My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them. Thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he will feed them–My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.” Ezekiel 34:6, 14, 23 (Photo: Reuters)
Most lovers of Israel are not aware that the average Israeli, including college graduates, do not read the Hebrew language Old Testament because many of the books are written in vocabulary too ancient to easily understand. Neither do they read the New Testament, because they don’t believe that it is God-inspired.
Those who do know something about Israel may well ask, “But don’t all Israeli children study the Bible in school?” And the answer is yes … but; it is taught not as truth breathed by God’s Holy Spirit, but as a beautiful literary piece like “The Odyssey” by Homer, or “The Symposium” by Plato.
Time after time, Israelis born here have told me that after many years of “studying” the Hebrew Bible in public school, they came out with nothing!
I myself read the Bible through each year, and often choose different editions for the year. My favorite English translation is the New American Standard, as it is considered closest to the original texts in accuracy. The outstanding Hebrew/English Bible produced by the Israel Bible Society uses the NASB. Without a doubt, every English translation gives its unique contribution to understanding the most important Book ever given to mankind.
Some years ago I decided to read through The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order and I found passages opening up to me like no other Bible I had ever read. Indeed, this is the fourth year I chose this Bible because it is simply exhilarating in the way it uncovers the essence, the spirit, and the background of these Holy Words.
Ari has also read through The Narrated Chronological Bible, and so we found ourselves talking about it one day in connection to Israel. Yes, it is a fact that the Old Testament which we call the “Tanach”, meaning the Torah, the Prophets and the (Historical) Writings, is not understood by most Israelis! Yes, it is a closed book to the educated and uneducated. Ask just about any Israeli (who is not an ultra-Orthodox Jew) and he or she will tell you many, if not most books of the Tanach, are unintelligible.
Why? Because it was written 2500–3500 years ago, and modern Hebrew no longer includes many words that are in the Bible. On the other hand there are some Biblical words used in modern Hebrew but have a different meaning! Only Hebrew Bible Scholars can confidently tell you they understand most of the Holy Writ, although there are extremely difficult books to understand—such as Job or Ezekiel.
I remember having a conversation with an Israeli professor in Tel Aviv years ago. We were discussing the fact that the Bible promised King David would always have a descendent on the throne. As he looked at the Hebrew text, he asked to see my English Bible in order to check out the meaning of certain words. It was then I realized that if a university professor needs an English version of the Bible to figure out the meaning of a sentence, then there was indeed a real challenge to understanding the Hebrew Bible.
Ari and I began to discuss what a Bible like The Narrated Chronological Bible could do for the Israeli people if it were in Hebrew. Of course, the original Hebrew Scripture text would remain exactly the same. There are not two versions of the Hebrew Bible; for untold centuries Jewish scribes were consumed with not changing a single “jot or tittle” as they copied the Holy Writ by hand.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judean Desert proved to scholars that those scrolls written 2000 years ago are essentially the same as the Hebrew language Bible we have today.
But what The Narrated Chronological Bible gives is a beautifully-written introduction to each event or concept so that one already has an idea of what he or she is about to read.
Secondly, each paragraph (usually one or two verses) is labeled like FLOODWATERS BEGIN, NOAH’S FAMILY ENTERS ARK, etc.
Then, because the Biblical text has been arranged in chronological order (according to the best scholarship) you know which prophet was warning the people of Israel or Judah at the time of which king. In the New Testament, take the Book of Acts. This Bible inserts the books Paul wrote, in the order he wrote them, according to his travels described in Acts.
Furthermore, in the English Narrated Chronological Bible there are footnotes explaining a word or place when needed.
Wow! We saw that this Bible in Hebrew could be a wide-open gateway for multitudes of Israelis to be able to read and understand the Bible for the first time in their lives! There is nothing like it on the market in Israel.
We approached the head of the Israel Bible Society, Victor Kalisher, with the idea, and he felt this was exactly the type of Bible needed in Israel. His number one scholar, Dr. Ray Pritz, a former lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a Bible translation advisor and a strong believer, has committed himself for the next three years to overseeing the scholarship of producing this Hebrew Bible.
The scholars working on this new Bible will be putting footnotes to every word of the Biblical text that is not normally understood by Israelis. Moreover, when there are interesting and relevant archeological findings pertinent to the Hebrew text, they will also be published on the related page.
This is what I would call a Study Bible Lite! It is not geared primarily for scholars and professors, although I believe many of them will also be amazed when they read it. But it is first of all for the average Israeli—young people, elderly, secular, non-religious—most of whom have never considered opening the Bible after graduating from high school.
In short, it is an introduction to a Bible they have never understood.
You might ask, “But don’t the ultra-Orthodox (Haredim) know how to read the Bible?” Haredim and traditional Jews do thoroughly study the five books of Moses and the Psalms. But that is about all. Their main study books are the Talmud and other rabbinical books. They, too, would find many passages in the entire Old Testament very difficult to understand.
So we are partnering with the Israeli Bible Society, which will supply the complete text—including the Biblical text, the narration, and explanations. It will take three years to complete this Bible in Hebrew.
We are committed to raising the funds needed for the three years of work, starting this September.
The cost will be approximately $500,000. The Bible itself will have approximately 2000 pages. That means that every page of this Bible will cost about $250.
That also means you, our Maoz partner, can pay for one page, or two, or twenty. Perhaps there are among the Maoz family those who will wish to pay for one of the 66 books of the Bible!
We believe this will be the most effective tool yet that we at Maoz have been privileged to bring to our Israeli people. Those perishing for lack of knowledge can drink at the fountain of Living Waters because together, we will publish a Bible so that the People of the Book can understand the Book!
A PROPHETIC DREAM
For me it began with a dream. In 2008, I dreamed that I was being led through a big middle school by a group of prominent leaders in the body of Messiah. They brought me into a room where the lights were turned off and told me, “There’s something here you need to see.”
In the classroom they showed me a plush red divan upon which the most gorgeous and resplendent bride I had ever seen was lying; she was wearing an exquisite dress and veil and had professional makeup and expensive jewelry on.
As I gazed at her, I realized that she was dead—she had taken her own life. I couldn’t believe that a bride had taken her own life just moments before her wedding! The leaders told me that “her love had grown cold.”
From there they led me into another classroom where the lights were on, and a lot of people were bustling around. I sat down in the back row of desks, and when I looked to my left, there was another bride sitting next to me and smiling at me!
This lovely bride was wearing her wedding dress, but she didn’t have her veil on or seem to be ready to “walk down the aisle” quite yet. But the words “lovely and wholesome” came to my mind as I looked at her.
Just then, at the front of the classroom, someone began singing. I suddenly realized why I was there: I was supposed to sing! I panicked. I barely knew the song because I hadn’t prepared. I began rummaging through a huge purse I had with me that was stuffed with random sheet music, but it was a mess and I could only find one copy of the song.
When my turn came to sing, it was an embarrassing flop. One of the leaders then came up to me and said, “That went poorly. This is the rehearsal, but the wedding is soon!” I woke up from the dream, and the Lord said to me, “The brides are the Body of Messiah.”
I shared the dream with a friend, feeling strongly it was a corporate word, which it was, but she also told me, “Hey, the Lord is telling you that you are called to sing!” A couple weeks later, our pastor, Ari Sorko-Ram, gave an announcement in the congregation that they were looking for new people to join the worship team. That week I joined, knowing that the Lord had called me to it, and that I needed to get organized and practice.
CREATING MUSIC IN ZION TO WORSHIP OUR FATHER
Over the last nine years that I’ve been on the worship team of Tiferet Yeshua, there has been much change and growth. In the beginning, the Lord highlighted the need for organization and clear communication (the Holy Spirit flows freely when there is order; disorder hinders the flow of the Spirit).
Then we went through a period of losing musicians and singers. Instead of becoming discouraged, we cried out to God in faith that he would bring us new musicians, singers and sound technicians. Over the past five years he has done just that.
In dealing with a team of worshippers who work, study and raise families full-time, something began to happen naturally which we realized we had to nurture and protect: humility and love. When anyone serves with a powerful anointing and gifting in front of others, there is always the danger for pride and idolatry to slip in unnoticed.
With our team, having five worship leaders who work full-time and are raising families as well, we all realize how much we need and rely on each other to make worship happen each week.
Also, the Lord has brought together a group of people who truly care for and love one another. Since Gil and I began pastoring the worship team, it has been our prayer that, more than anything, the Lord would cause us to grow more in love, humility and holiness, and that the Spirit would lead our worship. We knew that excellence would follow.
ENTERING INTO A NEW REALM
Over the last several years, there has been an outpouring of anointed new music and creativity in the Land among the Jewish, Hebrew-speaking believers–something that should come as no surprise: the Hebrew Scriptures give us the most information about worship with the tabernacle of David, the psalmist King of Israel himself.
This new generation is Spirit-filled Hebrew worshippers drawing from deep ancient wells: the result is lifting the fallen tabernacle of David with a new song. Just as the Levites prophesied in song and on their instruments, each week we feel the Spirit meeting us and leading us in a new and deeper way. Each time we are undone by His ever-surprising goodness and what He is doing in us and the rest of the congregation with His loving presence!
Gil and Tamar Afriat are pastors of Congregation Tiferet Yeshua, a Messianic Jewish Hebrew-language congregation in downtown Tel Aviv.
The worship at Tiferet Yeshua is truly something unique and amazing. It is, and was, exactly what I had been longing for in my spirit. For a few years after moving to Israel, I believed that maybe there just wasn’t a place in the country where one could find deep Spirit-led worship.
I had experienced deep times of worship at a few different house gatherings, but never at any official congregation or congregational function. I attributed the difficulty to press through to the tense spiritual atmosphere in Israel and possibly a spirit of religion that one seems to run into everywhere here. That was until I started regularly attending Tiferet Yeshua.
The minute you step into a worship service at Tiferet Yeshua, it is impossible not to notice that something is different. The team leading and the congregation join together in a beautiful unity to seek the same thing: the heart of the Father. You can sense that the yearning to disregard all else and be in God’s presence is shared by the majority (if not all) of believers present. The leaders, congregation, and the worship team all demonstrate a wonderful openness to what the Spirit of God wants to do (or communicate) in that particular moment.
All of this is not by accident. It is not by chance that one breaks through all the mental and spiritual barriers to get to a place where worship flows so easily from our hearts, and the love of God runs so generously to those present—to the point that you can almost tangibly feel it.
Speaking with those in leadership confirmed what I felt in my spirit: this is the result of months of intense prayer and intercession. Their prayers and spiritual warfare paved the way for us to be able to break through so easily and for God to move in an even greater way in our services, and for His voice to be heard even more clearly.
I believe that it’s not just some of the best worship in the country, but it is some of the most intimate and beautiful times of worship one can experience in the world. While worshiping Abba at Tiferet I have been blessed to experience Abba’s love in deeper and deeper ways, and hear Him speak clearly to my heart. It is also a blessing to see how God speaks to our congregation and uses each of us to minister to each other. I am so incredibly thankful for the privilege and gift of being able to take part in what God is doing through our worship of Him at Tiferet Yeshua.
J Street was established in the U.S. in 2008 as the first-ever federal political action committee (PAC), which describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” promoting American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Operated by liberal America Jews, J Street is a virulently anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda machine, founded by Jeremy Ben-Ami with money from virulently anti-Israel billionaire George Soros.
George Soros gives billions to left-wing causes. He has manipulated U.S.A. presidential election outcomes with his resources, including giving $23.58 million to some 527 groups dedicated to defeating then President George W. Bush in 2004. He then financially jump-started former president Barack Obama’s political career.
Soros is also lavish in his financial support for the pro-abortion organization, Planned Parenthood. In statements that can only be described as “bizarre,” George Soros has repeatedly said that he sees himself as a “messianic figure.”
J Street’s founding Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami is a former domestic policy adviser in the Clinton Administration. Ben-Ami refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He was accused of being a serial liar when despite his repeated denials, anti-Israeli George Soros was exposed as one of his major contributors. Meanwhile, co-founder Daniel Levy has described Israel’s creation as “an act that went wrong.”
Pro-Israel sources have commented that the tone set by J Street’s leadership is to “manipulate history and reality with dangerous rhetoric.” J Street’s approach has been described as being “arrogant and paternalistic” with its leaders having the chutzpah (audacity) to claim that they know better than Israelis what is good for Israel.
J Street collaborators have been sharply criticized for being out of touch with, or indifferent to, the existential threats Israel faces, ignorant of history and unwilling to grapple with the complexities of Israel’s situation—while comparing Israeli Jews to drug-addicted children who require “tough love” for their welfare.
MUSLIM ACTIVISTS SUPPORT J STREET
In addition to billionaire George Soros, among J Street’s list of major contributors is Richard Abdoo, a leader of the Arab Council; Wagih Abu-Rish of the Arab American Institute; Magdi Badawy, a Stop the Occupation activist; Nidal Ayyat from Dharam, Saudi Arabia; Farhan Bhatti, PR Director for the Islamic Center.
Also Genevieve Lynch, board member of the National Iranian American Council (ousted as a lobbying group for the mullahs), who is on J Street’s finance committee and contributed $10,000 to it. There’s also Nancy Dutton, an attorney who once represented the Saudi Embassy in Washington.
And then there is Mehmet Celebi, the former President of the Turkish American Cultural Association, who co-produced the viciously anti-American Valley of the Wolves: a 2006 film that depicts a Jewish-American doctor harvesting organs from prisoners in Iraq.
It is estimated that 50% of J Street’s budget comes from outside the U.S.A., from sources who are known for their anti-Israel stances.
Among other facts to note concerning J Street is that ahead of a crucial congressional vote to either ratify or block the Iran deal, J Street in July 2015 took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times supporting calls to Congress to refrain from “sabotaging” the Iranian nuclear agreement.
We continue to see the bitter fruits of the Iran deal, including the Islamic Republic’s ongoing threats to destroy Israel. Sadly, the dangerous J Street organization, which claims to be pro-Israel, is making many converts in synagogues and on college campuses across America.
J STREET WORKS HAND IN HAND WITH BREAKING THE SILENCE
Last spring, J Street, at Washington University, held a two-day event featuring the foreign-funded leftist NGO “Breaking the Silence” with the Anti-Defamation League joining in the event.
According to J Street’s Facebook page, “Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the [so called] Occupied Territories.”
In fact, Breaking the Silence is guilty of espionage against the IDF, and has consistently refused the IDF’s demands to turn over to its authorities the evidence the NGO has accumulated. Instead, Breaking the Silence has chosen to provide the information to international bodies. In January 2017, Breaking the Silence publicized a video claiming that “stabbing an IDF soldier is not a terror attack.” (Arutz-7) They regularly publish “crimes” of IDF soldiers by anonymous sources.
EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS’ BIG DONORS
For years, J Street has received funds from numerous western European countries who are openly anti-Semitic, regularly slander Israel, and vote in the UN to recognize Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria as belonging exclusively to Muslim Arabs. Their goals synchronize with the goals of Breaking the Silence, which are to help the Palestinians establish an Islamic State in Judea and Samaria.
Obviously, in every war zone wrong deeds are committed by every nation in the world, including Israel; however, there is no comparison between the moral ethics of the Muslim fighters and the Israel Defense Forces. The Israeli people are extremely proud of the purity of arms taught and demanded by Israel’s military leaders. The IDF is often called “the most moral army in the world” by Israel’s leaders, and our own military men and women.
But its enemies are countless—both inside and outside.
Please intercede that J Street leaders, their destructive propaganda and agenda for the Jewish state, and their anti-Israel financial backers will be exposed and defeated.
Barry and Batya Segal founded Vision for Israel, which provides aid to the poor and needy people, both Jewish and Arab in Israel through The Joseph Storehouse, an international humanitarian aid center near Jerusalem. www.visionforisrael.com
Today, many believers in the world not only don’t understand why they should stand with and support Israel, but openly take a stand against her.
Is our little country perfect? Of course not! But perfection was never a prerequisite for God’s love.
Quite the contrary! But that does not preclude God’s command to every true believer to stand with Israel, love Israel, pray for the Jewish people and support Israel.
REASONS TO STAND WITH ISRAEL
• The Lord commands us to do it!
The Word of God also commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Psalm 122) Jerusalem is not an imaginary place. It is the capital of Israel—the ancient country and the modern State. It is referred to as the “city of the Great King” (Psalm 48:2, Matthew 5:35) and it is where Yeshua, our Messiah is returning to reign.
• God loves the Jewish people, and gave salvation to everyone through them.
In his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, Yeshua says, “We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)
• The future of the world depends on it. For us, for our families, for our friends, for our nations—Israel’s salvation is the key, and the Gentiles have an instrumental role in that salvation.
It is through the Jewish people that Yeshua came to this world, and it is because of their rejection [to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy] that the Gentiles (the nations) received salvation (Romans 11:11). In other words, God loved the Jewish people so much, that even when they rejected them, He devised a plan to redeem them still—through provocation to jealousy by saving the Gentiles. (Romans 11:11)
If salvation came through the Jewish people because of their rejection of the Messiah, the writer of the book of Romans says, “… what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15)
The Jewish leaders rejected the Messiah when he came to give His life for our sins. Multitudes of Jews followed Him and believed in Him, but the authorities, in their corruption, did not understand what was happening. Yet the promise of the Scripture is “All Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26) This national salvation will be a turning point for the entire world in a capacity never seen before, as Israel’s appointed destiny is to be light and blessing to the world.
• The promise of blessing.
Freda Lindsay, former co-founder of Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX, addressed the student body at the beginning of each semester. Her first question to the students was, “Who wants to be blessed?” Naturally, the entire auditorium raised their hands. Her next question was, “Who wants to be cursed?” No hands went up. She then quoted the Lord’s promise to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you [the great nation God will make out of Abraham], and curse those who curse you.” (Genesis 12:3)
Israel is that nation of the promise. It has always been, it is now, and it will always remain so. Just as parents discipline their children when they misbehave, but the children remain their children forever, so the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob disciplined the children of Israel when they forsook Him. Nevertheless, Israel is still God’s firstborn, His chosen, and His promises to her—including that of Genesis 12:3—are forever.
The rest of the verse in Genesis 12 says, “… and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
• Yeshua’s return is directly linked to Israel’s salvation.
For generations, believers all around the world have been anticipating Yeshua’s second coming. What many fail to realize is that Yeshua’s return is directly linked to Israel’s salvation. He will return as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, as the King of Israel—and He will only return when the people of Israel cry out, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”
God loves His firstborn so much, that He chose to return for the final chapter of this earth only when the Jewish people cry out for Him and call on His Name.
If you are looking forward to Yeshua’s Second Coming, when the world as we know it will change, you will want to stand with Israel. Today more than ever before, you can help us spread the Good News of Yeshua’s love to the Jewish people who are being awakened, whose eyes are being opened, and whose hearts are being changed.