Trusting in Shields?
By Hannah Tekle
“But You, O LORD, are a shield around me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:3)
In a field not far from our house sits a tiny mobile military outpost. The outpost is a mobile unit of the “Iron Dome” defense system. Its position is adjusted from time to time in order to maximize its chances for success against aerial threats from the north.
This remarkable technology was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to detect, intercept and destroy short range enemy rockets fired into Israel. [The Rafael campus happens to be just around the corner from our congregational building – if you close your eyes you can see our faces beaming with pride.] The Iron Dome was first deployed in 2011 and has improved its success rate over the years so much so that it now has a reported effectivity of over 90% interception.
Having this dome of protection is more than a stellar innovation for Israel’s own safety. It is a multi-million dollar defense system that protects all those living in areas that come under rocket fire, no matter their religious or ethnic backgrounds. The very fact that it exists and receives the extent of funding that it does; is evidence Israel’s commitment to defense, to the saving of lives, to peace. Israel is not a violent, hungry war-machine that seeks to wipe out neighboring people groups.
According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, over 10,500 rockets have been fired on Israel since October 7th. This is almost as many rockets as have been fired before that, going back to 2005. Even with the phenomenal success rate of the Iron Dome, hundreds of rockets still slip through to hit Israeli soil, causing destruction, physical and mental trauma and even death.
After food and shelter, physical safety is a primary basic need. It is even the new first step in traumatic first aid – to check that the person is in a safe place before administering help. If safety is compromised, then other life-saving steps are pointless. We learned this in the congregational First Aid course we did last month after the onset of the war.
The communities that were attacked in the South on October 7th, in addition to the tragedy of lives lost, felt ABANDONED and UNPROTECTED. They had TRUSTED in the IDF and its high-tech defenses. When these failed, they were UNSHIELDED from the real and present danger that had succeeded in penetrating the fences of protection.
Indeed, after the shock, betrayal and horror of that day, more than ever, Israelis are asking who is shielding them, protecting them, in whom can they put their trust, their hope?!
In whom are we putting our hope? In politicians? In the military? In savvy defense tech? Even in a committed, devoted and sacrificial society? None of these can guarantee protection.
King David the psalmist was a man who knew battle, with natural predators and national predators. Psalm 119:114 says, “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word” [NIV]. The Psalms teach us to put our hope in God, in the shield that His word, His presence, His Glory are for us. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “…Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (49:23).
The community of Israeli believers is heartbroken for the state of our people and our country. We intercede for the situation and put our hope and our trust in our gracious Heavenly Father who Alone is a sun and a shield and the lifter of our heads.
Now more than ever, we ask you to join us in prayer for this nation, that our people would turn to God, place their trust in Him, and call out to Yeshua who is the HOPE of generations.
Some photos from our December congregational women’s gathering and a volunteering expedition to southern Israel, where congregants spent the day picking fruit, since there is a shortage of laborers caused by the war.
Why do the Nations Rage?!
By Guy Cohen
For the last week I have been hearing the words from Psalm 2:1 in Hebrew, “Lama Ragshu Goim?!” (Why do the nations rage?!
Psalm 2 can be broken down into four parts.
- Rebellion of the nations
- God’s response
- God’s plan
- Warning and call for the rulers of the world to surrender to the Son.
The Spirit of God led me to this verse as I saw many nations around the world coming against Israel. The nations who refuse to see or understand God’s calling for Israel (Zion) will find themselves standing against God.
Clearly, there is a remnant of believers in most countries. However, no earthy government or national leader reflects the Kingdom of God. Unless they kiss the Son (Psalm 2:12) and He is the head of that nation and its government, they are standing on sinking sand.
A. Rebellion of the Nations (vv. 1-3)
“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ ”
The ancient rebellion of mankind against the righteous rule of God is pictured here. We must understand the geopolitical landscape. Though we are grateful for Israel’s current allies (as few as they may be), ultimately all heads of state will reject Israel (Zechariah 12:2,3). Why? Because Israel is God’s statement of sovereignty over human affairs.
B. God’s Response (vv. 4-5)
“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure:”
God’s response is clear. The rebellion of the nations against Him is so absurd that He’s actually laughing. But then He will judge them.
C. God’s Plan (vv. 6-9)
“Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son; today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for your possession
You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
There’s good news! God does have a plan. That plan is to install Yeshua as the King over all the earth. He will reign from Jerusalem (Zion’s hill). He is God’s son, who will receive the inheritance of the entire earth and ALL nations.
D. Warning and Call for the Rulers of the World to Surrender to the Son (vv. 10-12)
“Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”
Finally, the Lord provides “advice” that the world leaders had better heed. They are to serve and honor the Son of the Most High. If not, it will be their end.
Our response. We call the godly remnant in Israel and in all nations – those who love Yeshua our Messiah – to continue praying for their nations and leaders. To love and honor the Son. To understand why the nations rage and to anticipate God’s glorious reign over all the earth.
by Leon Mazin
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Yeshua the Messiah.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
These words are a command – a direct “mitzvah” for us to obey even in hard times. As we express our thanks, the stream of God’s hope washes away darkness and restores us inside.
Allow me to shed some light on our current situation. Unfortunately, I cannot recall a more stressful and overwhelming period. We’ve been bombarded by a multitude of challenging events. However, it’s crucial not to lose heart and instead recognize that our Lord, has specially prepared our generation for this very moment. I distinctly remember conversations about the trials faced by previous generations, such as WWII. Many of us believed we would never be able to endure such hardships. Yet, here we are, traversing difficult times, despite considering ourselves weak.
It’s of the utmost importance that we rediscover our true identity, as we prayerfully move forward in confident faith. Only then can we understand and embrace God’s will for ourselves and others.
In today’s world we often hear tales about heroes, but for now let us focus on the ordinary individuals who grapple with fear, doubts and great personal struggles. For example those who are serving, or whose children are serving in the Israeli army, confronting danger every day and enduring harsh weather conditions – sleeping outdoors in cold and rain. And the ordinary folks who prepare delicious food for our soldiers. The soldiers are no longer just “my children” but “our children” whom we care for as a community.
Two times a week we deliver clothes, food and other items to various military bases, often close to the border. This is such a blessing for the givers and receivers!
Strangely enough, even in the middle of the war, immigration (Aliyah) continues. We are still serving new immigrants at the rate of 8 – 10 new families a week, and they are so thankful for the assistance.
We continue delivering hot meals to elderly people and those who are not able to fully meet their own needs. And this is a weekly blessing for 60 – 65 people.
We also reach out to families from the Former Soviet Union who bring their children for medical treatment in Israel. They are already in a lot of pain, and then they have to hear the Haifa war sirens. Our help at least makes their life a little easier.
Shavei Tsion’s humanitarian warehouse in Haifa is functioning as usual. We thank God for a few large humanitarian suppliers in the center of Israel who deliver goods to us every month, and we distribute them to dozens of families weekly.
Our congregations are located in Haifa, the Krayot (a Haifa suburb) and Upper Nazareth. We thank God for these vibrant and robust congregations where individuals of all ages glorify the Creator.
Witnessing the energy of the youth, we diligently plan for the future, developing programs that cater to teens, children and married couples. While weariness from the ongoing war permeates our community, it remains vital to focus on the days that lie beyond its conclusion.
I kindly ask you to pray for the 15 soldiers from our congregations who are serving in the IDF. Many of them are now in high-risk areas.
Pray for all the Messianic soldiers in the Israeli army – there are over 1000 of them.
Pray for all soldiers and for the protection of God’s Angels for them.
Pray for spiritual encouragement and for us to be able to shine His light on those we meet every day.
And please pray for our youth!