Shalom from Tel Aviv!
I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. (Zech. 12:2)
In the middle of the night, the archeologists dug out a couple of feet of dirt. It was the end of a tunnel that Israelis had been working on since 1967, a tunnel which uncovered the buried foundations of Judaism's sacred Western Wall. By opening up an exit at the far end, tourists could enter the tunnel near the exposed part of the Western Wall where thousands of people pray daily, and exit on the Via Dolorosa, the street where Yeshua dragged His cross on the way to His death. And that's how the latest war began. Perhaps a mini-war, but war it was, with two armies shooting at each other for three days over a hole in Jerusalem.
What's the big deal? A very big deal. The Jews were digging a hole in the city claimed by the Moslems. Never mind that the hole was about 800 feet from any Moslem holy place. Never mind that the tourists walking out of the tunnel would have been good for Arab tourism trade. Never mind that the tunnel actually exited on the grounds of a Catholic school.
On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. (Zech. 12:3)
The one and only question was and is: To whom does Jerusalem belong? Fourteen Israelis and 59 Palestinians paid with their lives over this question. And you can believe that Jerusalem will continue to be the number one question in the Middle East until the Messiah comes.
Summarizing one columnist: The past is dangerous for Palestinians whose consciousness as a people dates back at most about 50 years. Therefore it is understandable if they are afflicted with a fear we might call "archaeologophobia". For every new excavation in the ancient City of David only reconfirms the inevitable fact: Jerusalem was made the capital of the Jewish nation in 1000 B.C. Since then it has never, not even once, served as the capital of any other people. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 6, 1996)
The Palestinian nation then, which has never been a nation, not only wants to divide up the inheritance of Israel for itself, it wants the Old City of Jerusalem, the ancient City of David, as the capital of the god of Mohammed.
On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness, declares the LORD. I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but l will blind all the horses of the nations. (Zech 12:4)
Thus when this hole in the ground appeared, the Palestinians went into action. Thirty thousand Palestinian policeman instantly became the Palestinian Armed Forces. Israel's former Labor government had armed them with automatic weapons and rifles--not usual equipment for policemen. The idea was that the Palestinian police were to keep the Hamas and other terrorist groups under control. The Palestinians even conducted joint patrols with Israeli soldiers.
That day, the Palestinian Armed Forces turned their weapons on Israeli soldiers and civilians. One wounded soldier whom Netanyahu visited in the hospital told the Prime Minister that he recognized the Palestinian sharpshooter who shot him as the policeman who had conducted a joint patrol with him the day before. (Ibid. Sept. 30)
Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, 'The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.' (Zech. 12:5)
But Israel's problems in the fall of 1996 are not only the Palestinians. Consider this: Israel's supposed closest Arab ally is King Hussein of Jordan who comes from the Hashemite family. They claim to be descendants of the prophet Mohammed, and took great pride in their custodianship of Islam's two most holy cities, Mecca and Medina. But Ibn Saud, founder of Saudi Arabia, wrested the cities from Hussein's great grandfather even though he had laid claim to the spiritual leadership of the Moslem world.
"Understandably, a family that derives much of its legitimacy from its religious ascendancy was deeply loath to lose its influence [to Arafat] also over the holy shrines of Islam's third most holy city: Jerusalem." (Ibid., Oct. 11, 1996) Therefore Israel must seek to accommodate the Palestinians and King Hussein, both of whom have set up their own separate municipal authorities governing the Moslem shrines on the Temple Mount.
On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place. (Zech. 12:6)
At this moment, there are vested interests in keeping the calm, says Barry Rubin, a senior resident scholar at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv. Netanyahu has inherited what he has inherited. Nevertheless, he wants to try to continue the peace process, as there is no doubt who will be blamed if the process collapses.
Continues Rubin: Arafat, for his part, doesn't want to lose everything by having Israel dismantle the Palestinian Authority, so he will probably keep the violence down to what he feels he can get away with. Furthermore, says Rubin, "The Arab-Israeli process is the largest, and arguably the only, foreign policy achievement of the Clinton administration. A failure would be blamed squarely on the incompetence of the US as sponsor and host, and the American position in the region would deteriorate." (Ibid.,Oct. 4, 1996) .
Nevertheless, in order for the Palestinians to make peace, they are demanding two things--a Palestinian State in the land of Judea and Samaria, and the ancient city of Jerusalem as their capital. Since Netanyahu sees such concessions as a death knell to the State of Israel, there will be no final status agreement in 1999, and in fact, according to Rubin, we are heading toward a dead end. "Thanks to the Oslo framework's cleverly-devised structure, however, we still have about three years before we smack up against that wall." (Ibid. Oct. 4, 1996)
The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem's inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. (Zech. 12:7)
Even if the Palestinian issue were settled, which it will not be, there are two central imminent threats in the Middle East that are all-pervading and involve the entire world. Our Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai says it like it is:
"There are two central dangers in the Middle East. One is extreme Islamic fundamentalism, which has no boundaries. One of its goals is Israel, but they also target the whole Western world. The second thing which endangers the world, and certainly Israel, is the ability of nations like Iran and Iraq to get nuclear weapons.
". . .Imagine what would have happened if Iraq had nuclear weapons during the Gulf war. The other danger [for Israel] is the arming of Arab nations, with an emphasis on surface-to-surface missiles with large ranges of over 500 kilometers so they can fire at Israel from afar like in the Gulf war.
"Add to this all the weapons and troops in the area and you will understand that Israel exists on a volcano that it is trying to stabilize all the time." (Ibid. Oct. 11, 1996)
On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the LORD going before them. (Zech. 12:8)
Soon there will be a war over Jerusalem. Every believer that has read the prophets knows this. When Izhack Rabin and Shimon Peres came to power, many Israelis believed that if Israel would give up enough land, the Arabs would make peace with Israel. Christian leaders in the West noted how humane the face of Israel was becoming, and how the chances of peace were growing.
The Labor government under Rabin and Peres was ready to make peace for land. To begin with they armed 30,000 Palestinian "policemen". They told the dictator of Syria, Hafez Assad they would give him the entire Golan Heights down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee for his promise of peace. They were negotiating with Chairman Arafat to create a Palestinian state, and to give him the Old City of Jerusalem as his capital.
The only thing holding Rabin and Peres back was Israeli public opinion. Rabin and Peres were moving too fast for about 55% of the Jews. Rabin was assassinated, and the rest of the story is known--bus bomb terrorism, and Peres lost the election.
On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. (Zech. 12:9 )
Enter Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. He is a man who believes in God, and believes that the prophets of the Bible confirm what God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: that this land would belong to their descendants forever. The prophets foretell that in the last days God will return His people to this land. Netanyahu believes this.
However, Arafat does not. Neither does Syria's Hafez Assad. (Actually he believes that all of the Holy Land belongs to "greater Syria".) Certainly President Mubarak of Egypt does not. Even though Israel has managed to maintained a very cold peace with Egypt, Mubarak's army is now practicing war games near Israel's southern border "because of Israel's menacing war-like actions".(Ibid., Oct. 4, 1996)
Neither does the gentle King of Jordan, King Hussein--who all Israelis love to love--but who also has strong claims on Jerusalem. (At this moment he is very angry with Netanyahu for not coordinating the opening of the tunnel with him.) (Ibid. Oct. 11, 1996)
Our conclusion is that if Peres would have continued as Prime Minister, war would have been delayed. However when war did come, it would have been even more costly for Israel because of a full blown Palestinian army in the heart of Israel and on the doorstep of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Furthermore, Syria would have been able to attack Israel from the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zech. 12:10 )
But it is unfair and unreasonable to look to Netanyahu to bring peace to the Middle East. The Scriptures reveal that war is a result of the sins of a nation. (Read Deut. 28) War will come to Israel--as it will to all nations--because our people have not yet called on the name of the Lord.
To mention only one area of overt sin in our nation: Israel is a sewer for pornography--as I suspect most western nations are or are becoming. There are currently two issues involving an Israeli commercial TV station which are causing concern.
To quote the Jerusalem Post, "Sexually suggestive commercials on Channel 2 have raised the ire of feminists, various women's organization and a few religious groups, but by and large they remain on the air." (Ibid. Oct. 19, 1996)
The second issue, however, is so offensive that the Orthodox are up in arms about it. The chief rabbis and the education minister are all working to ban such abominable advertising. What is it? None other than McDonald's cheeseburgers. Since "cheeseburgers directly contravene Jewish dietary laws," the Orthodox are determined to ban a product so offensive to Orthodox moral sensitivities. (Oct. 17, 1996) Many secular Israelis feel Orthodox Judaism is bankrupt.
On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. (Zech. 13:1)
God's answer to war has always been the same:
If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins, and will heal their land. (II Chron. 7:14)
What are we to do?
We are active participants with Messiah in this last day scenario. We must reach all of Israel with the Good News.
Israelis must have the opportunity to HEAR. The extreme Orthodox have attempted to keep the Israeli population from hearing about Yeshua by intimidation and legal means. They do not want Israelis to know that the prophets spoke of His coming--both to die for our sins, and to reign as our King.
However, the Bible says all Israel shall be saved. (Rom 11:26) What an incredible promise! But how will that happen? We do not claim to know the hidden things of God. But those things that are revealed we do know. Here is a part of Yeshua's famous prophecy:
. . .you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
God is faithfully guarding His promises and is giving us a growing harvest. The anointing of God is increasing. More Israelis are being saved than ever before. We are now busy training leaders and new believers. Because of this harvest, we cannot at this time leave Israel to expand our financial base among our brothers and sisters in America and Europe, as there is not enough laborers here to take care of the new believers and the expanding work.
In order to continue growing at the rate we are, we must expand our financial base. We must pay our bills. You, our Maoz readers, are our support base and we are grateful for your support.
Those of you who have been our faithful partners are the extended hand of mercy towards the Israeli people. You are participating in the fulfillment of Scripture, as you well know, when you give them opportunity to receive salvation and become a disciple of the Lion of Judah!
If you have not been a regular supporter of what God is doing through Maoz in Israel, will you consider joining us in this end time harvest? Will you help us continue working in the harvest this month? We need you!
For the lost sheep of Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
The Police Investigate Us
This morning we were asked by our local police to come in for questioning. We have been accused of trying to convert children to Christianity without their parent's consent. The Attorney General has initiated this investigation at the demand of the head of a children’s protection government agency. The agency was initially contacted by the journalist who wrote the vicious article on the National Messianic Youth Conference that Maoz sponsored along with seven local congregational leaders last March.
This morning we were questioned for a couple of hours at the police station. They wanted to know the basics of what we believe and what is the difference between Messianic Judaism and Christianity. Because converting to Christianity means leaving one's heritage as a Jew, the police investigators questioned us carefully as to why we say that a Jew can believe in Yeshua without converting to Christianity.
We explained to them that our belief in Yeshua is based on Moses and the prophets, that Yeshua was born a Jew, and that He is "Ben David" a descendant of David. Therefore believing in Yeshua as Messiah is a Jewish belief.
We also explained about the lives of Messianic Jews in the land-- that they serve in the army, pay their taxes, celebrate the Biblical holidays, and are active in the call for "aliya"--the immigration of Jews to Israel. We explained that in general, Messianic Jews are hard working, law-abiding citizens of Israel. We told them that there are those who attempt to harass the
Messianic community and limit freedom of conscience and faith in this our democratic nation.
We also showed them the applications and medical permits from the parents of the children who attended the Youth Conference in March, 1996. As far as we know, there was no child who attended the Youth Conference without the permission of his /her parents. We do not know at this time what will be the outcome of this investigation. Please pray that
God will grant the following things with this investigation:
1. That His Name will be glorified.
2. That the work of the Kingdom of God will be furthered.
3. That this circumstance will help unite, and not divide, the Body of Messiah here in Israel.
4. That we will boldly preach the Good News under the anointing of the God's Spirit.