26 October 2017

Going Full Circle

by Karen Gower

I just had the incredible privilege of being in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles this October. This is one of the three feasts of the Lord where God commanded His people to leave their homes and come up to His city to worship Him at His Temple and still today, many Jewish people and Christians alike, make the pilgrimage to attend family gatherings, conferences and various religious ceremonies. This year was no different and the city was full and bustling, heaving with waves of worshippers flocking into the churches and synagogues. Normally it pays to avoid Jerusalem at such a busy time, but I had felt an urgency to be there and assist at a unique event titled ‘Welcoming the King of Glory’.

 Around 2000 years ago, the good news of Jesus began to filter out from Jerusalem and into Judea and Samaria….and eventually to the ends of the earth. It was a vision held in the hearts of several different leaders in the South Pacific Islands, including New Zealand, Samoa, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Hawaii, to return to Jerusalem from the ‘ends of the earth’ to present their thanks and worship to Jesus, the King of Glory, from where the Gospel started! After sharing with some of the local leaders, an invitation was given by the Israeli Pastors to the nations, to come and welcome the King of Glory in Jerusalem as Jewish and Gentile believers together, the ‘one new man’ Paul spoke so clearly about in Ephesians chapter 2! And come they did! We had expected about 600 people but nearly 1000 attended. Every continent was represented, with indigenous groups coming from North America, East Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Middle East.

Procession and protocol from New Calendonia
The event spanned 4 days with 6 meetings and at each meeting one or two of the indigenous groups would present themselves with their unique protocols, bringing music and song, dance, language, traditional costume and gifts. It was an amazing and incredible sight, to see the nations come and present themselves before the Lord and also to their Jewish brothers, giving honour and respect to the people God chose to be a light to the nations and to be the ones that brought forth the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One - Jesus! At different times the place would erupt with incredible praise as we all joined in worshipping the King of Kings through each group’s unique culture. To me it was a picture of how heaven might be - the word will go out, ‘It’s Bolivia’s turn today!’ or ‘India is going to process before the King! Let’s go up and see!’ How incredible it will be to witness and participate in such exuberant worship and adoration, to enjoy the cultures, languages and styles of all the people groups on earth as they present themselves to God!
The nations worship the King of Glory!

Aside from assisting with practicalities, I was also asked to join a couple of the worship teams. The meetings were hosted by the Israelis and worship was in Hebrew and English so it was a delight and honour to worship again with the local Congregation I used to work with. As we led the people during the final gathering, an hour into it, the people began to come forward with gifts they had brought to Israel. These were not gifts of thanks or protocol for the people of the Land - no, this time they were gifts for the Lord! As we continued to worship, the people filed past leaving their gifts on the platform, hand crafted gifts, items made with great care, time and expense, specific to their cultures, all being laid before the Lord. As the mountain of offerings grew larger and larger, I wondered if this was how it was when the people used to bring their gifts to the Tabernacle and the Temple and how it will be when at last we will literally come before the King of Kings and lay our crowns before Him!

The sense of God’s glory was tangible at various times throughout the gathering and I sensed it was a Kairos moment where God’s eternity touched our timeline, something ordained in Heaven for His divine and sovereign purpose. Please continue to pray for the Jewish and Arab Body of Messiah in Israel. The good news of Yeshua, Jesus, truly has gone full circle and is reaping a harvest once again in the Land from which it started!

Watch Karen share her experience of 'Welcome the King of Glory'. If you can't see the above video: CLICK HERE

12 October 2017

Yad Hashmona: A Messianic Village, Country Hotel & Conference Centre

Nestled in the beautiful Judean hills about 20 minutes drive from Jerusalem, Yad Hashmona is a unique community of Jewish and Gentile followers of Yeshua (Jesus), based on a shared faith, a vision for the future of Israel, and an ideal retreat from which to explore the Holy Land.

During the late 1960s, many young adults from around the world, came to volunteer in Kibbutzim in the land of Israel. They worked primarily in agriculture, in orange groves, on dairy farms, and lived together with Israelis, eating in the communal dining rooms and exploring the land.

A small group of Finnish volunteers, felt called to establish a Kibbutz of their own in Israel. In 1971 the cooperative was created with the purpose of being a living example of God’s love to His people and their land. Under miraculous circumstances, and against all odds, they received personal permission from Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel to establish their own community in a small, abandoned military outpost in the Judean hills. In 1974, the group finally settled at the location. They sold all their possessions in Finland and brought the money to be used in the funding of building the new communal village. The name of the settlement means ‘Memorial to the Eight’ and was named after eight Jewish refugees who were handed over to the Nazis during World War II by Finland.

It wasn’t long before the first Israelis joined the group: young Jewish families who believed in Yeshua, native speakers of Hebrew, with the vision to settle the land, and with faith that God would do something special through this place. Together, this small group began building the community. They built homes, a guest house, a residential area, volunteers quarters, and set up the infrastructure of the new village.

Today, Yad Hashmona is a growing community of believers in Yeshua. The property is also home to the Yad Hashmona Country Hotel and restaurant, a Biblical Garden, a bakery, stables, and various ministry offices, and the homes of business professionals, artists, historians, and multiple tour guides of various languages. A year or so ago, Yad Hashmona granted permission for 36 new Israeli families to build homes on their land. All the families are followers of Yeshua and this new development begins a new chapter in the life of this special community,

“As we grow, we look forward to more people coming and experiencing life with us here at Yad Hashmona, either as hotel guests, activity participants, volunteers, or visitors.”  Yad8

“Our Country Hotel is surrounded by beautiful views of the evergreen Judean Hills and the Mediterranean coastal plain. The Hotel’s unique Finnish- Scandinavian flavour, combined with the biblical land of Israel, promises you an unforgettable stay in the Holy Land! The Yad Hashmona Country Hotel and our community, welcome you to stay with us!”

Having stayed here several times, we can certainly confirm that the location is stunning and this really is a hidden gem, situated off the beaten track away from the busy tourist centres. The Scandinavian style wooden log cabins are an unusual style for Israel and the ones with balconies offer a gorgeous view. A huge Israeli style buffet breakfast is served in the restaurant with a chef on hand to cook fresh eggs to your taste. The staff and volunteers are friendly and helpful. There are also several different style meeting rooms available making this a great location for a conference.

The biblical garden was constructed with the vision and purpose of giving visitors a glimpse into the spiritual, physical, and agricultural world of the Bible. It displays a variety of biblical plants and trees as well as a reconstructed ancient wine press, an olive oil press, a “Mikve” (ritual bath), a burial cave with rolling stone, an agricultural watchtower, a Galilean-type synagogue, and a Bedouin tent.

The biblical garden is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon while visiting Israel. The guides of the Garden take visitors through a 45 minute journey of Biblical stories such as Ruth and Boaz, the arc of the covenant’s journey to Jerusalem, spiritual symbolism, and the parables of the New Testament. It is a wonderful opportunity to grow in a deeper understanding of the Biblical text in a beautifully landscaped location.

Visitors are also welcome to sit and enjoy the sunset with an amazing view over the plains towards Tel Aviv. Guided tours are available in various languages upon request from the Yad Hashmona Country Hotel.

An international group of believers also serve alongside the Yad Hashmona community. They help out in the restaurant, the guesthouse, security, maintenance, or other tasks within the community (regular work weeks are approximately 40 hours in varying shifts). If you are aged 18-40, volunteering is one of the best ways to discover the amazing cultural and natural diversity that is found in the land of Israel. You will work side by side with young believers from around the world. Yad Hashmona will provided food and lodging for the duration of your stay (usually three or six months) and you get time off to travel and even a little pocket money. Get more info about volunteering at Yad Hashmona here.

Yad Hashmona nestles next to the towns of Abu Gosh and Neve Ilan and it is in this area that the ancient biblical site of Kiryat Ye’arim was located. It was here that the Ark of the Covenant rested for 20 years before King David transported it to Jerusalem. You can read the story in 1 Chronicles 13 “So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from KIRYAT YE’ARIM...”

for more info: yad8.com

05 October 2017

Simchat Torah: Rejoicing in the Word

Did you know that the whole Torah is read every year in Jewish synagogues around the world?  

The Torah is the collective name of the first five books of Moses: Genesis (Hebrew name: Beresheet); Exodus (Shemot); Leviticus (Vayikra); Numbers (BaMidbar) and Deuteronomy (D’varim). The Torah is divided into portions called ‘Parasha’ that are read consecutively in the synagogues during the weekly Shabbat (Saturday) service. The annual reading cycle finishes and then begins afresh on Simchat Torah. In the Diaspora (Jewish communities outside of Israel), Simchat Torah often follows the eighth day of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) but in Israel and in many Reform congregations, Simchat Torah celebrations are held on the eight day of Sukkot combining the two celebrations.  

The main celebration of Simchat Torah takes place in the synagogue. The Torah scroll is taken out of the ‘Ark’ - a special cabinet, often highly decorated, that holds and protects the scrolls. When the Ark is opened and the Torah scroll brought out, the worshippers leave their seats and dance and sing with the Torah scroll in a joyous processional celebration. 

The last Parasha (portion) of Deuteronomy and the first Parasha of Genesis are read aloud on Simchat Torah, beginning the cycle of readings once again. 

PARASHAT HA-SHAVUAH (Torah Portion of the Week)


The Torah is divided up into ‘Parasha’ (which is Hebrew for ‘portion or section’). The title is taken from the first word or two of each portion in the original Hebrew. A Parasha is read each week in synagogue services around the world.  Each Parasha reading includes related passages called ‘Haftarah’. Messianic Congregations also follow the Parashat HaShavuah (Portion of the Week) and add additional passages from the New Testament. Here is the Parashat HaShavuah reading plan up until Hanukkah 2017. As you read each passage, pray for the Jewish synagogues that will be reading and studying the same bible passage. Pray that Yeshua will reveal himself as Messiah through the pages of the scriptures. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword...” Hebrews 4:12