Thoughts From Israel

This was written while in Israel and the post delayed for Pentecost Sunday.

I have never been more thankful for Jesus.

The past few days have been an amazing journey. I was told several years ago that I would visit Israel. I didn’t believe that person at the time, I had no desire to visit Israel. But here I am.

Was it self-fulfilling? Not hardly.

It was last year that God would start speaking about Israel. I would begin blogging about Israel and the more I shared the more God spoke. I would eventually write a piece titled “Next Year in Jerusalem” and here I am, the next year, in Jerusalem.

It was earlier this year where the weight of the Holy Spirit was on my heart to visit Israel but I let doubt and money get in the way of going. However a few weeks ago the Holy Spirit was firm and I heard the words to “go immediately”.

I can tell you that this was a life changing trip.

As I crested the walkway in the Jewish Quarter and could view the Western Wall for the first time I was in awe. There it was, what I had been writing about for over a year… the Temple Mount. Jews were praying, boys were celebrating their Bar Mitzvah, women were watching and praying in their section. Tourists were taking photographs, it was almost too much to take in.

I went through security, walked down the stairs, grabbed a yamaka and took a seat. I pulled out my Bible and began to pray. You see, that was my entire purpose of coming to Israel. Intercessory prayer.

In mainstream Christianity the concept of intercessory prayer is sadly rarely spoken of and hardly practiced. What is intercessory prayer? Intercessory prayer is using the authority you have in Christ to overthrow evil and cast out darkness. Intercessory prayer isn’t passive, it is intentionally praying for spiritual shift and calling on the power of Jesus to move.

As I was reading I was amazed to see Psalm 118 in my daily reading. I read through the One Year Bible so what is in the reading that day is not in my control, it is in God’s hands. These passages stood out:

“Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord. Yes, they surrounded and attacked me, but I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord. They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord. My enemies did their best to kill me, but the Lord rescued me. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory.” – Psalm 118:10-14

After reading this I couldn’t help but think of the Gaza War (Operation Protective Edge) and all wars Israel has been in since 1948.

The next day at the Western Wall this verse from Psalm 118 was in my reading:

“The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” – Psalm 118:22

Imagine reading this while in front of you are the literal stones of the Temple Mount. All the while Jews are praying in front of these dead stones rather than praying to The Cornerstone, Jesus. It was a moment where time stood still. The Word of God alive in front of me.

John 12:39-40 was also in my reading that day.

“But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said,“The Lord has blinded their eyes
 and hardened their hearts 
so that their eyes cannot see,
 and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
 and have me heal them.” (Ref Isaiah 6:10)”

I looked up away from the dead stones of the Western Wall and towards God and said, “Jesus, please remove the veil from their eyes. I thank you for what you have done and I look forward to what you are about to do.”

God ordained this trip. Those passages were in my readings for May 21 and 22 while I was in Jerusalem by God’s design. I didn’t plan that. I also found that it was 1 year exactly since I wrote “Next Year in Jerusalem”, coincidentally around Jerusalem Day.

By obeying God to go immediately I received the word He had for me. I was reminded that in obedience we receive more of God and faith that builds upon faith. It isn’t until we answer the call to step out of the boat that we realize God is in control. We have nothing to fear.

This almost didn’t happen. I was stopped by Israeli border control and almost denied entrance into Israel. The last minute nature of my trip and that I was traveling alone raised red flags. It is the week of the Jewish holiday, Shavuot. But during my time in the interrogation room I was able to share about Yeshua. As I shared my story I could tell the officer had sincere questions. It was a remarkable time. But I was admitted entry and was able to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the epicenter and you can feel it. There is an energy in Jerusalem that you will feel no place on earth. But it also smells of dead religion. The Christian quarter was no different than the others. I spent time with a shop owner in the Armenian quarter that was Muslim. In conversation I was able to share with him the difference between religion and Jesus, even Christian religion. That we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfection. That Jesus was the sacrificial Passover lamb that paid for our sins. When we place our faith and trust in Him, we are forgiven eternally. Salvation is not about what we do for God – it is about what Jesus did for us. He didn’t accept Christ there but you could tell something shifted.

This Sunday is Pentecost. A time where we as Christians remember when the disciples obeyed and waited. Sometimes obedience is waiting on the Lord. But after waiting the Holy Spirit came in power and they went and brought the message of Yeshua, the Messiah to the nations. We now carry that responsibility.

As I walked through the Upper Room in Jerusalem I thanked God for the Holy Spirit. Everything we need is within us through Jesus. Through His power we can pray and intercede, we can overthrow the powers of evil and cast out darkness. I’ve had the responsibility of intercessory prayer in our city and it was a honor to pray in Jerusalem for Israel.

It amazes me that God uses sinners, people like us, to fulfill His purposes. We often remove the humanity of the people in the Bible. This places a false demigod persona on their life. In doing so we distance ourselves from the miracles and power they walked in. Despite our shortcomings and sin God can use us the same way He did with men and women in the Bible. Why? Because it is not about us, it is all about Jesus and His power. Less of us is more of Him and more of Him means just that… more of His love, more of His power.

Walking the streets of Jerusalem you are confronted with the reality of Jesus, His first and second coming, and the humanity of the disciples. That He chose ordinary men and women to change the world… and they did just that.

Now it’s our turn.

The truth is that we have the same Holy Spirit within us that fell on the disciples at Pentecost. The same Jesus walking with you everyday. The question is, do you believe it?

What if we could do what the disciples did?

Wait… we can.

2017-02-26T23:58:34+00:00

About the Author:

Matt Cote is the Founder of Concept Church, a digital media ministry. He is the author of the book, End Game.