I never had any interest in ministry work, mainly because I was more interested in pursuing my own career goals as a Civil Engineer. However, the Lord had other plans for my life. If I have learned anything in my relatively short walk with the Lord, it is that His ways are not only different than our ways, but are most often opposite ours. It is written, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV). Yeshua said it like this, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38); “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
I remember the day so clearly, sitting on my living room couch and holding an Old King James Bible in my hand. I was determined to discover the truth contained within. I very much believed in the one true God of Israel. So I said to Him, “I need to know the truth.” I had no concept of the Holy Spirit speaking to me, but somehow asking God to show me His truth made sense. As I started to read the book of Matthew, there was clarity and focus to the narrative. The story came to life, and remarkably the old English language was perfectly decipherable.
“For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:24-27).
I am often asked: “How do I pray for Israel and the Jewish people?” The other question often asked is: “How do I provoke Israel to jealousy?” These are great questions, and the answers are in fact rather simple.
A number of years ago I was asked to prepare a teaching on the Tabernacle of Moses—the Mishkan. I had read the endless narratives in the Torah many times where each part of the Tabernacle, meticulously detailed by the Lord, commanded the Israelites to only build a copy of the heavenly image. I had visited several life-size displays, one recently in Pennsylvania, but none revealed anything of particular magnificence. Even its size looked rather underwhelming—a small tent perched in the desert surrounded by miles of barren wilderness. From a near distance the structure would have been hardly noticeable.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is considered to be the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It is a solemn day to afflict our souls, but it is also a joyful day in knowing that God will forgive our sins. It commemorates the day when God forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf.
It is impossible to understand the festivals (feasts) and high holy days of the Lord without knowing God’s Hebrew calendar and His biblical prophesies. We must also have a heart for understanding God’s Kingdom purposes for the nation of Israel, for Yeshua said, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32, NKJV).