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December 4, 2012

by: Rev. Cheryl Hauer, International Development Director

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As is often the case, it means different things to different people or when used in a variety of contexts. Most are speaking of being physically prepared for the difficult situations that Israel may soon face. Others, in both the Jewish and Christian communities, are referring to a spiritual preparedness which they see as even more important in terms of facing potential crises.

The Bible attests to the fact that, throughout history, the nation of Israel has spent a great deal of its time taking steps to be prepared. Whether encouraging His people to be ready to go into battle, to build, to flee, to marry, or to face their God, the Lord makes it very clear that preparation and being ready are concepts close to His heart.

Established in Readiness

The verb kun appears over 200 times in the Scriptures, and its Greek counterparts are found dozens of times as well. According to the Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Greek and Hebrew Words, it means to be ready. However, it is referring to a different kind of readiness than simply having our car keys in hand as we go out the door. It means to be established in readiness, which introduces another Hebrew root to our study: banah (בנה).

Banah is used dozens of times throughout the Bible and means to make solid or unchanging. It is the term God used when He told Noah to “build” the ark, instructing him to create something solid, unchangeable, and indestructible, something that would insure he and his family were firmly established in readiness for what was to come.

One of the earliest examples in Israel’s history of the critical importance of this kind of solid preparedness comes from the story of Joseph. Through dreams, Pharaoh is warned of coming famine, but it is also revealed to him that preparations can be made that will save Egypt from destruction. As Joseph follows the leading of the Lord, Egypt is established in readiness when disaster strikes. But the actual preparation for this miraculous deliverance can be traced all the way back to an unfortunate encounter between Joseph and his brothers. Had they not resented him, attacked him, and sold him to a passing camel caravan, he would not have been in position to play his role in God’s plan to rescue the Egyptians and his own family from famine. Clearly, like pieces on a chessboard, God leads, guides, and positions His people so that they will be ready for events that only He can foresee.

The Right Kind of Preparation

God’s people, however, have to do their part as well, and there are many scriptural examples of the importance of making the right kind of preparations. Israel’s priesthood, for example, was tasked with offering sacrifices on behalf of the entire nation, interceding for deliverance, and leading the people in Temple worship. But a significant amount of their time was spent in very specific acts of preparation. When they bathed, how they bathed, what they wore, even how they slept the night before certain rituals were all clearly spelled out for them because they needed to be established in readiness according to God’s instructions.

As Christians, we recognize this very Hebraic principle in much of what Yeshua (Jesus) and His apostles taught. Yeshua frequently encouraged the multitudes to be prepared for difficult times: for persecution, for the end of days, and even for the coming of the Messiah (when He would come again). Further, He told His disciples that He, too, would be engaged in preparation, readying a place where He and His followers would be together for eternity.

Finally, there are also many rabbinic injunctions stressing the importance of readiness, and one of my favorites has to do with prayer. Certainly, the rabbis say, we can and should pray at any time. We should find at least 100 reasons each day to bless and thank the Lord. The Apostle Paul reiterates this principle when he encourages us to go boldly before the throne of God, and further that we should be constantly in prayer.

But there is another kind of prayer—a deep, personal encounter with the Lord of the Universe—that the rabbis say requires preparation. As a matter of fact, they encourage at least one full hour of quiet meditation and studying the Word of God in order to bring the heart to a state of established readiness. Only then, they say, can we be prepared for intimate interaction with God, bathed in His love, hearing His voice, being strengthened and empowered…made ready for whatever is next on our own horizon.

Preparing for Final Redemption

Israel exists today as a reminder of the faithfulness of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and His plan for the redemption of all mankind. And it’s all about preparation! Ancient promises must be realized, prophecy fulfilled, and God’s chosen nation established in readiness for His ultimate act of redemption—the coming of the Messiah.

We are privileged to be alive today, called by the Lord to partner with Him as He sets the stage for such monumental events. Making sure we are prepared is critically important. And part of that preparation involves a commitment to the nation of Israel, to support, pray, advocate, and stand in solidarity with God’s chosen people, as the One who sees all things brings all of His children to a state of established readiness.

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