FOR SO THEY DID UNTO THE PROPHETS BEFORE US

Feb 2011

Published in Messianic Times June/July 2011 Issue 

Persecution of believers in Yeshua as Lord and Messiah, the Son of God, is not a new thing in Israel.  Rather, it is a phenomenon that has returned to Israel, for opposition to the gospel and persecution against those who believe the good news began in Israel already from the days since Yeshua was born.  (Mt 2)  Following this attempt to destroy the messianic hope in Israel at its inception, it surfaced again during the days of Yeshua’s ministry, threatening to excommunicate from the Jewish community (the synagogue) all those who would follow the Lamb of God. (Jn 9:22)  This persecution of the saints continued after the Holy Spirit was given to the first church. (Acts 4:17; 7:51-60)

As Stephen agreed with the words of Yeshua in that this opposition and irrational hatred began long before against the Holy Spirit, yet Stephen’s words as he was being stoned to death also demonstrate the power and the love of God within those who are so badly treated:  “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

Throughout the last four decades, attempts by Jewish believers in Yeshua have failed to convince the “guardians of the religious identity of Israel” that one can believe in Yeshua, the Son of David, Son of Abraham, and still remain a Jew.  Jewishness has become defined as accepting historical rabbinic Judaism as the essence of what makes one ‘Jewish’.  Several court cases have been fought at the Supreme Court level, and never yet has a Jewish person (born of a Jewish mother) won a case for identity as it relates to Israel’s Law of Return for Jewish people to immigrate to Israel and receive entitlements as a Jew.

More recently, a case has been adjudicated by an Israeli Jewish believer, Penina Conforti, seeking a kosher certificate for operating a food business in Ashdod.  Although initially won at the Supreme Court level, the rabbinic authorities vehemently protested, saying that the issue is a religious matter and not one to be decided by civil authorities.  The Supreme Court then refused to grant the license unless the believer complied with regulations set by the rabbis.  This is fair enough, but the requirements placed on this believer in Yeshua to operate her bakery were more stringent than those applied elsewhere, thus not making one law for all.

Another recent case involved Nachalat Yeshua Messianic congregation in Beer Sheva, which sought a measure of legal justice in a civil court against the Chief Rabbi of their city, and against the national antimessianic organization, Yad L’Achim, which has set itself up as a vigilante protector of Jewishness.  The two defendants were involved in organizing a demonstration against the congregation – the second time such a large-scale protest had taken place against this group of believers by these same two parties.  The illegal demonstration of about 600 religious Jews resulted in a riot and aggravated trespass against the privately owned Christian property and against the believers there who had gathered for their regular worship service.  The civil court and secular judge ruled against the believers, stating that the two defendants acted responsibly to exercise their right and responsibility to protect Jewish souls (pikuach nefesh), and that neither was responsible for any of the illegal acts that occurred.  The congregation was ordered to pay the defendants a heavy penalty for having brought them to court.

There is still, at this time, the criminal case pending from an attempted murder in 2008 of a family of believers in Ariel.  Their teenage son, Ami, was very seriously injured from a bomb placed in what had looked like a Purim gift package left at their front door.  As of this writing, the courts have not determined whether the “Jewish terrorist”, as he has been described by the Israeli media, is mentally fit to stand trial and be held responsible for his crimes, despite his own admission of carrying out the murder attempt, plus other murders of two Palestinians that he did accomplish over the previous 12 years.  He claims that “God is pleased with what I have done”, as he acts out of his own worldview of what a Jewish Zionist state should be.  (Jn 16:2-4)  Democracy, in its normal understanding, is not a part of that vision, and neither are Palestinians or faith in Yeshua.

In Arad, the community of believers there have undergone seven years of constant harassment and trouble, with the help of the police and the mayors during those years.  Despite many totally false or exaggerated claims against the believers, the authorities continue to allow the sect of religious Jews, again assisted by Yad L’Achim, to persecute the believers in Yeshua.  (It is important to remember that scripturally, persecution begins with prejudiced antagonism against those who trust in the one true God.)

In nearly every case, media coverage of the Messianic faith and community is always mixed in the presentation of facts, and not necessarily representative of most of the Body of Messiah.  This need not be too surprising, since most of these journalists and reporters are not interested in making the faith in Yeshua attractive for Jewish people to seriously consider.

These are just a few samples of many instances to hinder the freedom of believers in Yeshua in Israel, along with many others denying or restricting visas to evangelical volunteers; turning back certain black-listed Jewish believers from entering the country; vandalizing property of believers and churches, even to the extent of burning and destroying; refusing to rent apartments to certain believers or to hire them for jobs.

A few points to keep in mind with respect to Jewish opposition to Yeshua and those who love Him:

1.  “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for [the Gentiles] sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). (Rom 11:28)  This remains true, and Israel demonstrates this in many ways, and, thankfully, so does God.

2.  Some of the persecution against the believers is done by God-fearing Jews (such as Saul/Paul was), and whether consciously or not, they are acting in accord with Dt 13, which speaks of how to treat  those who would lead Israelis away from YHVH God.  Since Yeshua was accused and crucified on the false charges that He was a false prophet and a blasphemer, then any of us who believe in and follow Him are worthy of condemnation as well, in their understanding.  It is a case of calling good evil; holy profane; the truth a lie.

3.  Denying a kashrut certificate to a believer is similar to forbidding a Gentile from coming into contact    with grapes once they are in the process of being made into wine.  This Talmudic/Rabbinic law would be based on Hag 2:13-14, which, in their determination is also applied to any Gentile or to an apostate from Judaism:  any [food] handled would be unclean and not considered acceptable (kosher).

4.  The two legislative restrictions regarding evangelism are reasonable:  no targeting of persons under the age of 18 (I would not want my own children targeted by what I perceived to be a false religion orcult.); no offering of material benefits for listening to or accepting the gospel message.  The efforts by extremists to forbid all forms of evangelism through legislation would be bad law, especially in what is supposed to be a democratic society.

5.  The Scriptures seem to clearly indicate that persecution will increase as the Day of the LORD nears. (Mt 24:9-14)

There is not one ‘opinion’ among the believers in Israel as to how best to react and respond to varying levels of persecution.  Each situation presents its own need to seek God’s will, for it is the honor of the name of Yeshua that is truly at stake. (Mt 5:11)  Yeshua is a  “sanctuary, but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel”, and is still “destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against.”  (Is 8:14; Lk 2:34)

But an attack on one part of the body is an attack on all.  How are we as members of that one body to respond to the suffering of another?  When is action (Acts 24:10-21; 25:9-12) called for, and when is it only a matter of praise and prayer for the faith and boldness to continue in the face of all of the risks and threats? (Acts 4:17-31)  Peter also warns us not to “suffer as a . . .meddler in other people’s matters.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God!” (1Pt 4:15-17)

Many still do not know what they are doing, and the heart of the Father continually cries out through us:  “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (Rom 10:1-2)

THE TEMPLE OF GOD

Tisha b’Av/9th of Av

The Temple is a:
House of God– a dwelling place for the Father and his family
Throne room – King of Righteousness
Seat of judgment — Judge of Righteousness
Holy Place – glory and worship of God

Dt 12:11-14   the place where YHVH God chooses to make His Name abide.  There you shall bring all [of your offerings].
Josh 18:1; Ex 25:40   the Tabernacle – made according to the Heavenly pattern – set up in Shiloh      (for almost 400 years)

2Sam 7:1-7,11,13   David wants to build YHVH a house; God says that He never spoke a word about that to anyone from the tribes of Israel.  The Son of David (not Solomon nor a son of Solomon, but of Nathan Lk 3:31) will build a house for God’s Name, and His throne will be established forever.
2Sam 24:16-25; 1Kg 3:15   Jerusalem the chosen place for the altar of sacrifice to YHVH

1Kg 5:5; 8:27   Solomon directs Hiram to build a house for the Name of YHVH God; the Shechinah Glory was in that Temple, which cannot contain the fullness of the God of the Universe!

Jer 26:6   YHVH declares through Jeremiah that He will destroy the Temple and Jerusalem

2Kg 25:8-9; Jer 52:12-14   the first Temple – the House of YHVH – burned and destroyed by Babylonians in 586 BC

2Chr 36:22-23   Cyrus, King of Persia, commanded by YHVH God of Heaven to let Israelis return to the Land of Israel and build another House of YHVH in Jerusalem

Hag 2:1-9   new Temple built, not as glorious as the first:  the Shechinah Glory was not there!  Destined to be greater than the first temple and to be filled with the glory of YHVH:  Yeshua was there!

Zech 7:4-7; 9:18-19   no more fasting for believers in Messiah on the 9th of Av (the fifth Hebrew month), or in the month of Tishrei (the seventh month); all of these mentioned fasts(and in the 4th and 10th months) have to do with the destruction of the Temple, and the Babylonian invasion and captivity; Messiah Yeshua has brought days of rejoicing instead of mourning

Mt 24:1-2   Jesus prophesied the destruction of the 2nd  Temple, which occurred in 70 AD

Jn 2:19-22   Jesus Himself the Temple in His own body

Mt 12:6   Jesus greater than the Temple

1Cor 6:19-20   born-again believers are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are to glorify God in our     body and in our spirit; sacrifices of thanksgiving, of praise; our bodies a living sacrifice

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Dan 9:27; Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:3-4; Rev 11:1-2   the antichrist perverting the Temple of God

Ezek 43:4-12; Mal 3:3   millennial Temple in Jerusalem in the Land of Israel, God’s dwelling place in the midst of the children of Israel, Levites offering sacrifices in righteousness

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Rev 21:1-4,22-23   no physical Temple in the new heavens and new Earth, for YHVH God of Hosts and the Lamb are its Temple.  The glory of YHVH God fills His new creation; God will be all in all!

ANTI-BOYCOTT LAW – 13 July 2011

Two days ago a bill against boycotting Israeli products and services originating from within the ‘territories’ — Judea and Samaria — was passed into law by Israel’s Knesset (Parliament).  The new law allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural, or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions, or regions under Israeli control.  It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.  Anyone who considers himself harmed economically by such a boycott is entitled to sue for civil damages.  Israel has no formal constitution.

The individual freedom to not support or to sustain certain products, or to visit certain countries, or to belong to certain political or religious groups is allowed; to impose by law or through intimidation my personal choices upon others is not.  The national interest in upholding laws binding upon all its citizenry and residents for the general welfare and the security of the nation-state is allowed; the elimination of free, public expression of those laws is not.  Israel’s own efforts and might to defend itself from its enemies can not be solved by either economic, political, or military means.  Nor can she save herself by depending on another nation to protect her.  Nor can he be who God called and chose him to be by closing in on himself.  What light is that to the nations?!  Israelis and the Jewish people have long wanted to be ‘like the Gentiles’, and asked for a king like the Gentiles have.  God gave them what they asked for in Saul, whose name means just that:  asked for!  But YHVH has other ideas about what His people are to be, and He admonishes them strongly that what they want — to be like the heathen (in this sense of ‘gentile’) — “shall never be!” (Ezek 20:32-33)

God gave His ‘constitution’ to Israel at Mt. Sinai before they became a nation-state.  Of course, Israel broke this covenantal foundation for governance, and it was also impossible for human beings and nations to live up to. (Acts 15:10)  The Lord is good at “catch-22’s”, in order that we would seek HIS righteousness rather than continuing to try to establish our own.  The need for any nation to defend its ‘values’ is clear.  HOW to do that in a democratic, pluralistic setting — and with religion and peoplehood as integral components of those values — continues to defy civil libertarians as well as pursuers of peace.  Those on the ‘right’ and those on the ‘left’ both have their own, often compromised, justifications to merit consideration of their viewpoint.  Yet from on high, the Word of YHVH comes to tell us that “ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags”.

Democracy is the last great bastion of sinful humanity to govern itself without a king to rule over them, or a priest to uphold the true religious faith, or a prophet to call all to repentance back to the ultimate Judge of what is righteous and good.  For those who truly seek righteousness, peace, and truth, the short-comings and failures which all face — whether believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, or whether believers in anything or anyone else, even in nothing and no-one — as we seek to govern others and to be governed by others (while Jesus is excluded for political correctness and to appease false prophets), should lead us towards repentance in the hope that the one true God of both Jews and Gentiles would again intervene to bring to an end all the wanna-be kingdoms of the world, and to establish His glorious kingdom — not of this world — which will never end.

We do need GOD’s anointed King-Priest to rule both within and over us.  The New Covenant promises a new heart and a new spirit — not for Israel only, but for all mankind who come into that covenant through the shed blood of God’s Son.  Then will Israel, YHVH’s  first-born nation, be enabled to be and do what God has created and redeemed her for.

“. . .for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people!’  For what great nation is there that has God near to it, as YHVH our God is to us, for whatever we may call upon Him?  And what great nation is there that has statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this Law which I set before you this day?  Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  And teach them to your children and your grandchildren. . . .” (Dt 4:6-9

“…Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance!” (Ps 33:10-12)

 Even so, Come, Adon Yeshua/Lord Jesus!