Hanukkah Light for the World!

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Hanukkiah outside the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem at sunset: ready to be lit!
(Across the street is the new train station and the Bridge of Strings symbolizing King David’s harp, in the distance).

Shalom from Jerusalem! Tonight begins the first night of the eight-day festival known as Hanukkah. I hope you are ready to celebrate!

This week I have watched the Hanukkah menorahs set up all over town, and it is kind of exciting! Actually, the nine branch menorahs are called “hanukkiahs”, and differ from the temple menorah in that it only has seven. This is to accommodate the eight days of Hanukkah.

I’ll forego an in-depth explanation on the history of Hanukkah (that’s what the internet is for), although it is worth the effort to search out and discover this amazing event in the history of G-d’s people.

Known by two names—the Festival of Lights, and the Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah is mentioned only once in the Bible, the New Testament/Covenant book of John: “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.” (10:22-23).

This was well into the third year of Jesus’ ministry and after developing quite a national following, His popularity was beginning to wane while the controversy around Him increased. And on this occasion, the conversation ended in a not-too-friendly exchange, about a mile from where I am sitting writing this.

The spiritual leaders of Israel—here noted as “The Jews” which, since they were all Jews, can be interpreted as “the Judeans” (as opposed to “the Galileans”) or “Jewish leaders”—were challenging Jesus’ claim to Messiahship: “The Jewish [leaders] then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” (v. 24). To which He answered in the affirmative, citing His works and role as the Shepherd of Israel as His credentials. He then answered their question and took it up a notch: “I and the Father are one.” (v.30). Not only is He the Messiah, but He is equal with the Father.

Recently I had a discussion with an alleged believer in Jesus, but he denies the Deity of Yeshua, that is, that Jesus is God. He gave some lengthy explanations with quite a few supporting Scriptures, but He could never address what Jesus said in John 8:58, 8:24, and here in John 10:30. And just to be clear, Jesus’ audience understood exactly what He was saying: “Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ 33 The Jewish [leaders] answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’”

And that is who He is.

Light of the World, Hanukkah and Christmas?

A lot of things are going on during this season, not the least of which is Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is fairly certain that Jesus was not born in December, but more likely in the late summer or early fall. There are a few reasons for this, a couple of which I will sketch out quickly and you can do your own study.

As King David approached the end of his life, he was busy preparing the Temple to be built by his son Solomon, as well as setting up admin duties for the Kingdom of Israel. One thing he did was to have the sons of Levi (the temple priests) divided into 24 groups and set up a schedule where they would serve in the Temple twice a year (see 2 Chronicles 24:20-31).

Fast forward about one thousand years and we find that “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah…. Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense” (Luke 1:5-9). On this occasion Zacharias is told by and angel that he and his wife (both of whom were beyond natural child bearing age), would have a son, and name him John. This would be John the Baptist.

About six months later an angel visits Mary, a young woman engaged to be married and tells her that she will miraculously conceive and bear a child, and “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:26-38).

So we have Jesus evidently conceived about six months after that of John the Baptist. With John conceived probably around June or July (according to the schedule), he would have been born according to the natural manner of life nine months later, around Passover. This is interesting in that according to Jewish tradition Elijah is believed to return at Passover and herald the coming of the Messiah (see Isaiah 40:3-5/Luke 3:4-6), and John came in the Spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17; John 11:14).

Now fast forward six months and this brings us to the Fall Feasts of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot/Tabernacles. This would be the time that Jesus is born, and perhaps John the Apostle gives us a subtle hint when he writes, “And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us” (1:14).

So, where does Hanukkah fit into all of this? Well, back up from Tabernacles about nine months, and you arrive around the latter part of December, or Kislev on the Jewish calendar. With Hanukkah beginning on the 25 of Kislev the question has to be asked: Is it possible that the announcement for the Birth of the Messiah—the Light of the World—occurred during the Festival of Lights? Could it be that G-d would dedicate Himself in His Son to mankind as our redeemer on Hanukkah?

I don’t know for sure, but yes, it is very possible!

So whether or not Jesus/Yeshua was born in December, the overriding issue is not so much when He came, but why He came: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

In this—that a great miracle happened here in Israel—we can rejoice!  How great is the love of our God toward us! Tonight, light a candle in His Name! And may you meditate on these great and mysterious truths this holiday season, and during the Festival of Lights, let your light shine before all—people need to know Who the Light really is.

Happy Hanukkah!

PC

 

Pittsburgh, Darkness, and a Call to Prayer

Pittsburgh, Darkness, and a Call to Prayer

Darkness in Pittsburgh
By now you are well apprised of the tragedy that has occurred in Pittsburgh. The rise of anti-Semitism around the world is real—across Europe, South America and in the US and Canada. Where this is leading our world is something most people would just rather not think about, and not to place blame on anyone, but this was the very thought expressed by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, the Rabbi of Tree of Life in Pittsburgh: “I never thought it would happen here.”

To no one’s surprise the blame game has begun, and some are trying to politicize the whole thing to their advantage: it is shameful. President Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh is entirely appropriate—for the worst mass murder in the Jewish community in US history, it is appropriate, if not incumbent that the President pay his respects. In case anyone has forgotten, despite his personal flaws, Donald J. Trump has demonstrated on several occasions that he is the most pro-Israel President since Harry S. Truman, and arguably the most pro-Israel President in US history.

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President Trump and First Lady Melania place memorial stones on victims’ Stars of David.

Yet, we are told by the media that Pittsburgh’s “Jewish leaders” have expressed their desire that the President not come to Pittsburgh, as has Pittsburgh’s mayor, a Democrat, and Pennsylvania’s governor, also a Democrat. The Washington Post ran this headline: “Thousands signed a letter saying Trump was not welcome in Pittsburgh. He plans to visit anyway”, which seems to paint DJT as a cavalier politician insensitive to a grieving community.

Of course, The Washing Post is regularly hostile to the President, so this comes as no surprise. What also comes as no surprise is what you will read in a moment further down in the article (I am a little surprised that they printed this info).

Who are these “Jewish Leaders”? Who are the “Thousands [who] signed a letter saying Trump was not welcome in Pittsburgh”? Do they speak for the Greater Jewish Community?

These ‘leaders’ are from an organization called Bend the Arc, whose mission statement reads:
“Bend the Arc is a movement of tens of thousands of progressive Jews all across the country. For years, we’ve worked to build a more just society. Now we’re rising up in solidarity with everyone threatened by the Trump agenda to fight for the soul of our nation.”

‘Progressive’, as in socio-politically liberal, embracing everything from partial-birth abortion, to homosexual special rights (which if ratified into law could levy a fine of $250,000 for an offender: Dr. Michael Brown tell us more here), to a nation without borders—which means you have no nation.

Here is a little more from WaPo about Bend the Arc: “Bend the Arc was founded in 2012 as an advocacy organization. Three years later, with the help of Alexander Soros, son of liberal philanthropist George Soros, the group launched the first Jewish political action committee focused on dealing solely with domestic issues.”

Ah, ‘Alexander Soros, son of liberal philanthropist George Soros.’ That name does seem to pop up a bit these days. And now you know, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”

Flashback to 2012

In 2012 I led several HOI (Hope of Israel Congregation) outreach teams onto the streets of Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention. Together we handed out more than 5,000 pieces of Good News literature entitled, “Top Ten Reasons The DNC Should Support Israel” to people including Fox News’ Juan Williams, and Tom Brokaw, and NY Jewish congressman Jerry Nadler.

It was a week of interesting discussions to say the least (not everybody was friendly), and since that time, the Democrat Party has all but turned away from any support of Israel, which is more than a bit strange considering the prominent number of Jewish politicians on the political left. For the upcoming 2020 Republican National Convention, Charlotte should be an interesting place; of course, a lot can happen between now and then.

One other thing about all this: while a large portion of the overall Jewish community in America is liberal (I have Orthodox friends in the US who are embarrassed and bewildered at the liberalism in the Jewish community), I believe that the Jewish community in general is warming up to…not just a conservative point of view, but to…the idea that maybe there is something different about these Christians who support Israel, and the Savior they worship. They know they have friends in true Believers in Jesus/Yeshua. So, don’t let liberal groups like Bend the Arc or J Street discourage you—they may have the power of the media, but they do not speak for all Jewish people.

Remember to Pray
Let me say that I am sorry to be so much about politics in this letter, but I—probably like many of you—believe the spiritual battle is truly raging for the life and soul of our nation. As the Book of Esther shows us, there are such things as ‘Deep State’ operations in governments—and make no mistake: the people of God are the target. But rather than completely immersing ourselves into conspiracy theories, we are called to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and against the darkness that is encroaching upon us. Our God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—is still in absolute control. He laughs at the schemes of the wicked and mourns with His people (Psalm 2:4; Isaiah 63:9).

I was naked, and you clothed me
Which brings me to something you are interested in: His people. Yesterday I was across the street from our headquarters at our Distribution Center, where we provide clothing for new immigrants (“olim”) in Israel.

It was a bit of a ‘mad-house’ as about 25 new Russian speaking olim were crammed into our clothing area, looking through some pretty nice stuff donated by Believers in the UK and the USA. I was thrilled to see young families with children, elderly people, and middle-aged people glad to find some help and to realize there are people who care: most of them are very poor.

It is also moving to see these people obtain their own copy of the Hebrew Scriptures in their own language—many for the very first time. Please pray that G-d will continue to reveal Himself to His people, that the spiritual blindness with be taken away (Romans 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:16).

Thank you for praying for the ministry of CFI Jerusalem, and for your prayers and support of my work here. It is all important, and Jewish (and Arab) lives are being touched with the love of God through his people.

Blessings in the King,

Pat

PS: If you would like to support my work, please click here.

PPS. Remember to vote next week. 🙂

A New Year, A New Covenant, and A Feast of Trumpets!

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Today in Israel, and around the world, people are celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which also coincides with the Biblical Feast of Trumpets, hence the blowing of shofars in synagogues and homes world-wide.

You may be wondering about a New Year in the middle of the ‘regular’ year: how’s that work? A Jewish friend and I were talking about that recently, how the different calendars function, etc. Some folks may object that Rosh Hashana really is not a Biblical feast day, but is observed along with the Feast of Trumpets (see Lev. 23:23-24), which is true. The way Rosha Hashana came about was when the Jewish people who returned to Israel from Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BCE, they brought some cultural baggage with them, part of which is the adaptation of the Babylonian calendar.

According to Exodus 12 the actual Biblical calendar puts the beginning of the year in the Spring (an obviously logical place to begin new things). So, what do we do? Well, many people celebrate the modern civil Western New Year on January 1, which isn’t biblical either, but is based on the Gregorian calendar, the original goal of which was to change the date of Easter. In 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII introduced his Gregorian calendar, Europe adhered to the Julian calendar, first implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.E.

So, to interact with people in the world we live in today, some accommodations are regularly made. Suffice to say, every day is a new day, and as the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23). May we keep this in mind as we go through our days and years, whenever we may begin them.

A Trumpet… for you!

One significant aspect of the Feats of Trumpets is its prophetic meaning, but to explain that, a little back story is required here. A few years ago I wrote a research paper for a class at SES on this topic entitled A Case for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, which I have excerpted here. I hope you enjoy it, and if you would like a copy of the full paper click here.

What about The Last Trumpet?

The question regarding the last trumpet from 1 Corinthians 15:51 is often used to support the Post-Trib view: “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” Which trumpet is this ‘last trumpet’? There are seven trumpet judgments in Revelation (9:2-11:15), as well as other references to trumpets in the same book (1:10; 4:1). Often the reference is made to Revelation 11:15 as the last trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15. However, one must remember that at the time Paul wrote to the Corinthians, John would not receive and write the Revelation for another thirty or forty years, which would likely be a different generation. While it is possible that the Spirit of God could prophetically inspire Paul to write verse 51 for a future referent, Paul’s immediate audience in Corinth would have no way to interpret what it meant, which would not explain the very mystery he claimed to be revealing.

So, what is the last trumpet? The answer may be found in the mysterious, prophetic nature of the seven feasts that God gave to Israel in Leviticus 23. In the same letter to the Corinthians, Paul references Passover/Unleavened Bread, where he exhorts the Jewish and Gentile believers to celebrate Passover in light of the New Covenant, “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened, for Christ [Messiah] our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7); also First Fruits fulfilled in the Resurrection:

“Now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Cor. 15:20-23).

The Corinthians were apparently familiar with the feast days God gave to Israel, thus a quick overview of the feasts will be helpful for us here.

In Leviticus 23 God lays out seven annual feasts that Israel was to keep perpetually: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles. Many recognize these as a framework for God’s overall program for the redemption of Israel, and the world. In the New Covenant we recognize that four of seven have already been fulfilled:

  • Passover, with the death of Messiah as the Passover Lamb without spot or blemish;
  • Unleavened Bread, with the sinless (unleavened) ‘Bread of Life’ placed in the ground;
  • Firstfruits, with the resurrection of Messiah as ‘the firstfruits of the resurrection’;
  • Pentecost, fifty days after Passover when God gave Israel the Law, fulfilled in the New Covenant by God giving Israel His Spirit.

Take special note that each of these feasts were fulfilled in the New Covenant on their exact day. This is no coincidence with a sovereign God. Is it presumptuous to expect that the remaining three feasts will also be fulfilled on their respective days? We shall let that question lie for now, since no man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. However, regarding the last trumpet, let us consider the next feast day on God’s prophetic calendar: The Feast of Trumpets.

There were several purposes for the trumpets to be sounded: a call to assembly or announcement, a call to mobilize, to war, or to judgment, and a call to worship and celebration.[1] In light of the overall prophetic scenario revealed for the last days, all of these purposes are fulfilled at the sounding of the trumpet and Messiah’s return: 1) He calls the assembly (ekklesia, or church) to mobilize and meet Him in the air; 2) the trumpet of war and judgment is sounded for the last battle between God and Satan revealed in Revelation 4 through 19; and 3) the trumpet of celebration and worship, as we will be reunited with loved ones and worship God as never before when we see Him face to face!

Also, bear in mind that at Pentecost, the giving of the Law was introduced with a series of trumpet blasts (see Ex. 19) similar to the Feast of Trumpets. Thus we see that the Feasts of Pentecost and Trumpets serve the church age as bookends—initiated and consummated with trumpet blasts, with a season of harvest between them (see Lev. 23:22). This idea the Corinthians would very likely have understood. It is also important to realize that during the Feast of Trumpets (known today as Rosh Hashana) there was not only one trumpet blast, but an entire series of trumpet blasts. It may well be that it is not just the literal final trumpet blast at Rosh Hashana that we are anticipating, but the last one at the moment of the Rapture that will matter to the believing remnant at that time. That remains to be seen.

For the complete paper on this topic, click here.The PreTribulation Rapture[2018] You are free to download.

May G-d bless you on this Rosh Hashana with a sweetest New Year yet, and may we live expectantly as we await to meet our G-d and Savior! Chag Sameach!

PC

[1] Sam Nadler, Messiah in the Feasts of Israel: God’s Appointed Times in History and Prophecy (Charlotte, NC: Word of Messiah Ministries, 2002), 95.

A convergence of Holy Days, Politics, and A Cup of Trembling    

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As you are probably aware, tomorrow will be a big day here in Israel: not for Israel only, but for the whole world. I do believe that the official recognition by the USA of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city—and the subsequent embassy move—is a significant milestone in G-d’s plan and world history. (Click here for photos of new US Embassy site on my PCinIsrael FB page)
Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel

For the first time in 2,000 years—and then under Roman administration—and more than 2,600 years since under complete Israeli sovereignty, Jerusalem is recognized the historic and rightful capital of Israel by a foreign nation.

As exciting as this is, I believe if we look a little deeper we will see even more extraordinary events occurring. Tomorrow, not only will the US officially move its embassy, this will occur on the standard calendar date of May 14, when David Ben Gurion signed the Israel Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. But wait there’s more.

To add to the intrigue, Jerusalem Day (Hebrew: יום ירושלים, Yom Yerushalayim) begins tonight at sundown. This day (through sundown tomorrow) is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City during the Six Day War in June 1967, and recapture the Temple Mount as well.

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The iconic 1967 photo of Israeli Paratroopers, just after they had captured the Western Wall and the Temple Mount– for the first time in 2000 years.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to thank God for victory in the Six-Day War and for answering the 2,000-year-old prayer of “Next Year in Jerusalem”.

However, this day is not celebrated on the Western/Gregorian calendar, which would place the date each year on June 7, but on the Hebrew calendar day of 29th of Iyyar, which this year falls on—you guessed it—May 14.

So, tomorrow we will celebrate the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with the US embassy move on Israel’s Independence Day, as well as the historic reunification and reclaiming of Jerusalem under Jewish control. Perhaps that is a coincidence, and I have not done an exhaustive study, but I don’t see where these two dates have occurred on the same day before now. (If you find more info let me know.)

The Nakba and Ramadan

More intrigue follows as the usual Palestinian propagandized day of rage, the “Nakba” or Catastrophe follows on Tuesday, May 15. Here it is claimed that the Jews ‘stole’ the land of the Arabs, which conveniently leaves out pretty significant details of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence/ Survival.

Add to that the ridiculous claims by Hamas leaders and their insanity to…”drive the Jews into the sea” (…again?) with the familiar slogan, “From the River (Jordan) to the Sea (Med) Palestine will be Free.” I will simply say about this and the rest of similar aspirations: sooner or later we have to grow up, and face the truth, which is actually what G-d calls each of us to, as Isaiah wrote,

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool”(1:18). Then true peace can be known by all parties.

On the heels of Tuesday’s Day of Rage/Nakba comes the Muslim feast of Ramadan on May 16, a month long observance of partial fasting and prayer, which is scheduled according to the Islamic calendar.

Wrapping up this coming week and beginning the following week is the Biblical Feast of Shavuot/Weeks, also known as Pentecost, where the Law of Moses was given on Mt. Sinai, and in Acts 2 the Body of Messiah was ‘birthed’ to essentially launch the New Covenant era.

A Cup of Trembling

It does seem that we are accelerating toward the end of this age seemingly with increased momentum and focus on Jerusalem, especially in light of Zechariah’s prophecy that G-d says “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about.”

There is still much left to occur according to the prophetic vision given in Scripture, but presently it does seem that against all odds and expectations, with some pretty unlikely players on the world stage, G-d is driving His plan to focus world attention on Jerusalem and ultimately on His Son, who one day will reign there in person.

It should be an interesting week, so please pray for calm, and the safety of the young men and women guarding Israel’s borders. One of my friends who we work with at CFI is an Ethiopian Jew. Right now she has three children serving in the IDF, one of them on the Gaza-Egypt-Israel border. So please pray for their safety and her peace (which she seems to be handling quite well).

Pray also that our Arab neighbors will reject the foolish and futile attempts by their political and religious leaders to thwart G-d’s plan as it advances, and to consider the way of peace that He has set forth for each and all of us (John 14:27).

And Chag Yom Yerushalayim Sameach, Happy Jerusalem Day!

Pat

Israel: Looking at Year 70

Israel: Looking at Year 70

Today began the week of Israel’s 70th Birthday. I have a few comments on that in a moment, but first, a little of ‘normal life’ here in the Land on a Sunday, or Yom Rishon/Day One.

A Sunday with my Neighbors

My 78 year old next door neighbor, Yakov*, has our little section of the neighborhood all dressed up with Israel flags of about four different sizes—as a Sabra (native born Israeli) and an IAF veteran, he’s definitely into it. Earlier this week as I arrived home from work I sat on their porch and talked with him and his wife for a few minutes, and about the upcoming celebration.

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Happy Yom HaAtzmaut (Sameach)!

It is fun and pretty awesome to sit and listen to the stories of people who have been here onsite for the past 50+ years, to tell what it was like and the changes Israel has been through over the past 5, 6 and 7 decades.

Today, I continued to do some touch up work on my apartment, painting some of the trim that has been neglected for years (Yakov’s wife, Golda*, said the steel safety bars over the window haven’t been painted in 40 years since they first moved in. They kina look it, too.) While I was painting the walkway rails two weeks ago, Yakov asked me if I could also paint a pole he had put up for some grapevines, which I was happy to do. So today I did that as well as the front door.

Afterward, I needed to go to the grocery store, so as I walked out of the house, Gil* (my other next door neighbor who is Modern Orthodox) and his littlest son Danny*, were coming down their steps, going for a walk—Danny was on his tricycle. So we all walked together, Gil carrying my trash bag as I carried the recyclables and pulled the shopping cart, as Danny pedaled along beside us. We got to the small playground next to the supermarket—sort of a community center area where a lot of parents—Jews and Arabs—bring their children to play while folks sit and talk, or shop.

While Danny climbed around on things, Gil asked me about the recent US led attack on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities. We both agree it was probably a good thing to do, and that WW3 probably will not erupt out of it (hopefully). The conversation wound its way through Deep State-New World Order politics and the ‘Trump Phenomenon’ that the NWO didn’t seem to see coming, to a corrupt liberal media in the West as well as in Israel, to Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 9, The False Messiah (Anti-Christ), Armageddon, most of which he was pretty familiar with.

We both agreed that a new temple on the Temple Mount wouldn’t really mean too much in the way of a ‘Messianic Kingdom’ if people do not love one another—which is the goal of the Torah and the Prophets. All said and done, it was a good start for further discussions. BTW, for a good source of accurate news on Israel, go here: http://honestreporting.com/

I returned home and as I was sweeping my walkway, Hans*, the Seminary student from Germany with the wife and four children, invited me over for a few minutes with his in-laws, who will be leaving to return home tomorrow. There we roasted bread on a stick while we discussed life in Israel via broken English and German, and laughter.

This is sort of normal life on a day off in Israel, even though there are dangerous events going on at the Gaza border, armies and factions are fighting a hundred or so miles away, and Israel is preparing for her 70th birthday. It is all very interesting.

Also beginning tomorrow is CFI’s annual conference, where CFI representatives from 35 countries, volunteers and supporters will gather to hear a host of speakers including Israeli government officials and Knesset members, IDF and security spokespersons, Messianic Jewish and Christian Arab pastors, Christian media journalists, CFI’s many project directors, and more. For more, visit CFI’s FaceBook page.

Israel @ 70: Important for everybody

Nevertheless, I am excited about this week. Tuesday night begins Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) through Wednesday, to remember Israel’s fallen soldiers.

This is followed by Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day), beginning on Wednesday night through Thursday. This is not only a once in a lifetime event, but a ‘once in history event’, and I do wonder about the significance of it.

Very quickly, the number 70 is frequent and quite interesting in Scripture:

  • 70 = 7 (Perfection) x 10 (representing God’s law i.e., The Ten Commandments, and completeness)
  • 70 Persons of Israel/Jacob’s family went down to Egypt (Ex. 1:5).
  • 70 elders were appointed by Moses (Numbers 11:16).
  • After reading the covenant God gave him to read to the people, Moses took 70 elders, along with Aaron and his sons, up Mount Sinai to have a special meal with God himself (Exodus 24:9 – 11).
  • Israel spent a total number of 70 years in captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10), wherein the Land received her Sabbath rests that had gone unobserved for 70 sevens of years: “to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete” (2 Chron. 36:21).
  • 70 sevens (490 years) were determined upon Jerusalem for it to complete its transgressions, to make an end for sins and for everlasting righteousness to enter into it via the Messiah (Daniel 9:24).
  • Yeshua/Jesus sent out 70 disciples (Luke 10:1)

There’s more, but obviously there is something to the number 70 in the Word. If one studies Jewish history, you will recognize that there is a significance to dates and events beyond the realm of mere coincidence: there is a sovereign God ruling over the affairs of men as well as His own Chosen People.

Seventy years ago the world saw a nation born in a day—out of the ashes of the Holocaust, a nation that in two generations would grow to become the focal point of world attention, whether for praise or defamation. The world saw a scattered people, a previously dead language, and an all but forgotten promise, all come to life in the form of a nation that would lead the world in every area from technology to the arts—it is unprecedented in human history. God promised, and He delivered (see Deut. 30:1-6; Ezek. 36-37; Isaiah 66:5-9; Amos 9:15).

Will anything out of the ordinary or exciting happen this week? I do not know. Perhaps the celebrations will go off without a hitch, though a terrorist attack—or a series of such should not surprise us. Yet, God is sovereign, and He hears the prayers of His people. So let us pray for safety, that His will is done, and that we are careful to observe what He is up to in our day.

Vision for the Future

One other thought. The corresponding letter in the Hebrew alphabet for 70 is the letter “ע” ‘ayan’. This letter is associated with the eye, by which we gain our vision. Romans 11:25 states that in regards to the Good News of Messiah, “blindness in part is happened to Israel.” Not a total blindness, but a partial blindness. Could it be that this year the eyes of a significant number of God’s Chosen will people be opened to what His word really says? I do not know, but, we can pray that it be so.

This week we celebrate the faithfulness of our God. So remember, whatever you may be facing, take heart—God keeps his promises. Happy Birthday Israel!

Shalom from Jerusalem,

PC

Passover, Old Friends, and David’s Mighty Men!

Passover, Old Friends, and David’s Mighty Men!

Shalom from Jerusalem!

Well, Passover is just a couple of days away, and people are getting ready for the holiday all over town: bakeries and some restaurants are already cleaning out their shelves of any traces of leaven, down to the crumbs.

Matzah, Matzah Man!

Today when I left work I bumped into my Lubavich friend Avi*, who I have had an acquaintance with since I first got here. He was ‘giving away’ matza for a small donation, so I blessed him in the Name, and I smiled, pointed my finger at him and told him, “Avi, I want you to know that I love you, I love your country and your people—Atta v’ ani, chavarim (You and I, are friends) and your people are my people.” He smiled and thanked me and I wished him a Happy Passover. By the time I got home my matza was broken in my backpack, but, it still tastes as great as matza always tastes! 😛

Visiting David’s Mighty Men

Last week CFI’s David’s Shield director Jim McKenzie and I drove to an army base near Beer Sheva, where reservists were doing their semi-annual training. After the mandatory three-year military service for almost all Israelis (two-years for girls), Israeli citizens serve and train as reservists until the age of 40—and longer if they want to and are in fit enough condition. It is a fellowship of brotherhood that they very much seem to enjoy as they progress through life.

I must say Jim does an excellent job representing Believers from around the world by encouraging Israel’s armed forces personnel—contrasted with a world that almost always condemns anything they do.

One of the things Jim regularly says to Israel’s soldiers is, “For two thousand years there was no Israeli army to defend the Jewish people, but you are like David’s mighty men in the Bible—defending your country and your people from harm. We want you to know that there are people around the world who not only recognize the lies of the media, but who also support what you do for your country, and believe that not only are you doing the right thing, but the righteous thing.”

Friends, you should see the faces of these soldiers light up when they hear this—and they broke into applause several times during Jim’s brief talk.

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Israeli reservists applaud Jim as he shares.

Afterward the officers—really nice guys, by the way—toured us around and explained some of the training they are doing, especially with high tech (and high priced) surveillance equipment.

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Jim looks through hi-tech binoculars.
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Flags provided by CFI.

It is always a thrill to get to shake hands with these guys: it is especially interesting to observe the facial reactions when I say simple things like, “God bless you guys, may He watch over you and keep you safe,” and “We are praying for your safety.” They are very interested not only in where we are from, but why we come to Israel to do this, and why we care.

We want to demonstrate unconditional love toward Israel, and especially considering the hostility toward the Jewish people from the ‘Christian church’ down through the centuries, we hope to put a more ‘friendly face’ on Yeshua/Jesus as well.

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Me and Jim with flags and t-shirts provided by CFI to boost morale of IDF soldiers. 
(Sorry, I forgot to get a photo of myself with some soldiers–too busy!)

Trouble on the Border?

You may have heard on the news that Hamas in Gaza is planning on launching a ‘massive civilian march’ to the border fence this Friday on Passover. (Obviously, considering the history of Passover, this is not the best time to start trouble with the Chosen People—but it seems some people never learn.)

Many of us understand that with what Israel has faced in the past with terrorism and suicide bombers, they simply cannot allow people to breach their security fences and approach them—even though the Palestinians may “appear” to be unarmed.  To let one’s guard down for an instant in such a situation can prove to be deadly. This is obviously just one more attempt to provoke Israel to injuring or killing “helpless Palestinians.” Please pray for our young people’s safety in the IDF, as well as Palestinians whom Hamas may be forcing into a dangerous situation against their will.

Hope for the Future

This week I rode to Benei Brakah just outside Tel Aviv to cover some of what CFI is doing there. Marcia Brunson, CFI’s Hope for the Future coordinator which reaches out to the Ethiopian Jewish community, has several contacts around the country, including this one that is run by an Israeli woman who cares about the families and children whom Israel has brought home to the Land over the past 35 years.

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Store manager and Rachelli, and CFI’s Marcia present a generous voucher for this woman’s family.

While there, Marcia and Rachelli* planned some summer camp programs for the kids which will include educational curriculum as well as fun events. We also went to a local grocery store which is working with us to provide food vouchers for families in need. Thank you for your prayers and support of our work here in what is often not only economically depressed situations, but spiritually oppressive as well.

Old friends!

Some of you may remember Layel*. About 15 years ago she and two other Israeli high school students attended Hope of Israel regularly and thank G-d, some lasting friendships have been maintained over the years. At that time I was serving at the ‘Youth Guy’ for HOI, and these kids were my students and I have always felt like they were ‘my Israeli kids.’ Of course, they are grown now, have all been through the military and college since then, and are now in the work force dealing with the adult world and all life can throw at us.

I was able to finally catch up with Layel this week and we sat down for a quick bite to eat in Center City Jerusalem, where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic—Ben Yehuda Street area. It has been more than 10 years (wow) since those of us at HOI have seen her, the last time being when she went with a handful of us through the Western Wall tunnels. We came out at the end in the Muslim Quarter, where we were escorted back by a young security guard with an Uzi (Israeli sub-machine gun).

I’ll never forget our discussion about all of the troubles Israel was having with her enemies, and Layel’s sincerely asked question, “Why doesn’t God help us? Why doesn’t He help Israel?”

What do you say? I summed it up by telling her what the prophets say about Messiah’s first and second comings—that it will get worse before it gets better—that Yeshua is Israel’s only hope, and in the end He will be faithful to rescue His people. While we talked I also noticed that the security guard drew close to eavesdrop on our conversation, so I talked a little louder just to help him overhear us as well.

Layel is now an agnostic, and says she doesn’t believe there is a God, yet that all beliefs are valid. Though it is illogical and self defeating to say there is no objective truth and everybody has their own truth—it is like saying everybody has their own math—it really doesn’t work, but it is a popular notion. We had a spirited and challenging, but friendly conversation, and hopefully some things she will think about, with the promise that we will have lunch again soon.

Thank you for praying—a busy time is upon us!

We are very quickly approaching April, and in a little more than two weeks we will be celebrating Israel’s 70th Birthday with our annual conference, as well as a major influx of tourists that will prove to be an historic celebration here in the Land. Security will be at an all-time high I am sure, as we are receiving security warnings that trouble is being planned. So please be in prayer. Also, please pray for Israel’s young people serving in the IDF, the Border Police and the Municipal Police—they all have dangerous jobs and their uniforms make them targets for evildoers.

Again, thank you for your prayers, and for your support. And Chag Pesach Sameach mi Yerushalayim: Happy Passover, from Jerusalem!

Pat

*Names changed to protect individuals’ privacy.

Marathons, Mustaches, and other Surprises right under your nose!

Marathons, Mustaches, and other Surprises right under your nose!

Shalom Y’all!

Have you ever discovered something significant that has been right under your proverbial nose all the time? Well, I did yesterday. And more on that in minute. But first…

Things are warming up a little over here and activities are increasing as well. Yesterday they had the Jerusalem Marathon, which also included other shorter races (1/2 marathon, 10k and 5k); my next door neighbor ran in one of the shorter races, but I haven’t been able to catch up with him yet to see how he did.

I did go up to the Haas Promenade to watch a little of it, and watching the runners I must confess that I wish I still had knees that would allow me to run in races like this; but while I was out I did see a Jewish man who could not walk without great difficulty. It was a reminder to me that so often we need to see the glass half-full, rather than half-empty, and to be thankful for what we can do, rather than complain about what we cannot do. Anyway, here’s a great story from CBN’s Chris Mitchell on the Marathon’s events. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7Hk00n1Hl0

Bike Ride, photos and a surprising discovery in “my backyard.”

OK, now about that proverbial nose thing. Yesterday afternoon on Shabbat, I decided to take a break from study and get out of the house. So I rode my bicycle up my street to the Haas Promenade area. Just down the street across from the UN center is a hill that I have noticed but have not ventured up, but I have been curious about, so I checked it out. When I got to the top I was shocked: the view was breathtaking. I had no idea that from nearly right behind my apartment was a view of the Dead Sea—about 12 miles away—along with the Judean Desert and the Herodian Fortress. In fact, the entire 360 panorama includes the Temple Mount, Jordan, and the New City of Jerusalem as well. So I took a series of photos and ‘stitched’ them together. You can seen the here: https://pcinisrael.org/media/#jp-carousel-489

We never know what is just beyond the ridge or around the corner, just waiting to be found, “as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor.2:9). Our G-d has good things in store for us, so let us keep seeking—what you’re looking for may just be over the next hill.

While I was up on the hilltop another cyclist came along—he was even older than me! Randolf*, from Germany, is volunteering and helping elderly people in one of the local Arab villages. We had an interesting conversation— though he was kind, he hinted that he felt the Palestinian people were getting the short end of the stick. Though born and baptized Roman Catholic, he does not claim any faith affiliation; but he agreed that the command to love one another is really the answer to the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma—of course, HOW we find that love to give away is another story. Suffice to say we need new hearts (cf. Ezek. 36:26).

Rachel’s Heights

From there I rode to the other side of Armon HaNatziv—the Jerusalem suburb I live in—to a small community called Ramat Rachel (“Rachel’s Heights”) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramat_Rachel . Ramat Rachel has an interesting history going back to possibly the first Temple period (before 586 BC) during the days of Jeremiah the prophet. Today there is a kibbutz and resort center by the same name adjacent to the original site, and you can see Bethlehem from there.

On the ride back I was crossing a bridge over Asher Viner Road where they have placed two large, flat steel lions, which is the symbol of Jerusalem; as I rode by I caught a glimpse of the sunset and thought I would get a picture of it. Pretty cool shot—even looks like a Star of David shining through if you use your imagination a little.

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From there I continued and rode past the US Consulate General, where they have a big US flag flying—I don’t remember seeing that before, and I must say it stirs a little longing for home to see a big US flag like that…so, I stopped and got a few more pictures. BTW, this is where the interim US Embassy is going to be moved to while the more permanent US Embassy is under construction.

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Also, one of the things I do at CFI is produce the daily, encouraging scripture memes for our Twitter and FaceBook pages; be sure to check out and “Like” our stuff. https://www.facebook.com/CFIJerusalem/

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Please pray—it makes a difference!

These are very interesting times to be alive, especially in Jerusalem. Time is moving quickly and Israel’s 70th birthday will be here in a little more than a month. So please be in prayer for Israel, our President and other leaders, as well as Jimmy Morales, the President of Guatemala, who has courageously stepped up to the plate and committed himself and his small country to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Psalm 147:2 says, “The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel” (KJV); the Contemporary English Version reads thusly, “The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem and brings the people of Israel back home again.” One of the things we at CFI do is to supply free clothing to many of the olim (new immigrants) who ‘make aliyah’ to come home to Israel to live. Four times a year we receive a tractor-trailer load of clothing from US and UK, to distribute to our new Jewish friends: here are a couple of shots of the CFI team.

It is awesome to be here at the ‘Center of the Universe’ to see this happening—Jerusalem is literally being built up, before our eyes, from ancient ruins restored to modern projects rising up to 20 stories, it is happening.  Of course, the Adversary is not going to take this lying down, as they say, he is full of “great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (Rev. 12:12), and we can see the spiritual battle behind the scenes influencing what is happening in the natural. At times you can almost feel the spiritual tension and pressure of religious spirits, so pray for me and us at CFI, that the work can go forward.

Shalom from Jerusalem,

PC