As we venture out to conferences and churches to speak about Dugit, we are always asked one question: “Why Tel Aviv?” To understand the answer to this question and the importance of this city for the Kingdom of God one must look at its past, present, and future.
Tel Aviv-Yafo is a city composed of both the ancient and the modern. Yafo (Jaffa, Joppa), the southern part of our city, is almost 4,000 years old and was, for centuries, the main port city on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Tradition tells us that one of Noah’s three sons, Yefet (Japheth), founded the city of Yafo. Later, the famed cedars of Lebanon were shipped through the city on the way to Jerusalem in order to construct the doors of the Second Temple (Ezra 3:7). This port city was seen as such a strategic location, the gateway to Jerusalem and to the east, that it was conquered multiple times throughout history by various empires: Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Turkish, and even by Napoleon. In addition to its economic significance, Yafo frequently served as a military beachhead, the land that is captured first to take the rest of the territory.
Yafo also has a great biblical significance, as a gateway for messengers of God’s love and redemption. The Prophet Jonah was called by God to go from Yafo and bring His mercy to the Assyrian people of Nineveh (in modern Iraq). This is the example in the Bible that shows God’s love for people who are not Jewish. Similarly, in the book of Acts, Simon Peter, after raising Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead in Yafo, sees a vision to take the Gospel to the gentiles for the first time. Almost immediately, he is led to Caesarea and preaches the good news to Cornelius and his men (Acts 9-10).
Tel Aviv, Israel’s modern and secular city, was founded in 1909 on the sand dunes north of Yafo. By the 1930’s the city had become another Mediterranean metropolis, designated “The White City” for its sandstone facades and Bauhaus architecture. In 1948, Israel declared its independence in Tel Aviv and supplied food and ammunition to Jerusalem in the War of Independence. It is currently Israel’s center for commerce and trade, high tech, and the military; but is widely known for its avid nightlife, white beaches, sports, and café culture. With an inner city population of 400,000 and a greater area population of 3.3 million, the Tel Aviv region contains more Jews per capita than any place on earth.
And yet with its biblical past and its abundance of modern life, most of Tel Aviv remains in darkness, spiritually dead. Though Jewish by blood and culture, the majority of people has little faith in God and has turned to the occult for guidance and spiritual food. In the book of Joshua, the area of Tel Aviv was allotted to the tribe of Dan. Sadly, they later gave up their inheritance to the Philistines, moved north, and turned to idolatry. This idolatrous spirit continues to pervade the modern city with its large homosexual population and rampant materialism. While the number of Messianic Jews is increasing, only 0.2% of the Jewish population of Israel believes that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.
Our hope is in the Lord and He is preparing the harvest. Tel Aviv-Yafo is still a spiritual gateway; as God sent the Gospel from this city we pray that it will return here and form a spiritual beachhead for His Kingdom to take the rest of the country. In Psalm 87: it says, “the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob,” and Tel Aviv-Yafo is one of these gates. May the Lord open up these ancient doors and transform our city to truly become His “White City;” the gateway to Jerusalem.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” Psalm 24:9