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.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

These are the Days of Elijah & Moses

The infamous Luke 4 cliff on the outskirts of ancient Nazareth

In 2005 I stood on the precipice of the cliff in Nazareth where a crowd of people from Jesus' hometown tried to push Him over the cliff because they didn't like what He said. What had he said? He said what He knew to be true after reading from the Scriptures. This infuriated people. It infuriated the religious leaders of the synagogue in Nazareth and it infuriated the people who lived in the town and had been hearing Jesus read from the Scriptures probably most of his life. Luke records that is was his "custom" to read from the scrolls in the synagogue every Sabbath. He was no stranger to them. He was Jesus, the son of the carpenter, and it really stuck in their craw that they knew him since he was a little boy and who did he think he was, anyway? But He knew who He was and that is what enraged them most. He told them “Surely you will quote this proverb to Me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in Your hometown what we have heard that You did in Capernaum.’” Then He added, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown." That sent them over the edge. They couldn't stand it so they determined to push him off the cliff just down the road from the town. I don't remember now if it was when I was standing there at the cliff in Nazareth or earlier, but the Holy Spirit showed me that even though it was a big, angry crowd, Jesus did not let them throw Him off of that steep cliff. Standing there I looked over the edge of it and it is a far and rocky fall to bottom. Some might survive the fall, but in that day would probably die later of serious wounds from the descent. The point was emphasized to me that day that even outnumbered by an angry mob, Jesus didn't let them kill him. Instead, He let them push, pull and jostle Him all the way from the synagogue to the cliff, and then at the peak of their crowd rage, He turned around and walked right out of their midst and away from them. This morning the LORD gave me another layer of what was happening in that passage of Luke 4. Jesus had been surrounded by people who knew him well. He grew up among them and they grew up around Him. He was familiar with them and they were familiar with Him. Yet when He came and read from Isaiah 61 and told them “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” It stirred up everyone there against Him. Truly as He said, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown" and "the testimony of Jesus IS the spirit of prophecy" (Rev 19:10). When you have done nothing wrong, but have declared what you know to be true from the Word of God - from the Scriptures - do not be blind sided by the opposition it stirs up from every side - even from people who know you well. Those angry, accusing voices are MEANT to create doubt in you. They are meant to shut you up and cause you to shrink back from declaring the Word of God. They are meant to make you ask yourself, Are they right? Who do I think I am? You are who God says you are. Don't let them throw you off the cliff, just turn and be on your way. Go where you see faith rising in people and continue declaring the Word of God to those with ears to hear.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

5780-5789 | A Decade for Declaration

A Word of Encouragement
from Norma Sarvis in Jerusalem


A Decade for Declaration

As we are approaching Rosh Hashanah at the end of September, I began to think about the new decade.  During the past ten years (5770-5779  in the Hebrew calendar), the number for each of the years ended in the 70’s.  In the Hebrew letter-number system, “70” is represented by the letter ע.  This letter is called ayin, and it is one of several letters in the Hebrew alphabet whose spelling and pronunciation happen also to correspond to a Hebrew word.  Besides spelling the 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Ayin also spells the Hebrew word for ‘eye.’  And so, throughout the past ten years our minds have been repeatedly reminded, continually drawn to the importance, the necessity, of seeing—of looking with heavenly vision. “In Your Light, we see light”   (Psalm 36:9).

Now, remarkably, we find ourselves on the brink of a new decade whose number also happens to spell a word!  On the last day of September we will shift into the Hebrew year 5780, beginning a “decade of 80’s.”  The Hebrew letter for “80” is פ – pronounced peh.  Besides spelling the 18th letter of the alphabet, peh is also the Hebrew word for mouth!  And so, in just over a month, we will move from a decade which drew attention to the eye, into ten years of awakening an awareness of the mouth!

I felt the Lord saying that this will be a decade of ‘declaration’:  Declaration over ourselves, over our families, our churches, our nations, our neighbors. What we declare with our mouths, what we speak, what we say, will be key for victory and for advancing the Kingdom.

Here are some ways that these declarations may work:


“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

The Hebrew word used here for “meditate” is hagah, which means literally, “to utter— to murmur, mutter, to make a sound (it can even mean “to moan” or “to growl”!).  Joshua was instructed to implement non-stop speaking (declaring) of truth as he prepared to possess what God had already given through promise. God told Joshua that the Word should not depart from his mouth—not only his heart, his peh—his mouth!  Joshua’s mouth must continually be speaking or murmuring the word of the Torah—divine instruction!  For then would his way be prosperous, and then he would have success! 

Psalm 1:2 uses this word in the same way regarding the man who walks in God’s blessing:  “But his delight is in the law (Hebrew: torah—“instruction”) of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season…whatever he does, he prospers.”   The righteous man or woman speaks God’s law night and day. He does not just read it or study it.  He speaks it aloud! There is power in this!  Our declarations help secure our inheritance.  *


Whether we are aware of it or not, we do self-talk in our heads almost continually.  Even secular psychology notes that self-talk impacts our emotions.  As Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach, recently wrote, “Negative self-talk can affect us in some pretty damaging ways. Studies have linked negative self-talk with higher levels of stress and lower levels of self-esteem. This can lead to decreased motivation as well as greater feelings of helplessness. This type of critical inner dialogue has even been linked to depression, so it's definitely something to fix.”  (verywellmind.com , June 23, 2019) 

Have you ever woken up and said to yourself: “Oh I am so tired, I am not sure I can make it today.”   Or, “Oh, I do not want to go to work today!”;  or perhaps, “I have so much to do. I don’t know what to focus on!”  The Word of God says this:  “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25)   And Philippians 4:6-7,   “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   Our spoken prayers, salted with thanksgiving guard, not only our hearts, but our minds.  We need to discipline ourselves so that our self-talk is filled with the Word of God.  In this season of peh,  pay attention to all that you are speaking over yourself. Declare His love and goodness and hope over your life as you walk through each day!


“From the fruit of the mouth one’s stomach is satisfied; the yield of the lips brings satisfaction.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  (Proverbs 18:20-21 NRSV). 

Our tongue has power to release God’s life wherever we are.  Whether conscious declaration of His Word of truth, or through words  issuing forth as expressions of your hearts, as God’s children, we have the capacity to “speak” life!  Even our actions have the power to combine with our words in speaking His life!

A number of years ago, Martin and I took in a troubled Israeli youth.   God led us in walking with him through a difficult, sometimes very dangerous season in his life, one which on occasion involved accompanying him to court.   He is now walking in the light and victory of Yeshua!  After my first Bat Tzion women’s conference in 2017,  I received an email from the woman who had been his lawyer during those difficult years.  She also happened to be a Messianic Believer.  She wrote that for years, because of wounds and hurt, she had distanced herself from the Body of Messiah in the Land.  But when she had read the flyer advertising the conference, and saw that I was the organizer, she felt to go—because she had watched me and listened through the years with this young man, whenever we went to court,  and when we interacted about his life. I had never spoken to her specifically about faith or Yeshua.  We had only conversed with and about him in practical and legal ways.  Yet my actions with my mouth had ‘spoken’ to her very loudly, and she came to the conference and her heart shifted!

I love Psalm 40:3:   “He has put a new song in my mouth; praise to our God, many will see it and fear and trust the Lord.”

Many will SEE our praise and fear and trust the Lord.  Our mouth reflects our heart.  Therefore, our mouth brings life to those around us!

In this decade of peh, let us pay attention to our mouths and receive our inheritance, shift our emotions and bring life to those around us!

“Also my tongue shall utter your righteousness all day long…”
Psalm 71:24

*It is worth noticing that the same word hagah  is used a few verses later in Psalm 2:1, which addresses nations being in an uproar, and
“the peoples imagine
(KJV); plot (ESV, NIV, NRSV); devise (NASB); a vain thing.”   Our enemy is also meditating on, murmuring, speaking forth his plans for evil.  But they are ultimately based on emptiness.  The words of the Lord are substance!

Note:  Perhaps the two Biblical books which have most to say about guarding our Mouth are Proverbs and the New Covenant letter of James.  It is interesting that while, as mentioned above, the verb form of the Hebrew root hagah mentioned above means “to meditate”, “to audibly murmer”, etc., the noun form of this word may refer to the rudder of a ship.  In James 3:4-5, the tongue also is likened to the rudder on a ship!