Tim Moore: Avi Mizrachi of Dugit Ministries has joined us all the way from Tel Aviv, Israel to explain what being “in the wilderness,” as the book of Numbers describes, has to do with the nation of Israel today.
Avi Mizrachi: In Hebrew the word bemidbar means “in the desert” or “in the wilderness.” The people of Israel entered into the wilderness — the bemidbar — where they roamed for 40 years until they reached the mountains of Moab, and from there they entered the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan River.
Nathan Jones: We are now 3,000-plus years after Israel’s desert wanderings. Would you say that Israel is currently still in a state of wilderness as they are rebuilding their nation and still looking to find their Messiah?
Avi Mizrachi: Yes, I would say that.
The word bemidbar, or “in the wilderness,” includes the word daber which means “speaking the word.” Sometimes we have to travel through the wilderness so we are not distracted by all of those things that distract us for the purpose of hearing the voice of the Lord. I believe more than ever that through the work of the Holy Spirit more and more Jewish people are coming to the knowledge of Yeshua as the real Messiah.
Many Ethnicities, One Body
Nathan Jones: And, Avi, a lot of these people coming to know Yeshua as their Savior are due to your own evangelistic efforts in Tel Aviv. As a Messianic Jew, you started Dugit Ministries, a lovely little coffee shop outreach, and you founded a church. Most people don’t understand how the Messianic movement is moving along in Israel, so could you tell us how many Jewish people know Yeshua as their Savior there?
Avi Mizrachi: That is a very good question. But, let me clarify, Dugit is just one of the many messianic ministries in the land of Israel, by the grace of God. When I became a believer 37 years ago, in 1984, we hosted a conference and we had a couple hundred believers from all over the land of Israel attend. We were so excited that we knew each other, their names, and their children. Today the body of believers has grown to 20,000 believers in 300 local congregations all throughout Israel!
Nathan Jones: Of the seven million Jews that are living in Israel, only 20,000 are Messianic Jews?
Avi Mizrachi: Yes, seven million Jews, plus almost two million Arabs, so we are talking about nine million people who live in Israel today. Out of that, we have about 20,000 believers in the land. We are talking about congregations that speak Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, some who speak Amharic, Ethiopian, and we have a couple in English, and we have one or two in French and Spanish.
Tim Moore: How beautiful a model of the body of Christ, because even with all of those different backgrounds — both Jewish and Arab in origin — they are all united in Jesus Christ. That unity of faith cuts through all of the animosity that would otherwise exist.
Avi Mizrachi: And although we come from different backgrounds, different cultures, and different countries, we are all Israelis who live together in the land. We know that we are a small body, so we need one another. The leaders from the different congregations meet together once a month, or in a couple of months, and we pray together.
I am involved in this movement called SAYF — Sitting at Yeshua’s Feet. We go out into the wilderness and we spend a couple of days with no agenda, just praying for one another and taking communion together and hearing the voice of the Lord. It’s so beautiful what God is doing among believers in Israel today.
Two Halves, One Body
Tim Moore: It certainly is. Some people would say that the Messianic Jewish people of today are not part of the Church, but rather they are part of the 144,000 who will live into the Tribulation. When the Rapture happens, the saved Jews are going with the saved Gentiles, right?
Avi Mizrachi: Yes, absolutely! The way I look at it, go back 2,000 years to when Jesus gave the Great Commission to go and preach the Gospel and make disciples to the ends of the earth. The Gospel went from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, to the port of Joppa, to Caesarea, and then it went out to the nations. The nations came to salvation due to the Gospel spreading out from Israel.
When you study Christian history you’ll see some of it was not very good because it began to teach Replacement Theology, meaning that the Church has replaced Israel. But, such a teaching is not biblical.
Meanwhile, God said He would bring the Jewish people back to the land of Israel, but that is not the end of the story. In Ezekiel 36, God says He would pour out, or sprinkle them, with clean water and He would cleanse them and give them a new heart. I am a testimony of this very thing being fulfilled.
The way that I see it, for 2,000 years the Bride has been mostly Gentile. Would any of us marry half a bride? No way! So, now what is happening is that God is bringing the other half of the Bride — the Jewish part — together with the non-Jew in making the complete Church. God is grafting both sides together.
What is the Church exactly? Is it Rome? Is it from England? Is it from Timbuktu? Where is it from? It is not a building and it is not an organization, rather it is a body of believers — Jews and non-Jews — who together make one Bride of Christ. And, Jesus is coming back for His Bride who is without spot and wrinkle.
I believe this union of the Jewish and Gentile sides of the Church constitutes what we are going through today. After all, Israel has a very important part to play from the prophetic perspective.
One Lord, One Provider
Tim Moore: They certainly do. Avi, you mentioned a wilderness or desert. When a Westerner thinks of a wilderness, we tend to think of a forest dense with trees and vegetation. But, a wilderness in the Judean mindset is not full of vegetation, rather it is an actual desert that may contain some very small stubble or grass. You have to wonder how in the Sinai wilderness the goats and the sheep even find something to eat. And yet, God provided for the Jewish people while they wandered in the wilderness for all of those years.
Avi Mizrachi: I served in the Army Reserves and many times our commanders would take us out into the desert and we would sleep in the desert. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, out there! Without bringing your own water you would die. There is no question about it.
And so, during the day when it is very hot, you look for a cloud you can go under to find some shade. God provided the wandering Hebrew people during the day a cloud. The Shekinah Glory appeared as a cloud during the day to provide the people with some shade. And, at night when it is very cold because the temperature drops, what did God provide? He provided a pillar of fire to provide them some warmth. In other words, God provided the Israelites 24/7 with all that they needed during the day and during the night. And, whenever they were thirsty, He provided water.
When we are quiet before the Lord, God speaks! “Bemidbar medaber” — God speaks in the wilderness.