By Joseph Shulam
The Torah Reading this week ends the story of Jacob and starts the story of Joseph (Genesis 37:1 – 40:23). There is no narrative in the whole Bible that has every literary element possible included in it. The story of Joseph includes in it Snow-White, Cinderella, a Cat on a hot tin roof, and the wizard of OZ, East of Eden, and the Count of Monte Christo. There are just about every theme in literature like from rags to riches, romance, politics, conspiracy, murder attempt, sex, business, hate, love, entrapment . . . .
What can we learn today from the story of Joseph?
1. If you are convinced that you have heard from God don’t allow others to destroy your conviction. Stick to your convictions and your vision if you are absolutely sure that you have really heard from God and stand on His WORD and promises without compromise. Yes, sometimes it is good to be stubborn and stick to your convictions even at the price of being persecuted by your own family and brothers. Some Christians especially in the West have become soft in their faith and character because they have been fed a Hollywood style Christianity. They have been given a diet of cotton-candy by some of the television pastors that they no longer have teeth to chow a good meat steak.
2. Convictions and faith will cost you and you might have to take up the Cross of Yeshua and carry it on your back, but in the end you will receive your reward for God is a just rewarder of all those who diligently seek HIM. Yeshua had to go through rejection, crucifixions, humiliation, betrayal, and great temptations. Like Joseph, Yeshua went from being rejected by His brothers and betrayed to become the eternal King of the Jews, and is not sitting on the right hand of God. Joseph was hated by his brothers but in the end saved them and acted like Yeshua – forgiving those who hated him and in fact saving them.
3. When you are on top of the mountain a ruler of Egypt – you have to act the more gracious and kind and forgiving to those who did you wrong. This is the most difficult part in our lives as Disciples of Yeshua; we must forgive those who do us wrong and those who persecute us.
When Joseph was in position to take vengeance on his brothers who wanted to kill him and caused him horrible grief and suffering – at that very moment is when he broke down in tears and forgave his brothers and gave them assurance that they have nothing to fear.
A few years back one of Israel’s most admired civil servant whose office was right next door to the minister of defense in Israel asked me: Joseph in what practical not spiritual way does your faith in Yeshua help you? I was not ready for such a question from this man. I believe that my answer on the spot of that moment came from the Holy Spirit: “Yeshua gives me the ability to absorb life and it’s hardest blows and setbacks and persecution and keep on standing and getting up again time after time and never lose my hope, my love for God and the people, and my ability to raise up and start again with joy.” The man was amazed and wanted to provide these tools for a blessed and happy life to every soldier in the Israeli army. He asked me what it will take to can this product and spread it to the army. I said it is very simple and free: All that the army needs to do is teach and believe Yeshua, not only in Him, but also believe Him. He broke out in laughter and said: Joseph you know that with a type of coalition government that we have with the Orthodox Jewish parties this would be impossible.
I still pray that it is possible! If we learn to separate the ugly history of Christianity and see that for most Christians and most of Christianity Yeshua is only a fixture on the image of the cross and that his person and character and teaching are so far from traditional Christianity. Yes, Israel, all of Israel the Jews and the non-Jews in it, will one day be disciples of Yeshua (Saved). I am praying for this every day and I ask you to pray for this as well. I don’t believe that this will happen because of missionaries to the Jews but in spite of the missionaries. It will happen from inside and not from outside. We as Jews are not interested in Christianity and in all of its colorful denominations. We are interested in one of our own, a Jewish Child born in Bethlehem, raised in the Galilee, died in Jerusalem on a Roman cross, and now sitting on the right hand of the Almighty God of Israel, and returning to redeem His own!
Can you pray with me for this event that is as sure as the Sun will shine tomorrow at least in some place on the face of this Earth.
Some of you have contributed to aid the victims of the fires that engulfed so much of Israel and especially the city of Haifa. Well, I have good news for you! Nancy from Netivyah has spread love and cheer to victims of the Hamas Terrorist who set the fires. She took $ 5000 worth of cereal, rice, cleaning supplies, and food supplies directly to the victims and to the people who needed this help in Haifa. The distribution was done to both Jews and Arabs. We keep praying for the near 100.000 people who have damaged and lost property from these fires. I ask you to just pray for the quick resolution of the personal suffering of these victims of Islamic terrorism in Israel. I ask you to pray for the Israeli authorities who like in other countries, the government promises much in front of the Television cameras and when the camera is off, quickly forget their promises. Pray for these poor people who have to rebuild their homes and their lives. Please don’t send us more money for the victims of the fires because as time passes it is more difficult to find them and those who are worthy to give products and cash to. Just pray! God can independently of our involvement turn the ashes into joy and blessings.
My son Barry is at home. He still has a significant hole in his belly. The hole is still oozing and has to be swabbed every two or three hours, but with all this said the positive side is that Barry is improving slowly every day. Your prayer life matters! This is a much better slogan!@!! Please pray for Beth, Barry’s wife, and for Joey! All three of them are on antibiotics with seasonal issues and need your prayers.
I ask you to pray for the next year 2017! There are challenges that we are all going to face this next year. Here are some issues that I am praying for and I suggest that you too and as many Disciples of Yeshua around the world can they too ought to be praying for the same.
1. There will be a new president in the United States of America. This man Donald Trump will have to lead this great country through some turbulent waters. He will have to face a growing power of the Islamic Block in the United Nations. He will have to face also a growing wave of Islamic terrorism because of the years of neglect and a milk-toast approach of this issue. Pray for the United States of America and those who are going to be leading this nation.
2. Europe is being shaken both by financial problems, cultural issues, and terrorism that is both home grown and imported by the “refugees.” These phenomena will only increase in Europe and we must pray for the Lord to forgive Europe for their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes, and also for the Lord to give wisdom to the leaders of Europe to change their attitude toward Israel and the Jewish people and become a blessing again by restoring faith. Although I am not very optimistic on what is happening in Europe now, I do have faith that God can turn the situation there around and for this I pray and ask you to pray with me. Have faith to see what is not seen in the light today and with your faith pierce the darkness.
3. Pray for Israel, Jordan and Egypt – to have the wisdom and the resolve to stand against the terrorism of radical Islamist and remain democratic and at the same time deal successfully with the terrorist. I pray for protection for the King of Jordan Abdallah, for the Israeli government, and for the Egyptian government. These three countries need God’s protection and wisdom and the opening of their eyes to see the reality and know how to stem the tide of terrorism, hate, and misery in this region.
4. Pray for our planet. I pray for the LORD who made this ball we call Earth to give our governments the tools and the resolve to work together in order to save this Earth. If not save the Earth than slow down the deterioration and give the Body of the Messiah time and opportunity to bring salvation healing for the people and the land itself.
I want to again remind you to pray for Netivyah and the Roeh Israel Congregation, and to pray for the young leadership of this very important ministry in Jerusalem, and to pray for our brothers and sisters in Finland and Brazil, England, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, Greece, and all around the world.
I ask you again to have special prayers for Marcia my wife, and Barry my son and his family, and for Danah and Noaam my daughter and granddaughter. This is my family and we all need your prayers for every aspect of life, health, and blessings materially, and personally, and also physically.
Especially pray for Gary’s father who is old and had a second stroke a couple of days ago.
We have a special request from brothers in Africa to pray for the following brothers and sisters in Kenya: Catherine Karungu – breast cancer, Mary Wavomba – first breast cancer and now spread to lungs and kidney, Rosemary Mutua – leukemia, Jane Munyao – breast cancer. I know that the God of Israel hears the prayers of His righteous children, let us lift these prayer request and lay them at the feet of Yeshua.
WE must continue to pray for Kol HaYeshua Radio has been broadcasting the Good News in Hebrew and Russian to the whole Middle East.
Please keep praying for the sick brothers and sisters from all around the World. I would like to ask you to pray for some friends who have a need for God’s blessing on their work: Chung and Sister Lee. I have special concern for our dear brother Goh and his family, and for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Kenzevic. These are brothers who have needs in their work and God is gracious to bless and help those who have concern to bless others.
Please don’t forget to especial pray for healing and strength for our dear brothers in Murfreesboro. Our brother Tom B. has passed away, but we have Bobby, and Emmet, and Joe, and Gloria D., these are all very precious brothers and friends are battling serious health issues and we must keep them in our prayers.
Please don’t forget to pray for our dear sister Ruby, and for one of my finest teachers, Dr. John McRay.
We continue to pray for Gary in Jerusalem, Aharon (Don and Nancy’s Son) is still struggling with a tumor in his brain keep him in your prayers please! Also keep his family in your prayers. Yuri Marianenko is fighting a prostate cancer. Our wonderful older brothers and sisters need our prayers: Ahuvah Ben Meir, David Stern, Marcia Shulam, Sarit, Miriam, Ilana, and Leah. This week I am adding to this prayer list our dear sister Lydia – lift her up in your prayers and ask for special encouragement for her from the Lord Himself.
We lift up our dear brothers and sisters Ruby, Clara, Paulo, Naomi, Tim Tucker, Anna, Anne-Mirijami, Satu-Maria, Anna-Majia, Sinni Tuuli, Erki and Sirpa, and Evelina, Eva H., Liz in Georgia, and Horace and June Marcia’s parents.
We especially lift up before your throne of mercy Marcelo’s father and mother in Belo-Horizonte. We pray for the following dear brothers and sisters: Pastor Curita in Tokyo, Toru San, and the husband of Yumi, Sadako San, Shoko San, Takeo Sensei and Tomoko San all in Japan.
May the Lord bless you all and give you Peace on this Sabbath and carry you on HIS promises and blessings and give you the opportunity to be a blessing to those around you.