The evening of July 27, 2012, was the 9th day of Av (Tish’a B’Av) according to the Jewish calendar. In 586 BC and in 70 AD, on the 9th of Av, both the First and Second Temples were destroyed. Ensconced in tradition, this day is remembered yearly. Jews in Mumbai, Moscow, Munich, Madrid, Mexico City and Miami all recollect and mourn these events which happened up to 2,600 years ago.
For Jewish people who believe in the existence of the God of Israel and who see His hand in history, these ancient events still speak to us in our day. A recent advertisement in the Jerusalem Post (July 27, 2012) made reference to these two days of destruction, and then applied those events to the present political stand-off with Iran.
The Jewish people have a long historical memory. At times even our enemies are aware of this fact. Julius Streicher, publisher of the Nazi Der Stuermer, ascended the gallows on October 16, 1946 with this declaration as his last words, “Purim-Fest 1946!” Streicher was ironically prophesying how the Jewish people would remember his own hanging in their future history books – in the same way as they remembered the divine victory at the Feast of Purim – the hanging of Haman and his ten sons (Esther 7:9-10). Haman had called for and planned the genocide of the Jewish people (Esther 5:13-14) but in the end he was destroyed on the very gallows he intended to use against Mordecai.
For many Jewish people the Bible continues to be not only a description of history past, but also a guide about both the present and the future. Psalm 121 offers a quiet yet stubborn confidence in YHVH’s power and will to preserve the Jewish people: “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (verses 3-4).
At the same time, the prophetic tradition was aware that false or unreliable prophets often plagued Israel, refusing to raise the alarm when danger was fast approaching: “His watchmen are blind; all of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, who love to slumber” (Isaiah 56:10).
Strategic versus existential dangers
Israel’s newly appointed Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter gave his first public speech on August 19 2012. In it he contrasted two threats to Israel – strategic threats (like Syria, Lebanon and Gazan Hamas-stan) and existential threats (like Iran). Jewish history is replete with both kinds of threats. Egypt’s Pharaoh, Persia’s Haman and Nazi Germany’s Hitler were very much existential threats, while (speaking from an international and historical perspective) the Inquisition, the pogroms and Tsar Alexander III’s edicts were more strategic regional threats than existential dangers, even though they were painful and terrible.
What with the scattering of the Jewish people into the Exile, any attempt to destroy the entire people now had to have a powerful prerequisite – the majority of Jews had to live under one empire’s control. Today Jews are scattered across the face of the globe and live under the oversight of many different countries. Nevertheless the Jewish state of Israel has the highest concentration of Jacob’s children in any one geographical location.
Iran’s President Ahmedinejad declared on August 17, 2012 “The very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humanity … The new Middle East will have no memory of the presence of the Americans and Zionists.” Iranian General Jalili declared on August 15, 2012 that “there is no other way but to stand firm and resist until Israel is destroyed.” Iranian declarations unequivocally and vociferously call for existential destruction of the Jewish state.
Some Jewish people who live in the Diaspora/ Exile occasionally feel that it might be safer to remain there, that troubles will only or primarily strike the Jewish state. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky pointed out on Israel Radio (August 19, 2012) that dozens of potential immigrants to Israel have delayed their arrival over fears of war with Iran, and that they are delaying their aliyah until the threat of war passes.
The prophet responds to this worldview in Amos 9:8-10:
Behold, the eyes of YHVH GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob, declares YHVH. For behold, I am commanding, And I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a kernel will fall to the ground. All the sinners of My people will die by the sword – those who say, ‘The calamity will not overtake or confront us.’
- The Diaspora is not in itself a place of safety for Jacob’s children. Obedience to God and passionate obedience to His leading is the only safe place on earth for the Jewish people. Thus has it always been.
The Season of Regathering
The consensus among Messianic Jews is that God is regathering His Jewish people to their Promised Land in our day, and that this is an event of world-shaking prophetic significance. Even though the majority of Jews (and Messianic Jews) have not shaken off the desire for the cucumbers and melons, for the leeks and garlic of Egypt (Numbers 11:5) and remain in Exile, YHVH has patiently been regathering His scattered Hebrew people from the four corners of the earth.
As Jewish believers in Yeshua, we seek not only the physical good and restoration of our people (revival of a Hebrew nation in a Hebrew land speaking a Hebrew language and expressing itself through a Hebrew culture) but with even greater priority and passion, we seek the spiritual revival of our nation, that we might turn to Yeshua our Messiah, Redeemer and King. As the prophet would have us remember (Ezekiel 37:9-10), it is the prophesying to the Breath, to the Ruach, to the Spirit of God that transforms a valley of dry Jewish bones into the most amazing army the world has yet to see:
Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says YHVH GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.”
The Return of the Exiles which the God of Israel is accomplishing in our day, is being catalyzed by the same passion and zeal that YHVH has shown throughout history and in the prophetic word – His burning desire for the restoration and the good of His people. This is the time we are living in. This is season we are moving into.
“There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom – to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of YHVH of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:7; see also Isaiah 37:32; 42:13; 59:17; Joel 2:18).
Jewish spiritual warfare
Many in the body of Messiah are aware of the reality of spiritual warfare. But not everyone has joined the dots and sees that Satan targets the Jewish people par excellence. This is because he knows and believes the prophetic Scriptures more than do some believers. He knows that the revival and restoration of the Jewish people will bring life from the dead to the entire planet (Romans 11:12, 15).
Revelation 12:3-4, 9 reveal that Satan specifically targets the Jewish people who gave birth to the Messiah – even as he once targeted the Davidic King who will rule all nations from Jerusalem with a rod of iron (see Psalm 2). The Archangel Michael, whose portfolio specifically pertains to the Jewish people (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7) is the warrior who defends the Jewish nation, putting his own archangelic presence into the thick of the battle. The satanic powers behind the superpowers of Greece and Persia in that day (yes, and behind Iran in our day – Daniel 10:20-21) show that we not only war against spiritual wickedness and powers in the heavenlies (Ephesians 6:11-13), the battle rages on earth as well (Matthew 6:10)!
The Mesopotamian sorcerer Balaam found his mouth overtaken by the Spirit of YHVH, and his prophecies over Israel turned from cursing into blessing for the Jewish people. Though Israel was not exactly a shining example of obedience and holiness at that time, God’s express will in those chronicles shows a divine heart full of great good will and prophetic purpose for His Jewish people. Though Jewish history may certainly have had and will have bumps in the road and a measure of trouble – including even the time of Jacob’s trouble – the intentions of YHVH’s heart toward Israel are overwhelming in kindness and good pleasure:
“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed, and how can I denounce whom YHVH has not denounced? Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!” (Numbers 23:8, 10)
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; when He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it. He has not observed misfortune in Jacob, nor has He seen trouble in Israel. YHVH his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them” (Number 23:19-21)
Attacks against the Jewish people have been commonplace in Jewish history. The Book of Esther (3:5-15) describes an ancient existential threat against the Jewish people in what is today Iran. We assume that the demonic prince of Persia was involved in instigating this. Yet Mordechai expressed stubborn faith and confidence in the God of Israel as his people’s protector and defender:
“Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-17)
The good grapes
In Isaiah 5 YHVH describes His love for Israel in terms of a vine-dresser who tenderly cares for his own grape vines. God’s desire was to drink the superb and cultivated vine that Israel was to yield – an act that reminds the reader of the romance of the Song of Solomon.
- The God of Israel promises to not destroy the whole nation of Israel because of the remnant of believers among them, the “good grapes” of promise:
“As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,’ so I will act on behalf of My servants in order not to destroy all of them” (Isaiah 65:8).
- The Lord God of Israel has made promises to the Jewish nation for their continuance, their blessing, their prosperity and their survival. These promises have been enscripturated for good measure and extra clarity.
- It behooves those of us who love Him and His word, to intercede for the actualizing of God’s word, and the protection of the apple of His eye (see Zechariah 2:8).
“I change not”
The God of Israel anchors His prophetic promises for the Jewish people in His own perfect nature: “For I, YHVH, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). Satan will not succeed in wiping out the Jewish people, whether through Islamist jihad, through Arab weaponry, through terror, boycott, divestment or sanctions, even through the anti-Messiah himself!
YHVH promises to restore the Jewish people to their own homeland and to give them a place of unshakeable protection and honor. “I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore” (Ezekiel 34:29).
- We need to remember and hold onto the prophetic promises in prayer as we intercede in holy warfare for God’s heart for His people.
“It is because of YHVH’s covenant mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). Herein lies our confidence. On these promises are based the fire of our prayers. Though the seas roar and though the mountains melt into the sea, God of Jacob is our refuge – an ever-present help in times of trouble! The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46)!
- Pray for God to raise up a last days generation of Jews and Gentiles – an army which will break world records in dedication, boldness, creativity and sacrifice for the gospel
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!
In Messiah Yeshua,
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This article was originally written by Avner Boskey for the German language publication of Stiftung Schleife, Prophetisches Bulletin, and is published in German on their website www.schleife.ch/de/die-schleife/prophetisches-bulletin.html, 2012/3