The Feast of Tabernacles is a Joyous Occasion!

The details about this Feast are found in Leviticus 23:33-44. The Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles is "Sukkot," and it began last night, September 24th. During this seven-day celebration, no work was to be done on the first or the last day. In between these days of complete rest, offerings were to be presented to the Lord on each day of the seven-day period. The first day was a holy day and the rest of the days were feast days!

For one week, the people of Israel lived in makeshift Booths called SUKKAHs, of leafy branches, symbolizing their journey through the wilderness after leaving Egypt. Feast of Tabernacles celebrates God’s protection and provision in the Wilderness.

The Feast occurs after Israel’s Fall harvest. Also called The Feast of Ingathering, it was the major annual harvest of the year. The spring harvest was very small in comparison to the fall harvest.

All over Israel you will see sukkahs! They build them in their backyards, on their apartment porches, in the back of a truck! Then they invite friends to feast with them in celebration! A sukkah is supposed to be a makeshift structure that is easily moved. Fruit is hung as a reminder that God provides all that we need. Children make chains out of colorful paper. The sukkah provides shade and as instructed, we leave openings between leafy branches on top, so that we can see His glory in the stars at night. God wants to be our shelter and our shade.

Leviticus 23:40 says “You shall take for yourselves on the first day, the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.“You shall take for yourselves on the first day, the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations and you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

What fun to be told to rest before and after the 7-day feast and to rejoice and have joy! And to eat, eat, eat! Rest, have fun and eat.  I like that!

Deut. 16:13-16 Says “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress; and you shall rejoice in your feast. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God…the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely will rejoice.”

In John 7, we see Jesus coming up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles! 1 Corinthians 5:8.  Paul encouraged those in Corinth (mostly NOT Jewish) to celebrate the feasts!

Significance

God wanted His people to celebrate the fact that He provided shelter for them in the wilderness. Shelters or booths were to be built in which the people worshipped for the week of the feast to remind them of their departure from Egypt and their long journey to Sinai. They were to rejoice in the Lord, during the entire celebration of the feast, giving thanks to God for His abundant gifts and all that He had done. This was the only festival where rejoicing is commanded by God. It is a time for His people to remember that God dwelled with them in their wilderness journey. He guided them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They would look up night or day and see that He was with them. God tells them to live in booths for 7 days to remind them that He was with them and supplied all they needed.

God has always desired to dwell with us. God wants to be with you. He desires to dwell with His people. He always has and always will.

There is Prophetic Fulfillment in EACH APPOINTED DAY

This feast reminded Israel of God’s blessings in the past. He had led them out of Egyptian bondage, cared for them in the wilderness, and brought them into their promised inheritance. Once they had lived in booths and tents, but in the Promised Land, they would live in houses! Tabernacles represent the Lord’s shelter in the future. The Lord will establish his Tabernacle in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 37:26) and the world will come every year to appear before the King & worship Him. A final ingathering will take place.

In the future, families of the earth (the believers) will come to Jerusalem to annually celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-19). God is setting up His kingdom and he is going to restore it. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Revelation 21:3 says “..behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself with be with them and be their God!” God will tabernacle with men! Can you imagine this!?! We will celebrate a spiritual harvest…the Ingathering in that day. The Future Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated on the new earth, with God Himself, will be the most joyous occasion of all time! We can look forward to it!

We can celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, because it speaks of our Messiah! It reminds us of what He has done and what He WILL DO. 

Join us for our Feast of Tabernacles Celebration Dinner this Sunday, September 30th from 3:30 - 6:30 pm. Click here for more information.

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Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) begins on the 15th of Tishrei, the date of the first full moon after the autumn equinox. (September/October.) This year Sukkot begins the evening of Sunday, September 23rd and lasts 8 days. During this “season of our rejoicing”, the Jewish people eat their meals in a tabernacle or booth, covered with branches but with the sky showing through in remembrance of the wanderings from Egypt to the Promised Land.

The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the three festivals appointed by God. People were to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast in the Temple.

“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread… at the time appointed in the month of Abib… and the Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labours which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.” Exodus 23:14-16 (NKJV)

Being an observant Jew, Jesus celebrated this holiday:

“Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand… Then the Jews sought him (Jesus) at the feast, and said, Where is he? … Now about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught… On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7: 2,11,14,37-38 (NKJ)

 A sea-worthy sukkah!

A sea-worthy sukkah!

The three pilgrim feasts – Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) have both historical and agricultural significance.

Because Sukkot occurred in the fall harvest, it was also observed as an agricultural event. Prayers for rain were also recited during this holiday. 

In Israel, the first and last days are celebrated as full holidays (like a Shabbat). Schools are closed, and many families enjoy the holiday together by going on outings, visiting family or entertaining guests in their Sukkah.

Sukkot’s observance involves “dwelling” in the sukkah. The concept of thanksgiving for the harvest remains central, symbolized by the fruits (real or artificial) that decorate the sukkot (in Hebrew singular: sukkah, plural: sukkot).

Some say the American Pilgrim fathers were influenced by the Jewish observance of Sukkot, from which Thanksgiving Day came.

 etrog and lulav

etrog and lulav

An important symbolic item of the Festival are the Four Species. These are held together and waved at different points in the religious services. The four species consist of a lulav (palm branch), etrog (citron), hadasim ( three myrtle twigs) and the aravot (two willow branches). Combined, these are called the Lulav*.

Bible Readings During Sukkot

 The unabridged Hallel (Psalm 113-118) recited each morning.

  • Leviticus 22:26-23:44

  • Numbers 29:12-31

  • Zechariah 14:1-21

  • 1 Kings 8:2-21

  • Exodus 33:12-34:26

Join Song For Israel as we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with a Celebration Dinner on Sunday, September 30th from 3:30 - 6:30 pm. For more information, please click here.

Joseph and the Shofar.jpg

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

According to Leviticus 23:24, this is a day commanded that we meet together (a holy convocation) and a day to “afflict your soul,” which may mean to fast from food or anything else that brings the body pleasure. It is meant to be a day to spend with the Lord. Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day in the Jewish faith.

Yom Kippur.jpg

Yom Kippur falls this year on Tuesday, September 18th at sunset and ends at dusk on Wednesday, September 19th. It is a day of fasting and confession. The fast would remind the Israelites of Yahweh’s holiness and their own sinfulness (including the high priest). It included a purification ceremony in the tabernacle and temple.

The Day of Atonement was the only time when the high priest could enter the holy of holies and call upon the name of God to offer blood sacrifice for the sins of the people (and himself). Sixteen sacrifices, thirteen burnt offerings, and four sin offerings were made. Two goats were placed at the entrance of the tent of meeting (tabernacle) where a high priest cast a lot, assigning one goat for God, to be sacrificed for a sin offering, but the other was placed before the Lord to be dedicated as a scapegoat and driven into the desert, carrying the guilt of Israel’s sins.

Aaron confessed all the iniquity of the Israelites as well as their transgressions and symbolically placed them on the head of the scapegoat. The appointed person took the animal to the wilderness outside of the camp where he was to set it free (Leviticus 16:5–27).

When the priest came out of the holy of holies, the people rejoiced as they knew their sins had been forgiven for the year and that God’s blessing rested on them.

Date: 10 Tishri, the seventh month, around late September

History: This is the day that the high priest would go into the holy of holies to present the offering of the blood of a bull and goat on the mercy seat to cover sins for the past year.

Scripture References:

·        Old Testament: Leviticus 16:29–34, 23:26–32; Numbers 29:7–11

·        New Testament: Hebrews 2:17–18, 3:1, 7–10

Prophetic Fulfillment: The high priest had to repeat the ritual of the Day of Atonement year after year, because the sacrifices only covered the sins of the people; they did not do away with them. However, Jesus Christ came at the right time (Galatians 4:4–5) and did what the blood of bulls and goats could not do. His sacrifice, His death on the cross, was the payment of sins and removal of guilt for mankind—once for all—no further sacrifices are required. The Day of Atonement reminds us there can be no salvation from sin apart from the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11). It also reveals the high priestly work of Jesus as our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10, 6:20).

The scapegoat mentioned previously is a picture of Jesus Christ as He had all the sins of the world laid on Him and removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) The second goat was sacrificed on the altar, just as Jesus gave Himself up on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Both goats are a foreshadowing of Christ. Because He took our sins away and He died for us. At the moment Messiah died, the veil in the temple was torn from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27:51). Now those who trust in Messiah can celebrate that their sins are forgiven and we have been invited to come boldly to the throne of grace with direct access—without priestly intervention (Hebrews 4:16).

The scattered nation of Israel will be gathered back into her land, and the sinful nation will be cleansed because they will recognize their rejected Messiah and repent of their sins. (Zechariah 12:10–13:1). It will be a national acceptance of Messiah. It will come when they say in Hebrew, Baruch Haba B’Shem Adoni (blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord) Psalm 118:26, Matthew 23:39. The Old Testament sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Messiah.

The Day of Atonement will be fulfilled in a wonderful way when Messiah returns at his second coming. He will restore the nation of Israel and then the final judgment of the world will occur.

This excerpt was taken from Understanding God's Eternal Plan for Israel. Click here to order your copy.

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Begins Tomorrow Night

“The LORD said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. Do not work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:26-28 NIV.

Yom Kippur falls this year on Tuesday, September 18th at sunset and ends at dusk on Wednesday, September 19th.

Yom Kippur is a major fast day meant to be devoted to communal and personal repentance for sins committed over the course of the previous year. It is the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar.

During the Temple times, a week before Yom Kippur, the Cohen ha Gadol (High Priest) went to live in his chamber in the Temple in spiritual and physical preparation of this holy day. On Yom Kippur he was to make atonement for all Jews in the world. This was the only time of the year he entered the Holy of Holies. During the “Avodah” – Temple service, the high Priest changed into five different sets of garments, immersed himself in the mikveh five times, washed his hands and feet ten times, sacrificed two lambs, one bull, two goats, and two rams. He offered meal and wine libations, and made three incense offerings. On this day, he had to work harder than all the priests and Levites present.

Today, Orthodox men immerse themselves in the Mikveh (ritual bath) on the day before Yom Kippur.

Early in the afternoon, all Jewish businesses and shops are closed, and traffic virtually comes to a stand still. Traffic lights stop working and there is no national radio or television. Even Ben Gurion International Airport closes its air space to all air traffic in the early afternoon. About four hours after the end of the holiday the airport reopens for international arrivals. Departures commence an hour later. Likewise, all harbors and border crossings in and out of the country close for the holiday. As a security measure, the crossings into Gaza, Judea and Samaria are also closed until the end of this holiest day of the year.

Just before sunset, the streets fill with people walking to nearby synagogues. On the evening of Yom Kippur, in synagogues around the world the cantor chants the “Kol Nidrei” – all vows, in Aramaic, dating from post-Talmudic times. The music was composed mid 15-16th century in south Germany. During this holiest day of the Jewish Year, synagogue attendance usually triples.

“May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault…”

Through the “Kol Nidrei” people ask God forgiveness for vows they made to God and people, but could not carry out.

As a symbol of purity many Jews wear white clothing and either walk on plastic shoes or house slippers, as long as they are not from leather. They spend most of Yom Kippur in synagogue, where prayer services are followed by litanies and petitions of forgiveness.

Even non-religious Jews try to keep the 25 hour fast.

When the sun is setting, many flock to the synagogue, after which the “Shma Israel” is recited and the Shofar blown. This symbolizes the closure of God’s books, in which the names are written for those who shall live or die the next year.

When Yom Kippur ends, directly after a festive meal, many religious Jews begin to build their Sukkah (booth for the Feast of Tabernacles). Hammers can be heard all over the city.

In ancient times it was customary to herald the end of Yom Kippur by blowing the Shofar at the Western Wall. This custom was re-installed when in 1967 Jerusalem was re-unified.

Please pray for Israel during these coming hours; for heartfelt contrition and for the peace of Jerusalem.

Feast of Tabernacles Celebration Dinner September 30th

Our Feast of Tabernacles Celebration Dinner is one of our biggest event of the year! Celebrate with us on Sunday, September 30th, 3:30-6:30 PM at a beautiful location in Yorba Linda! The Feast of Tabernacles (also known as Sukkot in Hebrew) will be celebrated worldwide September 23-30, 2018.  Children age 12 and up are invited to attend. $25 per ticket.

After the sound of the shofar calls everyone to dinner, we will be presented with an authentic Mediterranean meal. 

 Dinner will include beef, chicken and kafta kabobs with vegetarian falafels and tahini sauce, tabouleh, rice, hummus and pita bread.

  • There will be a brief teaching about the biblical foundation for the Feast of Tabernacles

  • Those who would like their photo taken with a 120-year old Torah scroll may do so under the sukkah

  • Hear the traditional blessing sung in Hebrew and English

  • Experience the joy of music with a Davidic Dance performance

For more information, registration and pictures from previous feasts. please click here.

Rosh HaShana -- The Jewish New Year Begins Tonight

The period between Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is also called “the ten days of awe”, because of the need for introspection and repentance. This yearRosh HaShana begins Sunday evening, September 9th.

Rosh HaShana (literally meaning, head of the year) heralds the Hebrew month of Tishrei (September/October). Tishrei is Aramaic for “to begin”. It is celebrated for two days and is seen as a Day of Judgment. On the first day, the tashlich* (“you will cast”) ritual takes place in which “sins” are symbolically cast into open water. People also throw bread and pebbles.

Rosh HaShana is a day of rest, like the Shabbat. The sound of the shofar* (ram’s horn) is intended to awakenpeople from their “slumber” and alert them to the coming judgment. The days of repentance begin with Rosh HaShana and climax at Yom Kippur. Religious Jews believe that even though judgment is pronounced on Rosh HaShana, during the following ten days they can mend their ways and alter judgment in their favour. (That is why people are extra nice to each other.)

 Ariel blows the shofar

Ariel blows the shofar

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, people greet each other with “Shana Tova” (A good year) or “Shana Tova uMetuka” (A good and sweet New Year). Often they add “Gmar Chatima Tova” (May you be inscribed in the Book of Life), referring to the coming Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.

Apple and honey, symbolizing the sweet New Year is always part of the holiday cuisine. Other symbolic food is a fish head (“head” of the new year) and a round challah, to symbolize the year cycle).

In ancient times, Rosh HaShana was the beginning of the economic year. The emphasis was on the agricultural seasons and the pilgrim’s festivals (PesachShavuot and Sukkot). It those days it was only celebrated for one day, instead of the modern two-day holiday. 

Rosh HaShana is seen as the anniversary of God’s Creation. On this day, mankind passes before the Creator, like sheep before the shepherd. Three books are opened – the Book of Life, which seals the righteous, who will live; The wicked are “blotted out of the book of the living” (See Psalm 69:29), while those “in between” have until Yom Kippur to repent and become righteous.

By Petra van der Zande                                                                                                                                                                                                  Excerpt from the book: Remember, Observe, Rejoice.  Used with permission.

To visit a Christian version of these Jewish holidays, check out your local Messianic Jewish Congregation. If you live in Orange County, visit Ben David Messianic Jewish Congregation, 651 W. Sunflower Avenue, Santa Ana 92707 (three blocks east of South Coast Plaza). Visit on the following holidays:

  • September 19 - Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Preparation Service 10:30 AM

  • Sept. 22 - Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) service (10:30 AM) and potluck afterwards

  • Sept. 29 - Simchat Torah service 10:30 AM

 

Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah) Begins Sunday, September 9th

Yom Teru’ah, renamed by the rabbis centuries later as the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShanah), is literally “the head of the year,” meaning its beginning. It is important to note that this differs from the “religious year,” where God reordered the calendar in Exodus 12:2 to begin the year with Passover. This appointed time, though called the New Year actually is not in the religious sense. The trumpet was sounded on a variety of occasions in the ancient Jewish community:

·         To announce significant events (Leviticus 25:9)

·         To assemble Israel (Numbers 10:2)

·         To obtain God’s help against an enemy (Numbers 10:9)

·         To call God’s attention to an offering (Numbers 10:10)

·         To announce the Presence of God (2 Samuel 6:15)

·         To warn of war or danger

In Leviticus 25:10, God specified trumpets be used to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to all its inhabitants.” That verse appears today on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, assuring us that America was founded by Bible believers.

I was a camp counselor for seven years at Indian Village, Forest Home. Each morning we were awakened to the loudest drum. At mealtimes, a smaller drum with a different beat was used. Different drum beats signified different events. Both could be heard throughout the camp so all would be aware of what was coming up. In the same way, the priests used a silver trumpet or a shofar, and the people knew what each sound meant.

 Illustration provided by Ray Hart

Illustration provided by Ray Hart

The Feast of Trumpets is a one-day celebration in which no work is to be done and an offering is made to the Lord. The day is accompanied by trumpet (shofar) blasts.

History: Over the years, the rabbis decided that the Feast of Trumpets marks the end of one agricultural year and the beginning of another and so they renamed it “Rosh Hashanah,” the New Year. But the rabbis also recognized that the sound of the shofar on this day is an announcement of the upcoming Day of Atonement or Judgment (see below), and therefore the start of a time of introspection in which everyone is to examine themselves to see if they are living their lives in a way that is pleasing to God and, if not, to repent and to also try to heal any broken relationships with others.

Scripture References:

Old Testament: Leviticus 23:23–25; 26:27–33; Numbers 10:1–10; Deuteronomy 28:58–67; Isaiah 11:1–12, 27:12–13

New Testament: 1 Corinthians 15:51–53

Prophetic Fulfillment: The trumpet was a signal for the field workers to come into the temple. The high priest blew the trumpet so that the faithful would stop harvesting so as to worship. Now, when the trumpet sounds (according to 1 Corinthians 15:51–53), living believers will cease their harvest and rise from the earth. The church will be taken out of the world (in the rapture) prior to the day of judgment.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51–52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, Paul referred to the last trumpet and the trumpet of God. When Paul used these Hebraic expressions, he clearly had in mind the Feast of Trumpets as he described the rapture of the church, making a deliberate connection between the rapture and the Feast of Trumpets. The trumpets mentioned in Revelation are not the same. We are talking here about the trumpet of God. In their book The Last Shofar! Joseph Lenard and Donald Zoller explain more about the significance of the Feast of Trumpets, which came to be known as the Feast of the Unknown or Hidden Day:

Among the seven Feasts, The Feast of Trumpets is unique. Other Feasts were determined by calculating a stipulated number of days between the Feasts, based on the Jewish lunar calendar. Only the Feast of Trumpets is celebrated on the first day of the lunar month and was determined by observing the appearing of the New Moon—that faint sliver of light indicating the beginning of the lunar cycle of waxing and waning. The possibility of obscured atmospheric conditions or poor human judgment to identify the appearance of the New Moon made the beginning day of the Feast uncertain—the day and hour unknown or hidden. In addition, orbital considerations of the relationship of the earth, moon, and sun,…affected the observation of the New Moon.

The Hebrew common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is Shanah Tovah (Hebrew: שנה טובה pronounced Shawˈna toˈva), which translated from Hebrew means "[have] a good year". Often Shanah Tovah Umetukah (Hebrew: שנה טובה ומתוקה‎‎), meaning "A Good and Sweet Year", is used.

This excerpt was taken from Understanding God's Eternal Plan for Israel by Deby Brown. You may purchase a copy either from Amazon or by clicking here.

Panera Bread Fundraising Event - Thursday, August 16th

Print a copy of this Panera Bread flier and visit on Thursday, August 16th from 10:30 am - 2:30 pm for our summer fundraiser. Enjoy the company and the food and help SFI raise 20% of sales. To print a copy of the flier, click here. Please share! Thank you. If you would prefer to just make a donation, click here.

This fundraiser will be helping us with some of our summer expenses while our normal giving is low. One of our expenses is for $378 for our Constant Contact account which provides our newsletters. To receive our newsletters, click here.

Panera flier.jpg

Israel is on the Brink of War

200 Rockets and Shells Fired at Israel Last Night!

Yesterday, over 200 rockets and shells were fired at Israeli citizens by Hamas, the terrorist group in Gaza. This entire summer Israel has faced rockets, arson kites and balloons, and other terrorist attacks. Thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves on the border have been destroyed. 

The Iron Dome intercepted 30 rockets and most of the others hit vacant ground. However, 7 Israeli civilians were injured while 173 Red Alerts warned locals to take cover throughout the night. Most spent the night in bomb shelters. Many had to stand all night as there were not enough shelters to protect all that ran to one.

Song For Israel has donated two shelters in conjunction with Operation Lifeshield and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. More are needed as war options are being discussed. We have collected $14,500 toward our third shelter which is to be located in the Eskhol Region. This larger shelter costs $21,000. Time is of the essence. Please make a donation, large or small, to help save lives in Israel. Click here for more information.

Watch this video to see what children and families must do to protect themselves hundreds of times a day.

Below is a map of the section of Israel where rockets have landed.

Rockets Fired.jpg

 





 

Jesus Waiting

 Peter's Primacy

Peter's Primacy

The City of Tabgha is on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee and is the location where John 21 takes place. The Catholics often build a church over important ruins to mark such spots. In Tabgha, the Franciscans built a church called the Church of the Primacy of Peter.

In John 21, Jesus appears to his disciples for the third time after his resurrection; this was in Tabgha. The disciples had gone out during the night to fish, but had caught nothing. In the morning, a man appeared on the shore and suggested they cast their nets on the right side of the boat. As they did, they caught so many fish that they could not drag the net back into the boat.

At this point, Peter recognized Jesus and plunged into the water from the boat to swim to shore. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the nets behind them.

 Jesus Boat

When they reached land, Jesus had prepared a charcoal fire for the fish and provided bread; they had breakfast together.

After breakfast, Jesus reinstated Peter (after his three-time denial of Jesus at the crucifixion) with the words, "Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-19)

Inside this church, there is a large rock called the “Table of Christ (Latin: Mensa Christi) near the altar. This is where John 21 is believed to have taken place - where Jesus served His disciples a fish breakfast after waiting for them to land on the shore.

I love that Jesus was on the shore waiting for His disciples. While I stood at this place, I closed my eyes and could hear the soft Galilee waves softly washing over the tiny dark shells and dark rocks there. I could imagine the sizzle of the pan as Jesus waited for the boat to bring in freshly caught fish. I could see a replica of a boat similar to one of that day. I could picture the smoke swirling up from the charcoal fire. I pictured Jesus waiting. Often I think about waiting so long for God to answer some of my prayers. However, I don’t often picture Jesus waiting for me. He is patient and waits for me - just as he enjoyed the morning by the fire waiting for His disciples.

 chains on Sea of Galilee

chains on Sea of Galilee

 St. Peter's Primacy inside church

St. Peter's Primacy inside church

To learn more about Song For Israel's tours to Israel or to sign up for Song For Israel's electronic newsletters, click here.

Israeli Army Extracts Syrian Civil Defense Volunteers to Safety

Last Saturday evening, Israel evacuated around 800 civil defense volunteers—known as White Helmets for the color of their helmets—and their families. The White Helmets have been labeled as terrorists by the Syrian government. The 3,000-member group has saved more than 100,000 lives since they began. They are true Syrian heroes. The United States President and Europen countries petitioned Prime Minister Netanyahu to help evacuate them, as the Syrian forces would surely kill them.

Watch this video of Syrian families being evacuated and then given water by Israelis.

Syrian troops (backed by Russia) have been moving closer and closer to Syria’s southern towns. There was fear that the White Helmet rescue workers would be singled out by the Syrian army.

After the evacuees (many of them children) arrived at the border with Israel in the Golan Heights, Israel provided medical treatment to those in need as well as food and water. Then, they were transferred to Jordan via a convoy of buses.

To keep up with the news in Israel and receive the Song For Israel newsletters, please click here.

Children in Israel Run for Cover

An entire generation of children has been traumatized by the terror of ongoing rocket attacks in Israel. With only 15 seconds to find cover, lives are in jeopardy.

Children near the Gaza border and Syrian border must run into a bomb shelter during rocket attacks from Hamas but there are not enough shelters at every school. 

This is everyday life for children living near the borders in Israel – and it shouldn’t be! Please watch this quick video.

Israel is now experiencing rockets and missiles coming from the Gaza border and also at their northern Syrian border. To help save lives in Israel, please donate to our bomb shelter project. We have already placed two shelters in Israel and are collecting donations to have a third one placed. Please click here to find out more or to donate. Then click below to share this video.

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Tisha B'Av - A Jewish Day of Mourning

Tisha B'Av is the Fast of the Ninth of Av (Jewish calendar) and began last night at sundown and continues through tonight at sundown. It is a time for mourning, the saddest day in Jewish history, which primarily commemorates the destruction of the First (586 BC) and Second (70 CE) Temples in Jerusalem. It boggles the mind to think that both Temples were destroyed on the very same day of the Hebrew calendar.

In synagogues around the world and at the Western Wall which is Judaism's holiest site, religious Jews gather to mourn the destruction of the Temples and to read from the words of the Prophet Jeremiah and portions of the book of Lamentations. They do not read other parts of the Bible on this day because the other readings bring joy and this is to be a day of sadness.

Although this observance is primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, it is appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people throughout the years on this date:

  • 132 CE, Romans crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews
  • 133 CE, following the Roman siege of Jerusalem, the Temple site and surrounding areas were plowed.
  • 1095, the First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II, killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and annihilating Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland
  • 1290 King Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England
  • 1492 an edict of expulsion of the Jews in Spain was carried out
  • 1914 World War I broke out, setting the stage for the later devastation of WorldWar II and the Holocaust
  • 1942 on the eve of Tisha B’Av, a mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Hitler’s Treblinka death camp began
  • 1994, the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killed 86 and wounded 300 others
  • 2005, more than 8,500 Jewish residents were expelled from Gaza as part of Israel’s ill-fated Disengagement Plan, a desperate bid for peace designed to further relations with Palestinian Arabs. This expulsion was a Land for Peace deal with the Palestinians that obviously did not bring about peace.

 “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

Should Believers participate in this day of mourning? Sure, if you want to. It is not a biblical mandate, but rather, a Jewish tradition. We may consider recognizing this date each year as it reminds us how much the Jewish people have suffered, especially those who followed leaders who led them astray. As fellow citizens in the commonwealth of Israel, we might respond to this day of grief by praying for the Jewish People.

Jesus gave us His example as He wept with compassion when He foresaw the destruction of the Holy Temple and the disaster that would come upon Israel (Matthew 23:37-38). The Jewish people long for and pray daily for the restoration of the Holy Temple. Plans and preparations are already being made in Jerusalem for the Third Temple.

God is seeking intercessors to stand in the gap for Israel. Will you pray for the Jews as they mourn the history they remember this day? Will you pray for Israel?

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Rockets into Roses

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More than 18,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel, causing chaos, destruction and death. Along with rockets, incendiary kites and balloons continue to land in Israel, burning over 7,000 acres of farm land.

An amazing Israel artist has turned weapons of destruction into unique, hand-crafted art, judaica and jewelry! “I take the Kassam, the instrument of death and I change it, I transfer it into something of Beauty.” – Yaron Bob, Artist

Rockets into Roses are modern day versions of 'turning swords into plowshares' (Isaiah 2:4). Only in Israel!

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To see more art or to purchase, visit theisraelboutique.com/rocket-art

Israel Under Rocket Attack Again

Yesterday and today, Israel's border has been under rocket attack and attacks appear to be escalating. Over the past three months, Hamas protests called "The March of Return," have hit Israel's borders. Hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons that have been launched by Hamas into Israeli territory and setting the border on fire. Over 7,000 acres have been burned, including a nature reserve that backs up to the kibbutz where Song For Israel placed our first bomb shelter. This has cost millions of shekels as well as distress to the farmer who owned most of the land that was destroyed. Some of the balloons that have recently been flown into Israeli territory have been booby-trapped.

 Israeli soldiers walk amidst smoke from a fire in a wheat field near the Kibbutz of Hahol Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip, which was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinian protesters from across the border (May 14, 2018 - Jack Guez/AFP)

Israeli soldiers walk amidst smoke from a fire in a wheat field near the Kibbutz of Hahol Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip, which was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinian protesters from across the border (May 14, 2018 - Jack Guez/AFP)

In response to these attacks, Prime Minister Netanyahu notified Hamas recently that if the incendiary kite and balloon attacks from the Gaza Strip don't cease, Israel will respond with major military action. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) does not want to escalate matters into a war, so Israel announced last Monday that they would be shutting down the Kerem Shalom border crossing -- the Strip's main crossing for commercial goods -- and that it would remain closed until the kite fire attacks end. (Humanitarian and essential supplies will continue to enter Gaza, but would require special permission.)

The rocket attacks occurring now are Hamas' response to this announcement. The IDF has confirmed that one of its aircraft fired at a cell that had launched balloons towards Israel from northern Gaza. There were no injuries reported. 

Please pray that aggressions do not escalate into a full-blown war. Pray for the safety of the innocent lives in Israel and protection of land. Download the "Red Alert" app and get notifications in real time and pray as each rocket is detected.

Donate toward our third bomb shelter project. We have collected $14,000 toward the $21,000 shelter that will be placed in the Eskhol Region, which is being rocketed now.

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Israelis Speak About Living with Hamas Terror

Watch this video to hear Israelis speaking out against the terrorism of Hamas.

Song For Israel partners with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and Operation Lifeshield to place bomb shelters near the Gaza strip. We have already placed two of them and have $14,000 saved toward our next project, which is $21,000, to be placed in the Eshkol Region. Please click here to donate even $5 to help us reach this goal and save lives in Israel.

The Salt of the Earth

Just 40 miles long and 10 miles wide, the Dead Sea (long ago called the Salt Sea) is the world’s lowest inhabitable spot on earth. It is 1387 feet below sea level! You can see the northern tip of the Dead Sea from the lookout at Mount Nebo. Its water is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. You don’t want to get it in your eyes! The water is so salty that there is virtually no life it.

We know that David fled from King Saul and hid at Ein Gedi, which is just a walk from the Dead Sea. It was a place of refuge for him. Herod the Great built his famous fortress, Masada, on the shore of the Dead Sea.

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When we visit the Dead Sea on our tours, we always include some time to float in the water. It doesn’t take any effort at all to float—in fact, you can’t help it! The water is so rich in minerals that it is said to have healing qualities. The minerals are used for everything from hand creams to fertilizers. If you dig under the water, you can come up with a hand full of mud. If you paste it on your skin and let it dry, after it is washed off, your skin will feel like the skin of a baby.

Just as in the days of Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), salt is harvested from the Dead Sea. In Bible times, salt was very valuable. It was sold in a loaf or small cake that had hardened on the ground. They would pinch the salt from the top until the earth was revealed at the bottom of the loaf. When Jesus spoke about the salt losing its flavor in Matthew 5:13 Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” When He spoke of the salt losing its flavor, he was referring to the salt that clings at the bottom of the loaf.

Jesus was explaining that there is salt that is useful with great effectiveness and there is salt that is useless and thrown away. If you are one of Jesus’ disciples, we need to be the salt that is useful, that is effective and makes an impact and impression on those around us. We are to be the salt of the earth, to make others thirst after the kingdom of heaven, so they are wanting more of the things of God.

Think about salt when it’s used as a preservative.  When salt is rubbed into meat, it’s purpose is to slow down decay. I believe one of the points Jesus was making to us about being salt is this - as His disciples, we are to act as a preservative to this world, especially to those entrusted into our care, such as our loved ones. As a preservative, we become sort of a moral disinfectant. We help to keep things fresh and alive. We help to defeat corruption and poisonous decay. We add purity where behavior is questionable. We need to hold on to what we know is true according to the Scripture, and cling to what is right. This is especially important when all around us we see the decline of morals, values, integrity, and when doing the right thing and standing on principles that are timeless are challenged. 

As followers of Jesus, we offer encouragement, hope, cheerfulness, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, patience, love, going the extra mile, giving a helping hand and so much more.  And just like salt adds flavor, it enhances with seasoning whatever it touches, we as believers bring flavor to life. We sprinkle life with the seasoning of Christ’s presence radiating in us and through us by the Holy Spirit.

But Jesus also gives a warning. 

Jesus warns us that we are not to lose those characteristics and qualities within us that brings life to this world, that flavors this world, that prevents decay. Because when we do lose our biblical values, our teachings, our morals, our ethics, our character, our integrity, and so on - we do not serve the purpose God has intended for us just like salt is useless if it becomes tasteless and unsalty and cannot perform its intended function. Jesus is saying if you can't be salt that preserves and flavors, you are worthless to Me regarding the kingdom work I’ve called you to do.

Do you remember the old saying how someone might describe another as the salt of the earth?  That was a compliment. It was saying this person was a solid citizen, someone you could count on, respectful, useful, possessing great integrity and worth.

Christ challenges us as His followers to be the salt of the earth – to add our flavoring wherever we go. This is why it is so important for us to make sure our behavior is above board. We are to behave like pure white salt, unadulterated by this world, holy in character and honest in our dealings with others. We make sure our language or the stories we tell are not questionable. We are to bring a cheerful spirit to our work environments, while at the same time working diligently and honestly. We offer compassion and kindness, filling needs with those we meet. In a depressed world, we bring the joy of Jesus. In a frightened world looking for answers, we offer the hope of Christ. 

As salt, we are not only preservers of that which is good, but we are also agents of change because we want to change that which is about us into something better. As a follower of Christ - your life counts. Who you are and what you do is important. You are the salt of the earth. Through Christ’s Spirit living in you, you are the preserver and the flavorer, the one the Lord uses to make others thirst after righteousness.

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Mount Nebo - Where Moses Viewed the Promised Land

In Deuteronomy 34:1-2, you can read about Moses standing at the edge of the Promised Land. At that place, you can see the beginning of the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley, and Jerusalem.

Moses spent his last days – the last moments of his life there – preaching the fear of God and obedience to His statutes to the Israelites.

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In the picture above, you will see an iron structure that looks like a cross with a snake wrapped around it. This memorial stands in front of the view Moses had. This refers to the account of the Israelites in the Sinai who complained against God to Moses and God sent fiery serpents among the people. They bit the people and many died. You can read more about that in Numbers 21.

When you think of what will be said of you when you die—your eulogy—what comes to mind? For Moses, it was written that “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face…” What a powerful statement. Jews consider Moses the greatest prophet to ever live. Other prophets would have to wait to hear from God and would receive revelations in dreams. Moses, on the other hand, would talk with God “as a man speaks to a friend.”

Moses did not waste his final days. He lived the statement, “If there’s still breath in your lungs…God’s not done.” Instead of being bitter because he was not able to settle in the Promised Land, he embraced the mission God had for him. The focus of the last stage in his ministry was making sure the next generation was equipped with the knowledge of God’s faithfulness.

Are you embracing the mission God has for you in your current life stage? Ask God to show you how He wants to refocus your life? What is it He would like you to do for Him? Like Moses, embrace the mission God has for you.

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