The Harvest
by Eitan Shishkoff

I remember harvesting when we were hippie farmers in New Mexico. A lot of work went into each crop before we could gather the fruits of our labors into storage for the winter. But there was nothing like the thrill of finally collecting ripe food from the earth.

Not haphazardly did God choose the image of harvest to speak of the end of the age. Repeatedly, especially in the Gospels, the Book of Revelation and the prophet Joel, harvest imagery represents our activity before Messiah's return. How shall we now apply this? Israel is restored as a nation. There is a remnant of Yeshua's Jewish followers living and worshiping in the land. What is our priority in the light of His coming?

HARVEST WORKERS:
Our Sons & Daughters

The conclusion is not complicated. Yeshua says "Lift up your eyes ... the fields are already white unto harvest." Though uttered some 20 centuries ago, the words are arresting. Even before Yeshua's time, Joel describes a time when we will be back in the land. In that context he speaks of the Spirit being "poured out" upon all flesh, with an emphasis on "your sons and daughters" as prophetic messengers (Joel 2:28). Forgive me, if my interpretive grid seems simplistic, but I and my family returned to this land --- as Joel predicted --- and my sons and daughters are with me, following Yeshua as Messiah. Some are teens, some are in their 30's, but each one is receiving from God and being a witness that the Rabbi from Nazareth is our Redeemer.

One of my children is an 18 year old combat soldier in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). He came home on leave with the following story. During a long night of guard duty he and another soldier got into a philosophical discussion about God, creation and the Messiah. They teased each other back and forth about evolution versus creation. But when my son spoke clearly of his faith in Yeshua, his companion asked "Tell me about this Yeshua again." In the end his friend said, half jokingly "Hey, I want to follow your Yeshua; make me a Messianic too."

Had we not arrived in Israel some 14 years ago, enabling Avi to grow up here, knowing Hebrew as if it were his native language, the above conversation would never had happened. The generation of our children, those who've attended school in Israel and become part of the fabric of society, THEY are the harvest workers who will bring this nation to God in unprecedented numbers.

The HARVEST:
Beginning in the Secret Place

Seeing the need for this generation to be equipped for the harvest, several of us joined together five years ago to form a nation ministry to Messianic youth. Inspired by the expectation of a revival/harvest in Israel before Yeshua's return, we called it HaKatzir---The Harvest.

Brother to Brother
This past December we invited some 120 teenage men and women to the shores of the Sea of Galilee for a Chanukah camp organized by "The Harvest." The theme of the camp was "In the Secret Place" taken from Psalm 91. Its text became our focal point in messages, personal quiet times and small group discussion. Following the fear and disruption of last summer's war in Lebanon, we felt a need to emphasize the promises of God to those who come into His secret place and establish intimate trust. The language of the psalm is captivating. "Because he has set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known my name. (Psalm 91:12)

Hear my Cry
On the second night of the camp a young IDF officer, who had recently completed his tour of duty, spoke to the kids. Stefan Silver's account of numerous near-death battle experiences gripped the entire assembly (See Oasis article, Dec. 06). For each young person the summer's memories were still vivid: air raid sirens, bomb shelters, the thud of rockets landing, death raining down from the sky, and sending our young men off to defend the country, praying often that they would return alive. Stefan also spoke of his reinvigorated faith while leading a company of men into battle, seeing men die before his very eyes. He told honestly of the decreasing importance of Yeshua in his life during Israeli high school years. But that changed in the dusty heat of exploding grenades, upended tanks and a vicious enemy. "God never left me. He pulled me back to Himself. I read Psalm 91 to my men before each battle. I saw every verse come true before my eyes. I knew people around the world were praying for us. I wept at that realization."

A HARVEST of
Faith for the Future

He ended his sincere, straightforward testimony with a simple, provocative challenge. "God brought me to the place of no other option. Don't wait until you're in the middle of a war. An intimate relationship with God is the final issue of life." Then young people made their way to the front, to receive prayer from the group leaders of the camp. These are men and women Stefan's age, who have also grown up in Israel and now have a burden for the teens who are struggling through the same faith challenges they passed through not long ago. Youth after youth began to break, some weeping, others praying quietly, calling upon God to cleanse, renew and fill them.

Daughters of Zion
At the end of the evening, as if all oppression/fear/compromise had been broken off of them, these kids rose up and began to shout: "ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED ... KOL YISRAEL YIVASHA." In unison every young man and woman, leaned forward pointing --- their very posture declaring the future: "ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED ... KOL YISRAEL YIVASHA." Beloved, this is what we have been praying for, to rise up a generation of Israeli disciples who are dedicated to reaching this nation in its own language and cultural vocabulary. Here are the harvest workers Yeshua commanded us to ask of Him in Matthew 9:38.

Toward the HARVEST -
What NEXT?

Two Leaders - Idan and Sasha
The Harvest team (We are all from different congregations throughout Israel) expects to sponsor numerous events this year. We are planning for the next camp, a Passover experience in the Negev desert. I am personally motivated to bring together youth who feel a call to spiritual leadership, for days of equipping and prayer. Respected congregational leaders have already backed HaKatzir (The Harvest). We are committed to fostering every local youth group and the healthy congregational life of these "young lions."

So, I want to ask you to actively pray with us for the strengthening and deepening of this work among Israeli Messianic youth. We are in need of a team member who focuses on Logistics. There is also the major facet of mentoring youth in worship. Music is a magnet for young people. It becomes a powerful vehicle to express their hearts. Part of our vision is to equip them musically and spiritually to create vibrant collective praise. Ongoing intercession is also an essential ingredient in breaking through to the greater harvest among Israeli youth, who currently haven't a clue about who Yeshua is. If you are drawn to participate with HaKatzir on any level, please contact me at ohalei@netvision.net.il

 

By Eitan Shishkoff


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Comments
Comments:
08:34 31Jan07 Sandra McCarty -
Having visited israel October 2005 with Jewish Jewels I feel as if I have never left. I am Jewish and became a believer in 1974. This wonderful article and HaKatzir makes me want to SHOUT. Surely by His Spirit Kol Yisrael Yivasha. Be encouraged!! Young lions I am praying!!!!!!

22:50 02Feb07 Lynda Nedrow -
I am a gentile who loves Yeshua and my Jewish older brothers and sisters. My heart jumped with a "yes!" as I read about your ministry with Messianic youth. God bless your efforts to prepare the young lions for HaKatzir. I am praying!


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Daniel Juster: Zionism & Justice
Martin Shoub: Champion of the Forgotten
Idan's Testimony: To Bind Up The Broken Hearted
Betty Intrater: O Little Town of Bethlehem