Hoshana Rabba

The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabba in Judaism.  I am sending this out to you since this day begins this Thursday evening.  I previously sent a post on the meaning of Sukkot in general.  Now I want to concentrate on this Seventh day.  Remember the 8th day celebration that follows, a day of new creation.  That is also an important sabbath day.

This Feast is connected to prayers for rain and good crops for the coming year.  As we have just celebrated the end of the year’s harvest, we look forward already to the new harvest that will come at Shavuot or Pentecost.  The key to that harvest is rain and hence the prayer for rain with the hope that the early rains will start soon after the Feast and then continue into the Spring where we will see the latter rains.  We are so much more conscious of this living in Israel.  It is was on this very day of the Feast that Yeshua stood up and said,

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.  Now He said this about the Ruach whom those who trusted in Him were going to receive; for the Ruach was not yet given since Yeshua was not yet glorified.”

As rain produces fruitfulness and both satisfies our thirst and brings increase, so the Spirit satisfies our spiritual longing and brings increase, for by the Spirit we are able to see the harvest of people into the Kingdom.  It is again fitting to remember the harvest themes of this season.

Scholars tall us that this might have been spoken in the context of the water pouring ceremonies at that time.  The priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and put this out in the Temple as an offering, signifying both giving our lives and calling for rain as well.

A great miracle was also connected to this time; the healing of the blind man in John 9.  We again have a Sukkot theme, namely that Yeshua is the light of the World.  This statement of Yeshua in John 8:12 promises those who follow Him will have the light of life.  Thus the blind man is healed as an illustration in the physical of being healed of our spiritual blindness.  His words, “I was blind, but now I see.” John 9:25.   The context is the glory of the lamps that were lit in the court of the women that produced a grand glory over the Temple and the City.

As we celebrate Hoshana Rabba, let us remember these wonderful themes and renew pray for the renewal of the power of the Spirit in us so that we may have inner satisfaction, walk in His light and be part of the great harvest. It is fitting to pray for revival indeed.

Sukkot (Tabernacles) is Coming

Friday evening begins the Feast of Sukkot.  In some ways, it will be sad here because the wonderful joyful harvest feast will be nothing like normal due to the virus shut down.  Sukkot has great meaning, not only for Israelis and for all Jews, but for all committed Christians. 

The command in Lev. 23 notes that this is to be a 7 day festival with the 8th day as a special assembly, Shimi Atzeret.   Historically we recall the time in the wilderness before Israel entered the promised land.  This was a time of supernatural provision despite the judgment.  Those who experienced that judgment who were under 20 years of age when it began, would have survived that judgment of almost 40 years and would have had great memory.  There was supernatural manna, meat, and water.  Their clothes did not wear out.  The Feast, therefore, is the supreme testimony from this memory that the LORD is our provider. This is why the directions for remembering the desert period were given for the largest and final harvest festival of the year.  Can you imagine being a parent and not having your kids’ clothes wear out?  Israel in the Land, now living in stable houses, with stable seasons and harvests, is not to think that their provision is any less from the LORD.  To drive this truth home, Israel is to dwell in tents as she did in the wilderness, to know that all provision is from God.  It is a testimony of the New Covenant Scriptures that for those who walk with God and live in generosity that “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Messiah Yeshua.” (Phil 4:19)  

Probably, Yeshua was born during this Feast. The evidence is not absolute.  If so, according to the calculations from the division of Abijah’s time to serve in the Temple, the division of the father of John the Immerser, one probable calculation leads us to the time of Sukkot.  Since this is a pilgrim festival and families traveled to Jerusalem, it would explain why there was no room in the Inn.  It indeed, would be so fitting and appropriate for Him to be born on the first day of Sukkot and then circumcised on the 8th day, Shmini Atzeret. He tabernacled among us. 

The Feast is chosen by God to be the Millennial Feast for international celebration, for all nations in that age will send their representatives to celebrate the Feast.  Therefore, it is the Feast of the Kingdom of God.  In wonderful anticipation, organizations like the Christian Embassy, bring representatives of the churches from the nations in anticipation of that Age.  It is therefore in Judaism and should be in Christianity, the Feast of the Kingdom of God International under the rule of the Messiah.  If one adds the idea of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb that takes place after his return, which is rooted in the symbolism of the High Holidays, Rosh Hoshana to Yom Kippur, then it could well be that the Feast is the reception gathering of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.   We also cannot overlook that the largest and final harvest is a fitting symbol of the great harvest of the nations at the end of the Age.  

The celebration of this Feast by all believers in Yeshua therefore is a prophetic act of intercession in longing for its fulfillment.  

 

The High Holidays

People connected to the Messianic Jewish movement and Evangelicals with passion for Israel often have a significant understanding of the High Holidays in the Bible and in Judaism.  This is the period between Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur.  Some have a depth of understanding.  However, it amazing how many have no significant understanding at all, maybe the majority. 

The High Holidays are the holiest time of the year on the biblical Jewish calendar. Sadly, in my view, the name Rosh Hoshana and part of the theology of the day in Judaism obscures some important meanings.  It was not wrong for Israel to adopt the New Year date of the ancient Near East just as we in the West celebrate January 1st.  However, the idea of that the date is really the anniversary of the creation of the world is speculative.  By calling this the first month, we obscure the meaning that stems from Nissan, Passover month, being called the beginning of the year in the Torah.  So yes, we can have new year meanings for the 1st of Tishri, but this should be secondary, and the emphasis should be on Tishri being the seventh month, the primary meaning.  Seven is the time of perfecting.  

In the seventh month on the first day, we hear the sound of the shofar, hence the Biblical name Yom Teruah, or the blowing of a trumpet.  Teruah is the sound of that blowing.  The Bible also notes silver trumpets at this time, but this has also been obscured.  We do have a new beginning due to the meanings of these holidays.  The blowing of trumpets means that we are to get ready, for we are entering into a time judgment by God and seeking forgiveness and atonement whereby we will not fall under God’s judgment but his mercy, forgiveness, and grace.  This is why we have the trumpet emphasis in the book of Revelation, and the last trumpet emphasis in I Cor. 15 that is sounded at the return of Yeshua.  Rightly, in Jewish tradition for this season, we are reminded of the last judgment and the Age to Come.  The day is fraught with eschatological meanings. The trumpets are connected to Passover and exodus as well, the trumpet was heard at Mt. Sinai.  Therefore the book of Revelation includes both meanings.   Following this day, a Sabbath, we have the intermediate days leading up to Yom Kippur on the 10th of Tishri.  The Sabbath in that mid-period is called Shabbat Shuva, the Sabbath of return and repentance.  Repentance is a daily exercise but is especially emphasized now so that all will repent. 

The holiest day, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a time or fasting, of self-searching, repentance, recommitment, and receiving of forgiveness/atonement.  The prayers of the synagogue are mostly corporate.  We pray for the sins of Israel since the sin of any is part of the corporate sin of the nation.  Lists of sins are comprehensive.  Unless one understands this corporate dimension, he or she will not think that all of it is relevant to them, though the lists can point of individual sins.  Westerners are so individualistic.  We need to learn the importance of corporate intercession.  We especially thank God for the book of Hebrews which shows us the great fulfillment of the meaning of Yom Kippur in Yeshua.  He is both our High Priest and our sacrifice.  He enters into the most holy place in heaven with his own blood procuring the fullness of our forgiveness and the perfecting of our conscience.   The sacrifices of old in themselves could not take away sin. Their meaning is participation in the sacrifice of Yeshua who is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World.  We can see an anticipation of this in the Jewish teaching that all the sacrifices were only efficacious because they participated in the sacrifice of Isaac who was offered in the place where the Temple would be built.  However, Isaac is not divinity and is only a type, a foreshadowing of the great antetype, Yeshua our High Priest and Sacrifice.  All the images of atonement in the Torah find their fullness of meaning in him.  

There are also last days (eschatological) predictions of atonement that show Yeshua’s sacrifice will be provided for the sins of the whole world.  In John, we read, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.”  The vision of the conversion of the nations who all go up to Jerusalem in Isaiah 2 is only possible if the sacrificial atonement of Yeshua is applied to them.  In Zechariah 13 we read that a fountain will be open to Israel for her cleansing.  From this text we get the famous hymn, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.”  I also believe optimistically in interpreting Rev. 1:7 when all the nations see the returning Yeshua and morn.  I think they mourn for their sins and rebellion against Yeshua, the King.  This is why the survivors of the last wars can go up to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem to worship the King every year, a fitting parallel to Isaiah 2.  Yom Kippur looks toward the future application of the blood of Yeshua to all the nations on earth. 

Jewish Ministry: Why all Should Care

Two very large megachurches have made Israel and joining together in support of Messianic Jews a key foundation of their ministries.  Some of their megachurch leadership friends think that they have gone overboard in their emphasis.  They do not have a vision for this as an important part of their vision.  Sadly, in my view, these churches that don’t agree with this Jewish emphasis are missing it and need a revelation of from the Spirit of what the Bible says.  

In the first century, the Jewish hope for those who believe the prophets was that Israel would get it right in regard to holiness and purity.  This would lead to the coming of the Messiah, Israel’s deliverance from her enemies, and then the redemption of the nations, the whole world.  The amazing prayer of Zechariah, upon the circumcision of John the Immerser (Baptist), makes this theology very clear and can be well understood as fitting that first-century Jewish context in Israel.  

“He has raised up a horn of salvation for us, in the house of David

Just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ages past, 

Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. 

So, He shows mercy to our fathers and remembers His holy covenant, 

The vow which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us—

Rescued fearlessly from the hand of our enemies—

to serve Him in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”

For Paul, the mission to the nations was a new piece of the puzzle not before revealed. It was that salvation coming to the nations would be a key to fulfilling the promise to Israel, the fulfillment of the hope voiced by Zechariah.  “Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous.”  This is part of the purpose of world missions.  

In verse 14 Paul points to himself as a Jewish disciple of Yeshua called to magnify his ministry (the supernatural work of the Spirit, “to provoke to jealousy those of my flesh and save some of them.” However, Paul uses his example as one for the gentiles to follow. They are to join him in this task resulting in a growing number of Jews coming to faith in Yeshua.  This growing number of Jews, called the “remnant saved” in v. 5 and the first fruits that sanctify the rest of the nation in v. 16 are a key as well to Israel’s salvation   Why is it so important? Because it will lead to Israel turning to Yeshua.  ”What will their acceptance be but life from the dead.”  This little phrase is shorthand for the rapture, the resurrection, and the salvation of the nations. And so, ”All Israel will be saved.” (v. 28)  

The New Covenant does not change the hope of the prophets, that Israel will be the instrument of God that will lead to the salvation of the nations.   Every Christian is given the charge by Paul to embrace the concern of Israel’s salvation, for he says, “I am speaking to you who are Gentiles.”  He says this as one who has given his life for them, as an apostle to them.  His example is for everyone. 

Therefore, my friends in the two megachurches which I reference have not gotten off balance. They have simply discovered the Biblical emphasis.  Scripture Quotes from The Tree of Life Version. 

 

The Israel Political Crisis Never Ends

Israel has two moderately conservative newspapers that for many years were quite positive to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  That has changed. Why?  There are several reasons. and the issues they write about now take us to another crisis.

First, the editors did not think an indicted Prime Minister should run for Prime Minister or be in office of P. M.  The Supreme Court ruled that he can do so.  The issue is as the editors stated, that his attention would be diverted, and that he would develop policy directions tainted by the upcoming trial and then during the trial.  This seems to be exactly what is happening.  One of the issues is that in Israel it is possible for the Knesset to pass a law that a Prime Minister cannot be indicted but only removed by the Knesset. However, passing that law after an indictment is problematic indeed.  We recall that Prime Minister Olmert stepped down when indicted and afterwards was convicted and served his time.

After the last election, Netanyahu did not have enough votes to form a coalition without the centrist Blue and White.  The negotiations were hard, but hardly anyone in Israel wanted a fourth election in so short a time.  A new election did not seem to favor Bibi.  So, after hard negotiations, it was agreed in the coalition agreement that they would pass a two-year budget.  When a government cannot pass a budget, the government falls, and elections are required.  The two-year budget assured that this would not happen.  The agreement also stipulated that in November of 2021 there would be a rotation and Benny Gantz would become the Prime Minister.  The Knesset agreed to all this.  The ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party, Shas, said they would guarantee the agreement and would not support moves by Bibi to get out of it.  Now in only a few months Bibi wants to scuttle the agreement on the two-year budget.  Shas said they would not support this move.  Bibi’s excuse is that the virus makes a long-term budget unfeasible.  But the virus was here when the agreement was made.   It looks to almost everyone that Bibi wants a one-year budget and then to go to elections before Gantz has his turn.  Then he can pass the legislation that lets him off the hook with the court.  If the polls look good, he would want an election right away to get out of the court case.  This is the most manipulative political wrangling that I have ever seen.  So, what does Bibi do with Shas?  He offers hundreds of millions in shekels to the ultra Orthodox Yeshivot (religious Talmud study schools) to buy them off to gain their acceptance if he goes to elections for a fourth time.

Bibi has done very, very, good things for Israel. The news editors I referenced say so as well. However, they think things are now over the top.  There is as I write now only 48 hours to avoid an election and pass a budget extension, but that will only delay the problem.  If Likud, Bibi’s party, changed their leader, I think they would do well.

Meanwhile, Bibi’s direction is losing votes to Naftali Bennet of the new Right Party, not to Blue and White or Yesh Atid, the two recent biggest parties opposing him   This is due to Bibi taking sovereignty for the West Bank in part or in whole off the table for the peace agreement with the UAR.  Bennet also sees the integrity issues.  Likud’s Gideon Saar also would like to replace Bibi due to the integrity issues.  However, the Likud members will not yet vote to replace him.   What will happen?   We don’t know, but we are in a political crisis again.  It is a crisis totally created by Bibi.   We are still fighting a spike in the Corona virus.   The new Corona Tsar, Dr. Roni Gamzu, seems very solid and balanced.  In the midst of this, to spend hundreds of thousands of shekels on unnecessary elections seems unconscionable.  As for the budget issue, a two-year budget could be passed and adjustments could be passed later if necessary.   So again, we need much prayer.

Annexation and the Return of the Zealot Party

Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it is near certain that Israel will annex 30% of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) including the Jordan Valley.  This is in line with the Trump peace plan.  What is so important is the realism of the Trump plan.  I have noted this in past posts but will repeat.  Before the Oslo peace plan, both liberal and conservative governments in Israel supported creating towns in the disputed territories.  The main reason was to have more territory controlled by Israel so that Israel’s strategic depth for defense was increased. Yes, the right-wing with P. M. Begin hoped to see a permanent annexation of the territories, but that was not pursued and was politically not feasible.  The hope was that the Palestinian areas could be ceded to Jordan or that the Arab residents could be residents in Israel but citizens in Jordan.   

With the Oslo peace plan and the idea of a two-state solution being revived (this was the original U. N. plan from 1947) the issue became how to draw the border.  Israel’s government, during the time of the hopes of the Oslo plan, was seeking to cede most of the territories for a Palestinian State. In the P. M. Olmert plan, the Palestinian’s would be given 95% of the territories in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Israel 5% to preserve the larger settlements.  When the Palestinians walked away from this plan, the left as a power in Israeli politics was destroyed.  This is why today we have a large rightwing group of parties, and a centrist group of parties but no significant left-wing power (despite Bibi calling the center parties left-wing!)   

The Trump plan still holds out hope for a Palestinian State on the 70% of the land plus Gaza.  However, if the Palestinians will not come to negotiate, President Trump has made it known that Israel can then go ahead and annex these territories as long as Israel coordinates mapping with the White House.  Bibi is very thankful to President Trump and the President is popular in Israel.  He has recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and moved the embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.  His peace plan is the only realistic one.  Why? Because the other plans require removing some of the towns of the territories.  There are over 400,000 Israelis in these towns.  Any government that sought to remove even part of them would face stiff resistance, bloodshed, and even civil war!  Trump’s plan does not require removing any of the settlements.  A Palestinian state is still very unlikely, and quietly some really hope for a return to the Jordanian citizenship idea in the years ahead so as to avoid a Palestinian state and a claim of apartheid. This declaration of annexation, probably in July or August, will probably lead to much world rejection and maybe a new Palestinian uprising (intifada).  It may threaten the peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt.  It would also risk relationships that were growing with other Arab nations.  However, Bibi sees this as a once in a lifetime opportunity with Trump as President, and he will take the risk.  He has the votes to do it.

However, the leader of the settlement council and the Jordan Valley communities, David Elhaynai, seeks to thwart the plan for two reasons.  First, he and his followers will not countenance the idea of a Palestinian state at all.  They want all the territory without full rights for the Palestinians (not by the choice of the Palestinians but by Israel’s fiat).  They do not want to even say they accept the Trump plan in theory.  Bibi wants the loss of a Palestinian state to be blamed on the Palestinians. He, therefore, accepts the Trump plan.  He is a realist and politically very savvy. Secondly, Elhaynai is upset that 15 small settlements, some of which were illegal but have been since legalized, will not be in contiguous connection to the new Israeli 30% territory.  For this, he also rejects the plan.  Why would he be so extreme and zealous?  It is hard to know. He is not part of the super right-wing religious though he has to represent them as part of his constituency.  These latter folks believe that taking all the Land is a Messianic mandate that precedes the coming of the Messiah.  Whatever his reasons, he has to represent them and is himself a maximalist for other reasons.  My concern in all of this is that these zealots are of the same spirit that Yeshua warned about and noted that their direction would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem.   He said if only they had known the way for peace.   We cannot say that Israel today, mostly not committed to Biblical standards and faith, would have the favor of God to reenact the conquering of Joshua.  There is no prophetic voice of leadership for this.  We cannot hope for or depend on God’s favor for such radical recommendations.  We are not a righteous nation though comparatively more righteous than many.  This settler leader has even lambasted Trump as not a friend of Israel.  He has drawn the rebuke of Bibi for this and rightly so.  I believe that this is the same spirit as the radical zealots of the first century, and they must not be allowed to scuttle the progress that has been made due to President Trump.  A way for the Palestinians to find justice while Israel realistically can claim the territory of the settlements is the realistic way forward.  Netanyahu is taking a terrible risk. I hope it works out.  But the settlers are asking him to go beyond risk toward a probable disaster. 

 

Sinai and Zion, Covenant, Spirit, and Torah

The day of Shavuot or Pentecost on the Jewish calendar is the date for the celebration of the giving of the Torah, the covenant of the ten words, or the ten commandments.  The Jewish calculation that this is the date is reasonable.  Often, however, people do not notice that the phenomenon of the Sinai events has very close parallels to the events that took place in Acts 2 on the day of Shavuot/Pentecost.  Sinai is actually a foreshadowing of the events of Pentecost/Shavuot.  Note the words of the text in Exodus 19:16.  

On the third day, there was thundering and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and the blast of an exceedingly loud shofar. . . then in v. 18, “Now the entire Mount Sinai was in smoke, because ADONAI had descended upon it in fire.  The smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace.  . . . When the sound of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him with a thunderous sound.  V. 18, All the people witnessed the thundering and the lightning, and the sound of the shofar and the mountain smoking.  When the people saw it, they trembled . . . 

How do we picture the event on Mt. Zion in the Temple.  The notes in the NIV and my own reading is that the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 on the Temple Mount in the Portico of Solomon.   Were the tongues of fire small little tongues?  Or were they enveloped in glory?  Were the disciples quietly speaking in Tongues almost in a whisper or shouting out (declaring) with a noise that was awesome?  Why else would the thousands have gathered to where they were.   Then they heard the voice of God in the tongues of the people just as the voice of God was heard by the people at Mt. Sinai.  They were declaring, I believe,  in loud voices.  The wind itself was mighty and probably heard way beyond the 120.  

Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them.  Thy were all filled with the Ruach ha Kodesh and began  to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out . . . And when this sound came, the crowd gathered.   They were bewildered, because each was hearing them speaking in his own language.  And they were amazed and astonished  . . . we hear them declaring in our own tongues the mighty deeds of God.  

There are amazing parallels in both events.  Bible students and scholars have noted the parallels.  They were both public dramatic miraculous events.  Both are on mountains.  Mt. Sinai was a temple of God’s presence as was the Temple in Jerusalem that was its successor. 

The days of Moses were not bereft of the Spirit.  Moses had the Spirit and the Spirit came upon the 70 elders who prophesied Numbers 11:24-26.   Moses seemed to anticipate the New Covenant and said, “If only Adonai would make all the people prophets.”

The Spirit is certainly important in the Mosaic period, but the Torah, the Word, the commandment is much more emphasized.  Due to the failure of the nation, the prophets predicted a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff, Ezekiel 36:24ff) where the Spirit in us would move us to obey God’s word.  The New Covenant brings the Age of the Spirit where the two mountains come together, the Torah of God-given on Sinai and the Spirit of God given on Mt. Zion.  The giving of the Spirit establishes a better covenant (Heb. 8:7-12).  The better covenant empowers through our dying and rising with Yeshua (Romans 6) and being filled with the Spirit.  Romans 8:4 summarizes, “So that the requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Ruach.”  

In the Mosaic order, the Word of Torah is the larger emphasis, in the New Covenant the power of the Spirit is the larger emphasis.  The giving of the Spirit in power brings a great harvest.  It did in the first century and onward and from every great revival a harvest was gained.   

The words of Joel 2:28 ff and Acts 2 show us that that outpouring was not the final fulfillment of Joel 2.  It was, as with the Kingdom having come, in an “already not yet” way.  Why?  Because these texts still envision a greater final outpouring that would lead to the final harvesting and the second coming of Yeshua.  This was understood by Puritans and Lutheran Pietists hundreds of years ago and was also the hope of the Pentecostals in their beginnings.  It is hard to miss this:  The underlines that follow note the parts of the text that show that the great fulfillment of Joel 2 is also not yet and still to be greater than anything that has yet been seen. 

And it shall be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Ruach on all flesh.   Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall dream dreams.  Even on My slaves, male and female, I will pour out my Ruach in those days, and they shall prophesy.  

And I will give wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, fire, and smoky vapor.  The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious Day of ADONAI.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of ADONAI shall be saved. 

All flesh anticipates something more than the few thousand who experienced the Spirit at that time.  The events of Joel 2 are to occur just before the final mighty Day of the Lord.  This is the Day when God intervenes in final deliverance for his people but judgment on the wicked who will not repent.  The phenomena of signs in the heaven, the sun, and the moon were not yet fulfilled.  Yes, the first century was a day of the Lord but not the Day of the Lord.  The final outpouring leads to a mass harvest so that whoever calls on the name of the ADONAI shall be saved.   The images here of the smoke and fire are also Sinai images.  

We see an amazing aspect of this end-time revival and outpouring of the Spirit in Isaiah 4:2-6.  It is an astonishing passage.  

In that day the Branch of ADONAI will be beautiful and glorious . . . whoever is left in Zion and whoever remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.  

After ADOANI has washed away the filth of the Daughters of Zion and has purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then  ADONAI will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her convocations, a cloud by day and smoke and shining of a flaming fire by night.  For over all, glory will be a canopy.

Note the days of Moses images but also the greater promise of the ultimate presence of the ADONAI in Jerusalem.  This day will come when Jerusalem calls on the name of Yeshua.  

We, therefore, seek a mighty Shavuot/Pentecost worldwide, in Israel and Jerusalem but until that day we can see revivals that are local and regional.  The Disciples were mightily filled a second time in Acts 4:29-31, and Peter’s prayer needs to be ours.

And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant Your servants to speak your word with utmost courage—while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy Servant Yeshua.  

And when they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. And they were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to speak the word of God with boldness.   

 

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dock

The trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) for bribery, fraud and breach of trust has begun.  There are three cases against him and not all are of equal weight.  It is not important for our readers to know the details.  If you want to know the details, you can find it easily on the internet through an internet search/  There are numerous detailed articles describing the charges and the evidence.

I think that there are a few important things to understand that can inform your prayer.  Bibi and part of his rightwing party (Likud) members are engaging in a propaganda campaign to discredit the investigators and the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, who brought the charges.  They claim that this is a campaign of the left to remove the right-wing government.  They also are on a campaign to discredit the court as an activist court and to also discredit the Supreme Court.  I believe this is very dangerous.  Yes, as in the United States, the Court here has been too activist at times, but this is a criminal trial not a matter of activist legal interpretations.  The campaign to discredit the Court by Netanyahu’s closest allies in Likud is wrong and again dangerous to the country.  Not all Likud members are in on this campaign.  Several higher-ups in Likud have perceived themselves to have been betrayed by Bibi and remain quiet.   One other matter is disturbing.  They brought up a case from 10 years ago where the Attorney General was investigated to find if he covered up a case for General Gabi Ashkenazi who is now the Foreign Minister in the Unity Government and part of Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party.  This was dismissed a decade ago. 

Bibi is innocent until proven guilty, but it does not look good for him, though I hope he would be found innocent.  I have evaluated Bibi in the past in my postings.  He has done some really great things and not so great things!  One key thing to keep in mind is to understand who Avichai Mandelblit is.  He is a conservative Attorney General that was appointed by Bibi!  If one was following the investigation and the prosecutors, it seemed as if Mandelblit was doing everything possible to not indict Bibi.  He was an ally of Bibi.  However, the force of the evidence was so great to him that he could not avoid it.  History would record the evidence and if he did not go forward, he would forever be remembered by history as a compromised political hack.  So now Bibi seeks to discredit his own pick for the Attorney General, his former ally. Again, I hope Bibi is innocent and found innocent, but the evidence, even as reported in the conservative Zionist press, is that he is guilty.  (not in the Bibi newspaper Yisrael Hayom

One sad thing about the complexity of legal processes here is that this could all take form 18 months to 3 years to finalize.  There could be appeals to make it even a longer time.

Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)

Can we Figure out what Prime Minister Netanyahu Desires for Peace?

Two of the most important things to note about the new unity government in Israel is that Blue and White under Benny Gantz will not prevent Prime Minister Netanyahu (Bibi) from annexing the settlements (cities and towns) in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Jordan Valley.  This will probably happen with the acceptance of the Trump administration.  The world will scream, and will not recognize it, but Israel will not turn back.   The U. S. will recognize it with a few other countries. 

The second thing to note is that Yamina under Naftali Bennet, the rightwing religious party, is not in the government with Bibi.  Bibi could have offered them a greater role, but I think he intentionally did not, though he professed to want them in the government.  Bibi is one of the most amazing political manipulators ever.  I think he really did not want them in the government.  Bennet’s past behavior greatly irritated Bibi since he would publicly criticize Bibi though in his cabinet.  Imagine a cabinet minister in President Trump’s government publicly criticizing him or the cabinet ministers in the times of former presidents.  Yes, it is a coalition of parties in Israel, but in most Parliamentary coalition governments, once the government is formed such public criticism ends.  And what was his critique?  It was usually that Bibi was not moving forward to annex the territories or that he was too weak on defense issues. 

These two facts now give Bibi flexibility and maybe revealing his end game with the Palestinians.  If Bennet is in the government, he will push Bibi to reject a Palestinian state. Bibi does not want to do this, at least not publicly. If there is no such state Bibi wants the Palestinians to be blamed for not attaining one. Yesterday at the time of this writing, the Settlers voted to reject Donald Trump’s Peace Plan because if gives the Palestinians 70% of the West Bank and Gaza for a state.  Bibi has said he fully accepts the Trump plan. He prefers to not have Bennet in the government making public criticism from his right flank.  

There are three plans that now are possible.  The old plan for a Palestinian state with the ’67 ceasefire lines as the border is not one of the possibilities that anyone can now be considered.  The first Is the Carolyn Glick One State Solution which is the name of her book.  In this solution the Palestinians living in the West Bank (not Gaza-which would be released to be on its own or part of Egypt) are given full citizenship in Israel.  Glick is a contrarian with regard to her views on population trends.  She thinks that the Palestinians would never then be more than 1/3 of the population.  It does not appear that Bibi has accepted this view.  He thinks, I believe, that absorbing so many Palestinians would be dangerous. 

Then there is the Bennet plan which is to eventually, but in stages, annex the whole West Bank and give the Palestinians some level of residency and autonomy but not citizenship. Some go father and want to pay the Palestinians to move away.  The world will call this apartheid.  Bibi is too smart for this solution since this would lead to world rejection and boycotts.  It would end progress with the Arab world.  Some think the Palestinians could have residency in Israel but citizenship in Jordan.  Jordan is not interested.  Boogie Yaalon wanted to see no change but to just live in the status quo until there is a change of heart.  This direction would also be seen as apartheid. 

The third option is the Trump plan.  It is the plan of realism.  It gives Israel the boarders and territory they need to make their state larger and more defensible.  However, it also provides a Palestinian state and solves the problem of the challenge of absorbing the Palestinians as citizens.  Israel cannot be said to be apartheid since the Palestinians can have their own state.  Indeed, if they declare a state and are recognized by the world, then there is a border dispute not a dispute on apartheid.  Bibi wants to move fast and gain the Jordan Valley and that 30% of the West Bank.  My view is that Bibi really does embrace the Trump plan and would accept a Palestinian State under the Trump terms which are the terms of realism.  But with the Palestinians rejecting this, Bibi can blame them for not having their own state.  He can live with the status quo on no Palestinian State and just say it is up to them. 

The present unity government is the best opportunity Bibi could imagine for doing what he wants to do.  If he does annex, the Yamina people in the Parliament will vote for the annexation.  They will not vote for a Palestinians State, but that will not be up for a vote this summer!

 

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO

Corona Virus Update

I have read countless articles and listened to many newscasts.  I think we now can draw some pretty sound conclusions.

  1.  It has been well established that the problem with COVID 19 is overwhelmingly an attack on the old and those with co-morbidities.   The statistics are stunning.  It is from 90-96%.
  2. We did not know this in the beginning.  We should not be harsh in judgment on those who shut down the economy since the information they had was limited. If the virus was more lethal to younger and healthier people we could have been looking at millions of deaths.  Leaders had to act on that possibility.
  3. Now that we know the truth, the key is to isolate the vulnerable and to allow the healthy to work.  The isolation of the vulnerable can be loosened in areas where there is little to no virus cases, which is many places. For example, there is no virus in our town in Israel.  All ages can go to the gym and not wear masks.  No out of towners are allowed in the gym.
  4. The Florida model of protecting the old and those with co-morbidities with great effort and intensity but opening up the rest of the economy is the model for the future.
  5. Randomized testing sufficient to show where the virus is not a problem will be a key to greater loosening for the vulnerable.

I am losing patience for the vitriol in attacks. Those who want to work are called selfish when if they have no salary they cannot eat.  Losing a job is an existential threat and destroying the economy has the potential to lead to many deaths.  I am tired of credible minority views among scientists eliciting vilification and dismissal.  I am also tired of news people who believe in the prevailing view being vilified by news people who are convinced by the minority.  Where is the place of healthy debate?  That is how science progresses.

I am a bit puzzled by the idea of a vaccine being the ultimate answer. I am not on the anti-vaccine side.  I do my annual flu shot.  However, I know that the shot is only 40-50% effective.  I think we have to look at other treatments.  Today in the Israeli press there were reports of three anti-body anti-viral drugs that may be close to a cure.  Three companies are developing these.  One is Pluristan Therapeutics in Haifa.  The second is Israel Biological Research Institute. The last is Sorento Therapeutics in California.  These drugs sound like potential game-changers. They prevent the virus from taking hold in the body.  Let’s hope so.

Let’s be thankful that in most countries the curve is now been flattened and is going dow.

The debate on hydroxychloroquine continues.  Detractors say that it has been tried and does not show good results.  The proponents say that the studies are invalid since it has to be given in high doses early in the infection.  There are dramatic stories of turn arounds, anecdotal evidence.  We still await a study where all can agree that the parameters were solid.  Why is this so hard to accomplish?  Some thin, It is the drug companies and their profit motive.  Let’s hope not.