- Double Trouble
- Are You Your Brother’s Keeper?
- Three Types of Unity and the Power of the Risen Messiah
- Download March Newsletter
By Tents of Mercy
We are living in times of trouble. Everything feels tense and under pressure. Heartbreaking events are occurring one after another:
- War in Ukraine
- Devastating earthquakes just north of us on the fault line, in Turkey and Syria
- Repeated terror attacks in Jerusalem and other cities
- Harsh divisions among Israel’s citizens
We wonder what God is up to, and we ask: “God, where are you?” The storm of trouble rages all around us, and like people lost in a blizzard – all we can see is a blur of helplessness and confusion.
What do we do when one trouble leads to another and then another?
Blind and Begging
The Gospel of Mark recounts the story of Bartimaeus. He was blind. Not only was he blind, but his blindness had made it impossible for him to work for a living. And thus he sat by the wayside, poor and begging for his livelihood. One hardship had caused another. Would his life be like this forever?
Widowed and Starving
The widow of Zeraphath had lost her husband. She alone was responsible for herself and her son, and famine was devastating their land. All that stood between them and starvation was a single handful of grain. And now this wandering Israelite named Elijah was knocking on the door asking to be fed as well…
Barren and Beaten Down
Hannah was childless. Not only that, but she was mocked in her barrenness. What could she do with her double portion of pain?
Bartimaeus, the widow and Hannah experienced trial upon trial, devastation upon devastation. Yet that was not the end of their stories.
As people passed by the blind beggar Bartimaeus, they gave him coins with which he supported himself. But they could not fix with their generosity the thing that really troubled him. Then one day Yeshua, the One who could give him his sight and not just pocket change, passed by on the path. Suddenly he felt hope as he recognized the One who could truly transform his condition.
He did not call out, “Yeshua, the carpenter.”
He did not cry out, “Yeshua son of Joseph and Mary.”
He shouted: “Yeshua, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
What did the widow of Zeraphath do? She sacrificially decided to share her last meal with Elijah, and soon encountered God’s supernatural provision.
What did Hannah do with her pain? She poured out her soul before the Lord. Her only hope was in Him, and He heard.
The Hope of Israel
God is the Hope of all mankind. He is the Hope of Israel manifested in Yeshua (Jeremiah 17:13).
Hope is the path, the boat, the way, the lifeline through the storm. If you have hope, you are able to see beyond what is visible into what cannot yet be seen.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25 NIV)
The Hebrew word for hope is “tikvah” (also the name of the national Israeli anthem). The word “tikvah” additionally means a cord, a rope, a string or a wick. It is mentioned in Joshua 2:18, “When we enter the land, you will tie this scarlet rope in the window through which you let us down…”
The idea of hope and a cord of many strands ties into Romans 8:28. “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” A woven rope is many strings joined together tightly to make a strong and reliable support. As long as our sights are set on the right thing, our hope is not lost.
“Bundles of Troubles” Lead to Heaps of Joy
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
The scriptures speak much of both trouble and of hope. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Why is there Suffering?
- It is part of the package, as the previous scripture tells us.
- It is part of what leads to Glory and Honor at the end of the story: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18 NIV)
- It is part of maturing and completing us: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
Focus on what God is doing. Lift up your eyes to see the rope. Focus on the Salvation (“Yeshua”) of the Lord and not on the present troubles. In other words, put your hope in the Lord.
Are You Your Brother’s Keeper?
By Guy Cohen
The Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother?” And Cain said, “I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)
From Cain’s answer, we see that he is trying to hide what he has done – having killed his brother, having committed the first murder against humanity.
Since then there have been countless murders in our world. All humankind is born with a sinful nature. When we function in our sinful nature, we harm ourselves and others.
After the deed, our next instinct is to deny guilt, deny our part and justify our actions. Only when our guilt is exposed through our conscience can we begin to change. Sometimes this nature is such a strong part of our personality that it enables us to manipulate and lead others into going along with us. Throughout history, there have been groups that deliberately protect their selfish agendas. They justify their decisions to harm and even kill those of other groups. Each group has its own agenda and each is right in its own eyes – superior.
A problem arises when groups turn against each other in warfare. In war, there is no winner. Even though Abel didn’t raise his hand against his brother, Cain was intimidated, jealous and threatened by his brother Abel. Ultimately, they both lost.
The people of Israel originated from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, from his twelve sons and their twelve tribes. Later the nation was split by warfare between Judah and Northern Israel. The reason was selfishness and greed.
When we accept Yeshua into our heart, the heart of division within us is replaced by His heart. He forms a new life in us where love and grace overcomes all.
Self-Superiority of Knowledge Brings Division
“We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:1-2). Intellectual pride of knowledge and self- superiority of opinion, bring division.
In modern day Israel we still have “Pharisees” who are trying to implement principles taken from the Torah, Mishna and Talmud in laws and government policies. In their minds, they are leading the present government in the direction of the Bible. Yeshua stood against many Pharisaical/rabbinical attitudes and still today rabbis with the same spirit are controlling the government, trying to form a “religious nation.” This approach exacerbates tribalism in its negative sense, bringing with it the specter of civil war, brother against brother. No one wins, in the end we all lose.
Back to Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
That’s why Israel and the world need Messiah now. He is the only one who can change the heart of Cain within all of us, into His heart. He can heal our innate drive toward strife and division, into one of selfless caring.
Three Types of Unity and the Power of the Risen Messiah
By Leon Mazin
As I continue to teach on Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, it becomes very clear to me that Paul’s central thought is the restoration of three types of unity. They were all part of God’s original plan, but fell into discord for various reasons. Adam and Eve’s sin was obviously the beginning of it all. However, when the last Adam, Yeshua of Nazareth, died and rose from the dead, power was revealed that did not exist before – power for the restoration of all things!
Unity of Heaven and Earth
Ephesians 1:10 says that Yeshua united/restored/healed the heavenly and the earthly in Himself, “… that all things in heaven and on earth may be united under the headship of Messiah. Our role in this ongoing process is essential, although not always easy to grasp. In Him we are yet seated in Heavenly places!
Unity Between the Nations and Israel
The peoples who were separated since the days of the Tower of Babel suddenly received hope in Abraham, through whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. We see the hope expressed in the Court of the Nations (Gentiles) in the Temple, and in the global prophecies of the Hebrew prophets.
The power of the risen Messiah gave practical realization to these expectations – reconciling Israel and the Nations to God in His body by means of His sacrificial death on the cross (Ephesians 2:15-16). This is a wonderful promise that brings many blessings to all creation; but unfortunately, due to the pride of man, it has not yet reached fulfillment.
Paul devotes three and a half chapters of Ephesians to this reasoning, but the last two thousand years show that real reconciliation is still very much a work in progress. We need to participate. We must humble ourselves and, in the spirit of the Messiah, become mediators between the Church in the nations and Israel, so that the purposes of the Messiah will triumph!
Unity between Man and Woman
The last, but very important unity is within each family in the relationship between the husband and wife.
“Let a wife respect her husband,” and “…husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:22, 28).
Miraculous union within marriages of believers might seem like a “no brainer.” But it is far from automatic. We have all seen failing marriages. The central problem is the inability to humble ourselves and allow God’s Spirit into the marriage.
Yet there is hope. There is wisdom from the Lord. And there is “spiritual armor” with which you can crush the plans of the evil one.
The devil’s machinations destroy mutual respect and the ability to cultivate holiness in our homes! God must become a more integral part of the family. Then, healing will overwhelm the homes of believers and make a divine “sensation” on the outside – giving them the strength to display the glory of the Creator and return to the days when “many joined them because they saw the glory of God in them.”
Ephesians is not fancy theoretical concepts by Paul. It’s an opportunity to receive revelation from God and bring it to life. I pray that the Lord would use each of us as agents of reconciliation and unity!