Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Event that Set Paul on the Road to Jerusalem 5 23 2007 Draft

I did tinker with this 2007 draft just a tiny bit - a bit of editing and clarifying - but 95% is just as I wrote it in 2007 when I pulled it from my 2001 writings on the subject. I got this revelation in the early 1990’s and it has been the guiding force behind my labors for the believers in Israel since 2001.

by Donna Diorio

The event that awakened Paul to the need of the Gentile Church to minister to the material needs of the Messianic brethren, started at Antioch. The consecration to God’s purposes took place after Paul and Barnabas’ returned from Jerusalem where they had carried provision for the Israeli brethren for a prophesied famine that was coming on the whole world. Their arrival in Jerusalem had also coincided with great persecution of the believing community and Herod’s execution of the apostle James (brother of John). Herod also arrested Peter.

After the stoning of Stephen, many of the disciples fled from Jerusalem to surrounding countries, where they continued to preach the gospel to Jews only. However, some of them who went to Antioch also preached to Gentiles and “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”

News of their effective ministry came back to the believers in Jerusalem, so Barnabas was sent to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God, he “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.”

Saul had been in Arabia and also at Damascus for about thirteen years when Barnabas sought him out for the ministry work at Antioch. When Barnabas found him, they returned to minister to the Gentiles for one year. Then events began to unfold that would send Saul, now known as Paul, back to Jerusalem for the second time since his conversion on the road to Damascus.

What happened there could only be the leading of God to bring Paul into recognition of the mission He was preparing the apostle to carry out.

After Barnabas and Paul had returned together to minister in Antioch: After one year, a prophet from Jerusalem, Agabus, “stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout the world.”

I want to draw special attention to the fact that the prophesied famine was not only to affect Israel, but would be throughout the known world. Scripture notes that the famine did indeed occur according to the prophetic utterance during the days of Claudius Caesar.

In response to Agabus’ prophecy, we are told, “Then the disciples, each according to his own ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they did by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

Even though the famine would affect the whole known world, the prophetic utterance stirred Gentile believers at Antioch to be especially concerned for the welfare of Jewish believers in Israel.

Why? Not because the Jewish brethren were considered “special” in themselves, but because there was recognition that they lived and ministered in a more gospel-hostile environment than most Gentile believers did. I have come to learn that the ability of the body in Israel to thrive through the help of the believers in the nations is just as - maybe even more important and significant in our day than - in the early days of the faith.

From that day to our day, the situation for Messianic Jews in Israel has been much the same - except for this important difference. There is still religious persecution of the faith, but NOW is the time that the veil is being removed from the eyes and hearts of Jews so they can received the Messiah Yeshua.

Now the believers at Antioch had understood that even though a famine would have impact throughout the world—including where they were—that there was a special need to send relief to the brethren living in Judea. There was a special need to supply relief for those believing Jews living among unbelieving Jews. It was true in those days and remains true to this day.

Special care from the Gentile churches is required to keep the Jewish brethren from suffering excessively for the sake of the gospel and for them to be able to minister effectively to all Israel.

There are many believers worldwide who suffer the effects of persecution, and we do not discourage any assistance directed toward any of them. However, we must point out that there is greater significance to the Antioch believers’ recognition of the special circumstance that Israeli believers labor under. That significance, “To the Jew first, and also to the Gentiles,” is a principle that must be applied in our ministry support and missions giving.

As Paul told the church at Corinth in direct reference to their collection of funds earmarked for the Jewish brethren, “And in this I give my advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there may also be a completion out of what you have.” 2 Cor. 8:10-11

It is to OUR advantage in this day also! "For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" Romans 11:15

There is also significance in the timing of Paul and Barnabas’ arrival in Jerusalem to deliver famine-provision for the Jewish believers. The timing is significant in two ways: First, it was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is observed immediately after Passover and also within days of the observance of Shavuot.

And secondly because, “about that time Herod stretched out his hand to harass some” of the Messianic Jewish body. Then he killed the apostle James, brother of the apostle John, with the sword and “because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.” Acts 11:26-12:3

We must believe in Divine timing when we see it! Here Paul looked plainly into the eye of both the spiritual indebtedness of the Gentile believers to the Jewish believers (Romans 15:27) and also to the persecution of believing Jews by unbelieving Jews: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” Romans 11:28

How could Paul escape what God was speaking to him in the timing of these events?
Surely as these events unfolded before his eyes, Paul recognized the clear call and leading of God in his ministry! Could it be that as these events played out during the Days of Unleavened Bread (when Jesus became the sheaf offering of the first ripe grain), that God began to reveal to Paul what the meaning was of the Shavuot offering?

Paul was experiencing first hand how the Jewish brethren in Israel were suffering without any assistance from believers outside of their borders. He had come to deliver the first Holy-Spirit inspired contribution from the Antioch Christians, and he witnessed how great the persecution was!

He had been a persecutor of Jewish believers, and now he is witness to how the zeal he had carried in his own bosom against Yeshua’s faithful, had multiplied and jeopardized the top leadership among the apostles of the Lord! One apostle had already been killed and another thrown in prison.

The believers in Jerusalem were terrified of what would happen to Peter, and surely also of what it would mean to all believers in Israel. There was intercessory prayer going on day and night on Peter’s behalf by all the believers in Jerusalem! This is the scenario that Paul and Barnabas walked into upon arrival in Jerusalem. How it must have impacted them!

What unfolded before Paul’s eyes was in the perfect timing of God. For we know how by His Word and through the events of our lives, God directs our paths. He set Paul on a specific path in the same way by these very events that were unfolding.

After Peter’s Divine release from prison, Acts tells us that Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch and only then were the two men set apart by God to their callings. Having “fulfilled their ministry” to Jerusalem, and in a season of fasting and prayer with prophets and teachers in Antioch, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate (consecrate) Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:13

In the past we have understood these passages to be only the singling out of Paul and Barnabas to be sent out as missionaries. We must reconsider the consecration as an even fuller calling on Paul to prophetically model the support of the church to the body in Israel to insure those ministers who are living in this very day would be able to minister to the Israeli people the Good News of the Messiah Yeshua.

Certainly, as the years of evangelization among the Gentiles, Paul increasingly acts on his calling to establish giving in the churches toward the material needs of the Jewish brethren. By the latter part of Paul’s second missionary trip, he has made this a priority focus in his in-person ministry and also by letters to the churches.

Near the end of his second missionary journey at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, Paul consecrated himself under a Nazarite vow for God’s favor. The passage does not tell us why but it is only in Acts 21:23-24 in Jerusalem that he ends the vow because his mission is accomplished. That Nazarite vow was fulfilled in his last trip to Jerusalem When he was delivering the donations from all the Christian churches he had oversight of.

From the time he took his vow until he embarked on his last trip to Jerusalem, his letters urged the churches to take up a collection for the “saints,” the “poor in Judea” (2 Cor 8, Ro 15:26-27, 2 Cor 9:12-13, Gal 2:9-10, 1 Cor 16:1) . Not just poor in general, but the poor in specific - the believers in Israel.

I believe that Paul understood his calling to do this was not just for the Jewish believers in the time he was living, but it was for the time such as this. He fulfilled his prophetic modeling to the church bringing their donations to the body in Israel. He knew his freedom was at stake and there were prophecies all along his journey to Jerusalem that it would end with him in chains. His closest friends and followers cried, not wanting him to personally escort the donations to Jerusalem, but Paul had already decided to fulfill God’s calling on his life to set the standard of giving to the ministers in Israel so they could fulfill their calling.

He was arrested in Jerusalem, imprisoned and eventually died in Rome. He is no doubt in Heaven now rooting for the understanding of what he prophetically modeled for our sakes in such a time as this, to begin to break loose throughout the whole Christian world. It is a revelation of God’s purposes in such a time as this.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Vision for Peace | Arrows from Zion

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu Meeting at the White House Jan 28, 2020

I'm going to break from the naysayers decrying this Trump initiated "Vision for Peace" deal by highlighting some of the more positive views that are being expressed by Jewish commentators — both Messianic and traditional conservative Jews. My starting point is that we know there is no true peace for Israel until Yeshua returns, but that does not mean that Israel should not take advantage of how this deal moves the ball forward on Israel's behalf. 
One idea I reject outright is that this is an "Antichrist" peace deal. 
(Published first as the cover story 1/29/20 in Arrows from Zion)

Vision for Peace
A roundup of assessments 1/29/20 by Donna Diorio

The "Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People" is 181 pages long, but you can read it for yourself. It is posted on the White House website and is downloadable in pdf format.

As soon as the plan was shared yesterday, the first opinion I saw was from one whose views I often find compatible with my own, from traditional Jewish, but the American Conservative editor of JNS.org, Jonathan S. Tobin. Haaretz ran Tobin's take in Trump's peace plan means settlements are permanent. Democrats, get used to it.

Tobin wrote, "Any assumption that Trump's plan has no long-term significance is almost certainly wrong." 

"Even when Democrats hold the White House again, they won't be able to reverse the core terms of Trump's Middle East peace plan, and U.S. leverage over Israel will have diminished."

“There is no going back to a diplomatic universe in which there's an assumption that Israel will bow to US demands for territorial withdrawals—involving the mass eviction of settlers—once framed as a necessary basis for peace.” Tobin wrote.

From the statement by Jared Kushner, that is very much the point. He ought to know because Kushner is the president's Jewish son-in-law and was one of those involved in crafting the plan. 

Kushner has said, "I'm not  looking at the world as it existed in 1967. I'm looking at the world as it exists in 2020."

That simply means this plan takes off the table any fantasy negotiation that envisions Israel returning to 1967 border lines. It is a point that is always pressed that has now been permanently taken off the table. That is reason enough for the favorable reception the plan apparently received from both Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz.

The headline at Israeli Messianic Israel Today magazine read, Trump Deal Flips Peace Process on Its Head. "After more than 20 years of failure despite intensive diplomatic efforts," they write, "US President Donald Trump’s 'Deal of the Century' finally proposes a different approach." 
"For the past two decades," Israel Today notes, "the formula underlying the Middle East peace process was to accept the Palestinian positions, turn a blind eye to their transgressions (because they were the “oppressed”), and require painful concessions of Israel."

Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights attorney and journalist called Trump's Vision for Peace plan "the most pro-peace, pro-Israel proposal to date!"
Ostrovsky also tweeted, "That the #Palestinians were going to reject the #DealOfTheCentury was a given. Most interesting for me, is seeing the reactions coming from the Arab / Gulf world. This is BIG. Palestinians increasingly on their own."
He cites the Jerusalem Post report that "Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE on Tuesday issued statements welcoming the Trump administration's peace plan, and called on both sides to begin negotiations."
Jonathan Schanzer, a counterterrorism expert and a VP at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says that the Trump plan changes the dynamic that past administrations were locked into by recognizing both sides as equals. This produced Palestinian recalcitrance leading to deadlock in peace talks for decades.

“The Palestinians are often granted more power than they actually have; the Israelis are asked to relinquish power and it’s ended in disaster,” Schanzer says. “This is an attempt to shift the dynamic to give the Israelis more power and the Palestinians less in a way that affects the actual dynamic.”
Ron Cantor of Messiah's Mandate notes, "Understand, I am not 100% opposed to a Palestinian state. I recognize that there are 3,000,000 Arabs within Israel in the disputed territories—people who deserve more. But until they change their leadership, there will be no peace and no state. The PLO was born in the blood of terror—not war. They are the fathers of martyrs and suicide bombers. ...[To this day] The PLO pays out some $360 million a year to the families of suicide bombers and martyrs."
American Messianic Jew Dr Michael L. Brown makes a difference between many of the Palestinian people and their terrorist leaders, "if the Palestinian populace as a whole could see a way forward to peace and prosperity, wouldn’t they want to achieve it? And what if the surrounding Muslim nations said, 'Yes, do this and we will help you prosper as well!' What then?....Frankly, without massive pressure from the populace as a whole, joined by other Muslim nations, I do not see this happening. And that is the crux of the problem."

Most of the Jews making comment recognize that there is no way the Palestinians will live up to their side of the deal to bring it to pass. In essence the US plan insists that for the Palestinians to reap the benefits of the plan they have to first accept the plan, then the Palestinian Authority must stop paying terrorists and inciting terrorism. Hamas and Islamic Jihad must put down their weapons. Both the PA and Hamas governed territories must give up corruption, respect human rights, freedom of religion and a free press. This is according to the Jerusalem Post summary of conditions. Few see that happening.

Which may be why US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman urged Israelis to "apply Israeli law to the settlements and to the territory" in an "on-the-record press call on the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Ambassador Friedman said, "Israel does not have to wait — does not have to wait at all. The waiting period would be the time it takes for them to obtain internal approvals and to obviously create the documentation, the calibration, the mapping that would enable us to evaluate and make sure it’s consistent with conceptual map."

The Ambassador says that the plan provides "certain benefits to Israel up front in exchange for Israel keeping the option open to the Palestinians for a very lengthy period of time.”

Today it was reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu will ask the cabinet in its next meeting to vote on applying Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.

In news breaking in the past hour (at this writing 1/29), Blue and White Leader Benny Gantz has announced that he will bring the US peace plan to the Knesset for an up or down vote next week. "This is a historic opportunity to draw Israel's future borders," Gantz told participants today at a national security conference.

As PA President Abbas appears to threaten Netanyahu with breaking Oslo agreements related to security coordination, Israel news is also reporting that the IDF is bolstering its West Bank troops as Palestinians riot and is conducting ongoing assessments of the situation.

Jared Kushner said the plan is "rooted in the principle that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians must be based on an agreement that satisfies the basic aspirations of the two peoples – in a manner that guarantees security, dignity and opportunity for all."

"The question comes down to, what will the Palestinian leadership do?" Kushner asked.

He told Al-Arabia, "wholehearted rejections will show the world that they are not interested in peace, they have never been interested in peace. And, quite frankly, in the Palestinian areas, you have a lot of people that are very vested in the status quo."

If nothing is done with the deal on the Palestinian side, the situation, Kusher says, will only get worse for Palestinians who are living in great poverty as it stands not. There is a $50 billion economic plan and refugee compensation fund that will help with the Palestinians reabsorbing Palestinian refugees.  

Kushner does not see potential for a better deal if Palestinians let this opportunity die.

"This is a great deal for them, he says. "If they come to the table and negotiate, I think they can get something excellent."

"It’s difficult to come up with a construct where you have a continuous Palestinian state, where you can drive from one end to the bottom through bridges, tunnels, roads, Kushner continued. "We figured it out, it was not easy. And then we were able to sit with Israel and get them to agree to freeze settlement for four years. That has never been done before. And get them to agree to a Palestinian state, and get them to agree to a map."

Many will try to dismiss President Trump's plan as merely an ego-driven deal. That would be a great disservice to the heart that has been put into this plan to benefit both sides, but at last from a position that places Israel's needs in proper priority. 

Yet again, President Trump has shown himself to be the hands down best friend in an American president that Israel has ever had.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Las Vegas Messianic Congregation Targeted, Terrorist Arrest Made

Above is a screen save of my article in the latest issue of the Messianic Times.
This is not that article, but here I'm giving further thoughts
on the issues that came out of researching the facts of the case.

My 2¢
Las Vegas Messianic Congregation Targeted,  Terrorist Arrest Made

Did you know that this summer, one month after the El Paso Mall shooting and the Dayton, Ohio Antifa shooter, there were 50 preemptive terror arrests made? Now even more so. Were these real threats of terrorism or politically-driven "security theater" events? We have to ask these questions. We should distrust how hate speech online may easily be getting exploited for political purposes.

There was another arrest November 1 in Pueblo, Colorado of the state's second-oldest synagogue. This too  bears striking resemblance  the Messianic Times story I just did, Terror Target: Las Vegas Messianic Synagogue.

My deepest concern is what is happening between the people spewing hate speech on the web and the FBI OCE's (Online Covert Employees). No one seems to be asking for any accountability at that level.

Pamela Geller also expressed concerns in the facts that emerged after the Garland terror attempt at her "Draw Muhammad" event. Geller wondered if the OCE egged on the terrorists to commit an attack against her specifically. The OCE who had been encouraging the terrorists online was actually present watching the attack scene in Garland, but no FBI agents were sent to thwart the attack and only three hours notice of the attack was given to the Garland, Texas police. Why?

I have real concerns about that same types of issues in the Las Vegas arrest. I wonder when and how the 24-year old arrested in that case transitioned from ranting about illegal immigrants and LGBT to also hating Jews. In 2016 there were no mentions of Jews so how did focus develop? How Conor Climo get focused in his many terroristic fantasy-plans on the only Messianic congregation in Nevada? Quite honestly, I wonder if the ADL's Center on Extremism online trackers, or COE's, had anything to do with that.

I wonder the same with the latest arrest on November 1 in Colorado, because again the hate speech morphed into operational after 2 OCE's who had been communicating with the 27-year old online met him in person. They brought him explosives and then he was busted. What did the online conversations consist of that led to that critical moment?

As Pamela Geller said, "
While I do believe that undercover FBI agents have to play along with the jihadis they’re dealing with, because in order to be in an informant you have to have credibility, it’s a whole other thing if you’re encouraging and cheering on the proposed murder of Americans who are standing in defense of the freedom of speech, and then not doing anything about it."

Would either of these two men have taken it to the execution level without the moral and practical support of the FBI OCE's? Would Pamela Geller's terror attackers focused on her and attempted to attack if it had not been for their online contact? In the case of Geller, her attempted jihad massacres were plotting an attack at the Super Bowl and planned to travel to Syria to join ISIS. How did they get focused on killing all they could at Pamela Geller's Dallas event instead? Was it redirection of the online covert FBI employee? And if it was, why didn't the FBI send agents to thwart the attack?

I have the same kind of questions in the 2009 Dallas arrest of a 19-year old man from Jordan. Would he have advanced to operational if he had not been having encouragement online and eventually received what he thought was explosives for a car bomb from FBI OCE's? We really don't know the answer to that because we don't see what the online communications read like.

To be completely honest with you, I do not trust the ADL Center on Extremism online trackers who were involved in the take down of the Las Vegas attacker. That's because I know that the ADL despises Messianic Jews.

I am from Dallas. In 1997 a local racist, anti-Semite came to the Baruch Hashem Messianic congregation opening fire with many shots into the doors of the packed house for Shabbat service. In response the ADL did nothing but run around to all the news people in Dallas saying, "They aren't really Jews!" So what? Does that mean the terroristic attack did not count somehow? The ADL just didn't want it counted by the news and public as being an anti-Semitic hate crime? Tell that to the perpetrator who went to prison for it.

That incident made me deeply suspicious of how the Messianic target was handled in the Las Vegas arrest.

First off because the FBI did not tell the news media which synagogue in Las Vegas the young man had been arrested for specifically targeting. It took a clever young crime reporter to connected the dots. Three days after Conor Climo's arrest, she approached the Lev Hashem Messianic congregation to confirm they had been the target. The rabbi told she was the only person in the community to contact them outside of the FBI.

Out of all the many fantasized, but developed plans that the Las Vegas man had committed to paper for attacks, like a McDonald's, an LGBTQ bar, police leadership etc., it was only the Messianic synagogue that the FBI Supervisory Agent went to notify as Climo's specific target. The agent told rabbi Hundley that he wanted to make sure he heard it from the FBI and not the media, but the FBI did not tell the media the specific synagogue targeted. It was also not named specifically of all the Las Vegas synagogues in court documents. Why?

Immediately after the arrest a Nevada ADL statement prepared with the Nevada Jewish Federation reads, "ADL requested additional police patrols and a heightened alert status around all shabbat services. This was immediately approved by local police.”

No police patrols were dispatched, however, to the actual specific synagogue that was the terror target.

As soon as the Las Vegas Review Journal published the story naming the Messianic congregation in Las Vegas as the target, the local ADL put out a statement, “...no one in the Jewish community was threatened by the suspect in question."

Of course, now that it has not been picked up widely outside of Las Vegas that the target was the Messianic congregation, the ADL is out using it as an example of anti-Semitic violence perpetrated by White Supremacists in the Israeli newspapers (Violent white supremacy is on the rise – how do we stop it?). The ADL is so politically left, how can they not be suspect in the "security theater" that is going on in FBI and Homeland Security? They continually push the narrative that it is "White Supremacists" who account for the American anti-Semitic attacks when the factual statistics do not support that. In reality, the ADL, like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is politically driven which is undeserving of their past reputations.

The same political forces appear to be the power struggle we see inside our agencies tasked with national security issues. What I found in my research was that the Department of Homeland Security was fit to be tied because of Trump re-directing their domestic terrorism resources to the southern border and illegal immigrants. Many of them were livid and wanted to pursue resources instead on white supremacists. With all the faking of terrorism statistics that Patrick Poole has documented from the Obama era, how can we dismiss the current explosion of preemptive arrests after El Paso as completely above board? I know I don't.

It would not surprise me in the least if the online terrorist trackers who were conversing with Conor Climo on the internet were somehow responsible for the target he focused on. 

The ADL stated it was their Center of Extremism internet team who informed the FBI about Climo in June 2019. They also stated they had been tracking Climo online since 2016. The week following the El Paso/Dayton attacks, on August 8th, the FBI searched Climo's house and arrested him.

I cannot say positively that the ADL's COE focused Climo on the Messianic synagogue, but I would sure like to see the communications that went on between them to see the positively did not.

When the online contact meets with the person posting hate speech on Facebook and presents them with explosives, it really makes me wonder if the rants and fantasized plans would have ever gone operational without the encouragement they received from those posing as like-minded individuals instead of informants that they are.

I am all for online tracking of the bad guys, but I am not happy with not knowing if we are being treated to manipulated results. I am not thrilled with either the right or the left doing this.

On the other hand, I'm not thrilled with how they a blind eye was turned to all the tells Nidal Hasan was giving before he attacked Ft Hood either. I'm also not thrilled with the suppressed Islamic terror statistics by labeling that terror attack "workplace violence" in the Fort Hood case and others, or the inflated statistics of White Supremacists either.

On terrorism I think we are caught between the political right and the political left instead of our security agencies just doing their job straight up, honestly no manipulations. That is the only way Americans can be assured national security is make the #1 priority to protect American citizens. It isn't too much to ask.

That's my 2¢ —Donna Diorio

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Future Vision

Future Vision
by Donna Diorio

As I considered what to name this issue, the name of the ministry of our dearly departed brother, Marc Chopinsky, came to mind — Future Vision. That's what it is all about, isn't it? It is not just what we are doing today, it is the vision for the future that we are also carrying. It was not that long ago that I carried a piece from Eli Ben-Moshe (Chopinsky), Mark's son who is continuing on in the worship music legacy of his father.
Mark, who pioneered Messianic Worship Music with Paul Wilbur and Rene Bloch, founded his Future Vision recording studio in Israel twenty years ago. He wanted to help the Israeli Messianic worshippers make professional quality music. Eli caught the same vision and continues on with his Ashira production company in his dad's Future Vision studios.
I am seeing so much of this type of transition taking place among the congregations and ministries in Israel, and today there are even more beginning to transition into their own future visions. It is an encouraging sign when the international ministries in Israel also recognize that it is time to begin the transition of their Israeli work over to the local Israeli believers.
This week I was sent an announcement article from Elizabeth Eriksen Levy, CEO of the Caspari Center in Jerusalem, "What Does the Future Hold for Us?" When the Caspari Center was established nearly forty years ago, there were far fewer Messianic Jews in Israel than there are today. It was an outright missions work.

"Our organization was established in 1982 by foreigners desiring to support and build up the local body of believers. Since that time, our leadership and board have traditionally been foreigners. Watching the development of the local body for years, our leadership recognizes it’s time for some changes on our end.

"And so we have arrived at the momentous decision to slowly transition our model of governance to contain more local people. This is a big step, and one we do not undertake lightly. This new model will include a majority of locals on our board (4 out of 7 members will be local, with 3 foreign board members), and will be led by a local CEO. We will aim for this new model to be in place by 2021."

This is a critical recognition on their part. We saw
Sukkat Hallel recognize the same thing several years ago as they transitioned to more local believers leading in the 24/7 worship and prayer watches. It is so important for internationals to recognize the body of Messiah in Israel are the 'home team' so to speak. Internationals are in Israel on a visitor's pass, so the leadership of the spiritual house of Lord Yeshua in Israel, must also be Israelis.

I really appreciate how they expressed this, "We at the Caspari Center know how important it is for the local work to be locally run." It is so important that these kinds of transitions continue to take place.

The Caspari Center was an essential help to me almost twenty years ago when I began to try to find and connect with the ministries of Israel. A friend gave me a copy of
"Facts & Myths About the Messianic Congregations in Israel" and through that book I was able to take a giant leap forward in identifying the Messianic congregations and ministries of Israel. Right now they are in the process of surveying for an updated version of the book which will also give us our first real peek at how many Jewish believers are actually in the Land these days. We have estimates, but it will be great to get a credible number for where we are today.

When Israel became a state in 1948 there were only 29 confirmed Messianic believers in the whole land. In the 1980's and 90's many of the American Messianic congregational leaders began to immigrate and integrate into life as Israelis serving in established Messianic congregations, and then starting new works. By 2013 there were already 100 congregations, many more smaller fellowships and somewhere in the neighborhood of 18,000 Messianic Jewish believers in total in 2019. The number may be greater than that, but one thing we know for sure is that the number is increasing and Israelis have never been as open to hear the Gospel as they are today.

That's why it is so important that we also see so many of the ministries beginning to transition their pastoral leadership to the younger generation. The 'Baby Boomers' generation is making way for the next generation leadership. We have to leave a work that can continue on into the future even when we are gone on to glory, as David Davis at the
Carmel congregation did with Dani Sayeg, and Yeshi Reinhardt did with Yariv Goldman at Hands of Mercy.

At the Maoz Ministry, we have watched over many years now as the Sorko-Ram's completed the transitioning pastoral leadership at the Tel Aviv Tiferet Yeshua congregation. Now we are watching as they have begun transitioning the Maoz Ministry operations to daughter and son-in-law, Shani and Kobi Ferguson. Sometimes it is possible to transition to family members with the gifts for that organization leadership, sometimes the best people for the job are spiritual sons and daughters. Either way, it is important to prepare leaders able and anointed to step into leadership roles for the next generation of ministry in Israel.

Lately, Arrows has carried the reports of the transitioning that has been going on in the
Tikkun Ministry, as their three pioneering founders, Eitan Shishkoff, Dan Juster and Asher Intrater continue to release more and more of the congregational and ministry headships to those young people they have invested in for so many years...for such a time as this. This is a steady, paced and prepared for transitioning of leadership for the generation of Israelis who are coming to know the Lord today and tomorrow.

Personally, I believe this process is so important that I want to make is a focus of our ongoing prayer for all the ministries of Israel. It is vision for the future that we are seeing as ministries develop their young people to walk in greater roles of leadership.  Also when international ministries in Israel realize the time has come for them to transition to local leaders too, this tells us that we are entering a new era for the Gospel in Israel.

Now personally, I do not believe we are anywhere near the time when the Israeli ministries will not need the financial support of Christians in the nations. Israel is not like other nations where missions are established and then both leadership and finances withdrawn as the body continued to grow.

The reason for that is the multiplied intense spiritual warfare that exists to keep Israel from coming to the faith in Yeshua. We must recognize Israel is the last stand of spiritual warfare against Jesus is being waged with an all effort to keep "all Israel" from being saved. Why? Because Yeshua will not return to rule and reign until Israel says, Baruch Haba B'Shem Adonai - Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Israeli body of Messiah is going to need our prayers and financial support to keep advancing the Kingdom of God in the Land of Israel — and not only ours, but many more in the international Christian community need to awaken to our connection to the believers in Israel and their significance to the return of the LORD to this earth.

Like the whole world seems to be doing at an accelerated rate, the body of Messiah in Israel is transitioning into the demands of a new era. All of these transitions and demands are going to need our prayers and finances to press through. God made it that way so we would come together as one new man in Messiah.

Prophetic Photo?

Ron Cantor shared this photograph (by Josh Wander) on Facebook writing,
"Last night, on the second night of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), just after we finished dinner, thunder and lightning storms hit Jerusalem. A local man snapped a picture of a lightning bolt that appeared to have hit the minaret tower of the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount where the first and second temples stood.
That is amazingly reminiscent of the Oct 11th email Rick Ridings of Succat Hallel sent out - a prophetic vision:

"I saw the Lord shrouded in a pillar of dark clouds above the Temple Mount. Flashes of lightning went from the clouds towards Tehran, Ankara, and Moscow. Lightning struck a demonic throne in each place. The thrones started shaking and gradually disintegrating. Then the dark clouds began to dissipate. The Lamb was revealed inside, radiantly white. He was then revealed in a much greater way to Israel and the nations.

"The following Monday, September 16th, the three leaders of Iran, Turkey, and Russia met together in Ankara, Turkey. The threats of Turkey invading the Kurdish area of Syria (and killing large numbers of Christians among them) are very real, as are the threats coming from Iran to destroy Israel."

Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was falsely imprisoned in Turkey for two years before being set free at the priority urgings of the Trump administration, is now sharing the prophetic dream he had in a Turkish prison cell in December 2016. Here is the gist of it:

"In the dream, Turkey, Iran, and Russia began to move together in a very dark alliance," he explained. Brunson woke up from the dream drenched in sweat and barely able to speak. At the time, Turkey and Iran had been enemies for years so he knew something drastic was about to happen.

Several days after Brunson had his dream, a Turkish police officer assassinated the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov while he was speaking in Ankara. But instead of sparking hostility between Russia and Turkey, Brunson said it seemed to bring the two countries together. He believes the alliance has been growing stronger ever since.

Right out of the gate, CBN Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell said, 'This is in many ways a jihad' in his explanation of the Turkish invasion of Syria. Click the link to read his analysis.

Gatestone Institute wrote: As the Voice of America itself reported on January 23, Erdogan's plan was to resettle three million or more refugees from other parts of Syria in this "security zone" extending twenty miles deep into Syria. Twenty miles may not sound much, but – the VOA omitted to mention – almost all the Kurdish towns of northeastern Syria lie within that area. So Erdogan's intention to annihilate the Kurdish presence in that area and replace it with others has been manifest ever since the beginning of 2019.

Now one week after the Trump-Erdogan phone call we see that the U.S. letting down its guard opened a door for Turkey to carry out its desire to annihilate the Kurds as they invaded Syria in the Kurdish stronghold where the Kurds have been keeping ISIS captives in prisons. Today in new headlines: Turkey Boasts ‘Neutralizing’ 595 Kurds. Many Syrian Christians have also been caught up in the melee Turkey is visiting on Syria in their effort to commit the genocide of the Kurds.
Israel has been outspoken in favor of the Kurds, in fact, Israeli Messianic ministries have also written in their prayer letters over several years now about their work with and prayers for the Kurds. Some Israeli newspapers in the past week are asking "Is There a Biblical — and Genetic — Reason Why Jews Support the Kurds?" According to results of a new study at the Hebrew University there is a close genetic connection between Jews and Kurds. From a genetic point of view the study finds that the Kurds may be the people with the closest genetic connection  to the Jews.
To understand the political confusion most people have regarding the Kurds, I would like to recommend you watch this Facebook video Dalton Thomas of FAI. Dalton is one of the "Sheep Among Wolves" filmmakers  about the Christian revival in Iran, has also lived and laboured among the Kurds for several years.  This is the most informative and educational I have seen on the Kurds and why it is important for Christians to support and pray for them.
What I have presented here are both prophetic and hard news views of believers-professionals who have actually served, and are serving in the region. In my opinion, these are the voices most worthy paying attention to because far-removed politicians and pundits cannot possibly have the spiritual element in priority as they assess the ever-changing Middle East alliances. I hope subscribers will do a deep dive into the links provided in this article.  — Donna Diorio

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

RETRO: The World Trade Center Disaster

Did We Learn Anything? What could we have learned? In this retro-piece from September 2011 in the aftermath of the horror of the 9/11 attack on US soil, Asher Intrater's insights still ring as true today as they did 18 years ago. Many have completely forgotten what everyone so acutely understood that day, including the Church. Perhaps today we will hear the spiritual message in this article. 

The World Trade Center Disaster

The World Trade Center Disaster | by Asher Intrater | September 2001 | In Israel, the first reaction to the attack on the World Trade Center was, Why? Why didn't America listen to us all these years when we tried to warn them about the dangers of terrorism?

The same spirit of terrorism, which attacks Israel, is also against America, and in a certain sense, against evangelical Christians everywhere. The more that Christians see this connection, the better the defense against the attacks.

As a Christian pastor friend asked me, Where were the prophets? Why wasn't there a prophetic alert to this event? In a sense the warnings coming out of Israel were a prophetic alert, but it was not recognized as such. The timing of the second and third plane crashes, along with the lack of US intelligence, pointed to a supernatural influence greater than the terrorists themselves.

This disaster was obviously a huge attack of demonic forces as well. However as both buildings collapsed directly on top of themselves without falling sideways, we became aware that this was more than the work of satanic forces.

In modern times, the United States has been the godliest nation on earth. God has blessed America with an almost unimaginable financial prosperity. The World Trade Center was exactly what its name implied - the center of world commerce. Unfortunately, many Americans have been more impressed with their blessings than with the God who gave them those blessings.

Beauty and the Beast | In the book of Revelation, there are several symbolic images. One is the picture of a beautiful woman who is also called the "bride" of Christ. This beautiful woman represents the people of God upon the earth. The people of God are seen as getting ready to "marry" the Messiah.

This woman is pictured in chapter 12 as engaged in a battle with the dragon Satan. In chapter 19 she is described as having purified herself in holiness and good works. In chapter 21 she is described as the heavenly city of Jerusalem descending to be joined with earthly Jerusalem below.

These symbolic pictures represent three issues central to the Church in the end times: spiritual warfare, personal purity and identification with Israel.

This bride of the Messiah is also described in the Song of Songs. The beautiful maiden is described as being made up of "two camps" or the "double camp" (So. of So. 6:13). The two parts of this camp are Israel and the Church. By the Church we mean the international community of true evangelical believers. By Israel we mean the restored spiritual remnant of the nation.

At this time these two camps are not united. The Church is mostly separated from her Jewish roots, and Israel is still mostly hardened to faith in Yeshua. However the trend of the end times will be for the two to grow more united. Yeshua's bride will be healed of her "schizophrenia" by the time He returns.

America is not the Church. However it is the country most identified with Christianity, and contains within it a strong community of believers. The nation of Israel has not yet been restored to its full spiritual level, but it is in process and the seed remnant within it is growing all the time. While the two nations, America and Israel, are not the "Bride," they do represent that bride within the conflict of international politics and religion. Terrorist groups and militant Islamic clerics condemn America and Israel as "the big Satan and the little Satan." In that statement we can see a mirror image of a certain spiritual truth.

Beauty and the Beast (part II) | Another major symbolic image in the book of Revelation is a spiritual monster called the "Beast." The beast is a political-military-religious conglomerate empowered by the devil. Its job is to attack the people of God. In our day it can be seen as a coalition against Israel and America. The beast, wherever it is found, fights against biblical values, persecutes missionaries, and advocates anti-Semitism.

In the thirties and forties, the spirit of the beast was found mostly in Nazism; in the fifties through the seventies, mostly in Communism. In our time, it is found mostly in militant Islamic groups, particularly with the backing of the UN. The voice of the beast was heard at the recent Durban UN Conference on Racism, in which radical Islamic groups marshaled an international coalition against Israel.

America and Israel were the only two countries to walk out. The attack on America followed immediately after that conference. The same spontaneous celebrations of dancing in the streets were seen during Iraqi scud missile attacks on Israel in the Gulf War, and in the first television coverage of the attack on the World Trade Center.

I am NOT saying that the Arab people are the beast. (Quite the contrary, as a Jew, I feel a kinship with Arabs, particularly Palestinians). They are not the Beast anymore than the Germans because of Nazism or the Russians because of Communism, or for that matter the Jews for having "killed Christ." Islam itself is not the beast. However, the great majority of the terrorist attacks on America, Israel, and around the world come from Islamic groups. Most of the persecution of Christian missionaries comes from Islamic groups.

The Bride and the Whore | Another symbolic image in the book of Revelation is the Great Whore. The Whore is the spiritual counterfeit and perversion of the Great Bride. The Whore goes wherever the Bride is. The two spirits, one clean and one unclean, are found next to one another. The purpose of the spirit of the Whore is to defile the Bride (the community of true believers) internally, and then disqualify her in the eyes of the rest of the world. The Whore is the spirit of lust, greed, and moral decadence. The description of this symbolic image is found in Revelation chapters 18 & 19 (and in a few other biblical passages, such as Zechariah 5). Wherever the Church or the Bride is found, there will also be counterfeit spirits of lust, greed, and moral decadence. Why is this so?

God desires to bless the Church. The first blessing is financial prosperity. Whichever country has the strongest church eventually becomes the wealthiest. This wealth is not only to demonstrate God's covenant blessings, but also to help the church finance world evangelism and help the poor. The second blessing to the church is influence in culture and communication. Whichever country has the strongest church, their culture will soon become the dominant world culture. The third blessing is political dominance. This power is to help bring social justice and order to the world. These three blessings (financial prosperity, cultural influence, and political dominance) are meant for good. However, they also provide the fertile ground for the sins of lust, greed, and moral decadence. This is another reason why the Whore is found in such close proximity to the Bride.

America is not the Great Whore. However, the spirit of the Whore is most found in America. Scenes of lust, greed, and moral decadence are projected all over the world through movies from Hollywood, advertising from Madison Avenue and entertainment from cable TV networks. There is a parallel dynamic in Israel - perhaps instead of "the great Satan and the little Satan," we might call the worldliness in America and Israel as "the big whore and the little whore."

America, as the dominant nation of the world, contains the greatest spirit of the Bride and the greatest spirit of the Whore. There is a constant struggle between purity and decadence. In some ways that struggle between purity and carnality is found within the soul of every believer. The Holy Spirit influences him toward purity. The spirit of the world influences him toward carnality.

For those who are under the spirit of Islam, it is impossible to see the Bride because of their different religious orientation. Therefore when they see America, they see only the Whore, not the Bride. Radical Muslims see America as to blame for the moral decadence of the West. They believe that they have been given a divine mandate from Allah to rid the world of moral decadence. Since they see America as the source of moral decadence, that mandate is translated into working to destroy America. Saddam Hussein's remark after the World Trade Center attack was that it was Allah's punishment for America's decadence and for its support of Israel.

One of the most astonishing factors in this spiritual battle is that God is able to take what the devil meant for evil and turn it to His purposes for good. While the Dragon empowers the Beast in order to kill the Bride, God uses these attacks of the Beast to purify the Bride. "And the ten horns, which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose." Revelation 17:16-17

In an ironic way, God has allowed militant Muslim terrorists to so hate the moral decadence of the West that they are willing to attack. And so God uses this to His purposes. In one and the same event, there is a demonic attack against the people of God AND a judgment of God to purify His people. The purpose of end times judgments and disasters is to bring the people of the world to repentance (Revelation 9:20-21).

I do NOT believe that the fall of the World Trade Center is the ultimate fall of Babylon from Revelation 18. However, I do believe it is an example of the demonic attack and the divine judgment described there.  In the end times there are these two great evils: the Whore and the Beast. The Church and Israel find themselves attracted to the Whore and attacked by the Beast. God wants to separate the Bride from the Whore and to protect the Bride from the Beast. "I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues.'" Revelation 18:4

God's purposes are not only to separate the Bride from the Whore, but also to destroy the Beast. At the second coming, Yeshua (Jesus) Himself will destroy the Beast. "These [the ten horns and kings of the Beast] will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them. For He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings." Revelation 17:14

This new war is not a conventional war. It is a spiritual war against the Beast and the Whore. It is a twofold battle, against terrorism and against worldliness. Bombing Afghanistan will have little effect on the root causes. What then is the solution?

Spiritual battles are won by words. We must be come to God in repentance and confession of sin. We must pray in spiritual warfare to bind the forces of terrorism and militant Islam. We must teach about Israel, the Church, and the second coming of Jesus. In the light of these events, people around the world will be more open to the gospel than ever before. The end times are not only a time of tribulation, but also of great harvest. Let us preach the gospel to Jew and Arab, to white and black, to rich and poor, and we will see the victory of the kingdom of God established on the earth.