“And Ruth said [to Naomi], Ask me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
Dear Intercessors for Israel:
Shavuot and Pentecost greetings from Jerusalem! Shavuot or Pentecost concludes the counting of the omer, for the last forty-nine days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot as outlined in Leviticus 23:15–16. An omer was an ancient unit of dry measurement that was close to our gallon today. Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people. It is associated with the grain harvest in the Torah.
Traditionally, the Book of Ruth is read in the Synagogues the night before Shavuot, then everyone marches to the Kotel. In past years, Marylois and I have heard in the early morning hours of Shavuot, IDF units marching in cadence to the wall, passing close by on Hebron street near the House of Peace, singing. In the days when the Temple was present, people would gather in the outer courts. It was here that Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, preached to those assembled and led 3,000 souls to the Lord (Acts 2:4-10).
Why read the Book of Ruth? There are many explanations given for the reading of Ruth on Shavuot. The most popular is that Ruth’s arrival in Biblical Israel took place around the time of Shavuot, and her acceptance into the Jewish faith was analogous of the acceptance of the Jewish people of God’s Torah. A second explanation relates to genealogy. Since the Book of Ruth ends with the genealogy of David, whose forbearer Ruth was, it has been suggested that it is read on Shavuot because there is a legend that David died on Shavuot. Another reason for the reading of Ruth on Shavuot is that its story takes place at harvest time, and Shavuot also occurs at the time of the spring harvest.
Israel Knesset Dismissed
Last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu formally dismissed the newly elected 21st Knesset and called for new elections to be held September 17th, 2019. After weeks of wrangling, infighting, and pressures to make back room deals, in the end, PM Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition. The main obstacle to achieving a simple majority of 61 seats in a 120-seat coalition was the question of drafting Haredi, or Ultra-Orthodox religious men, into the IDF. Netanyahu’s potential razor thin coalition was composed of two Ultra-Orthodox parties holding 16 seats. The wild card in this proposed coalition was Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the Yisrael Beitenu (Israel, our home) party, who held six seats. He steadfastly refused to achieve any “deals” on quotas for Haredi men or draft deferments. Lieberman’s presence in Netanyahu’s proposed coalition was shaky at best since the Haredi parties would not join with him.
By calling for new elections, PM Netanyahu is hoping for better “results” from the electorate, knowing that the next election could very well end in a stalemate. The Israeli public is also dissatisfied at the failure of its leaders to reach an agreement, thus forcing another election and the expenditure of millions of shekels.
Pray for Israel during this time, that a governing coalition would be formed in the September 17th elections. Pray for the interim government to lead the nation in a godly manner.
Netanyahu Appoints Openly Gay Justice Minister
In a surprise move today (June 6th), PM Netanyahu dismissed Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a highly capable minister, and appointed Amir Ohana, an openly gay Likud member, as Justice Minister. Many saw this move, as an effort by the PM to gather votes from the gay constituency. Ohana is the first cabinet member in Israel’s history that is gay. He as Israel’s Justice Minister will seek to overturn laws restricting surrogacy births that currently restrict gay couples from having “Jewish” babies. Under current law, babies born to a surrogate are not Jewish, unless the mother is Jewish. Ohana will also seek to strengthen LGBT rights. The Israeli police in another effort to promote tolerance are actively recruiting transgendered trainees. The IDF is also changing its recruiting forms to reflect societal changes, listing birth forms of recruits to read: Parent #1 and Parent #2. Israel is trying to lead the world in promoting gay rights.
Jerusalem Gay Parade
Today (June 6th), was celebrated in Jerusalem by the gay community holding its 15th annual gay parade. The city was decorated with gay flags, hanging on every light pole. Some 10,000 marchers participated while close to 3,000 police, IDF soldiers, border police and undercover agents protected the marchers. Four years ago, an extremist stabbed several participants and killed a 16-year-old girl.
A right winged Jewish leader from a group called Lehava protested. Bensi Gopstein said “The aim of the pride march is to destroy Jewish family values and turn Jerusalem and the whole of Israel into Sodom. We demonstrated so that everyone knows that there is no agreement to abomination and harm to the Jewish identity of the state” (www.timesofisrael.com).
Rick Ridings, founder of Jerusalem’s 24/7 praise and worship center, Succat Hallel, reminded us at a C.F.I. conference this week of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares. This is a harvest hour, but the tares (the weeds) must also reach full maturity until they are gathered and burned (Mt. 13:24-30). May God first bring a Pentecost revival to this city, and allow the tares (sinful man) to be changed in Jesus’ light of repentance.
A City of Conferences and Conventions
Modern Jerusalem has been called a city of “conferences and conventions.” This week, no less than five international Christian conferences are going on. Glory of Zion with Chuck Pierce is holding their meetings with Sadhu Selvaraj, Christian Friends of Israel, Succat Hallel, and the Jerusalem Prayer breakfast. On Saturday, there is an annual messianic outdoor celebration and picnic held at Yad Ha Shemona. There are so many spiritual riches here for those who want to enter in and dine at the Master’s table.
“Men Shall Hate You” (Lk. 6:22, Mk. 13:13)
And yet in times of great light, there is also persecution. Last week, a concert of new Messianic worship songs written by Israelis was held at Jerusalem’s King of Kings facility, The Pavilion. Outside, crowds of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious men assembled, harassing those who were trying to enter into worship: “Blowing whistles, and trying to drown out the worship, they spat, hit and even cut men, women, and children who were trying to enter King of Kings. The police were overwhelmed and only after several hours when a third SWAT in full armor and face shields arrived was this riot controlled. These protestors pushed down several women to the ground, threw water bottles, spit and pepper sprayed those entering” (Pastor Chad Holland, www.cbnnews.com). Some of these protestors were from the Jewish group Lehava which opposes contact with non-Jews and having a Christian presence in Israel.
“While evangelical and other Christians are welcomed as friends by most Israeli sectors, Messianics, Jews who believe in Jesus, are shunned and persecuted by other religious Jews” (www.cbnnews.com). These Jews believe they are “traitors who worship three gods.” Even so, the protestors didn’t win, as the concert at King of Kings went on as scheduled.
Pray for the Messianic body of believers in Israel. May they stand strong and choose to love those who persecute them. May they be accepted and increase.
A Mighty Rushing Wind
“When the day of Pentecost was fully come,… then a sound of a mighty rushing wind came and filled all the house.” Please pray this Pentecost for the “house” of Jerusalem and “house” of Israel. Pray for the Spirit of revival to come and touch these people. May the veil which hides our Savior from His people be removed from those who truly seek Him. May this be an hour when Jew and Gentile come together as Ruth and Boaz did. Paul writes in Ephesians that “Now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. He is our peace who has made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:11-14).
Gene and Marylois
House of Peace, Jerusalem