This article was first published here on January 1st 2018.
Israel often becomes a geopolitical argument or a matter of detached theological controversy. To avoid these I believe it is vital to connect with the Lord's HEART regarding this topic.
The first priority is to receive Yeshua's heart and then live through His heart regarding perspectives concerning Israel.
I remember praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Suddenly tears swelled up in my eyes. I looked at the Orthodox men around me, dressed in traditional Chasidic garb. I couldn't contain a deep sorrow for the lostness of this people. They cannot see the Salvation that is theirs. I live with the daily awareness of beginning to personally know Israel's Messiah myself, and the daily awareness of Israel's very evident NEED for Messiah. He has revealed Himself to us, yet we live in the midst of people blinded to His surpassing love and sin-conquering power. The only way to carry this tension is to connect with the heart of the Lord Himself.
This connection between Yeshua and Israel is woven throughout God's word.
Before Yeshua was born His mother, Miriam, received this declaration of her son's purpose in Israel.
"You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call His name Jesus (Yeshua). He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).
Then, she made the following declaration to her relative, Elizabeth. "He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever" (Luke 1:54,55). What Miriam heard and declared was echoed by Zacharias, Bethlehem shepherds, and devout intercessors in Jerusalem, Simeon and Anna.
Imagine how you could change the whole world by even such a small investment of fifteen minutes in daily, concentrated, faith-filled prayer for key people in government, business, religion and media! Pray for those who shape others' opinions.
These descriptions of the mission of Messiah regarding Israel are followed by Yeshua's own declaration of His purpose in the Nazareth synagogue. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18,19). He is quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2 to which verse three adds "to console all who mourn in Zion." The entire context of Yeshua's announcement from Isaiah 61 is that He is the Healer and Liberator, the Redeemer of Israel. That's why those who heard Him tried immediately afterward to throw Him off the cliff!
Yeshua said that He came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matthew 10:6; 15:24). He agonized over Jerusalem. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing" (Luke 13:34). My personal view of the father waiting for and embracing his lost son in Luke 15 is a similar and even more compelling image. In Luke 19:41 our Lord "saw the city (of Jerusalem) and wept over it." The intercessory tears of Yeshua are of enduring effectiveness. His heart is no less broken over Jerusalem and Israel now than 2000 years ago - perhaps more.
Our Privileged Role is to join Him as Weeping Priests
The prophet Joel implores us to "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning" (Joel 2:12). He addresses the priests (which we all are, according to 1 Peter 2:9), seeing the desperate need of Israel for revival. "Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar. Let them say 'Spare your people, O Lord, and do not give your heritage to reproach'" (Joel 2:17). The promises that follow (vv.18-19) should surely motivate us. "The Lord will be zealous for His land, and pity His people ..." He will send "grain and new wine and oil." Joel next announces God's ultimate plan to send the early and latter rain. Here, then is our way of joining Yeshua in His broken-hearted intercession for Israel. In seeking His heart and entering His longing, we become companions to Moses, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, and Paul the Apostle. What a stunning privilege, opportunity, and responsibility. May we be faithful to the end and see Zion's deliverance!
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There have been comments to this article ...
10:05pm 02Jan18, Ron Blake: This article is spot on. Have you read Rabbi Itzhak Shapira's book? I am not Jewish, but I am investigating the Jewish roots of my faith and Rabbi Shapira's book is very helpful and God honoring!
11:21am 03Jan18, Roger Eben: This is such a confirmation! Some of us at Kol Dodi Nashville, this Thursday, are starting a prayer hour for Israel. I pray yes specifically for unbelieving Jewish people all over the world, and also in the land. But I pray for the empowered remnant of Believing Jews to there people and to Arab people.
12:44pm 03Jan18, Miriam Maranzenboim: My tears came when looking at the Isaiah scroll for the first time. I couldn't imagine Jewish people not believing the clear words of the prophet - particularly Isa. 53:6 "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
8:21pm 03Jan18, HansPeter Ehrsam: Thank you so much for standing in the gap for Israel to whom we are grafted in as Followers living in the disperson, waiting for HIS calling to return to our homeland. May our Lord and Saviour grant us the endurance to stay with HIM until the very end. MARANATA.
8:27pm 03Jan18, Mitch Deener: What a blessing to be able to read such insightful writings. It is sobering to know that the Scriptures say that "Jesus will rule over the House of Jacob for eternity". I need to spend more time praying for the Peace of Jerusalem. I believe Jesus is that Peace.
08:30am 03Jan18, Darla Ellyson: My husband & I pray for Israel every day and long to spend more time there. We sometimes feel lacking in powerful prayers because we do not yet have Jewish friends personally and cannot see our prayers being answered in families. But we still pray believing His Word. And we know we will make friends in the days ahead because we love Israel with a deep love that has been kindled through intercession.
-- Eitan Shishkoff replies: Thank you for receiving Yeshua's heart for His people, Israel. This is evidence of your sensitivity to the voice and will of God. I can relate to what you are saying about needing relationships with us in order to pray for us. I actually felt the same thing back in the 80s when I was still living in the States and trying to connect with the believers in Israel.
TENTS of MERCY,