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FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN ISRAEL – 18 Nov 2006

Almost eight years ago, our congregation was attacked by up to 1000 religious Jews, in which they succeeded to prevent us from worshipping God together on that Shabbat.  Nearly one year ago, on the day before Christmas and Hanukkah, we were attacked again by up to 500 religious Jews, who prevented us from conducting two baptisms but could not stop us from eventually worshipping the Lord together, even it was three hours later.  When I say “religious” Jews, let us remember our teaching on “k’ilu” (as IF) and on the fear of YHVH God.  It’s written in James that if anyone thinks himself to be religious but does not bridle his own tongue, he deceives his own heart and his religion is useless.

There is a law in the State of Israel granting all persons full liberty of conscience and the free exercise of their forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals.  Many provisions of Israeli law are intended to protect holy places and sites that serve for prayers and other religious purposes.  It is an offense under penal law to cause damage to any place of worship or sacred objects of any religion with the purpose of affronting the religion, or offend the religious sentiments, of any class of persons.  There are penal sanctions for trespass on places of worship.  This property where we meet should fall into that category, and has been recognized de facto, at least, for close to a century.

Ex 5:1-2   …Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharoah, “Thus says YHVH God of Israel, ‘Let My people go, that they may celebrate Me in the wilderness’.”  And Pharoah said, “Who is YHVH, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?!  I do not know YHVH, nor will I let Israel go!”

Lk  1:68-75   Blessed is YHVH God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the lovingkindness to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham:  to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

Just this week (Thursday) I saw a notice by Messianic believers that they will go to the Israeli Supreme Court next month.  The issue is over the right to citizenship by the husband of an Israeli-born believer.  For over four years, the husband has been denied citizenship because he is a believer.  The Ministry of Interior received information about him through Yad L’Achim, the anti-missionary group which is also active in the troubles inAradand in the activities against the congregation last year and earlier.

Last year I went to listen to the head of Yad L’Achim and to the chief Sephardic rabbi of Beer Sheva as they spoke to a crowd in a synagogue in one of the Beer Sheva neighborhoods.  They consider Christian money “defiled” and that every motive of believers in Yeshua is to convert the Jew and so, to their darkened mind, condemn the Jews to judgment.

They consider us as Amalek, and therefore even YHVH God Himself is against us, to wipe out our name and memory forever.  This is exactly what the Jews say about Jesus – even if not consciously aware of it – when they call Yeshua “Yeshu”.  These groups of Jews call us worse than Hamas, Hizbollah, or even the Nazis:  they can only kill our bodies, but we take their souls.

It is important for us to know and to remember that Jesus and the apostles warned us that these things would be for those who live godly in Christ.  For the sake of the salvation of the gentiles and their nations, Israel and the Jewish people are presently enemies of the gospel.  This is the sovereign wisdom of God in His perfect plan of redeeming and saving sinners from every nation, including Israel.  The Creator of the Heavens and Earth is allowing evil to be clearly shown to be evil, for sin to be clearly exposed as sinful, so that salvation is clearly seen to be of His grace and mercy, and His judgments altogether righteous against sin and workers of iniquity.  God is seeking from us patience and long-suffering until He completes His plan, and for us to be willing to suffer for His sake and the gospel’s, that others will see that there is a God – invisible in the heavens – who lives within us.

Our battle is not against these people themselves, but against the enemy of their souls who is blinding their hearts and has darkened their understanding against the truth.  They have been taught from birth not to believe in Jesus, and to consider Him the enemy of His own people!  But when the religious leaders, who profess to know God and to be the guardians of the faith, deliberately keep the Word of God from the common people, then they come under the two-edged sword of the Holy Spirit which calls them hypocrites.  Those who profess the keys to the Kingdom neither enter in themselves nor allow others to come through the only way given by the YHVH God of Israel. 

We are truly in a battle for truth and righteousness in this world.  Evolution is put forward as truth against the sure Word of God; a world without Israel is put forth as a means to achieve peace against the sure Word of God; salvation by any means except through the only way which God Himself has declared is sought for against the sure Word of God, who alone justifies the ungodly through faith in the only righteous Man who ever lived and gave His life for unrighteous people.

This war has already been won by Jesus on the cross by His death.  It’s just that most people don’t realize it and are still fighting the old war!  As we are all called into this battle for the glory of God, not all serve in the same units.  Just as in a regular military, there are many units and soldiers serving in varying capacities.  A law was established in Israelby David, and therefore transferable to the Church with Jesus in authority, that gave to all who participated in the battle the spoils of victory.  All includes those on the front lines as well as those taking care of the supplies.  So, too, we may be participating in different units or positions, but if we are giving ourselves to the fight, then we can share in the care for the wounded as well as rejoice in beating back the forces of darkness and evil. 

Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth.  Salt retards corruption and decay, and also helps to heal wounds.  He also says that we should have salt in ourselves and be at peace with one another, as much as is possible with us.  Salt that has lost its saltiness is good for nothing but to be thrown out.  The Lord also calls us the light of the world.  The manner in which we care even for those who are opposed to us should reflect positively upon the goodness of our Father in Heaven because of our faith in Jesus, God’s unique Son.  Our ultimate victory is not going to be seen until the resurrection of the just at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to judge all who oppose Him and His Kingdom.  But even now, we can overcome the world by our faith in Him.

We are a small congregation.  In all Israel, the number of born-again believers is a small minority.  Salvation is the Lord’s and so is the battle!  Jesus was put outside the camp as a false prophet and blasphemer.  Do we love Him for saving us from God’s wrath?  Are we really willing to be persecuted for our faith in Him?  Let us examine our own motives for why we believe, and ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts as well, so that in the day of trouble and evil, we will do wonders in the Name of our great God and Savior!

We are standing in the faith of the saints before us who strove for their liberty to worship the true God, and especially within Israel, God’s chosen people and land, in this city of the fathers, to whom YHVH swore that we would worship Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness. 

2Thes 1

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