By Joseph Shulam
This week’s Torah Portion (Parasha) is called “Ki-Tavo” (when you enter in). The reading is from Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:9. The first part of the reading is very interesting because this is the only text in the Torah that tells us what people said when they came to the temple to worship and offer sacrifices. The occasion that this is speaking of is the feast of Shavuot – Pentecost. I have already written about this before. The next part of the reading (Deut 27:1-8) is God’s command to Moses to build an altar on the top of Mount Ebal. This altar was a special altar because of the size of and the architectural features that were commanded by God. There are several specific features that this altar was to have. The stones were specified by God. The stones that had to be used had to be whole not broken. The stones were not to be cut with iron tools. On the stones, there had to be the inscription of God’s laws.
We have the record of Joshua and the Children of Israel building this altar on the top of Mt. Ebal: “Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.” (Joshua 8:30–33)
As you can see in the pictures that were taken about 30 year ago, the altar the Joshua built in obedience to the command that the LORD gave Moses was still standing. It was standing right on the top of Mt. Ebal. The size fit, the type of stones fit, and the place fit. Mt. Ebal was the mountain from which the curses were being pronounced. This high mountain right above the city of Nablus today is right across the valley from Mt. Gerizim – the place where the blessings were pronounced on the children of Israel. Mt. Ebal has been basically barren – dry and on the east side overlooking the Jordan valley. Mt. Gerizim is on the west side looking west you can see the Mediterranean Sea. It is a fertile mountain very green almost year around. Even until today the Samaritans celebrate Passover and offer many lambs as Passover Sacrifices on top of Mt. Gerizim.
I remember well going up to Mt. Ebal – only one time. In order to get up there we had to have heavily armed military escort. We had two military armored jeeps in front and a military armored jeep in the back. I wanted to see this altar that was still in place. It is a rare thing to be able to read a document that is at least 2600 years old and describes exactly what God required from the Joshua and the children of Israel, then in the book of Joshua describes what Joshua and the children of Israel did, and now 2600 years later man can go and see and measure and photograph the very place and altar that you read about in the Torah – in the Word of God. I believed that this was true and real before I went up to Mt. Ebal with a military escort, but it was extremely exciting and wonderful to go up there and climb on top of the alter and walk around it and touch it. As Yeshua said “blessed are those who did not see and believe.” (John 20:29) However, I am blessed also because I have seen the place and have been in the place and have climb on top of the very place that the Word of God states that Joshua built the altar. For me this was a real faith building experience. Not far from this alter an Israeli fighter jet was shot down and a monument was erected on top of Mount Ebal for the young Israel Airforce pilot who died there during the war. For me there were two altars of sacrifice on top of the barren Mountain of where the Curses of God were read aloud and the people in the Valley shouted in unison “Amen” in agreement.
What is up there now? Not much! The Palestinian mobs took apart that ancient monument that was built by Joshua the son of Nun and the children of Israel after crossing the Jordan river. This altar was standing there for over 2600 years a silent witness of Biblical truth. A witness to the obedience of faith that these men and women who survived the wilderness of Sinai, the murmuring, the rebellion, the complaining, but when it came to be doing – they lived up to your command and built this altar. I confess that I was very sad when the news came that vandalism and hate had a part in destroying this ancient witness and monument.
We can live without the stone witnesses, we can’t live without the human witnesses that every generation to generation stand up and speak and witness with their lives the power, the love, the grace, and the truth of God’s Word. The enemies of truth and love and grace and hope will never win. There will always be men and women who will read the Word of God and believe it, and as often we are frail and weak, out of our weakness and sin we stand up to do the will of our Father who is in Heaven, but also down here on Earth.
Please pray for the people of Texas who are still coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but especially pray for the millions of people who are facing Hurricane Irma. This Irma is for sure not “Irma la Duce.” The fury of this Hurricane Irma is something that we pray in Yeshua’s name for God Himself to calm down. We pray for the people and for the animals in the Everglades and for the property that might get damaged.
In the 1960’s I lived in Miami, Florida several summers with the family of Elmar Morgan. I had the privilege and the experience of living through two deadly Hurricanes, Cleo and Dora. In one of them I got wounded and had to wait many hours until it was safe to get me to the hospital for stiches. I thank God for the experience, but I don’t want to repeat it again. I pray for Florida and for the people of Florida! But, ultimately, we all pray “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!” This prayer formula can be also reversed and the burden put on us: If we would do the will of Heaven – God’s will be done on Earth and Earth would be Heaven. May be some day!
Pray for Israel! Always pray for Israel not because we deserve it but because we need God’s help every day. Our government is riddled with corruption the top echelons of the government and of the military are under criminal investigation. We are the nation that was elected by God to be a light to all the nations, the light of the World, and look at us now! Therefore, it is so important for you to pray for Israel and stand with Israel and help Israel.
Please pray for Netivyah and the Roeh Israel Congregation. The Holiday Season is starting and Rosh Hashanah is upon us, Yom Kippur follows, and four days later is the Feast of Sukkoth. This season is extremely busy and challenging. We want to bless as many of the poor of Jerusalem with extra food distribution and extra attention and blessing to those who receive help from HaMotzi. The amount of work that our small staff must cope with is enormous. We need your prayers and your support.
We will have so many guests from all around the World. We have already received notice that we will have 17 guests from Bulgaria, 50 from China, and odd numbers from all around the world. We need God’s help and strength to welcome and serve our guests and give them a taste of God’s Grace and a flavor of the Biblical Drama that every Biblical Holiday presents with the prophetic implications of each Holiday. Keep us in your prayers during this season.
Please pray for the doors of the State of Israel to open for those Jews who have been assimilated and have lost their identity because they were forced to convert to Catholicism between the 15th and the 19th Centuries. These Jews need to come home and recapture their identity and their place in the Land that God gave Abraham and His seed forever. Israel will open its doors for these millions of people from around the whole world, but was ask you to pray a blessing on all those Rabbis and Jews who are working to release the captives and bring them home.
We have good news from our dear sister Nancy. You have been praying with us that Nancy receive a good report after her major surgery. Today Nancy received the good report that she will not have to continue treatment with Chemotherapy or Radiation and she can go about living her life clean from cancer. Praise the Lord and thank you all who have been praying for this real miracle.
We ask you to pray especially for a dear young brother from Finland who has broken his neck last week and has already undergone two major surgeries. His name is Aaron Tani. Please continue to pray for Aaron’s full recovery from the surgeries and a restoration and use of all his bodily functions.
Keep praying for Gary our dear brother. He is coping with cancer a second time. We lift Gary up to the Mercy Throne of the Almighty God of Israel for healing of his body and blessing for his family.
Keep our sister Bida in Belo-Horizonte in your prayer for a full recovery from the cancer. Please don’t forget to pray for Aaron, Nancy and Don’s oldest son. He needs to see the Hand of the LORD move mightily in his own life with healing.
Please continue to pray for Katherine Neel, she is a young mother and wife of dear friends of our family and she too has brain cancer and needs intense prayer for healing.
Continue to pray for Ruby. We need to pray for Ahuva, Yuri, Ilana, Leah, Miriam, Victor B., David S., Miriam Sh., Keijo and Salme L., Anna-Majia, Erkki and Sirpa, Tim Tucker, Satu-Maria and her daughters, Kari A., Anna-Maja, Sarit, Daniel P., Takeo and Tomoko, Toru, Sadako San, Curita Sensei, Daisuke Sensei, in the USA please pray for Bobby M., Aaron H., John M., Liz Johnson, Marcia’s family especially her father and mother. We pray for Tineke who is living in Holland and is a young lady that has that dreadful illness and needs God’s mercy for healing.
Pray for brothers in Brazil, we ask you to pray for the following healing needs: Paulo, Naomi, Clara, Evelyn and Marcelo’s father and especially his mother.
We have fine brothers around the world who need guidance and blessings in their work and business. These are brothers who have sacrificed for the Kingdom of God and now ask for the Lord to bless them so that they can continue to bless the Body of the Messiah and Israel: R. Goh family and their son Gabriel who is going to study in Italy. Pray for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Kenzevic, and Daniel L., and his family and company. We pray for the success and prosperity in their life and companies. Pray for David a dear brother in Finland. I pray that the Lord will give him a good job that is just specially preserved for David and will fit his needs and his family needs like hand in glove.
Pray for Roger W., and his family. They are traveling and need God’s protection and blessing.
God bless all of you who pray for Netivyah and stand with Netivyah both in spirit and in the material support. May the good Lord fulfill all His promises and blessings for standing with us in Jerusalem and for blessing Israel!