The Jerusalem Prayer List - December 22 2011
by Joseph Shulam
Hanukkah is the Feast of Lights. All Biblical Holiday are also connected to history and to events that actually happened in Israeli history. There is another element that is very common in our holidays and that is the victory of the underdog, the small, the weak, and the oppressed, over the strong, the aggressive, and the big and the abusive. The prophet Isaiah spoke this paradigm in the following words:
"Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth. . . " (Is. 40:4) In Luke 3:5, John the Baptist also brings this text as a prelude to what he is going to be doing in his ministry. Hanukkah is actually a kind of opposite holiday to Feast of Purim. In Purim the Persians wanted to destroy the Jewish people physically and exterminate them from the Persian Empire. In Hanukkah the king of the Seleucid Greeks, Antiochus Epiphanes IV, wanted to destroy the Jewish people spiritually and force them to worship idols and assimilate them into the Greek Culture. The Greeks were strong. They had a very organized and well trained seasoned and big Army. The Jews were oppressed by the Greeks and the temple in Jerusalem was desecrated and pig was offered on the holy alter, the valuables of the temple were plundered, and the people of Israel were forced to worship idols. The whole nation was in shock and none had the courage to do something about it except one family from the village of Modein. Modein today is a town built on the old remains of the Ancient Hashmonite village of Modein. This family of Levites had an old Father and five boys. They raised up against the Greeks and refused to worship Idols and stood against the strong Greek Army of Antiochus IV and eventually freed Jerusalem from the Greeks and purified the Temple and celebrated that re-dedication and purification of the Temple. I would like to share with you Psalm 145 and show that it is always God's nature to stand with those who are oppressed and mistreated and abused and the suffering. We can all learn from this Psalm something about the nature of God. If we are oppressed and depressed and downtrodden we can be encouraged and filled with hope that God's deliverance will come to us soon. If we are the oppressors and the persecutors we should also know that God's deliverance for the poor and oppressed is coming and for those who are evil doers the judgment will be swift.
"A Praise of David. 1 I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. 5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. 6 Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. 7 They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. 10 All Your works shall praise You, O LORD, and Your saints shall bless You. 11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power, 12 To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations. 14 The LORD upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. 16 You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. 18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. 20 The LORD preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. 21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD, and all flesh shall bless His holy name Forever and ever." (Psalm 145)
You can see from this Psalm that God is standing with those who fall, and with those who are bowed down because of suffering and oppression. God will take care of the suffering and the first shall be last and the last shall be first. This is what happened in Hanukkah and we believe that God's nature has not changed and today also He is the same and stands with those who have fallen and are downtrodden. So, my dear brothers if you remember this principle you ought to be encouraged if you experience persecution and suffering and are put down by the world around you. If you are strong and you use your strength and position to oppress others and take advantage of them you ought to know that there will always raise up someone from the most unexpected place and challenge you and win the battle by God's righteousness. It is best to walk in the fear of the Lord and not be arrogant because God will bring down every high mountain and exalt ever valley. God is our great equalizer and we must not forget that either when we are down or when we are up. Praise be to our God!
We continue to pray for the funding for our building project. Many have responded some with 1.30 dollars and others with 1000 dollars and all the contributions are welcomed by us and only evaluated by God Himself. God evaluates the gifts of love that people give with totally different eyes than we do. For God the two cents that the widow gave were much more than the 1000 dollars that the rich Pharisee gave into the Temple coffers.
Please continue to pray for Netivyah, for the Food Distribution program (when we cooked we called it the "Soup-Kitchen" now we don't cook any more so we are calling it "Food Distribution Program." This week we received a very high evaluation from the city's social welfare department and the social workers. They say that ours is the most gracious and kind and generous program in the city of Jerusalem. People really appreciate what we do and the way we do it and the good attitude and warm reception that we have for those who come to get food. We have also distributed may be half a ton of clothing this last months and people appreciate the clothing also. We received some new clothing that people bought on sale in the United States and people just loved it. We also received some simple eye glasses and those too were very welcomed by the older generation.
Prayer for the sick among us is so very important. Last week I reported to you that Mr. Ishiida in Japan is out of his sick bed and walking and attending bible study and returned to his lifestyle. This is such a wonderful thing and a great testimony of the power of God and the healing of faith. I received today a letter and article written by Dr. Tim Tucker who has been in the hospital in Finland for four years. This too is a wonder and a miracle that Tim Tucker is living and able to write letters by hand. Please continue to pray for Tim Tucker and for Mr. Ishiida and for Mrs. Sadako, and for Shoko, and for Ruby and Paulo, and Marica, Danah, Noaam, Ahuva, Leah, Ilana, Sarit, Zvi, Sara, Zvi D., David the younger and David S., Liz in Georgia, and Anna in Finland.
Please continue to pray for families of Jewish Disciples of Yeshua in Israel who need jobs and financial support, and students who need scholarships. We have been giving for near 20 years ten scholarships to students in the Universities in Israel. The scholarships have been 200 dollars for ten months, that is 2000 dollars per year per student. This helps the students concentrate on their study and not worry too much about their financial needs. It builds a core of stronger sociological community that will be professional and successful and slowly but surely strengthen the Body of Disciples in Israel.
Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to all of you. May the Good Lord bless you in the coming year and give you good health and prosperity in both the spiritual and physical realms of your lives.
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