Oasis Newsletter

Oasis Volume 24, Issue 4

Ugly-Amazing

By Hannah Tekle

On a recent family outing in the Galilee to see spring flowers, we ended up hooked on butterflies. What is it about these mysterious, hovering creatures that so captivates our imagination?

The “Common Blue,” was just last year named the national butterfly, in honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, to promote conservation of endangered butterfly habitats and species.

Butterflies are the original “Cinderella” – arguably the most striking symbol and example of transformational potential in all of nature. They hatch from a tiny egg into an awkward, creepy-crawly, hungry little caterpillar; then into a cocoon, which undergoes a sensational metamorphosis into a creature of glowing floating color. The butterfly effortlessly gives itself to spiritual metaphor.

“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life … and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

In the cocoon stage, the caterpillar morphs into a clump of cells which over the course of a week and a half gradually becomes the beautiful butterfly. This stage is almost grotesque in comparison to its glorious final form and is exhaustingly motionless. The cocoon sits frozen, appearing to do nothing, with no outward sign of gracefulness or beauty. The Hebrew word for this stage is “golem.” It’s also a slang word for stupid.

Waiting indefinitely for something to happen can definitely make you feel stupid. Life is filled with opportunities to wait. Sometimes we know how long the wait will be, but sometimes not, as in the case of the families of those kidnapped on October 7th. They wait, not knowing. Unbearable waiting. Sitting, standing, crying, pacing kind-of waiting. And even when no answer or end is in sight, the soul seeks ease in hope and blind belief. More waiting. When no relief is revealed, disappointment floods in. Despairing. Grieving. Breaking and then choosing to believe and hope again despite it all.

This confusing, exhausting season is taking its toll. In a country where stress is already a national pastime, the reality of war is impacting us in ways we don’t yet grasp. Pain is hard. Grief is hard. But the thing that really wears people down is waiting with no end in sight. It makes you feel numb. Blurry. Off-kilter. We have no idea when this struggle will be over. We have no idea when or if a resolution will come. This much we know – our reality has changed forever. What happened can never be allowed to happen again. We also know that a premature ceasefire is not a solution, and yet war cannot go on without end.

Out of a Lump of Clay

Jeremiah 18 uses another image to tell a similar story. The potter molds a lump of clay, a mass of mud that initially looks like nothing and has no choice but to submit to the process and eventually be made into a creation of beauty and purpose. This is the very theme of Salvation, of the gospel message – a transformation from nothing into something, from nobody into somebody.

Esther’s Purim Transformation

Even as we celebrate Purim (um, hello, we’ve been in this scenario before!) it occurs to us that the Jews of Esther’s day were also war – weary and traumatized from murder and kidnapping and sustaining blows from a vicious enemy. The seventy-year exile had no doubt felt like a helpless, hopeless season of waiting for God to intervene. When the exile was over, the Jewish people were lost in transit. Some were eager like Ezra and Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem, but others were likely immobilized by fear and insecurity remembering the atrocities and the heartache of waiting for salvation.

Queue Esther. Esther did not merely need to overcome a girlish fear of the unknown or a hesitation to be thrown into the limelight. She was from an exiled people, orphaned of her parents and separated from the only family she knew, when she was swept into the king’s harem.

In the climax of the story, “Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall.” (5:1)

Like the butterfly, Esther disappeared as a commoner and reappeared as a queen.

Like the lump of clay, she submitted to the molding and was formed into a vessel worthy and useful for God’s plan.


Please pray with Israel, for faith to persevere through the unknown, through transformation and for the captives to be set free.

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13)


DeliverX

By Guy Cohen

A Passover phrase recently caught my attention. It runs parallel to the plot of Purim and the other “rescue” stories throughout Israel’s history.

And it is this God who has stood by our ancestors and us. For not only one (enemy) has risen up against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise up to destroy us. But the Holy One, Blessed be He, delivers us from their hands.”

Where is the safest place for the Jewish people to be? Some Israelis now suspect it is not in this land. After the events of October 7th, I noticed that many are seriously considering moving abroad. The Jewish people here and in the diaspora, just want to live their lives in peace and quiet. However, anti-Semitic sentiments, which characterize Jews as different and somehow unwelcome, often makes this a difficult goal to achieve. God says that He will make us strangers in the surrounding nations (Leviticus 26). Throughout history the Jewish people found themselves outcast, persecuted and even murdered for simply being Jewish. Even here in Israel, where we should feel safe and secure, we see that there are threats from inside and out, endangering our very existence. No matter what, the safest place is in the center of God’s will, submitted to His rule.

This brings me to the story of Deborah and Barak, standing against Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army of Hazor. Sisera was hired to destroy Israel but the Lord raised up the prophetess Deborah to mobilize the nation. Together, under the leadership of Barak, they were victorious. A sudden rainstorm caused Sisera and his 900 chariots to become mired in mud near the Kishon River (Judges 5:4,20-23). Victory came, not by the strength of man’s hands, but by the power of God.

The victory belongs to God. God alone is the shield of Israel. The battle is not ours but the Lord’s. It is He who has protected us in each generation. He is our defender and the One who brought us to this land.

My prayer is that the power of God will sustain us today as it has in the past. I look with hope beyond this war and pray that we will soon enter the physical reign of Messiah Yeshua, extending from this land to the ends of the earth.


Music Makes the Heart Sing

By Leon Mazin

Various forms of musical ministry are described in the Scriptures, starting with Jubal in Genesis 4:21 all the way through to celestial beings praising God in Revelation 5:8. The art of music was a focal point in the Temple. The Levites dedicated up to seven years learning to worship! As a result, the Levites were able to move the hearts of people to praise, trust and glorify God.

Our music school, Keshet Tslilim, first began in 2009 with slightly less lofty goals. We wanted to give children from needy families a chance to develop their musical gifts, and to provide new immigrant music teachers with employment. We desired to run this project under the oversight of a Messianic congregation, thereby raising awareness about spiritual, humanitarian and cultural vision among our neighbors in Haifa.

All these things are a part of the Great Restoration or “Tikkun” which the Lord will perform.

The Scriptures say: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will no longer be any death; and there will no longer be any mourning, crying or pain; because the old order has passed away.” Then the One sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!”” (Revelation 21:4-5 NIV)

With God’s gracious help today, we have more than 120 students enthusiastically learning to sing and to play various musical instruments. When you watch this phenomenon as an uninvolved spectator, you see how sound waves can transform children and their parents (I write this as a former wave-physics enthusiast). The majority of our students do NOT attend our congregation, and they come from quite secular families. But there is something in the combination of music and a Messianic community which touches them!

As I write, it is the semi-annual examination season, and the children are enjoying preparing and playing recitals for an audience.

On A Personal Note

It just so happened that all of our children became musicians. This was more my wife’s desire, but of course I provided additional encouragement and support.

Our eldest son is currently studying in Jerusalem to become a conductor. When he was seventeen years old, he assisted in organizing the worship ministry at Shavei Tzion. Our younger son now plays in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and one of our daughters has performed in prominent Israeli concert halls. Please forgive this proud papa, but since we were already talking about music, I couldn’t help but brag a bit and show these photos as well…

I’d like to thank you once again for your prayers and participation in our projects: the music school, the projects for new immigrants and elderly people and the hot meal ministry.

I kindly ask you to pray for our three congregations: Shavei Tzion, Or Hai and Netzer HaGalil. We are always in need the Lord’s wisdom and anointing!

We are also in the process of planning the upcoming summer Nesher/Eagle Project, with a specially tailored program which will bless thirty Messianic soldiers who have served in the war.

Please, continue to pray for the situation in Israel and for the end of the war.

We wish you all peace, good health, and joy.


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