Luke Hilton

Transformation by Serving in Israel

When I was 16 years old, I climbed onto an airplane for a twelve hour flight to Israel. Even just before boarding the plane, I really had no idea what I was getting into. During the flight, my mom handed me an “Israel 101” type magazine. I can’t remember who the publisher was, but the short magazine gave me my first glimpse into the history of the nation to which I was enroute. By the time we landed, I knew a little bit of Israel’s story, but still had no idea of what we were about to step into. Fast forward almost 11 years. I now find myself traveling to Israel multiple times a year, and defending Israel’s heartland in online videos, articles, podcasts, and in congregations and events around the world. When I was 16, I thought going to Israel would be an adventure. Like it would be for most 16 year olds, the idea of flying halfway around the world to visit another land, people and culture was exciting to me. Up until that point, I had never even been out of the USA. The night before our trip, we found out that we would be spending time in the “West Bank.” West Bank? Wasn’t that a dangerous place? Trusting our hosts, we landed in Israel and were picked up and driven to Ariel. From there, we proceeded to drive to the Mount of Blessing, and my personal transformation began. That first trip to Israel, we harvested grapes, spent time with local people, stood in places that I’d only previously read about in the Bible, and were immersed in Israel’s rich culture and heritage. I loved it. Three and a half weeks later, we returned to the US with our skin a shade or two darker and our eyes opened to the world of Middle Eastern culture. Going to Israel for the first time was definitely a highlight and lifetime memory, and something I counted as a one-time experience—or was it? One year later, my sister approached me and asked if I wanted to go back to Israel with her, this time for two months (she had also been the previous year). At first, I was surprised. Go back? I thought that we had done the “Israel thing” last year? After thinking and praying about it, however, I agreed and began to get excited. Our second trip to Israel, we spent two months, and something in my heart clicked. This trip, I spent enough time to really become intertwined with Israel’s story of covenant, promise, hardship, struggle, victory, and a deep connection between a people and a land. I listened to stories of pioneers who had lost lands, homes, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, all because of a strong tie to a promise that God had made 4,000 years prior. I learned that Christianity had blatantly rejected Israel’s promise and tried to recast themselves as its recipients. Atrocities too numerous and horrible to name here were committed over a period of 2,000 years—all in the name of Christianity. Up until 1948, the lie of Replacement Theology was very believable. After all, the Jewish people had been scattered, without a home, and wandering for thousands of years. Over the course of one war in the Middle East in 1948, all of that changed. After this clear move of God’s miraculous hand, the world could no longer believe that lie. The Jewish people had come home to stay. Ever since Israel’s founding 71 years ago, the new question for Christianity has been: “What part are we to play?” Up until a few years ago, as a whole, neither Jews nor Christians were ready for any kind of partnership. In recent years, however, all of that is changing. My story is not unusual. Thousands of Christians from all corners of the earth are flocking to Israel as they awaken to the fact that God is weaving a masterful story of restoration there. They are choosing to stand on age-old promises that are still true today. They are choosing to go back to their communities with the true story of what God is doing there. They are choosing to no longer stay silent. Israel is not without its struggles. Terrorism still happens. Israel is still blamed in the media with lies disguised as truth. The numbers of those who stand against Israel’s right to exist are still far greater than those standing with Israel. With terrorism still happening in Israel, a question that has been circulating in the media lately is, “What can we do to stop it?” Memorials, public outcries, and more social media posts don’t seem to be enough. Every year, HaYovel brings about 300-400 Christian volunteers to Judea and Samaria to help farmers and Jewish communities with projects. What if this number were an annual 3,000-4000? What if it were 10,000? Would the world be able to turn a blind eye? If there were thousands of Christians standing in solidarity with their Jewish brothers and sisters in the biblical heartland, the world would notice. This is a very practical need that we can fill. And it does make a difference! The challenge is out to you. Come to Judea and Samaria this year, and make a difference for Israel’s heartland. At the same time, experience your own transformation as you have your eyes opened to the reality of God’s restoration work that is happening in Israel. If you have been once already, come again. God has spoken on the mountains of Israel before, and He can do it again. The rocks have a story to tell. Just like my life was changed on my first and second trips to Israel, your life can also be changed. Through serving the land and people of Israel, you will be brought into the blessing of Abraham. So bring a friend and come. Your hands and feet will make a difference. >> Click here to find out more about coming to... Read MoreRead More

The Blessing of Abraham

Most Christians are familiar with the blessing of Abraham. Genesis 12:3 has become an iconic verse for many pro-Israel Christians, Zionists, Messianics, and Hebrew Roots followers. It’s been so well used, that it’s even reached the point of abuse in some circles, with organizations using the verse to raise money as they promise wealth and prosperity for donors to Israel, etc. In this article, I want to dig deeper into what the blessing of Abraham really is, and its place in Christianity. “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) This verse is the first record of God’s promise to Abraham, and directly after it, we find that Abraham traveled to a place called Elon Moreh, where, as he gazed out over the Tirzah Valley towards the Mount of Blessing and Mount of Cursing, and the valley of Shechem, God told him, “. . . to you and your descendants, I will give this land.” (Genesis 12:7) On a side note, this is also a great visual teaser to encourage you to come and visit the Biblical Heartland, stand where Abraham stood, and see your Bible come to life! The Tirzah Valley, ironically, is the route that the children of Israel took to enter the land with Joshua, many years later. We won’t go through all of the passages recording the blessing of Abraham, but numerous times throughout Genesis, we see God promising the same thing to him and then passing it down to Isaac, and on to Jacob. The theme of the story stays the same: I will bless those who bless you; I will give you a land and make you a great nation. In you, all families of the earth shall be blessed Some choose to take this story and go down the path of anti-semitism. Sadly, we’ve seen a horrific history between Christians and Jews for the last 2,000 years as millions of Jews have been persecuted, and even lost their lives due to this evil lie. Instead of joining in the promise of Abraham, many nations choose to hate the blessing. Others choose the lie of something called Replacement Theology, a false doctrine that states that God did away with the promise of Abraham, and replaced it with one to the church. This is a very dangerous position and has contributed to the last 2,000 years of separation. Others, and we have seen a rise in this position just in the last few decades, choose to join in with the blessing of Abraham. This leads me to my main point – one of the main themes in this Abrahamic story is that God promised him that all families of the earth would be blessed through him! I believe God is not just speaking of the fact that if we bless Israel we will be blessed. I’m talking about physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional wellbeing. God promised to bless all families of the earth through Abraham and His descendants. That’s an incredible opportunity! Instead of trying to explain away the blessing, replace it, or fight against it, we can choose to join in, realizing that our very lives are intertwined with this story! Over the centuries, many people have held onto resentment towards the blessing of Abraham, which many times led to terrible persecution. Instead, we have the opportunity to walk with our brothers and sisters, realizing that this is the place where blessing for the nations comes from. “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, ‘come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4: 1-3) God’s Word will go forth from Jerusalem! One day, many nations will want to go up to the mountain of the LORD, to His house. This goes hand in hand with the verse from Isaiah 56:7, which states: “Even them (speaking of the foreigner) I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer . . . for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” God didn’t exclusively bless Abraham and His descendants so that the rest of the world would be condemned, or live outside of His blessing. He crafted a beautiful plan where all nations and families would be abundantly blessed through a man called Abraham. This plan includes you, and me, and anyone who chooses to stand on God’s promises. We could spend pages more describing the opportunities that the prophets gave for the nations to be involved in this special story. I’ll leave you with just one: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7) HaYovel, brings beautiful feet to Judea and Samaria, the Biblical Heartland of Israel, where we choose to take part in the beautiful promise of Abraham and participate in all of the wonderful blessings that the prophets foretold. Will you participate in this... Read MoreRead More

Harvest 2018 Official Report

In great joy (and some sadness), Harvest 2018 has come to a close. Here on the Mount of Blessing, we are cleaning up the campus, packing away the tent and kitchen, and sending the last volunteers back to their homes. The exciting news is that once again, prophecies were successfully fulfilled on the mountains of Israel! This year, we had 175 volunteers from the United States, Canada, Australia, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Latvia, Netherlands, Sweden, Dubai, Scotland, England, New Zealand, Finland, and Norway. In just 3 months, 340 US tons of grapes were harvested, putting in a total of 4,930 man hours! Ever since the beginnings of HaYovel, our goal in saving the farmers labor costs has been to empower and enable them to plant more vineyards and expand the agriculture in Judea and Samaria. It is happening! 20 years ago, the first bottles of wine were produced in Samaria. Today, there are over 1 million bottles of liquid prophecy coming from the heartland annually! Since HaYovel’s founding, there has been an 800% expansion in the vineyards of Har Bracha alone. Even with all of the farmers and vineyards that we are able to help, there are many more that need assistance. With every set of beautiful feet that come to Judea and Samaria next year, we will be able to prune, plant and harvest more vineyards. Will you join us next year? The Daughters of Zion Program graduates for 2018! The Sons of Zion Program graduates for... Read MoreRead More

Can Beautiful Feet Stop Terrorism?

(Written by Luke Hilton, the Director of Marketing at HaYovel)  I would like to ask a question: if the 1.5 million worldwide Christian tourists who come to Israel every year cared deeply enough to visit Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (the place that much of the world calls the “West Bank” and wants to turn into a Palestinian State), would there be fewer murders of Jews in Israel? Hear me out on this idea, as I believe it is crucial to the Christian community’s support for Israel. On September 16th, 2018, Ari Fuld, a 45-year-old father of 4, was stabbed and murdered in cold blood by a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist just outside a grocery store near the Gush Etzion Junction, just south of Jerusalem. Before collapsing and ultimately succumbing to his wounds, he managed to chase down and shoot the terrorist, thereby preventing him from stabbing anyone else. On Sunday, October 7th, 2018, a 23-year-old Palestinian terrorist entered the factory where he worked in the Barkan Industrial Park, near the city of Ariel. After working for a short time, he retrieved a submachine gun from his bag and used it to kill two of his co-workers, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29, and Ziv Hajbi, 35. He even handcuffed Yehezkel before shooting her in cold blood. After shooting and wounding a third co-worker and firing at several others, he managed to flee the scene. As I write, security forces are still searching for the murderer. Kim Levengrond Yehezkel was survived by her husband and their 15-month-old son, and Ziv Hajbi was a father to 3 children. The interesting thing about these two latest terrorist attacks in Israel is that both of the attack sites had previously become famous examples of peaceful coexistence. The supermarket chain Rami Levy is known for allowing Jews and Palestinians to work and shop together, and its location in Gush Etzion where Ari Fuld was murdered just outside is open to both Jews and Palestinians, to freely come and go. The Barkan Industrial Park is located close to Ariel in Samaria, and employs 8,000 people, roughly half of whom are Palestinians, all of them receiving the same wages and benefits, and working together on a daily basis. The purpose of this article is not to discuss the issue of coexistence, or whether or not a Palestinian state will be successful in the peace process. As a Christian, I am a firm believer that the best possible thing for the Jews and Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria would be for Israel to resettle and restore these areas as a part of the State of Israel. If you don’t agree with me, just come here and see it for yourself. There are approximately 1.5 million Christians that visit Israel every year. As someone who has been coming back and forth to Judea and Samaria every year for the last ten years, I can testify that a minuscule percentage of this number actually makes it to these areas on their trips. Most tours are focused on the traditional sites – Galilee, the Dead Sea, Masada, the Mount of Olives, the Old City of Jerusalem, etc. The question that I ask is: why isn’t the Biblical Heartland included on Israel’s list of major sites in Israel? Since more than 80% of our Bible was either written or took place in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – aka the “West Bank” – it does not make sense that tours do not come here. Just to name a few examples of the sites in Judea and Samaria, we have: Elon Moreh, where Abraham stood in Genesis 12 and God promised him the land, pronouncing the famous verse “I will bless those who bless you…” (Genesis 12:3a); The Mountains of Blessing and Cursing, where Joshua declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15b), and where Jesus ministered to the woman at the well (John 4); Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for 369 years and God’s glory dwelt; Bethel, where Jacob had his dream; Hebron, where all the patriarchs and matriarchs are buried; and the list goes on and on. When traveling in Judea and Samaria, it is impossible to throw a stone and not hit a story straight from the Bible. Over the last 14 years, HaYovel, a humanitarian non-profit organization from the United States whose mission is to assist the farmers in Judea and Samaria, has brought close to 3,000 people from 30 different countries around the world to the Heartland of Israel. We provide a program where volunteers assist the farmers in Judea and Samaria, and they are also given a tour unlike any other – they meet the pioneers living here, and travel to the biblical sites that most do not. By the end of the program, these volunteers are educated as effective ambassadors to go back to their home countries and spread the truth about what they have seen and heard. Today, we bring 300-400 volunteers per year on various volunteer programs throughout the year. Although this may seem like a big impact, it is still a small work when compared to the more than one million Christians visiting Israel every year. Not only that, but the Palestinian movement is funded and supported by millions of dollars and a worldwide movement of people. Sadly, most of this well-meaning support does not actually reach the Palestinian people but goes to the pockets of their corrupt leaders and to terrorists. It is a well-known fact that Palestinians who murder innocent Israelis receive handsome lifetime salaries while in Israeli prisons–much more support for their families than they could earn in an average job working for their own government. Palestinians are driven to incitement by their leaders in the Palestinian Authority, their media, and their school systems, where children are taught from a young age to hate Jews. On the opposite side, although growing, there are still very few Christians and tourists who visit Judea and Samaria. Even though there are millions of pro-Israel Christians worldwide, the majority of them either do not voice public support for Israel’s heartland, or they are ignorant of what is really happening here. Many are afraid to come here because of the image that the media has reported. The reality is that there are more than 400,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and another 270,000 living in what is known as East Jerusalem. These are the brave pioneers that choose to stand on God’s promises by resettling the mountains of Israel, building houses, planting agriculture, and restoring Israel’s heartland. Yet they are not empowered by the international community, but rather constantly struggle just to survive on a daily basis. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who says to Zion, ‘your God reigns.’p” (Isaiah 52:7) In contrast to the evil agenda of the terrorists who murder innocent Jews, empowered by an international community that supports them in the form of millions of dollars and a worldwide voice in their support, imagine if there was a global movement amongst Christians to support the place where God declared His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Imagine if the millions of Christians worldwide stood up with one courageous voice and said: “enough is enough!” Imagine tour buses crowding the biblical sites in Judea and Samaria, and volunteers flooding the communities, declaring their physical support for the land and people here. Imagine financial, prayerful, political and advocacy support for the Heartland of Israel amongst the nations of the world. If there were millions of beautiful feet declaring their support for God’s promises that were spoken in this place, would Islamic terrorists feel so empowered to go out and murder innocent Jews? The obvious answer is a resounding and challenging NO! We need more beautiful feet on the mountains of Israel.  ... Read MoreRead More

New Video | A Dream for the Future

Harvest is finally here! Join HaYovel’s staff team in the beautiful fields of Kerem Aviah, Israel. Not only will they be harvesting the abundant yield of stunning grapes, but they’ll also be sharing the true reason they are so excited to be living in these prophetic... Read MoreRead More