(Our congregation was attacked by over 1000 ultra-orthodox religious Jewish men, women, and children the following Shabbat after this message was given.)
I have been preaching recently on the need and responsibility we each and all have to dig up the clogged wells of our inner lives in order for the water of life in Christ Jesus to flow freely in us and through us for blessing and fruitfulness unto God our Father. We have a need and responsibility for knowing Him and the Lord Jesus both differently and freshly. This leads us to sing a new song.
Today I want us to consider together a picture which the Holy Spirit gives us through the prophets, and our response to it as those called by God to stand by faith in Him to fulfill His promises – even to Beer Sheva and the Negev.
Read: Is. 41:17-20
Are you thirsty? Thirsty for the living water which Yeshua promises to give to drink to all who whole-heartedly come to Him and glorify Him who is seated at the right hand of the Father!? Do you consider yourself poor and needy for more of God, for more of Jesus in your life and in the life of the congregation? YHVH, God of Israel, says that He will answer and will not forsake those who trust in Him to satisfy their thirst. Indeed He will give even more than we could think to ask for.
Many of us are like cactus and like camels – suited to living in the desert, in dry lands. We do not need water all the time, but we can manage with and preserve the relatively little water that is. I really think that to make it in Beer Sheva, we need to be like this, and God in His wisdom knows what He is doing when He has called us or sent us to live here. He, who knows us better than we know ourselves, has seen in our personality and character something that He knows can endure in a place like this: it is in our nature, and here we can glorify His Name. (As I think about it, it may also be a place to chasten some of His children who have forgotten Him in wetter circumstances, or who have forgotten that YHVH is also God of the arid zones!).
But even so, the desert is not God’s idea of the Promised Land! The desert is a place where He displays His “skills” and His love as a Shepherd – even as the Good and Great Shepherd. It is a place where He tries and improves our faith and our willingness to humble ourselves to walk obediently and gladly in His ways. It is a place where He makes us ready to enter into the good land which He has promised to those who love Him.
Beer Sheva is the chief city and the capital of the Negev – the wilderness (ערבה) and desert (מדבר) of Israel, and which covers more than 60% of the land. Both physically (geographically) and spiritually, B.S. and the Negev represent the general condition of the whole world, which is mostly a spiritually dry wasteland. God wants to bless the world through fulfilling His promises toIsrael. (Rom 11:11-15) The Negev has a hope and a future by the Word of the LORD spoken through the prophet Isaiah.
Read: Is. 35:1-7
The Holy Spirit urges us here to be strong and courageous, and not to fear, for God will be for us and with us, even as Jesus reassures His disciples. We have a rich heritage here in Beer Sheva, beginning with our father Abraham, embracing Jews and gentiles, and on to the great prophet Elijah receiving sustenance in the time of his great despair. (1Kg 19:3-8) Upon this holy lump, despite present darkness, the sovereign LORD has spoken of a great redemption and future for the wilderness and desert. It shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it.
Looking back to the passage in Is. 41, we notice in v. 19 that the LORD will plant different types of trees in the desert and the wilderness. These are not all trees suited to dry lands, but rather to Lebanon, where there is much rain and coolness. Yet God intends to give such abundance of water in the Negev that even these trees will be able to flourish, and the desert trees will be transformed to thrive with this abundance. Verse 20 states plainly that people will know that YHVH, the Holy One of Israel, has done it.
Brothers and sisters, do we want the Lord Yeshua the Messiah to be glorified here? Are we both thirsty enough ourselves and desirous of God’s glory enough to want Him to give us rain from Heaven to make the Negev like Carmel and Sharon? Do we want the Lord not only to have His cactus plants and camels, but also His cedar trees and cypress, which cannot thrive here except that He pour out the living water of His Spirit of Holiness? Physically, the Negev will have to wait for the Kingdom of God to come to earth at the return of the Lord Jesus toIsrael. Spiritually, God is calling to us to call upon Him to fulfill His purposes in us, the Body of Christ, here…now…that the world will know that we in this small congregation can be witnesses to the truth of Messiah in Jesus: different trees whom God has planted together, united in the Spirit, loving each other, at peace with each other.
Read: Is. 51:1-3
Believe God’s glad tidings for Beer Sheva and the Negev. Our son Tal has a middle name, Shimon, because we believe the Lord’s promise to the children and tribes of Israel that Simeon will inherit his portion of the land which includes Beer Sheva. (Ezek 47 – 48) You who pursue and who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, pray and intercede for our city to become as Eden, the garden of YHVH. Let God give us a new song to sing as we pray and live in the hope of His great and precious promises. Beer Sheva belongs to YHVH! Beer Sheva belongs to the Lord Messiah, Yeshua the Nazarene, King of the Jews! Amen.