Building an Altar in Jerusalem - Part 1

Sounds of worship in Hebrew, Arabic, English praising the King of Kings, rose heavenwards from Jerusalem.  “How great is our God!”, sang the worship team, “Come, Jesus” - "Ta’al Yasua” (Arabic) - “Bo Yeshua” (Hebrew) - English, Hebrew and Arabic words intertwining, overlapping, complimenting each other.  Middle Eastern instruments played in tandem with Western instruments - a beautiful symphony of diversity and unity. 

This was the opening of ELAV youth conference that took place in Jerusalem last month - young believers in Jesus/Yeshua/Yasua coming together despite their differences, to worship the Lord on his Holy Mountain.

The worship team broke out into spontaneous praise in Hebrew and Arabic with the Middle Eastern and Western flavours joining and complimenting. Like a perfectly orchestrated dance, the singers and musicians worshipped back and forth between languages and cultures, encircling each other in music and drawing the participants closer together and upward towards the Lord.

Rick Ridings, the ‘Abba’ of this annual conference, took to the stage to open this year’s gathering. “A new sound is coming forth in the earth”, he proclaimed, “a new song, the song of love.” Jewish, Arab and International believers were coming with one voice to worship God together - the children of 
Abraham and the children of the nations standing side by side, with their eyes on the Lord. 

Rick recalled that in 2009, the ELAV conference was held outside. The rainy season had ended and the hot, arid summer months were upon them. One of the conference intercessors felt God was going to send rain, which would be very unusual for that time of year, as a sign of blessing. Out of concern for all the electrical equipment, they prayed that nothing would be damaged by the rain. That same year, Arab and Palestinian believers had started to come to ELAV to join with the Jewish believers. During the conference, Rick called the Arab and Palestinian believers forward to pray for them. As he began to pray, physical rain started falling. Rick was surprised to see that the rain was falling only over the group gathered in front of the stage. It was a very clear sign of God’s blessing.  

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity...For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133)

“I believe we are not here by chance,” encouraged Rick, introducing ELAV 2016, “God is bringing us together in Jerusalem. I believe God will pour his rain over you...These days, the Middle East is very dry but there is water in Jerusalem!  Pour the rain of heaven over us. Let our lives be changed by the rain of heaven. Send spiritual rain to Gaza, to Saudi Arabia... may whole nations turn to You! We pray the whole Middle East will be changed as we build an Altar to You in Jerusalem!”

One of the speakers, Messianic Pastor Avi Mizrachi from Tel Aviv, shared about his recent trip to Greece with a team of Jewish and Arab believers from Israel. They worked together to aid refugees arriving in Thessaloniki. The team, from Tel-Aviv and Nazareth, had the opportunity to share the Gospel with some of the thousands of refugees fleeing from Syria and Iraq. They witnessed Muslims coming to faith!  “The Lord wants us to have new glasses,” he explained, “not using our own view everyday, but seeing from his viewpoint.”  He exhorted the young people to see through God’s eyes and not rely on our own perceptions and prejudices. God’s Kingdom turns our world-views upside-down! 

Avi also shared the story of a visit to South Korea where he was woken up at 5am by a thud, thud, thud outside his room. Looking out, he saw thousands of Korean Christians arriving for a 5am prayer meeting. It was 5am, freezing cold and snowing but they kept coming, bringing their little children with them. Avi was compelled to join them - thousands of believers praising and praying. “I felt like heaven came to earth - so much fun!” he shared. After meeting together, the Koreans went off to work or college or school. Avi encouraged the youth to take 5 minutes before school or work and spend time with Him - to build an altar of prayer and praise and to put on His glasses each morning! 

Rania Sayegh, a Christian Arab leader from Nazareth, encouraged the young people to be builders of bridges and spiritual watchmen.   She shared about the global explosion of new houses of prayer and called the ELAV 2016 attendees to be watchman with a vision to declare God’s promises. She shared the prophet Jeremiah’s vision about watching the Lord fulfil his promises (Jeremiah 1:11-12), reminding the audience that Jeremiah thought he was too young when he received this vision ,but the Lord assured him not to be afraid - he was not too young to be the Lord’s servant and the Lord used him to speak to an entire nation. God had to open his eyes to watch and see. Rania called the young people at ELAV to watch and pray over the country and all the people within. She inspired them to be like the watchmen in Isaiah 62, who cry out day and night for Jerusalem. Rania pointed out that before the verse about watchmen, Isaiah prophesied that Jerusalem would no longer be forsaken but would be called God’s delight, the land would no longer be desolate but married and it 
would be fruitful. 

“The Lord is looking for people who will love the land as they pray” shared Rania, “not politics, but a covenantal relationship like a marriage, to watch and pray for God’s purposes. I want to love my land and country - all geography and all neighbours and all people within - the Jews and Arabs. The Lord spoke to my heart - I want to see a love revolution to reign over every animosity between two people...If we are trying day and night to watch over his word without love - it is nothing. God is looking for men and women to be vessels of his blessing. Are you going to be one who builds an altar to the Lord and becomes a living sacrifice for him? The altar is not made of stones, it is you and your heart.”

“It’s time for a love revolution!” proclaimed Rania. She explained that love is not just about what we say but also actions. “I have a dream,” she continued, “the Lord put on my heart to bring 40-50 Arab young people to walk around Jerusalem with roses in our hands and to give out the roses and say ‘Arabs love Jews’. To walk in the streets of Jerusalem and give out roses to each person, especially to the Jews from the heart of the Arabs - to give a rose and say ‘I love you because of the love of Messiah.’ Love is a verb, an action. We need to give our lives as a living sacrifice to the Lord. If anyone has a problem loving ones in this land - come and repent that we cannot love people in this land. Maybe we have spoken bad words, even cursed the land because of pain, of what we see. The Lord wants to bring healing to our hearts.”

Jewish and Arab young people were at the front standing next to each other, Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian... “Let’s declare that we love each other - that we love our land together.”  

Someone led a prayer of repentance for any curses and bad words spoken over the land and the people, and for any bitterness and hatred, instead of standing as a watchman over the land. 

They recognised the need to covenant in love, to watch for God’s promises to bring hope and a future. 

“We choose not hatred and division but love - come and put love in our hearts, pour your grace over us. I sacrifice my life for you - come with a love revolution to see change in my country. Come and purify my lips and sanctify me - come and cleanse me like Isaiah to stand in the gap.”  

God is raising up a new generation in Jerusalem to be watchmen on the wall, to be history-makers, to call down heaven to earth...God asks ‘Who shall I send?’ and the youth responded, “Send me, awaken me to a love revolution - a gift of love to my land, to declare life and truth over the land - to declare blessings not curses over this nation. I choose to build an altar to the Lord over this country! For my life to be a source of blessing - I choose to bless my land, my city, my town,  my people and to bless each other -  a love revolution has started!”

These amazing young people were being called, raised up as a prophetic voice in the land of Israel. To declare love instead of hatred or division. The theme of ELAV 2016 was ‘Building an Altar in Jerusalem’ and as young hearts turned to the Lord with love, desperate to serve him, an altar of living sacrifices was built before Him.

With arms around each other, Jewish and Arab young people ended the first day of ELAV 2016 with exuberant worship - dancing and praising  with arms raised to worship the King of Kings in Jerusalem!

Building an Altar in Jerusalem - Part 2 will be published later this month.

If you would like to sow into this amazing work among young people in Israel, you can DONATE HERE