And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said to them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen (Lk. 24: 4-6a).
“I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die: Believeth thou this?” (Jn. 11:25-26)
Dear Intercessors for Israel:
Greetings from Jerusalem! It is with sadness that I write this week’s prayer letter. Israel once again finds itself in the grip of terrorism. Since Passover, the nation’s borders have been pummeled with rockets, missiles and mortars. Last night my emergency defense app, was going off all night, with missile warnings. Thursday saw some 44 rockets, and grad mortars explode all along Israel’s Northern borders, launched from Iranian sponsored terrorists based in Lebanon. Thankfully no Israelis were killed but one Druze man was injured. Iron Dome intercepted many missiles, but even so windows were blown out in homes, business damaged and many vehicles were destroyed. In Betzeti, a small Israeli moshav near the border of Lebanon, a rocket just missed a kindergarten , which was empty because of the holiday.
This attack was quickly followed by rocket attacks from Gaza onto Israel’s Southern communities. Again there were no injuries but houses and apartments were hit by shrapnel and residents were forced to stay overnight in their bomb shelters. Today, two sisters, ages 15 and 21 and their mother 48 were gunned down in a drive by shooting along the Jordan Valley highway, a road we frequently use to travel to the Galilee. Thursday and Friday also saw rioting on the Temple Mount, with Israeli police called to remove dozens of “hotheads” armed with rocks, bottles, steel rebars, and cherry bombs. These were intended to be used against Jewish citizens daring to tour the Temple Mount. Hamas then called on its followers to “Defend the Al Aksa Mosque.” Noon prayers today saw some 130,000 Muslims gathered on the Temple Mount, celebrating Ramadan, and waving Hamas and Palestinian flags. Some “worshipers tried to throw stones at Jewish worshipers at the Kotel. Since January of this year 23 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists, while many others have been injured.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has convened the Security Cabinet and vowed that he will respond forcefully to these attacks while the UN sought to “de-escalate” the situation The IDF responded last night by firing a series of artillery shells at fields near Gaza City, while the IAF struck ten targets including tunnels and weapons manufacturing sites both in Lebanon and Gaza. Both “sides” say they do not “want war,” but apparently Hamas and the P.A. want to make “statements” via the violence. Turkish President Erdogan further inflamed the tensions in Israel by publicly stating to Iran’s President Raisi (Israel’s arch enemy) that “the Muslim world must unite against Israel” (Jpost.com). Israel has many peace keepers (the U.N. has its forces here) but few peace makers. Tonight, the first Shabbat after Passover has been a quiet night in the land. There haves been no reports of rockets, or of terroristic acts, and no riots. Let us pray, that this fragile peace holds.
Rescue Me O LORD from evil men
Please pray that this current wave of violence will not spiral out of control and give Israel’s enemies cause to rejoice. Pray Psalm 91 over Israel. Pray Psalm 140: 1-2 , “Rescue me O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day” (NIV).
This past week, we celebrated Passover with 21 guests both Jewish and Christian attending our Seder meal at the House of Peace. We gathered around in sweet fellowship, which was highlighted by seven guests from Alaska.
We had memorable time, and lifted up Jesus as well. He is seen in the broken, striped and pierced matza as well as portrayed in the atoning “blood of the lamb” which protected the Jewish firstborn from the destroyer. Paul writes that “Christ our Passover (lamb) also has been sacrificed” (Is. 53:7, I Cor. 5:7). Jesus is referred as the Lamb twenty eight times in Revelation.
Missouri Episcopalian Bishop condemns Christian Seders
This week, a Missouri Episcopalian Bishop, the Rev. Deon K. Johnson, posted an open letter to his diocese saying that “Christian seders are banned” because they advance supersessionism, or the belief that Christians have superseded, or replaced, Jews as God’s chosen people. In his letter, Johnson explicitly forbade his diocese from “hosting, holding or celebrating Christian seders.” Jewish rabbis have also joined in this discussion. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg tweeted, “Jesus didn’t have a seder, Christianity is not Judaism, please respect us and our traditions.” (Jpost.com)
However, I disagree. Many Christians today are interested in their “Jewish roots” and look eagerly to participate in Jewish feasts and customs. When we observe a seder in Jerusalem, we do acknowledge the Jewishness of it but also uplift Christ “for He is our Passover.”
Attending Shabbat dinners is also one of the most popular requests from tourists who come to Israel. We host at the House of Peace, every Friday night, a shabbat dinner. Every place to eat is closed in the city. Where would our guests go?
The early church Councils and “fathers of the faith” though expressively forbid participating in any Jewish feast or customs on pain of excommunication or even death. These edicts though sadly led to a complete separation of Christianity from its Jewish roots, and the birth of “replacement theology.” Marylois and I though are not “Jewish “want-a-be’s” because we know we have been set free from the law (Jn. 8:36), but we do respect and acknowledge the Jewish heritage found in our Christian faith.
This Sunday is Resurrection Day. We will be gathering with thousands of other believers at the Garden Tomb to participate in a glorious sunrise service. What better way to affirm our faith in the risen Christ then to rejoice at the empty tomb and declare “He is not here, but risen!” May you all stand with us and rejoice this Sunday, in that we serve a risen Savior who has overcome sin, death, the grave and hell and has given to us “eternal life” through His sacrifice on the cross. “Halleluiah He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
Resurrection blessings from Jerusalem,
Gene and Marylois/House of Peace