Oasis Newsletter

Oasis Volume 21, Issue 11

Meaning in the Mundane

by Hannah Tekle

The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
Round and round it goes,
Ever returning on its course…
What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:6,9)

The feast cycle and the weekly cycle – Can there be too much of a good thing?

September was almost entirely vacation days this year. The Biblical High Holiday feasts fell on weekdays, meaning – to the kids’ delight – that there were only 9 school days in the whole month.

Each holiday eve we commemorated with friends or family and enjoyed making them special. This year, since none of the holidays fell on a Sabbath, we had twice the celebrations and twice the work. I made a record number of challah breads, and to tell the truth, so many special days in a row became quite exhausting. By the end, we were glad to have a chance to “rest” from the holidays and get back to a routine of school and work. The Sabbath, our weekly-cycle-holiday, had lost its luster and felt almost like a chore. Now that September is behind me I’m reminded of the noteworthy, necessary and meaningful nature of the Sabbath. What a special and welcome pause it is from the tiring cycle of the workweek.

Even nature takes a rest

This last weekend, since the weather has begun to cool off, we went out to visit our nearby national park to see if the white Autumn wildflowers were in bloom yet (Squill); but we found that the forest was dry, still in a dull-brown daze from the heat of the summer. Surprised and disappointed, I felt that somehow my forest had let me down. But of course, it is also appropriately cycling through the given seasons, and waiting for its time to be revived in green glory by the early rains of winter.

Making the scriptures real to our children – the cycle of Bible reading

At the end of Autumn’s Biblical High Holidays, we celebrated Simchat Torah. In Jewish tradition, this is the day in which the yearly cycle of reading the five books of Moses comes to an end and begins again.

It’s a day of rejoicing in the giving of God’s instruction, and rolling the Torah scroll back from the end of Deuteronomy to the beginning of Genesis. Children got to look at the scroll up close and see the ancient Hebrew lettering. They received sweet treats and a flashlight, reminding them of Psalm 119:103, 105: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” and “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Talking to the kids that day in class, we recited together the well-known verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Even after all of the excitement of the candies and the flashlights, the kids rolled their eyes to be going back to such a basic truth and said dutifully, “Yes, God is the Creator of the Universe.

We read the scripture in cycles, and if we are doing it right, hopefully by the time our children reach age 18, they will have gone through the Bible many times at increasing levels of internalization and application.

We finish and begin again, and the Word of God does not change. Sometimes children complain that they are bored. With this young, digitally occupied generation, it seems more challenging than ever to present the scriptures in a new, stimulating and meaningful way. (Probably that goes for the older just-as-digitally-dependent generation as well.)

What can we do? One key lies in the secret of the Sabbath and the furtive forest flowers.

In our life cycles and routines, we need the combination of the known and the dependable, along with the spice of the fresh and different. We thrive on the security of knowing something expected will come, and we revel in the joy of experiencing the freshness of what hasn’t been for a while.

The Word of God guides this combination.

  • Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
  • And you shall rejoice in your feasts.
  • I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. The whole of the chapter is spent extolling, describing and prescribing the word of God. In Hebrew the chapter number 119 is designated as קי”ט. In modern Hebrew the word kayt (קיט) is a synonym for the word vacation – “That which is done with the purpose to bring rest or relaxation to the body and soul.” This notion is reflected in verses 35 and 37: “Direct me in the path of Your commandments, for there I find delight…revive me with Your word.”

Of all the popular self-help strategies that are out there, one of the most promising is an app that claims to help you read whole books in record time. Successful people, they claim, read lots of books. As a literature and language major, I love to read, but in this era of easy entertainment, getting absorbed in a book is not as easy as it used to be. Sometimes daily reading of even The Book of Books can feel like a challenge or a chore.

So, how can the Word of God be both a vacation and a chore all rolled into one? It’s a paradox, one that Solomon no doubt understood. The wisest man on the earth, when looking over his life clearly felt regret over things he had done against God’s commandments. He also wrote these words in Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

In these days when “new” challenges require “new” solutions, let’s remember that the living Word of God is the perfect prescription that never changes, yet is new day after day. It is our daily bread, the manna that never goes moldy and is always enough. It revives us, heals us, and holds the remedies to all that ails us.

Peer Pressure & Hearing the Voice of God

By Guy Cohen

Peer pressure is not new. It takes many forms, as does our reaction to it. When pressured, we might be tempted to go against our own better judgement, belief system or understanding of what God has told us to do. We could find ourselves having to choose between what we believe is right and what is expected or even demanded of us by society, family, employers or governments, etc.

In the book of Daniel, we see the young Hebrew exiles Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego faced with these issues in Babylon. They received a position in the palace and were given favor by King Nebuchadnezzar, in spite of being Jews, outsiders. Suddenly, they were faced with the command to bow before a statue of the king – to treat him as a god. Talk about peer pressure! Word was sent throughout the empire to gather key leaders to be present for the dedication of the gold statue, towering 30 meters (100 feet) high. When the music began, all were to bow down.

For Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego to bow down would directly contradict the Word of God: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image … you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:3-5)

These three young believers had to take a stand, disobey an order and face the consequences in Daniel 3:12: “These men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Then they refused a direct order made by the king himself, who placed himself above their God. Their answer? “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

As they were being thrown into the fire, the situation turned upside down. Those who rushed to serve the king in his fury by pushing the Hebrews into the fiery furnace, were burned. As the king watched, God joined the three Hebrews in the furnace and the fire didn’t even singe their hair!

We need to walk the way these three exiles did – looking to the Word of God to guide us while listening for Yeshua’s voice. We need the Spirit of God to bring us through these challenging times, while respecting each other and recognizing that people may be called differently.

There are many among the believers who have taken the COVID vaccination and there are many who have not; each as he has felt led. Yeshua did not come to judge the world but to save the world. This should be our attitude when facing the onslaught of opinions and non-stop discussion on COVID and the vaccine. Our place is not to judge one another.

Each one of us must develop an intimate relationship with God so that we can hear His voice individually. Only then can we be united during the trials to come as we near the end of the age and the appearance of the Antichrist.

Let us turn our eyes and hearts to Yeshua and may He return soon.

Sound the Alarm

By Leon Mazin

The prophet Joel may be called a minor prophet, however, he had a major revelation about the days of the LORD, or as we like to call them, “the last days.”

The Apostle Peter quoted Joel 2:28 to describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the congregation of the first believers in Jerusalem. Yet Joel also speaks specifically about the future:

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill.” (Joel 2:1 NIV)

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly…”  (Joel 2:15–16)

“Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:17)

“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains
because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.”  (Joel 2:23)

These quotes from Joel parallel the biblical Day of the Blowing the Shofar (2:1), the Day of Atonement (2:15-17), and the Feast of Tabernacles (2:21-28). The culmination of these events will be the forgiveness of Israel and God’s people around the world, the outpouring of the Spirit of God, and the restoration (“tikkun”) of the world!

As we look at a world choking in fear of Covid, filled with rumors of war, inundated with disasters and fires; sometimes we think maybe this is “it.” But we don’t know. Yeshua encouraged us that no one knows the day or the hour, but we should wake up, be alert and ready for any good deed! And we will not miss out on the reward from the Lord!

Please pray:

– For the humanitarian outreach of our ministry, as we help the needy in collaboration with the local municipality. We also continue to prepare hot meals for the elderly and lonely people. This project is growing daily.

For the new school year at our Music and Art School which has begun. Your prayers are a vital part of this project.

– Stand with us in prayer for the Restoration of Yeshua’s name and boldness to proclaim it in Eretz Israel.

Thank you for your prayers and partnership.

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