MY LIFE IN ISRAEL – May 2007

(A questionnaire from The Messianic Times)

1. How has living in Israel changed your relationship with God?

Living in Israel is a great place to follow the Lord!  There’s nothing better anyway, and in Israel there is no excuse for complacency.  It requires me to rely on His love and His grace to me and my family and our lives here since everything is in a constant state of “un-rest”.  Without resting in the truth of God in Messiah Yeshua, my life here would be way beyond what I could bear.  God our Father has given me a new heart and His Spirit to know that Israel is my home on Earth, and this makes all the difference…when you know you are home.

2.  What can you tell people outside of Israel about the quality of your life?

Though we are poor, yet are we rich in Messiah!  By all appearances, not only do we seem younger than we are, but we also seem richer than we are.  The Lord has blessed us way beyond anything we could have asked or thought when we came here without knowing anyone and only being new-born believers.  As dysfunctional as Israel seems — and is — there is still a sense of being “family”, which is different from living elsewhere.  Additionally, our lives are greatly enriched by our involvement with the local congregation and with the Body of Messiah at large.  The issues we deal with here, as I said before, do not leave much excuse for lukewarmness.  The cross-cultural challenges are terrific, bringing much frustration at times, but also a richness and a satisfaction which is only possible in the hope of the coming Kingdom of God.  Our children have also enjoyed benefit of growing up in a country where their own faith in the living God is a daily encounter.

3.  What is the most important thing about living in Israel as a Believer?

To be thankful!  It’s too easy to complain and murmur, but I am so thankful to be allowed to live in Israel as a believer in Yeshua.  Life is intense here, but our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also lived in tents!  It is a real mercy from the Lord to be here.

4.  How did you decide to go to Israel?

I didn’t exactly decide; I obeyed!  When I was born-again and saved, the Holy Spirit plainly spoke to me, saying, “Go to Israel”, and immediately it became home.  I had come twice as an unbelieving Jew — once as a tourist, and again as a volunteer on a kibbutz — but I didn’t want to live here.  Yeshua made Israel home for me!  As I said, it is a real mercy from God to be here.

5.  What are your hopes for Believers in the Land?

My hopes are that we would truly come to that unique unity which is YHVH God’s in the love which is also uniquely His.  This must — and will — be expressed through the WHOLE Body of Messiah in this land, whether Jew or Gentile.  How our Father is going to answer the prayer of His Son regarding this, I do not know, but it will obviously be something we don’t too much about at this time.  More Jewish people and Arabs will see the reality of genuine faith in God through Messiah when we actually love one another for Yeshua’s sake.  When I consider myself, it is difficult to imagine it’s possible.  Thank God for giving us the “Lord’s Prayer”!

6.  What do you see as the future for Believers in the Land?

Until the Day of the LORD, I believe we will see greater persecution as witnesses and disciples of Messiah Yeshua.  At the same time, we will be changed more into the likeness of our God and Savior by His power and grace.  I do not expect it to be easy, but I do hope to trust the Lord and overcome, along with many others.

7.  In your opinion is there revival among the people?

Yes, and not yet.  There is certainly much more openness now than when we first immigrated in 1981, and there are many more believers and congregations today.  Seed is continuing to be sown; water is given both through ‘irrigation’ and from Heaven; but the harvest is still ahead.  Many more gentiles will be brought in before we see large numbers of Israeli Jews coming in, but praise to God for His wisdom and sovereign ways!  In the meantime, there are individuals repenting and believing the good news of Yeshua the Messiah and the Kingdom of God — proof of God’s faithfulness to His covenantal promises to the children of Israel, and to His Son.

GOD’S PLANT: ONE NEW MAN IN MESSIAH

1Tim 1:1-7   not to allow another doctrine (torah; teaching) but gospel truth promoting love from a sincere   heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith

Shavuot is nearing, which marks the beginning of the new phase in God’s plan of redemption to bring the Gentiles into His covenant promises to Israel and the Jewish people.  It was difficult for the Israeli Jewish believers of the early church to accept that God wanted to — could! – relate to the non-Jews/Israelis in the same way as to them who also believed in Yeshua as the Christ, the Anointed One of YHVH.  Then, through the centuries, the situation became reversed:  the Gentile majority of the Body of Messiah could not understand how a Jewish believer in Jesus could be a Christian and still a Jew.  Praise God!  His foolishness is wiser than men!

Today – for some years already – there is movement, a tendency, on both “sides” to separate what God has united.  This is one – and a big one! – of those “other doctrines” which the Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy about, that such a teaching should not be embraced within the Kehila/Ekklesia/Church of God.

On the Jewish side there are those who teach that Messianic Jews should practice Orthodox Judaism in order to be ‘legitimate’ in our witness to our own people while yet believing in Yeshua as Messiah.  They forget or ignore that, despite the Apostle Paul’s orthodox credentials, he was still rejected by even those who had known his upbringing and way of life within Judaism.

On the Gentile side there are those whose sense of guilt for Gentile Christian anti-semitism over the generations brings them to teach that there is no credibility to evangelize the Jewish people anymore; God has His own separate plan for them.  These well-meaning people forget or ignore that this “separate” plan for the Jews is the same one God has preached to them, the Gentiles:  salvation is through no other name than through Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ.  Praise God for His power and grace towards all of us in His wisdom and love!

God planted the seed of faith into humanity when He said to the serpent devil –  with Adam and Eve as eye-witnesses who heard – that the Seed of the woman would defeat him and his seed.

Later YHVH God chose a man – Abram/Abraham – in whom to confirm this hope and promise, and who would become the father of all who would afterwards believe in the same word of life.  That seed sown into Abraham’s heart was tried and proven to where he believed that God would raise the dead in order to fulfill His promises.

The seed opened up in Isaac, who by faith passed on the glorious truth to his son Jacob.  The roots of this plant spread out in this soil of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.

At the Passover of YHVH, God gave His Son – the Seed of the woman, the seed of faith planted into mortal humanity in the Garden of Eden, who came to His people and to the world He had made…and the Seed died.  He was buried, and this “bread of affliction” was brought forth from the earth as Living Bread in resurrection power!  His roots are no longer in this ground of “Mother Earth” but rooted in Heaven, in the New Jerusalem, the mother of all those born-again from above.

Shavuot/Pentecost is a proclamation of this Seed, the Plant of God (Tzemach), the Bread of Life to all who are hungry and who hear and believe the promise of God – not for this life only, but also for the world to come.  The former promises remain, to be fulfilled in every detail.  They are sovereign choices which have necessarily brought conflict, affliction, separate entities.  The new proclamation – enclosed and embedded in the seed of the old – brings peace, joy, reconciliation of all things in a new and living way in Messiah:  the Root and Offspring of David; who before Abraham was, He Is; the Living Bread who gives eternal life to all who eat  it.

Both the Jewish people and the Gentiles stand before God equally, each with their own identities, each hearing the same good news.  Every believer, whether among the Jews or from the Gentiles, is called into a new and vital relationship – not merely a position of faith – with this one true God and with His Son, to become together one new man in Messiah.  This is the true unity for which Jesus prayed.  Whatever we were before our own death, burial, resurrection with Yeshua, that is, our “old plant”, is put off, and our “new plant” in Christ is put on:  a new creation with the word of God planted within us of the promise of the perfect new heavens and new Earth in which righteousness dwells.

Where are you?  Are we still focusing on that which is passing away, or in the vision of that which is eternal?  By the authority of the Lord Jesus the Messiah, the Apostle Paul through Timothy commands us to teach those things which are of faith for godly edification:  that we love from out of a pure heart, with a clear conscience, and true faith.  With God’s help, it is this we hope to do for we are His people, His flock, called to be Messiah’s Body, His Woman/Bride.

Blessed is the name of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.