Israel Prayer Teams
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Taking the Land:
Addressing the Curse of the 9th of Av
by Donna Diorio
published publicly July 2007/written July 2005

The following is a perspective that I wrote and distributed two years ago to the local Israel Prayer prayer team I lead in Dallas around the time of the 9th of Av in 2005. It came from meeting which Eitan Shishkoff, from Tents of Mercy in Israel, spoke at my home congregation Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in Dallas, and also Chuck Pierce and Robert Heidler’s church in Denton, Glory of Zion.

Amazingly enough, Eitan has just spoken at both places again around the 9th of Av 2007, but that is not what brought my attention back to this writing. Instead it was a prophecy on the Elijahlist by Bill Yount called “I Heard It Through the Grapevine—Joshua and Caleb were OBSESSED with Looking for FRUIT.” I remembered that God had given me several of the points that Bill Yount was making in prophecy, so I began to search where I had written what was given to me.

One portion was given to me in an article posted on my web site on March 14, 2006 called A Visitation of Jesus in Israel. The other portion was in a private perspective I gave my Dallas team in July 2005.
I am bringing it out now, because once again, the principles of focusing on the fruit and not the giants has been brought to the surface concerning Israel because of the recent 9th of Av. With that in mind, here then is the private report, Taking the Land. – Donna Diorio, July 26, 2007

Curse of the 9th of Av?

At Glory of Zion in Denton, Pastor Robert Heidler read from an unidentified source that Jewish tradition has calculated that the 9th of Av is the same date on which the Jewish people accepted the fearful report made by 10 out 12 spies sent to spy out the land of Promise. God was in no need twelve eye-witness reports to know what was going on in the Land He was leading the generation of the Exodus into. This was a test of the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel as to what they would see and what would dominate their focus as they entered to spy out the land of promise.

According to Jewish tradition on the day that ten of the leaders returned with an evil report that discouraged the people from entering to possess their inheritance, God issued the decree barring the generation that left Egypt from entering Israel. These ten men—who were really leaders from each tribe, not spies—saw only powerful enemies and opposition. They were ruled by fear and unbelief; scared away from their inheritance because of the enemies they would have to overcome. Having seen God’s power majestically displayed in the exodus, they could not see themselves moving in His power to overcome the enemies they would have to face.

This story is not about Israel’s first spy team, as much as that imagery captures our imagination. The story of the twelve “spies” is really about how twelve leaders viewed the same thing and what they concluded from what they saw. Two looked through the eyes of faith believing they could overcome every enemy because God had promised them this land overflowing with milk and honey. Ten could not get past the overwhelming enemies currently in possession of the land.

There is a report making a correlation between God’s decree against the unbelief of the ten spies and the many, many tragic historical events that that taken place against the Jewish people on the 9th of Av. It was explained that a curse had been set in motion because by the refusal of the ten spies to believe God and to go in and take the land He had promised to them.

We all would like to know why bad things happen to good people, but this may not be why so many tragedies have befallen the Jewish people on the 9th of Av. Does that necessarily mean that God’s decree was a curse? I don’t think so, but I do know this: Unbelief is its own curse.

Scripture tells us plainly, “Whatever is not of faith, is sin.” Not one of us can enter into our inheritance without truly believing that God does not call us to the impossible, but to the possible in Him.

God knew in advance that even though He had delivered them from Egypt with a mighty hand that Israel still had a fearful slave mentality. He could lead them straight to the Promised Land but they did not have the warrior mentality to possess their inheritance.

Exodus 13:17 tells us that God did not lead them into the promised land immediately because He already knew, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”

But did God “curse” them for their lack?

In the Numbers 14:18 intercession of Moses on behalf of the ten unbelieving spies, he says that ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity (the propensity towards the same sin) of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’

God does not curse us. The curse that accompanies unbelief is already set in the earth as a consequence of sin. A day of judgment will come—but God is not involved in a constant tit-for-tat judgment of man’s failings. The law of sin and death is what metes out many of the curses on humankind.

Further, Yeshua said that the word He has spoken will judge the hearers “on the last day” and, “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” Yeshua indicates the Father’s nature by saying that we should love our enemies so we can be the sons of God “for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain of the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Not that God does not or will not judge, but there is never a shortage of “prophets” crying out that God is currently pouring out a steady stream of vengeance and judgment on the world. Yeshua seems to indicate that mankind is still in the space the Father has given for repentance. Curses are upon mankind, but the source of the curses are not God. Contrary to cursing, God responded to Moses’ intercession in Numbers 14 by saying, “I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.”

God not only “pardoned” the ten leaders who could only see the opposition and not the bountiful promise, but He also pardoned all those who were likeminded in unbelief at their report! God’s promise to them—and to us—is that He can break us out of the cycle of the curse of sin and unbelief, and fill us with His glory through the mystery of Messiah in us, the hope of glory!

There is a promise remaining that all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. The glory of the Lord abides in us increasingly as we are transformed from glory to glory into the likeness of His Son. This is the mystery of all the ages that Messiah in us is the hope of glory that we are still reaching for to this very day.


God continued saying to Moses, “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it. (Num 13:20-24).

I believe this has application to the current events in Israel, however, lest anyone think I am making an application about taking land, I believe what the Holy Spirit has been speaking to us in recent days is that while the Torah example in Numbers is about taking physical “land,” that the issue at stake today is spiritual not physical.

Today it is about taking the land of Israel spiritually, not physically—increased salvations, not expansion of the borders. God will restore the full borders of Israel, but those who call upon the name of His Son are to be primarily focused on the expansion of the spiritual kingdom, not the earthly one. The Lord is building a spiritual temple in Israel, one made up of precious living stones and not of one of hard, cold stones fashioned by the hands of men.

It is helpful to remember that the history of Israel recorded in the Hebrew scripture was written for our example and are, in that way, similar to the parables told by Yeshua. Just like we don’t get caught up in casting our “nets” into the sea seeking literal “fish” we realize that the point that is being made is a spiritual point with a spiritual application.

Some would say, ‘Are you spirtualizing away the rebuilding of the third Temple?’ I must ask, ‘Are you so focused on the plans for a temple made of stone that you cannot see and place in proper priority the living temple that God is raising up in His Son today in Israel?’

Remember—a primary theme of the account of the twelve spies is that how we see things determines whether we enter into our inheritance.

The salvation of all Israel lies with those who are not focused on the overwhelming enemies in the world of the Jewish state. The salvation of all Israel has been taken on by those who live in the land whose eyes are filled with the promise of God that a fruitful harvest lies before them.

It is easy to become sucked into the distractions of life—especially in Israel where those distractions can be particularly intimidating. But those who keep their eyes filled with the promise of fruit rather than the oppositions of the enemy will reap the harvest. While Yeshua’s servants gather in the fields that are ripe unto harvest, God will restore the full inheritance of the land to Israel.

God Knows Our Frame

There are spiritual points in the Numbers 14 account to draw from for the current events in Israel. Sent by God through Moses to assess the fruit and the opposition, ten of the leaders from the 12 tribes came back more afraid of the enemies they would have to face than the abundance of fruit within the land. But Caleb’s eyes had been captured by the promise of fruitfulness. He richly described what he saw as a land flowing with milk and honey and was filled with enthusiasm to go forward with God against the enemies between him and the promised inheritance.

The ten who disheartened Israel with the reports of enemy activity in the Promised Land did not have an image of themselves as ‘sent by God and therefore equipped by God.’ Their image of themselves was still one of slaves as their eyes took in larger-than-life enemies occupying the Land of Promise. They said, “We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Self confidence is really not the point in facing spiritual opposition and enemies. We can only overcome those enemies or come out of our "slave" image of ourselves by coming into the image of Yeshua being formed in us. The more He grows in us, the less slave likeness is found in us. It is not who we are, it is who He is in us.

In the face of the clamor of people following bad reports, as Messiah is formed in us we will also respond in the spirit of Caleb who said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”

Moses had instructed them to “Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Scripture adds, “Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.” It is interesting that the goodness of the land that the spies chose to bring back as an example to the people was a huge single cluster of grapes, so large it had to be carried on a pole between two men.

That huge cluster of grapes is indicative of new wine—the Holy Spirit potential that exists in Israel to this day and today not only among Israeli Jews but also Palestinian Arabs who are also being saved. One of the most heartening things about the reports we read weekly from Israeli ministries is the ongoing reconciliation with Palestinian Arab believers in Yeshua. Only God can make peace between the Arab and Jewish brothers and sisters steeped in such a to-the-death conflict. It is heartening to see those whose desire to follow Yeshua is so great that they will follow Him even into making peace with their ‘enemy-brothers.’

I am also reminded of the prayer requests and reports we receive each week in Israel Prayer from Israeli ministry leaders about “the fruit of the land” that they are able to see. Today Israel is again in the time of “first ripe grapes.” Each week congregations are seeing Jews that God is revealing His Son to and who are being saved. In spite of the many enemies in the land, both of the religious Jewish and religious or nationalistic Palestinian variety these Messianic ministries have entered into believing God’s promise of a mighty harvest in Israel. It may be only the first of the harvest, but their focus is intent on the ripening harvest field.

I think also of the ministries who have persevered and who are currently persevering intense persecution by Jewish religious fanatics—zealots who are not unlike Saul breathing out “threatenings and slaughter” against Yeshua’s disciples. Persecution by the religious sects is very real and very intimidating in Israel but the faithful disciples of Yeshua, willing to take up the cross for the purposes of God, keep the spirit of Caleb nevertheless. They are able to see and focus on the promise of the fruit of the land, so they are able to overcome the persecution of the enemies of the gospel. This is in the same example as Yeshua, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.

The Israeli Messianic ministries are at the beginning of a mighty harvest and persecution from the enemies of the gospel is already great, but as God said of Caleb, they have a “different spirit” from those who are focused on directing the prayer resources of the worldwide church almost exclusively toward a fleshly battle for land between the Israelis and the Palestinians. There is something greater at stake here and it is gathering the fruit in the time of the harvest. It is a shame that so much of the Church has not prioritized the “something greater.”

The Fruit of the Land is the Fulfillment
of Part 2 of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Dry Bones

The Israeli ministries have set themselves to overcome the enemies and gather in the fruit of the land that has been promised by God: “and so all Israel shall be saved!” But are we doing our part in helping them? Are we first of all prophesying that God’s Spirit would enter the dry bones of those Israelis returned from exile to the Land?

The first part of Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones has been fulfilled. Let’s not be confused with the progression of the restoration of Israel: The second part of Ezekiel’s vision is not that all the promised borders must be secured by the dry bones, but that we would prophesy to those bones to come alive spiritually! The vision of Ezekiel which revealed God’s intent to restore Israel did not deal with securing Israel’s promised national borders.

What it did reveal was that after God raised Israel from their graves—restoring them as a nation, although a spiritually dry one—that our next step and the central focus toward the dry bones is to call them to spiritual life. We must prophesy that spiritual life to come to them and as we do this, the Messianic believers in the Land will continue to gather “the fruit of the land.” (Num 13.25 and Ekekiel 37)

Gathering the fruit of the land. That is the example Eitan was showing us as he reported on the activities of the five Tents of Mercy-connected congregations of northern Israel (three congregations that came into being in the last year!). As our spiritual warfare focuses on prophesying to the dry bones and their gathering of the fruit, then God Himself will restore the Land to the promised boundaries.

The fruit of the land of Israel today is not clusters of grapes, it is people being filled with the new wine that only comes through Yeshua. His life being lived out and proclaimed in apostolic power by the Messianic Jews of Israel.

Apostolic Ministry in Israel

Eitan Shishkoff, of Tents of Mercy, has spoken of the necessity of an apostolic ministry coming forth in Israel the past two times he has spoken at Baruch HaShem. Part of that apostolic leadership is establishing among the Israeli believers the same thing God worked into the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness: We must learn to see ourselves and our world through God’s eyes instead of through the eyes of our past experiences. We can only do that as Messiah is formed in a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Our hearts will only think as Yeshua, when we allow Yeshua to be formed in us displacing the slavery of our past life experience.

As scripture tells us in Exodus 13:17-18, “Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.”

God began training them as warriors as soon as He brought them out of Egypt, by placing them in martial array, but He knew if they really caught a glimpse of the warfare that awaited them as the tried to enter their inheritance, that they would be frightened enough to completely abandon the promise and return to the Egyptian bondage. So would we.

So instead He led them in circles around the same mountain in the wilderness, as He does us, until we have shed our old mentality and image of ourselves, and learned through His transforming work in us that we are warriors. We become overcomers because He has made us to face and overcome the mountains of obstacles in our lives.

God knows that our minds have to go through a process of renewal, of transformation, from seeing ourselves as overpowered by enemies to seeing ourselves as warriors in the spiritual power of the Spirit of God within us. This is not just a matter of confessing something until we believe it, but a process of making room within our own souls so that the Spirit of the Son of God has increasing governmental control of our lives. It is being in Him that brings His power into our lives, and in Him we do enter the promised inheritance and rest of God.

What is the rest of God? It is the tried and true confidence that no matter what the circumstances, God is bringing about everything to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Our focus today is not conquering the physical land of Israel and ridding it of Arabs! Our charge is spiritual—overcoming the land of our own hearts and ridding it of all that is not in Him so our purposes are His purposes! That charge applies to Israel just as much as it applies to any of the Gentile nations where the Lord’s people are called to be witnesses unto Him.

Prophesy to the breath

Ezekiel 37:9-10: “Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

There is an exceeding great army arising in Israel and they are believers, followers and disciples of Yeshua. Are we working with them or ignoring their very existence? I am speaking of the Israeli ministries and communities of faith.

It is not enough to God that we support Israel--our support must be towards the Israeli ministries and the household of faith who alone are actively proclaiming the gospel to Israeli Jews.

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