Barren Women: Daughters of Zion (Bat Tziyon) Women of Hope Conference, Galilee, Israel
As we drove north from our moshav (village) to Tiberius (Batya, Liat, Avi & me) in our little red Clio rental car, it began to rain – halleluyah! And then pour!! And then the rain was coming down so hard that I couldn’t even see the road!!! Everyone was driving slowly with their back blinkers on (except the meshugenas (crazies) who kept driving fast as usual.) We kept praying and asking for God’s supernatural protection over us and everyone on the road through this rain that we would somehow get through it safely - thanking God for the blessing of rain in northern Israel; and at the same time completely terrified by the flooding.
Somehow we made it through, dropped Avi off at the Aliyah Return Center and drove to our hotel – the Leonardo Tiberius. We registered and went to settle in before the first meeting. The room was so spacious we were in awe!
Ahh.. for a girls’ weekend away. So excited…. looking forward to what the Lord would do in our midst. I felt that the pouring rain held a prophetic significance – the Ruach Hakodesh (Holy Spirit) was about to be poured out upon us like a spiritual flood.
Our first meeting was held in an underground bomb shelter. Figures… only in Israel :) Over 150 women of all ages, locations, shapes, sizes, personalities and backgrounds crowded into this room to worship the God of Israel together in unity. One of the songs we sang was ‘Kadosh’ (holy – set apart) which was composed by one of the pioneer Messianic musicians in Israel – Elisheva Shomron. And here she was sitting in our midst! Completely humble, totally inconspicuous, as if it is nothing whatsoever that one of her songs is being sung in Messianic congregations all around the world! No, she sat there together with all of us women as one – knowing how desperately we all are in need of the refreshing and healing of the living God in our hearts.
Interesting that right next to us happened to be the hotel synagogue where the religious Jews were chanting their own prayers. While we were worshiping in the Spirit; they were praying in Da’at (knowledge) of Truth. These are the worshipers God desires – those who will worship Him in Spirit AND Truth. Oh – if only we could get these two blending together in perfect harmony and unity! What a power would be poured out!
Chaya Mizrachi got up to welcome us and introduce the conference. She lit the Sabbath candles. Her husband, Avi Mizrachi (Adonai Roi congregation, Dugit Messianic bookstore, Tel Aviv) got up to lead us in kabbalat Shabbat – the welcoming of the Sabbath with wine & challah. He spoke of this week’s parashah being ‘Shabbat Shira’ (Sabbath of songs) since Moses led Israel out of the Red Sea on dry land and Miriam danced and sang with tambourines, rejoicing over the great victory they had just received over the Egyptians. Avi prayed that new prophetic songs would be released through women in the Body of Messiah. Amen!
“Again I will build you so that you will be rebuilt, Virgin Israel. You will take up your tambourines again and go out in joyful dancing.” (Jeremiah 31:4)
Chaya then introduced our speaker for the evening – Norma Sarvis – a pioneer of the Messianic movement in Israel and a great ‘eshet chayil’ (Woman of Valor) (Proverbs 31). This word, ‘eshet chayil’, however, literally means ‘soldier woman’ in Hebrew. A ‘chayil’ is a soldier. God desires for us women to be strong and courageous for His Kingdom.
Norma has been a true soldier in the army of the Lord. She had a burden for the youth in Israel; so she started ‘Katzir’ youth camps (which my own kids went to as teens). She also had a burden for children and started children’s programming in Israel and now, having a burden for women, was instrumental in organizing this first Messianic Women’s conference in Israel.
Norma got up and spoke about ‘barren women’ and relayed her personal grief over being physically barren and unable to conceive or bear children. Just before coming to Israel, someone gave her an unusual ‘word’:
"Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who is married," says the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:1)
Norma considered this a strange word since she was not married at the time and could not bear children. However, since starting Katsir, Norma now has hundreds of spiritual children! Halleluyah!
Here are some notes from Norna’s message (with my interpretation and additions):
It is easy in Israel (and I would add perhaps everywhere else too) for women to feel barren – as if we have no fruit to show for our lives. And that even if we do have fruit – we can find no place for it in the Land. Where is our place to be fruitful??
And yet God wants to do amazing things in and through ‘barren women’. The women who proclaim the gospel are a great female army of chayalim (soldiers).
“The Lord gives the command; and the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great army:” (Psalm 68:11)
God birthed the nation of Israel out of barren women. He chose Sarai, a barren, dried up, old woman, and changed her name to Sarah, in order to birth the nation of Israel. Amazing! (In order to change her name to Sarah, God needed to add the Hebrew letter ‘hei’ ה , which is an actual abbreviation used for the name of God Himself. Sarai, together in union with God, became Sarah, fruitful, mother of a nation.) When we come into intimate union with the God of the Universe we will see miracles birthed through us.
“And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to conceive seed because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” (Hebrews 11:11)
The Hebrew word for seed is ‘zerah’. Is it just a coincidence that the place where we dropped off Avi & would stay at (aliyah return centre) is in a place called Beit Zerah (House of Seed)? Hmm…
Norma spoke of her emotional pain upon discovering that she was barren. She thought God had made a mistake – as if an essential part of what it means to be a woman had been simply ‘missed’ when God created her. For so long she went around thinking, “There is something wrong with me. I am a mistake. God made a terrible mistake when He created me.” But eventually, God showed Norma that He wanted to change the way she thought about herself and so she repeated hundreds of times, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Many of us women have a poor self image. We see ourselves as somehow defective; but God wants to change our name - our very identity. Rachel in the Torah also struggled with fertility issues. “Rachel, realizing she was barren, became envious of her sister. “Give me children or I’ll die,” she exclaimed to Jacob.” (Genesis 31:1)
But once she bore Joseph, then her husband was free to return to his homeland. When we ‘get over our barren state'; then we also set our husbands and others free to fulfill their destiny as well. We will no longer be clinging to them out of our desperation or emptiness; but releasing them to their calling out of our fullness in the Lord.
How to get Free?
The theme of this conference is hope – how do we deal with our barrenness and be transformed into Women of Hope?
Worship: “Sing o barren woman…”
Speak the Word: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
Give: Plant a seed (Zera) “You won’t have a garden unless you plant some seeds.”
After the meeting, we fairly gorged ourselves at a delicious buffet dinner at the hotel. Liat & I remembered, how, while living in Israel we would often be invited to meet tourists or friends at their hotels; but rarely were we invited to join them for dinner. When we saw these lavish buffets, our mouths would literally drool; and we so longed to feast ourselves at the table. Tonight our time had come! :)
The delicious buffet dinner at the Leonardo Hotel
After dinner, a bus took us from the hotel in Tiberius to a nearby church in Magdala where we enjoyed a time of beautiful worship and a very special experience. I thought it significant that, because of the flooding, no one was able to drive to this place in their individual cars. We had to come together in the bus. What does this mean in a prophetic sense?