We are in the US right now and will be traveling for close to two more weeks. Although we are not attending our regular prayer meetings, I have felt that I should share some thoughts on issues that relate to praying and interceding for Israel.
This week I would like to touch on Israel and the Word of God, next week I hope to write something about the security of Israel and the challenges facing the nation at this time.
for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ” Matt. 23:39
There is, in my mind, no greater tragedy that has befallen Israel than this estrangement from Her Messiah, and the blinding of Israel’s understanding. What can be a more significant loss and more tragic, than that which is expressed in the words of Yeshua, ‘You shall see Me no more’?!. This, of course, is expressed to our nation as a nation, not to individuals; many Jewish people have come to faith in the last two millennia, and have known the fellowship and the presence of God in Messiah. But our disaster and loss are as a nation. Having rejected Yeshua as the rightful heir to the throne, and having rejected Him as Messiah, these words represent the most horrific of all losses.
We are a people chosen by the Lord to be His own inheritance “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Deut. 7:6
Yet, we ended up resisting Messiah and delivered Him up to be crucified. Twice the house of God was destroyed, twice has our nation lost her national home and the land. And once, oh the shame of it, we have rejected our King and Messiah and delivered Him up to be executed as a blasphemer.
Peter pulled no punches in the first ever address he preached to our people in Jerusalem. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" Acts 2:23
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36
Yes, it was foreordained, and yes, it had to be so; yet this does not diminish in any way, the scope of the disaster or the depth of our responsibility.
Stephen too preached these things boldly (and paid with His life for it).
"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:" Acts 7:51-52
No wonder the prophets lament so bitterly: Jeremiah cries: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see If there is any sorrow like my sorrow, Which has been brought on me, Which the LORD has inflicted In the day of His fierce anger. Lam. 1:12
'Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Ezek. 37:11
'But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me." Is. 49:14
And the result of all this? A hardening. 2Cor. 3:14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.
The word ‘hardened’ does not simply mean temporary blindness, but a closing of our understanding. Louw and Nida have it: ‘to cause to be completely unwilling to learn, to cause the mind to be closed.’ Thayer defines it as: ‘to grow hard or callous, become dull, lose the power of understanding:’
As a nation, we are utterly stuck in this condition. It is so severe and grievous a state, and only the Lord Himself can remove it; ‘it is removed in Messiah.”
"But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." 2Cor. 3:15-16
Why share these things, why underline the problem and not the solution? Why not write about the amazing, wonderful promises waiting to be fulfilled regarding Israel's restoration to the Land, and to the Lord? Why not write about God’s promise to restore His presence to us as a nation? (Ezekiel 37, especially Ezekiel 37:25-28)
Because shallow understanding leads to superficial praying.
The strong words of Peter and Stephen follow the events themselves. They had just seen Yeshua crucified, they had seen the mob turn against Him, unto death. They had just seen Judas betray Him; they were witnesses to the trial and execution of the prince of life! They had also witnessed His resurrection. It was all very alive and very real to them; made more so as the Holy Spirit fell on them as fire from heaven and filled their hearts.
It is precisely this same awakening that we need. We need these things to be made real to us. As we see the enormity of this tragedy of all tragedies, our prayers will become deep, and eventually urgent as the Holy Spirit leads us into His own burden. Just as when the LORD shared His burden for Sodom with Abraham, which led Abraham to an intense wrestling with God. His prayers did not save Sodom, but it saved his nephew’s family.
As we pray with the great need in view, as we press into God for the removal of the veil from the eyes of Israel, the Holy Spirit will ignite a fire in our bones, and we will press into God in prayer.
We will become desperate like the woman who pressed through the crowd to touch Yeshua. We will be resolute like the Shunammite woman who would stop at nothing till she got a hold of the feet of Elisha. We will come to God again and again in prayer, as Hannah did at Shilo. In all those instances, the need caused the pressure in the praying. All these women received what they prayed for and then some.
In the days before the Azusa revival, Frank Bartleman, inspired by the revival in Wales, took to prayer for revival. It is evident from his writings that the pressure of the Holy Spirit to pray increased gradually and grew to a become great burden till he could hardly contain it.
Here are some quotes from His book “Azusa Street.”
It is interesting to note what he has to say about the mood of some of the people in the Church was like. It is not much different in these days.
“The spirit of prayer was increasing upon me, and I determined to be “obedient to the heavenly vision.
“The burden of prayer was heavy on me for the work in those days. I had little rest day or night, in services and prayer. They were initial days. The fight was on. Both God and the devil were on the move.
“Jesus’ life was pressed out in prayer at every pore. This kind comes too high for most people. But may not this be our Lord’s ‘last call’?
“I spent most of my time on my face in the woods in prayer. In the moonlight evenings, I poured out my soul unto God, and He met me there. There was much “empty wagon” rattle in the camp. Most were seeking selfish blessings. They rushed to meeting like a big sponge, to get more blessing. They needed stepping on. And largely so with the Pentecostal people today.
“In those days, real prayer was little understood. It was hard to find a quiet place where one would not be disturbed. Gethsemane experiences with Jesus were rare among the saints in those days. And it is fast getting to be the same condition among our Pentecostal missions. In the Azusa Mission days, the first thought for a suitable mission was the prayer room. Now it seems too often to be the last consideration.
“At night, I could scarcely sleep for the spirit of prayer."
I am not calling people to produce a burden, only the Lord can put a genuine burden on us, neither am I calling for emotionalism, soulishness and a drumming up of some urgency. What I do believe is that if we give thought, study and prayer to Israel’s need and predicament, the revelation we receive will make the need urgent and He, by the Holy Spirit will take us deeper into prayer, until we too are crying to Him day and night.
God promises to meet us there: "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?" (Though He seems to be delaying.) Luke 18:7
There is a coming intervention of God in the history of Israel. He is coming to remove the veil from off the eyes of His people. For this, we give ourselves to pray and press in. There is no other spiritual hope for Israel; the need is colossal, and only God can meet it. Only God can remove the hardening He put there.
He promised this very thing “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Zech 12:10
Will you stand with us before the Lord till He pours out His Spirit upon Israel? It is quite urgent
Blessings from Jerusalem (although we are in Phoenix right now),