Jason and I just got back from a two week trip to Israel where we attended the NOW conference (Not your Ordinary Week in Jerusalem) hosted by Ruth Fazal, a believer in Yeshua, and Gil Pentzak, an orthodox Jew.
This trip was probably one of the most impactful two weeks of my life– for many reasons – and I want to devote multiple blogs to reflect on the beautiful experiences that took place, the questions that stirred inside, and the things I felt the Lord showed me. My hope is to impart some of my limited understanding of the importance Israel plays for all of us, and to stir you to seek God for His heart for this nation. Truly, God has centered His plan for world redemption around Israel, and Gentile believers have an important role in seeing the Jewish people come into the fullness of their identity in Christ. Now more than ever I’m convinced of the necessity and power of praying for Israel. Thus, for this first post, I’d like to share what a blessing it was to be in the the land of Israel and be in the midst of the people. It’s shown me the importance of learning what “standing in the gap” really is.
Praying for Israel is very important; as I said I think it’s of prime importance to God. Many in the church are unaware of this, because for generations we have replaced the promises God gave to Israel and taken them for ourselves. Usually as we read the bible, we read each line as pertaining to us. While it is true that the church has entered into the promises of Israel, or what Paul called being grafted in (Romans 11:17), the church has not and can never replace Israel. The many promises God spoke to His nation– what He calls His firstborn son (Jeremiah 31:9)– still remain, as God made a covenant with them that will never fade away. Rather than being replaced, it is only a matter of time until they come into fullness as they receive Jesus as their Messiah. A question for us Gentiles thus becomes, where will we stand in regards to Israel? How will we help or hinder this nation and people come into their fullness? In verses like the following, we can hear God’s call to us to pray for Israel and Jerusalem:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper who love you… 9 Because of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your [Jerusalem’s] good.” Ps. 122:6, 9
“You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Is. 62:6b-7
When I lived in Kansas City and was a part of IHOPKC, praying for Israel was a focus. With hundreds of people doing it weekly, it was easy to join in–it was simply part of life. Since moving to Indiana and joining staff at HOPE, the prayer meetings are much smaller, sometimes just 3-5 of us in a room. Yet even with just a few of us gathered in a circle to offer up simple prayers for Israel, I have felt God’s pleasure and delight as we come in agreement with His desires to build Israel and save His people.
The words “You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,” have provoked me to cry out to God to let me see what He sees, let me feel what He feels for this land and people, because praying for something you have little understanding of is quite difficult! Like most of us, I hardly had any contact with Jewish people, nor had I ever been to Israel. I mostly prayed knowing that I should, and the Lord encouraged me with His presence, letting me know that even small prayers are valuable to Him.
Yet, when Ruth Fazal came to HOPE at the end of August and shared about the NOW week that she was hosting in November, I was quite interested. When someone offered to send Jason and I to the conference, I could only cry as I felt God was opening up a very special place in His heart to me for a chance to gain more understanding of the importance of Israel.
One of the things the Lord impressed upon me while in Jerusalem is the importance of being connected to both the One you are praying to and the ones you are praying for, and that this trip was allowing me to be more connected to the ones I’m praying for. This is what “standing in the gap”, or intercession, is all about. Standing in the gap is a term found in Ezekiel 22:30, where God cried out and said:
“So I sought a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”
God calls for people to build a wall and stand in the gap between Him and the inhabitants of the land, that He would have mercy. He’s looking for people who know His heart to pray in agreement with Him on behalf of the nations, and especially for Israel. Knowing this picture, I felt a question go through me– “Can you close a gap if you are not connected to both sides?” He then showed me that Jesus is the premier intercessor; the One who stands in the gap between humanity and God the Father.
The Word reveals Jesus made intercession for us in His death, and now lives to forever make intercession for us before God’s throne (Isaiah 53:12c; Hebrews 7:25). Jesus is fully God and knows God, so He understands what God’s will is for man. Yet He also came down to us and became fully man, understanding our weaknesses and the frailty of our human flesh. He touches both parties who need to be reconciled. Because He fully knows both, He is able to stand before God to plead our case, asking the Father to forgive us for the sins we have done (Luke 23:34), while also stand before man to reveal God’s beauty and our need for us to turn to Him. Jesus stood, and stands in the gap between God and man, understanding both sides, for lack of a better term. His intercession is made complete by being connected to both us and God. We, as intercessors and people of prayer, must also be connected to the ones we are praying for. Knowing God’s heart allows us to pray in agreement with His will, and understanding the the people allows us to pray with hearts of compassion.
That was one of the main reasons I feel God allowed me to go to Israel– to be connected to the people and land I’m praying for. Up to this point I have never been connected to Israel in a personal way. Through this trip, the Lord has begun to connect my heart to the land and the people in a way much different from merely seeing pictures online and following stories on the news. It is the beginning of a wonderful journey I am so thankful to be on, and I invite you to join.
In light of that, I HIGHLY recommend this conference for any believer in Christ, as it is not just a tour of historical places, it truly is a chance to be connected to Israel in a real way. You can see more about the conference by going to this link:
More to come soon! Thanks to those who prayed and supported us on our way to Israel!