Rosh Hashanah Holiday Outreach
Jewish holidays are important part of our lives here in Israel; they’re a time for connecting with family and friends around elaborate holiday meals and, for many Israelis who don’t consider themselves religious, the holidays are a cultural touchstone connecting them thousands-year old ceremonies which inform their history and identity as Jews. For believers of Yeshua, the biblical holidays take on even more meaning because we understand the deep spiritual and prophetic meanings of our cherished biblical holidays and how they point to Messiah Yeshua and God’s plan for redemption.
As much as we love our holidays, they can be a financial burden: hosting elaborate traditional meals, bringing gifts and hosting friends and family during the holiday season can cost too much for many families, and no small number end up going into debt over holiday expenses.
Every year at Tiferet Yeshua we host specially subsidized holiday meals for our congregation members who can’t afford to host their own, for those who don’t have close family or friends to celebrate with (as is the case for many of the foreign students fellowshipping with us), and for those who simply want to celebrate the holiday meal with their spiritual family. There are always many non-believing family members and friends who attend our holiday meals which are an awesome opportunity for them to hear the gospel in the context of a familiar Jewish holiday and connect with believers!
This year Tiferet elder David Trubeck organized and led our Rosh Hashanah seder meal. It was a special time that coincided with the dedication of our new sanctuary. Many of our congregation members attended and their non-believing family and friends had a witness of Yeshua the Messiah in a traditionally Jewish forum.
We can’t host these holiday meals without your support and, as our general budget has taken a hit with the massive renovation project we’ve just completed, we ask that you prayerfully consider supporting this important outreach!
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’ (Leviticus 23:23-25)
The Day of Trumpeting: back to the original meaning
Of all the biblical feasts, this is the only one we don’t refer to using its biblical name. It is also a holiday that has had subsequent traditions superimposed on it, obscuring its original prophetic meaning. The biblically holiday we celebrate as the first of the fall high holidays is not called Rosh Hashanah (New Years) by the Bible but rather the Day of Trumpeting. The Bible mandates this holiday take place on the first day of the 7th month of the biblical year—not the first—which is Nissan, the month of Passover. The reason this holiday meant to be commemorated by trumpet blasts came to be known as the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) dates back to the Babylonian exile: during their time in Babylon, the Jewish exiles were influenced by the Babylonian culture around them, and, as a result, they adopted Akkadian\Babylonia month names and practices. That’s right, all the Hebrew month names are Babylonian in origin.
While the celebrations of this holiday mainly focus on the new year aspect, the traditions observed in this holiday harken back to the original biblical meaning for this somewhat mysterious holiday—mysterious because the bible gives surprisingly little information about the holiday other than the ordinance to observe it as a Sabbath, to blow the shofar (trumpet), and to make offerings and sacrifices. The blessings recited during the holiday meal repeatedly call for God’s deliverance from Israel’s enemies and implore God’s mercy in judging His people. Rabbinic literature refers to this holiday as the day of judgement, the day on which the people pass as sheep before God, the great shepherd.
Trumpeting: what does it mean?
As this day is called Yom Teruah (the day of trumpeting), and blowing the trumpet is the integral commandment of this day, it would make sense to understand what the Bible has to say about the purpose for trumpeting. Numbers 10: 1-9 gives a clear four-fold meaning for the “lasting ordinance” to blow the trumpets:
- To assemble the community together
- To signal the camps to move out
- To call for God’s help when going into battle in the Land against an oppressive enemy
- For heralding times of rejoicing
New Testament References to Trumpeting
The New Testament also references the sounding of trumpets, and that is in relation to end time events. The book of Revelation describes a series of 7 seals and 7 trumpets which are then followed by 7 bowls of wrath, all of which relating to phases of God’s releasing His judgement on the earth.
Other New Testament accounts reveal an important emphasis on the last trumpet in particular. Since Revelation is the only place in the Old and New Testaments which gives a numbered series of trumpets, the last trumpet in Revelation must correlate to end time events, as the other references reveal:
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51-52)
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (I Thessalonians 4:16)
The New Testament makes abundantly clear that the “last trumpet” heralds the rapture of the saints, the imminent return of the Lord and the wrath of the Lord poured out on the earth before His return. The question remains: do these end time trumpets have anything to do with the Day of Trumpeting mandated in the Law? While the spring biblical feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Weeks) foreshadowed the first coming of the Messiah as the suffering servant and initiated His kingdom in the hearts of men, is it possible that the fall feasts (the Day of Trumpeting, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) coincide with the Lord’s second coming as a judge and the coming of His literal, physical kingdom to the earth in Jerusalem?
The Joel 2 and the End Time Connection
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 fall feats mirror exactly 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.
Joel 2: 1-11 (Day of Trumpeting)
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…
In this passage, the prophet Joel describes the sounding of the trumpet to assemble the people together because a horrible and fierce enemy has invaded the land (remember back to the Rosh HaShanah meal blessings calling for deliverance from enemies). This is also the moment that the Lord Yeshua appears in the sky with the voice of the trumpet and the dead in Messiah are raised and those still alive are raptured.
Joel 2:12-17 (Day of Atonement)
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
This passage in Joel 2 clearly mirrors the Day of Atonement, a time the Lord mandated the Israelites to fast and torture their souls in repentance; here the prophet Joel calls all the people, young and old, men and women, to declare a holy fast and call a sacred assembly to weep, mourn and cry out to the Lord to save them.
Interestingly, Joel 2:15 calls for a fast, which is the Day of Atonement, but it also calls for a trumpet to be blown in Zion, which makes us think that it might also mean the Day of Trumpeting since there are no trumpets blown on the Day of Atonement. However, trumpets are indeed blown on the Day of Atonement every Jubilee year, that is, every 50th year, which brings in an additional level of prophetic meaning to this “last” Day of Atonement—liberation and restoration. (Leviticus 25:9)
All Israel Will Be Saved
The scene that Joel 2:12-17 describes brings to mind another end time prophesy which describes a day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against Judah and Jerusalem and the people cry out in mourning before God:
“And 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…” (Zechariah 12:10-12)
This is the moment that Paul’s prophetic declaration in Romans 11:26 that all Israel will be saved comes to pass. The Bible teaches that Israel will go through terrible tribulation and suffering, but Israel will also be the only nation that collectively receives a simultaneous revelation of Him, accepts Him and is saved, just as Peter in Acts 2 quotes Joel 2 describing that final moment: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So, if the season of the Day of Trumpeting marks the rapture and the Lord’s appearing in the sky, 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 Tabernacles can be none other than Yeshua’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where He will tabernacle with His people!
It’s a good question that believers who study end time scriptures end up pondering. There are prophesies which seem to say that, before the Messiah’s return, a third Temple will be built and ritual sacrifices will be reinstated which the Antichrist will encourage and then put a stop to (Daniel 9, Ezekiel 40-48, Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2). Adding to the obvious interest in the subject is the fact that certain Orthodox Jewish groups are actively making plans to build the Temple and are soliciting support from evangelicals whom they know to be interested and supportive of such a move—albeit for different reasons. With this article, we seek to address some of the main bible passages which speak to this issue and, with God’s grace, hope to shed some light on some possible answers. Also, there are several critical issues in relation to this issue which all believers need to be aware of.
The Abomination of Desolation
In perhaps his most famous end-time discourse, Yeshua speaks of an event which is closely related to the great tribulation of the end times and the activity of the antichrist:
Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. ~Matthew 24:15-16
The book of Daniel, particularly chapter 11, gives details to this seemingly opaque reference:
His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. ~Daniel 11:31-32
The prophecies of Daniel which speak of a future king who would desecrate the Temple, stop the sacrifices, and draw the people of God away from the truth were fulfilled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Hellenistic (Greek) King who in 167 BC, after having desecrated the temple and outlawed the Jewish faith, erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy Temple. Many Jews at that time had adopted the Greek culture and world view. However, the outrages that Antiochus committed caused the devout Jews in the Land to rise up against the Greek rule, and a small but devoted band of Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, succeeded in defeating one of the mightiest armies on earth and rededicating the Temple to the service of God.
So, if this prophecy was already fulfilled in 167 BC, why does Yeshua quote this prophecy in relation to end time events? Many biblical events and prophecies have implications beyond their literal fulfillment in history, just as Yeshua spoke about the time of His second coming as being like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37) So, in relation to the unfolding of end time events, it’s clear that Antiochus IV was a type of antichrist.
Where is the Holy Place?
In Matthew 24, Yeshua prophesied that the Temple would be destroyed, which it was in 70 AD. His prophecy about the “abomination that causes desolation” has caused many, if not most, to conclude that a third temple must be built for the antichrist to be able to perform his abomination there literally, just as Antiochus IV did. However, the Matthew 24 prophesy which speaks about an “abomination that causes desolation” makes an appeal to readers to understand what the prophesy is talking about—in particular what is meant by holy place.
If we consider that Yeshua was referring to the Temple in Matthew 24 as the holy place, then we run into the problem of the fact that such a Temple built by Orthodox Jews who reject Yeshua as Messiah will not be a holy place because the Holy Spirit will not dwell there. Yeshua’s sacrifice was once and for all, and no other sacrifice can be made for sanctification (Hebrews 10). On the other hand, the New Testament clearly states that redeemed believers in Yeshua are the Temple of the Holy Spirit:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? ~ I Cor. 3:16
One could argue then that the “Third Temple” could actually be the collective redeemed body of Messiah.
The Great Falling Away and The Abomination that Causes Desolation
How then are we to understand this “abomination that causes desolation” if the holy place Yeshua refers to is not actually a physical rebuilt temple in Jerusalem? Daniel 11:32 gives us a clue:
With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
Just as many Jews during the second century BC had allowed themselves to adopt the culture, world view and ways of the Greeks and even welcomed the Greek takeover of Jerusalem, the bible tells us that there will be a time when many believers who’ve adopted the culture and values of the secular, humanistic world around them, those who even deny certain clear truths about the bible (which is already happening today), they will be susceptible to the subtle and seductive “flattery” of the antichrist. This “the great falling away” which the New Testament refers to can only be understood as “falling away from the faith”:
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him… Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 2 Thes 2:1, 3-4
It speaks volumes that Yeshua chose to say holy place instead of merely “Temple” when giving his prophecy in Matthew 24: since Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection and the destruction of the Second temple, the only holy place on earth is the sanctified spirit of the believer wherein dwells the Holy Spirit. So, by that reasoning, one could argue that Yeshua was referring to the great falling away in Matthew 24 when He spoke about the “abomination that causes desolation”, that it would be a time when believers who have allowed the world to enter in and corrupt their faith, whose love has grown cold, will accept this “man of sin” into their hearts.
A Literal Third Temple? Maybe!
It is possible that there will be a third Temple and that ritual sacrifices will be reinstated before the Lord’s return. Considering the super-charged issues surrounding the Temple Mount, it would take a truly supernatural event to bring about a change in the current status quo; the building of a Jewish Temple could only come to pass under the auspices of the antichrist who may succeed at reaching a false peace between Jews and Muslims. The Temple Mount is one of the holiest sites in Islam and Muslims have administrative control over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Furthermore, most Orthodox Jews are not on board with plans to build the Third Temple, let alone Conservative and Reform Jews who view building the Temple in strictly metaphorical, spiritual terms. Only a certain group of National Orthodox is actively supporting preparations for a Third Temple. There is great resistance to their ideas in secular Israeli society, of course, but also the majority of Ultra-Orthodox are against building the Temple before the return of the Messiah. The mainstream Ultra-Orthodox view is that God is building the Third Temple in heaven according to the dimensions given in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 40-48), and this heavenly Temple will descend from heaven to earth only when the Messiah comes.
So, it goes to reason that if a Third Temple were to be built, considering all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in its way, it will in all likelihood only happen in the context of the antichrist rule at which time the end time tribulation will already be in full swing.
Should Christians Support Jewish Efforts to Build the Temple?
Financially supporting fringe National Orthodox Jewish efforts to assemble the needed animals and implements for the building of the Third Temple will not hasten the day of the Lord’s return. We cannot hasten the coming of the Lord by supporting or encouraging the negative things that prophecy tells us are supposed to happen before His coming: according to that idea, we should then support the moral decline of society because prophecy tells us that evil in society will increase in the end times.
What is clear is that while many believers anticipate the building of the Third Temple to be a super sign that will signal that the end times are upon us, it is fully possible that it won’t happen before the Lord’s return. What will happen for sure is the great falling away which the New Testament warns about: it is a much more serious and insidious thing to be watching out for and guarding against in our midst (not letting the word system corrupt our beliefs and not letting our love grow cold), lest we be found without oil in our lamps when the voice of the Bridegroom is heard. In the darkest time in history, the Lord is calling us to be light!
*A Special Note on Ezekiel 40-48
The eight chapters at the end of Ezekiel written at the beginning of the Babylonian exile after the destruction of the First Temple and proceeded the building of the Second Temple present major challenges to both religious Jewish and Christian commentators. Some see these chapters as the most challenging in the Hebrew Bible.
For Jewish commentators these chapters raise the question: why didn’t the returned exiles under Zerubbabel build the Second Temple according to Ezekiel’s measurements? Their answer is that the Babylonian exiles who returned to build the Temple did not experience a full redemption (geulah shlema) because they were living in compromise in regards to foreign women, and the Ezekiel temple is a heavenly construction which will descend from heaven when the Messiah comes.
For Christian and Messianic Jewish commentators, these verses present a challenge in the fact that they seem to speak about the Messianic age when Yeshua the Messiah will reign on earth for 1,000 years while containing detailed instructions about animal sacrifices—a clear contradiction to the New Testament understanding that animal sacrifice was done away with in the one perfect sacrifice of Yeshua (Hebrews 10).
So Christian and Messianic believers are then faced with the same interpretation challenge as the Jewish commentators: p’shat versus drash—whether to come to terms with the literal meaning of the text or to seek a symbolic meaning in the verses. While religious Jewish commentators make no bones about drash—drawing out more meanings from a passage not literally apparent from the text, many Christian and Messianic commentators are more wary of running away with symbolic interpretations of challenging prophetic scripture which the scripture itself doesn’t offer interpretation to. Either way, we seek the Lord to guide us in all wisdom and revelation into His word by the Holy Spirit! He is faithful to grant wisdom to those who ask in faith (James 1:5)
There is a well-documented account of a man who risked everything to get Bibles into people’s hands. There were no Bibles available in his native language, and he firmly believed that access to the Word of God was the only way to bring about real personal and societal change, especially for the poor and disenfranchised in his country. His name was Jan Hus, and he was burned at the stake in 1415 for translating the Bible in the Czech language. During Jan’s day, Bibles were only available in Latin, Greek and Hebrew and were the monopoly of the tiniest fraction of the population—church clergy and academics. Back then, making Bibles available to non-elites was a bloody business and many were brutally executed by religious authorities for attempting to translate any part of the Bible. For the next couple hundred years following Jan’s murder, many brave and deeply committed men paid with their lives for attempting to get Bibles into the hands of everyday people in their own language.
“If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause the boy who drives the plow to know more of the Scripture than the pope does.”
~William Tyndale, burned at the stake in 1536 for translating the Bible into English
Knowing God without reading His Word: Impossible
Six hundred years after those first brave men began risking life and limb to get Bibles translated and into the hands of everyone, the vast majority of people in the world have the Bible available to them in their own language. In the west (including Israel), we not only have multiple versions of the Bible in our native language, we have easy and instant (thanks to smartphones) access to it. According to the American Bible Society, the average American household has 3 Bibles. With such easy access, one might conclude that it would lead to higher Bible literacy rates. Sadly, the opposite is true. According to a study by LifeWay Research, over 40% of church attenders in the US read their Bibles only occasionally, once or twice a month, and only 45 % say they read their Bibles more than once a week. As a pastor, it doesn’t take long to notice this fact and its effects: most of those seeking council and prayer for persistent difficulties in their lives do not regularly read the Bible and have an anemic prayer life as well. The only way to grow spiritually is getting to know God. The only way to get to know God is spending time in His Word and in His presence through prayer each day. Period. There are no short-cuts in any relationships, and that includes the incredible relationship we can have with God.
Tiferet Yeshua’s New Congregational Meal Plan: Taste and see…
Almost exactly three years ago, we received the vision of expanding the tent: renovating and expanding our old and outdated meeting hall. As we began meeting with a gifted architect and designer, people around the world generously responded to our appeal to raise funds for this project. However, at one point, it seemed we had stalled: no more donations were coming in and we still needed to raise a little over 20% of the $450,000 project cost. We now know that God was in those details as well, timing everything perfectly: we were able to get a complete renovation plan together, taking into account all the sound and media updates, without feeling rushed. It also taught us to trust Him, even when things don’t seem clear.
A couple months ago, we had the chance to get to know Pastor Stovall Weems who had a powerful, life-changing Encounter with Yeshua. Pastor Weems graciously invited Ron and Gil to share in two Sunday morning services at his congregation, Celebration Church, in Jacksonville, Florida during which they took up a special offering for Tiferet Yeshua. Gil and Ron were blessed by their generous and warm reception and getting to know Stovall and his wonderful team. Upon returning to Israel, Gil and Ron were then blown away to learn from Pastor Stovall that they had raised all the needed funds to begin our renovations!
We are so grateful to every single person around the world who donated to our Expand the Tent project. Your love and support is an enormous encouragement and blessing, and we thank you for standing with us! A special thank you to Pastor Stovall and the Celebration Church family who, in one fell swoop, got us over the finish line. We’ll be starting the renovations in July and will share our updates as we progress. We can’t wait!
By far our most important investment as a messianic congregation in the Land of Israel is our youth and raising up strong Jewish believers in the Messiah to be a light and a witness in this end time generation. According to most of the statistics in the Body of Messiah, the most critical age for kids growing up in believing families is the teenage years. Why? Because it’s the age when believing teens make decisions that will have profound effects on their walk of faith. It’s the age that they make the decision to either commit to the Lord and ask Him into their lives, while some of them decide to reject their faith altogether. Therefore, the ages between 13 and 18 are the critical years to get know and respond to the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah. Why did I write until age 18? Because at the age of 18 teenagers in Israel are conscripted into the army, and we as their spiritual family at the congregation have until then to prepare them for the intense challenges and social pressure they’ll face in the army.
This summer at Tiferet Yeshua we are planning our annual youth trip: youth trips are an instrumental time to strengthen the teens’ relationships with each other (most of them are the only believers in their schools, so social interaction with other believers is so important),to encourage them, to delve into the word of God together, to challenge them to use their gifts. Every youth trip we take, we also find a way to serve the community in some way which opens awesome opportunities for us to share the gospel.
Testimonies from the youth who have participated in our youth trips in the past tell us that the intensive time of spending a few days together is incredibly important for them and contributes much to their spiritual lives. These trips give us more time to learn God’s word together, to worship and pray together, to listen to each other, to get to know them better and give individual attention to them: during the concerted time we spend together, the youth open up more and we’re able speak into their lives.
Every year, Shlomit, our dedicated youth group leader, and I invest time and prayer in planning everything, logistically and spiritually. Please stand with us in prayer for the young Jewish believers we’re raising here in the Land, that the Lord would give us wisdom, insight and grace during this trip, that each one would have a deep encounter with the Lord and His love, that each young person joining the trip would be strengthened in their faith, and that those who haven’t yet made commitments to the Lord would do so.
God has connected Tiferet Yeshua in a special way to a very special place in Germany: the bible school Glaubenszentrum, a place committed to equipping and raising up believers on the whole council of God’s word, and to making a stand for Israel’s place in God’s plan. For several years groups of students have come from Glaubenszentrum to serve and fellowship with us here in Tel Aviv, and Tiferet’s youth group, as well as our leadership and worship teams, have been to Glaubenszentrum to participate in conferences and events. This year we sent a small team led by Shlomit, Tiferet Yeshua’s youth leader, to participate in Glaubenszentrum’s yearly youth camp, JuKuBi. It was an amazing time for all of them. Here are some of their experiences in their own words:
Nava: Being Jewish, it’s hard not to associate images of my people’s suffering in the Holocaust when I think of Germany. However, it was amazing for me to experience so much love from the Germans at the conference: their love for us on the team, their love for Israel, and, above all, their love of God. The Glaubenszentrum team treated us with such overwhelming generosity and we felt surrounded by love. As part of the conference, the youth participants volunteer in the town. We joined a group that went to clean up the local Jewish cemetery: it was badly neglected and overgrown because there isn’t a Jewish community there anymore. For me it was one of the special moments and felt like the closing of a circle.
Yoel: The highlight for me was meeting a bible school student who volunteered to serve at the conference and who is an immigrant to Germany from Iran.
He helped us clean up the local Jewish cemetery. Afterward, on our walk back to the bible school, we talked a lot and bonded immediately. He was so thrilled to be around youth who are loud, friendly and outgoing! He said he misses the warm, middle-eastern culture and found our Israeli character to be more familiar to his culture than the quiet, polite German culture. On another occasion, I had a heated argument about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a youth who was in my small team. After spending time together daily in our group, we became friends. When we were saying good bye, he told me that he made a decision not to blindly accept media reports on Israel as facts, but to search for the truth about Israel.
Halel: During the conference, I observed that our Israeli youth received a deeper understanding about the God-created love among nations.
This led to interesting discussions amongst ourselves about our role as the Jewish people.
We were also blessed and encouraged to see youth who love the Lord so passionately! I was touched to see the passion of the staff and youth for prayer and taking time in prayer for each other.
I passed by some groups who were praying for each other, and when I walked by them later on, they were still there in prayer!
I know that I would have been in chit-chat mode at that point… Their commitment and passion made a big impression on me.
Shlomit: The bible-school leadership has decided to highlight Israel as a theme dear to God’s heart. With a desire to let the participants of the conference get to know some Israelis in person, and of course to bless us, we had the privilege to travel as a youth group to the conference and take part in the program. I was personally challenged to ask myself, “How dear to me are the things the Bible says are dear to God?”
On the last day of the conference, I got the opportunity to share a bit from my testimony: about growing up with no clue about the relevance of the New Testament to me personally and to the Jewish people. Afterward, one of youth leaders explained God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel in Genesis 12:3, and the youth gathered around and prayed for us. One of the staff members, who happened to be a famous rap-star, and whose voice is highly respected by the youth, shared a picture he saw in the Spirit of two rope bonds: one was for Germany and the other for Israel. The hand of the Lord took these two ends and wrapped them together. Later, a teacher from the bible school shared with me that He saw in the Spirit that the youth are each taking a part of that bond back to their families and congregations. For me it was a highlight because the rapper’s clear voice declaring this vision and praying for Israel was like the blowing of a shofar. It was a great blessing for me!
For two months now we’ve been reaching our goal of making 1,000 meals for the poor and needy every month through our project Feed Tel Aviv. Additionally, we cook these meals fresh and bring them directly to the outreach center. There are other organizations which send food which is often day old and past its prime. The food we’re preparing is fresh, homemade and nutritious, and the people we’re serving it to express their gratitude for the quality and come back for seconds and thirds.
So, who exactly are these needy individuals in Tel Aviv we’re reaching out to? To answer that, I’ll make use of a cliché: they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the picture above that I took at our outreach kitchen in south Tel Aviv tells it all:
The man standing in the foreground dressed in black is ultra-orthodox of Sephardic descent. Next to him in line is a secular, Ashkenazi Jewish man, and next to him is an Arab Muslim man. Finally, the man at the head of the line is a Sudanese refugee. From the picture you can see that we’re serving a very diverse cross section of the Israeli population!
There are also women who come to us for food who are working in prostitution, as well as the homeless and drug addicted. What these people all have in common is that they are hungry. We’ve discovered is that these people aren’t just hungry for food. Their souls are hungry for the Word of Truth; after they’ve sat and satisfied their physical hunger, some of them begin asking spiritual questions. Therefore, whenever we serve the immediate physical hunger of the needy, we also end up sharing the gospel, giving witness to what Yeshua has done in our lives and talking about the biblical prophesies which tell about who Israel’s Messiah is.
Just recently we shared with two drug addicted women who are involved in a lesbian lifestyle and living on the street. They were so open and hungry for the gospel, and we ended up praying for them. While we prayed for them, one of them began weeping for a half an hour. She repented for her lifestyle and said that she needs nothing short of the almighty hand of God to pull her out of her lifestyle (which involves highly addictive drugs).
Please continue to pray for these two ladies who come back every week, who are open and hungry for the truth, and in desperate need for a powerful encounter with God’s love to pull them out of the darkness, and that they would be willing to enroll in one of the drug treatment facilities run by believers that we’re involved with. Please pray that God gives us grace and wisdom and uses us in a mighty way to help the desprately lost and suffering we encounter every week.
All of this important work that we’re doing is thanks to your generous support, and therefore I want to say “thank you” with my whole heart in the name of all of those who receive food from us every week, both physical and spiritual food. Please continue to keep the Feed Tel Aviv project in your prayers. We know that the Lord has called us to support the poor and needy in our city, Tel Aviv, and you’re helping us fulfill that call.
When renovations commenced in July, everything looked devastated as walls were torn down and everything was rebuilt from scratch. Just in the last couple weeks since there’s wallboard, paint, new flooring, and lighting, it’s starting to look amazing! God has blessed us with an amazing general contractor who’s exceeded our hopes with his work ethic, reliability, flexibility and amiability—which has made it so much easier for Gil to manage this project.
Cramped but anointed!
During construction we’ve been meeting in our small prayer hall, and it’s been cramped, to say the least. The AC has been overtaxed with so many people packed in there and we’ve had to come up with some creative solutions. While it’s not the most comfortable arrangement, we’ve been experiencing especially powerful times of worship and ministry: we feel like the Lord is pouring out a new anointing on us, that the “renovation” we’re undergoing is not just physical but spiritual as well.
Also, our amazing members have been stepping up to serve during the entire service on our second floor where we’ve been providing special activities for the kids from 16:00 to 18:00 (we wouldn’t have been able to fit all the families plus children into the prayer hall).