Life from the dead

editor - 21 April 2023

A lot is happening in and around Israel at the moment. There are many reasons for concern. The political crisis in Israel; deep divisions between different Jewish groups and traditions; increasing Palestinian terror; growing hostility in the UN to the Israeli “occupation”; brewing conflicts with Lebanon (Hezbollah), Gaza (Hamas), Syria and Iran.

But all of this can distract us from the fact that something miraculous is happening before our very eyes. Let’s zoom out and have a look at what is REALLY happening.

Chapter 37 of the book of the prophet Ezekiel speaks of the ‘valley of dry bones’.

In Romans 11, the Jewish theologian Paul picks up on this theme. He explains that when the fulness of the Gentiles has come, the Jewish people will be “grafted” back into “their own olive tree”; he goes on to say that their “acceptance” will “life from the dead”.

Is it possible that Ezekiel received a vision of the modern nation of Israel, that has arisen out of the suffering of the Jewish people for centuries, culminating in the horror of the Shoah?

Is it possible that, over the past 150 years, the Lord has been ‘grafting’ the Jewish people back into the place He has called them to be – physically, geographically, and spiritually?

Surely, modern Israel is proof that God can and does bring “life from the dead”! Exiled, persecuted, marginalized and despised in the diaspora for thousands of years, since the mid-1880s the Jewish people have been coming home.

This restoration of the Jewish people to their rightful place is a wake-up call for the church. As Paul says, God’s mercy and grace towards the Jewish people teach us that we should not be proud, but rather be humble, and praise God. Modern Israel – for all its shortcomings and problems – is a reminder that God alone is sovereign, and that He is preparing the way for the coming of His Messiah.

Just look at the remarkable ceremonies happening in Israel this week and next week.

This past week (17 April in the widely used Gregorian calendar) was Yom HaShoah, the official day of commemoration of the Holocaust, also known as the ‘Shoah’. In the Shoah, six million Jews were slaughtered. European Jewry was almost annihilated.

Next week (24-26 April in the Gregorian calendar), will be two deeply important events:  Yom Hazikaron – Memorial Day, followed immediately by Yom Ha’atzmaut – commemoration of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel in 1948.

Last week, Israel ground to a halt for a two-minute nationwide moment of silence in remembrance of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust as a siren wailed across the country. Vehicles and pedestrians halted on streets and highways as Israelis stood, heads bowed, to remember that a third of the world’s Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and hundreds of thousands of survivors fled to the Jewish state.

Next week, sirens will wail across the country for one minute, marking the fact that since 1860, more than 24,000 soldiers have lost their lives fighting for the existence of the Jewish nation in the land. The civilian terror death toll is over 4,200.

The modern Jewish State of Israel is not the ‘apartheid’ state that many make it out to be. Rather, it is proof of God’s faithfulness to His promises.

The history of the Jewish people shows us that the pathway to life is sacrifice. The Jewish people are literally being restored to life from the dead.

So, this week, as we continue to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us repent of our role as Christians in the horrific persecution of the Jewish people over the centuries, and commit ourselves anew to fight antisemitism and walk alongside the Jewish people in their journey of restoration and “grafting back in” to their own olive tree.

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today

God Forbid we fight at the altar 
Aviel Schneider writes: “The deaths of the fallen soldiers guarantees safety and life for the nation. Young people who defended their homeland, Jews as well as Muslims, Druze and Christians sacrificed their lives so that the nation could live on. Blood had to be sacrificed so that their family members could continue to live in this disputed strip of land. Yom Hazikarom is a day when we all remember those who gave their lives. Israel’s modern existence is like a biblical altar. To live in this land, blood must be shed. This is part of the covenant between God and His people Israel. Nothing comes for free.”
Read more..

“Why did everything come so easy to the enemy?”: The ruthlessness of the Holocaust and the dignity of Jewish resistance
In this poignant and moving article, Alex Ryvchin reflects on the spirit of those Jews who resisted the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto uprising: he concludes that “the resistors speak to us now. They tell us that they lived, did not succumb, they did not go quietly, they did not give up. They teach us what it means to have courage, to be strong even when faced with an unstoppable force. To see a world and a destiny beyond our own lives. And we, even here, so far in space and time from the scenes of the crimes, honour them, remember them — we speak their names and we marvel at their greatness.”
Read more..

Honor the principles of Israel’s Declaration of Independence
Yechezkel Moskowitz writes: “In 1948, the State of Israel was founded on principles deeply rooted in Jewish history, faith and tradition. Israel’s Declaration of Independence cites the significance of the Land of Israel as ‘the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped.’… As we continue to build our nation, we must find ways to embrace our shared heritage, faith and values. We must strive to create a society that respects diversity while also recognizing the importance of our spiritual and historical roots. The soul of Israel depends on our ability to unite as a people, bridging the gaps between secular and religious, tradition and progress.”
Read more..

The Absolute Low – The Book of RUTH with Johannes Gerloff #13
Naomi is finished. She has reached the absolute low point of her life – familial, economic, spiritual.


Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the LORD was on me, and He brought me out by the Spiritof the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

Then He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

Then He said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, My people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.”

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