Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Jewish Wedding - Fulfillment in First and Second Comings of the Messiah

This is the final installment in the summary of "Here Comes the Bride" by Richard Booker. I have quoted him exactly in places.

Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled around 333 prophecies in the Tanach (Old Testament) concerning the Messiah in His First Coming. There are yet many prophecies to be fulfilled in His Second Coming from both Old and New Testaments. (My own words)

Just to think that the baby whom Joseph and Mary dedicated at the temple in Jerusalem was God in the flesh! He is called "Immanuel," which means "God is with us" (Matt. 1:23). God, in the person of Yeshua, came to the house of His bride (eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel) to present His marriage contract, the new covenant that Jeremiah foretold (Jer. 31:31). Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) was the herald of the Messiah. Some people said he was the Messiah, but John said that he was not, but he was "the friend of the bridegroom" (John 3:28-29).

John introduced Yeshua as the bridegroom, the Lamb of God. Yeshua was willing to pay the bride price of His own blood as the atonement (really, the propitiation) for sin for both Israel and the Gentiles (I Pet. 1:18-19). God had chosen for His Son a bride, Israel and all Gentiles who accepted Jesus as their personal Redeemer. Yeshua would drink the cup to show He was willing to pay the price. This was done at the final Passover meal with His disciples (today celebrated in the church as The Lord's Supper - Matthew 26:26-28).

Isaiah foretold Yeshua's blood sacrifice, as well as His resurrection, in chapter 53. Isaiah said that Yeshua would "prolong His days" (53:8-10), and it was fulfilled three days after His crucifixion when He rose from the dead! Then Yeshua spent 40 days with His bride, the Messianic Jews who had believed in Him. He had told them He would "go to prepare a place" for them and would come back and get them (John 14:2-3). The New Jerusalem in heaven was to be the wedding chamber, their eternal chuppah (Rev. 21:2, 9-10)!

The disciples asked when Yeshua would return - "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age" (Matt. 24:3)? Yeshua gave them signs to look for but told them that only the Father knew the exact day and hour (Matt. 24:36). Like the betrothed Jewish bride in waiting, we will also know the times and seasons, but not the exact moment the Messiah will return.

After Yeshua returned to heaven, he sent a matchmaker, the Holy Spirit, to find all Jews and Gentiles who would be a part of His bride (John 14: 16-17, 25-26)! This happened on the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot), a Jewish feast day, when Jews came to Jerusalem from far and wide. In Acts 2, we read of the thousands of Jews who acknowledged Yeshua as Messiah and formed the first church, but the powerful religious leaders rejected Yeshua as their Messiah. Jesus had used many parables to foretell this (Matt. 8:11; 22:1-13). Only a remnant of the Jews, God's chosen people, would be saved, but God has promised that at the end of the age He will woo them back and join the Gentiles to them to become His one glorious bride (Psalm 102:13-16; Rom. 11:26-27).

God has been calling the Jewish people back to their ancient land, and the return increased during World War II, out of the ashes of the Holocaust. God is bringing them back to the land, and then He will bring them back to Himself!

About ten years after the Pentecost of Acts 2, God sent His matchmaker, the Holy Spirit, to the Gentiles, when Peter took the gospel to Cornelius and his family and friends (Acts 10:44-45). These were the first Gentile believers. They believed the good news and were saved. (Nancy: I also believed the gospel of Jesus Christ approx. 1,935 years later and was saved! Glory!)

Paul (Shaul) considered the church to be the bride of Christ (Eph 5:22-32; II Cor. 11:2), but he knew that God did not have two brides, one Jew and the other Gentile. He did not believe that the church had replaced Israel as God's bride. "Messianic Jews would not become part of the bride by joining the Gentile church. To the contrary, Gentile believers would become part of the bride by joining themselves to the Messianic community (See Romans 11)."  (Exact quote)

Shaul wrote, "There is neither Jew not Greek ... slave nor free, ... male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). This doesn't mean there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. There is still a difference between them, as well as a difference between male and female, but we can be ONE in Messiah Yeshua.

We, as the betrothed of Yeshua, after we have said yes to His proposal, make ourselves ready (Rev. 19:7-8) for the marriage by drinking the cup of acceptance at the new covenant meal of Communion and also by being baptized (I Cor. 11:23-26; Acts. 10:48). We use the gifts He has given us through the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12; Rom. 12; Eph. 4:11). We keep ourselves holy, and we keep oil in our lamps, being full of His Word and His Holy Spirit. We wait and watch for Him eagerly (parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Matt. 25: 1-13). Paul describes that day when the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, and we will rise to meet Him in the air (I Thess. 4:16-5:1).

Our wedding feast will be "the marriage supper of the Lamb" on the earth (Rev. 19:7-9), and we will reign with Him for a thousand years.

"Until He comes, our holy lives are the veils that separate us from the world. We are in the world but not of the world. We belong to Yeshua. We keep ourselves pure for Him. Although the world may not recognize us today as the bride of Yeshua, they will when we appear with Him at His coming for we shall be like Him (Phil. 3:20-21). When we appear with Him as His unveiled bride, the whole world will know who we are and proclaim, 'Here comes the bride.'" (Paragraph is an exact quote.)

This book, Here Comes the Bride, by Richard Booker, is filled with Scripture. It includes some historical events that have fulfilled Scripture, and it is very well written. You can order this booklet here. I have taught several courses from his series of booklets, written in the 1990s. I recommend this as an excellent source for Bible studies.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Jewish Wedding - Yahweh and Israel

The following teaching is a continuation of my last blog, taken from Richard Booker's booklet, Here Comes the Bride.

God was His own matchmaker (shadkhan) and acquired Israel as His bride. In the exodus from Egypt, Yahweh said, "... I will take you as My people, and I will be your God" (Ex. 6:6-7). The words, "take you," indicate marriage. Isaiah said, "For your Maker is your husband ... the Holy One of Israel" (Isa. 54:5-6).

God gave Israel a formal, written marriage contract or covenant. He spells out the terms of the marriage covenant, (Ketubah) in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Israel had to forsake all other gods (first term in the Ten Commandments) and love God "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:4-5). Yahweh would be jealous over His new bride (Deut. 4:24). If the Israelites went back to worshiping other gods, that would be spiritual adultery, a breach of the marriage contract. She would suffer God's curses and be scattered from her land and miss her Messiah.

Yahweh had offered His own bride price, the blood of the Passover lamb! The blood on the doorposts of their homes was the means of their rescue, their redemption from slavery. If the Hebrews accepted the terms of the covenant, they would be His "special treasure" (segulah) above all people (Ex. 19:5).

Israel accepted God's marriage covenant. She would drink the cup of wine at the Passover covenant meal to show this. In modern times the Jewish people drink four cups of wine at the Passover meal. When they drink the fourth cup, they are saying "yes" to God's marriage proposal, even if they don't know it.

Yahweh promised many gifts and blessings to His betrothed people - "a land flowing with milk and honey," making her the head of the nations, and making a new covenant with her through the Messiah, the Promised Seed of Abraham. God would be faithful to His covenant.

The bride made herself ready by cleansing herself in a mikveh. This cleansing happened before the Israelites met with God at Mt. Sinai. God gave her instructions for worship and serving Him. He provided a Tabernacle, the priesthood, sacrifices, and moral and civil instructions, so she could be the bride He wanted. He gave her a veil, the Torah. This set her apart from the pagan world. Israel was to be holy, as Yahweh was holy (Lev. 11:45).

Yahweh prepared a wedding chamber, the Sabbath, for the Israelites. God's bride was to shut herself in with Him and enjoy Him as the bridegroom and bride come to know each other in the wedding chamber.

The wedding celebrations were the feasts of the Lord. Three times a year the males were required to go to Jerusalem for a big celebration of their marriage covenant with God.

The marriage was a tragedy right after the betrothal! Israel made a golden calf and worshiped it! Her punishment was to wander forty years in the wilderness. God still had mercy on His wife and brought her into the Promised Land through Joshua. Israel was a faithful bride under Samuel and King David, but most of the time she played the harlot. God sent many prophets to warn His people. He pled with them to return to Him. Finally, God had to issue Israel a certificate of divorce! (Jer. 3:8-10). Yahweh showed His great mercy through His prophet, Hosea. Israel was scattered from her land as a result of her continual idolatry, but, finally, she would repent and return to her land and her God (Hos. 3:4-5). Yahweh would betroth her to him forever! (Hos. 2:16, 19-20)

Jeremiah explained this would be a new covenant marriage (Jer. 31:31-34). Until this marriage is renewed in the latter times, God would call a people from among the Gentiles (goyim) who would become part of the bride with Israel.

THE MESSIAH BRIDEGROOM - Yeshua (Jesus) would be the fulfillment of the promise of a new covenant to the Jewish people and a light to the Gentiles - the Jewish Redeemer and Savior of the Gentiles.

NEXT BLOG: Although the parallels with Jesus and the nation of Israel as the Bride of Messiah are obvious for one who understands the gospel, I will write about the ultimate fulfillment pictured in the Jewish wedding in the next blog. This will complete the summary of the booklet, Here Comes the Bride, by Richard Booker, Copyright 1995 by Sounds of the Trumpet, Inc. You can visit his ministry site at

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jewish Wedding Customs Reveal the Messiah and His Bride!

I promised on my recent blog that I would make another post about the Jewish Wedding, so here it is. I recommend the booklet by Richard Booker, "Here Comes the Bride." The following article is taken from this important writing. You can easily see how this correlates with our salvation and our identity as the "Bride of Messiah."

There are three phases of the Jewish wedding: the betrothal phase, the wedding phase, and the celebration phase. God shows His deep love for us in these phases. God wanted the man to acquire a wife publicly and ask her father for his daughter's hand in marriage by means of a "marriage contract," really a COVENANT, a blood covenant. The father might choose the groom or enlist the services of a matchmaker.

The young man draws up a contract (covenant), called a Ketubah, and presents it to the young woman and her father. The young man proposes a bride price to the father to get his permission to marry his daughter. This is a compensation for the financial liability of raising a daughter (she couldn't do the hard work a son could).  If the father accepts the contract and the bride price, the young man pours a cup of wine for his beloved. If she drinks the cup, she is saying "yes!"

The bridegroom has brought gifts for her, which she will use as she waits for the wedding.  Before the wedding the bride has a ceremonial cleansing, called a Mikveh, denoting a purifying through baptism. Now they are betrothed, which means they are legally married. In the West it might be called an engagement period. The consummation of the marriage comes in the celebration phase.

As the young man leaves the house of the beloved, he announces that he is going to prepare a place for her. Then he will come get her! This place is usually a room he builds onto his father's house. It is called the chuppah and represents the wedding chamber. It may take a full year to complete it. The man's father is the one who decides when it is ready. The young man may say when questioned about the time, "I don't know, only my father knows."

While the bridegroom is gone, the bride is making herself ready, using the gifts he has given her. Whenever she leaves her house she wears a veil, signifying she is "spoken for." She has been bought with a price.

The bride never knows the exact time the groom is coming, so she has to be ready at all times. It was the custom for the bride to keep an oil lamp beside her bed, along with her veil and other belongings. Her bridesmaids also wait while making sure they have plenty of oil for their lamps. The groom may come like a "thief in the night" and steal away the bride!

When the day comes for the wedding, the groom and close friends make their way to the bride's house. As they get close to her house they give a shout and blow a shofar (ram's horn) to alert the bride. The groom and his friends charge right into the house and carry off the bride and her maids! The neighbors hear the commotion and look outside, but the bride is wearing a veil, so they don't know who she is! In a week she will return with her veil off, and they will know!

When the bride and groom reach his father's house, they go into the wedding chamber for a seven-day honeymoon. They consummate the marriage. The groom's best friend has been waiting near the door. The new husband takes the honeymoon sheet stained with blood and gives it to him. The friend then shows those who have gathered to celebrate the evidence that the two have become one. This signifies the marriage covenant is established.

The invited guests have been having a party during the seven days of the honeymoon until the newly weds emerge from their wedding chamber. There is a lot of singing and dancing, and a joyous feast follows, the marriage supper. When the party is over, the couple goes to their own house. The bride discards her veil, and the neighbors know her identity. They also rejoice and celebrate the marriage!


Wednesday, January 24, 2018


In commemoration of the International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th, I am sharing one of my poems with you.

The Lord impressed on me that Jesus has feelings like we do, and he had his share of grief, especially when his cousin, John the Baptist, was so horribly murdered. Of course, Jesus bore OUR griefs and carried OUR sorrows, according to the prophet Isaiah, who also said He was a "man of SORROWS, acquainted with GRIEF" (chapter 53).  Jesus was very close to John the Baptist and also to His disciple John. This poem tells the story, from an emotional viewpoint, of Jesus' reaction to the atrocity of his cousin's beheading!

May we Christians who know our Jewish roots in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, also grieve for the six million Jews who were murdered by Hitler in the Holocaust, some of whom no doubt knew that Yeshua was their Messiah. Remember, Jesus said, "As you have done it (good or bad) unto the least of these MY BRETHREN (Jewish believers), you have done it unto ME" (Matt. 25:40).

[Based on Matthew 3 and 14; John 19:25-27; Book of Revelation]

Jesus had two Johns in His life; the first was John the Baptist,
And we know that they were cousins, as Luke 1:36 has it.
For Mary visited John’s mother to talk of their sons before born,
And John would be six months older than Jesus, his cousin but also his Lord!
The Father called John into ministry to preach to His wicked people.
He lived in the desert and didn’t attend a church like ours with a steeple.
But people came out to the desert to hear the prophet cry, “Turn from sin!”
And one day Jesus came out to be baptized by John, His very own kin.
They shared an awesome moment when God spoke, “This is My beloved Son!”
Then the two went their separate ways, working to see God’s will was done.

Jesus was doing miracles, and John was preaching, “Repent!” to Herod,
For Herod had taken his brother’s wife – to him John was a terror.
He dared not take the life of John, for the people honored this prophet,
But Herodias, Herod’s wife, conceived a plot, and no one would stop it.
When watching Salome dance, Herod promised to give what she asked.
She asked for John’s head on a platter – Herod was trapped in an evil task.
She gave the platter to Herodias, her mother; his disciples buried John’s body,
Then went to tell Jesus of this awful horror! No conscience had the ungodly.
When Jesus heard it, he immediately departed by boat; His grief was heavy.
He wanted to pour out His heart to the Father, for crowds He was not ready.
But they followed Him, seeking His help, so Jesus delayed His time of prayer.
He healed them all and fed them, too, unselfishly showing them care.

He told the disciples to cross over by boat, and He sent the crowd away.
At last He was alone, and now He could go up on the mountain and pray.
A man of sorrows, He had suffered deep hurt and had seen the evil of man,
But hearing of His loved one’s horrible death was hard for Him to stand.
The Father comforted His Son and showed Him John with a golden crown,
The heavenly hosts attending and glory shining all around!
Just as He felt new strength to continue all the way to the cross,
He heard the call of the disciples crying, “Help! Or we are lost!”
Forgetting His weary body, having had no sleep at all,
He made His way to the boat, walking on water and didn’t fall.
His heart was cheered to see Peter, accepting His challenge to come,
Bold in his faith for a moment, but then he took the plunge.
Jesus gently reproved him, and then they got in the boat –
Now He was back with His friends, the ones He loved the most.
The wind died down, and they worshiped, and Jesus’ grief was gone.
The boat docked in Gennesaret, and soon there was a throng.
People had heard of His presence and brought their friends and kin.
They touched the hem of His garment – this was God in human skin!

Yes, He was human, at least for a while, and He sorrowed just as we,
He got so weary He could hardly smile, but He worked to set men free.
His cousin John had baptized Him and heralded His arrival.
The Apostle John who stayed at the cross has prepared us for revival.
So taking a cue from our Lord’s selfless service in the midst of godless rage,
We can be encouraged with His presence now 
and endure to the end of the age.

By Nancy Petrey – November 11, 2016

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


 This description of a Jewish wedding in Jerusalem is excerpted from a Jewish friend's email. She lives there, and her observations are beautifully recorded in her emails to friends. As a relative by marriage to the groom, she was invited. She has given me permission to share this:

                "The groom is the oldest of fourteen in an Haradi (ultra orthodox religious family, his father being a Rabbi and scribe, also the head of a yeshiva, and his mother a leader and teacher in that community as well.)  The wedding was called for 7 p.m. and would likely last until at least 2 a.m.  There was much tradition that I wasn't fully familiar with, and I wasn't really looking forward to being there, but it was 'required,' as was a head covering, which I dutifully donned.
                 At weddings here [in Jerusalem] the ONLY gift given to the bride and groom is money.  A wedding 'gift' as we in the west thought of it, would be an item, but here those gathered know that they are attempting to make the young couple's way ahead of them as easy as possible for that first year in particular.  The economy here is so different than in the west for the most part, and 'community' is very important in supporting one another in every way, so it is 'natural' that the community would give into the support of this young couple. 
                There were perhaps 500 people present (often weddings draw over 1,000) to bless the union and ALL of the little children come and are welcome too!  They were dressed like tiny princesses and princes, and none of their 'disruptions' were considered annoying. In other words, it was really one big family, blessing the noisy little ones who ran along the wedding area, which is the chuppah [or canopy], the covered area where the vows are made. The children were 'messing' it with their small feet, doing cartwheels and dancing around, and no one was at all critical or disturbed by this.  Considering how formal the wedding area was, that impressed me, and I thought back to the days when Yeshua and His family went up to Jerusalem to the feast. Only after three days did His parents seek Him among the procession of family and friends.  At this wedding I totally understood why they were comfortable with not seeing Him for three days!  I SAW what it was for our one year old and three year old granddaughters to be cared for by the entire extended family, the safe feeling that there was. There was real 'care' for all of the little ones; it was a comfortable and natural feeling.  I learned a lot by watching this. 
                As the family and friends mulled around visiting, the bride sat on a 'throne-like' chair, set apart, and received guests [see photo above].  The entire time she was praying and reading her 'bridal prayer book'.  I watched as guests would come up and pray along with her as they embraced.  At one point my dear three year old Maya came and sat on my lap.  We talked about the color 'white' and about 'brides' and 'clean things,' and I asked her if she would like to go and 'see the bride.'  'Oh yes, Tata!' she answered, so hand in hand we went.  Although I had been watching the bride- Rivka- pray, it wasn't until I approached that I was jolted by the intensity and reality of her prayers.  She seemed to me nearly in a trance…NOT an 'occult trance' but a rapture of seeking God, and intensely she was crying out 'Shalom bayit!  teni lanu shalom bayit, ana Adonai!'  I was taken aback, nearly to tears.  'Shalom bayit' is literally 'peace home,' but the meaning is very deep in its short description of a 'peaceful home' - peace and order between all members of the family, initiating from God, through husband and wife to the children and beyond, an undisrupted peace in the home.  She was praying, 'Shalom bayit!  Give us shalom bayit!  I beseech you, Adonai!' Over and over she prayed, clutching her prayer book.  As friends would approach her she would grab them, and they would agree with her, 'Shalom bayit!  Amen!'  She was so intense in her 'beseeching' that one friend or cousin or sister came to pray, and she literally beat her chest! Yes, I was taken aback, because it WASN'T a 'show.' She WAS beseeching The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with all of her heart.  She was not participating in the festivities, but she was seeking God. Little Maya saw the pretty dress and smiled shyly. 
                I did not see the groom and do not know what the groom's preparation is, but I am now curious.
                A middle eastern group of musicians played the exotic instruments. The groom stems from a French Algerian Jewish family.  'Traditions' are probably as varied as the places on earth that we were all dispersed to from Jerusalem to the four corners 2,000 years ago! 
                A call to the 'minyan' was made (a 'minyan' is at least ten elderly men who were to stand together to pray the set prayers of preparation).  Probably 30 gathered, many elderly rabbis among them, and the groom's father. 
                The wedding began with the groom 'kidnapping' the bride from her 'throne,' and then the young men dancing him up to the wedding chuppa.  He is soon followed by the bride, accompanied by her mother and grandmother.  The three of them encircle the groom seven times and then leave her there by his side for the ceremony, which has now begun. 
                I don't know if there are ever any two weddings 'alike,' but this one had at least three rabbis officiating and several different cantors (singers of the prayers).  Three of the bride's young friends moved noisily in front of me, blocking most of my view, but their ongoing commentary actually 'helped' me to understand some things, as they strongly disapproved of much of what the rabbis said! (Is it that way in Churches?  I am often so na├»ve.)  Indeed, the Rabbi DID say many things that I had not heard at a modern wedding. For example, Jews do not celebrate birthdays like the Gentiles do, because it is the MARRIAGE that is the creation of a new person through a covenant, and this is a true 'birthday' of a new being.  The friends did NOT agree.  Nor did they agree when he spoke of the dowry of 500 shekels that had been given, 'according to scripture.'  There was (I believe) discussion of the 'evidence of her virginity' presented and accepted, making them a holy household in Israel.  I had not heard that before and will confirm it with my daughter. 
                All through the ceremony the small children played joyously on the podium; only under the chuppah they were not allowed.  I felt as if I was peering into a different world than I had known before.  There is so much that none of us know and understand about one another.  Lord help me to be HUMBLE and DISCERNING and to walk as YOU walked…"A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth." Isa. 42:3 and Matt. 12:20 
                As always, the center of religious Jewish weddings is Jerusalem and the temple. 'If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!  If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth— If I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.'  Psalm 137:5,6 was read, the admonition being that our chief joy is not to be 'one another' but to have HIS chief joy FIRST…considered to be Jerusalem and the Temple…God with us…Emmanuel!  God dwelling in the midst of His people! [See photo above for ending of the ceremony when the groom smashes a glass to indicate the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. Even at a time of greatest joy, the Jews must remember the glory of the temple era and also its destruction.]
                With the ceremony ending and the joy breaking loose, it was about 10 p.m., WAY past my bed time!  The little ones were dancing around, unaware that they were exhausted, but I knew that I had faded and made my way through the two-cheeked kisses and the 'Mazel tov! Brachot!' wishes. I was all too aware that I was indeed exhausted, and that my next morning would be arriving soon." 

(The next blog will explore the meaning of the Jewish wedding as it relates to the Messiah and His bride, the Church.)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Recalling the Miraculous Rebirth of Israel in 1948

What a thrill to visit this historic site, Independence Hall, a few weeks ago in Tel Aviv. It made me think of the poem that God gave me on June 1, 2015, "A Nation Born in a Day." I included it in my book, "The Honeycomb is Waiting: Poetic Devotionals." By posting this poem and devotional on my blog today, I am beginning an early celebration of the 70th anniversary of Israel's rebirth on May 14, 1948. Here is the devotional and poem from my book:

20.    Miracle-Working God

“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children” (Isa. 66:8).
            The very survival of the Jewish people throughout history is nothing short of miraculous. Because so many evil rulers have tried to stamp them out, they should have disappeared long ago. The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, stated it best: “A Jew who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.” A miracle-working God is the only possible explanation for the continued existence of the Jewish people. Over 300 years ago King Louis XIV of France asked Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher, to give him proof that God exists. Pascal answered: “Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!”
            The United Nations Partition Plan to divide Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state was passed on November 29, 1947. There were 33 votes for, 13 against and 10 abstaining, including Britain, who had the Mandate since 1917 to establish a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The turning point came when U.S. President Harry Truman’s former Jewish business partner flew to Washington and begged him to vote for the plan. When America cast her vote, other nations followed. It was a miracle, and the Jews in Israel danced in the street! On May 14, 1948, Ben Gurion declared Israel a free and independent nation. Only eleven minutes later Truman called Ben Gurion to give U.S. recognition of the new government in Israel. The fact that the nation of Israel has been reborn in our day proves that we have a miracle-working God who keeps His promises!

(Isaiah 66:8)
A land flowing with milk and honey
Was born in a day, but the day wasn’t sunny.
The Jews would regain their ancient land.
Truman said, “Sign it!”  It was an ordained plan.
For Jews and for Arabs the land was divided –
The Jews rejoiced, but the Arabs derided
The U.N. body that gave them a nation.
They couldn’t get along with their blood relations.
The Arabs said “No!” because they wanted it all.
And they would fight; they delighted to brawl.
Then before the Jews could lose all hope,
Ben Gurion called an assembly to vote.
He declared the State of Israel official.
The Jews celebrated, but the Arabs bristled.
Ready to attack the very next day,
They had gathered five armies to join in the fray.
The Jews had only a rag-tag band,
But determined like Maccabees, they would make a stand!
Jews were six-hundred thousand, Arabs eighty million strong –
Who was in the right, and who was in the wrong?
And how did it end, when the dust had settled?
Israel won the war and had proven her mettle!
God had shown He was on their side –
Angels were busy, knocking down Arab pride.
Miracles abounded, and the whole world was shocked!
Scripture was fulfilled, and mysteries were unlocked.
Revelation twelve paints the story of this war:
The woman was Israel whom the dragon stood before,
Ready to devour the nation soon as born,
Fragile as an infant, but it would not be torn.
God would keep His covenant with all of Jacob’s tribes.
His chosen people Israel in victory still abides.
Isaiah sixty-six, verse eight foretold this day,
Nineteen forty-eight the year, the fourteenth day of May.
Truman was the first to call and praise this tiny nation,
The Holy Land and people God had chosen, His creation!

The Jews won their War of Independence on January 7, 1949. Israel has continued to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in all the subsequent wars after her rebirth, because the God of Israel makes her victorious. “Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over He will preserve it” (Isa. 31:5). And the Lord will also defend you with His miracle-working power. When you are under attack, call on Him and expect a miracle!  Think of a time when God delivered you from harm, and write it in your journal. Praise Him!
Prayer: Almighty God, You are all-powerful, and I know I can trust you to defend me when the enemy attacks me, whether physically or spiritually. My only hope is in You, and You will uphold me.

Drawing more water: Ex. 14: 13-14, 30-31; 15:1; II Chron. 20:1, 15-22; Rev. 12.

(If you would like to order my book, The Honeycomb is Waiting: Poetic Devotionals, look at the side bar.)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

TOUR OF ISRAEL, December 3-12, 2017

My friend, Janice Bell-Lewis, and I toured Israel on December 3-12, 2017, with the Dugit Messianic Outreach Ministries in Tel Aviv. It was their Living Stones Tour, an outstanding tour. We met many wonderful people in our group and also got to visit with friends in Jerusalem - Lars Enarson, John Enarson, Doron Keidar, and Pamela Suran. The downside of the trip was that Janice got sick on the 6th day of the tour, when we were at the Dead Sea. This limited her sightseeing until the 10th day, but she made it fine on the flight home. My sightseeing was limited for a day or two, but what I did see and learn about was very enriching. This was my 9th trip to Israel and Janice's 3rd.

HIGHLIGHTS of the tour were - 1. Being in Jerusalem the very day that President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel! What a blessing. The resulting riots were very limited, and our guides steered us away from potential trouble spots.  2. Going to Sderot, the Israeli town that borders Gaza. It is called the "Bomb Shelter Capital of the World!" When the residents hear a warning siren of an incoming rocket from Gaza, they have 15 seconds to get into a bomb shelter! We were blessed to meet Pastor Michael and Dina Beener and hear him speak in his church/bomb shelter. Then we got to pray on the Gaza border.  3. Witnessing (sometimes in Hebrew) to several Jewish people! This was my favorite activity. God opened up the conversations, and it always flowed with grace-filled words. Sometimes I would be able to give them my personalized tract. These people were very congenial, even though one lady continued to politely refuse to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah. We are watering the seeds we planted with prayer.

Here are some photos of the trip:
Leaving from Petrey, Alabama

Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv

Avi Mizrachi, head of Dugit, in V.I.P. Prayer Tower

Avi and Chaya's daughter Devorah telling about the
documentary and book she is writing
concerning her Bulgarian ancestors, Jewish believers,
and their protection from deportation to concentration camps

View from the V.I.P (Very Important Prayer) Tower 
in the heart of Tel Aviv

Independence Hall where Israel was declared a nation May 14, 1948

Outside - Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister

Dugit (little boat) - the building just purchased in the heart of Tel Aviv
where Avi Mizrachi was once an evangelist 30 years ago - his ministry 
has come full circle, and they now OWN the building, something unheard
of, that Messianic Jews actually own property for their evangelistic ministry!

Avi showing plans for renovation of the building

Outside the building

Devorah on the bus, telling us "war stories." She was a commander
of scouts in the IDF. Once she was given an assignment in which
she could easily be killed! She described how she KNEW people
were praying for her at that exact moment! She was successful in pulling
back all the scouts under her command and saving their lives!

Sderot, the "bomb shelter capital of the world," on Gaza border

Chaya Mizrachi, telling about ministering to the children
in the bomb shelters

Devorah interpreting for Pastor Michael Beener

Nancy with Pastor Michael Beener. He told us that Sderot is
growing! The people are determined to stay, even though Hamas
continually shoots rockets from Gaza into their town!

Devorah points out the border with Gaza, and we pray.

Next on to Shepherds Field near Bethlehem where the angel announces to
the shepherds that the Messiah is born. 

Inside the grotto are beautiful murals. 

This sign is outside the Friends of Zion Museum, and this is the day
President Trump makes his startling declaration of Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel!

This is a small part of our tour group who elected to go to this museum.

As we approach the Western Wall to pray, it begins to rain!

We take refuge in a cafe - the pastor of our group is Jeff Henderson.

IDF soldiers make us feel very secure, as they prepare for
possible riots after Trump's announcement!

Lars Enarson picked up Janice and me at the hotel in Jerusalem and
took us to his new ministry center, HaDerech (The Way).

They were blessed to be able to rent rooms in this historic building
which was once the residence of Orde Wingate, the famous Gentile
Zionist who formed what later became the Israeli Army!

Lars, his son John, and me - we have been friends since
1997 in Columbus, MS, when Lars brought his family from
Sweden to translate a book for a Columbus pastor. Lars soon
developed a worldwide prayer ministry, The Watchman International.

View of the Old City's Eastern Gate, where Yeshua HaMashiach
will one day make His entrance!

Church of All Nations beside the Garden of Gethsemane (across
from the Old City)

A service was in progress. The mural depicts Jesus praying
at a rock in the garden, and the supposed rock is there!

Our guide Kiera explained that these olive trees in the garden have
branches growing together up from the roots and appear to be
trunks, but they are not. They are the branches, each one growing up from the
root! Her teaching made Romans 11 come alive!

The Garden Tomb, one of the two sites purported to be
the burial place of our Lord. This one fits the biblical description
better than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City.

It was an extremely cold day.

I report to you, "HE IS NOT HERE. HE IS RISEN!"

While Kiera took our group on a tour of Yad VaShem (the Holocaust
Museum), Janice and I took refuge from the cold in the cafe there
and had a wonderful visit with Pamela Suran, whom we had known
since 2003, when she took us on a private guided tour of Jerusalem!
Since then she and Shmuel have spoken in both our churches, and
they lodged with Janice and Jack in Elba. They have a ministry called
Jerusalem Vision and have raised up many strong ministers. Pamela
is also an excellent artist.

Kevin & Penny Spencer from Colorado - we introduced them to Pamela. They
were very interested in her ministry to Christian Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

On Mount Scopus overlooking Jerusalem with our guide Kiera

Our whole tour group. The lady in the wheelchair is Rhoda Goldsby,
92 years old. She was baptized in the freezing water of the Jordan River!

Ruins of the Essene community at Qumran on the Dead Sea

See the hole (center left) where in November 1947, a Bedouin boy found a jar
with the Dead Sea Scrolls (preserved by the Essenes)! Wow! Just to think
that happened at the same time the United Nations was voting on the Partition
Plan to give the Jews a state in Palestine! (Of course, the Arabs could have had
a state then without firing a shot, but they refused it! They preferred to go to war
the next day after Ben Gurion declared Israel a nation on May 14, 1958!)

The gorgeous Dead Sea is dying! Drying up a tiny bit each year.

En Gedi on the Dead Sea where David hid in caves 
when Saul was chasing him.

The Sea of Galilee viewed from our place of lodging at the Ein Gev
Holiday Resort.

We had a two-bedroom cabin with kitchenette - nice.

Janice had been sick but began healing at this beautiful place
on the Sea of Galilee.

Looking back down as we drove up the Golan Heights

View from the top - snow-capped Mt. Hermon, the highest
point in Israel.

An Israeli soldier and American pastor told us about their ministry to Syrians
INSIDE Syria! Undercover and dangerous. They bring medical help and
plant churches. Our tour pastor, Jeff Henderson (right) is on their board.

Looking across the border into Syria

Leaving the Golan Heights - of all things, Nimrod's castle! (Gen. 11)

Banias (Caesarea Philippi) where Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do men
say that I am?" Peter said, "You are the Son of the Living God," and Jesus said,
"Upon this rock (his identity) I will build My church, and the gates of hell
will not prevail against it!" Well, look at the "gates of hell" on the mountain here!!!

We got to look into the "gates of hell," the grotto of the god Pan!

Here is what the temples to Pan once looked like, and now
there are only ruins.

The sun was going down on the Galilean hills on the other side
of the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias) as we returned to Ein Gev.

This is our last day in Israel. Leaving Ein Gev to go to Tel Aviv.

We stopped at Mt. Carmel where Elijah had the contest with the
prophets of Baal. They lost, and he slew them!

At Mt. Carmel, we had a panoramic view of the Valley of Megiddo.
It was bitter cold with a strong wind blowing.

Where Armageddon will take place. A picture doesn't capture the
vastness of this plain, the Valley of Megiddo. God will gather the
nations to battle here, and Yeshua will conquer them all!

Back at the Gilgal Hotel in Tel Aviv where we started from.
Avi Mizrachi is explaining the Chanukkah service.

Chaya and Devorah led us in some Hanukkah songs.

Avi lights the first candle of Hanukkah. Then we have a marvelous meal.
We will soon be boarding the plane for home. 

Passing through the lobby, I admired the mural of Ruth gleaning in the fields.
That is who I am in my role as a Mizpah for Israel - the Gentile bride of my
Kinsman Redeemer. Ruth identified herself with her Jewish mother-in-law 
Naomi and vowed, "Whither thou goest I will go; wherever thou lodgest 
I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God ..." 
(Ruth 1:16).
Yes, may all Christians identify with their "parents" in the faith and realize
that we are wild branches (Gentiles) grafted into the Jewish olive tree!
We have Jewish roots. Like Ruth supported Naomi, we should love and support the
Jewish people and the Jewish state of Israel! The main reason we should
do this is because we have a Jewish Savior and Lord, Yeshua!