Good News from Israel: 10 Signs of Blessing
It’s great to be in Israel this month! Yes, there are daily knife stabbings (or attempts), mounting threats of another war with Hamas, nearby Islamist killing fields, violent anti-Israel/anti-Semitic acts around the world – and sadly more. Yet, despite the gory shines God’s glory. Your prayers and other practical deeds on Israel’s behalf make a difference! Be encouraged by these 10 signs of His blessing on Israel, in addition to those we’ve posted in the past. (Past posts focused on new technologies, democratic freedoms, medical advances and critical solutions blessing the nations.) With all thanks to YHVH:
1. Israelis were ranked the 11th happiest people in the world by an official 2015 UN survey. (Times of Israel, 4/26/15). Unrelated polls found similar rankings, due in part to strong family structures and social relationships.
2. Over 80 percent of Israeli Jews believe in God. (Haaretz, 9/14/15)
3. Israelis enjoy the 6th highest “healthy” life expectancy in the world, due partly to good socialized and private medical care. (Y Net News, 8/31/15)
4. Over 88,000 millionaires live in Israel, a 67 year old country of only 8 million — saddled with the 3rd highest military budget per capita in the world. (Y Net News, 10/14/15 re millionaires; Wikipedia re budget )
5. Bible classes remain mandatory in Israeli public schools.
6. Israeli educational institutions are top grade. Seven Israeli universities are ranked among the world’s top 250. (Breaking Israel News, 1/5/16)
7. The Israeli diet is ranked healthiest of all Western nations, and 9th best in the world. (Y Net News, 7/3/15) (My note: the food here is amazing!)
8. In 2015, more Jews came to faith in Messiah in Israel than anywhere else.
9. In 2016 Israel is the nation most officially aligned with God’s calendar.
10. Prophesied in Jeremiah 31:13, young women and men rejoice in dance in the streets of Jerusalem. Enjoy the video linked below and see what God has done!
Why is January 25, 2016 a Jewish Holiday?
On January 25, 2016, Israelis will celebrate a minor but joyful holiday called Tu b’Shevat. Translated as the 15th day of the 7th month (of the lunar-based biblical year), Tu b’Shevat is known as the new year for trees. The holiday derives from Leviticus 19:23: “When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten.”
Following this command, a practical question soon arose. How were the Jews to remember the age of absolutely every tree in the land? To avoid an administrative quagmire, it was decided that each tree’s birthday would occur on the 15th day of the 7th month of the year in which that tree was planted. By Tu b’Shevat, which corresponds roughly to February 1, usually the heaviest of winter rains would have fallen. Certain trees such as the almond tree would soon blossom, then bear fruit which could be eaten that same year.
The central principle behind Tu’ b’Shevat is that our Creator reigns supreme over creation. The earth is His and the fullness thereof. (Psalm 24:1) Every good and perfect gift is from Him. In each detail of creation God expresses His kingship, goodness and love. A three year period of tree dedication serves to remind us of our stewardship, not ownership, of His good land. By extension, the principle applies to all humanity regarding this planet.
In the book of Genesis, God gave life-and-death instructions about eating or not eating the fruit of certain trees. Sadly, Adam and Eve disobeyed and partook of forbidden fruit from the tree of life. We all know the tragic result. Yet because of His mercy, we look forward to a future tree of life yielding glorious fruit year round, the leaves of which will heal the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
In the Scriptures, people are sometimes compared to trees. “Blessed is the man … whose delight is in the law [or Word] of the Lord…. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3) May we stay planted by the living waters of Yeshua. May the first fruits of all we yield be specially dedicated to Him, and all for His sake prosper!
Tu b’Shevat was ceremonially remembered during the Jews’ 2,000 year exile from Israel. Sadly, most trees in then, so-called Palestine were chopped down and intentionally destroyed under Islamic rule. At the turn of the 20th century, however, Zionist pioneers undertook large scale reforesting projects to revive the land. They knew trees would prove essential for ecological, agricultural, industrial and other life-sustaining purposes.
Israel still needs trees! You can easily help meet this need and bless the Jewish state by buying trees, inexpensively, online any time. Simply contact the Jewish National Fund at www.jnf.org.
They will do the physical planting and you will receive a certificate attesting to your own tree in the Holy Land.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. (Proverbs 11:30)