On October 26th, the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by ultra-orthodox Knesset member, Moshe Gafni, unanimously denied our petition to receive tax exempt status as guaranteed by law for our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv. Our petition was considered along with that of a non-profit belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For years now, we have been in the process to receive tax exempt status (article 46) so that our members who subsidize the congregation with their monthly tithes can receive tax reimbursement at end of the year. Article 46 is a right that all religious organizations in Israel and the West enjoy, whether synagogues, churches, mosques, or Buddhist temples. Tiferet Yeshua’s request went through the proper channels of the Tax Authority which granted us “proper standing” status which, according to the law, entitles us to tax exemption.
However, from the moment our article 46 petition arrived at the Finance Committee, it has been in limbo because, according to Finance Committee chair Moshe Gafni, Tiferet Yeshua will receive article 46 rights “over my dead body.” The Supreme Court and the Tax Authority have repeatedly sent our case back to the Finance Committee for re-evaluation, where it is continually denied. The reason? We are Messianic Jews. If we were willing to register our non-profit as a Christian church, no one would bat an eye. However, because we dare to continue calling ourselves Jews, since we dare to assert that we are Jewish followers of a Jewish Messiah, we are denied our rights under the law.
We were not surprised by the Finance Committee’s decision chaired by ultra-orthodox parliament member Gafni who has made it his mission to discriminate against us on religious grounds. Gafni did an excellent job in preparing the committee members to vote against us, despite the recommendation of the Tax Authority to grant us tax exempt status. The flash-point issue that unified the committee against us was the “conversion of minors”. Spurious allegations were made that we aim to “convert” minors, which is against the law in Israel. Tiferet Yeshua completely abides by the law in regard to minors and financial coercion to faith, and the committee produced no concrete evidence to the contrary.
What was surprising for us about the vote was the fact that all of the Finance Committee members, from the left to the right of the political spectrum, joined together to unanimously vote against us. The decision against us brought together extreme ultra-orthodox parties with moderate and even liberal parties from the opposition, parties which are ordinarily at odds with each other. It is particularly surprising that parliament members from the opposition voted against us, like Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, a well-known firebrand against the ultra-orthodox religious parties.
Lapid made a special effort to come to the session in person to express his opposition to Messianic Jews. We fully expect to be labeled “dangerous missionaries” by the ultra-orthodox, but it was a bit of a shock for us to hear liberal politician Yair Lapid label us “a danger to Israeli society”. There is very little real religious persecution here in Israel, and we are thankful to be living in the only real democracy in the Middle East. However, this vote in the Finance Committee against our congregation reminds us that religious discrimination is alive and well in Israel, even beyond what we imagined.
Congregation Tiferet Yeshua is comprised of Israeli citizens to whom the State of Israel and the people of Israel are dear to their hearts, law-abiding citizens who fulfill their civic duty to the State, serve in the military and pay taxes, in contrast to the ultra-orthodox who do not serve in the army, spend their time in religious schools subsidized by the State, and are currently breaking the law en masse by flouting covid-19 restrictions. We see a reflection of spiritual hostility in this vote, and we know that our battle is first and foremost spiritual. We want to emphasize that our main goal as a congregation is to bring glory and honor to our Lord Yeshua here in Israel, which is far greater in importance to us than being granted article 46. God is sovereign and will take care of all our needs as long as we faithfully follow Him in love. We will continue to petition for our rights and would appreciate prayers for us in those efforts.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.“
by Gil Afriat, Tiferet Yeshua Senior Pastor and Moti Cohen, Tiferet Yeshua Associate Pastor
When Israel went into its first covid lockdown in the beginning of March, we started hearing about people in need who had lost jobs or income due to the crisis. There were others who were unable to get out to get groceries themselves because of being in a high-risk health group. We decided as a congregation to reach out to help those in the community around us: we asked our congregation members to recommend people they knew were in need, and each week we filled grocery bags for families with enough essentials to help get them through the week. Now that Israel is the first country in the world to go into a second lockdown, our team is back to brining groceries to families in need.
When we first started our outreach in March, we were bringing groceries to around twelve families. But each week, we were hearing of more families in need. In the end, we were providing weekly groceries to twenty-three families. Most of the recipients were non-believers, and all of them expressed sincere gratitude that a community of Messianic Jews wanted to bless them. Abbey, one of Tiferet Yeshua’s members, suggested one of her coworkers for our outreach, a Muslim woman whose family was experiencing financial difficulties because of the lockdown. Associate Pastor Moti Cohen delivered the groceries to Abbey’s coworker who asked him what organization was supporting this outreach. When she understood that it was a congregation of Jewish believers in Yeshua that just wanted to bless her, a Muslim woman, her eyes filled with tears.
Miriam, a woman in our congregation who works with the Israeli pro-life organization, B’ad Chaim, recommended several single mothers for our grocery outreach. These were women whom Miriam had counseled through their decision to keep their babies and supported through their pregnancies. Because the corona lockdown closed all childcare facilities for over two months, forcing parents to stay at home to care for their children, these young mothers had fallen on hard times.
Every week during the lockdown we brought them groceries and diapers. It was so special for Miriam to see these babies whose lives she had a part in bringing into the world, and it was an honor for us to be able to encourage and bless these single mothers who had so bravely chosen life for their children.
When we first started our outreach, we posted pictures of the teams of volunteers shopping and preparing the grocery bags on Tiferet Yeshua’s Hebrew Facebook page in order to share with our congregation members that the congregation was still active despite the lockdown. A single mother of a child with special needs saw our post on Facebook and sent us a message asking if she could be included in our grocery outreach because she also had to be quarantined at home caring for her child.
The second covid lockdown is proving to be a difficult and trying period for everyone here in Israel, especially those who were hit hard by the first lockdown. But, it has been such a blessing for us to be able to help and support those in need around us during that time, to bring the groceries to their homes personally, to let them know that they are not alone, and to see how the love of our Messiah Yeshua in action touches and encourages them.
We would not be able to maintain our giving fund without the help from our friends around the world! Your support allows us to address immediate needs in our community as they arise, like those that are coming to our attention during the ongoing covid crisis. Thank you!
“Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)
In the second temple period, a water libation ceremony during Sukkot had developed which had become tradition by the time of Yeshua. In this ceremony, the priests would draw water from the Pool of Siloam each morning during Sukkot and then carry it up to the Temple on the pilgrim road with festive blasts of the shofar. In the evening, the priests would pour the water onto the alter in a great joyous event. According to the Talmud: “He who has not seen the rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life.”
Yeshua’s John 7 Declaration on Sukkot
Naturally Yeshua would have been in Jerusalem celebrating the feast of Sukkot since it is one of the three biblically mandated pilgrimage feast during which the men of Israel are commanded to celebrate the holiday in the Temple in Jerusalem. John 7 describes Yeshua being in Jerusalem on this holiday during which He made a powerful prophetic declaration. In light of the “The Joy of Drawing Water” priestly tradition, it is stirring to imagine Yeshua making this declaration at the height of the celebrations at the end of the feast:
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’” (John 7:37-38)
When the priests were joyously pouring out water on the alter, Yeshua prophesized that He would pour out the Holy Spirit on those who believe in Him, and the Spirit would become rivers of living water flowing in them. God commanded us to be joyful on the feast of Sukkot three separate times, and Yeshua is the joy of our salvation! He paid the price of our sin, cleansed us, and baptizes us with the Holy Spirit who becomes rivers of living water in us –a revelation He made on Sukkot.
Yeshua is returning to establish His kingdom here on earth from Jerusalem, an event which Sukkot points to:
And in that day it shall be
That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea
And half of them toward the western sea;
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be—
“The Lord is one,”
And His name one. (Zechariah 14:8-9)
Hallelujah! May the Lord fill you with joy of His Spirit this week of Sukkot and the hope for the ultimate joy of His kingdom literally coming to the earth in the future.
We find ourselves at the end of the fall holidays celebrating Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot crowns the biblical holiday season because it is the last biblical holiday of the Hebrew calendar year. It is one of the three pilgrimage festivals (shalosh regalim) in the Hebrew Bible:
- Passover (Pesach)
- Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew, Pentecost in Greek)
- Tabernacles (Sukkot)
On these festivals, the Bible commands the people of Israel to go up to the Temple Jerusalem in order to worship in the Temple. During these three festivals, the people of Israel were commanded to:
- Show themselves before the Lord in the Temple
- Bring offerings
- Rejoice before the Lord
Each of the three pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Weeks and Tabernacles has a three-fold meaning:
The prophetic meaning of Passover and Weeks was fulfilled with the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah on Passover and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the festival of Weeks (Pentecost) which marked the beginning of preaching of the gospel of the kingdom from Jerusalem to the nations.
That leaves the feast of Sukkot, the third of the three fall feasts (Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) which point to the culminating events of the end times. As the last of all the biblical holidays, Tabernacles deserves special attention. Let us delve into the special meaning of this holiday by looking at the three aspects of the pilgrimage holidays mentioned above: historical, agricultural, and prophetic
Tabernacles: Historical Aspect
“‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month… Live in temporary shelters (sukkot) for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’” (Leviticus 23: 39, 42-43)
For Jews, spending time in the sukkah we erect in our yards or apartment courtyards is supposed to remind us of the time we were completely dependent upon Him in the desert for our sustenance when we dwelled in sukkot—temporary dwellings.
The Desert Parable:
The desert is a harsh place for anyone to survive, let alone a whole nation with all its livestock. The Israelites found themselves in a situation when there were no “trappings of life” to lull them into thinking that they did not need God. If He did not provide for and protect them each day in a substantial, supernatural way, they would not survive. How easy it is for us to forget that we are completely and utterly dependent upon the goodness of God who “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”! Our comfortable modern lives allow us to think all that we have is by our own efforts alone.
Tabernacles Agricultural Aspect:
“Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress…For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” (Deuteronomy 16: 13, 15)
In the agricultural calendar, it is the final harvest, the ingathering. It is the end of the harvest season when people gather in the fruit of their labor in the fields before the winter rains come, starting the cycle over again.
The Agricultural Parable
For believers the symbolism is blaringly clear: this holiday signifies the final great harvest that will take place in the context of the end times tribulation:
“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.” (Revelation 14: 14-16)
Tabernacles Prophetic Aspect
Right now the Spirit of God, the Shechinah—the manifest presence of God—dwells in the redeemed whom the Apostle Paul refers to as “tents” or sukkot. (2 Corinthians 5) Prophetic scripture reveals that the Lord Yeshua is returning to dwell or tabernacle among all people at the end of the great tribulation:
“’Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ says the Lord. ‘Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.’” (Zechariah 2:10-11)
Prophetic scripture describes how the Lord Yeshua will return at the culmination of the great tribulation, He will defeat the armies of the antichrist (Revelation 19), descend upon the Mount of Olives and enter into Jerusalem (Zechariah 12) at the invitation of the leaders there (Matthew 23:39), will be crowned king in Jerusalem and establish His kingdom here on earth for one-thousand years, His saints ruling and reigning together with Him. (Zechariah 14, Revelation 20)
Sukkot points to the ultimate fulfillment of the prayer Yeshua taught us, “Let Your kingdom come.”: Yeshua the Messiah Himself establishing His Kingdom here on earth, when every knee will bow and every tongue that Yeshua is Lord. The feast of Sukkot in the one feast that will continue to be of special significance in the Lord’s millennial kingdom for all the nations:
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16)
The Bible commands us three different times to rejoice during Sukkot: it is the holiday which crowns all the biblical holidays and points to the day when our Lord Yeshua will be crowned King in Jerusalem, and His Kingdom will fill the earth. That is truly a reason to rejoice!
by Moti Cohen
Each week we are on the streets in south Tel Aviv, handing out food and ministering to the poorest of the poor in our nation – drug addicts, those enslaved in the sex industry, and those who have fallen on hard times. Now that Israel is in its second national quarantine and the country’s whole economy is shut down again, people who were in a hard place to begin with are in dire straits. That is why our mercy outreach in these times is so critical.
Each week I encounter people whose stories would break your heart. Each week God touches someone in an amazing way. There is one story I would like to share about a man I met on the street who shares my name: Moti. My experience with Moti deeply impacted me and the volunteers who were there serving with me.
Last Thursday we started our weekly food distribution as usual: covid-usual, that is, which means we cannot be in our soup kitchen facility and instead walk the streets handing out sandwiches and drinks where the addicts end up.
I approached a thin man who was sitting against a building who looked exhausted. I asked him if he wanted something to eat. “Yes,” he replied. “I haven’t eaten in two days.”
I gave him two sandwiches and sat with him while he ate. I asked him his name, and he said, “Moti.” I told him that is my name too and asked him how he is doing.
“If you want to know the truth,” he told me, “I don’t want to live anymore. In fact, I have been asking God to just take me.”
Moti shared with me his story, which, sadly, is the story I have heard from so many who end up on the streets: He had a job, a home, a family, and then he became addicted to drugs. In the clutches of his addiction, he lost everything: his job, his home, all his money. All his possessions. And his family too.
“My family tried to help me. But then I would steal from them to be able to buy more drugs,” he sighed. “I lost everything. Now I’m on the street, and I just want God to take me.”
“So, if you want God to take your life,” I asked him, “why don’t you give your life to God?” I started to share with Moti the message of the gospel when he stopped me: “I’ve heard it before. I know all about Yeshua,” he told me. Somewhat skeptical, I asked him, “Okay, tell me what you know.”
Moti started telling me that the Hebrew prophets spoke of the suffering servant Messiah who would come and give his life for the people, that Yeshua came as the Messiah, lived a perfect righteous life, was crucified and rose again, and that His blood is the atonement for our sins.
He absolutely knew the gospel! I asked him if he wanted to pray and give his life to Yeshua. Moti said yes, but when I asked him to pray after me, he said, “No, I need to pray from my heart.”
At that moment, Moti closed his eyes and started praying: he cried out to God, thanking Him for forgiveness through Yeshua, asking Yeshua to come into his life. I and those who were with me felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as he prayed. It was one of the most powerful moments I have ever experienced in all my years serving on the streets. Moti gave his life to Yeshua there on the street.
We prayed for him, gave him the contact information of drug rehabilitation centers run by believers and encouraged him to go. Please keep Moti in prayer!
During this time that Israel is again in the midst of a health and economic crisis, the situation of the poor and needy is getting worse, and there are many who need our help. Your support enables us to continue being there for them. Thank you!
When lining up the end-time events described in the book of Revelation with the description of end time events in the book of Joel, it becomes clear that the first two fall feasts, the Day of Trumpeting and the Day of Atonement mirror the progression of the great and terrible day of the Lord just before His return, when the armies of the antichrist descend upon the land of Israel and surround Jerusalem.
Day of Trumpeting (Joel 2: 1-11)
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
In the above passage of Joel, the sounding of the trumpet is an alarm to assemble the people together because a horrible and fierce enemy has invaded the land—it is the “last” Day of Trumpeting. It is also the moment that the Lord Yeshua appears in the sky with the voice of the trumpet and the those who are in the Lord are raptured:
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His [elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Day of Atonement (Joel 2:12-17 )
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly ~Joel 2:16-17
In this passage, the prophet Joel is calling all the people to declare a holy fast, to weep, mourn and cry out to the Lord to save them—which sounds like the Day of Atonement. While this passage clearly speaks about the Day of Atonement, it also calls for a trumpet to be blown in Zion, which makes one think that it might be referring to the Day of Trumpeting since no trumpets blown on the Day of Atonement. Well, yes and no: there are no trumpets blown on the Day of Atonement except for once every fifty years during the Jubilee year:
“‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you.'”
If the last “Day of Atonement” at the Lord’s return takes place in the Jubilee Year (which we believe it will!) it adds another powerful dimension of prophetic meaning to this “last” Day of Atonement when a trumpet will sound declaring salvation, liberation and restoration.
All Israel Will Be Saved
Joel 2 describes a fierce and mighty army attacking the Land of Israel—the great and terrible day of the Lord. The prophet Zechariah describes the same day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against Judah and Jerusalem: at that critical moment when Israel is surrounded by enemies, God tells the prophet Zechariah:
“I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves…”
Here Zechariah describes the moment when Paul’s Romans 11:26 prophetic declaration that all Israel shall be saved comes to pass. Israel will go through terrible tribulation and suffering, but Israel will also be the only nation in the earth that collectively accepts the Messiah and is saved. Joel 2 describes that final moment: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So, if the Day of Trumpeting marks the Lord’s appearing in the sky and the rapture, and the Day of Atonement marks Israel’s calling a fast and solemn assembly to weep and mourn over “the one they have pierced”, then the Feast of Tabernacles can be none other than Yeshua’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where He will tabernacle with His people!
by Tamar Afriat
Reopening a Spiritual Well
In Judaism, prayers, blessings and corporate readings of the Word in synagogue services and holiday ceremonies are almost exclusively sung. The reason is found in the ancient traditions and commands given to Israel in the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament). In fact, most biblical information about worship is found in the Hebrew scriptures. When Israelis come to faith in Yeshua there is something special that happens in connection to worship: an ancient spiritual well is reopened, uniting hearts formed by cultural traditions based in biblical revelation with the Holy Spirit!
The Tabernacle of David – A Surprising Revelation
The first biblical revelation of how God wants His people to worship Him was given to King David. Even before the Holy Temple was built in Jerusalem, David had received deep insight about how to come into God’s presence: he appointed Levites to worship regularly in shifts in the tabernacle that he erected for the Ark of the Covenant. As I Chronicles 16:4, 5 describes:
And [David] appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the Lord God of Israel…with stringed instruments and harps…
The Levites were doing something dangerous! They were entering God’s presence—something which could kill instantaneously if not done properly (I Chronicles 13:9-10)—without the blood of atoning sacrifices. In Solomon’s Temple, only the high priest could enter God’s presence (the Holy of Holies) in a carefully prescribed manner after atoning sin sacrifices were made once a year on the Day of Atonement. So how did the David allow the Levites to enter God’s presence without atoning sacrifices? He understood that pure worship from an adoring heart is holy and allows one to enter God’s presence.
Day and Night Worship in The Holy Temple
David passed on God’s commands regarding prayer and worship to his son, Solomon who ultimately employed 4,000 full-time paid musicians and singers to worship the Lord day and night in the Temple. Why so much music and singing? It is one of the primary ways God created us to interact with Him: the Holy Spirit touches the human heart through music in a dynamic way. Even though both the Holy Temples were destroyed, Judaism retained this ancient tradition of approaching God through song in its liturgy. Jewish liturgy, however, is missing the essential ingredient which even rabbis admit departed with the destruction of the Temples: the Shekinah—the manifest presence of God through His Holy Spirit. After two-thousand years it has returned to dwell in temples not made with hands where the incense of worship is rising again from the alters of adoring hearts.
A new generation of Israelis drawing from an ancient well
Modern Israel is a young country, and the Israeli Body of Messiah is even younger. A generation ago, Messianic Jewish youth might have to travel hours to visit one of the few other families of believers in the Land. Today, there are Messianic communities in nearly every town in Israel, and there is a generation of native Israeli worshipers, filled with the Holy Spirit, who are drawing on deep spiritual wells—their Hebrew traditions and sensibilities of how to come before God and expressing the unique Israeli sound—a blend of middle eastern and western music traditions. In the last ten years, there has been explosion of new Messianic music by talented Israeli worshipers. Considering how small the believing Jewish community in Israel is, it is amazing that there are so many anointed, high caliber worshipers, like Sarah Lieberman, Shilo Ben Hod, Brigitta Vecksler, and Keren Silver, among others, who have the call of God on them to be the repairers of the fallen tabernacle of David in this ancient Land and who are bringing their unique voices and anointing to the international worship community.
Raising up the Tabernacle at Tiferet Yeshua
Ari and Shira Sorko Ram who founded congregation Tiferet Yeshua had the vision to establish anointed teams who would raise a standard of Spirit-led worship in Hebrew. The worship leaders at Tiferet Yeshua have also trained in the intercessory worship model pioneered by the International House of Prayer in Kansas City which teaches the discipline of being grounded in the Word of God and develops the confidence to follow the Spirit into prophetic worship—the spontaneous declaring of God’s Word in song. Every service, the Lord meets us and ministers to our hearts in a new way through anointed moments of prophetic worship!
Many in Israel are feeling anxious, uncertain and isolated right now because of the covid-19 crisis: the question is, are they more or less open to the gospel as a result? Since coming out of our covid lockdown in the end of May here in Israel, we felt the Lord calling us back out onto the streets to witness. God put it on the heart of Kosta, who recently joined our ministry team, to lead a weekly street outreach in Tel Aviv. As a congregation, we encourage a lifestyle of witnessing to friends, families, coworkers and people we come across in our everyday lives. However, there is a special calling and anointing for evangelists who go out onto the streets to share the gospel.
This week Kosta and David, one of Tiferet Yeshua’s most faithful evangelists, hit the streets of Tel Aviv: with them they had New Testaments and Who is the Messiah of Israel? booklets which detail all the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah. Both Kosta and David have much experience witnessing on the street, and they were both surprised by people’s reactions to them.
More than ever before, people are open to discussing God and the Messiah of Israel. Kosta and David handed out fifteen prophecy booklets, and five people were willing to take New Testaments – which is amazing. Jewish people have ingrained in them that it is forbidden to even touch the New Testament because it is perceived as an anti-Semitic, Christian book. When we witness to people, we share with them that it is a Jewish book, written by Jews, and that is has the gospel of life which was intended to the Jews first and then to the whole world. More and more Jews are willing to find out for themselves whether this forbidden book, the New Testament, is a Jewish book or not.
The last person Kosta and David talked to left a strong impression on them: he was a young man who had grown up in an orthodox family but had become secular. He told David and Kosta: “You are Messianic Jews? I have been following your teachings and videos! Just yesterday I was watching a teaching by Messianic Jews online.” This man took a New Testament and the booklet with the prophetic messianic scriptures. God is moving and people are open to the gospel like never before. Please pray for us! Just as the Apostle Paul requested prayer to be able to effectively preach the gospel, we need your prayers as well:
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:19-20
“Brothers and sisters, pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread quickly. Pray that others will honor it just as you did.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
by Gil Afriat
It is starting to look like the corona virus pandemic is the most significant shaking the world has seen in the past few decades, if not the most significant since the Second World War. In Israel, the infection rate is again soaring and the government is re-imposing temporary lock-downs in areas with high infection rates and rolling back restrictions it loosened only a month ago. Experts are saying this could be our reality for the foreseeable future. The economic fallout could be disastrous and long-lasting. The destabilizing effects on governments is clear to see already: which politicians and leaders will rise because of corona, which will fall?
Since it all began, I have heard different voices saying that God would never cause something like this to happen. Others have said that the corona virus is a plan of Satan. In all times, but especially in times like these, we look to the Word of God to guide and speak to us. To the question, “Who is doing the shaking?” Hebrews 12:26-27 tells us:
…but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Looking to the Bible for direction, it is clear that God is doing the shaking, not the enemy. There is no instance in the Word in which Satan causes plagues to hit the earth. Quite the contrary—we see time and again in the Word that it is God who sometimes sends plagues and pestilences as a judgement on the earth:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
II Chronicles 7:13, 14
But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength.
Leviticus 26: 14-16
However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you… The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured.
Deuteronomy 28:15, 27
There are other instances in the Word in which God sends a plague as a judgment of sin: Numbers 17:6-15, 2 Samuel 24, 1 Samuel 5, Numbers 16: 47-50 The pages of the book of Revelation are filled with plagues sent by God as judgement.
Why would God use a plague to judge the earth? First and foremost, because of the flawed nature of the human heart: people tend to seek God more readily when they find themselves in trial and tribulation. When people are able to continue peacefully in their day to day lives of abundance and comfort without God, they may never know that they are on the fast track to destruction.
Trial and tribulation are a tool that God sometimes uses to wake people up, to cause them to seek Him. Looking at the present sufferings in that light, this pandemic can be seen expression of God’s grace and love in that He is shaking the very things that may be hindering many from seeking Him. God is more concerned about our eternal destiny with Him rather than keeping us comfortable in our temporary lives here on earth.
Is every plague a judgment from God? Not necessarily. However, an event on the scale we are currently witnessing in which every government and economy around the world has been brought to its knees, it is clear that God is doing something.
I do not want to minimize the real struggle many are experiencing right now. People are going through real and painful difficulties right now, some of which I have experienced in my own family. At Tiferet Yeshua congregation we are counseling and supporting people who have fallen into very difficult financial difficulties because of this crisis. But in all this, God is our very present help in trouble, and we can have confidence that He will carry us through if we cling to Him. We also want to partner with Him in what He is doing by praying for and witnessing to the lost, being a help to those who are in need, and cleansing our own lives from the things that hinder His love in us.
by Mordechai Cohen
Every week, we prepare three hundred hot meals and distribute them in south Tel Aviv – a haven for illegal immigrants and a hotbed of drugs and crime. When Israel went into a stay-at-home quarantine in March, we immediately began seeing the devastating effects it caused here on the rough streets of south Tel Aviv.
We know the faces of those who end up here, those pushed into to a life of poverty, prostitution, homelessness and crime by drug addiction. The situation in the area grows worse every year, and the corona virus, which closed most all of the soup kitchens and halfway houses during the general quarantine in April and May, made the situation even more dire.
The New Face of Need
Since Israel eased corona restrictions at the end of May, we have been seeing new faces at our weekly meal outreaches: these people are not criminals or drug addicted. They are not even homeless. They have simply lost jobs and income due to the corona crisis and find themselves on the edge each week, having to choose between paying their bills and buying food. It is heartbreaking to see an increasing number of people in this situation, but we are thankful that God is giving us the opportunity to serve and minister to them.
More New Faces: Workers for the Harvest!
One of the most exciting things that has been happening recently is the fact that the Lord is sending workers into the harvest. For the last several weeks, more volunteers have been joining us to hand out meals on the street. In particular, a devoted group of on-fire young people from Jerusalem has been coming down to Tel Aviv every week to help distribute meals on the streets.
Long after the rest of us have gone to bed, they are out on the streets until six in the morning, ministering to the neediest people in our country who are unseen and forgotten by society: drug addicts, prostitutes and homeless. They have been sending me pictures of people kneeling on the sidewalks in prayer. God is moving!
Please keep what we are doing in prayer! God is shaking our society and giving us the opportunity to be there to minister to those who are most dramatically affected. Thanks to your faithful support of this ministry, we are able to continue being the hands and feet of the Lord here on the streets in Tel Aviv.