by Moti Cohen
The years go by and Israel is turning 69 already, and she’s the prettiest old lady in our neighborhood. While the countries that surround us are constantly fighting and being destroyed, Israel is at its peak when it comes to development and progress. You can clearly see the hand of God concerning Israel’s progression as a country, all while focusing on building a national home for the Jewish people after 2,000 years of exile.
The story of the cemetery on Trumpledoor Street, in Tel Aviv, tells us of the amazing development process of Tel Aviv as a city, and Israel as a whole. Before Israel was born, most of Tel Aviv’s citizens lived in the Jaffa area. They decided that they should build a Jewish cemetery. While planning the development of the Jewish settlement in the future, they realized they didn’t want the cemetery to take up space where you can build homes, so they decided to build the cemetery a few kilometers away from Jaffa, where the ground was mostly sand.
Over the years, Tel Aviv has grown more and more. Today, the cemetery is located at the heart of a very prestigious neighborhood near the beach area of Tel Aviv. We can see that the first settlers of the city couldn’t imagine how big she would get. Israelis always build cemeteries outside of the city. The only time you find them in the city is when the city simply grew past the cemetery.
Tel Aviv in 1909 when it was founded and Tel Aviv today. (credit to Hananya Naftali)
Nowadays, Tel Aviv has nowhere to grow, space-wise. The cities of Bat Yam, Ramat Gan, Givatayim and Hertzliya surround it, and there is no more vacant land, so what do you do? You start building vertically. Today, in Tel Aviv, there’s a construction momentum of massive high-rises. You can see cranes and construction sites almost anywhere.
We, at Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv, believe that there are two types of progression for Israel as a country. You can find them both in Ezekiel 36: 24-29:
“I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.”
The first part is where God brings the Jewish nation back to its land in Israel after the long years of exile, which is what we’ve been witnessing in the last several decades. The people of Israel began to return to their land through the first Aliyah (immigration) at the beginning of the last century, when only a few thousand Jews were living in Israel. Move forward to today. Now we have around 6.4 million Jews out of the 8 million people who live here, and the numbers are only increasing.
While God is bringing the people of Israel back to their land, we are now witnessing the fulfillment of the second part of these verses. He gives “a new heart, and a new spirit” to the Jewish people, which we can see happening in the congregations of the Messianic Jews.
In Tel Aviv, there are several Messianic congregations, and hundreds of Jewish families who’ve accepted the Messiah Yeshua into their hearts.
We, at Tiferet Yeshua, believe that just as Tel Aviv used to be an empty land filled with sand and is now one of the most developed cities in the world, we will also see it happen spiritually. As of now, there are a few hundred Messianic families living in Tel Aviv and the cities that surround it. Some are families who’ve only recently surrendered to Yeshua. Slowly but surely, we will see thousands of families who follow the King of the Jews.
In the beginning, God brings His people back to His land and builds cities. Inside those cities, He then founds the local Messianic body, which is built out of congregations and home groups, which He now uses to share the gospel with all the Jewish people.
We have received a word from God, that we must focus on three main things:
- Loving God
- Loving one another
- Loving Tel Aviv
We believe that our Independence Day here in Tel Aviv is also a symbol of the spiritual independence our city is going to experience in the future. This independence is freedom from every idol and spirit that comes against the truth of God. It is truth that says that God will give us a new heart and a new spirit; truth that says that יהוה (Yahweh) is God and we will be His people, a free country in our land.
Moti Cohen is an associate pastor at Tiferet Yeshua congregation in Tel Aviv. He lives with his wife Anna and four children in Bat Yam, a growing suburb of Tel Aviv.