Excerpts from message given at Pastor’s Conference “One in Messiah” in Jerusalem.
For many pastors in the Western democratic countries, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raises issues not easy to solve. In churches large and small, an important part of their members are young, vibrant and active millennials.
Millennials, as we all know have a passion for justice for all things and all peoples. And they attend universities which advocate and promote the Palestinian narrative.
Therefore, these Christian millennials who innocently want to help Palestinians, end up buying into a very anti-Israel Islamic agenda - of which, in reality - they have nothing in common.
The city with the largest Jewish population in the world is just over a hundred years old.
It has been built while fighting off numerous wars from its powerful neighbors
numbering 330,000,000 Muslims whose primary aim was to annihilate Israel and throw its people into the sea.
Today in Israel, you can walk right out on the street, stand on the public square and declare your faith in whomever you please, with no fear of being arrested, much less tortured or killed.
The same thing cannot be said of any Islamic country surrounding Israel. You cannot even speak freely in Islamic-dominated Bethlehem. There is one Arab church in the town where the Messiah was born whose pastor stands in every way with Israel’s Biblical right to have a Jewish state in the Holy Land. His church has been set on fire 14 times; he has been shot and his life threatened numerous times. No one in this Palestinian-governed area has been arrested for this travesty on religious freedom.
In Israel, if someone attacks a person or building because of religion, he is arrested and convicted and jailed. That includes Muslim or ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists.
But in Islamic states, Christians are not just being discriminated and harassed - they are being exterminated. Under ISIS, Boko Haram, El Shabab, they are sold into slavery, raped and executed.
In fact, Israel is the only society in the Middle East where Christian communities are thriving and growing. Israel has given asylum to Bhai from Iran, Christians from Darfur and Christians from South Lebanon. This is not a coincidence.
Am I saying that Israel is a complete utopia? Absolutely not. We have our struggles. But still we are a strong democracy, with more freedom of religion than any other nation in the Middle East. In fact, we were the first Middle East nation to grant Muslim women the right to vote, and we have the freest Arabic language press in the Middle East.
To borrow a statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress last year, there are only 1.5 million Arabs out of the 330,000,000 Arabs in the Middle East (less than 0.5%) who live in democracy, and all of them reside in Israel!
Israel is far from being perfect. We have major issues we need to deal with, but we have the same DNA as Western democracies.
All those values are the opposite of Islam. Israel is not what’s wrong with the Middle East. It’s what’s right with the Middle East!
THE ROOTS OF ISRAEL’S LEGAL CULTURE
Just as the West has Judeo-Christian roots, the Jewish culture is built around the Mosaic Law. In Moses’ last will and testament, which we call Deuteronomy, he gave clear instructions regarding political leadership. In a word, this is God’s idea of an ideal government.
Chapter 17 says that after we have conquered the land, we should choose [i.e. elect] a king from among our brothers. This king should:
- not have many horses;
- not have many wives;
- not have much money;
- not be chosen among the Levitical priests.
Translated into modern vernacular, the king should:
- not be a (authoritarian) father figure of the nation;
- have limited military power;
- have limited diplomatic power;
- have limited economic power;
- have separation of religion and state.
In other words, he is not to be a dictator as were the tribal fathers of the surrounding nations. Reasonably, the power of his army must be strong enough to protect his people, but not to dictate the daily life of his subjects.
In ancient civilizations, kings strengthened diplomatic relations by marrying the women of surrounding rulers. But that was not to be in a God-centered nation.
The head of the government was not even supposed to amass great sums of money under his control. And the king was never supposed to take on the duties of the Levites. In other words, he himself was not to create a state religion under his authority.
In short, the Hebrew king is everything but your normal king. Dictators were not on God’s agenda.
The founders of the American republic were Christian Puritans who looked at the Mosaic Law as the basis of creating a free society with limited government, separations of powers and separations of religion and state.
We who are living in this century have drifted far away from actually trusting God to protect our nations. But the fact is that God promised He would protect a God-fearing nation that was following Him:
“The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you: they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:7
The glory for a prosperous and protected nation belongs to God, not man. This principal can be seen when the Lord told Gideon to send his large army home, and called for only 300 men to fight a fierce battle. Victory came as a result of God’s intervention. At other times, the Lord gave instructions to Joshua how to defeat Jericho, and he told David to attack only when he heard the marching feet of an angelical army in the trees! God always wanted Israel to remember that it is He who brings victory.
Obviously, the purpose of pointing out God’s way to victory and prosperity to a nation under attack is not to create an unreal, fanciful ideal for modern warfare. However, the truth is, if God is called on by a nation’s rulers and citizens, and they pray and seek God’s face, He will heal the land and bring victory.
A MODERN-DAY MIRACLE
Actually, there are constant reports of miracles taking place to protect this young tiny state. If God were not keeping His promise to resurrect the ancient nation of Israel and protect it from annihilation, the Jewish state wouldn’t last a day.
Most of the Israeli people do not yet know the God of Israel and His Son, the King of the Jews. But God has made a solemn promise that when he brings the Jewish people back to the land of Israel, He will also bring them back to the God of Israel.
Last spring, the Israeli news carried a story about a certain rabbi who went down to the border between Israel and Gaza, and prayed for God’s help against the enemies of Israel. He prayed that the attack tunnels Hamas was digging would collapse. And lo and behold, since his prayers, nine tunnels have collapsed.
Israeli media wrote: “As Hamas blames everything from Israel to Egypt to bad weather for the collapse of their terror tunnels, the true source may be a lone rabbi with enough faith to bring down the tunnels with the power of prayer.”
“Hamas has invested millions of dollars and much of its manpower into building its network of terror tunnels, used to deadly effect against Israel in the last war in 2014, under the Gaza-Israel border. However, despite all the concrete and effort…in the last two months, nine tunnels have collapsed, leading tunnel workers to refuse to continue digging. Earlier this week, a high-ranking Hamas officer was killed in a tunnel collapse, bringing the total number of militants killed in tunnel accidents since the beginning of the year up to 17.”
Now, even the Gazan media has written about this Rabbi Shriki who is praying against their tunnels.
Israel has, in fact, never been outnumbered in any war by less than 3 to 1. In our War of Independence in 1948, the Arab armies were four times greater than the Jewish army of the newborn state. Many of these new Jewish soldiers didn’t even know enough Hebrew to understand their commanders' instructions. But God gave a great victory to Israel.
Do you know how many missiles it takes on average to create one Israeli casualty? Before the existence of the Iron Dome System, the casualty ratio was one death for every 445 Hamas and Hezbollah missiles. Is this just because our enemies have really bad aim, or do we serve a miracle God?
Besides, I ask, what can be a more daunting task for God? To remove 600,000 men from one nation (Egypt) through one Red Sea, or to gather 3,600,000 Jewish immigrants from 70 different countries over sea, land and air?
Our first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, said that “in Israel, in order to be a realist, one must believe in miracles.”
MIRACLES SO BIG YOU COULD MISS THEM
It is unprecedented for any people in all of history to maintain their culture and speak their same ancient language after 2,000 years of expulsion. It takes only two generations after immigration for a people to lose their language. How many of you speak the native language of your great-great grandparents?
Immense efforts have been invested in reviving old, “dead” languages, such as Native American languages, Welsh and Gaelic, but none of them became the base language of a new nation.
Less than a century ago, not one person in the world spoke Hebrew as a first language. Now there are over six million people speaking Hebrew as their main language.
The very earth of Israel is experiencing revival.
Israel has the highest per capita yield of agriculture and milk in the world.
Israel is the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and same language as it did 3,000 years ago. To think that there was a 2,000-year lapse of dispersion and exile in between is mind-boggling.
In the 1930’s British scientists claimed there were enough water resources in this land to support only two million people. Today, because of our desalination and drip-irrigation technologies, those same water resources are supporting 12 million people, because we are exporting water and water technology to our neighbors.
So why are we seeing this miraculous restoration of Israel? The Scriptures explain:
“When they [Jews] came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name - when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’”
“And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst, and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations and bring you into your own land.” Ezekiel 36:20-21
God is saying that His Name was proprofaned when nations pointed out Israel had been exiled from her land. And God would hallow His Name when He brought the Jewish people back to their land. So let’s pause for a moment to ask an obvious question: what does the physical restoration of Israel have to do with the name of God?
The answer is that Almighty God has sworn with an oath and a statue and an everlasting covenant to return Israel to her own land:
“He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations. The covenant which He made with Abraham and His oath to Isaac. And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.’ Psalm 105:7-11
There is no other passage in the Bible that combines so many words that express a solemn commitment of God. God considered this issue so important that He caused it to be recorded in the Bible in 47 places.
The struggle over the Land of Israel is not just a dispute between two neighbors over a property boundary. It is a question of the very sovereignty of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the integrity of His Name.
In 1970, 80% of Jews lived in the Diaspora. Today that number has been reduced to 57.5%. If I were to state 25 years ago that soon 1.2 million Jews from the former Soviet Union will immigrate to Israel, you would have called me crazy. Communism destroyed religion. Judaism in Russia virtually ceased to exist at the time, and yet out of the “north” the Jews came back home, just as the prophets said.
From 1948-2011, waves of mass immigrations have brought in over 3.6 million Jewish immigrants from around the globe from the Former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, North America, Argentina, France, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia, among others. Today Israel is made up of at least 70 nationalities and nine out of ten citizens are first or second generation Israelis.
Stretching across the Middle East are 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League and home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only 8,000 square miles and is home to 7.8 million citizens, one-fifth who are Arabs. The Jews of Israel are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population, yet the State of Israel has not only survived, indeed, it is thriving.
Just as exciting as the physical restoration of Israel, the prophets foresaw a massive spiritual restoration.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh…Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:25-28
WHEN GOD’S PEOPLE IN THE NATIONS BRING THE GOOD NEWS TO ISRAEL
There are many Scriptures which foretell that the Gentiles will help bring about this return to the land of Israel and to the God of Israel.
Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations, And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. Isaiah 49:22
When Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas is asked by young pastors why his church is so prosperous, he always says he believes the reason is that every month they give “to the Jew first.” The first checks of the church are written to Jewish ministries! In 2015, Gateway Church raised a total of $130 million, the largest church budget in the USA.
When Pastor Brian Tome at Crossroads Church began giving monthly to Israel in 2015, their church grew within a year by 30% and was named by “Outreach Magazine” the fastest growing church in the USA.
Am I saying that if your church is not giving to Israel, you are missing out on a massive blessing? No. But God is saying it!
If you want to embrace the culture of God, the miracle of God, and the blessing of God - you can start by embracing Israel!
ISRAELI DEVELOPMENT AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Israel has the highest per capita yield of agriculture and milk in the world.
Israel has 450,000,000 more trees at the end of this last century than it did 100 years ago.
New discoveries of natural gas have been accessed off the coast of Israel to last for more than 25 years, while exporting billions of cubic meters per year.
Israel has, per capita:
- the highest ratio of university degrees
- produces more scientific papers
- the highest number of scientists, technical professionals, engineers, and PHD’s
- more museums
- more orchestras
- publishes more books than any other nation in the world.
As a result of Israel’s drive toward academic and technological excellence, it has the largest number of startup companies per capita in the world, making it the Silicon Valley of the East. Today more than 2,600 startup companies are active in Israel.
In 2014, 99 Israeli companies sold for $6.94 billion, which is a monthly rate of $578 million. In January 2015 alone, Israeli companies sold for a record $860 million.
Because of our technological innovation, we have a higher GNP (Gross National Product) than the combined GNP of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza which have a combined population exceeding 117 million citizens.
More Israeli companies are traded on NASDAQ than all companies from the entire European continent. In fact, Israel has more companies traded on NASDAQ than any other nation except North America and China.
Developed the technology behind Skype.
Created Text Messaging.
Invented the Thumb Drive or Memory Stick...
And so much more!
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ONE IN MESSIAH CONFERENCE IN JERUSALEM
Dr. Raleigh Washington
The pastors visit Capernaum
Dr. Raleigh Washington is the president and CEO of Promise Keepers. He also has a passion to partner with the Messianic Jewish leaders of Israel.
He brought a tour of 44 pastors along with their elders and leaders with the explicit purpose that every two pastors would connect for a long-term relationship with one of the Israeli pastors.
Maoz worked together with him to bring 21 Israeli pastors for an all-day meeting.
From the comments we heard from the American pastors, they were ecstatic with the meeting and the entire tour.
Dr. Raleigh plans to conduct more of these tours.
Group pictures: Israeli pastors above, U.S. pastors standing below
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MAOZ ISRAEL ASIA LAUNCH
Ari speaking at a Leaders Conference in Hong Kong
Ari has just returned from launching Maoz Israel Asia in Hong Kong in collaboration with Kingdom Ministries which is impacting the believing world throughout the Far East. He has been teaching the Biblical foundation of God’s plan to bring revival to Israel and the world in these last days.
Building trust with the leaders in China (Mainland), Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore takes time and is built on relationships and solid proven teachings. Ari had the opportunity to speak to many local leaders through sharing these foundational teachings.
To understand the Scriptures from a biblical Jewish perspective is revelatory to the Chinese Body of believers. The goal is to give the Chinese leadership a firm foundation of the roots of their faith so they in turn can teach the masses of Chinese Christians who can then pass on these foundational truths to the next generation.
Kingdom Ministries and local leaders in Hong Kong
Kingdom Ministries and local leaders in Macau
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EXPANDING OUR OUTREACH
TO THE SPANISH-SPEAKING WORLD
Iglesia Tiempos De Gloria
Ari was invited to bring the message of God's purposes for Israel to churches and gatherings of leaders in Guatemala.
Our Director of Maoz Israel Español, Omer Leon, together with our Spanish translator, Andrew Giraldo, accompanied Ari to to introduce the people to the internet Spanish edition of the Maoz Israel Report.
Israel Conference for local leaders of Guatemala City
Pastor Alfonso and Sofia Bocache, Iglesia Tiempos De Gloria
Pastor Rony Madrid, Iglesia Vida Real
Pastor Dr. Luis Fernando Solares, TV Channel 27
Paola and Andrew Giraldo, Omer Leon at the booth
Maoz presented the Israel vision with two other Israeli ministries, "Kehila News Israel," a weekly internet Messianic newspaper, and "The Land Tours," introducting the Maoz Israel Ministry to Christian Hispanics at Exploit 2016 in Miami.
Omer introducing Maoz to leaders of other ministries
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SENDING ISRAELI TEENS TO LIFE-CHANGING HANUKKAH CAMP
By Eitan Shishkoff
The KATZIR (Harvest) Camps have become an event many Israeli Messianic teens eagerly anticipate. It’s a time of reconnecting with believing friends from around the country. A time to meet with God!
Here’s the kind of story that takes place at the Katzir Conferences:
When our last summer youth conference began, one of our high schooler’s response to me was sullen, uncooperative. I thought to myself “Who does this young woman think she is? We’ve had to turn some youth away and she doesn’t even want to be here.”
As the nearly week-long camp progressed I saw little change in Olivia (a fictitious name). Though in our meetings - especially the youth-led praise and worship times and dynamic messages by Israeli pastors from God’s Word - we could see many other teenage hearts softening toward Yeshua.
Each day the comraderie built as small groups met to read the Book of First John and to pray for each other guided by their dedicated young adult counselors. Activities included a long hike through a northern forest, ending at the Mediterranean coast. On another day the youth collected multiplied tons of garbage along the shoreline of the beautiful Sea of Galilee - doing their part to restore this irreplaceable natural treasure.
By the next to last day, Olivia had piled up a dubious record of disrespect toward leaders and refusal to participate. She seemed mired within herself, her countenance darkened, unable to enjoy anything. Near the end of the conference the young camp director and I took her aside, fully ready to send her home. Our understanding with the youth is that repeated non-cooperation brings a “ticket” home.
Sitting on a bench, the Mediterranean sun setting on a tranquil evening sea, I looked at Olivia. I had one question for her. “Is this really the person you want to be—the way you’re acting toward us?” To my surprise, I noticed tears forming in her eyes, spilling over on to her cheeks. These were no crocodile tears. Something broke open in our young friend. “I know I’ve been messing up. Please give me another chance. I don’t want to be the way I’ve been. I’m so sorry.” We explained that she now had to show her repentance with real fruit. “Tomorrow will be a true test of whether you mean it or not,” stated the camp director. Olivia agreed, we prayed, and began to see a change that evening.
At the end of every Katzir conference we “open the mic” to hear testimonies. “What has this conference done in your life?” is the question we invite the youth to answer. After a number of moving testimonies we held our breath as Olivia got up before the whole group. “When this camp began I was angry and not interested in cooperating. But Yeshua touched me and I realized that I’ve been going the wrong way. I want to change - I really want to change. And with the help of my leaders and family and friends back home (Jerusalem) I intend to live a different life.”
There’s no greater reward than knowing that young hearts have been transformed. At our next Hanukkah Camp, in late December, I’ll be watching for Olivia.
Eitan Shishkoff is pastor of Ohalei Rachamim (Tents of Mercy), a Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation and humanitarian aid center near Haifa. Tents of Mercy has planted four sister congregations.
The teens will be paying a total of $20,200 to attend the Katzir Hanukkah Conference. We at Maoz want to offer our partners the opportunity to complete the funds needed for this upcoming Katzir Conference to be held during the Hanukkah school holidays in December. Balance needed: $14,000.
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Dear Maoz Partner,
Most Israeli children of Messianic believers have great challenges as they go through the “spiritual desert” of high school.
At the age when everyone is looking for friends, they are often the only followers of Yeshua in their classes or even their entire school. Few of their acquaintances, including teachers, understand how a Jew could believe in Yeshua and still be a loyal Jew to the Jewish people.
Katzir Youth Camps, led by Pastor Eitan Shishkoff and wonderful Israeli volunteers, are an oasis of spiritual life-saving renewal.
It’s an opportunity for the youth to receive encouragement, inspiration, and personal counsel that refreshingly augments the ministry of family and local congregation.
And it’s an experience that deposits valuable memories of worship, small group interaction, focused prayer, caring counselors, and really fun activities.
What is easier? To help a young believer or borderline youth while traveling through the often stormy teens, giving them solid love and spiritual coaching? Or to try to bring them back to the Lord in their 20’s and 30’s after they have gone astray, often with life-time scars?
According to the Barna Group, only 6% of adult believers made their decision to follow God over the age of 18. It is amazing to realize that 94% made decisions as children.
That means there is no time like the present to be giving our teenagers every chance, in an environment with other kids, to follow their King and Messiah, Yeshua, and plant a firm foundation of faith that will follow them all the days of their lives!
Interestingly and important, the polls also indicate that people who become believers as youths are more likely to remain “absolutely committed” to following the Lord.
The fact is there’s a new generation of teenagers and after-army young people rising up in Israel as strong born-again Messianic Jews. They are godly activists in many different areas of life – business, the arts, high tech, ministry, government, to name a few.
We believe that much credit goes to both their congregations and these fabulous youth camps and conferences, when complete attention is given to the spiritual well-being of these young people.
The Katzir staff has done all the tough work of months of preparation.
And now you, as a Maoz partner, have the opportunity to make this Hanukkah Katzir Camp possible by blessing them with your gift this month. We want to bless this camp with the additional $14,000 they need.
It’s a joy to work together with you in making such wonderful opportunities possible! We believe that the growth of the Messianic Body in Israel is the greatest prophetic sign of the Coming of the Lord since Yeshua walked this earth!
Reaching Israeli youth with the Good News!
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. THANK YOU for praying and standing this month for the YOUTH of Israel! They are so worth your eternal investment into their lives!
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