Lawsuit Update – 15 May 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In addition, on Sunday, June 7, from 1830 (6:30pm), at the Old House of Kehilat Nachalat Yeshua, there will be an evening of PRAISE, WORSHIP, AND INTERCESSION before God regarding the trial.  This is a very significant case, and I am truly blessed to have the Body coming together with us for the battle, which is in Yeshua’s sovereign hands. 

We were greatly encouraged at the SAYF (Sitting at Yeshua’s Feet) retreat the last few days  regarding our upcoming trial.  A wide and varied representation of leadership within the Body of Messiah in Israel gave strong backing for our offensive action against those who aggressively oppose the work of God here in Israel.  A number of the leaders are planning on being present in the court on the day of the trial (details are below in a letter sent out earlier to the Israeli Messianic leadership). 

Beer Sheva holds an important place in God’s covenant purposes for Israel — from the beginning with the ‘Fathers’, and in our times with the return of the Land to the children of Jacob/Israel, and in releasing the refreshing, life-giving waters of the good news of GOD the Father to the still lost sheep of the House of Israel.Shalom Achim,

Let God arise,

In His service with you,
Howard

As some of you know, I and amutat Nichalim BaNegev have filed suit against the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Beer Sheva, Yehuda Deri (brother of Arieh), and against the anti-Great Commission organization, Yad L’Achim.

The suit comes after prayer and consultation with other leaders in Beer Sheva, the Negev, and around the country.  It is based on the riot which the two parties were responsible for organizing against Kehilat Nachalat Yeshua on 24 Dec 2005.

The trial dates are set for June 10 and 21 in Beer Sheva at Beit Mishpat HaShalom (which is located in a tall, massive, white stone and glass building on the left side just past the ‘iriya‘ as you drive into Beer Sheva on Hgwy 40, and continue on Sderot Itzhak Rager).

Our lawyers are Marvin Kramer and Kevork Nalbandian.  We would ask you all to keep us all, and our 7 other excellent witnesses, in prayer.  The judge is Iddo Ruzin, who also needs our prayers.

We want to encourage any of you who can to be with us in the court room on the designated days:  on June 10 at 9:00; on the 21st at 12:30.  Note:  It is advisable to get there much earlier in order to be more certain of getting a seat in the courtroom.The trial is a case to uphold the legitimate right to express the true Messianic faith in Yeshua here in Beer Sheva and in Israel, according to the existing laws which supposedly govern the State.  Our nation was re-established literally on the ashes of people who were killed and then dishonorably cremated because they were Jewish — mostly unknowing witnesses of the one true God who chose them and gave them a destiny still to be fulfilled.

Now we, who believe in the one true God and in Yeshua Messiah whom He sent, are being targeted because we are mostly knowing witnesses whom He has chosen.

Our lawyers and witnesses for the trial are an incredibly diverse group expressing the truth that the God of the Jews is also the God of the Gentiles, and that Yeshua is the one who gathers us and brings us home to the Father.  What is so striking about these who have agreed to testify publicly for the sake of truth and righteousness? :

We have a New York/Israeli Jewish believer; an Armenian/Israeli Orthodox believer; a white Scandinavian/American Christian; an Arab Israeli Christian; a Canadian/Israeli Messianic Jew; an Israeli sabra believer; another American Christian; a Spanish/Israeli Roman Catholic; an Israeli/American Jewish Christian; and, an American/Israeli Jewish believer in Jesus.

What a testimony itself of what the Lord has done!  May our combined witness and testimony speak to those who are looking and listening, to the glory of our great God and Savior.

Please keep this whole matter in prayer, perhaps even fasting, and encourage others to join in, that the will of God is done, and that His righteousness is revealed!We look forward to the day when the prophetic words of Zechariah, the father of John the baptizer, written for us in Luke 1:68-75, will be fully filled in Israel when Yeshua returns!

I include here what I have always sent out to anyone I have communicated with regarding this significant court case:

Please note:  This case is not against Israel or against the Jewish people. It is not to be used in any way to foment or promote anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. It is already known through the Scriptures that Israel at present is opposed to the good news of God, so we are not out to make them an enemy. Nor is our legal action intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. For the sake of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, Israel and her people are beloved by God the Father for His honor and glory, and for the honor and glory of His Son.For the salvation of the Jewish people and of Israel, and of many Gentiles whom God will use to provoke His people to jealousy and to show mercy to them,
Howard

Lawsuit Update – 3 Mar 2009

I think, David, that believers — especially supporters of God’s purposes regarding Israel — should simply be reminded that, as you have so much emphasized, your case in Ariel does not stand alone, but is part of a concerted effort to discredit and to frighten the local believers in Jesus from being open about the faith, and even from living in the land.  Our evangelical brothers and sisters need to stand with their Israeli brothers and sisters in any communications they may have with Jewish and Israeli officials and agencies.

I always put out this disclaimer when I send out updates of the case:

Please note:This case is not against Israel or against the Jewish people. It is not to be used in any way to foment or promote anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. It is already known through the Scriptures that Israel at present is opposed to the good news of God, so we are not out to make them an enemy. Nor is our legal action intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. For the sake of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, Israel and her people are beloved by God the Father for His honor and glory, and for the honor and glory of His Son.The trial of Nichalim BaNegev (Streams in the Negev) and Howard Bass against the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Beer Sheva, Yehuda Der’i, and against the anti-missionary organization, Yad L’Achim (Hand to the Brothers), is scheduled for June 10 and 21, 2009, in Beer Sheva.  The case will be presided by Judge Iddo Rozin.  The defendants claim that they are not responsible for the damages and personal injuries caused by those who participated in their protest demonstration called together by them.  The police closed the files against the four persons ‘arrested’ that day, claiming “lack of public interest”.

The case stems from a “riot” (the description used by the police that day) by up to 500 Jewish men, women, and children on December 24, 2005, against the Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance) Messianic Congregation.

We need the prayers of the saints seeking the honor of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ here in Israel, and for the minds of the people — whether Jewish, Arab, or others — be open to hearing the gospel and believing it for salvation.  Our two lawyers, Marvin Kramer and Kevork Nalbandian, are both believers, and they need their skilled competence and the wisdom of God in their handling of the case.

In our particular court case, we know that the law of the State of Israel is on our side, but the spirit of the nation is against us.  We have the right to assemble together for worship, and did nothing illegal to bring the opposition, whereas they broke laws — both written and unwritten — in their attack that day.  This, by the way, was the second protest demonstration against us, the first being on November 28, 1998.  At that time, we took no legal action, accepting it as part of our faith in Yeshua here.  This second time, though, they crossed too many acceptable norms to ignore in our responsibility to protect the flock, and to uphold the integrity of existing laws in the country.

Thank-you, David, for your and Leah’s “face of God in Messiah” that you have presented to the Israeli and the general Christian public.  May the Lord continue to reward you and Ami, and the rest of your family with His favor and hope.

Your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus the Messiah,
Howard

Lawsuit Update – 17 June 2008

Greetings,

Here is an English translation of a Hebrew article published at the beginning of Passover in Israel’s second largest newspaper, Maariv.

I want to point out that not all the statements concerning ourselves are accurate, nor is the journalist’s sentiment regarding our view of the end-times or of the Jewish people.

Some of the language in the article which offensive was also printed in English in the original Hebrew article. The rabbi’s remarks in the article are only part of the pleasantries he expressed! Thank God for His Spirit in me to help me to take it ‘in stride’, and not revile back!

Go to this PDF

God bless you, and thank-you for your input into our lives,

Howard and Randi

Lawsuit Update – 8 Oct 2007

Currently the congregation is taking part in a lawsuit against religious protesters regarding a violent protest on December 24, 2005.

Please note:This case is not against Israel or against the Jewish people. It is not to be used in any way to foment or promote anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. It is already known through the Scriptures that Israel at present is opposed to the good news of God, so we are not out to make them an enemy. Nor is our legal action intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. For the sake of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, Israel and her people are beloved by God the Father for His honor and glory, and for the honor and glory of His Son.

 Update

We thank and praise the Lord for all your faithful prayers for our pre-trial hearing on Monday. A number of you have called or written to see how things went. I have waited till now to send out a brief report, so that I could include our lawyers ‘official’ summarization.

The only person missing physically from the proceeding was the rabbi Yehuda Deri, who was available by telephone, however, if needed. For Yad L’Achim, instead of the director of the entire organization, their famous (around Israel, at least) activist and head of the Department for the Battle/War Against The Mission was present. His name is Alex Artovski. When he identified himself to the judge Iddo Ruzin as the head of this department, the honorable judge was somewhat amused and surprised that there is actually such a ministry by that name! Alex went on to state, without any further ado, that we were out “to finish off the Jewish people”. With that unprovoked and unsolicited opening volley, the Judge sternly rebuked him and told him to stop. Alex, as representing Yad L’Achim, also refused any consideration of ‘compromise’ to come to some workable agreement.

Judge Ruzin seems to be a ‘human being’ in his desire to see adversarial parties try to resolve their disputes out of court, and has a credo, ‘Live and let live’. He seems to pay attention to the parties, and to see from where the issues arise. Please pray that he would continue throughout the case to be the presiding judge, and that his judgment would be just.

The judge has asked the four attorneys to sit together to try to come to some agreeable arrangement; even Yad L’Achim’s lawyer, Moshe Morganstern, agreed, despite his client’s unwillingness. Rabbi Deri’s attorney is Hasoon Nuni. No one really thinks that the lawyers will succeed in this — and we have our own minimal conditions, as we seek to maintain the honor of the Lord in all this — and the judge wants to hear from them by Dec. 1.

The next scheduled preliminary hearing (again) is set for February 17, 2008. There is a different ‘sense of time’ here in the Middle East!

The link below is an article about the court case from the Jerusalem Post Christian Edition

Article June 2007

The link below is an article which gives an account of the protest which occured on Christmas Eve, 2005. This gives the background information for the basis of the lawsuit.

“Abused For Our Beliefs” (Christmasnacht) – News Article

Prayer Points:

–Pray that Judge Iddo Ruzin would fear God in his conduct throughout the hearing, trial, and judgment; that he is not one to take a bribe, or to be intimidated by fear of ‘powerful’ authorities amongst men; that he would be able to discern the truth and to keep focused on the real issues and evidence.

–Pray for our two believing lawyers, Marvin Kramer and Kevork Nalbandian, that they would be humble in their manner as lawyers, but wise with the wisdom which is from above in their strategy against the schemes of the adversaries; that Marvin and Kevork would maintain unity, which can not be divided, and help each other keep on course and discern the flow of proceedings.

–Pray that our witnesses would be reliable when called to testify, with a clear memory, and that scheduling of trial dates would favor their appearance before the court.

–Pray that whatever may come upon us in the course of this case, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah will be honored, and that the will of God will be discerned by us so as to act in godly faith and obedience to allow God to accomplish all His purposes regarding the suit and its consequences.

Lawsuit Update – 1 May 2007

Greetings,

This update adds to the previous one the news that the court has given a date in October for the hearing, with much to do until then. We have agreed to go to mediation and await to hear if the Defendants will agree.

Bless you for standing with us,

Howard

This case is not against Israel or against the Jewish people. It is not to be used in any way to foment or promote anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. It is already known through the Scriptures that Israel at present is opposed to the good news of God, so we are not out to make them an enemy. Nor is our legal action intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. For the sake of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, Israel and her people are beloved by God the Father for His honor and glory, and for the honor and glory of His Son.

Brethren,

The following is submitted as an up-date for the benefit of the

multitude who have inquired regarding the status of the lawsuit that

was filed in the Magistrate’s Court of Beer Sheva against Rabbi

Yehuda Deri (the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva) and “Yad L’Achim (R.A.)”

for their involvement in the illegal and violent demonstration that

took place on 24th December, 2005, and the violations to the rights

to freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression and faith

of the believers who gathered together at Congregation “Nahalat

Yeshua” on that Shabbat.

Both defendants, through separate laws firms, have filed their

Statements of Defense. While the particular allegations of each

Defendant will not be gone into at length at this juncture, still, it

can be stated: that an attempt is being made by the Defendants to

turn an illegal, violent demonstration into an “open air prayer

meeting”, which is claimed to be not against the law; that the

Defendants assert that this lawsuit was filed in an effort to stop

the “holy war” which the Defendants are directing against attempts to

prevent baptising Jews to Christianity, against attempts to convert

Jews and against attempts to persuade Jews to become Christians; when

efforts are made to try to impose on Jews the ways of Christians and

that Yeshua is the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel, then they (the

Defendants) have the right to cause the public to have second

thoughts about their actions. The Defendants further argue, among

other things, that the purpose of the lawsuit is to establish a

situation where Jews can be baptized to Christianity without any

opposition from the Rabbi of the City or from Yad L’Achim.

Please pray fervently for this lawsuit. Last week, we received a

notice from the court, scheduling a pre-trial hearing between the

attorneys and the parties in early October, and directing the

completion of pre-trial procedures during the next month and a half,

i.e., by the middle of June.

Once again, we ask that you pray: for the judges who will be involved

in making the various decisions in the above case; that the truth

will be made manifest; that justice will be rendered, and that the

holy Name of our Lord Yeshua, and His only, will be exalted,

sanctified and magnified.

With blessings,

Advocate Marvin S. Kramer

Advocate Kevork Nalbandian

P.S. We thank God for the support which has come in to help us defray the costs of this case. If any others believe that it is proper for us to go to court over such issues as these, and are willing to help financially, you can contact me for details. God bless you.

Lawsuit Update – 20 Apr 2007

Shalom,

I’m sorry that it has taken so long to give you an update on the pending court case between us and the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva and against the anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim. This is partly due to the nature of things here in Israel and the judicial process, and partly due to the frailties of our human condition. We do very much appreciate your interest and prayers and willingness to contribute to this case, and hope to keep you informed as things progress to help you in praying in the Spirit and with the mind. Please remember to keep our lawyers, Marvin and Kevork, also in your prayers, and that the outcome would bring honor to the name of the Lord and also promote His righteous and gracious purposes in Israel and even beyond.

This case is not against Israel or against the Jewish people. It is not to be used in any way to foment or promote anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. It is already known through the Scriptures that Israel at present is opposed to the good news of God, so we are not out to make them an enemy. Nor is our legal action intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. For the sake of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, Israel and her people are beloved by God the Father for His honor and glory, and for the honor and glory of His Son.

Here is the update from our lawyers of the legal proceedings: (The terminology is consistent with that of the Defendants.)

The following is submitted as an up-date for the benefit of the multitude who have inquired regarding the status of the lawsuit that was filed in the Magistrate’s Court of Beer Sheva against Rabbi Yehuda Deri (the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva) and “Yad L’Achim (R.A.)” for their involvement in the illegal and violent demonstration that took place on 24th December, 2005, and the violations to the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression and faith of the believers who gathered together at the congregation on that Shabbat.

Both defendants, through separate laws firms, have filed their Statements of Defense. While the particular allegations of each Defendant will not be gone into at length at this juncture, still, it can be stated that an attempt is being made by the Defendants to turn an illegal, violent demonstration into an “open air prayer meeting”, which is claimed to be not against the law; that the Defendants are not responsible for acts of individuals which were contrary to the call for a “peaceful” prayer meeting; that the purpose of the gathering was to allow Jewish persons who arrive at the congregation to have second thoughts about their actions when they see the public prayers; that when efforts are made to try to impose on Jews the ways of Christians and that Yeshua is the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel, then they have the right to cause the public to have second thoughts about their actions. In addition, it is argued, among other things, that the Statement of Claim (the lawsuit) was filed in an effort to stop the “holy war” which the Defendants are directing against baptizing Jews to Christianity, against causing Jews to change their religion and against attempting to persuade Jews to become Christians. It is also argued that the purpose of the lawsuit is to establish a situation where Jews can be baptized to Christianity without any opposition from the Rabbi of the City or from Yad L’Achim. These are only some of the allegations made by the Defendants.

Please keep this matter in your prayers. At this point, pre-trial procedures and maneuvering will be undertaken. It is reasonable to presume that there will be considerable opposition throughout the entire course of the lawsuit.

With blessings,

Advocate Marvin S. Kramer

Advocate Kevork Nalbandian

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thank-you, and God bless you all. This coming Monday is Israel’s 59th Independence Day. Please continue in prayer for Israel to become dependent upon the Lord, freed to serve and worship Him only.

Your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Yeshua the Messiah,

Howard

Lawsuit Update – 22 Feb 2007

News article and commentary

Translation of Article in the Sheva weekly dated 22 Feb 07

The Rabbinate Against “The Messianics/Christians”

The Chief Rabbinic Council for Israel decided in its meeting last Monday (20 February) to establish a special committee for “War Against the Mission Throughout the Country”.

The initiator of the matter, the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva and a member of the Council, the Rabbi Yehuda Deri, notes that he, [along with] Rabbi Simcha Ha-Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, and Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, the Chief Rabbi of Ra’anana and former Chairman of the Shas movement and Minister of the Interior, will work on the matter, within the framework of the Committee, by holding meetings with Members of Parliament (Knesset), acting to change the law regarding missionary work, cooperating with rabbis in the battle of this matter, and working with the police in enforcing the existing law, which forbids changing [of one’s] religion. Rabbi Deri noted in the meeting of the Council that activities of the sect “the Messianic Jews”, in Beer Sheva in particular and in the country generally, is “the spiritual danger that threatens us today more than ever”, and presented different instances of activities of members of the sect throughout the country, in which he emphasized the fact that the Chief Rabbinate has not yet expressed its opinion on the matter. Among other things, the Rabbi told about the baptism of 15 Jews on one Sabbath (Saturday) about two months ago at [an Exhibition Hall] in Tel Aviv.

The Chief Rabbinic Council discussed the issue of the filing of another lawsuit in the Magistrate’s Court in Beer Sheva against Rabbi Deri by persons of the sect, this time for [financial] compensation, for offenses against activities of “the Messianic Jews” during a mass demonstration led by the Rabbi about one year ago in which there was violence. Rabbi Deri reported at that time to Sheva [newspaper] that a few hotheads arrived at the demonstration site before him and engaged in violent acts, which were stopped immediately by him. The Rabbi is certain that the lawsuit is “a stepping up and an opening of a frontline war, which is intended only to frighten him and to restrict his steps in his uncompromising battle unprecedented in its scope against the sect’s activities”.

By the way, Rabbi Deri mentions with praise the success of his latest initiative to enforce the decision of the local rabbinate, according to which about 300 restaurants in the city that enjoy the supervision of the rabbinate will use only worm-free vegetables, except for cabbage. In his words, “Not one of the business owners had to give up his kosher license in the follow-up to apply the decision, which is an increase of ten degrees in the field of food acceptability. Other cities in the country can only be jealous of this outstanding precedent.”

Shalom from where all things converge!

The recent filing of the lawsuit against the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva and Yad L’Achim has received written media attention in the Sheva weekly newspaper, published 22nd February. A copy of that article is attached for your review. It should be noted that the terminology has been changed from “struggle against the mission” to “war against the mission”, which is what it was in reality. We again solicit your on-going and fervent prayers for all of the brethren who are involved in this matter, as well as prayers for the salvation of those who presently oppose us and who seek to prevent the promulgation of the Gospel in Israel.

As many of you are aware, there are a number of different battles going on around the Promised Land over the issue of believing in the Name of the Son of God. It does seem that the signs of the times are heating up — and not just physical global warming! — as the Sovereign God works straitens [sic] us to bring to pass that “which is written”. Your prayers according to His will for all of us are greatly valued, and we pray for your own watchfulness in your own territories.

In Messiah with you,

Howard

Lawsuit Update – Initiation of Suit – 9 Feb 2007

Initiation of the Lawsuit
 
 
Greetings in the name of the Lord!The case will be difficult; we are coming against rulers and principalities; we are not — God help us! — going to allow the media to bring confusion or to prejudice the case (they can come to court in session if they want). We need your prayers and that the Holy Spirit rules within us and that we bring ourselves under subjection to the Lord, so that we can win this fight by His Spirit, to His glory, and that, having won, we will still stand on holy ground. Please pray for our lawyers, Marvin and Kevork, that they will be used of God in a way that will also be an example of honor and integrity in their profession throughout the proceedings and following.God bless you all. Let His name be praised from the rising of the sun till its going down!Howard
Phlp 1: 27-30
 
Below is a letter from our lawyers (both of them believers) regarding the status of the anticipated court case following the riot the day before Christmas and Hannuka in 2005:Brethren,As you will recall, on Shabbat, 24 December, 2005, a violent demonstration took place at Kehilat “Nahalat Yeshua” in Beer Sheva, and the orthodox demonstrators even entered and took control of the congregational premises for a period of about 3 hours.Yesterday, 8 February, 2007, a lawsuit was filed against Rabbi Yehuda Deri (the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva) and “Yad L’Achim (R.A.)” for their involvement in the above demonstration, which seriously violated the right to freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression and faith of the believers who gathered together at the congregation on that Shabbat.

Less than 3 hours after filing the lawsuit, information about the filing of the suit was leaked to the media and we began to receive various calls from media personnel as well as anonymous threats.

Please notify your respective congregations and organizations about what is stated above and pray for the congregation in Beer Sheva, and, particularly, for Howard Bass and his family. Also, please pray that the Lord Yeshua would grant us wisdom in all matters related to the handling of the suit and that he would protect us from the various attacks that may come from those who oppose our faith.
Finally, please pray: for the judges who will be involved in making the various decisions in the above case; that the truth will be made manifest; that justice will be rendered, and that the holy Name of our Lord Yeshua, and His only, will be exalted, sanctified and magnified.

With blessings,
Advocate Marvin S. Kramer
Advocate Kevork Nalbandian

 
 

FOR THOSE WHO SPEAK, AS ORACLES OF GOD – 1Pt 4:11

The Messianic community in Israel and abroad is not of one color or in one stream.  There is no ‘spokesperson’ whose views are accepted by all as representing them – and this is right.  We do not all look the same, nor do we all have the same preferences when it comes to the many things which are offered us.  We are not called to the same service or gifted with the same gifts or skilled with the same skills.  Of all that which is lawful, not all are evaluated in the same way by every one at all times as to whether it is helpful or edifying, or whether any one has come under its power into bondage.

People tend toward labeling and stereotyping because it seems neat and natural.  Often times there is much truth in the description, but the exceptions usually take exception to being categorized or lumped together in quite that way.  There are a number of things spoken of in broad strokes and generalizations by both believers and unbelievers regarding the people, the faith, and the practice of “Messianic Jews”.  (The term, Messianic Jew, is problematic, because Lubavitch Jews/Chabad and Temple Mount Faithful adherents are also ‘messianic Jews’.)  I want to set some things in order from my present view and understanding because, yes, I am one of those who does not like to be too rigidly labeled and categorized.  Others have done that for me at times!  But as one who is born of the Spirit, I myself cannot tell always where I may come from or where the Lord is taking me.  Right now, I am reacting and responding to a number of things which have recently, and some for many years, been expressed.  Perhaps the Lord is preparing for something

Randi and I moved to Israel only seven months after becoming believers in Yeshua/Jesus as the Christ/Messiah.  We briefly connected at first with what was then the Messianic Jewish movement, but we did not ‘subscribe’ to it, nor were we in the U.S. very long as believers.  We came to Israel, where most everything is already Jewish.  I have dear friends and brothers who are in the Messianic Jewish [synagogue] style of expressing their lives, both here and in the U.S.  What keeps us in good fellowship, though, is our agreement on the ‘real’ Yeshua – both in His deity and in His humanity; on the ‘true’ gospel – there is only one way of salvation, both for the Jews and for the Gentiles (Why would God change His way for the Jews after He started the way of salvation with them?!); and, on the ‘holiness’of the Holy Spirit.  To be open, I have no problem that we fall into the category of what some might call fundamentalist and evangelical.  We are also Pentecostal and charismatic, but also in these, not in the way of ‘labeling’ and ‘stereotyping’.  The problem comes when some want to find fault with being a believer like this, or in a congregation of this kind – mostly for the reason that we don’t quite fit their ‘acceptable norms’.  What is the matter with believing the Bible to really be God’s Word, of preaching the gospel for salvation, of being baptized in/by/with the Holy Spirit, of having and using spiritual gifts?

Joseph was in Egypt and received an Egyptian name.  God arranged that, and used Joseph in wonderful ways to save many lives, both of Gentiles, and also of His family, the house of Jacob.  So, too, with Yeshua:  too many love Yeshua, but are embarrassed about Jesus.  God has let His anointed and beloved Son be called by many names amongst the languages of the nations.  The day will eventually come when YHVH will be one and His Name one.  But if we are thankful for what our sovereign God has done, and for who He is, then we can speak honorably of Him, and praise His name, in all the languages God has given mankind to glorify the Savior of the world.  The name Yeshua in Hebrew appears a number of times in the Tanach (the Old Testament, which is passing away; it has not passed away).  Some examples are in Ezra 3:2 and Neh 8:17.  In English it appears as Jeshua; in the Septuagint, which was translated more than two centuries before Yeshua was born in flesh and blood, the Greek translation of the name Yeshua/Jeshua is the same as in the New Testament.  In other words, Jesus is not some pagan name, but rather a name which God has been pleased to honor for many centuries!  The same is true regarding Messianic or Christian.  They are the same word, meaning the same thing.  It is neither a Jewish nor a Gentile designation, but an identification with the Messiah/Christ.

The same regarding the birth of the Lord:  His birth is not a pagan event, but a very holy one.  It is a Biblical day of rejoicing by those who looked for and loved the fulfillment of the promise given so clearly to Adam and Eve, to the Middle East through Balaam, to Israel through Isaiah.  The Jewish shepherds in Israel sent by the rejoicing angels to behold the one who had come into the world; the righteous and devout Jewish Israeli old man, Shimon/Simeon; and the Israeli prophetess Hannah/Anna all celebrated the birth of the Messiah of God, the Holy One of Israel, the Son of the Highest!  Let the unbelievers and the heathen do what they will, but let us sanctify the Lord in our hearts and worship Him in purity, not giving over anything to the devil, but redeeming that which has been taken over by those who fear not YHVH.

Not all Messianic Jews religiously follow the customs and traditions of normative Judaism.  Neither do we renounce all of those traditions, but follow or use them in the liberty we have when it seems appropriate or simply desirable.  The focus, though, is on the substance, rather than on the shadow or type, or on the culture itself.  I was raised in the Conservative Jewish synagogue.  When I was born-again, I was no longer Jew-ish (like a Jew), but, by the wonderful grace of God, became a Jew!

For those who claim to keep Biblically kosher (i.e., maintaining dietary laws regarding clean and unclean meats, but [rightly] disregarding the rabbinic prohibition against eating meat and dairy foods together), I have never heard one say that the numerous passages in the New Testament are relevant as to what makes for Biblical.  It is written that Yeshua made all foods clean.  Yeshua came first of all to the House of Israel, to the ones who had the Law (Torah) with its regulations about ritually acceptable foods.  Once we accept that, or reject it, our understanding of the other verses and passages will be influenced.  Clean foods were already clean, and so needed no ‘cleansing’ by the Messiah; it is the unclean foods which He made clean, which makes sense when I realize that not only did He cleanse the ‘defiled’ Gentiles in the hearts and minds of the Israeli Jewish Apostles, but He also cleansed this ‘unclean’ Jew!  We are free to eat what we want or not, but let us honor the word and the work of our Lord in His death and resurrection when we speak of those things which are lawful and permissible, without any judgment of one’s ‘Jewishness’.  Let us testify to the new creation which we are, and to a new priesthood and its duties and  privileges, which necessarily also changes the law for those in Messiah in His New Covenant.

Likewise regarding the 7th day Sabbath (Shabbat):  it has not been done away with, and it also has a prophetic fulfillment with the soon coming Kingdom of God back to Israel and the whole of creation.  However, Moses wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit about the ‘day after the Sabbath’ (Lev 23:11, 15), referring to the first fruits/resurrection, and to the day of Shavuot/Pentecost.  The counting of the omer/sheaves begins with life from the dead!  Our new life begins not with our death and burial, but with our resurrection in and with Christ!  Eternity is after this very good creation is brought to an end – when time and history are concluded — and the perfect new heavens and new Earth are created for all who love God in truth.  It is this day after the Shabbat, the first day of the week, that the Jewish Israeli Apostles wrote about to celebrate as a witness and a testimony to the fulfillment of what God did in Yeshua resurrecting from among the dead sometime either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Again, we are free, according to New Testament instructions (which are very realistic for what God is doing to save people wherever they may live and from whatever culture), to assemble together for worship on any day now, if that will be most helpful for most of the people.  Here in Israel, among the Jews, it is obviously most normal to meet on the Shabbat; in a Muslim country, believers may find it more useful to meet on Fridays.  For Arab Christians here, Sunday is the normal day for most to gather together.  Whatever day it may be, we still have the responsibility to honor the days which YHVH God has specially honored, because we are His witnesses to His work of creation and redemption, and to show ourselves approved by Him.  It is not a badge of faith in Yeshua/Jesus just because we meet on Shabbat, especially when most of the world naturally assumes that those who believe in Him would worship on Sonday.  It may be Jewish, but it is not necessarily Messianic!

1Jn 2:22-25 makes it very definite that the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints is neither Judaism nor Islam, each of them falling into the negative categories which the Holy Spirit inspired John to write for our admonition and learning.  God’s own ‘theology’ of monotheism is different than the definitions given by Judaism and Islam.  God has given Israel to be an example to the Church, meaning that the Jewish people are a microcosm of all humanity, because the Body of Christ is made up of persons from every tribe and nation.  Judaism is likewise a paradigm for other religions that have received the revelation from the true God, but turned it into a legalistic, works-based approach to righteousness and salvation (Rom10:2-4).  The Roman Catholic Church is very similar to Judaism, but on the other side of identifying who Jesus is, and every Christian/Messianic denomination or stream can fall into the same pattern of having those who place works and tradition above living faith and hope, which have the capacity to be all things to all people for the gospel and the Kingdom of God’s sake, rooted in the righteousness of God. 

I think that it is reasonable to say that Judaism – the religion whose focus is presumably on YHVH God, but which has turned inward onto itself/themselves, departing from the true knowledge of God, and so seeks man’s approval over God’s – will not be the ‘religion’ of the Millennial Kingdom which Yeshua is coming back to usher in and preside over!  There is definitely a future for the Jewish/Israeli people, at least another 1000 years!  Praise the Lord!  But the full remnant that is all Israel is not all ‘Jew-ish’, but is rather the restoration of the whole House of Israel (Ezek 37:15-28).  So now, in the Body of Messiah within Israel, the Jewish believers are difficult to define, to put a finger on.  And it is not really helpful to insist on it, in order to prove one’s Jewish or Israeli credentials to some one or other’s satisfaction.  Our faith in Jesus/Yeshua places us outside normative Judaism, and no self-respecting Jewish person will accept it otherwise.  Only a revelation from the Father can change the notion which says that Jesus is not for the Jewish people, and that Jews can not believe in Jesus.  (See this very enlightening response by unbelieving Jews to a believer:  http://www.jewishisrael.com/profiles/blogs/weve-got-mail-from-missionary )  The Scriptures are true:  Israel is an enemy of the gospel, but beloved for the fathers’ sake, and for the salvation of countless Gentiles.  This reality will not change until Israel cries out for Yeshua to save her/them (Mt 23:37-39; Zech 12:10-14).

Our current court case against the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Beer Sheva, Yehuda Deri, and against the anti-Messianic/Christian organization, Yad L’Achim, is not in order to gain legitimacy for Jewish believers in Jesus here in Israel in a normal civil liberties sense.  Homosexuals and others who want to be recognized as a legitimate grouping within society also may ‘wave the flag’ of serving in the military and the paying of taxes as reasons enough to approve them, if not to embrace their ‘faith’ or lifestyle.  Nor is our lawsuit in order to avoid or to prevent any future opposition or persecution against believers, which, according to my understanding of the end times, is going to increase before the great and terrible Day of YHVH.  It is to uphold a standard of righteousness which still exists within the current laws of the State of Israel, and to, hopefully, help BREAK THROUGH THE STONGHOLD OVER THE MINDS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE AGAINST THE GOSPEL, and to allow SOME to consider what they are doing, and turn away from evil, and towards the truth, light, and righteousness, and that they be saved by the very One they now hate without a cause.  God in His longsuffering and goodness is bringing repentance in the fear of His Name to many in Israel and to His people still dispersed among the nations.

We are called to have a prophetic voice, to be light and salt, to be witnesses of the truth of Messiah in Jesus.  We are also called to strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – love – with all who call upon the name of Yeshua/Jesus from a pure heart.  May the grace of God our Father continue to work in me to enlarge, soften, purify my heart to love Him more, to love the brethren more, to love my fellow man more, to love my enemies more.

Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH is one!  May we see the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory speedily in our day and generation!  Amen.