LAWSUIT UPDATE – Final

Today a small representation of leaders of Messianic congregations and other ministries from all sections of the country met together to discuss the lawsuit and its verdict and the ‘what now?’.  The ‘what now?’ is still an open discussion.  In the very short term, unless a very clear Word of the Lord should come to say otherwise, there will be no appeal of the verdict.  We spoke and heard today how the lawsuit was initiated and handled, and how the evidence was presented to the court, and the judge’s decisions during the course of the trial to our side of the case.  Another leader with a legal background was also present, who changed his mind from before coming:  he clearly saw along with everyone else that there is very strong legal basis for filing an appeal.  With that, no-one present — nor any who have communicated with me in the past few days — had a conviction that an appeal is the clear will of God.  Some were uncertain; others were against. 

I want to say that God has given His peace to us regarding the verdict handed down by the judge in our lawsuit against Beer Sheva’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi, and against the international anti-Messianic/-Christian organization, Yad L’Achim (Hand to Brothers).  The Lord provided us with the funds required of us to pay the defendants and their lawyers, including the punitive reward they were given for their actions.  Some responded so immediately to donate towards our financial obligation that it can only be seen as a demonstration of God’s direct involvement.  Even some who anticipated the verdict to be as it was have stood with us.  This reminds me of the prophets in Antioch who warned Paul by the Holy Spirit what awaited him in Jerusalem, yet they blessed him when he knew he must go — also by the Holy Spirit.

The verdict was so one-sided and unjust, and the defendants and their lawyers were even rewarded for their involvement in the “serious event” (the judge’s own words) on December 24, 2005, that truly it is liberating to know that the case was not decided on legal grounds, but on religious.  The secular judge, in a civil court, deciding a civil suit for illegal demonstration, trespass onto private “church-owned” property, property damage, personal injuries, ultimately interpreted all the evidence to satisfy the religious precept that “to save a [Jewish] soul in Israel is like saving the whole world” (pikuach nefesh).  This precept allows even the Sabbath to be violated, lies to be told (“the end justifies the means”), harm to be done.  Praise God, He wants to save Jewish souls, and Yeshua/Jesus is the Savior of the world, especially of those who believe!  And we too, as believers in Messiah Yeshua, may use means that seem unacceptable to others, yet we are taught by the Lord Himself and by His apostles to preach the gospel and to act righteously because salvation ultimately belongs to Him, and not to any methods of men or of demons.

Laws restricting proselytizing to minors or by offering material inducements are good and proper, and protect all of us.  Seeking to prohibit all evangelism can serve no-one and no “free” society well.  It is ultimately unenforceable, and can only lead to repression of liberties of speech and conscience.  Should all political parties be banned from trying to gain supporters or members?  Should no one be allowed to present what he considers good reasons for a better economic system?  The irony here in Israel, of course, is that the very good news that is rejected and denied has its roots, stock, branches, flower, and fruit all right here!  And YHVH God is faithful:  untold multitudes of Gentiles have turned to the God of Israel through Jesus Christ, the King of Israel who will be also the King of the Jews, to whom He first came, and to whom He will return when they bless Him who alone truly and fully comes in the name of YHVH.  Then will they realize that the One they have pierced and have been rejecting is the One who has nonetheless really loved them.

We went into this suit in weakness:  we did not present any witnesses who have immigrated since the ‘Beresford Case’ on Dec. 25, 1989 (anyone interested that does not already know can look this up on the internet), so as not to put them in any jeopardy; we did not take to court certain persons who clearly were instrumental in the riot, knowing that they would not testify against the Chief Rabbi or against Yad L’Achim; we strived to respect the Chief Rabbi because he is the Chief Rabbi of the city, despite his total lack of regard either for us or for our self-control.  We acted on the principle that the person or agency in charge is responsible for actions taken by those under their authority:  after bombings, don’t people wait to hear who accepts responsibility for the evil deed?; doesn’t Israel hold Hamas, for example, responsible for rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities?; didn’t the world hold Israel’s Prime Minister and Defense Minister responsible for the recent flotilla incident (even though refusing to hold the guilty persons, organizations, and governments accountable)?; don’t the Scriptures hold the religious and political leaders of the people more accountable than the common people? (Lev 4)

Our lawsuit was never about money:  we were not interested in their money, but we used the monetary claims against them to express the seriousness of what they were doing, according to existing Israeli laws.  We were seeking to uphold the right to assemble together legally without illegal interference.  We were not trying to gain equal rights or recognition for believers within mainstream Judaism, nor expecting that our lawsuit would prevent future attacks.  We did hope that our case might give some of those who now oppose us pause to reconsider the reasons for that, and the means they use to express their hostility.  Despite the judge’s off-the-record comments about the nature of the event — which justified a lawsuit — he himself trivialized it in his verdict by demanding we pay our adversaries the percentage of our claims, even if we did not satisfy him in sufficiently proving their personal liability.  It is a corrupt system in any country when even the police do not bring to justice those whom they have arrested for illegal acts, especially when they were eyewitnesses to it.  We were given no opportunity to reference the same defendants’ cooperation for a similar event on November 28, 1998, even though the judge allowed them to refer to it untruthfully to serve their purpose, accepting their testimony as true.  There are a number of legal and procedural reasons why an appeal of the case could justifiably be made, but the reality of the entire proceedings only confirms that the real nature of our battle is spiritual and not carnal.  Just as wars are a necessary part of life till now, yet never permanently solves the problems nations have towards one another, so, too, are legal battles sometimes necessary, but neither can they win the ultimate victories for righteousness and justice.  Only God’s own righteousness being imputed to those who have come to Him by His way and on His terms can change the heart, mind, and conscience of a person or of a nation.  Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH!  Not in words and prayers only, but in faithfulness and truth.

Israel is not called by God to be a democracy, but a holy people and nation under the rule of the Sovereign YHVH God of Heaven and Earth (Mic 5:2) for a blessing to the whole world.

We have sought to honor the name of our Lord and Messiah, Yeshua, the Son of the living God, whose name is casually cursed and blasphemed here, often without even realizing it.  Just as Israel is continually placed on the defensive by the likes of Hamas, with never even a legitimate defense that is acceptable, so, too, do many of my brethren — the Jewish/Israeli people — relate and react towards those who have repented, and now believe the Word of God spoken through Moses and the Prophets regarding YHVH’s Anointed One.  All things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.  Hallelu-Yah!  God bless you in Messiah our righteousness.

No Confidence in the Flesh

Philp 3: 3-11 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in the Messiah Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.  If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so. . . .  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Messiah.  Yet indeed I also reckon all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung, that I may gain Christ. . . .

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the 50th day of counting the sheaves of wheat, according to the Law of Moses, which Jesus came to fulfill.  The counting does not begin from the day after His death and burial – or even from the time He descended into the lower parts of the Earth to set free the captives – but rather from the day of His resurrection, from the day after the Sabbath.  We who believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah are a new creation.  We begin with resurrection life in Messiah and then begin to learn what it is to suffer for His sake, to die with Him to ourselves, to live our lives unto God and His will.

The gospel is not something Jewish, since the Law makes no one righteous, and we can not be justified by the works of the Law.  Neither is the gospel something Greek or gentile, because non-Jews were outside of God’s covenant with Israel, and, according to the Bible, the gentiles worshipped demons and not the one true God.  So we see that the gospel is neither religion nor philosophy, not man’s wisdom or knowledge, not of demons or angels.

If our fellowship with God the Father and His Son Yeshua and with other believers is based upon any of these things esteemed by the world, then this is what Paul calls “having confidence in the flesh”.  Yet Paul claims that to be a true Jew and a true Christian is just the opposite:  “to have no confidence in the flesh”, concerning which he writes that he had more to boast in than others.  Let’s look at his credentials from our passage and consider how they apply to our identity and hope as God’s children.

circumcised on the eighth day

of the race of Israel

of the tribe of Benjamin

a Hebrew of Hebrews

in regard to the Law, a Pharisee

 

as for zeal, persecuting the church

as for legalistic righteousness, blameless

Notice that all of Paul’s “confidence in the flesh” have to do with those things of natural birth, supposed keys to citizenship in God’s Kingdom either through no choice of their own, or either through confidence in choosing the right party.  Everything here takes pride in one’s self, status, giftings, intellect, or else in one’s “team”.

Paul learned that these outward endowments and benefits are not ultimately those which count for eternity, for God is no respecter of persons.  He is after people, like David, who have a heart for Him, whose relationship with Jesus is worth more than whatever else he or she thinks important, who live now with a vision of the everlasting Kingdom of God.  All that is of now, Paul counts as rubbish, and he looks for the glory to come, which is all of God.

Have we learned. . .are we learning. . . to reckon all that makes us feel proud to be but refuse compared to the matchless beauty of the meek and lowly Holy One of Israel?

Let’s close with Paul from v. 12-21 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but one thing:  forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.   Let us therefore, as many as be perfect , be thus minded; and if in any thing you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.   Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.   Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk according to the pattern we gave you. . . . For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of the humiliation, that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working of His ability even to subject all things to Himself.

LAWSUIT update – VERDICT update

Shalom Brothers and Sisters,

A verdict has been handed down by Judge Iddo Ruzin in our lawsuit filed against the Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and against the anti-Messianic organization, Yad L’Achim.  The judge did exactly what we have been praying and hoping . . . that he would not do!  Judge Ruzin has determined that the two defendants are innocent of any wrong-doing concerning the events before, during, and after 24 Dec 2005, and that we did not produce sufficient evidence to prove any personal liability on their part in our civil suit against them.
Judge Ruzin has ordered that we pay 1000 ILS to each of the defendants, graded percentages of our claims against them for violations of Israeli law, attorneys’ wages for their clients’ defense, and the five appearances in court for the trial, for a total of approximately 155,000 ILS ( ($40,200; 32,900 Euros; or GBP 27,800).  This miscarriage of justice is a sad commentary on the state of affairs, and should be seen, too, as a wake-up call to all who care for truth and righteousness.

We express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you for your encouragements, prayers, praises to God, and financial contributions throughout this lawsuit to date.  We believe, with many of you, that we were led by the Lord to enter into this lawsuit, and we have sought to honor the name of Yeshua.  We believe that at least in this latter regard, we were successful:  even the judge in his decision referred to the Lord as “Yeshua”, and not by the acronym commonly used by many in this land.  We understood from the outset that there was a risk involved in taking these particular defendants to court for what we still know they are liable.

If we decide to file an appeal of this decision, we will do so only after consultation with other Messianic leaders from around Israel, just as we did before going to trial.

We always believed, and still believe and accept, that the verdict is from the Lord, and it is for us to discern what He is saying to us through it.

Glory to the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel.