| Eitan Shishkoff |
Israel is not only our ancient homeland; it is our home. More than anything, we long for our countrymen to know Yeshua personally as Redeemer and King. This demands the intervention of God's Spirit, touching individual Israelis. So, feeling desperate for the power of God, I am supremely interested in the "when & how" of Israel's prophesied end-time spiritual awakening.
The Outpouring happens when the Exiles return
Through Joel, the Lord declares that in the last days there will be a latter rain and I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. The timing of this outpouring is clearly keyed to the return of Israel's exiles, because several verses later we read that it will be in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem. (Joel 3:1) As in Jeremiah 30-31 and Ezekiel 36-37, God's mercy will bring the exiles home and deep heart revival will follow.
Without exaggeration, the return to Zion of the captives is a drama of gigantic proportions. The fate of the Jewish people (beginning with Abraham) runs like a backbone through the body of Scripture. In order for the Messiah King to return, bringing the righteous reign of God upon all the earth, the seed of Jacob must respond to Him after returning to Israel. (Matthew 23:39; Ezekiel 37:24,25; Hosea 3:5)
The Outpouring is God's response to Weeping Priests
So, what, if any, is the portion assigned to the Lord's servants in this drama? I believe the key is hidden in the garments of the priest in Exodus 28:29,30. In this passage God tells Aaron that he is to carry the 12-jewelled breastplate of the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually. Thus, the job of the priest is to intercede for the nation of Israel. Putting this portrait together with Joel's compelling appeal Let the priests who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say "Spare your people, O Lord." leads to a simple conclusion. Almighty God has called for priestly intercession for the salvation of the sons and daughters of Israel. When He is ministered to accordingly, then the Lord will be zealous for His land and pity His people. (Joel 2:18)
What is the heart of a priest? Why does Joel repeat the cry for the priests to mourn, wail, and weep (Joel 1:9, 13,14)? I understand the words of Joel together with Psalm 126:5. Those who sow in tears will reap with joy. The psalm begins When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. This weeping intercession happens AFTER we return to Zion! Israel's lost-ness after her return from exile causes God such brokenness of heart that He calls upon those who minister before Him to take action in tear-soaked prayer.
Sons of Foreigners ... Watchmen on the Walls
Who are these weeping priests? The New Covenant calls all followers of Yeshua priests (1 Peter 2:9). Percentage-wise, the vast majority, then, are non-Jewish disciples of our Messiah. A biblical term for these, without negative connotation, is "sons of foreigners." In Isaiah 60:10 it is written that The sons of foreigners will rebuild your walls. While this has an uncontested literal meaning, there is also a spiritual application brought to bold significance in Isaiah 62:6. I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night ... and give Him no rest till He establishes ... Jerusalem a praise in the earth. From these verses I conclude that before Messiah returns, God will recruit an army of weeping warriors to rebuild the walls of intercessory prayer. This ministry before the Lord will bring Israel to full spiritual life and worldwide kingdom centrality. It is a holy calling. Nothing is closer to the heart of God.
Brazilian Tears bring Shavuot Outpouring
What will such weeping intercession for Israel's revival look like? I recently witnessed this phenomenon in Sao Paulo, Brazil at the Igrejia Vida Nova celebration of Shavuot (Pentecost). At the climax of the feast, the Lord opened the heart of the congregation to a deeper level of His passion for Israel. During worship the Spirit came upon me and many others. I began weeping, thinking of our congregation, thinking of our nation. I saw us as in Ezekiel 37, in our graves, dead, without the Spirit. I wished that all Israel could experience the life and love and healing of God.
Feeling this burden, I sought prayer. A Brazilian brother began praying for me by blowing air on my face. My first thought was Ezekiel 37! It seemed that God was responding to my impression moments before. This man "breathed on me that I might live," just as God's Spirit came into the dry bones, raising Israel from the dead. It was overpowering. I did not want to stop weeping. I understood Jeremiah's plea as priest and prophet. Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (Jeremiah 9:1) It was a work of the Ruach (Hebrew for both "spirit" and "wind"/"breath"). Sovereign. Unexpected. I suddenly imagined myself lying on the floor in front of the speakers' platform, surrounded by members of the congregation, being picked up as if raised from the dead.
Worship ended. It was time to preach. I spoke about the Latter Rain and Weeping Priests from Joel 2, Acts 2 and Exodus 28. At the end of the message, I blew a short ram's horn (Joel 2:15) with the groaning, primitive animal-like cry the horn sometimes makes. At that sound, God's broken heart for Israel seemed to enter hearts across the room. The assembly erupted into gripped intercession for Israel's resurrection. Then I remembered the image I'd seen of being lifted out of the grave by the congregation. I submitted it and the pastors agreed. While getting down on the floor I experienced a strange sensation of my life ending and going into the grave. There was grief and agony, then stillness. Then the intercession became deafening.
Movement. I felt hands and arms under me, lifting me. As I was lifted, the heaviness fell off of me. When they hoisted me fully aloft ALL burdens left me---I felt raised from death. It was exhilarating. The congregation began cheering. The brothers carried me around the perimeter of the sanctuary while people continued cheering. I wanted to scream for joy. I leaned over to see the faces of the people. They were radiant; I was radiant. Then other Jewish believers were lifted and the place went wild. The sense of genuine breakthrough in effective intercession filled the sanctuary. Love was flowing toward the Jewish people. I never saw anything like it. In the end we celebrated, reading Psalm 30, which exactly described the evening. You have turned my mourning into dancing.
The Early and the Latter Rain
The first apostolic message, given by Peter in Acts 2:14-39 begins by referencing Joel 2. He says this is that. However, the full latter rain of God's Spirit that is described has still not happened, 2000 years later. This chapter contains a double outpouring, at the beginning (Peter's day) and end (our day) of the New Covenant Age. The "Church" age began with Jewish leadership and emphasis in Jerusalem. The Jewish disciples had to be filled with the Ruach to reach Israel in the 1st century. The 20 centuries that followed have seen primarily Gentile leadership and initiative. To reach Israel in the end, Jewish disciples must again be drenched with the Spirit and return to apostolic ministry. FOR MESSIAH TO RETURN THE SPIRIT MUST AGAIN BE POURED OUT ON ISRAEL. The end of physical captivity is not enough. Spiritual capitivity must also end.
Yeshua is calling His flock around the world to weeping intercession to bring the final outpouring of God's Spirit upon Israel. He looked over Jerusalem and WEPT. Paul spoke of Jewish people and wished to be ACCURSED that Israel could know her Messiah. When we weep for Israel, and say "Spare your people, O Lord!" I believe that God responds with His own tears ... The tears of heaven are the Rain of the Spirit. And when that rain comes, the hard ground of the hearts of my people will soften.
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