Heads of State Prepare for 100th Anniversary of the Beer Sheva Charge

Beer Sheva is gearing up for historic visits by Prime Ministers of two distant countries whose brave soldiers fought on our local soil in a spectacular battle against the Turks and the Ottoman Empire 100  years ago on October 31, 1917.

The two PM’s are Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, and Bill English of New Zealand, whose ANZAC troops fought together on that day of destiny to open the way for the British-led Allied forces to capture the Holy Land from the Islamic Caliphate of the day, and to pave the way for the proclamation of the Balfour Declaration on Nov 2, 1917.  This document gave impetus for the return of the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel.

A new ANZAC museum is currently undergoing construction at the location of the WW1 British War Cemetery in Beer Sheva, and will also be officially dedicated as part of this year’s special commemoration.  The Israel PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, is also scheduled to attend.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/australia-new-zealand-pms-to-visit-israel-for-beersheba-battle-anniversary/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=098fe8f65c

The Australian Light Horse: http://www.lighthorse.org.au/famous-battles/world-war-one/famous-battles-the-battle-at-beersheba

New Zealand Mounted Rifles: http://www.nzmr.org/beersheba.htm

Photos http://www.israeldailypicture.com/2011/10/battle-of-beer-sheva-october-31-1917.html

Clogged Wells: Religiosity vs Living Faith — 27 Apr 2013

We have spoken about clogged wells earlier, and about how not giving tithes and offerings can be a cause of stoppage of the living water in our life and in the congregation.  Giving from our money according to the appreciation of God’s grace and for His purposes is one defense against stinginess and greed. 

Today I want us to look at and consider together about another cause of clogged wells, and of what each of us can do to be both blessed and also a blessing to others.  This requires repentance, which brings life unto God, and also requires each of us to take heed as we seek the life that is Messiah in us to grow and enlarge.

The banner behind me is the one done for the “Spring up, O well!” conference last week.  It was done by Ladell Neitzel, who was also part of the conference.  She spoke about how difficult it was for her to make this banner, and she could not complete it with water springing up out of the well.  She felt from the Lord that perhaps we are not ready for it yet, for the well to be released.  On the one hand, I completely understood by the Spirit that we are preparing for and anticipating a significant revival within the congregation and whole Body of Messiah.  On the other hand, I felt ashamed at our own condition that the well is still clogged. 

Let’s read from the source:  Gen 26:12-33

–Isaac, the son of promise, became very rich and prosperous in the land of the Philistines. –The Philistines envied him, and sent him away; and they had stopped up all the wells, which Abraham’s servants had dug, with dirt and dust.

–Isaac left, and his servants dug again the wells from the days of his father and gave each one the same name which Abraham had given.

–Isaac’s servants dug in Gerar (probably near Nahal besor today), and found a well of living water.
–The shepherds of Gerar quarreled with the shepherds of Isaac, saying that the water was theirs!
–They had not dug there all the time they had been in that area, but ‘owned’ it after the hard  work of others.  This is similar to the Islamists who claim all the land of Israel, even though it has been the Jewish people who have worked hard to make the land cultivated and fruitful after so many centuries under Muslim control and disinterest.  Another recent example if Lebanon, which claims the natural gas off-shore of Israel’s northern coast after Israelis invested and located it for commercial use.  

–Isaac called the well Esek (Quarrel), and moved on, rather than fighting or insisting on his rights, in order to keep the peace as much as possible.  By faith, he knew that the whole land was his to inherit. 

–Isaac’s servants dug another well, and again there was a dispute.  He named this well Sitnah, which has the same root as satan (s-t-n).  Satanic disputes are rooted in envy, hatred without cause, false accusations, needless hostility

–Isaac moved on again, and his servants dug another well.  This time there was no dispute or quarrel.  God had given them room, and he called the well Rehovot (Wide spaces).
–YHVH enlarged their tent, and they could be fruitful.
–Isaac and his servants did not let quarrels with others, or lack of approval from others prevent them from continuing to seek what was good.  They had faith in the Living God even as others contended with them and sought to clog up their faith and frustrate them in their labors. 

–They moved on up to Beer Sheva, and in the same night YHVH appeared to Isaac to assure him and to bless him.
–Isaac built an altar, called on the name of YHVH, pitched his tent, and his servants again dug a well.
–Avimelech, king of the Philistines, a friend, and Phicol, the military commander came to Isaac.
–Isaac asked them why they were coming to him now, since they had hated him and sent them away.
–Avimelech answered that they saw that YHVH was with Isaac and was blessing him despite all 
their evil thoughts,  attitudes, and efforts to quench his life and successes.
–They made a covenant of peace with Isaac, that he would not them any harm.  The Philistine spirit demands to receive grace and mercy – even from their ‘enemy’ — but is not able to give it.
–That same day Isaac hears from his servants that the well they had dug in Beer Sheva had water, and they called the name Shev’ah (Seven), and the city is called Beer Sheva until today.

What can we learn from this history for ourselves?  How can these things, written long ago for us living at the end of the age for our learning and admonition, be applied to us now who believe in Yeshua?

As I have said many times before:  God is God; Satan is Satan; people are people.  But we, in whom dwells the Spirit of Christ, can change and be continually transformed into the image of the Son of God.

The word philistine means invader.  The Philistines then and today (in spirit if not actually physically descended) always resist the ways and thoughts of God, and of those who live by faith in the Spirit of God.  They ‘invade’ the peaceable character of the ‘righteous’, discourage their prosperity, and strive with those who are free – even to putting dirt and dust in their flow of living water. 

These invaders are under the control of traditional human authority and of legalism in their lives ; that is, of human religiosity, not knowing the living Spirit in their own lives.  We can all be guilty of this in certain instances; therefore the admonition to take heed to ourselves, lest thinking we stand, we fall.

This show of righteousness speaks much of grace, but separates grace from the living faith.  It is a legalism that quenches the Spirit of God, despite all our talk about freedom in the Holy Spirit.

The contention over the wells is characteristic of our legalism and self-righteousness in our own eyes – like the Philistines:  they do not dig the wells, which were also beneficial for them, but either clog them with dirt, or else claim yours as theirs.

But for those, like Isaac, who avoid becoming entangled in unproductive strife, and who continue digging for the waters until they are found, God will cause even our enemies to want us to be their friends.  They will finally see and accept that YHVH God is with you – the man or woman of faith, hope, and love – like He was with Abraham and with Isaac.  Then, the well that you dig will be your own, not to be taken by another nor filled in with dirt.  Isaac offered Avimelech food and drink, displaying the peaceable intentions he had towards even those who mistreated him.  May God help us to love others as ourselves, and even as Yeshua has loved us.

Spring up, O well!  Let the waters flow!

BIBLE VERSES FOR BEER SHEVA

Viewing Beer Sheva from God’s perspective 

Gen. 21:31-33  — named Beer Sheva by Abraham, who planted a tamarisk tree and called there on the name of YHVH, the everlasting God

Gen. 21:12-20  —  Hagar and Ishmael encouraged and comforted and blessed in the wilderness of B-S, after being cast out of Abraham’s and Sarah’s house

Gen. 22:19  —  after offering up Isaac, Abraham and his seed were blessed by God, and Abraham with his son returned to and lived in B-S

Gen. 26:23-33  —  YHVH confirmed His covenant to Isaac in B-S,  who built an altar and dug a well.  Isaac’s servants found a well with water (“revival”) after the Philistines had filled in (“contention and quenching”) all the wells which Abraham had dug, and  the place was confirmed as Beer Sheva.

Gen. 28:10  —  Jacob also had lived in B-S

Gen. 46:1,5  —  on the way to Egypt with his sons and their families, Jacob (Israel) sacrificed to God in B.S. and received revelation, guidance, comfort, and hope

Josh 15:21,28; 19:1-2; Neh 11:25-30 — Beer Sheva originally given to Judah, but Simeon received it, but later was absorbed back into Judah

1Sam. 3:20  —  all Israel reckoned from Dan to Beer Sheva, the land’s major southern city in the northern Negev

1Sam. 8  —  Samuel’s sons were unjust judges in B-S, resulting in Israel asking for a king like the gentiles (other nations) had to rule over them

1Kings 19:3-8  —  Elijah ran for his life from Jezebel, and in his despair found rest, direction, comfort in B-S from the LORD, and rested under a white broom tree

Is. 35:1-6; 51:3  —  the desert will bloom and blossom as a rose and become as the Garden of the LORD, even as Eden

Beer Sheva was destroyed as a city in 701 B.C. by Sennacharib in the days of King Hezekiah. (2Kg 18:13)
After the return from Babylon, Beer Sheva was also re-settled. (Neh 11:27-30)
In l948 the city again became a Jewish Israeli city.

Beer Sheva 

–a place of divine revelation, comfort, direction, worship
–a place of praise (wells of living water), thanksgiving, gladness, life, sources
–seat of government representing all of the south ofIsrael:  intended to be a seat of righteousness and judgment (justice)
–judicial, administrative, commercial, and religious center

A Closer Examination of Amos 5:5; 8:14 : “The Way (Manner) of Beer Sheva”

–Amos preached and prophesied during time of divided kingdom –Judah and Israel– between c. 760-750 B.C.

–concerned with unrighteousness and injustice in the society, even while people practiced their religion without regard for the LORD’s love of lovingkindness (grace), righteousness, and justice

–a separation of “church and state” in the lives of the people, thereby severing the connection between faith, religion, worship, and daily life

1Kings 12:28-29  —  false worship instituted at Beth-El and Dan to draw people away from Jerusalem, as well as to exalt an alternative way and place to worship God

2Kings 23:8  —  Beer Sheva, with its wells from the Patriarchs, became a center for many to venerate some shrine (holy site) and to make pilgrimage there.  [see 2Chron 19:4; 34:6,7,37 for kingly initiative to restore true worship; also 2Chron. 24:1 (the mother of King Joash was from B-S)]

     –thus from Dan to B-S, the land and the people strayed from the one place and manner to worship and to offer sacrifices to the one true living God, and in doing so became less united as a people, and positive influences of the fear of the LORD within the society broke down.

     –“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem….” (Ps. 122:6)  From Jerusalem YHVH God has determined to place His Name, to blessIsrael (including B-S and theNegev) and the world.

     —Superstition:  vain (unsalted) faith (demon worship; pagan god worship; fear of demons)
–may be reverent, but without knowledge (ignorance)
–generally a practice of religion through slavish fear and of strong cultural or family traditions, not readily accepting the truth which sets one free and sanctifies.  (The Father is seeking worshippers in spirit and in truth).

     –Hardness of Judah (the southern kingdom and royal tribe) to the Word of God  (2Kings 22:13; Amos 2:4 —   B-S was located in Judah after Simeon’s tribal inheritance was absorbed by it.  [Neh 11:25-30]);  also true in Yeshua’s day (John 7:1; 11:7-8)

SOME INFLUENCES UPON BEER SHEVA IN PERSPECTIVE

The Faithfulness of God to Beer Sheva, the City of the Fathers

  • Good and hopeful beginnings
  • Troublesome present
  • Glorious future

ISRAEL:  The People and The Land

Gen. 50:24  — Israel promised the Land of Canaan by the Word of – and on oath from-  YHVH God

Rom. 9:4-5  —  To Israel belong the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning the flesh Messiah (Christ) came.

Is. 42:6; 49:6  —  Israel to be a light to the nations through the Light

Is. 41:8-9  —  Israel to be the servant of the LORD through the Servant

Deut. 28:13  — Israel to be the head, and not the tail, of the nations

Mal. 4:6  (3:24 Heb.)  —  the land blessed only through obedience and faith of its people (the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)

Lk. 1:67-75;  Acts 3:13-26  —  the fullness of blessing only through repentance and faith in God’s appointed and anointed authority:  the throne of David and the rightful heir, the Lord Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah)

2Kings 22:13; Amos 2:4; John 7:1; 11:7-8  —  Judah (Judea), in which portion lies Beer Sheva (as Simeon’s portion was absorbed by Judah’s) is hardened to the Word of the Lord

Jer. 3:8; Rom. 10:2-3  —  Pride of Judah heightened through self-righteousness as being the visible remnant after the division and subsequent exile of the northern kingdom

Acts 7:51  —  Israel/Jews have always resisted the Holy Spirit of  God

Jer. 9:22-23  —  Boasting in wisdom, might, and wealth, rather than in understanding and knowing YEHOVAH and His truth, love, holiness

Deut. 7:6-8; Jer. 3:18; Dan. 11:29-45  —  The chosen Land and People of God, therefore embattled

Lev. 26:30-35; Rom. 11  —  in physical and/or spiritual exile, due to not sanctifying God’s provision of the Sabbath rest, through idolatry and rejection of– and consequent apostacy against and blasphemy of– the true God and His Son:  all resultant from unbelief, unrepentance (stubborn and stiff-necked; hardness of heart), tending towards dishonor, disobedience, rebellion

Hos. 4:12  — Israel full of spirit of harlotries (unfaithfulness, immorality, uncleanness)

Hos. 4:6; Ezek. 36:20-23; Mal. 1:10-14; 2:11;  1John 2:22; 2John 7  —  prevailing lying spirit (Jesus not the Messiah in Judaism) and antichrist spirit (denial of the Father and the Son in Islam, and also in Judaism concerning the specific truth of Messiah in Jesus):  hence the Name of the Lord is profaned and made a reproach through  misrepresentation (betrayal in some degree) and through false religion and worship done in God’s name.

Rom. 11:11-32  —  “Replacement theology” is prevalent among all three major religions, promoting pride and self – whether individually, nationally, religious affiliation – rather than humility and thankfulness  for the sovereign grace, mercy, wisdom, and faithfulness of God.  The LORD our God is one LORD, and He is the Creator and the Savior through (in) the Man Christ Jesus.

Matt. 25:3; Rev. 3:1, 15-17  —  nominal Christianity:  dismissing or de-emphasizing of new birth by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit; of Jesus being the Messiah, the unique and only-begotten Son of God; of theKingdom ofGod literally being fulfilled on the earth by the return of the Lord Jesus

JERUSALEM  (“inheritor of peace”)

Deut. 12:21; Ps. 76:3; Zech. 12:2-3; Matt. 4:8-10  —  the chosen city for theTemple and Throne of God on Earth, and so embattled for the rule over the world (either satanically or divinely)

Ps. 48:2; 122:6-8; Is. 62:1-7; Jer. 33:16  —  to be the city of peace and of righteousness:  the city of the great King

1Kings 11:13  —  represents allIsrael as seat of power and authority:  capital ofIsrael and of the Earth

Rev. 11:8  —  presently has spirit ofSodom andEgypt (immorality, pride, bondage to lust and sin, enmity against YEHOVAH God and His people)

Matt. 5:12; 23:37; Lk. 13:34; Rev. 11:8  —  city which kills the prophets and crucified the Lord

1Chron. 11:4; Lk. 21:24  —  a Jebusite city in origin and spirit;Jerusalem is trodden down (in order to reveal and establish God’s foundation) until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled

Ps. 122:6-8  —  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that Beer Sheva will have her peace, too.

STREAMS IN THE NEGEV AND THE RETURN OF THE JEWS TO ISRAEL

“Return our exiles, O Lord, like watercourses in the Negev. Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. He who goes along weeping, carrying the seedbag, shall come back with songs of joy, carrying his sheaves” (Psalm 126:4-6).

In this beautiful and beloved psalm, the return of the exiles to Israel is compared to the “watercourses in the Negev.  “Why the Negev and not simply “the desert”?  The Negev streams come from collecting basins incomparably larger than those of the Judean Desert.  When rain falls on the Negev mountains, water begins to flow into hundreds of tiny rivulets that drain into dozens of larger watercourses.  These carry the water, in ever-growing strength, to larger streams that can reach several hundred meters in width.

This picture––myriad tiny rivulets coming together from distant areas to form powerful streams–is surely what inspired the psalmist to pray for the ingathering of the exiles from the four corners of the earth “like watercourses in the Negev.” (See Nogah Hareuveni, Desert and Shepherd in Our Biblical Heritage, p.89-90.)

Those who “sow in tears and reap with songs of joy” is a parallel image.  The sowers put each tiny, precious seed into the ground, not knowing whether or not there would be a harvest.  And if the blessing of the harvest does come, each seed will have multiplied itself many dozens of times–like the tiny rivulets in the Negev that, together, form rushing streams.

(from website of Neot Kedumim http://www.n-k.org.il/public/english/what/newsletter/2005/donor.htm)

SALVATION OF ISRAEL AND GREAT HARVEST OF GENTILES

(Korean Israel Conference, “The Kingdom of God”, October 6, 2010, in Seoul)

There is hope for the nations:  Jesus Christ is coming again!  This has been my hope ever since being saved, and over the years it has not only not diminished, it has intensified.  Praise God!

Acts 1:6-8   Therefore, when they had come together, [the apostles] asked [Jesus], saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?’  And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth.’  [The Triune God is fully involved in the Great Commission.]

Rom 11:25-29   For I do not desire, [Gentile] brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:  ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’    [This full restoration of the full remnant from all the tribes that will be the ‘all Israel’ during the Millennial Kingdom of Messiah will be the reality of the Israel of God, a holy people for Himself as first-born among the nations chosen to glorify Him and to be a blessing to others. (Zech 12:10; Gal 6:16)]

There is a move of the Holy Spirit within the Body of Messiah to make the believers ready for the coming of the Lord.  The Bride is making herself ready, sanctifying and purifying herself, even as the Holy Spirit is sanctifying and purifying us by the Word of God in action.  We see in the New Testament that at the time of Jesus, there were movements of false messiahs whom some of the Israeli people accepted, because it was the time of the true Messiah to come.  So now, in these last days, there are increasing numbers of false messiahs/christs appearing and being proclaimed (Acts 5:36-37), as the devil tries to deceive even more people, and, if possible, even the elect. (Mt 24:4-5; Jn 5:43; 1Jn 2:18-19)

Do we really know and believe that the same Lord Jesus Christ who ascended to Heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, is going to return according to His promise, at a set time?!  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6)  ‘Hold fast what you have till I come.  And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels – as I also have received from My Father. (Rev 2:25-27; Ps 2:7-9)  God is saving individuals from out of Israel and out from every nation now – as a royal priesthood and as a Bride for the Lamb – before He saves the full remnant of Israel as a nation, which gives hope also to other nations, including Korea, Ukraine, Zambia, Congo, Australia.  The devil seeks to discourage believers from thinking this will ever get done. (2Pt 3:1-5a)

A Remnant Will Be Saved
When Paul says in Romans 11 that “all Israel” will be saved, neither he nor the Spirit of God is saying that every Jew or every Israeli will be saved.  This is clear throughout all of the Bible that many Israelis and Jews have died in rebellion against the Lord, and Daniel speaks of the resurrection of shame and everlasting contempt for those not “written in the book”. (Dan 12:1-3)

YHVH speaks through the prophet Isaiah (1:9) that unless He “had left to us a very small remnant, would we have become like Sodom and Gomorrah”.

In the New Testament, we find also that Paul is quoting from Isaiah in Rom 9:27,29, when he writes that “though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved”. (Is 10:20,22)

It is important to remember that not all Israel is Israel (Rom 9:6).  Neither is all the Church the Church:  there are tares with the wheat (Mt 13:30)And there are sheep nations and goat nations (Mt 25:32-34,41; Joel 3:1-2 (4:1-2 Heb)).  The sheep nations will enter the Millennial Kingdom with all Israel that is saved.  But again, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection!”  God is dealing with both individuals and with nations.  The ways of the LORD are just, and He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Beer Sheva has a very significant history in the Bible.  First of all, Beer Sheva received its name from Abraham, and then confirmed by Isaac.  Jacob also lived there.  Hagar and Ishmael lived there, and YHVH God blessed them there, and gave them a hope in Him.  And there is more; but one thing which occurred in Beer Sheva has had negative repercussions until today.  In 1Sam 8, we read how the prophet and priest, Samuel, had two sons who were judges in Beer Sheva.  But they were corrupt in their character and in their duties.  The Israeli people at that time asked Samuel to give them a king like the Gentiles have!  YHVH, God of Israel, told Samuel that the people were not rejecting Samuel, but Him from being their King and Judge.  From that time, Israel as a nation has not accepted YHVH, who chose them for His own special people, to be either their King or God.  They have preferred to be like the Gentiles, the heathen; but praise the Lord, He will not let them be so completely! (Ezek 20:32)  When Jesus the Messiah came, He came to restore the Kingdom of God back to Israel – into their hearts — and to establish His kingdom over the other nations as well.  We learn from the New Testament, that the Jewish people (of whom I am also) did not want ‘this Man’ to rule over us. (Lk 19:14; Jn 19:15)  When Joshua told the people that he and his household would serve YHVH, the people said they would too.  But Joshua told them that they could not, because YHVH is a holy and jealous God, and the people still had their idols!

So until Jesus returns to forever establish God’s Kingdom over Israel and the nations, the Great Commission to take the gospel to all peoples and nations to make disciples of Jesus – to have the Kingdom of God in their hearts  — who already has all authority in Heaven and on Earth, remains in force.  This is the power which the Holy Spirit gives us, to be witnesses to Jesus (Acts 1:8; Rom 1:16); and God is so determined to save as many as possible, He has not left it to us – the Church – to finish the work (which we apparently cannot do), but He will also send out His angels to proclaim the everlasting gospel to all who dwell on the Earth before He pours out His wrath upon His enemies and those of His people. (Rev 14:6-7)

I want our confidence to be in the Word of God – in the Scriptures – and not in the wisdom of man, including my own, whatever I may have.  We will look at some passages from different books in the Bible which speak of Israel’s salvation and of the Gentile nations coming under the rule of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel.  It is your responsibility, if you have any uncertainties, to search the Scriptures yourselves to see if what I am saying – or how I am putting passages together – is true or not.

One of the main things that we want to pay attention to is that these things have not yet happened.  The Lord Jesus Christ has told us that He did not come to annul the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.  Heaven and Earth will not pass away until all is fulfilled, during the Millennial Kingdom! (Mt 5:17-18)

Is 11:1-13   the Son of David (the netzer) who will be Judge and King (Is 33:22) in Israel and over the nations; peace amongst the animals and between animals and humans; no more war as the Earth will be full of the knowledge of YHVH; Israel will have peace and become the head (first-born) nation under Messiah’s rule

Ezek 47:21-23   division of the inheritance in the land to the tribes, including non-Israelis (Gentiles) having an inheritance with the children of Israel

Zech 14:16-20   All nations will come up to worship YHVH in Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles during the Millennial Kingdom, with punishment from Him for those who do not do so.  Even the most simple and ordinary things will be holiness to YHVH!

Rev 7   the sealing of the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel, plus an innumerable multitude from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues who have all come out of the great tribulation, who will be in God’s presence and serve the Lamb forever

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!

LETTER TO MAYORS ITZHAK RAGER AND RUVIK DANILOVITCH

26 August 1991;
4 October 2009

Shalom,

I have only recently taken the opportunity from personal interest only to peruse the Renewal and Development Plan for Beer Sheva and the Negev, which was presented in three parts in 1989.  Even though I may be late, I did notice that public involvement would be restricted to dialogue, and I do not know whether the plan has been accepted as proposed, or whether recent developments related to aliyah necessitated any substantial changes.  Therefore, I am taking the liberty to write to you now.  We do notice and appreciate the beautification works being done and the much needed additional sidewalks.

My wife and I immigrated ten (28) years ago from the United States, and have since become a family of five (six).  After arriving in Israel, we traveled around the country, having Netanya as a base, and we actually chose to live in Beer Sheva.  The reasons were that Beer Sheva seemed to us an Israeli, Middle Eastern, non-touristy city, located geographically in the center of the land, with a good climate.  The moderate size of Beer Sheva (90,000 pop.) suited us.  The university, hospital, and music conservatory give it a certain quality of being a “city”.  Even though we rarely (at that time in 1991) have practical use for any of these particular facilities, we were and are glad for their presence here and the type of persons which they would help to attract to the area.

The high density population strains the existing (1991) infrastructure and municipal services outlets, which were not designed for today’s norms.  The increasing number of cars presents increasing logistical problems.  The parking situation in the Old City is difficult at best, and poor drainage during the rainy season makes auto, pedestrian, and bicycle passage at intersections very unpleasant.  The traffic flow in and around the main post office, Migdal Sheva, the Kanion, and central bus station is congested in a high pedestrian center, with difficult access especially to the P.O. and even to the Kanion parking area at peak hours.

The location of the Kanion is excellent – if it were not for the fact that it is right next to the traditional commercial district, which has, of course, suffered severely, requiring, as your plan indicates, reconstruction and renewal (which was already apparent).  While we from necessity utilize the Kanion, it seems that with that same money from the city’s sources of revenues and benefactors, much could have been done to enhance the Old City– both from the perspective of the resident and also of the visitor and tourist.  As experience teaches in every place, when the downtown is “abandoned”, the lower elements of society move in.  Beer Sheva is not nor will be an exception.  The highly restrictive parking scheme (then, but still today around the Lev Ha’Ir section) only further discourages normal daytime commercial activity downtown.

The findings of the Renewal and Development report clearly show Beer Sheva to be historically, from Abraham (who named the place 4000 years ago) until now a regional center of significant importance for administration, justice, and commerce (and, sadly, later for idolatry) for the Negev as a whole, and as a departure point to “greener pastures”.  This is confirmed by both fact and perception.  Wonderful!  Let us work in Beer Sheva to enhance it with this natural reality in mind, rather than resisting it and allowing dissatisfaction, greed, envy, pride, and ambition to impose themselves upon us in order to lure us to become what apparently is not the primary purpose of this city and its location.  Instead of chasing after “becoming a national city” and losing our proper character and contribution, let us look and see that, by fulfilling the place and status we have been given (but perhaps not willing to accept or receive), we do in effect become a national city (a city of the nation) in that the country and nation benefit, and we ourselves prosper in our own natural and appropriate domain.

A healthy person requires each and all of his/her members [of the body] to do what its purpose and function is in a cooperative manner, and a healthy person is a benefit to itself and to others.  This is true physically and psychologically, and applies equally to cities and countries, which are peopled by many and diverse individual persons.  The character of a people or of a city is a measure of their ultimate goals, the means employed to attain them, and the willingness and determination to see it through.  If pubs, clubs, restaurants with pornographic menus and videos, noise into the night disturbing those who live in the vicinity – if these are considered vital to make Beer Sheva vibrant and productive – then surely know that this will feed on itself and grow (but not in good health!), and the City of the Patriarchs will revert to being a lawless, bandit town, and we will undermine the very objectives you claim to desire, or else attain them by unjustifiable means without any real satisfaction or peace.

Another significant point noted by the committee is the importance of training and educating our children to become good citizens and members of the society.  It is mentioned that this responsibility falls principally on the educational system.  This has come by default, for, in truth, the primary responsibility (and so accountability) for bringing up children rightly lies with the parents.  The educational system can and should provide a setting for promoting and reinforcing the underlying values of the community and nation, as well as providing instruction and training which helps promote good works and bonding of the numerous members of the society through developing mutual relationships of responsibility and accountability for one another and for the larger body politic.  It is the family, however, which forms the fundamental social unit, and as this is undermined – whether by design or not – so will be also the cohesion of the society:  it will become more and more dysfunctional.

It is quite clear that discipline in homes in Israel is lacking generally, and this manifests itself in the schools, in the “streets”, in the IDF, in the government at all levels, and in the religious bodies and practices – in other words, in the entire social fabric.  Many of those in these positions of authority and influence have themselves not learned from proper role models or from self-control (self-governance).  To encourage mothers of young children in particular to work outside her primary sphere — of service and influence for helping to build, develop, and promote the foundational parent-child relationship and training — and rather transferring this privilege and right to day-care centers, is not to promote or develop the welfare of the person or of the community or persons.

I have worked for the past 15 years (at the time this letter was written) in computer-based companies, in both managerial and clerical positions.  I have learned that computers can be excellent tools to serve in numerous fields of operation; my experience also shows that they all too easily and quickly become the masters, subjugating the people and companies, and even some homes.  Your development plan calls for the intensifying of efforts to computerize the schools all the way down to elementary levels.  This greatly disturbs me, for at this early and young formative period, we will be taking from our children a vital part of learning to think and to reason (even simple basic arithmetic when calculators are permitted to early).  they will “develop” with a greater affinity for mechanical communication and functions rather than for human (personal) requirements on an individual and societal level.  We will produce hybrids with no life in themselves to reproduce after their kind.  Rather than renewing and developing Beer Sheva, we will actually accelerate her decline in a truer sense.

I understand that the focus of the studies and proposals is on the Jewish population, but Beer Sheva also lends itself to being an area of encouragement and hope for the indigenous Arab (especially Bedouin) population, which ought not be overlooked or ignored.

Without knowing our purpose as human beings or as a city, it is like groping in the dark to fulfill our calling:  we cannot see the way and so go astray – whether from ignorance or from stubbornness.  Admittedly, there are longstanding and deep-rooted problems, producing uncertainty, even despair, and beyond our capabilities to manage them.  Most of the difficulties we have brought on ourselves; some have been inherited; others simply given to us.  There are no simple solutions.  It is appealing to avoid the real issues and to give our attention on diversions.  How we deal with and learn to overcome our circumstances will characterize Beer Sheva and the people who have positions of accountable responsibility, and those who have talents and skills and other qualities to contribute and invest.

Surely Beer Sheva and the Negev have a vital place in Israel’s history – past, present, and future.  What we do in the present will partly determine whether we are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by ethnic heritage only, or whether, more importantly and hopeful, we are also their children by faith.  Beer Sheva and the Negev have a place in the Glory of Israel, for His prophets tell us that the desert shall bloom and blossom as a rose – but not apart from or without Him!  Let us not despise Him nor His covenants, but turn back to Him in true repentance and faith in His sufficient provision for atonement, and we shall see that our personal relationship with our God, YHVH God of our Fathers, is the key to our own renewal and development.  His rest and joy and peace and love awaits us, along with the fulfillment of His renewal and development plan for Beer Sheva!

Respectfully,
Howard M. Bass

P. S.  I hope you will excuse my use of English.  While my Hebrew is sufficiently functional, it is not up to this letter.  Thank-you.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN ISRAEL – 18 Nov 2006

Almost eight years ago, our congregation was attacked by up to 1000 religious Jews, in which they succeeded to prevent us from worshipping God together on that Shabbat.  Nearly one year ago, on the day before Christmas and Hanukkah, we were attacked again by up to 500 religious Jews, who prevented us from conducting two baptisms but could not stop us from eventually worshipping the Lord together, even it was three hours later.  When I say “religious” Jews, let us remember our teaching on “k’ilu” (as IF) and on the fear of YHVH God.  It’s written in James that if anyone thinks himself to be religious but does not bridle his own tongue, he deceives his own heart and his religion is useless.

There is a law in the State of Israel granting all persons full liberty of conscience and the free exercise of their forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals.  Many provisions of Israeli law are intended to protect holy places and sites that serve for prayers and other religious purposes.  It is an offense under penal law to cause damage to any place of worship or sacred objects of any religion with the purpose of affronting the religion, or offend the religious sentiments, of any class of persons.  There are penal sanctions for trespass on places of worship.  This property where we meet should fall into that category, and has been recognized de facto, at least, for close to a century.

Ex 5:1-2   …Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharoah, “Thus says YHVH God of Israel, ‘Let My people go, that they may celebrate Me in the wilderness’.”  And Pharoah said, “Who is YHVH, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?!  I do not know YHVH, nor will I let Israel go!”

Lk  1:68-75   Blessed is YHVH God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the lovingkindness to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham:  to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

Just this week (Thursday) I saw a notice by Messianic believers that they will go to the Israeli Supreme Court next month.  The issue is over the right to citizenship by the husband of an Israeli-born believer.  For over four years, the husband has been denied citizenship because he is a believer.  The Ministry of Interior received information about him through Yad L’Achim, the anti-missionary group which is also active in the troubles inAradand in the activities against the congregation last year and earlier.

Last year I went to listen to the head of Yad L’Achim and to the chief Sephardic rabbi of Beer Sheva as they spoke to a crowd in a synagogue in one of the Beer Sheva neighborhoods.  They consider Christian money “defiled” and that every motive of believers in Yeshua is to convert the Jew and so, to their darkened mind, condemn the Jews to judgment.

They consider us as Amalek, and therefore even YHVH God Himself is against us, to wipe out our name and memory forever.  This is exactly what the Jews say about Jesus – even if not consciously aware of it – when they call Yeshua “Yeshu”.  These groups of Jews call us worse than Hamas, Hizbollah, or even the Nazis:  they can only kill our bodies, but we take their souls.

It is important for us to know and to remember that Jesus and the apostles warned us that these things would be for those who live godly in Christ.  For the sake of the salvation of the gentiles and their nations, Israel and the Jewish people are presently enemies of the gospel.  This is the sovereign wisdom of God in His perfect plan of redeeming and saving sinners from every nation, including Israel.  The Creator of the Heavens and Earth is allowing evil to be clearly shown to be evil, for sin to be clearly exposed as sinful, so that salvation is clearly seen to be of His grace and mercy, and His judgments altogether righteous against sin and workers of iniquity.  God is seeking from us patience and long-suffering until He completes His plan, and for us to be willing to suffer for His sake and the gospel’s, that others will see that there is a God – invisible in the heavens – who lives within us.

Our battle is not against these people themselves, but against the enemy of their souls who is blinding their hearts and has darkened their understanding against the truth.  They have been taught from birth not to believe in Jesus, and to consider Him the enemy of His own people!  But when the religious leaders, who profess to know God and to be the guardians of the faith, deliberately keep the Word of God from the common people, then they come under the two-edged sword of the Holy Spirit which calls them hypocrites.  Those who profess the keys to the Kingdom neither enter in themselves nor allow others to come through the only way given by the YHVH God of Israel. 

We are truly in a battle for truth and righteousness in this world.  Evolution is put forward as truth against the sure Word of God; a world without Israel is put forth as a means to achieve peace against the sure Word of God; salvation by any means except through the only way which God Himself has declared is sought for against the sure Word of God, who alone justifies the ungodly through faith in the only righteous Man who ever lived and gave His life for unrighteous people.

This war has already been won by Jesus on the cross by His death.  It’s just that most people don’t realize it and are still fighting the old war!  As we are all called into this battle for the glory of God, not all serve in the same units.  Just as in a regular military, there are many units and soldiers serving in varying capacities.  A law was established in Israelby David, and therefore transferable to the Church with Jesus in authority, that gave to all who participated in the battle the spoils of victory.  All includes those on the front lines as well as those taking care of the supplies.  So, too, we may be participating in different units or positions, but if we are giving ourselves to the fight, then we can share in the care for the wounded as well as rejoice in beating back the forces of darkness and evil. 

Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth.  Salt retards corruption and decay, and also helps to heal wounds.  He also says that we should have salt in ourselves and be at peace with one another, as much as is possible with us.  Salt that has lost its saltiness is good for nothing but to be thrown out.  The Lord also calls us the light of the world.  The manner in which we care even for those who are opposed to us should reflect positively upon the goodness of our Father in Heaven because of our faith in Jesus, God’s unique Son.  Our ultimate victory is not going to be seen until the resurrection of the just at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to judge all who oppose Him and His Kingdom.  But even now, we can overcome the world by our faith in Him.

We are a small congregation.  In all Israel, the number of born-again believers is a small minority.  Salvation is the Lord’s and so is the battle!  Jesus was put outside the camp as a false prophet and blasphemer.  Do we love Him for saving us from God’s wrath?  Are we really willing to be persecuted for our faith in Him?  Let us examine our own motives for why we believe, and ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts as well, so that in the day of trouble and evil, we will do wonders in the Name of our great God and Savior!

We are standing in the faith of the saints before us who strove for their liberty to worship the true God, and especially within Israel, God’s chosen people and land, in this city of the fathers, to whom YHVH swore that we would worship Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness. 

2Thes 1

BEER SHEVA ON THE HIGHWAY – Nov 2005

Covenant History:  Past, Present, Future

–the first covenant between the chosen of God with those outside His covenant was between Abraham  and the Philistine king, Avimelech (Gen 21:27).  BEER SHEVA was named by Abraham on the basis of that agreement, which has held up remarkably well through the centuries in which Jews have lived there.    Isaac also made (confirmed) the same covenant with Avimelech, and the name of the city as Beer Sheva.

Hagar and Ishmael were blessed, encouraged, given a future and a hope by YHVH God in Beer Sheva   (Gen 21:15-21).  Like Hagar his mother, Ishmael’s wife was Egyptian.

–Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer Sheva and called on the name of YHVH, the Everlasting God   (Gen 21:33).

–Abraham returned to Beer Sheva after enacting the faith he had in the Word of YHVH, God Most High, when he demonstrated his willing to sacrifice his unique son, Isaac, in Jerusalem.         (These last two points are simple weapons of truth for us against the lies and deception of Islam.)

–Isaac built an altar to YHVH in Beer Sheva.  Jacob worshipped at that altar on his way toEgypt.

–Beer Sheva is called the City of the Fathers; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all lived there.

–Israelis referred to as being ‘from Dan to Beer Sheva’ (Eilat is not actually within the borders).

–Israel asked for a king like the gentiles, rejecting YHVH God as being their King.  Yeshua came to restore the Kingdom of God to Israel, and to the rest of the world, which He made.

–Beer Sheva burned by the Assyrian king Sennacharib in 701 BC.  It was not rebuilt as a Jewish city   until 1948, when the re-established State of Israel captured it from the Egyptians.

–The breakthrough for the restoration of the Promised Land back to the Jewish people came on   31 Oct 1917 during WW1.  Gentiles from  the farthest ends of the Earth – the ANZACs with the British – defeated the Turks and the Ottoman Muslim Empire in Beer Sheva, paving the way for capturingJerusalemand for the plan to establish a Jewish homeland in theLandofIsrael(then called Palestine).

–The Sepharadim (descendants of Spanish-speaking Jews who were expelled fromSpain during the   Inquisition) are beginning to return to the Negev (southerndesertofIsrael, including Beer Sheva; Obadiah 20)

–The Tribe of Simeon will inherit his portion of the land, which includes Beer Sheva, during the Millennial reign of Yeshua (Ezek 47:13 – 48:29)

Prayers and Intercessions for Beer Sheva

–We are in the world, and God commands us to pray for and to bless those in the society, for He loves them.
–We are all priests in Christ, and we are called to intercede on behalf of the Lord for all nations, and to reflect His qualities.
–It is a principle that the LORD works with and through His people in order to bring knowledge of Him to others and so to show mercy and to bless a city,  region, a nation.  (see Gen. 12:1-3; Rom. 10:11-15; Ps. 144:15)
–We are exhorted to pray for kings and all who are in authority in order both to bless our own lives and to glorify God through the salvation of others (1Tim. 2:1-6).
–In all things God gives reasons and promises and hope to do His will and to participate in both the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and also in the fellowship of His sufferings, as well as to partake of His holiness.  Even now God is training us to rule with Messiah in His kingdom to come.

 

Viewing Beer Sheva from God’s perspective 

 Gen. 21:31-33  —  named Beer Sheva by Abraham, who planted a tamarisk tree and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God

Gen. 21:12-20  —  Hagar and Ishmael encouraged and comforted and blessed in the wilderness of B.S., after being cast out of Abraham’s and Sarah’s house
Gen. 22:19  —  after offering up Isaac, Abraham and his seed were blessed by God, and Abraham with his son returned to and lived in B.S.
Gen. 26:23-33  —  YEHOVAH confirmed His covenant to Isaac in B.S.,  who built an altar and dug a well.  Isaac’s servants found a well with water (“revival”) after the Philistines had filled in (“contention and quenching”) all the wells which Abraham had dug, and  the place was confirmed as Beer Sheva.
Gen. 28:10  —  Jacob also had lived in B.S.
Gen. 46:1,5  —  on the way to Egypt with his sons and their families, Jacob (Israel) sacrificed to God in B.S. and received revelation, guidance, comfort, and hope
1Sam. 3:20  —  all Israel reckoned from Dan to Beer Sheva
1Sam. 8  —  Samuel’s sons were unjust judges in B.S., resulting in Israel asking for a king to rule over them, just like the gentiles (other nations)
1Kings 19:3-8  —  Elijah ran for his life from Jezebel, and in his despair found rest, direction, comfort in B.S. from YHVH
Is. 35:1-6; 51:3  —  the desert will bloom and blossom as a rose and become as the Garden of YHVH, even as Eden

Beer Sheva was destroyed as a city in 701 B.C. by Sennacharib in the days of King Hezekiah. (2Kg 18:13)
After the return from Babylon, Beer Sheva was also re-settled. (Neh 11:27-30)
In l948 the city again became a Jewish Israeli city.

Beer Sheva
–a place of divine revelation, comfort, direction, worship
–a place of praise (wells of living water), thanksgiving, gladness, life, sources
–seat of government representing all of the south of Israel:  intended to be a seat of righteousness and judgment (justice)
–judicial, administrative, commercial, and religious center

A Closer Examination of Amos 5:5; 8:14 : “The Way (Manner) of B.S.”

–Amos preached and prophesied during time of divided kingdom – Judah and Israel – between c. 760-750 B.C.
–concerned with unrighteousness and injustice in the society, even while people practiced their religion without regard for the LORD’s love of lovingkindness (grace), righteousness, and justice
–a separation of “church and state” in the lives of the people, thereby severing the connection between faith, religion, worship, and daily life

1Kings 12:28-29  —  false worship instituted at Beth-El and Dan to draw people away from Jerusalem, as well as to exalt an alternative way and place to worship God
2Kings 23:8  —  Beer Sheva, with its wells from the Patriarchs, became a center for many to venerate some shrine (holy site) and to make pilgrimage there.  [see 2Chron. 19:4; 34:6,7,37 for kingly initiative to restore true worship; also 2Chron. 24:1 (the mother of King Joash was from B.S.)]
     –thus from Dan to B.S., the land and the people strayed from the one place and manner to worship and to offer sacrifices to the one true living God, and in doing so became less united as a people, and positive influences of the fear of the LORD within the society broke down.
     –“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem….” (Ps. 122:6)  From Jerusalem YEHOVAH God has determined to place His Name, to bless Israel (including B.S. and the Negev) and the world.
     —Superstition:  vain (unsalted) faith (demon worship; pagan god worship; fear of demons)
        –may be reverent, but without knowledge (ignorance)
        –generally a practice of religion through slavish fear and of strong cultural or family traditions, not readily accepting the truth which sets one free and sanctifies.  (The Father is seeking worshippers in spirit and in truth).
     –Hardness of Judah (the southern kingdom and royal tribe) to the Word of God  ( 2Kings 22:13; Amos 2:4 —   B.S. was located in Judah after Simeon’s tribal inheritance was absorbed by it.);  also true in Jesus’ day (John 7:1; 11:7-8)

 Beer Sheva Region Today

–superstitious (e.g., shrine of Baba Sali in Netivot; “holy sites”)
–strong family bonding through traditions and customs
–heavy folk Islamic influences through Ottoman history up till 1917, and through the many Jews here who immigrated from North Africa, as well as, of course, from the local Bedouin tribes
–strong Sephardic and tribal Judaism (e.g., Ethiopians) and “ethnic pride” vis-a-vis Ashkenazic, European, Western Jews and Judaism
–physical separation from mainstream of life in Israel, so tending towards isolationism, self-sufficiency, sense of being neglected or forgotten (Ben-Gurion’s vision not carried through:  “out-of-sight, out-of-mind”)
–weak influence on physical and spiritual development of Negev due both to external and internal factors within Israel; desert research and economic forces (including large immigration of Russian-speakers) motivating present development plans

Spiritual  Warfare Strategy for Beer Sheva

–oppose prevailing spirit with the opposite spirit
     –overcome evil with good
     –love your enemies
     –the proud are resisted by God; the humble are exalted

–Examine and judge ourselves, admitting, confessing, and repenting of sins – receiving and granting forgiveness through the shed blood of Messiah – and then act!