Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins. — Isaiah 40:2
The year 2018 is important for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. You can be part of this momentous milestone with Rabbi Eckstein’s 70 devotions offered now through April 19, Israel’s Independence Day. These devotions are tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land using the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L.
This devotion is part of ten devotions focusing on the letter “E” for Educate — the need to arm ourselves with the truth about Israel and share that truth with others.
These verses from Isaiah chapter 40 are traditionally read following the Jewish observance of Tisha B’Av, on which we mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and all other tragedies, and are part of a series of Torah readings called “The Seven Comfortings.” As the name suggests, all contain messages of comfort and encouragement for the nation of Israel.
Appropriately, today’s verses begin “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). The next verse begins, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . .” However, the literal translation of the original Hebrew actually reads, “Speak on (the heart of) Jerusalem.”
Is this a grammatical mistake? In Hebrew, the words “to” and “on” are nearly identical, and indeed, most understand this verse as speaking to Jerusalem, not on Jerusalem. However, we can learn an extremely important and relevant lesson by taking the words at face value.
Perhaps the prophet is encouraging us to speak about Jerusalem, “on Jerusalem.” Let Jerusalem and Israel be the topic of conversation. Let us spread the truth about Israel as well as the needs of Israel. In this way, we comfort God’s people greatly.
I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to individuals receiving aid from The Fellowship who have said these words to me, “Christians around the world know about us? They care about us? They are providing us with this support?”
So many Jews in Israel, and around the world for that matter, are shocked to know that they are the topic of conversation and concern for many Christians. Their initial surprise melts into comfort and gratitude. Especially in Israel, where much of the world attempts to isolate and vilify us, it is extremely comforting to this war-torn nation to know that there are those who care about us, who stand up for Israel, who provide lifesaving aid to Israel, and who speak the truth about Israel. Sometimes I am left wondering which was the greater gift — the physical support provided by The Fellowship or the emotional gift that comes in the form of a virtual hug from a stranger across the globe?
Friends, I invite you to join us in fulfilling the words from the prophet Isaiah. Together, we can comfort God’s people. Let’s talk about the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Israel who need our help at this time. Let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem and let’s speak up for Jerusalem, letting it be known that she is, and always will be, the eternal capital of the Jewish state.
Join the celebration and get the entire Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. curriculum for free — for you, your small group, or even your church.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President