The Sign of Israel's Blooming
I found the attitude of the Israelis hopeful and even joyful.
Young male and female Israeli soldiers are everywhere, brandishing their M-16’s and courteously yet diligently manning their posts while they deal with the ever-present threat of suicide bombers and terrorist strikes. They are proud to serve their country, fully aware of the risks. While we were there in March, a terrorist came out of East Jerusalem and machine-gunned Yeshiva students from a Jerusalem seminary while they were enjoying lunch. Seven were killed; thirty five were wounded. It shocked the nation again but only further hardened their resolve.
But in contrast to the continual threat of violence, fruit trees are blooming everywhere, wheat is growing, and farmers are plowing and cultivating their fields and tower cranes dot the skylines of the cities. It is especially so in Jerusalem where high-rise apartments and new shopping malls are springing up in all the new neighborhoods. And then there is the Wailing Wall, which is a 24/7 prayer meeting with Orthodox Rabbis and young Yeshiva students and other devout Jews praying fervently for the Messiah.
For the most part, all is quiet on the temple mount. Tourists are allowed to visit reverently but are no longer allowed to enter the mosques. Orthodox Jews refuse to go up on it; nor would they be welcome. There is a tense peace there, as the Muslim police patrol their sacred sites. While the Palestinian areas including Jericho, Hebron and Gaza are off limits to tourists, we did visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, two important cities for Christians, which now have a Muslim majority. Christian Arabs, who are caught in the middle of the conflict, are choosing to emigrate.
Just outside Bethlehem, the Israelis have erected a 50 foot high wall and checkpoint, a testimony to how serious the conflict really is. Once we arrived inside, the vendors there are delighted to see tourists, displaying a vast assortment of postcards, flutes, stuffed camels and drinking water. You can see the desperation in their eyes, as they are feeling the squeeze of isolation and containment.
Thankfully there are Christian people like Karen Dunham of Living Bread International, whoare working in the refugee camps in Bethlehem, Jericho and Hebron who are bringing help in the form of milk, food and relief to these precious people who are losing all hope and now are becoming more open than ever to the gospel of love and the Bibles which she brings them. The Holy Spirit and the message of soaking in His Presence are breaking through.
I sensed a new level of tolerance among Israelis to the influence of evangelical Christians who love Israel. They are realizing that we are perhaps the only friends that Israel has in the entire world. There remains the tension which exists between Israelis and Messianic Jewish believers who are increasing in the nation, and they are not quiet about their belief in Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel. Many of them really love the River of God’s presence and love to ‘soak in the Spirit’ for boldness and grace.
There are many of congregations of them throughout Israel. We met them in Tiberius, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Beersheba, and Arad. They speak Russian, Spanish, Hebrew and English. They are asking questions like, “Why does Rabbinical Judaism accept a heretical group that is promoting a false messiah, like Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), but which ostracizes Jews who believe in Yeshua?” Or “Why is it OK for a Jew to be a Communist, an atheist, a New Ager or even a Hindu? These can still retain their ‘Jewishness’ but cannot if they believe in Jesus?”
The strong prejudice that exists against Christianity is rooted in the Holocaust and in centuries of persecution and anti-Semitism, often carried out in the name of Christ. A visit to the Holocaust Museum is a shocking reminder of the brutal systematic killing of six million of their people, whose only crime was ‘being Jewish.’ It happened just over 60 years ago, in a so called Christian nation.
RISING RELIGIOUS FERVOR
Religious fervor in Israel is increasing. More and more Jews are taking their religion seriously, and Jerusalem’s population is now about seventy percent Orthodox Jews. There is serious talk of rebuilding the temple one day soon. Much of the necessary furniture is already prepared. A huge, new solid gold menorah now sits in a thick, glass protective case facing the Temple mount as if to say, “I am ready to shine my light in the temple again as soon as it is ready.”
What will it take for Israel to finally recognize Jesus as their true Messiah? It will take supernatural revelation! And indeed, some encouraging signs are appearing. One sign is a report that an old, beloved rabbi, Yitzchak Kaduri, who died in Israel on January 28, 2006 at the age of 108, left a sealed note not to be opened until one year after his death. The note, which was opened around February 1, 2007, revealed the identity of the Messiah of Israel.
His grandson, also a rabbi says that during his later years, Rabbi Kaduri, who spent his life praying for the Messiah, received a dream in which the Messiah of Israel appeared to him saying that He was coming soon. Although the grandson insists that the note must be a forgery, the message in the sealed envelope contained Hebrew words indicating that the Messiah is Jesus.
The note reads:
“Yarim Ha’Am Veyokhiakh Shedvaro Vetorato Omdi” He will lift the people and prove that his word and law are valid. This I have signed in the month of mercy, Yitzhak Kaduri . . .
The first letters for the words in the Hebrew sentence are the acronym for Yehoshua, Jesus. (See http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=128&view=item&idx=1347)
Like Joseph, the type of Jesus in the Old Testament, Jesus can no longer restrain Himself from revealing Himself to His brothers.
Gen. 45:1 "Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. Gen. 45:2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. Gen. 45:3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence." (NKJV)
SIGN OF THE ALMOND BLOSSOMS
Another sign happened this spring, an unusual abundance of almond blossoms. Our friends, Benjamin and Reuben Burger, long time residents of Jerusalem commented that no one could ever remember seeing such an abundance of almond blossoms. They were like confetti sprinkling and beautifying the streets and pathways. The almond is a prophetic sign to Israel. Aaron’s rod that budded and sprouted almonds is an ancient symbol to Israel that God will fulfill His word. The Hebrew word for almond is shaqed which is similar to the word for “watching.”
Jer. 1:11-12 The word of the LORD came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” (shaqed)
Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching (shaqad) over My word to perform it.” (NAS)
Could it be that this abundance of almond flowers, the first of the flowering trees in the land to blossom in spring, is a sign that the Lord is drawing very near, to watch over and perform His promises to Israel?
The church is learning to love and enjoy His Presence prioritizing it as of the utmost importance to provide the power and boldness to share the Gospel of His Kingdom and also to fortify your inner man and remain focused on the issues of the heart.
What God is doing for us in Toronto seems much clearer viewing it in the context of what God is doing in Israel and around the world, He is preparing the Church. The Lord wants to bring you into His intimate presence to be strengthened by the depth of that relationship. May the almond flowers fall on you, and give you a fresh sense of His Presence drawing very near to you, the Church, the bride of Christ.