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