Via Martin & Norma Sarvis:
Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night…
“If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the LORD,
“Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.”
Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.
His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me,
Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies!
Early this past Thursday, Israel’s first lunar landing spacecraft Beresheet escaped six weeks of orbit around the earth and achieved orbit around the moon. In doing this, Israel becomes the seventh nation to place a vehicle in lunar orbit. If Beresheet’s scheduled landing this coming Thursday April 11th takes place successfully, Israel will join only three other nations, the United States, the Soviet Union and China, which have succeeded in accomplishing a soft landing on the Moon. It will be the first successful privately funded voyage to the lunar surface. Beresheet will also be the tiniest vehicle to have landed. The little spacecraft is expected to operate for only two or three Earth days after landing.
Beresheet (three syllables, emphasis on “sheet”) is Hebrew for “Genesis,” and this first lander carries a time-capsule, which bears within it, among other things, a Hebrew Bible. The moon has always held a special in God’s order for His people Israel. In Genesis 1:14 when God released it and the other lights into the heavens over the earth, He ordained that one of its purposes would be for mo’adim—“set/appointed times.” In fact, when He put forth His “set times” for Israel in Leviticus 23, they were all to be calculated by moons/months—from the First of Months (which we observed this past Saturday!). Psalm 104:19 says that God “made the moon to mark the seasons (mo-adim)”…and each “new moon” was to be recognized by His people with a special assembly, sacrifices, and with the blowing of silver trumpets and shofars (Numbers 10:10; 28:11; Psalm 81:3). The moon was to put God’s people in wonder at his marvelous works, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mortal man that you are mindful of him, and the son of Adam that you care for him!” (Psalm 8:3-4). The steadfastness of the Moon in its monthly phases was to be for Israel a “faithful witness in the skies” of God’s faithfulness that Israel would continue being a nation before Him, and that a descendant of David would sit on his throne forever (See Jeremiah 31:35-36; Psalm 89:35-37: Psalm 2). The moon, the sun, the stars were themselves created to praise and to inspire praise to their Creator (Psalm 148:3).
But often in her history, the people of Israel allowed themselves to be seduced into praising the heavenly bodies themselves, rather than their Creator.
* That Israel will not exult in the amazing success of her Moon mission (whether or not it finally sets down successfully onto the Moon’s surface on Thursday), as though it were something for which she is by her own wisdom and brilliance responsible.
* That she will return to what God said about His Moon—and its relation to His mercies and covenant over Israel.
* That God’s purposes in allowing Israel to excel in this endeavor will be accomplished. That His Kingdom come for Israel, both in her land and on the Moon!
* That the power of the “moon god” over those Muslims under its deception and bondage will be broken—that they be set free to worship the God who created the earth and the heavens.
- ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL.
Elections in Israel were yesterday. This afternoon (Wednesday) with some 97% of votes counted, the Likud with Benjamin Netanyahu and the Blue and White party with Benny Gantz were tied, each having received 35 seats each in the new Knesset. However, because the two religious parties, the Sephardic Shas and the Ashkenazy United Torah Judaism, received an astounding eight seats each, and have vowed to join a Netanyahu government—and there are still several other right-wing parties expected to do the same, Netanyahu is being seen as winner (President Rivlin will almost certainly give him the task of forming a coalition after the final military and write-in votes are counted tomorrow). This will be Netanyahu’s fifth term. It means that Israel will go into this next season with a proven, strong defense stance against the threat from Iran. It will continue with a leader whose prowess as a statesman is respected (if not always loved) in the international community. There should continue to be a government with strong feelings for Israel’s right to a presence in the Covenant Land of the Mountains of Israel—Judea & Samaria—the West Bank. And, extremely important for the present time, the relationship forged between Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. President Trump continues in a realm of mutual favour no new Israeli leader could hope to imitate.
On the other hand, a coalition so strongly impressed with the religious parties means one which will likely continue with a “double standard” related to religious and civil responsibilities of citizens (most ultra-Orthodox demand to be allowed to study Biblical commentaries of rabbis rather than to fulfill those responsibilities). And the Shas party will almost certainly demand to maintain control of the Ministry of the Interior and other offices related to immigration—thus deciding who is considered a “Jew”, and discriminating against Messianic Jews and others it considers not lining up with its narrow religious views. In general, a far-right government is far less concerned with civil rights of Israeli citizens. Any overtures the government might wish to take, for example, towards allowing other streams of Judaism to have access to their own portion of the Western Wall, can (as happened two years ago) be nipped off at the bud by a threat from one of the religious parties to leave and bring down the government.
Another question mark, relates to the “Deal of the Century” for solving the Israel/Palestinian questions, which President Trump is due to release within a few weeks after the new government is on its feet. Will it “allow” Israel to annex portions of the Mountains of Israel, and for Jerusalem to remain undivided? Will the present relationship with Mr. Trump and America be able to remain close if there are tenets of the plan which Israel finds impossible to accept?
The Prime Minister Elect will have a month to put together a coalition; if that fails, he may ask for one short extension. That failing, the country goes again to new elections.
* That the God of Israel will watch over and guard the building of the new government. That none will be allowed to be formed which would restrict His path of mercy for his covenant land and people during the coming season.
* That grace will rest upon Mr. Netanyahu—a grace which leads to humility, and to seeking heavenly counsel for his governance during this term.
* That no occult powers would be able to influence the forming of the new coalition.
* That the most recent Shas leader (a convicted felon) will not be allowed to again hold the office of Ministry of the Interior. That the anti-Messiah spirit would not be allowed to reign over that office.
- TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF HANDEL’S MESSIAH IN ISRAEL—IN HEBREW!
This week Handel’s Messiah for chorus, soloists and orchestra has been performed in the Hebrew language in three cities in Israel. It has provided a unique opportunity for Israelis to hear the message of their Messiah in their own (the original Biblical) language. Most are totally unaware of these Scriptures. And of course, it has provided a wonderful inspiration for those attending who have already discovered and received the gift of life in their Messiah. We know of no other work of art which so succinctly synthesizes this message, weaving it together from both Testaments—and releasing it on the wings of some of the most glorious music ever written.
During the week, several hundred Holocaust survivors were among those attending. Each was sitting in the hall with a copy of the texts, in both Hebrew and English. Among those texts is much of Isaiah 53, the contents of which most Israelis are completely unaware exist in their own Scriptures (In the late summer, when all of the surrounding chapters are read as the closing part of the Parashah in Synagogues, that particular chapter and the verses immediately preceding it about the Suffering Servant, have been cut out.).
* That the Holy Spirit who illumines God’s word would shine in the hearts of those who heard it sung this week. That they would recognize in the texts which they took home from the concerts, the God of Israel and His Son—the true Messiah and Saviour for whom they have waited. That grace would be over them to remove the Veil, and draw them in to the true Faith of their Fathers!
THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. All texts are those of English translations of the Scriptures.
The readings for this week 7-13 April 2019 are called Metsora—“Skin Disease/Leprosy”:
TORAH: Leviticus 14:1—15:33
HAFTARAH (Shabbat HaGadol): Malachi 3:4—4:6
Because this is the Sabbath preceding Passover, the usual Haftarah (II Kings 7:3-20) is replaced by Malachi 3:4-4:6—centered around a call to prepare for the coming Great Day (Yom Gadol) of the LORD (Malachai 4:5)—thus, it is called Shabbat haGadol.
As we wrote last week, after focusing on the importance of Israel’s being ‘set apart’ to God in a special way, of her distinguishing between the holy and unholy, the unclean and clean (Lev. 10:10)—both last week’s and this week’s portions continue in instruction of how this was to be worked out in everyday life. There needed to be purification and atonement made for a mother when bringing forth children; there must be measures of isolation and testing taken for outbreaks of surface diseases or blights (both on physical bodies and on dwellings), and for contaminating discharges from the body. And there was a way prescribed for restoration once healing had occurred.
When Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus) came to be born in a stable, his mother Miriam (Mary) submitted to these same instructions for purification (Luke 2:22), and when it was time for the sacrifice, she and Joseph could only afford the humble offering mentioned here (Lev 12:8; Luke 2:24). Yeshua’s coming was to “undo the works of the devil” manifest in all of these diseases, to bring atonement, redemption healing and cleansing. It is very significant that among his healing miracles, special mention is made of those involving lepers and a woman with an ‘issue of blood’. PLEASE PRAY: as those in synagogues this coming weekend hear these words which so graphically picture the presence and result of sin in our midst and man’s need for healing and being pronounced clean, that the Holy Spirit will convict of sin and righteousness and judgment, and draw Jews to seek cleansing through the One who washes white as snow!
The Sabbath preceding Passover is called Shabbat HaGadol—the “Great Sabbath”. It takes its name from Yom Yehovah haGadol v’haNorah—“The Great and dreadful day of the LORD” found in Malachi 4:5 of the special Haftarah which is read on this occasion. It is an important time for soberly “taking account” of the Day which is coming “burning like an oven”…but also for taking heart from God’s promise that “to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings!”
*Malachi 3:16-18. “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of Armies, ‘On the day that I make them my jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”
This passage shows that believers who spend time with other believers in conversation characterized by the Fear of the Lord, and who also spend time meditating on the attributes signified by His name—these will be ones who are granted discernment so as to be spared the deception which will prevail more and more until the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:4, 11, 24; Daniel 8:25).
*Malachi 4:1. “For behold, the Day is coming, burning like an oven…”
As darkness gathers (John 9:4; Daniel 12:1-3) we must as believers hold to each other, listening, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…as we see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25). As the world refuses to wait on God’s command, drawing instead the fire of His wrath, another voice will be calling—“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the congregations . . .” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9).
Next week at seders around the world, Jews will put a glass of wine out on the porch “for Elijah”. At the end of the seder someone (often a child) will be sent out to see if he “came”. It is a charming tradition—but one related to a very serious Word from God, who has promised that He will “send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the LORD” (Malachi 4:5). Yeshua (Jesus) affirmed that “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.”, even though he had already “come” in the form of John the Baptizer, yet gone unrecognized. However may be the ultimate form of his next coming, the awakened body of Messiah in the land of Israel is in great need of the discernment and power of the gifts and office of prophet which he represented. PLEASE PRAY: For the desire for and discernment of these gifts in Israel—and that this time their manifestation not be unrecognized!
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…For the testimony of Yeshua (Jesus) is the spirit of prophecy” (I Cor. 14:1; Rev. 19:10).
Martin & Norma Sarvis
[Next Saturday 20 April 2019 is Pesach—“Passover.” The readings for that Shabbat will be:
Torah: Exodus 12:21-51; Numbers 29:16-25; Haftarah: Joshua 3:5-7; 5:2—6:1; 6:27