“…He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”
By Deborah Luquer
At congregation Tiferet Yeshua, Friday is our busiest day: our services begin at four in the afternoon and fellowship after the main service goes until after eight in the evening. On Fridays, I arrive at the congregation in the morning to make sure things are ready for the service. On the afternoon of Friday September the 10th, just two hours before our service starts, our office phone rang – something that doesn’t happen very often, especially Fridays. On the line was a young man who said he had already called and sent messages to two other congregations that day and that no one was available. I wasn’t surprised: here in Israel, Fridays are when families and businesses are busy getting ready for the Sabbath and many congregations are preparing for their services. On Fridays in particular, I am usually not in the office right next to the phone. It was God’s perfect timing that I was there to answer his call!
Deliverance or a Psychiatrist
The man on the line with me told me that he was in a crisis and needed deliverance from demonic oppression ASAP. He wanted to come that day to our services so he could be delivered. While I was thinking to myself, “Ok, deliverance in our main service with all the people here…that could be messy,” I told him, “Of course we can minister to you, and we will be happy to do it after the service if you can make it here today.” He proceeded to tell me that his mother and older brother who are believers led him to the Lord several months ago. Since then, he had been trying to grow in his faith but was unable to get free from addictive behaviors. The more he tried, the more he felt oppressed by darkness and confusion. The small fellowship they were a part of in their town was supporting him in prayer but were unequipped to delve into the spiritual side of the issues he was facing. Finally, his brother told him, “You either need to find a pastor who can deliver you or go to a psychiatrist!”
Desperate for Help
When I understood that he lived in a town in the south of Israel, a tw0-hour drive away, I asked him if he had a way to make it all the way to Tel Aviv. “I work until four in the afternoon, and I don’t know if I can get access to a car from a friend or family member to drive,” he told me. He would not be able to take public transportation because all public transportation in Israel stops in the early afternoon on Fridays for the Sabbath. I immediately shared with the leadership team about him and asked them to be praying for this young man who was desperate for help and needed to find a way to get to us from the South. After the service that evening, at six thirty, the young man from the South showed up: he had paid a taxi 1,000 shekels to drive him all the way to Tel Aviv after he got off work!
A Powerful Anointing for Deliverance
It was close to seven when I sat down with him in our sanctuary together with Kosta from our ministry team. Many people were heading home, and those that remained were in our fellowship area on the other side of the building. The young man shared with us more of his story, and we began praying for him. As we were praying for him, it was clear that he needed deliverance: he felt sick and was having a hard time breathing. As Kosta continued to pray for him, I went to find Pastor Gil who was taking with someone in the fellowship area. Gil joined us, and for the next several hours this young man experienced a powerful and dramatic deliverance. By God’s grace, very few people were left in the building, and those who were, it was God’s perfect plan that they were there: at one point, someone thought they smelled sulphur coming from the sanctuary and came to investigate. When they came in, they began experiencing spiritual deliverance themselves as well! Praise God that we were there as a team so that we could minister to those dear souls as the power of the Lord’s Spirit and love were touching them to set them free!
A Sign of Blessing
Late that evening, the Lord put it on my heart to drive this young man back home: he had just been through a dramatic and exhausting deliverance and had made such an effort to come. On the way to bring him home, the very first rain of the season began to fall: we both took it as a beautiful sign of blessing for him. In Israel, it does not rain from June until September or October, and when the rains finally come after the long hot summer, it is a great blessing indeed!
Light in his Face
The young man stayed in touch with us the following week, and Kosta and I met with him again to strengthen and encourage him. The following Friday he returned with his mother and brother. All of us were shocked: he looked like a completely different person and his face was filled with light! Even though he lives two hours away, he is committed to coming to Tiferet Yeshua and is looking into getting a car so that he can manage the commute. I am so honored that God allowed us to be a part of this wonderful young man’s journey to freedom in Yeshua, and I am so excited how the Lord is moving in our midst and working through us together as one on our ministry team for His kingdom!
“Thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus the Messiah.” ~Corinthians 15:57
***A Word on demonic oppression in the lives of believers*** When we are born again, our spirits are born again, the Holy Spirit indwells our spirits, and we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. However, in our souls (thoughts and emotions) and in our flesh, we continue our struggle with sin with increasing victory through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In those areas we still struggle (the soul and flesh), we can indeed experience demonic oppression.
If you are unsure whether or not you believe that the born-again believer can experience demonic oppression, if you are struggling with fear, anxiety, depression, or persistent sinful behaviors you cannot seem to get free from, we highly suggest this this powerful teaching by Derek Prince on deliverance from demonic oppression. We also highly recommend this excellent book on the subject: Deliver Us from Evil by Don Basham
by Gil Afriat
The Festival of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is unique among the biblical holidays in that God commands us three times to be joyful before Him during this holiday.
Two times in Deuteronomy 16:13-15:
“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days… And you shall rejoice in your feast…Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.
And also in Leviticus 23:33-40:
…and you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.
The Feast of Tabernacles is unique in its insistence that we be joyful during this holiday. We are commanded once to be joyful during the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost). What about the other biblical holidays?
Passover, the Day of Atonement and the Day of Trumpeting: Serious and Solemn
Passover and the Day of Trumpeting speak about suffering and trials, albeit suffering and tribulation through which come salvation and redemption. It is difficult to be joyful through suffering and trials, like a woman in labor; no woman is joyful when experiencing painful contractions. But when the baby is born, there is then great joy! In the same way, Passover points to the sacrifice of the Messiah, the terrible suffering of God on our behalf, to redeem us and bring us from death to life. The Day of Trumpeting (Yom Tru’ah) points to the days of tribulation in the end times before the Lord returns, to God’s judgements during that time and to Jacob’s trouble during that time from which he will be saved.
The Day of Atonement is a solemn day of “afflicting our souls” and repentance. Prophetically, it points to the period during the great tribulation called Jacob’s Trouble when the people of Israel will cry out to God for mercy in repentance and mourning and will receive a collective revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, “the One they have pierced”. (Zechariah 12:10)
The Festival of Weeks\ First Fruits (Shavuot\Bikkurim) – Joy!
The Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) commands us to be joyful on the biblical festival of Weeks\First Fruits which is firstly an agricultural holiday: on this holiday the first fruits of the early harvest were brought into the Holy Temple. It was on this holiday in the New Testament when the first Jewish believers were gathered in Jerusalem that the Holy Spirit fell on them, revealing to us this holiday’s prophetic meaning. So the Festival of Weeks is a joyful agricultural celebration, a celebration of the joy of the Holy Spirit and the First Fruits of the gospel which went forth unto the nations after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Tabernacles\Ingathering (Sukkot\Aseef) – A Much Greater Joy!
Three times the Torah commands us to be joyful before the Lord on this festival. Like the Festival of Weeks, Tabernacles is an agricultural holiday called Ingathering:
“Celebrate the Festival of Harvest (Weeks) with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering (Sukkot) at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.” ~Exodus 23:16
If the Festival of Weeks prophetically pointed to the firstfruits of the gospel, then the Festival of Tabernacles points to the final harvest when God the Father says to the angels in heaven, “Gather the wheat into my barns!” However, this holiday is not only pointing to the great and final harvest. Tabernacles points to the greatest joy imaginable in this creation: the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom here on earth, the redemption of all creation and a return of all things to their proper place under the rule of Yeshua the Messiah here on earth.
The Thousand-Year Messianic Kingdom
Revelation 20:1-6, Isaiah 11:1-10
When Yeshua returns at the end of the great tribulation and destroys the Antichrist and all his armies, He will then rule and reign here on earth for a thousand years, together with resurrected believers who “shall be priests of God and of the Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6) What will this kingdom be like? The prophet Isaiah gives us a detailed picture in chapter 11 which shows the King Messiah ruling the nations in justice, wisdom and the knowledge of God. It is interesting to note how the prophet Isaiah describes the King Messiah as the “Root of Jesse”, that is, the source of the Davidic lineage as God His creator, and as “a branch…from the stump of Jesse”, that is Yeshua as a man directly descended from the Davidic lineage.
Tabernacles – The Greatest Joy Imaginable
The greatest joy that we can know is Yeshua reigning and ruling over the earth in justice, truth and love, filling the earth with peace and the knowledge of the LORD. During this thousand-year Messianic kingdom, the prophet Isaiah describes creation being restored to its proper order, in Edenic peace and innocence, with all people living how God intended: under the kingship of His Son, in justice, peace, and the knowledge of God.
This is such a great and profound joy, all nations will continue to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in the Messiah’s kingdom:
“Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.” ~Zechariah 14:16
But God is inviting us to participate in that joy now, ahead of time, during the Feast of Tabernacles, to look ahead with joy and anticipation to that amazing time when the Tabernacle of God will be with us here on earth. This is the greatest joy conceivable to us in this world – Yeshua the Messiah, here on earth, ruling and reigning with His cherished Bride, the redeemed believers, and seeing the earth and all its peoples filled with the knowledge of the Lord: this joy is every heart’s deep desire to return to the beauty and innocence of the Garden of Eden and man and woman’s intimate communion with God.
by Gil Afriat
The fall biblical holidays are upon us, the first of which is the Day of Trumpeting, commonly known as Rosh HaShanah. All the biblical holidays point us to Yeshua, no less this important holy day. God commands the children of Israel to observe this day this way:
“‘On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.” ~Numbers 29:1
“‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” ~Leviticus 23:24
As the bible passages describe, the Day of Trumpeting begins on the first day of the 7th month of the Hebrew calendar, not the first—meaning this day is actually not Rosh HaShanah (the New Year). The biblical New Year is in the spring on the first of the Hebrew month of Nissan. The tradition of calling The Day of Trumpeting the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) was a later unrelated rabbinic addition.
The bible describes the Day of Trumpeting (YOM TRUAH) as a holy day which is to be a day of trumpeting and a memorial of trumpeting. Beyond those descriptions, God does not give us a lot of information about this holiday.
Because this is the information we are given, let’s try to understand the meaning of “trumpeting” and “a memorial of trumpeting”
Insights into Trumpeting: Numbers 10:1-7
“The Lord said to Moses: ‘Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out.’” ~Numbers 10:1-2
This passage lays out that there are two different kinds of trumpeting:
Trumpet calls (T’KIAH) are to gather the camp together at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Trumpeting blasts (TRUAH) were to send out the camps on their way.
Another Meaning of Trumpeting (TRUAH – trumpet blasts):
“When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets (TRUAH). Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies.” ~Numbers 10:9
In this passage, God tells us that when the enemy comes against our land, we should sound the trumpet to be remembered before the LORD our God, and He will send us rescue and salvation. This brings us back to how the bible originallydescribes this holiday: Trumpeting(TRUAH ) and a memorial of trumpeting (ZIKARON TRUAH).
We know that all the biblical holidays point to the Lord Yeshua. The spring biblical holidays are connected to the events surrounding His first coming.
Passover – Yeshua was sacrificed as the perfect Passover Lamb
Shavuot (Pentecost, Festival of First Fruits ) – the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first believers in Jerusalem, the first fruits.
With the clue from the passage in Numbers about sounding the trumpet when the enemy comes against our land, we can connect The Day of Trumpeting with the return of the Lord.
The Fall Holidays and the Second Coming
The fall holidays, first and foremost the Day of Trumpeting, are connected to the Lord’s second coming. The Bible informs us that in the end times the antichrist will arise to oppress all the nations and force them to worship him as God. We also know that he will gather many armies to attack Israel.
Joel 2:1-2 describes this:
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.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.
Further on in this passage, the prophet describes the antichrist armies coming upon the Land of Israel like a burning fire. Before them, the land is like Eden, behind them, it is desolation. When this happens, the prophet tells us to blow the trumpet (shofar) in Zion, to call out to God for deliverance and salvation. A memorial of trumpeting – this is what this holiday is pointing to: trumpeting to call for deliverance and salvation from our enemies.
There’s something else that is connected to TRUAH (trumpeting) if you recall we discovered in Numbers 10: sending out the camps. What camps will begin moving in response to our trumpeting on this holiday? The camps of the host of heaven under the leadership of Yeshua, the Commander of the hosts of heaven, will begin to move on this day when the Trumpet is sounded in Zion as a cry to God for help.
The Heavenly Armies on the Move: Revelation 19:11-21
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war… The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” ~Revelation 19:11, 14-15
In Revelation 19:11-21 we see a clear picture of Yeshua leading hosts of heaven to destroy the antichrist, the kings of the earth and the armies they lead. Where will this great battle take place? In Jerusalem. The bible tells us that the Lord will descend upon the Mount of Olives to destroy the armies of the antichrist encamped against the city in Zechariah 14:
“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped…Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.”
The Lord will descend upon the Mount of Olives, it will be split in two, its halves moving north and south, opening up a valley where the refugees of Jerusalem will flee, and He will destroy all the armies of the antichrist.
“Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.”
Notice that not only are all the armies of heaven are with the LORD Yeshua. He is also accompanied by the “holy ones”, believers who have been raptured will return together with Him to rescue Jerusalem and the people of Israel.
“The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”
That will be the day that the blessed thousand-year reign of the Messiah will begin here on earth, His kingdom of justice, truth, and peace, when all creation will surrender to the love and righteous of our Lord God and to Yeshua the Messiah. He will be enthroned on the Temple Mount and will reign over Israel and the whole earth from Jerusalem.
The Day of Trumpeting – A prophetic act until that day comes
Each year when we observe the day of trumpeting, we are prophetically calling out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”. As we observe the Day of Trumpeting, we are prophetically declaring that day when all the inhabitants of Jerusalem will see Yeshua coming in the clouds and cry out to Him whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12), the Son of David and the Son of God! May our hearts seek Him in this season and be sensitive to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Bride: God wants to prepare us to live in deeper levels of love and holiness, to be His witnesses now in these challenging times and in periods of greater trials and tribulations that will come upon us in the last days.
On Sunday, August 15th Tiferet Yeshua’s WhatsApp women’s group exploded with messages: a fire was raging out of control in the Jerusalem hills and a dear family from Tiferet Yeshua with five children, plus grandparents living with them, was stranded in their village because the fire had cut off all access roads. The wife was in Jerusalem when the fire broke out and her husband was at home with all five children and the grandparents. “They are waiting for the rescue services to evacuate them by helicopter,” was the voice message she sent in the WhatsApp group. You could hear in her voice the shock of the reality that she as a mother and wife was facing at that moment: everything most precious to her in the world was surrounded by flames with no way out. She was in constant contact with her husband, but there was no way for her reach them. All she could do was pray and wait.
In the meantime, people were sharing pictures of eerily smoke-darkened skies from Jerusalem all the way to the Jordan River Valley near the Dead Sea. Another hour went by and still the family had not been evacuated.
Finally later in the evening we got word that the family had been successfully rescued by helicopter. It’s hard to imagine your children from ages one to fourteen are being evacuated by helicopter from a fire that’s burning out of control. Hours after the whole ordeal began, at midnight, the children were finally reunited with their mother. The father stayed behind because he is a volunteer firefighter with their village fire brigade. He said that when they left their village, the fire was a meter from their house and shrubs in their yard were starting to catch fire. “In ten minutes,” he thought, “we won’t have a house left.”
(scenes of devastation around the family’s village)
The next day the Lord put on our hearts this verse from Psalm 125:2
יְרוּשָׁלִַם הָרִים סָבִיב לָהּ וַיהוָה סָבִיב לְעַמּוֹ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people,
both now and forevermore.
As we were standing in prayer for this family and all the people having to flee for their lives from the flames, this verse encouraged us that God would surround them in protection, just as the mountains around Jerusalem, where this fire was raging, surround her. This family is beloved in Tiferet Yeshua and has the gift of “bringing in guests” to their home: many of us have been graciously and warmly hosted for wonderful Shabbat and holiday dinners. Their village is nestled on the top of forested rise in the Jerusalem Hills, and the views from their home are breathtaking – pine covered hills in every direction.
The next day after their dramatic rescue from the fire, the father sent word that not only had their house survived, but the trees surrounding their home were not touched by the fire. When they look out from their windows, they still see green. Another family of believers in their neighborhood experienced the same thing.
The wife said she felt God’s grace surrounding her in the moments of sheer terror over her family, and that grace upon grace has been been carrying them through the whole ordeal day by day. While they have not been allowed back into their home, they asked us to share the story of the amazing grace the Lord has been pouring out on them during this whole ordeal – that even when flames of terror are surrounding us, the Lord surrounds us with His protection and grace.
by Moti Cohen
Feed Tel Aviv was born as a response to the dire need caused by homelessness in one of Israel’s worst areas not far from congregation Tiferet Yeshua. Our desire was to meet the immediate needs of those living on the streets in this area. As we began, the Lord gave me these verses from James 2 to be our guide:
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’”
As an outreach, we want to provide for the physical needs of the people living on the street which are, first and foremost, food and warm clothing. In addition to food, warm clothing, and unconditional love (of course!), we also need to have a first aid kit with us at all times.
It is hard to imagine what it’s really like living on the streets—the hunger, the extreme weather, the rats. And you would be surprised how not having the basics of soap and water can put someone’s health at risk. People living on the streets often end up in the hospital because of wounds that have become infected, and some even end up with limbs amputated because the infections are so severe. When our team of volunteers goes out onto the street, we make sure to have basic first aid with us to be able to treat wounds in the people we meet.
Living on the streets also puts people under the constant threat of physical violence. One evening, Dennis, a young man we know well, came to the soup kitchen facility with his face covered in blood. He was breathing hard because he was in such pain and asked us if we had antiseptic. I saw that his nose had been hit and was badly cut. Our volunteer team immediately took him to the sink and gave him towels to first stop the bleeding.
Like I mentioned, we have known Dennis for a long time, and he is one of the toughest guys on the street. His Russian accent might fool you, but he also speaks fluent Arabic. In the IDF, Dennis was a commander of an elite unit that would disguise themselves as Arabs, and, from within the Arab community, they would neutralize terrorist activity.
So here is this big, army commando with his nose smashed in, telling us what we need to do to take care of his wound. We could see that his wound was severe and were trying to convince him to let us call an ambulance, but he would not have it. Finally, one of our brave volunteers, Laylah, stepped up and began pouring antiseptic over his open wound. I can’t imagine how much it hurt, but Dennis didn’t make a sound.
Some of the others then came and started praying for him. After that, we were able to convince him to let us call an ambulance for him (because he really needed professional medical care). A week later we saw Dennis again, and this time he had a smile on his face. His wounds were healing, and he thanked us for the help we gave him. We thank God that we were there for Dennis that night, to help, support and to pray for Him.
Thanks to your support of us, we can continue being a living witness of God’s love by bringing practical help and first aid to those who desperately need it.
In mid-May this year a war broke out with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. While rocket barrages were raining down on Israeli cities, a wave of mob violence between Arabs and Jews tore through several of Israel’s cities where Jews and Arabs live side-by-side. For many Israelis, dealing with air-raid sirens and bombs slamming into their communities is something they are prepared for. On the other hand, the hatred and violence that erupted in previously peaceful communities was deeply shocking and traumatic for Israelis. Arab mobs lynched Jews and torched businesses, homes and synagogues. Jewish mobs attacked Arabs. It was a terrifying reminder that a deep hatred and animosity is simmering just beneath the surface and which can erupt with murderous violence.
As believers, we know that our war is not with flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), and during the period around the riots, we could feel the demonic charge in the atmosphere. At the same time, we realized that our most powerful weapon for pulling down strongholds is the same weapon Yeshua used two-thousand years ago: love. In the aftermath of the war, Jewish believers in communities where there had been violence and rioting felt the Lord leading them to take a stand in love and unity with Arab believers in their communities.
Changing the Spiritual Atmosphere over our Cities
On July 20th, Pastors Gil and Moti joined a group of Arab and Christian leaders in Tel Aviv\Yafo, an area where there had been much violence and bloodshed during the war with Gaza. The Jewish and Arab leaders began with a time of fellowship and taking the Lord’s supper together and afterward, they went to the areas of the city that had suffered racial violence to pray and take a stand in forgiveness, love and unity. Jewish and Arab believers came together in the same way in other cities that had suffered racial violence during the war with Gaza in May. Those leaders shared with us that after they felt a shift in the spiritual atmosphere over their cities after they took a bold stand of forgiveness and love with their Arab brothers.
Tearing down the Wall of Enmity
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
That same week, we invited Maroon, an Arab pastor, to come share his testimony in our main service. Maroon grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem during the eighties when there was a violent Arab uprising against Israel. By his own admission, Maroon was filled with hatred for the Jews. In his teenage years, he started using drugs and eventually found himself on the streets.
At one point, one of Maroon’s friends disappeared for a while only to show up again months later, drug free. He told Maroon what had happened: he had been at a drug rehabilitation program where he said, “Jesus set me free.” Eventually, Maroon’s friend convinced him to go to the same rehab program at House of Victory in Haifa, the first bible-based drug rehabilitation program in Israel. What Maroon did not know about this program was that it was run by Jews for both Jewish and Arab drug addicts.
God put Maroon on a path of confrontation with one of the most defining elements of his character: hatred of the Jews. At rehab, it took Maroon a few days to realize that there were Jews on the staff ministering to them as well, and he almost left. However, God met with Maroon in a powerful way when a Jewish man laid hands on him and prayed for him. He said it was like waves of love washing over him. God’s love completely transformed Maroon’s heart and set him free from a deep hatred that had held him hostage for years. Today Maroon ministers as a pastor in several Arab congregations, including one here in Jaffa not far from Tiferet Yeshua.
Maroon gets a Surprise from the Past at Tiferet Yeshua
Pastor Moti who leads our Feed Tel Aviv outreach to the poor in south Tel Aviv had invited Samira (not her real name), an Arab woman he knows, to come hear the testimony of Pastor Maroon. Samira is a believer who works at an outreach ministry for prostitutes located next to the soup kitchen facility where Moti serves each week. When Moti invited Samira, he had no idea that she knew the Arab pastor who would be sharing. Samira had no idea either.
When Samira arrived, she felt shy and nervous about coming into the building of a Jewish congregation and hesitated a few minutes outside the entrance. Then one of our congregation members saw her there on their way in, asked her if she was looking for Tiferet Yeshua and warmly invited her in. Some of us had met Samira before while volunteering at the ministry where she works, and we all happened to be standing next to the entrance the moment she came though the door where she was showered her with hugs and warm greetings.
After Maroon’s message, Samira came up to Maroon and asked, “Do you remember me?” It took a moment – thirty years had passed since the last time they had seen each other. Samira turned to Moti and said, “The last time I saw him, we were doing drugs together on the street.” Samira said that Maroon had been so full of anger and hatred that nobody wanted to be around him, even his fellow Arab drug addicts. “The transformation in this man is amazing,” she said. “Only God can do that.”
Victoria, our office manager, received an interesting call last week. The call came in when she wasn’t supposed to be in the office: it was during our Friday evening services, and she was getting something for the children’s ministry when the phone rang. She answered, and the man on the line asked, “Is this a Christian church? I am looking for a church.” With teachers waiting and children running around, Victoria quickly answered, “Actually, we are a Messianic Jewish congregation. I would be happy to have one of our team members get back to you if you would leave your information.” The man gave his name (M.) and telephone number, and the following week we got back to him.
It turns out that M. was working construction in the US when he fell from a building, suffering traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma, declared brain damaged when he woke up, and then put in a nursing home. There in the nursing home, M. had a revelation of Yeshua as the Messiah and says, “Yeshua healed me!” He improved so much that he was able to call his family and ask them to come get him out of the nursing home.
When M. was finally able to get back to Israel, he told his family that is was Yeshua who healed him. Their response was, “You’re not thinking right. That’s the brain damage talking.” But he knew that he was not crazy. Apparently a woman from the nursing home staff who understood that M. had an experience with the Lord had began mentoring him and stayed in touch even after he returned to Israel. M.’s friend encouraged him to get connected with a local church, and she sent him the name, address and phone number of an English-speaking Christian church in Tel Aviv. The interesting thing is that the phone number of the church that she gave him was not the actual phone number of that church. It was Tiferet Yeshua’s phone number!
Moti and Kosta are meeting with M. each week for discipleship, and this last week he joined us for our Friday evening service for the first time. Sometimes when someone is experiencing a service for the first time, they don’t quite know what to do with themselves, especially during worship. Not M. It looked like he had come home – with eyes closed and hands raised he worshipped the Lord together with us. After the service, he sat together with a large group of Israelis just like himself in our fellowship hall, sharing his testimony and hearing the stories of others who, like him, had been healed and set free by Yeshua. One connection in particular was special for M.: a young woman who is a deeply committed believer for years shared her testimony of how Yeshua healed her of traumatic brain and physical injury from a car crash six years ago.
Please keep M. in your prayers as he continues learning about Yeshua, the one who saved him, growing in his faith, and connecting to Jewish Israelis like himself whose faith is in Yeshua!
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
When speaking of the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, most people generally think of the physical destruction and burning of the Temple by Titus and his Roman legions. It was a profoundly momentous historical and spiritual event, which Titus himself even recognized; he reportedly refused a victory wreath, claiming that he was just the vehicle through which the Jew’s God was punishing them. Perhaps during the three-month long siege Titus had witnessed enough of the wretchedness and suffering of the people of Jerusalem to be able to celebrate it as a brilliant military victory.
Indeed, the siege of Jerusalem that led up to the destruction of the Temple was a long, drawn-out nightmare for those trapped in the city. The proportions of their suffering are staggering and recall Yeshua’s prophetic exhortation a generation earlier to the women of Jerusalem who were mourning for Him as he bore His cross through the city:
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
The Beginning of the End
The revolt against Roman occupation of Jewish lands began in 66 AD led by rival Jewish rebel groups. Some were driven by the desire for political freedom from Rome, some by messianic fervor for a full physical and spiritual redemption. After being defeated in campaigns in the Galilee, these rebel groups fled to Jerusalem where they began fighting each other, plunging the city into chaos.
The Romans legions commanded by Titus began the siege of Jerusalem during the festival of Passover with wicked calculation: Titus had allowed the Jewish festival to continue unhindered, and the population of the city had swelled with pilgrims arriving from all over the country for the feast. Then Titus began his siege, trapping Passover pilgrims together with the city residents: outside were four Roman legions. Inside, three rebel factions vying for control with increasingly cruel violence.
A House Divided
The Jewish resistance in Jerusalem had no chance to withstand four Roman legions. Eventually, they would have been overcome. However, the cruelty that the rebel zealot factions inflicted on each other made the lives of the people far more miserable and increased the number of causalities beyond what the Romans could have done. Plus, it made the job much easier for the Romans. In fact, Titus decided to let the Jews destroy themselves. His calculation was right: at the beginning of the siege, zealot factions burned a stockpile of grain that could have lasted the city for years. This insane act quickly brought on starvation and suffering beyond the Roman’s actions and hastened the fall of the city.
“Weep for Yourselves”
The vision of suffering and destruction that Yeshua saw a generation before came to pass. The account of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus describes the situation at the beginning of the siege: there was constant noise, the sound of the rebel zealots fighting each other together with the sound of weeping and mourning over the dead.
Eventually, the stench of death covered the city, and the misery of starvation changed the sound of the city. It was complete quiet. In his book Of the War, Josephus writes:
The upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged. The children also, and the young men wandered about the market places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever their misery seized them. As for burying them, those that were sick themselves were not able to do it; and those that were hearty and well, were deterred from doing it, by the great multitude of those dead bodies…A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night had seized upon the city.
Crucifixion and Desolation
One of the most startling things to imagine is how Jerusalem looked toward the end of the three-month siege. According to Josephus, Jerusalem was a stately, beautiful city surrounded by richly wooded hills. During the siege, all the timber was completely cut down on the hills for fifteen kilometers to use in constructing bulwarks, battering rams and also for crucifying people. Anyone caught escaping the city, whether man, woman or child, was crucified atop a great siege bank built up around the city.
At one point, as many of five hundred people a day were being caught trying to escape and were crucified opposite the city walls. Inside the city there was death from starvation and murder. Outside the walls surrounding the city were literally thousands of crucifixions. Beyond that, barren hills whose trees had been cut down. It is a scene that calls to mind the most harrowing images of the holocaust.
On the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, (4th of August), Titus’s forces breached the city walls from the north and commenced a great slaughter of those who were left inside. Many fled to the Temple for protection. According to Josephus, a river of blood flowed down the Temple stairs. Before they set fire to the Temple, the legionaries made pagan sacrifices on the holy alters. Nearly 100,000 captives were taken and sold into slavery across the Roman empire.
Seenat Cheenam – Baseless Hatred
Years ago, my husband and I were on a tour of the temple tunnels led by a young orthodox woman. After detailing the destruction of the Temple, she added, “The Romans did not destroy the Temple. We did with our baseless hatred. That’s why we were in exile for two-thousand years.”
She was echoing the understanding the rabbis had reached several generations after 70 AD: the rebellion had been a bad idea, and the destruction of the Temple was not due to Roman military superiority but due to “seenat cheenam” or baseless hatred among the Jews.
We told her that baseless hatred of the zealots fighting against each other did not make sense as the cause for such a total destruction of the Temple and for a two-thousand year exile: the first Temple was destroyed and the people exiled for only seventy years for worshipping other gods and even sacrificing their children to Molech. She did not know what to say. “Seenat Cheenam” was the reason the rabbis had given her. What other reason could there be?
If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason ’
In the Hebrew translation, Yeshua says: seenat cheenam sanuni, quoting Psalms 35 and 69. Yeshua agrees with the assessment of future rabbis that because of “baseless hatred” the Temple was destroyed and the Jews exiled—but with one key difference: it was the rabbis’ “baseless hatred” of Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, that led to the Temple’s destruction and to the great exile. Not the hatred of rival zealot factions.
Beauty for Ashes
As we observe the solemn date of the 9th of Av, a divine date on which my nation has suffered so much, I feel a sense of sadness and heaviness just like on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The holocaust of Jerusalem in 70 AD was brutal and desolating, and it marked the beginning of the end of Jewish rule in the Land. It would not return until 1948. I find that fact overwhelming. In Israel today, we are living a miracle: Jewish rule in the Land for the first time since 70 AD. And just like during that time, there are also Jewish followers of Yeshua living in the Land, a part of the people. How can anyone not be encouraged and excited considering those facts? How can we not be filled with awe and wonder at how good and faithful our God is!
This week as we sat in our team meeting, I received a call from our lawyer who had unexpected and wonderful news for us: the Israeli Supreme Court had just ruled in our favor in our eight year-long battle to receive non-profit tax status as a religious non-profit organization. This is a huge and meaningful victory for several reasons.
First of all, Tiferet Yeshua members who support the congregation through their tithes and donations will receive, like all religious congregants in the West, tax reimbursement at the end of the year—in our case 35%. Furthermore, the ruling of the Supreme Court has made a bold stand for religious freedom here in Israel and called out the politicians’ efforts to deny our rights by labeling us “dangerous to Israeli society” as nothing short of religious discrimination. Finally, this victory for us will open the door to other Messianic Jewish congregations in Israel to also receive non-profit tax status.
A ceremony marking 50 years of law held at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in 1998
All non-profit organizations in Israel must go through a rigorous verification process, and we began our process eight years ago. Our petition for non-profit tax status (article 46(a)) was granted by the Israeli Tax Authority but has been repeatedly denied by the parliament Finance Committee which has been chaired by the ultra-orthodox Moshe Gafni who openly declared that our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua, will receive article 46(a) “over my dead body”. The reasons for his opinions against us are obvious and not surprising. What was surprising was how Gafni, the head of the Finance Committee, was able to unify all parties in the Knesset behind his campaign against us.
Unprecedented Political Unity against Us
In October of last year we wrote this article about the decision of the special Finance Committee session, representing members from all across the political spectrum, which unanimously denied our petition. Even our new foreign minister, Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, made a special effort to participate in our Finance Committee vote and to add his comments that we are “dangerous missionaries”. The flash point which unified the entire Israeli political spectrum against us at the time was the issue of the conversion of minors and financial coercion to faith, which are against the law in Israel. Conversion of minors is an issue that hits a raw nerve with Jews as it conjures images from Europe’s dark past of forced conversion when Jewish children were abducted, baptized against their will, declared Christian and taken from their families to be raised in the church.
Tiferet Yeshua’s article 46(a) petition was considered together with that of a Jehovah’s Witness organization which engages in questionable practices regarding minors, and most of the session was devoted to them. However, spurious allegations were made that Tiferet Yeshua also engages in the conversion of minors, which is patently false as we completely abide by the law regarding minors and financial coercion to faith, and the committee failed to produce any concrete evidence to the contrary.
“There are Judges in Jerusalem”
Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin was an advocate for a powerful, independent judiciary and saw it as the “last fortress of human liberty”. Begin knew that a majority in parliament could become a tool of oppression in the hand of politicians, and a strong, independent judiciary is needed to check government action and guard citizens’ rights, even when a majority seeks to disenfranchise them. This is exactly what happened this week in Israel regarding our case.
With one accord, Israeli supreme court justices expressed that the Finance Committee had overreached their authority by declaring the activity of a religious non-profit illegal because of “personal emotions or deep disagreements” with us as Messianic Jews. Judge Anat Baron stated that the Finance Committee’s criteria of labeling religious activity as illegal because it is, in their opinion, “controversial” would set a dangerous precedent of reaching decisions about non-profits “…based upon extraneous considerations, prejudice, inequality, and arbitrariness.”
We thank God that, as Menachem Begin said, “there are judges in Jerusalem” who protect the rights of minorities and apply the standards of equality and freedom of religion according to the spirit and values of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. We hope that this decision which came after eight years of legal battle will open the doors for many other Messianic congregations to receive this tax credit status and that it will benefit the Messianic public in Israel in large. Moreover, we pray that prejudice and discrimination will continue to break as truth shines forth in Israel.
Lead Pastor, Tiferet Yeshua
The vision of our Feed Tel Aviv outreach was born, first and foremost, out of a desire that our congregation would be a blessing to the community around us. One community near Tiferet Yeshua happens to be the worst area for homelessness and drug use in Israel. Since its beginning, Feed Tel Aviv has been a labor of love that has blessed many of us by seeing lives touched and people saved from the streets. What I never imagined is the fact that Feed Tel Aviv would become a “discipleship training” of sorts for believers who want to serve the poor and learn how to witness on the streets but don’t know how to begin or have the opportunity. It has been such a surprise and a joy for me that through this ministry we get to see so many sincere believers from all over Israel who want to serve the poor get touched with the passion for outreach and sharing the gospel!
Recently, a man named Eliav contacted me: he is a youth group leader from a congregation in the north. Eliav wanted to know if it was possible to bring their youth group to Tel Aviv to volunteer with us during our outreach to the homeless. I told him that we would be happy to have them join us, and we set a date for them to come. Eliav brought his youth group—twelve young men and women, salt of the earth, who want to devote their time serving Israeli society.
The first thing we did was to prepare the food together, making over a hundred hamburgers and other sandwiches to hand out on the streets. That day in Tel Aviv turned out to be quite cold and rainy, so we also prepared large pots of hot sweet tea and filled a few large serving thermoses to take with us. We also brought with us winter gear—jackets, blankets, gloves and hats—in order to give to the homeless who would end up sleeping on the street though the cold night. The fact that there were so many helping hands with the youth volunteers made it much easier to bring the winter gear and tea thermoses with us.
That day the youth group had many special encounters with people on the street. Some people just wanted food. Others asked for prayer in addition to the food and warm clothing. Some just wanted to talk and pour out their hearts to someone who would listen. It was amazing seeing these young people responding with love to some of the most shocking sights of poverty and desperation they have ever seen. With God’s grace, these youth overcome their shock and feelings of awkwardness and began praying for and sharing the love of God with the people on the street.
Eliav and his youth group are Hebrew and Russian speakers: because a large percentage of the homeless drug addicts are from a Russian background, there was a special connection and they ended up spending much more time speaking with, listening to and praying for Russian speakers they met. Many drug addicts, even Arab addicts, came up to this group of young people to give them a warning: “We were young like you when we started trying drugs, and look where we ended up. Don’t make the mistakes we did!” It was a powerful thing for the youth to hear such sober warnings from the drug addicts themselves, and to hear their sincere hurt and regret over the choices they had made.
We are so thankful that God is putting it on the hearts of many here in Israel to devote time to serving these “invisibles” on the street and that He is using this outreach to train believers here in Israel to walk out their faith like Yeshua did: reaching out to the lost and suffering with love, mercy, and hope.
Thanks to your support, we can continue this important outreach here in Israel. Thank you!