Eitan Shiskoff

Executive Director
Tents of Mercy Network
"Herzl is famous for many of his forthright statements, but one of them strikes me as especially relevant to us today, as Israeli Messianic Jews. 'Im tirtzu, aiyn zo agada ... If you will it, it is no fable.'"

"With two decades of hindsight, I now see that the spiritual process of reviving our people will require even more years of dedicated sacrifice and visionary perseverance than I could have then imagined."

Theodore Herzl was an Austrian Jewish journalist who lived from 1860 to 1904 - only forty-four years. Yet in his relatively short life, he impacted history in ways that are still reverberating throughout Israel and the world, over one hundred years later.

More than anyone else, Herzl was the original human architect of the State of Israel. He was gripped by this vision when there were yet a very few Jews living in "the Holy Land". In fact, his first instinct, as a secular Jew, was to imagine the Jewish people of every society remaining where they were and strengthening those nations. As the direct result of the overt anti-Semitic humiliation dealt to Captain Alfred Dreyfus in France, Herzl realized that the Jewish people needed their own country, in which to live and worship freely.

"Im Tirtzu ..."

His courage, drive, determination, and capacity to impart vision, galvanized Jewish leaders and organizations from across Europe and beyond. The First Zionist Congress was held in Basle, Switzerland in August, 1897. Herzl is famous for many of his forthright statements, but one of them strikes me as especially relevant to us today, as Israeli Messianic Jews. "Im tirtzu, aiyn zo agada ... If you will it, it is no fable."

Over twenty years ago, before I arrived in Israel, we began this publication. The first article I wrote was entitled "Spiritual Pioneers". In it I drew a parallel between the early Zionists and our generation of Messianic Jewish "pioneers". They faced numerous obstacles in order to establish the modern State of Israel. We have the challenge of restoring the Hebrew-speaking community of Yeshua followers in the state they sacrificed so much to build. Both the physical and the spiritual restoration are miracles that have waited nearly twenty centuries for fulfillment.

With two decades of hindsight, I now see that the spiritual process of reviving our people will require even more years of dedicated sacrifice and visionary perseverance than I could have then imagined. To gain inspiration in order to "run the race" to the finish line, we can look at numerous "marathoners" in the Tanakh. One of them is the archetypal rebuilder, Nehemiah.

Nehemiah: Pioneer/Restorer

Nehemiah was simply a hero - a hero of the Bible and a hero of Israel's history. He accomplished what was virtually impossible, recreating Jerusalem's defense in just fifty-two days! You've probably read the account. It opens with a scene of Jerusalem's wall and its gates in burned rubble, in the year 446 BCE. His dismay and grief turn to intercession, inspiring one of the Bible's greatest intercessory prayers (Nehemiah 1:5-11). Securing the favor of Persia's pagan king, the restorer rallied those remaining in Jerusalem, saying "Let us rise up and build ... [for] the God of heaven Himself will prosper us" (Nehemiah 2:17, 20).

This confident faith in God and His plan carried Nehemiah through frequent harassment from enemies, scattered workers who were not easily unified, and the immensity of the task. What a man of faith and action. He decided to make himself fully available, to be used by the Almighty to draw the people of Israel together in a daring step of rebirth in the homeland from which they had been exiled.

Nehemiah (whose name means "The comfort of God") inspired a spirit of community and of collective sacrifice that broke through long-standing barriers. He not only rebuilt a wall, he rebuilt a people for the sake of God's covenant with them. This is our assignment too. History and the Spirit of the Lord have positioned us to be restorers. I find the exhortations of both Herzl and Nehemiah ringing in my heart. "If you will it, it is no fable". And "Arise and build".

We are so like Bilbo

There is something about inertia and comfort that work against stepping out into the uncertain territory of pioneering. It reminds me a lot of Bilbo Baggins, the central character in J.R.R. Tolkien's epic tale, The Hobbit. Bilbo was comfortable in his hobbit hole. He took frequent meals and snacks, had plenty of good books to read, and a lovely garden to tend. It's not that those things were wrong; it's just that there was a larger destiny awaiting him. The "adventure" he got caught up in was all about redemption - helping another, exiled people, return to their homeland, assisting them in their restoration.

When I encounter Bilbo's ordinariness, and his sense of not really being qualified to enter the realm of epic battles and dark danger, I'm reminded of myself and maybe of you. Few of us are naturally fitted for heroic deeds. Yet we have been called by the great King to participate in a real life adventure of far greater significance than Bilbo's journey. We have been drawn into the return of the exiles to the land of Israel, and to the restoration of faith in King Yeshua. This faithful remnant must be resident in that land in order to see Him reclaim His rightful throne.

What an honor! What a privilege. What an opportunity to give ourselves to a quest that requires the very best we can give, and promises the highest, unending reward granted by the King of Israel - the King of all Kings.

By Eitan Shishkoff
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14:25 04Jan13 Hannah -
You have encouraged me to keep on keeping on. One of my most favourite places in Jerusalem is the bit of Nehemiah's wall that still stands as a testimony.

14:52 04Jan13 Reverend Louise D. Thomas -
Being adopted onto the true branch of Jesus Christ has been a great privilage for me. It is humbling to think that someone as great as our Creator would even consider touching my life with the very essence of His finger tip, the greatest touch that has ever been real in my life. The privilage to be called His daughter is overwhelming to me.

And now the privilage of reading articles submitted by His Chosen Ones. Reading words that proclaim His Holiness, His gathering back of the Remnant that I have read about in the Old Testament for years. The recognition that we all may not think we are suitable to the calling placed upon us, yet knowing if we are called He will prepare us for His work as Nehemiah found himself prepared. Thank you for the insights, the clarifying of Jewish words brought into the right context, and for reaching out in love to God's people the world over.

20:25 04Jan13 Lynn Cory -
This article reminds me of a quote on the flyer of JH Ranch, a ministry here in California. "I heard and I forgot, I saw and I remembered, I did ... and I understood." May the Lord raise up more who understand like Eitan Shishkoff. I am so grateful to the Lord for him and I can't wait to read his book. I will continue to pray for Eitan.

03:06 05Jan13 SR -
Hmmm, yes. To be called to become a permanent resident and citizen of this land (Israel) is indeed a privilege and an opportunity. With Adoni's help, of course. Recently, I accompanied a group of believers to T.A. Univ. It was the next to the last day of Chanukah. They sang beautiful worship songs and reached out to the Jewish people with the love of Elohim. All enjoyed the program and were not offended when asked if they would like a book to read about Mashiach. Some accepted, some declined. Then, some Orthodox men arrived and accused the people of giving a book to a child. Of course, they had not. They left and returned again to make more trouble. One of them followed me at a brisk pace down the sidewalk to the corner where I was standing, waiting to cross the street. He began spitting and spitting and spitting on me, and yelling at me, too, in Hebrew. I didn't know what to do. Finally, two police officers came and took him away. They insisted I go to the station to make a complaint against him. They told me no one should be subjected to his behavior. It is considered a hate-crime. Last week, I was asked to return to the police station. It seems this Orthodox man accused me of giving the book to the child and also of organizing this event. Of course, this is all a lie. I've heard of this sort of thing happening to others, but I've never experienced it myself. Now I know what Y'shua felt when his brethren treated him that way. The LORD is good. He is my shield and my strong defense. I pray always that the LORD will prepare me for the days ahead. One is never prepared for persecution, but the LORD is with those who trust wholly in him.

05:12 05Jan13 Batya Nahum -
The Holy Spirit inspired, strengthend and encouraged me greatly through this article to continue to run the good race and never to give up in spite of all the obstacles on the road.

16:44 05Jan13 PS -
I totally agree. I am back in America and love the comfort but realize how soft it makes us...

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: Building a Discipling Community
Marty Shoub: Gathering the Children Together
Asher Intrater: God and Armies