This weekend, hundreds of Israelis – Jews, Arabs and people from other nations – will meet in the northern city of Haifa with the sole aim of worshipping God together.
The Messianic guesthouses will be full to bursting, and there will be hundreds more sleeping in tents up on mount Carmel, as people stream to the city for the “Elav” (“To Him”) annual praise and worship festival. It will be the seventh year of this Elav gathering, which was first held in Jerusalem and then in Tel Aviv, organised by Succat Hallel, which means ‘tabernacle of praise’.
The focus is on worship and prayer, as well as time for teaching and fellowshipping together as one. This year’s theme is based on the first verse from Isaiah 60:
“Arise and shine for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen upon you”.
What did the Psalmist do in times of trouble? He sang! He looked to God and sang praises, in confidence and faith in God’s power to deliver. The world may be shaking their heads and tutting in disapproval at the obstacles blocking the peace talks, but more than just hoping for human solutions, Israel needs to look to God for salvation. Praise and thanks are two powerful expressions of trust in God, and their importance cannot be overstated. As we sing to give the praise and worship due to his name, God is exalted, we are changed, and his power flows to meet us in our point of need.
This is something that King David understood very well. He was a passionate man of worship, and he was often in dire straits – both as a man and as he led the country of Israel. The world needs more of his kind. In Amos 9 we see a wonderful prophecy about how God is planning to restore David’s Tabernacle, bring revival, and secure the people of Israel in the land once and for all, never to be removed:
“In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the ploughman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the Lord your God.
Whatever the politicians may say, whatever the peoples may scheme, God has purposed that Israel will be planted on their land for good, never to be uprooted again. Those who oppose God’s plans will only hurt themselves. But also, the first few lines of this section remind us of the concept of breaches in the walls, broken fellowship in God’s temple.
It talks about ALL the nations who are called by God’s name. God’s purposes for Israel are sure and unbreakable, but believers of every nation and race coming together to worship him in unity is so precious. There, God commands the blessing. There, God repairs and restores the breaches.
A common factor in spiritual outpourings and revivals is that believers had usually first joined together in unity, and to pray as one. If you study almost every significant move of God, you see this pattern emerging. In the times of the early church, we read that, “great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
Staying together as one, esteeming one another in our differences, is a huge challenge to our human flesh. We need the grace of God to come together in unity.
We know that he has purposed to pour out his blessings abundantly, to bring revival, and to keep Israel safe. For this, we can thank and praise him in advance. But please pray for us this weekend in particular – that God’s great grace would be upon us all as we pray and worship him as one. Please pray for the breaches to be repaired, and for David’s tabernacle to be restored. Pray for more “Davids” among us – worshipping men and women to can praise in the face of danger, and trust their God. For more godly men and women who can lead others into the throneroom of God to worship him in his holiness. That we can truly stand before him as one, together in Israel, to welcome him and his plans, and to say “Yes and amen!” to all that he has purposed for this land. Lord, let your kingdom come!