- Article 1,'Though it Tarries'
- Article 2, 'To Dwell - the Promise and the Challenge'
- Article 3, 'See the God of Grace'
- Article 4, 'A New Level of Partnership'
I am feeling overwhelmed by undeserved, unexpected grace and the anticipation of much, much more. Here’s why. For twelve months and counting, fuel promised in the Bible has been flowing through Israeli pipelines and producing electrical power for its households. This natural gas fuel boon has begun to break what was – up until now – complete dependence on imported fuel, and has even begun to make Israel a regional energy exporter.
For decades the Israeli government, along with Bible-believing Texas oilmen, put good money into searching for oil in Israel. The oilmen were gripped by two prophecies Moses received concerning the land inherited by the tribes of Asher and Joseph.
“…most blessed of sons; let [Asher] be favored by his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.” (Deuteronomy 33:24)
“Blessed of the Lord is [Joseph’s] land with the gifts…of the deep lying beneath…with the first of the ancient mountains and the precious things of the ancient hills.”(Deuteronomy 33:13)
After long years of coming up empty, almost everyone despaired of Israel ever being able to provide her own energy needs for electric power generation, transportation, etc. It seemed that these particular blessings were only going to be for our cousins in neighboring lands. The thought was suggested: “Maybe we are not to take every Biblical prophecy too literally, especially the more poetic ones…”
But then it happened. Huge deposits of natural gas were discovered 90 km off the coast of the Haifa peninsula. Suddenly it appeared the “foot” of Asher truly was dipped in “oil.” The country was still skeptical. It seemed too good to be true. Surely there was a catch. Surely bureaucracy or military tension would torpedo the actualization of the promise. But this blessing has been pumping into the country for a year now! Around half of Israel’s electric power is already supplied by the new source, where previously it was all dependent on imported fuels. In addition the natural gas use is greatly reducing air pollution. Agreements are already in progress for selling to Jordan, the Palestinian authority and Egypt. New piping infrastructure is being installed throughout the country. Export of natural gas to Europe is in the works. The projected value of the natural gas deposits is estimated at roughly 130 billion dollars over the next several decades, from the biggest offshore gas discovery anywhere in the world in recent years. As if that were not enough, huge oil shale deposits have now been discovered under the hills of central Israel.
They call it an economic and geopolitical game changer. They call it transformational. Israel is becoming one of the strongest diversified economies in the world, relative to its population size. These economic blessings were promised in Joel 2:24-26. Just a few verses later in Joel 2:28-32 we find promises for God’s spirit and power to be poured out.What a reminder that God’s Word and His promises do come to pass, even if not on the timeline we might like to see! May we believe for every promise, physical and spiritual.
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. THOUGH IT TARRIES, WAIT FOR IT; BECAUSE IT WILL SURELY COME.”(Habakkuk 2:3)
To Dwell – the Promise and the Challenge
By Guy Cohen
“Thus says the Lord God: ‘On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt.’” (Ezekiel 36:33)
In modern history the land of Israel has absorbed an unprecedented number of Jews “making aliyah,” or coming home to Israel. This land is the place where the Jewish people can thrive and maintain its identity after centuries in exile. The Scriptures speak of our days in which the exiles are returning to their homeland. My grandparents arrived in Israel from historic Jewish communities in Yemen and Morocco. It was not easy for them, but with determination and inspiration, they established a home for us.
The first waves of immigration to Israel experienced great hardship. The settlers faced many practical economic challenges and opposition from some Moslem residents as they struggled to create a habitable environment in deserts and malaria ridden swamps. They bought land with donated money, established cities, built villages and kibbutzim. Later, immigrants who came soon after the establishment of the state in 1948, received land or apartments from the government at reduced, subsidized cost.
Today, even while dealing with a new language and cultural issues, each immigrant still wants his children and grandchildren to have a good life in the land of Israel. At long last we are back in Zion. Our generation does enjoy the fruits of generations of immigrants who came before us. And we do have a beautiful and blessed land. However, even as we speak, there are those who leave Israel – around 20,000 each year – to seek an easier life in another country. And we ask, “Why ?”
Cost of Living in Israel
One of the reasons that many Israelis emigrate to other countries is due to the high cost of living. Many factors contribute to this, including the leftover influence of our socialist ideological roots and high taxes. For example, by the time you add 35% import tax plus 17% sales tax, a new car costs about 1.5 times the price that it would in some other countries. Free market competition is still limited in certain sectors. Army and defense costs are huge.
In kindergarten I was taught to sing about the rebuilding of Israel – by each one of us individually, and all of us together:
Who built and who planted
My land of Israel –
beautiful and blossoming?
All of us together!
I built a house in the land of Israel
…I planted a tree in the land of Israel
…I paved a road in the land of Israel
…I built a bridge in the land of Israel
…I wrote a song in the land of Israel
…So now we have a land…a home…
a tree…a street…a bridge…
and a song in the land of Israel.
Children still learn this song. It speaks
movingly of the rebuilding and restoration of
the land of Israel.
Buying an Apartment
Another Israeli song says, “Take yourself a wife, and build her a house.” But the price of housing in Israel is high and rising faster than salaries. A three bedroom apartment in a low-demand area costs around $200,000. So we ask, “How can a young married couple who were both asked to serve for 2-3 years in the IDF, hope to buy a house when the median monthly wage is 6,000 NIS ($1700)?” Even if both spouses work, they still might not be able to afford to purchase their own home for many years.
And yet we read promises that seem to include economic blessings trickling down to everyone.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper…The mountains shall drip with sweet wine…I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them.” (Amos 9:13-15)
And so I look above and beyond government housing policy. I look to Yeshua who said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions” ( John 14:2). We have an opportunity to experience a life of blessing. He is the one who brought us back to this beautiful land, and He is the one who will help believers here find places to live that will not be an economic stumbling block for them.
Please join with me in praying that the believers here will be able to buy homes, live a life of faith and honorably make a living for their families.
See the God of Grace
By Guy Cohen
According to Jewish custom when a boy turns 13 (12 for a girl), we make a festive ceremony, a Bar Mitzvah, in which he declares that he has arrived at the age of commandments, and has become mature and responsible for his own actions. Bar Mitzvah means son of the commandment. The central element of the ceremony is the young man publicly reading from the Torah scroll for the first time. I believe that this is the age when Yeshua went up to the temple in Jerusalem at Passover as a young man (Luke 2:41-52). Bar Mitzvah is not only an issue of age, but also a matter of physical and spiritual maturity. Indeed Yeshua demonstrated this maturity at Passover.
During March we celebrated our son Reu El-Chen’s Bar Mitzvah, both in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, and at the congregational building in Akko. It was very moving to see our son, who it seems was born only yesterday, grown and ready to take responsibility for his deeds in every way, and dedicating himself to the Lord.
The event with the congregation in Akko was full of spontaneous joy. Many guests and family members who are not believers in Yeshua, joined us and watched the reading of the Torah scroll in a Messianic manner. They were moved by the holiness and love expressed, and the way our son shared. A meal and fellowship followed the ceremonial reading.
My parents and extended family were present in a Messianic congregational worship service for the first time, and we could see their excitement. I felt led to invite my parents to bless their grandson before the congregation.
Afterward friends and leaders from around the country went up on the stage to bless and prophecy regarding our son’s calling in the land of Israel.
Our son’s name in Hebrew means: “See the God of Grace!” We were so happy to witness a new stage in the fulfillment of these prophetic words.
A New Level of Partnership
Tents of Mercy began from a small seed of vision – to see people’s needs met spiritually and physically. Every seed carries its promise through a refining, sacrificial death process to make a new plant. Passover is the celebration of slavery and death giving way to freedom bought with the life of the Sacrifice Lamb. We share an element of sacrifice in helping to give His life and freedom.
Testimony & Partnership with Local City Government
During this Passover season of giving back into the community we are excited and humbled to see that a whole new level of partnership with our local city has been reached. An entire office of the local municipal government cancelled a day’s regular work so 15 city workers could come to our building and help prepare 650 Passover holiday food packages for the economically challenged. The city employees were joyfully engaged in serving others. We were able to host them, laugh with them and eat with them – while drawing closer and seeing God’s love displayed. They got to see us as normal Israelis, part of the country, but with a different spirit. Something changed in their mindset.
The municipal workers commented: “We love working with Tents of Mercy. They have always shown genuine care and concern for our community. Now that we have come and worked up close we know that even more. This partnership has been great for our city.” They view us as one of the most major, organized and generous N.G.O. charity organizations in the region. They said it is important for them and others to see what we are doing. It is now more evident to them that these efforts are not just a symbolic exercise, and that they are done without ulterior motives.
A public school also approached us, wanting to help. A group of government tax officials volunteered and prepared packages a few months ago. New avenues are opening up for outreach. An army officer approached us regarding helping soldiers from difficult family economic backgrounds. Monthly help has also expanded, reaching nearly 400, including ultra-orthodox Jews.
A special thanks goes to Tents of Mercy’s financial partners. Your giving makes it possible for us to offer increasingly large-scale, tangible expressions of God’s life in helping meet people’s physical needs.
|Eitan’s USA Summer Itinerary:
May 24th: 10:00 Service at Beth Messiah in Milwaukee, WI
May 25th: 10:00 Service at Grace Christian fellowship in
May 30th & 31st: Tikkun Family Conference at Turf Valley
Resort in Ellicott City, MD
June 1st: 10:00 Service at Christ our Shepherd Church
in Washington, DC
June 3rd & 4th: Israel Mandate Conference at Riverside Tabernacle
in Flint, MI
June 8th: 10:30 Service at Knollwood Church in Mobile, AL