Josiah Hilton

Religious Freedom in God’s House

Religious Freedom in God’s House By Ben Hilton Several weeks ago as the coronavirus was sweeping the world, something concerning was happening in regard to religious freedom in the United States. Governors had, in the name of protecting us from infection, ordered mass lockdowns and quarantines. This included the closing of many businesses deemed non-essential. Much of the criterion used to determine whether a business was essential or not remains a mystery. But what we do know is that churches didn’t make the cut in many places, meaning they were closed down at the order of the State. Even though most churches readily complied with the order, the idea of the State assuming this level of power over religious freedom can be concerning in many ways.    After some outcry, President Trump took up the baton, declaring houses of worship as “essential.” This was a declaration Christianity as a whole applauded, thankful for his courage in defending religious liberty for houses of worship.    There is a house of worship, however, where religious liberty is not applauded. In fact, Christianity as a whole has deemed it and condemned it to a state of being non-essential for most of history. I’m talking about a plateau on a little hill surrounded by several other hills. A place paved with smooth ancient stones, crowned with a shining golden dome, still echoing with prayers long forbidden.   I’m talking about the Temple Mount, of course, the place where God said in 2 Chronicles 7 He would place His eyes and heart forever. The place where His presence resided in power for hundreds of years and the only place He declared Himself zealous for in the Prophets, and where Jesus expressed His longing for it to become a House of Prayer for all nations! This place, the Home of God here on earth, is also where local Christians dumped their physical garbage for centuries, deeming it non-essential to our way of worship by all practical standards.    How have we become so disconnected from the very place God is zealous for, the House He created to have fellowship in with us? How have we become so disconnected from our Messiah who bore a tremendous zeal and love for His Father’s House?    When Jesus was left in Jerusalem as a twelve-year-old, His parents found Him in the Temple after a three-day search. When discussing His impending departure from earth with His disciples in John 15 Jesus told them He was going to prepare rooms for them in the Temple. When clearing out the impurities from the Temple’s courts Jesus’ disciples recognized that “Zeal for the House consumed Him.” And when Jesus prophesied about the Temple’s soon coming destruction, He wept.    After nearly 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish people have returned to the land of Israel. In 1967, the Temple Mount was returned to Israeli sovereignty, but not entirely. Jews are forbidden to pray or express any kind of open worship in the holiest location on earth. This is the place of God’s House, and I firmly believe it is time for us as Christians to start treating it as such. The time has come for us to stand up for our Father’s House, to deem it essential as a House of Worship. To call for it to become a house of prayer for all nations just as Jesus prophesied, to long for it with all of our hearts. Let freedom reign in God’s house. ... Read MoreRead More

In One Accord in One Place

In One Accord in One Place by Luke Hilton  Many Christians are familiar with the feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot as it is more commonly known in Israel. Many of you have probably celebrated a Passover seder before as well, and are appreciative of the beautiful significance that it brought to your faith. Many, however, are not as familiar with the feast of Shavuot. Interestingly though, Christianity does have a counterpart in Pentecost.  In Judaism, Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. To many, it is known as the marriage ceremony, when the children of Israel formed a relationship with their Creator and received His instructions for their lives. The Torah gives us no specific dates to celebrate Shavuot as it is meant to be exactly fifty days after Passover. During this fifty-day period, each family counts the “Omer,” which culminates in the feast of Shavuot.  In the New Testament, we see this fifty-day period as very significant. Yeshua died and rose again at Passover. He then appeared to more than 500 people over the next forty days. During that time, He taught them about His Kingdom. When He finally ascended to His Father, He had one last piece of instruction for His disciples:  “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4-6) Yeshua told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father, which they would receive not many days from then. The disciples knew that Shavuot was only ten days away. They would have had great expectation that the promise that Yeshua gave them would arrive at the culmination of the counting of the omer, at Shavuot! We see this story played out exactly in the next chapter in Acts. I’d like to retell it, with brief interludes to also paint for you what happens in modern-day Jerusalem at Shavuot.  After Yeshua left them, the disciples returned to Jerusalem in great anticipation to finish counting down the remaining days until Shavuot. Their excitement was even greater than years previous, as they were in anticipation of a special gift this year.  Like all of the other Jews in Jerusalem, the disciples would have spent the night of Shavuot in prayer and Torah study, probably banding together in the upper room.  The beginning of Shavuot is marked by a special service in the synagogues, a festive meal usually consisting of dairy foods, and then the Torah studies begin. All night long, the Jewish people will engage in Torah study, listening to their favorite rabbis and discussing and learning from one another. The book of Ruth is also read and studied. All night long they stay awake. Some of them will wander from synagogue to synagogue, or house to house, joining different studies all throughout the night.  About an hour before sunrise, however, the studies wrap up and thousands of people from all over Jerusalem begin making their way to the Western Wall. Quietly, in the darkness, the streets of Jerusalem begin to be filled with people, all of them headed in one direction. The closer one gets to the Old City, the bigger the crowds grow. All of them pack into the Western Wall plaza and stand facing the Temple Mount, where they quietly wait. In the beginning of Acts 2, we read that the disciples were all in one accord, in one place. Most assume that they are still in the upper room. However, just a few verses later, we read that the Jews of Jerusalem were astonished to hear them speaking in their own languages. After Peter’s sermon to the people who were gathered there, 3,000 people were added to the disciples’ number. That means that there were thousands and thousands who witnessed the Holy Spirit fall on the disciples and heard Peter’s presentation of the Gospel! The hint as to what happened is in the beginning of Acts 2 and in the traditions of the Jewish people. We read in verse 1 that they were in “one place.” In Hebrew this is hamakom, a term used all throughout Scripture to refer to the Temple.  Let’s go back to the Western Wall  in modern Jerusalem. Just as the sun peeks over the horizon, someone gives a signal and the morning prayers begin. Each sect or group of Jews prays together with their leader. Even though the thousands who are praying are not in perfect unison, everyone is praying together, facing the Temple Mount. The experience is incredible.  Suddenly, the original Shavuot when the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples makes sense! After spending all night in the upper room in prayer and study, they would have joined the rest of Jerusalem in making their way to the Temple just before dawn. As faithful Jews who adhered to the traditions of their time, they would have joined in the morning prayers, probably finishing with the “Our Father” that Yeshua taught them. This was a common practice for rabbis of the day to give their disciples a unique prayer to add to the end of the daily prayers.  On this Shavuot, however, an amazing thing happened. In what must have been reminiscent of the original Shavuot, when God appeared in great splendor and glory to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, a great wind shook the Temple. Tongues of fire appeared on the heads of the disciples, and suddenly they were speaking in the languages of all those who were present. The rest of the story we know The question is, could it be that the giving of the Holy Spirit was dependent on the disciples being in one accord and being in one place? Yeshua did tell them specifically to stay in Jerusalem. We read very clearly: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Acts 2:1) Being in one accord does seem key to the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. What if, however, the second key is to be in alignment with “the Place” – the Temple? We know with near certainty that the disciples were in the Temple when the Holy Spirit fell on them during that Pentecost Day nearly 2,000 years ago.  What if, instead of allowing more than 40,000 denominations to divide Christianity, we returned to the original place where the disciples were in one accord? What if we aligned with Zion? Even if you can’t physically be in Jerusalem this year, you can still face Jerusalem as Shavuot begins tonight.  We encourage you to join with other believers tonight, and make sure you are aligned in one accord with Jerusalem and God’s Kingdom. Chag Shavuot sameach! (Happy feast of... Read MoreRead More

What Percentage of the Heartland Will the Deal of the Century Give Up? (Article)

What Percentage of the Heartland Will the Deal of the Century Give Away? Israeli elections finish in near stalemate with a slight advantage for Blue and White Naftali Bennet publishes alleged map for the deal of the century that gives away 90% of Judea and Samaria   With near final results (99.8%) from Tuesday’s elections, it appears to be a near stalemate between the left and right wing parties.  Blue and White: 33 Likud: 31 Joint Arab List: 13 Shas: 9 United Torah Judaism: 8 Yisrael Beytenu: 8 Yamina: 7 Labor-Gesher: 6 Democratic Union: 5 Altogether, the left-wing bloc stands at 57 seats (assuming the Arab list joins) and the right-wing bloc at 55. To form a coalition, one needs a minimum of 61 seats.  What does this mean for the immediate future of Israel, and the biblical heartland? In short, it’s hard to say yet. This week’s elections seem to be a near copy of the April elections, which is not very good news since Avigdor Lieberman refused to sit in Netanyahu’s government, and he very well could do the same again. This, of course, is assuming that Netanyahu has the chance to form a government this go around, which is questionable, since Blue and White headed by Benny Gantz received two more seats than Likud.  Avigdor Lieberman has already stated emphatically that he will not sit in a coalition government with Likud unless the draft law is passed, and unless public transportation is allowed to operate on Shabbat. The draft law would force all Israeli citizens to serve in the IDF, a move which would likely turn away the Ultra-Orthodox parties from sitting in the coalition.  On the other hand, Lieberman has also stated that he will in no way sit in a coalition with Benny Gantz if the Joint Arab List is included, which makes things difficult since they are now the third largest party in Israel.  Altogether, things do not look good for Gantz or Netanyahu to form a coalition. Two options seem to be at the forefront of discussions: 1) form a unity government with Likud and Blue and White, or 2) the right gets lays aside their differences and comes together to form a coalition. The only other option is to go to elections for a third time, which would likely happen in February 2020. Let’s talk about Yamina, which makes up several of the most conservative parties in Israel, and came together as a technical bloc with Ayelet Shaked at their head to try and garner more votes. Unifying did not seem to work in their favor however, because they only ended up with seven seats.  In what appeared to be a dramatic political stunt by Naftali Bennet, Yamina published a map just days before the election showing what they claimed the Deal of the Century would entail for Judea and Samaria.  As you can see below, according to Bennet’s map, the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area would be annexed, as promised by Netanyahu. Ninety percent of the rest of Judea and Samaria would be made into a Palestinian State, with most of the current settlements being annexed into Israel, and only connected to each other and Israel proper by roads.  One does not need to be an expert on Israel to know that this would be suicide for the Jewish state. Can you imagine driving on a road that is surrounded on all sides by a Palestinian state? Enough Jews are murdered as it is, and I do not say that lightly.  I will not elaborate more here on the dangers of what this alleged map along with a peace deal could do for Israel. We will have no way of knowing whether it is accurate until the actual peace plan is released, perhaps in the coming weeks. A local resident of Har Bracha however, has said that he thinks the map is an accurate depiction.  Here is the real danger. With Blue and White headed by Benny Gantz receiving the largest number of seats in the elections, the chance that he may be tasked with forming the next government is very real. Let’s lay out a possible scenario out very clearly:  Benny Gantz forms a left wing government coalition. The Deal of the Century is released immediately after Israel’s new Knesset is formed. The peace plan calls for Israel to give up land, settlements, and evacuate Jewish settlers from Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian state is formed in the land that Israel gives up. While Likud called Naftali Bennet’s map fake news, we can almost certainly say that President Trump’s peace plan will call for some concessions in the biblical heartland. The only question is how much. He referenced multiple times in speeches over the last several years that since Israel received the American’s recognition of their capital in Jerusalem, they would need to be prepared to give up something in favor of the Palestinians.  Even if the plan does not call for Israel to give up 90% of Judea and Samaria, what percentage would be acceptable? 10, 20 or 40%? Maybe only 40,000 Jews would be forced to leave their homes? Even one Jewish home being destroyed and one Jewish family being evacuated is one too much.  I can already hear those saying, “But the Palestinians will not accept a deal that allows Israel to keep any settlements! They’ve proven that over the last 30 years”.  What if President Trump, in a move that would be characteristic of his bold personality, bypasses the Palestinian Authority? What if the U.S. Administration partners with France, Saudi Arabia, and/or the United Nations, and forces a Palestinian State in the biblical heartland?  What will our response be as Zionist... Read MoreRead More

The Harvest is in full swing!

Harvest 2019 is here! The once-barren mountains of Israel are now bursting with vibrant color as we watch God’s plan of redemption unfold in the Land. Not only that, but volunteers from all over the world have come to Israel to take part in the wonderful restoration that is happening right in front of us. Taking what Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Amos prophesied about the land of Israel coming back to life, and putting it into action. Here are some photos from the trips so far:   Planting Trees Harvesting Grapes in Shiloh Harvesting Nectarines Sunrise on Elon Moreh Temple Mount in... Read MoreRead More