From the tribe of Issachar…All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”
(1 Chronicles 12:32)
In the early days of my walk with the LORD, I was very curious about “End Times” (quotes used facetiously). I was terrified about being “left behind,” and the series of the 1970-era Christian horror movies, Thief in the Night, scared the hell out of me. Literally. I was so freaked out about it all. There was no way I wanted to be “left behind to face the tribulation.” Then, at some point I came to my senses. I thought, “Who cares if Jesus comes back pre-Trib, mid-Trib, or post-Trib…I want to know and be a part of what God is doing NOW in this day and age. The future will take care of itself.” I realized that if I was faithful today, God would be faithful for my tomorrows, no matter what I may have to face.
My purpose for this post is not to debate End Time doctrine, nor to engage in political debate, but to draw attention to a history changing event happening NOW. One task I know I have from the LORD is to be a watchman on the wall for Israel—paying attention to what is happening in the natural and how the Holy Spirit is leading, and then sounding the alarm to bring attention to what is happening. I was recently made aware of this history-changing event that will take place in Israel on April 23, 2015 that I am really excited about, and will be wholeheartedly participating in. This is something very significant, and I pray that you will understand the significance and join in with this event.
This year, a Jewish organization in Israel, the Center for Jewish and Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) is inviting the Christian community to join them on Israel’s Independence Day in reciting the Hallel—Psalms 113-118 in celebration of God’s covenantal love (chesed) for the Jewish nation. For the first time, the Orthodox Jewish community is extending an invitation to the Christian community.
For many years, Christians have tried to extend a hand of friendship to Jews; however, the Jews were and still are very suspicious of our motives, and they have every reason to be suspicious due to the long history of anti-Semitic terrorism from the Church. There is a long, painful history of forced conversions and baptism through torture, Inquisition, Crusades, pogroms, etc. However, in our time, the tide is changing.
One of the greatest witnesses of CHESED (Hebrew for loving-kindness) Christians demonstrate to the Jewish people is the fact that they come in droves to visit Israel. Each year more than a half million Christians from all over the world visit Israel. Usually, the first time Christians visit Israel, they visit the key sites of Jesus’ life and ministry, follow the Via Dolorosa, and visit the empty tomb. They go to connect with what God DID; however, what ends up happening is that they actually connect with what God is DOING in this day and age. I can tell you that while it’s nice to visit the key sites of the past, it is so much more meaningful and powerful to connect with God’s heart in what He is doing NOW for the people and land of Israel.
God is still faithful to the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Jewish people are astounded to see that Christians are repenting of past anti-Semitism, recognizing the errors of replacement theology, and embracing their rightful place alongside God’s chosen people. Jews are blown away that more and more Christians are coming to Israel who are knowledgeable of Jewish and Israeli history, and are eager to learn more and become ambassadors for Israel in their home nations.
The CJCUC is the first ever Orthodox Jewish organization dedicated to building Jewish-Christian relations through studying the Bible. The founder, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin was awarded the honor of being named the Ambassador for Jewish-Christian relations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The executive director, David Nekrtuman, also served as a columnist for the Jerusalem Post Christian edition, served as the director of Christian affairs for the Consulate General of Israel in New York, and was instrumental helping to launch the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem and other Christian initiatives resulting in millions of Christians praying and supporting Israel and the Jewish people. He is currently studying for a Masters’ degree in Biblical Literature with a concentration in Judaic-Christian Studies from Oral Roberts University—yes, an Orthodox Jewish man is attending ORU!
For the first time, the Jewish community is reciprocating and inviting the Christian community to celebrate with them in appreciation for the overwhelming and heavenly directed love and unity shown to Israel by Bible believing Christians. They joined us, and are now inviting us to join them.
So, the event is on April 23, Israel’s Independence Day, and we are invited to recite the Hallel (Psalms 113-118) at some point during the day. This is a day to set aside to celebrate Isaiah 66:8 with Psalm 113-118, and in order to understand the significance of reciting these Psalms on this particular day, I think it is important to give you a brief background of modern Israeli history.
“Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born.” Isaiah 66:8
70 AD—the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora (the dispersion, scattering). The Romans conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and the Jews were driven out to the four corners of the earth.
Throughout the Diaspora, the Jews struggled to maintain their unique identity and uphold their traditions in the face of severe persecution and pressure to ditch all that was sacred and assimilate into the culture of the society in which they lived, all the while longing to return to their homeland. If you want to gain insight into this, watch the movie Fiddler on the Roof.
God had a plan, and to achieve His plan, His modus operandi was, as always, supernaturally-aided human endeavor. And in the late 1800’s, He found His man.
Modern Israeli history began with Theodor Herzl, a Jewish lawyer and journalist. Born in Vienna in 1860, he was educated during a time of Jewish Enlightenment and initially embraced secular culture, and felt that Jewish people should assimilate into and embrace the cultures and societies in which they lived. He held that view until he got his first real taste of anti-Semitic violence that erupted out of the Dreyfus Affair while he was living in Paris. Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French military, was falsely accused of treason—targeted because he was a Jew. When Herzl saw the injustice and the virulent hatred toward the Jews by French society, he realized his life’s purpose—to mobilize the Jewish people to establish a state of their own.
“For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.” Ezekiel 36:24
Jews first began making Aliyah in the early 1900’s, during the rumblings of anti-Semitic violence in Eastern Europe. These early settlers brought the land to life. They drained the swamps, and cultivated the land so that even the deserts bloom. They built cities, universities, hospitals, schools, and indeed had the entire infrastructure of a nation in place before World War II began.
On May 14, 1948, while five Arab armies were gathering, David Ben Gurion stood and declared the Independent State of Israel. This was the day Isaiah 66:8 was fulfilled. Twelve hours after this declaration was made, the Arab world declared war on the infant Jewish nation, and against all odds, Israel survived and thrived through four major wars and countless terrorist attacks. Miraculous. There’s no other word to account for how Israel triumphed during these wars.
There is a documentary series that is now available in its entirety on YouTube: Against All Odds: Israel Survives. This series outlines the historical events surrounding the birth of the Jewish nation and chronicles the modern-day miracles that occurred. Indeed, there is no doubt that God still fights on Israel’s behalf.
With the destruction of the Second Temple, the exile of the Jewish people scattered to the four corners of the earth, trials and tribulations under foreign governments, and the near annihilation of Eastern European Jewry in the Holocaust, it seemed that Jewish history was coming to an end. However, on May 14, 1948, God changed the course of history and the State of Israel was born in one day. The religious establishment recognized that the restoration of Israel back to its homeland had to be acknowledged, the day was incorporated in to the sacred Jewish calendar (the date falls on April 23 this year) and Psalms 113-118—The Hallel, would be the national recognition of God’s providence working through His people.
So, I am saying a hearty “Yes and AMEN” to this invitation from the CJCUC, and I will be reciting the Hallel on April 23, 2015, and I invite you to join me.