblical Holidays: A Shadow of Things to Come
All of God’s holidays point to His ultimate plan for redemption. The spring holidays of Passover and Weeks (Pentecost) foreshadowed the first coming of Messiah. In the same way, the fall holidays of Rosh HaShanah (Day of Trumpeting), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) foreshadow the culmination of the great tribulation, the rapture, the defeat of the Antichrist and his armies, Yeshuah’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His coronation as king (which we believe will coincide with the holiday of Sukkot). Additionally, Sukkot foreshadows the Millennial reign (thousand-year reign) of Messiah described in Revelation 20 when He will literally dwell, or tabernacle, with us here on earth.
A Thousand Years Like a Day
If we consider that 2 Peter 3 reminds us that a thousand years with the Lord is like a day, and currently on the Hebrew calendar we are towards the end of the 6th day (5,780), we anticipate Messiah’s Millennial reign on the 7th day—or the 7th century on the Hebrew calendar. So, perhaps the Eighth Day Convocation can tell us what will happen on the eighth day (8th century) of the Hebrew calendar which will coincide with the culmination of Yeshua’s Millennial reign. (Note: the Hebrew calendar is not an exact science and may be off by even by several hundred years, meaning that we may have hundreds of years before we reach the culmination of the end of the age or it could be right around the corner)
What Happens After the 7th Day? Hint: Genesis 1
Revelation 20 describes the Millennial reign of Messiah on earth which culminates in a rebellion led by Satan, which God will destroy, followed by the great white throne judgement when God will judge the living and the dead. Seems like the end of the story, right? Actually, it’s just the beginning: Revelation 21 describes something extraordinary that’s difficult to grasp: the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. So, it seems that Shemini Atzeret, the special Eighth day Convocation after Sukkot—which symbolizes the Millennial reign—foreshadows God’s creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth (interestingly, the symbol for eternity looks a lot like the number 8). So, just as Jews around the world begin reading Genesis 1:1 on Shemini Atzeret, the holiday itself foreshadows the new Genesis of creation after the Millennium when God the Father Himself will dwell with people:
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
By David Trubeck
As we near the end of our Sukkot holiday, we want to take a moment to reflect on the symbolic meaning of several aspects of this wonderful biblical holiday!
In addition to commanding us to build sukkot (tabernacles), temporary dwellings to remind us of our time in the wilderness before entering into the Promised Land when we were completely dependent upon God for our sustenance, Leviticus 23:40 also tells us to rejoice before the Lord with the branches and fruit of four different trees – traditionally called the Four Species:
“And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees (etzay hadar-citrus trees), branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.”
The Four Species
During the times of the First and Second Temples, the branches of the date palm, brook willow, myrtle and the citrus fruit were used in the waving ceremony in the Temple on the first day of Sukkot. Since the destruction of the Second Temple, the ceremony is performed in synagogues or in people’s sukkot: after blessings are recited, the citron fruit and the branches of the date palm, myrtle and willow are bound together and shaken several times in each of the four directions-declaring God’s sovereignty over all creation.
The Prophetic Meaning
According to rabbinic tradition, the four species represent different kinds of people – more specifically – four different kinds of religious Jews in their service to God. However, Zechariah 14 explains that after the Lord destroys the armies of the Antichrist at the end of the tribulation and sets up His kingdom in Jerusalem, the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) will be the holiday that all the survivors of the nations will come up to Jerusalem to worship the King (Messiah Yeshua).
Keeping that in mind, it seems that a more inclusive interpretation of the Four Species makes sense. I believe that the Four Species represent all the different nations who will come to worship the Lord in Jerusalem from the four corners of the earth! The various kinds of trees God commands us to use in our Sukkot holiday, which are variously beautiful, fragrant, tasty and sweet, point to the various and different kinds of people from all over the world who will be a part of God’s family: each one different, but brought together to worship and rejoice before the Lord. It’s a beautiful image!
A Prophetic Act
Each time we take up the Four Species, recite the blessing, and wave them in the four directions, we are declaring God’s will to gather to Himself worshipers from all the nations – a beautiful, fragrant and sweet gathering – who will rejoice before Him in Jerusalem during His millennial reign here on earth. May He do it speedily and in our day!
by Moti Cohen
Day of Atonement: the tradition
During the time between Rosh Hashana (the Day of Trumpeting) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the customary greeting one hears everywhere is: “G’mar chatima tova” which basically means “May you have a good final sealing in the book of life.” According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes people’s names either into the book of life, the book of death, or a third “neither here nor there” book on Rosh Hashana. During the ten “terrible” days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, people have a chance to change their fate if they repent and humble themselves enough. Finally, as tradition goes, the books are sealed on Yom Kippur, and people’s fates are sealed. What then, according to Jewish tradition, gets you into the book of life? Charity, repentance and prayer.
Unfortunately, many traditional Jews believe that if you fast and go to the synagogue on Yom Kippur, you get a clean slate no matter how you live during the year. But when one looks at the biblical requirements for forgiveness on Yom Kippur, the reliance on good deeds to get one inscribed into the book of life are a far cry from what the Bible requires.
God Requires Blood
According to Leviticus 16, atonement is made once a year by sacrificing a bull and a goat. It is the one day in the year that the high priest would enter into the Holy of Holies, after meticulously cleansing himself, and offer blood before the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant where God’s presence was. So no amount of fasting, good works or giving to charity can atone for our sins. The Bible says it in black and white: only blood atones for sins. Sin is death, and a life can only be redeemed by another life-for life is in the blood according to Leviticus 17.
Since the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jewish leaders who rejected our Messiah Yeshua and His atonement had to come up with alternate, non-biblical ways to atone for sin. However, in religious Jewish communities around the world you can find Jewish families performing Kaparot on Yom Kippur: they take a chicken (a stand-in for the scapegoat in Leviticus 16), wave it over their family member’s heads, and then slaughter the chicken (stand-in for the sin offering) and give it as charity-a far cry from the Yom Kippur sin offerings which were taken outside the camp and burned. Who wants to eat a sin-soaked chicken?
Because we understand the righteous requirement of the law, kaparot is a heart-breaking sight to see. Understanding the need for blood to atone for their sins, they are doing the only thing they know how to fulfill that requirement. Sadly, it falls desperately short.
Tradition-yes, but only if it points to biblical truth
As Messianic Jews, we honor our Jewish tradition only when it points to biblical truths. Jewish tradition that doesn’t is nothing but idolatry. When we hear “May you have a good final sealing in the book of life” during this holiday season, we can answer that we are signed and sealed in the book of life by the blood of the Lamb of God who sealed us once and for all 2,000 years ago! This Day of Atonement, we ask that you join us in crying out to God for our people Israel to have their eyes opened to our great High Priest, Yeshua the Messiah, in whom alone we have final and complete atonement and blessed assurance that we are signed and sealed in the book of life!