Australian units from the Imperial Camel Corps, as part of the British advance into the Holy Land against the Ottoman Empire in1916, cross over from the Sinai Desert to the borders of the chosen land God gave to Israel. The land lay desolate, barren and virtually uninhabited, as the Bible said it would—until the Last Days. (Australian war memorial archive)
I believe there is no greater proof of a God in Heaven than the existence of the modern state of Israel. Israel is God’s time clock.
In the Scriptures, God promised Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan. But He also warned that if they turned their back on God and His righteousness, they would be forced out of their land. And that is exactly what happened. However, the prophet Jeremiah promised they would return to their homeland after 70 years. And they did.
Again, other prophets warned of a second banishment because of Israel’s continued unfaithfulness. But these prophets also foresaw that in the final days of this age, the Jewish people would come back to the Land of Israel and back to the God of Israel. This salvation would be both physical and spiritual.
To the doubter, I would ask, “What other nation has been expelled from its land for 2,000 years and scattered around the world, yet kept its identity?”
What nation completely ceased to speak its original language—except with a prayer book—and saw it become the official language of a resurrected country?
What other people lost 6,000,000 souls in a genocidal holocaust, and then three years later, faced Arab armies from five Muslim nations united in one purpose—to utterly destroy the newborn Jewish state? And then defeated them?
Many of those Holocaust survivors who straggled to the shores of the Holy Land had to fight the Arab armies even before they understood enough Hebrew to follow the instructions of their Jewish military commanders!
What’s more, the total number of Jews in the land in 1948, the year of the Independence War, was a grand total of 700,000 Jewish men, women and children!
What other nation has ever had its past, present and future accurately recorded and foretold by a succession of prophets living hundreds of years apart, starting some 3,500 years ago?
If anyone is not yet convinced, let him answer this question: Who can prophesy about any nation on earth as to what its future will be in 100 years? In 1,000 years?
THE KEY TO THE MIDDLE EAST
The Bible reveals an indispensible key to understanding Israel. The conflict in the Holy Land today is categorically a war between God and His promises to His Jewish people versus the god of this world whose principle weapons are Islam, and the United Nations virtually controlled by Islam.
The UN is assisted and abetted by many (not all) European nations whose liberal governments no longer fear God nor read their Bibles, and who have allowed the anti-Semitism, organic to their “ancient Christian roots,” to once again infest their culture.
Although the Arab people have over 500 times more land than Israel, the spirit behind Islam wants the very land—the exact land—and its capital that God promised the Jewish people.
THE ULTIMATE WEAPON: A NEW PEOPLE
To support their military and diplomatic offensive against Israel, the leaders of the newly created Palestinian people living in Judea and Samaria have literally rewritten history. Their history books vow that Jews never lived in the Holy Land, and in fact there is no Holy Land—just Palestine. (And a great percentage of the world’s population, including virtually all Muslims, believes this.)
The land is, they say, the Palestinians’ motherland where they originated 5,000 years ago. Their rewritten history is actually quite novel. Palestinians, they claim, were the original people of Jericho. They were also the original Philistines (although historians know that particular people group ceased to exist some 2,700 years ago). Furthermore, the Palestinians claim their ancestors were the Jebusites (early inhabitants of Jerusalem before King David conquered Jerusalem). And for emphasis they claim Yeshua was a Palestinian. Quite a hybrid group, to say the least.
The fact is the first time the name “Palestinians” as a people is found in official documents anywhere in the world was in 1948—the year Israel was born. The United Nations created a special agency for what they called “Palestinian Refugees.” Before 1948, Arabs in Palestine saw themselves as citizens of the Ottoman Turkish empire, or Syrian (where their immediate rulers lived), or even British. But in 1964, the Egyptian-born Father of Modern Terrorism, Yasser Arafat, created a Palestinian People in order, as he ceaselessly stated, to destroy the state of Israel.
WHEN ISRAEL WAS A WASTELAND
Now here are the real facts.
The Land of Israel was under Turkish occupation from 1517 to 1917—exactly 400 years. Jews lived in Judea, Samaria and Galilee, but were subject to Sharia law, and existed as dhimmi—second-class citizens—as non-Muslims. The Ottoman Empire, ruling from Istanbul (not Jerusalem), cared little about the land renamed “Palestine” by the ancient Roman emperor Hadrian and was mainly concerned about siphoning off what tiny resources were left.
The one thing the Turks were most interested in was taxes. What could they find to tax in this wasteland? Well, there were a few trees. So the locals cut down their trees to avoid paying taxes. According to Rev. Samuel Manning traveling through the Holy Land as a tourist in 1874, “…the Land is left void and desolate…without inhabitants.”
Records show that in the mid-nineteenth century, Jerusalem was the largest “city” in the Holy Land with 18,000 residents—8,000 to 9,000 Jews, 5,000 Muslims and the rest, Christians of various denominations, according to the British Report on the Trade and Commerce of Jerusalem in the Year 1864. (qatarconferences.org)
The fact is, after the people of Israel were expelled from their homeland by the Romans in the second century, no other race or tribal peoples ever created a new identifiable people group in the Holy Land. Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis and Persians all were aware of their ancient history. But in God’s Promised Land, for 2,000 years, it was Bedouin and Arab clans who roamed in and out of the open borders while various conquerors ruled for periods of time from their different foreign homes.
And God’s Land remained barren, deserted and wasted, just as He has said it would. Jeremiah prophesied,
[The Land of Israel] will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares. (12:11)
BRITISH OFFICIAL RECORDS SAY IT ALL
In 1859, The British consul complained there were too few inhabitants of any sort in Palestine. “Palestine,” he reported, was almost “empty of inhabitants” and urgently needs a “body of population irrespective of religious considerations.” (Time Immemorial, By Joan Peters, 1948 pp. 198-199)
Indeed, in 1878, a Commission of Enquiry sent from Britain “found the lands in disorder, exposed to raids by marauding Bedouin from across the Jordan [River], abandoned by the cultivators [farmers].” (Ibid)
America’s famed Mark Twain who traveled to the Holy Land in the 1860’s simply repeated what other tourists had recorded:
“…the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night and where the angels sang, ‘peace on earth, good will towards men’ is untenanted by any living creature…and the ‘desert places’ around about them…sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.” (Innocents Abroad, Chap. 56. Google this incredible diary online. It’s free!)
The Jezreel Valley, the Hula swamps in Galilee were so infested with malaria, that the areas were uninhabitable. Muslims from different countries wandered in and out again, or died of disease and want in the Holy Land.
The British Commission reported, “The Mahometan population is dying out, I can scarcely say slowly…” (From Time Immemorial, pg. 199)
The Commission concluded that “there is, then, evidence for assuming that it is doubtful that any of the present-day cultivators [Arab peasants] can prove their occupation [residence] before 1870.” In other words, Arabs living in the Holy Land were newcomers. (Ibid.)
However, especially in the four holy cities of Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron and Tiberias, Jews from mainly other Arab nations were slipping in. British Consul James Finn reported that by 1850, Jews “greatly exceed the Moslems in number.” (Ibid.)
THE TIME CLOCK BEGINS TO TICK AGAIN
By the 1880’s God’s time clock began to speed up in Judea and Samaria. The trickle of Jews became a stream. As the Jews began to clear the malarial swamps, cultivate the land and create an economic base, the Muslim Ottoman authorities became alarmed. Wherever Jews were prospering, the Turks threw monkey wrenches—and then began to prevent Jewish immigration.
Nevertheless, the new reality became that everywhere the Jews were allowed to remain, the economy improved. Everywhere the economy improved, more Arabs from the surrounding nations and areas moved in with no obstacles placed by the Ottomans. Only the Jews were constantly hindered from coming home. Yet they kept coming.
When the British conquered and occupied Palestine and expelled the Ottoman authorities in 1917, they found that Jews definitely outnumbered Arabs. According to The Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, Jewish population in Jerusalem in 1922 numbered 33,900 while Arabs numbered 28,600. (The Trouble with Textbooks, by Tobin & Ybarra, 2008, page 112)
THE BRITISH BARRED JEWISH IMMIGRATION
But as the percentage of Arabs flooding Palestine constantly increased, so did their violence toward the Jews. Now it was the British, trying to appease the Muslims, who continued to allow Arabs from anywhere to migrate into Palestine, while imposing laws to keep Jews out.
And until 1948, when Britain pulled out of the Middle East and Israel became an independent state, the British denied most Jews the right to come home to their land. Even when the Nazis were killing millions of Jews, “Christian” Britain would not allow Jewish men, women and children in the killing fields of Europe to escape to their ancient homeland.
If Great Britain had not barred the Jewish people from the Land God had promised them, there would be several million or more Jewish citizens in Israel today. The British bear a great deal of responsibility for the Arab-Jewish conflict that resulted from their policies and continues until today.
THE BABY HAS ARRIVED!
But God keeps His Word. The incredible miracle of a tiny nation of less than a million people was “birthed in a day.” It is a sign that no Bible reader should ever miss. It is a sign that God will also keep His Word when He promised to give His people a New Heart and a New Spirit!
The miracle of a reborn Israel took place on the Hebrew date of the 5th of Iyar, 5708, which fell on May 14, 1948. This year, our 70th year of Independence, will fall on April 19. Yes! Seventy years ago this miracle took place for the entire world to see—and for all followers of the God of Israel through His Son Yeshua the Messiah to rejoice in the faithfulness of the One True God!
THIS IS WHAT THE LORD SAYS:
“Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say,
‘Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord.
The enemy said of you, “Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.”’
“Therefore prophesy and say… Because they ravaged and crushed you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations …
therefore… This is what the Sovereign Lord says … to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you…
“‘But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home…
I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
I will cause people, my people Israel, to live on you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children…
“Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name…
“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land…
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh…
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it.
They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the Garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.”
Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’
Portions of Ezekiel 36
First time I heard from Yonatan was through an email that arrived in our congregation’s Inbox. It read something like this: “Hi, my name is Yonatan. I am new. Don’t know yet where to go from here. I will probably not ever be able to tell my family that I believe in Yeshua. How do I continue from here? I will be happy to get a phone call from you.”
The following day I called Yonatan and he told me his amazing story. — Pastor Gil Afriat
I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in the south of Israel, and was thoroughly versed in Orthodoxy from my education in a yeshiva (institution for the study of the Talmud and Torah). I had just finished army service when my father passed away due to medical malpractice. A local rabbi came to the funeral, and I expected he would talk about my father—a good and kind man—and comfort us with anecdotes about his life. But he didn’t.
I had been very close to my father, and therefore was stunned when, instead of comforting us, the rabbi coldly began to sell all kinds of Jewish trinkets and spoke of other commercial deals he could do for us in order to let our farming land lay fallow on the Seventh Year. (According to Leviticus 25:4.) I believed the Bible, but the timing was jarring to me; I felt heartbroken and betrayed. If this was what religion was all about, I decided to turn away from God and the Orthodox faith.
For several years I lived as a secular Jew, but I felt empty and began to search for God again. I moved to Jerusalem. One day I was getting on a bus, and a couple of ladies were passing out cards. When I took one, I saw the words, “The Lord’s Prayer.” I asked myself, “Who is this Lord?” [The Hebrew word for “Lord” is “Adon” (Master) in the New Testament, while in the Old Testament, God’s Name is “Adonai.”]
Nevertheless, I decided to pray this prayer on the bus, and my body began to shake; my heart was beating, and I was perspiring—I even felt like crying. I thought to myself, “What is happening to me?”
At home, I began to search the Internet and I came upon igod.co.il, a Messianic website. When I finally figured out that the “Lord Yeshua” was who we Jews call “Yeshu” I was aghast.
I called up Moti Vaknin, the Messianic Jew speaking on igod, but I was not able to accept what he was saying about Yeshua. Why would any Jew want to betray the God of the Bible and his own people, and become a Christian? I knew I didn’t want to become a Christian and I completely rejected this option.
War broke out in Gaza and I was called up with my reserve duty unit. Our unit was stationed in a building along the front lines. War was raging, and we were fighting for our lives. One day, when it was my turn for guard duty, I noticed my shoelace had come untied. As I stooped over to tie it, a bullet brushed through my hair. I was shaken to the core, yet felt that clearly a Higher Power was at work saving my life.
I went back into the building we were occupying and was given a four-hour stretch to sleep before I would be on duty again. In my troubled sleep I dreamed I saw a man in a white robe. I couldn’t see his face because he was full of light and I felt I couldn’t open my eyes completely. But he held an open hand out to me and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven. Go from here.” I didn’t know what it meant and when I woke up, in the complete chaos that surrounded us, I forgot about the dream.
However, I distinctly felt something was wrong. I had a foreboding that we needed to get out of the building immediately. I woke up all my soldiers and told them we had to get out. They loudly complained from lack of sleep, but I insisted. I called the command post and told them to send us two vehicles to get us out. The vehicles arrived, and we jumped in. About six minutes later, from a distance, we saw our building go up in flames as Hamas fired RPG’s at the building. Later we returned and saw that the rocket-propelled grenades had gone right through the window in the room where we were sleeping.
Because of the extreme stress, the army finally took our unit out of the war zone. By then I was not sleeping except in short stints. I would leap out of my bed with nightmarish screams in the night, even though I was completely unaware of these ordeals when I woke up.
I was sent to a sleep laboratory and put through many procedures and medical treatments. Nothing helped. I could only sleep three or four hours a night. Psychiatrists told me I had severely traumatized my brain, and it would take a very long time, if ever, before I was normal. My own mother was afraid of my uncontrolled outbursts.
I told the doctors I wanted to get married and have a family. They told me that probably wouldn’t be possible. After a couple of months, I began thinking about jumping off a building. I spent over a year in a military hospital where doctors were trying so hard to help me return to normal life, but post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a devastating condition. Moreover, during the war, I had been called up as a reserve soldier, so I was not in shape like the regular soldiers. Nevertheless, I carried 110 pounds on my back throughout my time in Gaza, causing severe deterioration of muscles in my back and legs. I remained under 24/7-hour care for over a year.
Then I began to remember my dream—the man in white who held out his hand to me and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” I wondered, “What does ‘your sins are forgiven’ mean?” Since I had lots of time in my hospital room, I went to the Internet to look up that phrase. To my utter amazement, everywhere I looked I found websites about Yeshua the Messiah. And lo! I ran across Moti Vaknin again!
Trying to understand it all, I searched the web (in Hebrew, of course) for a week. I finally understood that the word “Mashiach” (Messiah) is the word they use in English—Christ! I looked at phrases such as “Are you saved?” and wondered, saved from what? Then I realized they were claiming that Yeshua is the Savior.
I kept searching online. I decided I wanted a New Testament in Hebrew so I could read for myself about this Yeshua. (I didn’t know at the time that the Hebrew New Testament was online.)
In Israel, every soldier receives a Bible of the Old Testament (Tanach) when he is drafted into the army. I told my army representative to get me a New Testament. He told me, “We don’t have copies of the New Testament.” But I told him to go and find me one.
Not wanting to exasperate me because of my PTSD condition they humored me, and went off to a church to find a Bible with the New Testament. The people there said they only had a New Testament in English. The army took the book and brought it to me.
As I struggled through the English, I constantly went to Google to translate words I didn’t understand, from English into Hebrew. I saw how the New Testament connected to the Old Testament. As I was reading through teachings of Messianic prophecies in the Tanach, I was stunned by how clearly they point to Yeshua, and I finally realized it was the Lord himself who appeared in my dream and saved me!
I began to weep. Finally, I said, “Yeshua, if you are real, and that was you in my dream, please help me.”
I lay down and slept for 48 hours! My caretaker kept checking to see if I was still alive, checking my vital signs. All seemed to be in order. When I awoke, he contacted the psychiatrist who immediately called me in.
I told the psychiatrist what had happened. He said to me, “It can’t be! I want you to sleep in the lab here and I will connect you up with all the sensors and tubes to take care of your bodily fluids.”
I slept for three days.
The psychiatrist simply couldn’t accept it. He asked if I had taken some drugs. I told him, “Nothing.” He then said, “I want to do this procedure one more time, using a different machine.” I then slept another number of hours under his care. There was no data showing me having nightmares, flashbacks or stress while asleep.
I told him that Yeshua had healed me. They sent me to another clinic for tests. The results showed that I had had a 98% recovery of the brain. The doctors kept saying, “How can this happen? This can’t happen! What happened to you?”
I said to them, “You remember I asked for a New Testament? Well, I had a dream about Yeshua the Messiah. Yeshua healed me!” The doctor replied, “Yeshua is a really good man!”
Afterward, I ran into a side room where I could be alone, and thanked Yeshua for healing me. I cried out, “I’m yours! Do whatever you want with me!”
Four months after Yeshua touched my body, I was released from the hospital.
THE LIFE CHANGE
Pastor Gil Afriat continues:
This is when he wrote his email to us.
After our phone conversation, I invited him to meet with me in our offices at the congregation. We spent several hours together talking and reading through the Bible. It was so wonderful to see his excitement as he understood more and more of the faith. He kept saying over and over “This is the truth! People must see it!”
Yonatan started going to a congregation close to his home, where he was mentored and grew in his faith. We kept in touch as he came to Tiferet Yeshua from time to time to participate in prayer meetings, Bible lessons and our Alpha course. With time Yonatan decided to join Tiferet Yeshua and is now a member of the congregation.
We discussed the issue of immersion as a declaration of faith, a commitment to follow the Lord, and a symbol of death of the old man and re-birth from God’s Spirit—a new creation in Yeshua.
A few months ago he told me he was ready to be baptized, and together with brothers and sisters from the congregation, we spent several hours at the beach—listening to Yonatan give a beautiful testimony of His faith, immersing him in the Mediterranean and praying for him to receive the Holy Spirit. Yonatan shared that he felt a great warmth filling his body and he was filled with joy. He has already shared his faith in Yeshua with his family, and he is becoming bolder and bolder sharing with friends and colleagues.
Clearly, Yonatan has been shown the same grace Yeshua poured out on lost people when He walked upon the earth: “And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.’” Matthew 9:2.
Yonatan Perry is healed, restored, and now a vibrant testimony of the miracle-working God we serve! He works as manager of a medical infrastructure center at a hospital.
Gil Afriat is pastor of Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv.
Local Messianic congregations in Israel continue to be the place where the most discipleship, fellowship, evangelism and outreach happens in the Land. It is a place where believers gather to be strengthened, encouraged, challenged, to learn and to worship together. It is also a place of refuge and refreshing for those of us who go through our work week isolated from other believers.
SPIRIT-FILLED JEWISH EXPRESSION
At Tiferet Yeshua, our main service on Friday evenings is Spirit-filled and at the same time traditional, which is a rarity! Often times congregations that want to maintain Jewish tradition in the expression of their worship tend to be more conservative. But at Tiferet, we want room for the expression and gifts of the Holy Spirit to be welcome and manifest and for our identity as Jews to be welcomed and expressed in our traditions.
At Tiferet Yeshua, we are seeing believers growing in maturity and commitment (there are many believers in the Land who are not committed to a local body), an awakening desire to serve, spread the gospel and serve the poor. Tiferet Yeshua members have a heart for evangelism! In addition to sending out teams to the streets to evangelize once a month, every week there are groups that spontaneously organize to go out to the streets to share the gospel in the city of Tel Aviv.
A HEART FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY
Evangelism always gives seed to serving the poor as people go out to the streets and see the suffering of their people face to face. A couple years ago, several young believers at Tiferet Yeshua, inspired by the messages of Todd White, began taking to the streets to pray for people for healing—something which quickly opened the way in people’s hearts for reaching out to the poor. Now twice a week, members of Tiferet Yeshua serve in outreaches to the poorest of the poor in south Tel Aviv where there are many undocumented workers from Africa, drug addicts and women enslaved in the sex industry. We believe that outreach to the poor is touching the heart of Yeshua and his ministry in the most powerful way and is integral to any healthy fellowship.
YAD AMAN MUSIC OUTREACH
Tiferet Yeshua also organizes monthly evening concerts of Messianic musicians and singers at a venue that is warm, modern and welcoming. YadAman provides believing artists an opportunity to perform and gain more exposure and, with its “Tel Aviv Café” atmosphere, it is a great “evening out” for young believers. Many non-believers come to hear the music as well and have an opportunity to experience the love and light of the Lord in a relaxed, welcoming setting.
BIBLE STUDIES, YOUNG ADULT MEETINGS, KABALOT SHABBAT
Though our main service is on Friday, meetings continue during the week. Whether it be weekly prayer meetings, Bible study or Kabalot Shabbat (traditional Friday night dinners at family homes), Tiferet Yeshua members meet during the week for prayer, fellowship, and deeper study. David and Victoria Trubek, who lead the Bible studies, Kabalot Shabbat and the young adult meetings, are providing a space for real connection (many young adult singles deal with feeling isolated), accountability and broader fellowship—many young adults who aren’t connected to a congregation attend Tiferet Yeshua young adult meetings.
WOMEN WITHOUT WALLS MINISTRY AND SCHOOL OF LIFE
Tiferet Yeshua is blessed to have the ministry of Adriana Rozenzvaig, a gifted teacher who is leading a vibrant womens’ ministry and an intensive discipleship training. Women Without Walls meets every two weeks at Tiferet Yeshua; over fifty women from all over Israel make the trek to come to this most anointed and blessed meeting for fellowship, worship and in-depth teaching. Countless women have had their lives deeply touched and changed through anointed worship, teaching and prophetic ministry they receive at Women Without Walls. Additionally, Adriana, who has a great wealth of teaching and pastoring experience, leads in-depth discipleship courses at Tiferet Yeshua called the School of Life. We have first-hand testimonies of believers who have been in the faith for years share that the deep, Bible-based teaching of these courses has helped them with issues they’ve struggled with for years.
GROWING AND EXPANDING
As we commit ourselves to providing a place for Israeli believers and seekers to gather together, to be encouraged and fed, we see that day the apostle Paul talked about in Hebrews 10 fast approaching! We are indeed in a period of grace when there is a great openness to Yeshua, just as he said in John 4:35: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” Our local congregation is the place where seekers come looking for answers. At Tiferet Yeshua, we continue to see new faces every week and are witnessing first-hand that the Lord is stirring up the hearts of his people with an unprecedented hunger and openness to the gospel!