Shalom Beloved of Messiah,
On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, one day before the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, one of the panelists on ABC’s The View mocked Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith. The Vice President had made a comment concerning hearing God speak to him. In discussing this topic, Joy Behar said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you.” She went on to comment: “That’s called mental illness.” On a radio show following that program, Franklin Graham said that every believer in Yeshua in the nation should be offended and alarmed by this dangerous, anti-Christian rhetoric that ABC News allowed on national television. We totally agree with him.
One day later, Wednesday, February 14, 2018, a deranged teenager with an assault weapon violently ended the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School only 20 minutes north of our home. M’kaila Brown, a ninth-grade Christian student at the school, was walking down the hallway from her classroom when she heard a voice say, “Turn back.” She was a bit confused at hearing this, but quickly returned to her classroom. And then she heard shots, from the direction in which she had been walking. M’kaila managed to get back to her classroom in time to join a teacher and other students. The teacher locked the door behind them, and then led them to another room within that room, so that they had double protection.
M’kaila’s mother has been quoted as saying that she was so glad that her daughter obeyed THE VOICE OF GOD. It probably saved her life. M’kaila has started a GoFundMe on her father’s Facebook page to raise money to purchase 5,000 wristbands to sell to friends and fellow classmates. They will bear a Scripture verse: Psalm 56:3, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” This verse is very special to me since it is the same one that God gave me after my breast cancer diagnosis in 2012. The wristbands will also say #MSDSTRONG as a sign and testament of strength to all the MSD students who are still going through a difficult, traumatic time. M’kaila plans to take the money that she makes from the sale of the wristbands to her school administrators, to be given to one or more of the victims’ families.
If the Lord lays it on your heart to help M’kaila with her project, you can do so at: gofundme.com/ help-me-fund-bands-for-msd/donate. Most of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are probably not believers in Yeshua. They come from affluent families, both Jewish and Gentile, who may attend religious services, but do not have the HOPE in Yeshua that M’kaila has. They also have no defense against FEAR. We used to read Luke 21:26, and think that it referred to natural end-time disasters and Islamic terrorism. Now we believe that it also includes mass murders of our children: “…men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth…” Fear. There is a lot of it in Parkland, Florida. OUR NEIGHBORS NEED TO HEAR THE VOICE OF GOD saying, “Fear not!” They need to personally experience the love of God that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). They desperately need the comfort of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us in a still, small voice, reminding us of God’s promises: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). “In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:4). “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day” (Psalm 91:5).
Intimacy or Insanity?
Is it mental illness to say that we hear God’s voice? Not according to the Bible! Consider Moses. “Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice (ha-KOHL) of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him” (Numbers 7:89). God spoke to Moses; they had an intimate relationship. Moses was not mentally ill. Neither was Abraham (Genesis 24:7), nor Jacob (Genesis 31:11), nor many others in the Tanach. The God of the Bible speaks to His friends and servants. He continually communicates the importance of both hearing and obeying, using various forms of the Hebrew word shema (sheh-MAH). “Give ear and hear My voice. Listen and hear My speech” (Isaiah 28:23). The Shulamite maiden (the bride) in the Song of Songs longs to hear the voice of her beloved. She cries out, “The voice of my beloved!” ( קול דודי kohl doe-DEE) (Song 2:8). In Song 5:2, she hears him saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one…” Words of love and intimacy. She hears his voice because they are in close relationship.
What about Yeshua? Does He still speak today? The Messiah said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold [the Gentiles], them I must bring and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). Yes, Yeshua promised that believers in Him would hear His voice. This is mental wellness, not mental illness. The words of Yeshua are life to our souls! Every month, for more than forty years, we have asked the Lord the question, “What do You want to say to your children?” The monthly newsletters are the result of HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD, to the best of our ability. We are not talking about an audible voice, although God could speak to us that way if He chose to. He usually speaks in a gentle but clear way to our hearts. He speaks through His Word, the Bible. He speaks through circumstances. He speaks through other people. He can also speak through nature. We believe that the Lord is always speaking. We are not always listening.
When Pilate questioned Yeshua about His kingship, the Lord gave a powerful response, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). In Revelation 3:20 Yeshua makes a promise to those who hear and obey His voice, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Hearing the voice of God is the entryway to a close, loving relationship with Him.
The Voice of God in April
When we looked at the Hebrew calendar for the month of April, we saw that Israel, the Church, and Messianic Jews worldwide are remembering and celebrating major events this month. April 1, 2018, is a spiritually significant day for Israel, the Church, and Messianic Jews. It is the second day of Passover, which begins with the first Passover Seder on the night of Friday, March 30, 2018. That means that this year the two calendars (Hebrew and Gregorian) coincide. “Good Friday” is the night of the Passover Seder, and “Easter Sunday” falls on the day after the Sabbath when the first sheaf of the barley harvest was waived and accepted by God (Leviticus 23:10-14). This occurred during the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread. We hear the Lord speaking loud and clear, pointing out that Jesus was crucified during Passover because He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. His sinless body rested on Shabbat because He is the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8). He rose from the dead on the day the firstfruits of the harvest were waived before the LORD. “…on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it” (Leviticus 23:11). That explains 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But now Christ (Messiah) is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” THE VOICE OF GOD PROCLAIMS: The resurrection is intrinsically associated with the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The separation occurred at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., but the truth is the truth: The death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua happened during a Jewish feast. We believe its full meaning is revealed in that context.
The most important message, however, even more than the Jewish root being obvious this year, is the fact that Yeshua is alive! He is King forever. Only a fool doubts the reality of a living God. Here is a good verse for April 1st (April Fool’s Day) which some have called the “Atheist’s Holiday”: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 53:1). God is alive and in control and is trying to get our attention. We believe He spoke to Anne Graham Lotz when, at her father’s funeral service, she said: “The Lord is saying, ‘Wake up Church! Wake up World!'”
April 12, 2018: Yom HaShoa
Yom HaShoa (Yohm Ha SHOW-ah) is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Just as God is real, the Holocaust was real, even though there are still people who deny that it actually happened! Yet, the numbers of those who suffered unimaginable cruelty and died horrific deaths in the concentration camps under German control during World War II are thoroughly documented. Six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, were tortured, subjected to cruel experimentation, and dehumanized in ways that can only be labeled as “demonic.” Six of the death camps were located in Poland: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Over 2.9 million (90.9%) of the prewar Jewish population was annihilated. Greece lost the second largest percentage: 86.6% of their Jews were murdered.
WE HEAR GOD SAYING: Hatred and lies fueled the Holocaust, and they still exist today. These ungodly forces take human form, as they did in the form of the World War II Nazis, but they are first and foremost spiritual. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
The big lie that Hitler believed and proclaimed was that there was a superior Aryan race. The Jews were an obstruction to Aryan dominance. Nazi hatred of the Jews rested on the Nazi distorted worldview of a racial struggle. While the Nazis also persecuted Gypsies, Social Democrats, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, the mentally ill, and any opponent of Nazism, the Jews were the only group singled out for total systematic annihilation.
Without God, without the Truth, man is capable of the most heinous deeds. The “unthinkable happened,” as Golda Meir once said. May we follow the example of the courageous individuals and groups who risked their lives to save Jewish people. There were “Righteous Gentiles” like Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg, Irena Sendler, and Corrie ten Boom. There were groups in several countries in Europe: Joop Westerweel’s group in the Netherlands, Zegota in Poland, and the Assisi underground in Italy. (Only 17.3% of the prewar Jewish population of Italy perished.)
We must never forget. We must confront evil forcibly and uncompromisingly wherever and whenever it appears. WE HEAR THE VOICE OF GOD saying through His Word: “You who love the LORD, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10). Again in Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil,” and Amos 5:15, “Hate evil, love good.” Please seek the Lord to find out what this means for you personally.Consider joining Israelis all over the nation of Israel on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at noon for a time of silence in honor of those who perished in the Holocaust. We have been in Jerusalem on Yom HaShoa when every vehicle stops and people stand at attention in silence for two minutes as a siren sounds. They stop to remember. So should we.
April 18, 2018: Yom HaZikaron
Yom HaZikaron (Yohm Ha-ZEE-kah-ROAN) is Israel’s Memorial Day. Another siren is sounded on this day in remembrance of the Jewish soldiers killed while defending the Land of Israel, as well as in remembrance of the victims of terror who lost their lives simply because they were Jews. Remembering is a very Hebraic concept. God tells His people to “remember” throughout the Scriptures. Remember in Hebrew is zachor (za-KHOR).
This year, we learned about a group of Israeli soldiers who arrived in Israel shortly after surviving the horrors of the Holocaust. They were known as the Gahal (Gah-HAHL). In a very moving article by Ariel Sharon (printed in the Jerusalem Post in 1998), Mr. Sharon honors the memory of these soldiers. They came to Israel across sealed borders, in boats bearing what were labeled “illegal” immigrants, having been placed in internment camps in Cyprus by the British. From there they were shipped directly to the front lines in Israel.
These survivors had dreamed of reaching safety in the Land of Promise, but instead ended up defending their newborn state. Ariel Sharon called them “firebrands snatched from the furnace.” “It was as if they understood that this was yet another stage in the final battle for Jewish existence.” A mass grave was dug for their company in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery. Four of the fifty-two soldiers buried there were nameless. No one knew who they were! But Ariel Sharon remembered some of them, including those who were not killed, but seriously injured. He concludes by saying, “They, the Gahal soldiers, arrived unknown, fought unknown, fell unknown, and many of them have remained anonymous until today. In my mind, they were the real heroes.”
WE HEAR GOD SAYING: “I know their names, just as I know the names of the ‘unknown heroes’ of the faith—the intercessors, the faithful behind-the-scenes servants, the defenders of the faith. I know them, I remember them, and they will one day be richly rewarded!”
April 19, 2018: Yom Ha’Atzma’ut
Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (Yohm Ha Atz-mah-OOT) is Israeli Independence Day. This is Israel’s 70th birthday year. The Nation of Israel was born in a day on Iyyar 5, 5708, of the Hebrew calendar, (corresponding to May 14, 1948) in fulfillment of the Bible prophecy, “Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” (Isaiah 66:8 NIV) As soon as Israel was granted status as an independent nation, it was attacked by five Arab armies that were many times greater than the Jewish army of the newborn state. Against all odds, the Israelis won the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, even though many of the new Jewish soldiers didn’t even know enough Hebrew to understand their commanders’ instructions! But God! He fought for His People and the Land He had promised them.
In one of the Maoz (2016) newsletters, Shira Sorko-Ram made an important comment: “Israel is the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and language as it did 3,000 years ago.” Miraculous, prophetic, and supernatural. Another prophetic act is about to occur: the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. This move is a recognition of Bible truth—that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Nation of Israel. The move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is scheduled for May, to coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday. Historic! Thank you, President Trump, for keeping that campaign promise. Our country will be blessed by this bold move, according to the promise in Genesis 12:3.
We hear THE VOICE OF THE LORD saying, “Rejoice with Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:10; 65:18).
Listening for His voice,
P.S. April 29, 2018: Pesach Sheini (2nd chance for a Passover Seder if you missed it!) (Num. 9:10-12). THE VOICE OF GOD says: God is a God of second chances.
P.P.S. We are discontinuing the sale of our postcards and have enclosed one as a “Love Gift.” One final word: Joy Behar did call Vice President Pence to apologize. She did not apologize to the millions of Christians who watch ABC, as Pence had requested. ABC received more than 30,000 phone calls from viewers angry over the anti-Christian bigotry.