God in the Midst...
 

Dear Partner and Friend of Israel,

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalm 46: 10 – 11

Personally, we would prefer not to have trouble! But God hasn’t promised us such a life; rather, he promises to be with us in the midst of trouble. He was with Daniel in the lion’s den. He was with the three Hebrew men in the fiery furnace. He didn’t forget Jonah in the belly of the fish. Even though the children of Israel were not able to enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief, God was with them for 40 years in the wilderness, providing their daily needs. He was with Paul and Silas in prison. He has been with Israel throughout her short modern history, which has been peppered with wars, terror attacks, and constant threat of military action. The Psalms and the prophets contain words of encouragement and comfort for God’s children. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23: 4)

Daily in Israel, we are assaulted with threats from the Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and Syria. And no one feels that the current quiet time will last.

As we set out to write this newsletter we could not find the peace with many other topics. It was a struggle inside that just lead us to the topic of Jacob’s trouble and a certainty that God is in the midst!  GOD IN THE MIDST!

God is at work in the midst of chaos and wants to use us all. But in order to be effective we all need to cling to the Lord. NOW, more than ever we need to rely upon the Holy Spirit to lead us day by day and hour by hour. The fruit of the Spirit will cause our lives to shine with God in the midst of a hurt, confused, and needy society. As we do so God is glorified among the people of Israel.

We believe that God has placed many true believers in Israel at this time to be with the people of Israel ‘in the midst’ of trouble. He is giving us many warnings and telling us to prepare for the difficult days ahead.

He has called Pray4Zion to be based in Northern Israel and is strengthening our current operations so that we can be on hand to assist those in need and never send anyone away empty-handed. Through this ministry many Israeli’s are being touched by CHRISTIAN love as they see it in action!

The Hebrew word “tzedakah” is often translated as “charity.” However, when understood from a Jewish point of view, it is much different. The root word for tzedakah is tzedak, which means righteousness, justice or fairness. In Judaism, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due.” Maimonides, a 12th century Jewish sage, organized tzedakah into eight levels, from giving begrudgingly (level one) to giving when neither party knows the other’s identity (level seven). However, “the highest degree of tzedakah,” said Maimonides, “is helping others help themselves.” (Jewfaq. Org)

Pray4Zion is an Organization raised up ‘for a time such as this’ and we believe strategically based in Northern Israel where there is a great need.

The eyes of the world are increasingly on Israel. Just read the Bible, and you will see that Jerusalem will be the center of end-time action.

God wants to use all of us to bring glory to His Name in these tremulous (shaking) days. We hope that you will join Pray4Zion in this spiritual adventure! Many times we asked the question why Northern Israel, Lord? Research has shown that most other Christian Aid Organizations are based in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. According to the Jerusalem Post almost half the new immigrants (those who have made Aliyah according to the promise of God – the return of the Jews to the land of Israel) live in the North and many are in need of help. We feel deeply burned to be there on hand, and immediately available in time of trouble and in the time of peace.

The only chance we have is if CHRISTIANS and JEWS will work together. On the surface, Israel appears to be a modern, prosperous country. Indeed, her high-tech sectors are booming, creating wealth for those involved. Recent reports however show a widening gap between the rich and the poor in Israel. Fully 25% of the population (well over a million), live below the poverty line and many go to bed without proper nutrition.

Many are accustomed to the dull ache of hunger, never having enough food to fill their stomachs. And this is Israel we are talking about, the land that gave us Christians so much! Throughout Scripture, we see the heart of God for the poor, the widow and the orphan. In the book of James, it says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1: 2)

Blessed Are the Merciful! Poverty and hunger do not take vacations. Julie & I can certainly testify to God’s goodness and much of our blessing is because our family has decided to love and bless Israel as the Word prescribes: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper who love you.” Psalm 12: 6.  This includes all our Partners!

God has given us the pattern of blessing by showing us His nature. Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 The Greek word for mercy has the “force of action; to be merciful means to be moved by compassion.” Again, we see the example of Yeshua: “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9: 36 Merciful people know the joy of giving, sharing, and sacrificing. They know the joy knowing faith has been restored, and where gladness and joy have replaced gloom and misery.

Will you be Merciful to Israel? Consider the fact that many in Israel are weak and needy. They are beloved of the Lord (Romans 11: 28). Your gifts make a tremendous impact on the lives of the needy Israeli’s in Northern Israel.

A storm is coming! Any political analyst will tell you so. In fact, anyone who follows the news even occasionally would agree. It is no doubt a storm, the proportions of which, most of us underestimate.  “Behold evil is going forth from nation to nation, and a great storm is being stirred up from the remotest parts of the earth. Those slain by the LORD on that day will be from one end of the earth to the other. “(Jeremiah 25: 32 – 33a NASB)

Living in Israel, surrounded by Arab Islamic nations, prospects of such a “Storm” take on a more intense reality, and it feels much closer here. When we try to picture what the storm will be like, we really cannot grasp the intensity.  Many in Israel point to Psalm 83, as it describes a battle that Israel will have with most of its surrounding neighbors. David Dolan, a Jerusalem-based Christian author and journalist, has said that such a battle with the alliance of nations or regions, as mentioned in that Psalm, has never happened before. Many of them did come together against Israel in 1967 and 1973, but Egypt was part of those coalitions, and Egypt was not listed in Psalm 83. So, it’s no wonder that people focus on it when the heat in Israel gets hotter.

At this stage we look at Psalm 46 (MSG) that reminds us GOD IS WITH US!  We believe God wants to prepare us for the storm (s) ahead by reminding us that He is in the midst of the storm:

“A song of the sons of Korah. God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. (2) We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, (3) before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us; GOD of angel armies protects us. (4) River fountains splash joy, cooling God's city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. (5) God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. (6) Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. (7) Jacob-wrestling God fights for us; GOD of angel armies protects us.  (8) Attention, all! See the marvels of GOD! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, (9) Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. (10) "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything." (11) Jacob-wrestling God fights for us; GOD of angel armies protects us”

This is not an ordinary storm that the psalmist describes. It is an extraordinary, frightening time of trouble. He is describing what could be the worst of times.

It is easy to picture earthquakes and tidal waves just looking at Yeshua’s words in Matthew 24: 7.  But that it not the kind of trouble found described, verse six outlines the shaking of the political realm of the earth as well. The prophet Haggai described such a time of shaking: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: “Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land: and I will shake all nations.” Haggai 2: 6 -7a

The good news for Israel is found in:

 Isaiah 54: 9 – 10 (NASB): “For this is the days of Noah to Me, when I swore that the waters of Noah would not flood the earth again: so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I rebuke you. For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My loving-kindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken.” says the LORD who has compassion on you.”

Yet who wouldn’t be afraid in such a time as this? Certainly we don’t believe that the storm just ahead will be the magnitude of Psalm 46, but neither will it be an ordinary storm. It will no doubt come in stages, increasing in strength and ferocity.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the coming conflict with Iran and likened our day to the days of 1938, when the Nazi regime intensified its ugly threats. The difference, he said, is that today’s enemy will soon have nuclear capacity. Can we face it without fear?

So, why all the calamity? In Psalm 46, we see a threefold purpose. First, God is judging the world.

We usually think of judgment as a terrible thing, but in Psalm 46 verse eight, we are invited to come behold His desolations, and we are joyful! Second: “he makes wars cease to the end of the earth (Vs. 9). Third: “I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth (Vs. 10). This is repeated numerous times throughout Scripture. In whatever he does, His goal is that the people He created know Him.

Sometimes it is Israel that he has to discipline in order that they know Him, as is stated by Ezekiel:

“And I will bring you out of its midst, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and execute judgments on you. You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. “Ezekiel 11: 9 – 10)

Other times the Lord does a good thing for His people in order to reveal Himself to them:

“I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers.” Ezekiel 20: 41 – 42

What is Jacob’s trouble?

The God of Israel spoke through the prophets of a time of great distress which will come upon all the inhabitants of the earth. It is called by various names in the Scripture, including “the day of the Lord,” simply “that day,” ”the great tribulation” and probably the one which most describes the period for Israel, “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” This phrase sums up the central theme of that time in which Israel, surrounded by hostile nations, will once again be a cup of trembling to all nations (Zech. 12: 2). It will be a time of distress for Israel, but the nations which stand against Israel will certainly not escape punishment, because it is essentially a time of God’s testing and judgment on both Israel and the nations. It is written in the book of Daniel that “there will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.”(Daniel 12: 1)

It will be a crisis point for Israel when they will have to face the age old dilemma – whether to trust in the God of their fathers for deliverance or to rely upon their own strength. God has promised deliverance for those who turn to Him. “Alas for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”

(Jeremiah 30:7)

Salvation will come through the Messiah, whose identity will become increasingly clear as events unfold according to God’s Word. It is called the time of Jacob’s trouble because it recalls Jacob’s personal struggle with God on his return to the land of Canaan. Just as Jacob wrestled with God and would not let go until he received his blessing, Israel, as a nation, will struggle with the question of who God is and why he has chosen them and only when their own strength has been broken and they call upon the Name of the Lord, will they receive the blessings of the Messianic Age

“… if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head (6)… But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.” Ezekiel 33: 4; 6

Israel’s real struggle is not with men but with God. The Lord has used the hostility of the nations to punish Israel for their unfaithfulness and disobedience and will punish the nations who have come against Israel.

The background to Jacob‘s trouble:

The struggle of the Jewish people began with the calling of their father Abraham. God called Abraham out from among his people and promised to make him into a great nation with many descendants. Abraham believed God although his wife was barren, but instead of trusting God to fulfill his promise he tried to accomplish it in his own way. The bitterness and rivalry between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac is a lasting consequence of his actions. The struggle continued through Jacob, the father of all the tribes of Israel. Jacob’s life encapsulates the struggle of the Jewish people with God and man. Jacob’s trouble did not begin with political opposition, racial tension or hostility of nations. It began with God choosing him over his own brother in the womb of their mother before they were even born: (Gen. 25: 21 – 26)

It is astonishing to think that the enormous tension in the Middle East began in one family and in the womb of one woman. Rebecca knew that God had said that the older will serve the younger and yet, traditionally, the blessing of the father should have gone to the older. Thus, before he was even born, Jacob’s struggle with men and with God began.

The Jewish people and the nations continue to struggle with the notion of a chosen people. What does it mean to be chosen by God and why were they chosen? Many Jews wrestle with the idea of being singled out and chosen by God and many Gentiles resent the idea. Israel and the nations are not caught up in a struggle that involves their own purposes. Whether they know it or not, they are caught in a dilemma which involves the purpose of God. Regardless of the will of man, what the Lord Almighty has purposed will come to pass and who can thwart him?

“This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14: 26 – 27

God chose to reveal his purposes for mankind through Israel.

His redemption of mankind would be accomplished through them. When God chose Abraham he said that through him all nations would be blessed and that those who blessed him would be blessed by God, but those who cursed him would be cursed by God. This promise was transferred to his descendants through Isaac and Jacob. The nations are headed for disaster whilst they oppose God’s purpose. Monsters like Haman and Hitler were motivated by insane jealousy and hatred of God’s chosen people, but despite the devastation they wreaked they were unable to stand in the way of God’s purpose or destroy His people Israel. Even such a horrific event as the holocaust ultimately contributed towards the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Jacob was brought to a point of personal crisis where he met God face-to-face. In Jacob’s struggle with “a man” he acknowledged that he had struggled with God face-to-face in human form. Light has come to Israel and the nations through the Messiah but the world has preferred to remain in darkness. When Jacob struggled for a whole night with a man, refusing to let him go until he blessed him he wanted to know the man’s name. After his struggle with the man, Jacob called the place “Peniel” which means “face of God’ because he had seen God face-to-face and yet his life was spared. The most crucial issue facing Israel in their time of distress, will be that of the identity of the Messiah, for it is only through him that they will be saved and will receive God’s blessing. Although he has been rejected by his own people, the Messiah and Savior of Israel is none other than Yeshua.

When humbled in the time of great distress, Israel will say, “Let us acknowledge the Lord,” (Hosea 6:3). The revival of Israel is one of the clearest indications that we are approaching the time of Jacob’s trouble. The Sages were well aware of the fact that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by a time of great distress. Jewish writings and commentaries use the term “the birth pangs of the messiah” to refer to this time of tribulation which will precede the coming of the Messiah. We are reminded that “the greatest Jew that ever lived” was and still is Yeshua!

Israeli’s are wearied by the constant treat of war and violence. Many will be so desperate for peace that they will disregard the Word of God which forbids them from entering into peace treaties with their enemies of from exchanging land for peace.

With all this God has called Pray4Zion together with all those partners chosen ‘for a time such as this’ to show mercy to His chosen people and His chosen land.  God wants us to be in the midst of the chaos with him. It is there he is seen, and His presence in us is best realized. May God prepare us all for the days ahead, that we may be ready and able to meet the need of the hour. We cannot do this without you, our partner and value your contribution. May God give you the opportunity to visit Israel and be a part of what he is doing through Pray4Zion. We ask that you continue to stand with us in prayer and financially as we show mercy to God’s chosen people.  God bless you with His perfect Shalom,

Alf & Julie Saunders    

15th January, 2009

 

 






| ISLAMIC War Drums! | The Arab Spring FALLACY! | Arab Rejection of Israel! | Is ISLAM the Green Horse of Revelation? | The Sign of EZEKIEL | The Eternal Saves | Palestinian Refugee or Arab Pawn | The Palestinian Myth | The March to Armageddon | Are the Black Clouds Rising Again? | Prophecies of ISRAEL | What Lies ahead? | The Hijacking of the Temple Mount | Jerusalem The Eye of the Storm | What makes the nations hate Israel? | Betrayed! | Israel God's Ancient Pathways | The Curse of Hadrian | Israel God's Prophetic Blessing | The God of Israel | Woe will be the divide of Jerusalem! | Rumblings in the Middle East | Akedah - 'The Binding of Isaac' | Church verse Israel | The Budding of the Fig Tree | A Time of Jacob's Trouble | Israel Under Siege | Psalm 83 The Coming War | Where is the Body? | The Founding of a Nation | Roots of Anti-Semitism | Israel God's Miracle | If the Mountains could speak? | Holy Cities of Israel | Signs of Times | Who will be the donkey? | The Light of the World | God's Beloved Mountains | Israel, the Church and the Nations | One New man | Enmity | The Valley of Tears | Storm Clouds | Gate of Mercy | The Ancient Womb | God in the MIDST | Epicenter! | The End is in the Beginning | for the least of My brethren |
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