Oasis Newsletter

Oasis Volume 23, Issue 10

Three Sure Ways to Shock an Israeli

By Hannah Tekle

Summer Rain

This year in Israel with all the social and political upheaval, the weather has not been a topic of interest. However, a few weeks ago, the “early rain” came very early as a thunderstorm downpour (Deuteronomy 11:14). Usually the early rain comes during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, ruining our decorations and surprising the faithful and adventurous who are sleeping in the temporary dwelling places. So having the long summer dryness quenched many weeks prematurely, was surprising. So surprising that for a minute it trumped all the other dramatic things going on, and for a moment we felt like the British, gasping and commenting in disbelief over the weather. Heat and rain just don’t go together in our minds.

Israel is used to the dusty sheen that covers everything throughout the six warm, dry months of the year – the sidewalks, the trees and especially the cars. Typically, we try to time our car washing so that it is not directly before a particularly dusty heatwave – when the sands are blown over from the Arabian Deserts.

These clean and dirty cycles are a very good and present metaphor for the overriding theme of the fall feasts we are now celebrating. As Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets begins, we enter into the ten “days of awe” approaching the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). During those ten days we are called to a time of personal assessment, to quiet the heart and open the ears for the sound of the shofar. We eat apples and honey and bless one another with promises of a sweet year – counting on God’s gracious forgiveness, the same way we count on the rain to wash away the summer dust

“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19 NIV)

A Shofar “Siren”

The shofar, the central character during Rosh Hashanah, has different voices. You can hear each clearly, if you listen carefully and if the person blowing it has some finesse.

It can sound like a battle cry.

It can sound like grief and mourning.

It can sound like rejoicing and jubilee, and

it can sound like a very important announcement.

In Biblical times, Israelites were adept at identifying the various messages of the shofar. It was after all, their main mass-communication tool.

Today we are saturated with multiple types of communication: television commercials, billboards, cell phones, radio advertisements, and so many more. Yet, one sound that Israelis immediately pay attention to is the homeland security siren. Especially after a tense season or in a tense area of the country where the sirens go off a lot, our senses are attuned to that sound, and we are instantly on alert if we hear anything in that frequency. 

If it wasn’t so sad and serious, it would be funny, and still is, in fact, to see how a group of people respond when somewhere in the distance a high-pitched sound is heard. Immediately they stop talking and cock their heads, listening to see if it is actually a siren. Israelis learn at a young age listen for the sound of the siren. And we have seen evidence of the life-saving power of citizens being attuned and obedient to its call.

The shofar is no longer used as a civic communication tool, but its spiritual significance remains. It is a special and moving part of the celebration of the Fall Feasts, and a sound that even secular Israelis acknowledge as special, symbolic and even sacred.  

“On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.” (Numbers 29:1 NIV)

A Gift with No Strings Attached

During the Fall Feasts it is customary for friends and family to give and receive gifts.  Even employees typically receive gifts from their employers at this season. To this end, many stores advertise special deals and discounts. But only humanitarian aid efforts offer something for free. In fact, the scriptures give this direct instruction:

“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.”  (Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV) 

We are blessed to have been able to carry out this instruction literally, by distributing 900 holiday food bags in this season to needy and struggling families in our city.

A free pass, a free give away, something for nothing – are things no Israeli expects to receive. We are suspicious of free handouts, free trials and gifts with supposedly no strings attached. When we succeed in working the system, and get something for nothing we celebrate, but receiving something genuinely for free is shocking.

The closing lines of the traditional Rabbinical prayer “al cheit” recited on Yom Kippur, sum up the thorough and meticulous repentance of past sins with these words:

“[For] those of which we are aware and those of which we are not aware… Those of which we are aware – we have already declared them before You and confessed them to You. And those of which we are not aware – before You they are revealed and known…”

It’s like receiving a traffic report for an offense you didn’t even realize you committed, and then having the fine covered or cancelled. The traditional prayer covers all the bases, repenting and asking for forgiveness.

However, Leviticus 17:11 tells us that it is blood that makes atonement. The striving and fasting and praying and the commandment-keeping is not sufficient payment for forgiveness of sin. And Yeshua has paid that price in our place:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23 ESV)

We send warm greetings to you from Tents of Mercy for a Happy Fall Feast Season and solicit your prayers for us and our nation at this time! May your name be written in the Book of Life!

Blow the Shofar in Zion!

By Leon Mazin

The first of the Biblical Autumn holy days is the “Feast of Shofars.”

“Say to the Israelites: On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of Sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with SHOFAR blasts.”  (Leviticus 23:24 NIV)

The prophet Joel repeats this appeal in another way:

“Blow the SHOFAR in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.” (Joel 2:1)

The New Testament adds further understanding to this Torah commandment:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the SHOFAR-call of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

The triumphant sound of the shofar in these verses proclaims the Creator’s authority in Israel and the world.

In daily life, the shofar was an instrument used to call, guide or warn the people. But when it is sounded on the Feast of Shofars it points to the Majesty of God. The very sound of the Shofar awakens the “innards” of a person and tunes us to the wavelength of God’s voice.

Joel says that the Shofar must rouse the believers before the Day of the Lord comes. Yeshua also addressed slumber (in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins). The sound of the Shofar should symbolically wake a person from slumber, jolt him out of routine. The sound of the Shofar should push his heart into a new beat, opening his spirit to God. The Scripture says that God will reveal His purposes to His servants and that we will not be left in ignorance, for the eyes of the Lord is upon His servants.

Much of the shofar blowing in the Bible is done by humans. However, one day these prophetic shofar blasts will be transformed into something greater – the Heavenly Shofar! The first-century congregation had a very specific prophetic interpretation of the shofar heard on high – the Lord’s return, the redemption of those still alive, and the dead rising to His Kingdom.

Blow the Shofar! Raise your voice! Call on the Lord! This is the prophetic meaning of the Lords’ Feast! The Spirit and the Bride say: “Redeemer come!”

We thank you for your prayers and support for our Ministry!

Soul Hydration

By Guy Cohen

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the source of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) 

What living water is Jeremiah talking about?

When someone is thirsty, they look for something to drink. Today there are all types of soft drinks, energy drinks, and other beverages to quench our thirst. None of them are the pure, clear, unaltered water that is the best choice for our body. In fact, most of these options are not healthy at all.   

Our body is made up of physical H2O water which needs to be replenished by drinking. However, here Jeremiah is speaking about the living water needed to revive a dry and weary soul.   

What does it mean when the Lord says His people have forsaken Him? How?

It comes down to what we are accustomed to worshipping, what we are extolling, what we are chasing. In most cases then and now, people look to something they can see and hold on to. During Jeremiah’s time they would make idols of wood or stone, or turn to the sun and moon. Today’s idols include possessions, status, perverted sexuality, horoscopes, talismans, charms and symbols of power (idolatries which can open the door to demonic influence). To satisfy and quench our thirsty soul, mankind throughout history so often looks to something other than the creator of the universe. This is how we have forsaken Him.

We are confronted daily with situations that cause our souls to become dry. What is the reason thirsty souls do not drink living water?

In John 4 we read of the Samaritan. Yeshua, the source of living water, stands beside the well with no way to draw physical water. We then see the Samaritan woman with all the tools to draw the water to physically quench thirst; yet she has a thirsty soul and a dry heart which cannot be helped by drinking from that well. Yeshua’s words touched the parched aspects of her life opening her up to receive His living water.

Looking at the role of the prophet in situations like this we see the importance of being guided in our daily lives by the Holy Spirit. In this way, as it was and is with the prophetic, we can be at the right place at the right time, speaking to the right person and touching, as did Yeshua, the place which opens them up to receive waters that never run dry, never to thirst again.

Yeshua has many names; the one we see here in Jeremiah is “the source of living water.” We, the believers in Yeshua who carry the Spirit of the Living God in us, must take our appointed places in prayer and intercession for the dry and weary hearts to draw on Him the true source of living water.

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