Below, you will find the letter from our sister in Jerusalem. Please continue to lift her and her family up in prayer. Except by faith, we have no way of knowing the impact our prayers have on those whom we pray for, this side of heaven, but wouldn’t it be awesome to discover their impact when we meet our heavenly Father one day? I pray that our prayers for our sister and the lives she touches leads to the salvation of many inside and outside of Israel, in Jesus’ name. Meanwhile, please enjoy this letter from our sister… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“What are your thoughts occupied with as we heard toward tisha b’av next Monday night and Tuesday? I’ve been thinking about those little mistakes in communication that snowball into huge conflicts between people and communities. The children that grow up estranged because their parents were too busy to say “I love you.” The couples that stopped listening to each other because they didn’t understand each other. The religious sectors that split apart because they never took the opportunity to learn to value each other.
When we talk about Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) in Israel, it’s important to realize that so many of our fights can be avoided if we take the time to maintain the relationships we have, and fill them with love and beauty instead of jealousy and suspicion. If we can do that as a nation, we’ll never have to fast on tisha b’av again.
Wishing you an easy and meaningful fast.” (from the local “janglo” weekly letter)
Greetings and Blessings, dear sisters and brothers, May The Lord be glorified, blessed, worshipped… may you be blessed!
As ramadan is being observed by the world’s moslems, the tisha b’av fast appears on the horizon. Tisha b’av (or 9th day of the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar) is observed this year beginning Monday night the 8th through Tues sundown the 9th. Aside from the fast day of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, this is the most solemn fast day of the Jewish year. It is not observed as widely as Yom Kippur (which is commanded in scripture and actively observed by a large majority of Jews) but it IS observed by a surprising number of even secular or nominally observant Jews as well as the religious.
As I have told you recently, I have been going through this interesting season of having my morning devotional reading ‘disrupted by The Lord’ after 37 years of following His initial directions to me, and have been having an intense time reading and re-reading the major prophets again and again (along with other portions in New Covenant and Psalms), so this day is making a very present and living impression on me this year, even more so then in past years.
The 9th of Av commemorates the actual date of the destruction of BOTH the first and second temples and the punishment of the surviving remnant being sent out of the promised land of Israel into the diaspora. You can read Jeremiah’s account of the date in the full chapter of Jeremiah chapter 52. Verses 6 and 7 say:
6 By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.
7 Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around. And they went by way of the plain.
I have also shared many times over the past years lists of the unusual number of cataclysmic events that have taken place among the Jews through out modern history on this same date. (If any of you wish, I will send it to you again separately)
People prepare for this time of often very real repentance and heart searching in many ways. The very religious men do not shave or cut their hair from Shavuot until tisha b’av, so there are many fully bearded men around right now. There is also a general feeling of mourning in the air and I have heard many greetings which include a blessing for Jerusalem. The teaching is that the judgment of God comes upon the people of Israel mainly for ‘brother hating brother’ (sinat chinam, in Hebrew). Of course this is partly true according to the scriptures as hatred, or lack of love, produces selfishness, oppressing, cheating, theft and the like. But the Scriptures make it clear that there are other reasons for the judgment of God upon the children of Israel: (I have been writing them down during these 6 months of reading through the major prophets). Some of them are: Forsaking Him (our first love); serving other Gods (like material goods, the flesh, new age ideas…?), worshipping the work of our own hands, giving heed to seducing spirits (counterfeit works of a spirit other then HIS); defiling His land; rebellion; pride; not finding delight in The Word of The Lord; covetousness; dealing falsely; will not hear correction; following the dictates of our own heart; forsaking Shabat; following Eastern ways; arrogant tongue; despising this inherited land; lack of mercy…oh my, the list goes on (yes…I can provide you with the references if you ask).
At the top of this letter I copied a small paragraph that opened a local weekly email information site, and similar exhortations and encouragements are appearing all over in newspapers, in short messages on radio and tv and on billboards (at least in the Jerusalem area). ‘Prepare your heart to seek The Lord…do not let Jerusalem go again…’ I was in the Old City on Tuesday and many large groups of youngsters, soldiers and older folks as well, were on ‘learning tours’, reviewing the history surrounding the destructions of the temples. They stop to read scripture and pray. On tisha b’av itself, the book of Lamentations is prayed/read during the fast and many people stay up all night weeping and even dressing in sackcloth and ashes. We can scoff at what is ‘religious show’, but I, for one, know that God hears hungry hearts and my prayer is that this will NOT be a religious tradition, but that there will be breakthroughs in hearts; that The Holy Spirit will convict, and draw the hungry to Yeshua, Whom He is well able to reveal! AND… that He will indeed, CREATE hunger in the hearts of those who may be crying out of tradition only. He is able.
I have not been well, so will close and go to bed now. What a season we live in, eh? His ways are so above our ways and His thoughts so above our…and I am thankful for that! I send you much love. God bless you and keep you and make HIS FACE to shine upon you…and give you (HIS) Shalom.
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18 NLT)
Other people’s opinions didn’t seem to matter to Jesus. In fact, the ONLY opinion that mattered to Him was His Father’s, and if we’re to follow after Him, then that’s where our hearts must be also.
It is easy for us to get so caught up in trying to please or impress others, that we often lose sight of what’s really important. Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself, because I want to please the Lord, and yet, all too often, I find myself trying to please my pastor, or other members of the church, knowing that this is not pleasing to God… Not only do I end up not pleasing God, I think I even grieve His Spirit, and that’s just horrible.
Let me explain. Every year, at the beginning of the year, the pastor calls for a fast. Now, that’s not a bad thing, but has it become a tradition, a ritual, a religious act? I comply with this every year, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But here’s the issue I have with this – This is not something Holy Spirit is leading me to do, and I end up doing it merely because I’m a leader of the church and it’s expected of me. And throughout the 21 days of the fast (yes, it’s always 21 days), I struggle because I have not been led by the Spirit to do this.
It’s totally different when I hear the Spirit telling me to fast. Four years ago, when I went to jail to minister one Sunday, I was asked by the guards and the inmates to visit another inmate in her cell, who was having seizures. Now this was highly irregular. I am not normally allowed to go on the block, but the Lord was moving. I went back there, and as soon as I saw her, I knew that she was not merely having seizures. She was demonized.
It was amazing, because I felt no fear or nervousness in the situation. You see, I knew I wasn’t in charge. Jesus was totally in control, but although I bound those demons, I saw no change in this woman’s condition, and it grieved me. Later, after I left the jail, I prayed and I asked Jesus why the demons did not stop tormenting this woman, and I heard the Lord speak very clearly to me, “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.”
I went to two women’s retreats during that fast, and if any of you have gone on retreats, you know that good food and fine dining are a part of the fun, but I was okay. I went to restaurants with my friends, and we had a great time, and I wasn’t even tempted to eat, because the presence of the Lord was so strong in me and I didn’t want to do anything to quench His Spirit and what He was doing in me and for the women that I ministered to in prison. This was a fast that the Lord called me to go on, and it had a purpose – His purpose.
The next time I ministered in jail after this fast was completed, unbeknownst to me, the woman who I had ministered to before attended the church service. Now you need to know that I had never seen her in a church service before, nor since I had ministered to her in her cell, and I had only seen her the one time.
As I was ministering, I looked to the back of the room, and I began to prophesy to this woman. Her countenance was changed and I didn’t recognize her at first, until the Lord revealed to me that she was the one that I had fasted and prayed for. I looked in her eyes and I told her that I had been fasting and praying for her for forty days. As she began to cry, I told her that she wasn’t just having seizures, she was demonized. She nodded her head as the tears flowed, and told me that since that Sunday when I had ministered to her, she hadn’t had anymore seizures, but prior to that, for several months, she had been having seizures multiple times a day. I was amazed by what the Lord had done, and that He had given me the privilege of being a part of His kingdom.
So this brings me back to what I was talking about earlier… Somewhere in the four years since that time, I feel like I lost something that I’m just now starting to get back. I love my pastor and my church, but I love the Lord more. One of the things our church is so proud of is the fact that we are not traditional or religious, and we follow Holy Spirit, and yet, the truth is, we are human, and our pride in this has blinded us to the fact that like so many, we have become traditional and religious…
No, we don’t have bulletins and programs and rote prayers like some denominational churches, but we have become traditional in other ways… And please don’t think I’m dishonoring my church by speaking this way, because as I said before, I love my pastor and the members of my church very much. And the truth is, on this side of heaven, there is no perfect church yet, until Jesus returns from glory and separates the goats and the sheep… and helps us sheep get right too.
Here is where the real problem is… I have become traditional and religious and I have grieved Holy Spirit, and this grieves me. I hear the Lord saying to me, “I hate all your festivals and sacrifices. I cannot stand the sight of them! From now on, when you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look. Even though you offer many prayers, I will not listen. For your hands are covered with the blood of your innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Let Me no longer see your evil deeds. Give up your wicked ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.
“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:14-18 NLT)
I hear You calling to me, Lord, and I repent. Forgive me for grieving You, for trying to please everyone and offend no one, and by doing this, I offended and displeased You. Forgive me Lord and change my heart. I repent Lord and I humble myself under Your righteous right hand. I will fast when YOU lead me to fast. I will serve YOU first – help me to be attentive to Your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.