Happy New Year 2019! I wish to all of you who pray for Israel and for Netivyah’s ministry in Israel and around the world. God bless you all, our prayer partners, in Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, Brazil, Korea, Japan, China, Singapore, Sweden, Holland, South Africa, India, and the Philippines. Your prayers and your support make it possible for Netivyah to feed the needy citizens of Jerusalem. Netivyah is broadcasting every day and teaching the Word of God on A.M. radio that covers most of the Middle East and even as north as southern Ukraine and some of the Greek islands in east Mediterranean Sea. We have a very effective youth ministry that has already trained and discipled four generation of youth. We have the scholarship fund that helps financially University and Higher Education disciples of Yeshua who students in the Israeli educational institutions. We have a literature ministry in English and Hebrew and translated to other languages. The most important part of Netivyah’s ministry is our congregation in Jerusalem. The name of our congregation is Roeh Israel – the Shepherd of Israel. We bless you and direct you to the Netivyah web page:www.netivyah.organd to facebook, Netivyah and the same in youtube.com. You will find many video recordings on a wide variety of subjects that will interest you.
This coming Shabbat – the reading is Parashat Vaera (Exodus 6:2-9:35) the reading from the Prophets – the Haftara is from Ezekiel 28:25-29:21, and from the New Testament Luke 11:14-22.

The reading in Exodus is actually the main story of this reading is the LORD’s plagues on Egypt and on the house-hold of Pharaoh. The big question in these chapter is why the Lord was using these horrible plagues on Egypt.

Why did the LORD not soften the heart of Pharaoh and motivate him to just let these stiff-necked Israelites? The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh several times so that Pharaoh would not release the Israelites so quick.

Here are three times that the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh:

Ex. 7:3, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. . .”

On this text Rashi (one of the greatest medieval commentators of the Hebrew Bible) says on Exodus 7: 3,

And I will make it difficult (harden his heart), since he has been convicted and defiant before me, and before the nations of the world. The nations of the word are not happy for me to give him heart to return to me (repent). And I will say: “But you shall see me, and you shall learn the moral lesson from your defiance. Although in the first five plagues I did not harden your heart but strengthened your heart O Pharaoh.”

What Rashi says here is that God gave Pharaoh five plagues without hardening his heart, but actually strengthening Pharaoh’s heart.

There is another phrase that is translated in the English as “harden the heart.” However, in this second phrase that appears also in Exodus chapter 4:21 and in 7:13, and all through the story of the Exodus – Pharaoh himself “strengthens his heart.” He becomes stubborn and refuses to release the children of Israel out of slavery and out of Egypt. (second phrase appears in the following places in the word of God: Ex. 4:21, 7:13, 22, 8:19, 9:12, 35, 10:20, 27, Ex. 11:10, 14:4,8,17.

In all these texts and many more through the Bible – God looks into people’s hearts and sees that they are defiant, and blasphemers and they challenge God and His authority in the world. At this point God says to Himself. “I cannot allow this kind of behavior to continue and to challenge my authority and place among the nations of the world. For this reason, I will allow Pharaoh in this case to follow his own inclination and defiance. So that the world will see where disobedience and disrespect for Me leads and in the end Pharaoh and his nation and the whole world will know that there is a creator of this world who both loves and rewards and punishes His children in the whole world.”

These are my words for explaining why at times God hardens people’s hearts and allows them to follow their own desire and inclination even to the bitter end. The reason is one God wants all men the world over to know Him and to be wise and know that there is a God and rules of conduct in His creation.

We should all know that God as our Father, the Father of all of His creation, has limits for both His Grace and His Love and also limits to His wrath and anger. For each one of us and our nations we ought to be careful not to transgress and ignore God’s limits on either side of His spectrum.

Please pray for Israel – there is an election scheduled for the government of Israel on April 9th, just a few days before the Passover Holiday. The Israeli political scene is being split into splinters. There is a chance that our Prime Minister will be indicted with serious crimes of receiving bribes. The whole country is rocking and rolling of everyone against everyone in the political arena. Israel needs your prayers for peace, and unity, and charity between our leaders and among the people. We don’t need to splinter this nation at this time when the world is watching us. Our own dishonor brings dishonor to the LORD God who is the father of all of creation. Pray, pray, pray, for us and continue to stand with Israel – Israel is the end time panacea for the whole world. It is the devil’s work to confuse and create confusion and division and dishonor. We ask God for mercy and wisdom for this nation and for the leadership of our nation.

Please pray for Netivyah and for the Roeh Israel congregation. The challenges that stand before us and the opportunities that the Lord has put before us are really great and we need your prayers and your support is very important. The Lord is giving us challenges and also opportunities.

Please pray for Marcia and me, and for Barry our son and his family and Danah our daughter and for our granddaughter Noaam.

Pray especially for me. Next Friday, January 11th, 2019, I plan to fly to Portugal to meet with our dear brother Marcelo from Brazil and make the final arraignments and preparation for the conference in Portugal (May 17-19, and the Prayer tour from 20-24th). From Portugal I will, God willing, fly to Amsterdam to teach for four days a seminar on the prophet Ezekiel in a Messianic Congregation. I need your prayers for success and blessing and also for my health and strength and safety.

Please remember our dear brother Jacob Damkani and ask The Lord to give strength and healing to Jacob.

Keep a dear sister in the Lord named Courtney in your prayers. I am adding two very important prayer requests: Amir the son of Amira – is a young man a father and a husband and a nephew of some of our very close Arab/Palestinian friends. He has a very serious cancer and needs the LORD’s hands of mercy to touch him with healing.

The other family that needs healing is in Sweden, Tertu and Tapio Luca. They are true prayer warriors for Israel and for Netivyah, and they too need healing from serious health issues.

Please pray for another dear old friend, Mr. Shukry who has suddenly some serious problems with his leg. He will undergo tests next week to find out what is wrong. For now he is in pain and can’t walk.

Please continue praying for baby Lion from the Huch family in DFW. Little Lion is doing better in the last week and is back receiving Chemo-Therapy.

Please continue to pray for our Jewish brother Hillel from Helsinki. Pray for Patty, Andrea and Tineke are all in Netherlands and need healing from God. Continue to Pray for Julia and Victor our dear sister and brother in Jerusalem. Both need healing and God’s help.

Please add a dear sister that is suffering from prejudice in Switzerland. Her name is Paula and she needs divine breakthrough.

Please keep praying for a dear sister named Zhou WenriIan living in China. There is a dear Pastor Isaac in Chenai, India, who has a deep love for the Lord and for Israel. He is sick with kidney problems and needs a dialysis treatment several times per week.

I am also asking you to pray for a dear sister in China that is doing so much for the Kingdom of God – her name is Ema! She has a big burden for a big school that needs the Lord to bless it and open up all the venues of blessing and enable success both in the physical and spiritual realm.

Margareta, keep her in your prayers she is a dear woman who is going through some real hardship and anguish for her faith. His mother Margarite G. from Tennessee just went to be with the Lord. Margarite and her husband William were some of the most sincere and honest and dedicated disciples of the Messiah that we have even had the privilege of knowing and fellowshipping with. Now Kenneth their son is in need of God’s merciful hand to touch him for healing.

Pray for Um Abu-Eid is a dear old Arab/Palestinian sister. Keep the following brothers who are improving with their health, but still lneed God’s merciful hand to touch them with healing, George, Gary, Melanie, Aharon, Yuri Marianenko, Sarit, Ahuva, Leah, Ilana, Miraim, Yehuda H., David Stern, Paulo, Noami, Tim Tucker, Anne-Mirjami, Satu-Maria and Anna-Majia, Sinni Tuuli, Erki and Sirpa, Keijo and Salme, Evelina, Eva H., Horace and June Marcia’s father and mother, Marcelo’s parents. Curita Sensei, the Abe family, Toru, Takeo Sensei, Daisuke Sensei, Tomoko San, Sadako San, Yumi, her husband has just died last week, and keep praying for her father, Pastor Oharah in Okinawa.

Please pray Ritva Huhtala and for sister Oksanen they need prayer for illness. Please pray for Louisa and Tony in Hong Kong. I have special concern for our dear brother Goh and his family, and for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Knezevich. I want to add a brother from Brazil who is living in Portugal now and is having some serious family problems. His name is: Ismael Alves.

If you would pray for those whom you know that need this prayer – the Lord will surely cover those for whom you pray and those for whom I pray. It is hard enough to live in this world and work and business-related issues make it harder and as much as we pray for the spiritual issues and health issues.

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and believe in God’s promises!

Joseph Shulam

P.S. – For registration and reservation of hotels in Portugal for the important international conference on the Marranos/Anussim issue in May 17-19 and tour May 20-24. Contact Ana Mendes (see information below) For Hotel Reservations, Transportation in Portugal and the prayer tour to four cities where Jews were tried by the “Holy Office of the Inquisition” and sentenced to torture and death.
Ana Mendes
Incoming Department
Avenida Marquês de Tomar, 35 A 1050-153 LISBOA | PORTUGAL
Phone: (+351) 21 132 79 61| Fax: (+351) 21 318 26 69
E-mail / Skype: ana.mendes@osiris.pt