20 April 2017

Rehearsing History - Yom HaShoah

Genocide is not a new addition to humanity’s history, yet during World War II there was a particularly dark episode, unusually marked by its methodical, systematic and efficient annihilation of any person with Jewish roots.  We know it as the Holocaust and Yom HaShoah is its memorial day – remembering the genocide of the Jews.  In Israel, it is commemorated on the Hebrew calendar on 27th day of Nissan, being 24th April this year.

Remembering history seems to be a key to not repeating its catastrophes.  The biblical history of Israel is a good example of mistakes being repeated over and over, despite attempts by their leaders, judges, and prophets to keep their national history in the forefront of the Israelite’s minds and decisions.  It was as the people of Egypt forgot about Joseph, that they turned on the Israelites and enslaved them.  And likewise, it was as generations passed in Israel and they forgot about the exploits the Lord had done to bring them out of Egypt, that they found themselves in disarray and far from the Promise.  Perhaps Moses understood this principle of remembering, when he recounted the story of the Exodus and the desert wanderings of the Israelites in Deuteronomy, and again when he gave the strict instructions for remembering the Passover ‘as a sign and reminder’.  Maybe Deborah and Barak understood this when they wrote a song about their victory over Sisera for the people to sing.  Perhaps David understood this when he penned Psalm 1, instructing us to meditate on God’s word day and night.  Did young King Josiah understand this when he started his national reformations by reading all the scriptures aloud to remind the people where they had come from and who they were?  Perhaps this is what God had in mind when he said, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,  so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

There is something very important about rehearsing history.  Yom HaShoah is set aside as a time to remember the Jewish genocide during World War II in Europe.  But there are not so many left today who can remember.  Of the Jewish minority that survived the Holocaust, there are around 500,000 left with us, about 200,000 of which are living in Israel today.  According to statistics from Helping Hand Coalition, on average, their number is reduced every 15 minutes or so, and it is estimated that within 5 years their numbers will be halved.

Your People My People actively supports the work of Helping Hand Coalition, working with Holocaust survivors in Israel, providing essential aid and assistance to these elderly people.  They are also collecting their stories.  Their histories are being rehearsed, their stories are being listened to and even recorded.  Why?  Perhaps so we can hear them, know them, remember them, and not be complacent enough to see them repeated.

And you too can be involved in this process.  Besides being able to invest financially, you can also become a listening ear to those with similar stories to tell.  Are there elderly Holocaust survivors in your community that need a listening ear, a witness to their story? Maybe you have Jewish work colleagues whose grandparents or parents were survivors or victims during WWII who would be happy to share their accounts?  In the season of Yom HaShoah, when millions of Jewish people remember the holocaust, perhaps this is an opportunity to help them rehearse their history, so that we may never repeat it.

11 April 2017

The Sacrifice Lamb

The week long Feast of Passover started yesterday evening.

Jewish families all over the world sat down to a Passover Meal as they have for thousands of years. Since Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt, Passover has been celebrated each year and the traditions passed on to each generation.

During the traditional Passover Seder Meal, the youngest child asks the question: "Why is this night different to other nights?" And the answer is unfolded throughout the evening in the story of the exodus from Egypt. God told each Hebrew family to sacrifice a lamb and place the blood on the sides and lintel of the doorway so that the angel of death would pass over and spare the family. The shed blood of the sacrifice lamb saved them.

Each year at Passover, Jewish families are reminded that God is the one who rescued them and brought them into freedom. As they reenact ancient history, it is personalized afresh in the present. The God who said to their ancestors: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Exodus 20:2), says it also today in their generation. Four cups of wine, named after God's actions in Deuteronomy 26:5-10, form a framework for the Passover Seder: Sanctification (I will bring you out); Deliverance (I will deliver you); Redemption (I will redeem you); Restoration (I will take you as my people).

It was the Passover Seder meal that Yeshua (Jesus) was celebrating with his disciples in Jerusalem that came to be known as the Last Supper. As he led the disciples through the Passover Seder, he took the elements that were already so full of symbolism and added a whole new depth to their significance. So mind-blowing a significance that it would usher in a paradigm shift that would change everything forever. His own blood would be poured out for their redemption. He would be the Sacrifice Lamb to rescue them not just from slavery in a physical Egypt but from a spiritual Egypt that would set them free for all time. Just as in the deliverance from Egypt, God would reach out to sanctify, deliver, redeem and restore a people set apart to worship him and he had sent his own son to be the Lamb.

"The Sacrifice Lamb has been slain.
His blood on the altar a stain.
To wipe away guilt and pain.
To bring hope eternal.
Salvation has come to the world.
God's only son for the world.
Jesus the One for the world. Yeshua is he. "
(The Sacrifice Lamb by Joel Chernoff)

For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed!

06 April 2017

Hope for Israel and the Middle East

We have been so encouraged to witness how the Lord has been pouring out his Spirit on Israeli Arab youth.  The Lord is raising up a powerhouse of intercessory prayer warriors. With hearts open to see the Lord move among their Jewish and Arab friends, these young people are making a difference in the spiritual realm. 

In November last year, the land of Israel was ravaged by a series of wildfires many of which were started by arsonists with a political agenda against Israel. A combination of very dry ground and strong winds caused these many small fires to grow into huge conflagrations burning out of control for many days. Whole communities were evacuated, including 75,000 from the city of Haifa.

By the fifth day, 180 people had been injured, 560 houses had been burned and acres of beautiful forests had been destroyed that could take 30 years to restore. Israeli and Palestinian firefighters worked together to the point of exhaustion day after day, but nothing seemed to quell the fires.

At HOPE (House of Prayer and Exploits) in Nazareth, young Arab believers, recognising this as a spiritual attack over the land, mobilised themselves for 28 hours of continuous prayer and intercession at the House of Prayer. They cried out for God’s mercy in this fight against the wildfires and for rain to come and drench the dry land.

They built a prophetic altar with stones engraved with new names and decrees for the Land taken from Isaiah 62 and proclaimed God’s blessings over Israel.

The young believers also committed to praying every morning at 6am during the crisis and set up a WhatsApp group on their mobile phones to encourage each other to persevere and to share what the Lord was saying to them.

After days of terror, the fire quietened, rain began to fall and the firefighters were able to bring it under control.

Our hearts were so encouraged to hear how these young people not only have passion for Jesus to be Lord of their lives, but to see him as Lord of their nation. Not just a nice sentiment but a concept they own by putting practical action to their heart’s desires. Would that all the young people in each of our nations have this kind of passion to see God’s Kingdom come!

12 promises for Israel from Isaiah 62 - 'Your Salvation is coming!' is the one at the front.


"We just finished the youth conference with 140 Arab youth last night. I have not seen that level of anointing on a group of millennial's anywhere that I saw on them. God is really raising up an army of young people here in Israel in the Arab community. I fell in love with them and I had an amazing time... Rania Sayegh is doing an amazing job pulling both the youth and women of the the nation together. The Holy Spirit just fell on them and they start weeping, shaking, totally overcome. When you see that level of the Holy Spirit moving upon the young people and within them there is amazing hope for the nation. And how amazing that that level of God's presence is on the Arab youth. That generation is going to shake the world and usher in the greatest global awakening. It's already happening here in the Middle East but there is much more to be done. How encouraging, how exciting, how faith building!”  

Barbara Yoder, leader of Breakthrough Apostolic Ministries Network (BAMN)
HOPE Youth Conference, Jerusalem - February 2017