Playful children run, clutching candied apples in one hand and squirting foam string with the other. They bop one another on the head with toy mallets that make a gong sound upon impact. This could be a scene at the birthday party of four or five-year-olds, but it isn’t. It is the annual Independence Day celebration in Israel that spills out onto the streets and parks throughout the nation.

The festivities include evening concerts and dance presentations. Of course there are fireworks. Speeches by local and national leaders are purposefully brief. There are some government-sponsored events and air shows, but mostly it is a day for family and friends; picnics and barbecues.

This outburst of joy comes after a day of somber remembrance of the Israeli men and women who have died in the defense of the nation. A Memorial Day followed immediately by a festive Independence Day is such a sharp contrast, yet they are tragically connected.

The irony is that what Israel needs most is not independence, but dependence—upon God. The destiny of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora cannot be separated from the issue of trusting in Him. This dependence is not attainable through religious rituals and ceremonies or by seeking security via secular pursuits, but in a heartfelt reliance upon the true and living God. This was the challenge to the Jewish people who lived in the Land during biblical times, and remains so for those who live here today.

This year the Day of Remembrance falls on May 9, and Independence Day is on May 10. Pray for our Israel team to boldly and joyfully proclaim our dependence on Yeshua, and pray that many Israelis will hear and be able to celebrate new life in Him.