Trumpet Call To Prayer – 9 July 2014

As I write this, the sounds of war are heard within our nation, and the blood of Abel cries out for vengeance and vindication.  Yet the blood of Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah/Yasu al Massih cries out better things:  salvation, and forgiveness of sin. (Heb 12:24)

There is a growing sense within and among the Israeli Messianic/Christian and Palestinian Christian communities that our united, collective voice needs to be heard as a prophetic voice to our people.  We, who believe in the name of the Son of God have, by grace, received the truth for solving the perpetual conflict between the Jewish and Arab peoples, and for all the other people groups in the world.  They do not know the Way of peace, but we do:  His name is Yeshua/Yasu/Jesus, who died and rose again!

We can seek our own righteousness, or else we can submit to the righteousness of God, who alone is wise and good.  The message which our Lord has given us to take to our people is the gospel, which alone God has blessed with power to save and to give peace to those who repent and believe, and who live in its truth.

With this purpose in mind, and after consultation with some of the Jewish and Arab leaders, we are calling a meeting to pray together this Sunday, July 13, from 15:00 – 17:30.  The location is accessible, and legally allows for Israelis and Palestinians to meet together.

At this critical time, the need to come together as believers in Yeshua/Jesus/Yasu, to humble ourselves, to pray and seek God’s face, and to turn from our own ungodly ways towards each other and towards our enemies — real and perceived — has never been greater.

For the sake of His Holy Name. . .

HEBREW — The Primary Language of Jesus in Israel in His Day – 2 June 2014

Why Jesus was a Hebrew-speaker

Hebrew, and not only Aramaic, was a spoken language at the time of Jesus, but PM Netanyahu’s exchange with the pope wasn’t only academic: It’s a debate with a clear religious and cultural subtext.

By | Jun. 2, 2014 | 10:28 AM  (HAARETZ)

Around the turn of the millennium, I received an email from a party looking to create a film script about a first century Jewish sage teaching in Aramaic. Since my PhD was in Aramaic, and Semitic languages are an area of expertise, would I be interested? It aroused my curiosity, so I wrote back with a question: Since Jewish teachers in the first century tended to use Hebrew, why would the filmmakers want an Aramaic script? I received a short response that this film script was about Jesus, as if that was enough said. I declined their offer.

Last week’s news controversy over Jesus’ language, sparked by the exchange between Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and the pope, brings to light how an Aramaic-only speaking Jesus has been enshrined within the academy and society at large. Elon Gilad’s Haaretz article “What language did Jesus speak?” is a prime example.

Gilad starts his case by quoting John 20:16 where Mary Magdalene addresses Jesus as Rabbouni, “my master, my teacher.” Since the Hebrew word rabbi is widely known by specialists and the common reader alike, the assumption is made that rabbouni cannot be Hebrew and must be Aramaic. But the gospel writer called the word Hebrew, not Aramaic, and he was correct. Rabbouni is, in fact, excellent Mishnaic Hebrew. It is attested in Codex Kaufmann of Mishna Ta`anit 3.8. Mistaken conclusions like Gilad’s are perpetuated by wrong assumptions which lead to wrong expectations. A century of Israeli Mishnaic Hebrew scholarship has laid the foundation for a different perspective.

Three backdrops to the language situation of Judea and the Galilee in the first century should actually reverse the expectations regarding Jesus and his languages: The colloquial nature of Mishnaic Hebrew, the anachronistic and foreign character of the Aramaic Targum translations, and the exclusivity of Hebrew in story parables.

A common fallacy presents Hebrew usage in first century Judea and the Galilee as a strictly sacred, literary language, comparable to Latin in Medieval Europe. The notion that both Hebrew and Latin were monolithic is erroneous. During the Second Temple period, Hebrew had developed into two social dialects. The high register was a literary dialect used for prestigious communication, known today as “Late Biblical Hebrew,” the language of books like Ezra and Nehemia and much of the Qumran writings. The low register can be seen in works like the Copper Scroll from Qumran Cave 3, and in various papyri, graffiti, and inscriptions from the Second Temple period, as well as the tannaitic and amoraic writings of rabbinic literature. Already in 1908, M.H. Segal had pointed out to the scholarly world that Mishnaic Hebrew showed the marks of the internal development of a colloquial language – it was definitely not an artificial usage by a scholarly elite.

Secondly, it is argued that first century Judean and Galilean Jews needed a translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Aramaic Targums. The argument runs that the existence of the Aramaic Targums must mean that the people did not know Hebrew. However, the Targums served an interpretive interest beyond simple translation, a commentary that elucidated and expanded the plain text. Also, although many Aramaic writings are found among the Qumran community’s scrolls, except for the foreign (imported) Job and a potential text for a pilgrimage holiday, there is no Aramaic Bible. The Targum traditions that we have stem from the 2nd and 3rd century C.E. At this point in time, a widespread, first-century Aramaic Targum practice in Israel remains speculation and the evidence available, meager though it is, actually points away from such an assumption.

Parables are the third piece of the linguistic puzzle. Certain Jewish literary genres were always in Hebrew, one of which was the rabbinic story parable. In rabbinic literature, even within Aramaic contexts, the story parable was always given in Hebrew. The potential connection with Jesus is obvious, since Jesus, too, is frequently characterized as someone who taught the populace in parables. The parable genre was used for making a point that could be readily grasped by all levels of society. They were a popular literary genre, not “highbrow” or “elitist.”

Archaeology has also been heralded as decisive evidence in the Aramaic-only Jesus. According to Gilad: “In the Galilee, where Jesus lived, Aramaic had taken over by the time Jesus was born. In the south, in Judea, archaeological evidence shows that some pockets of Hebrew still remained during the first century C.E.” This is ironic. The real problem is that we have virtually no archaeological evidence for first century Semitic (Aramaic or Hebrew) languages in the Galilee. We do have Galilean names found in the south, and they are Hebrew!

All of the above is to point out that there are strong evidences that support the prime minister’s comments on Jesus. Yes, in all probability Jesus did teach in Hebrew. Contra Gilad, Bibi’s father, a historian, could be proud of his son. However, the pope countered that Jesus spoke Aramaic. He, too, is partially correct. The Gospel of Mark records at least two utterances in Aramaic, both in private healing accounts, Mark 5:41 and 7:34.

The problem arises when people try to push the issue into exclusivity, either one language or the other. This reaches the most problematic point on the words of the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34). It is probable that Matthew’s transliteration reflects the original form of the story, and that Mark is the one who has edited the sounds. Matthew appears to have Jesus referring to Psalm 22 either in Mishnaic Hebrew, or a mixed language, while Mark has Jesus speaking fully in Aramaic, similarly to the two healing accounts mentioned above. In any case, a few statements in Aramaic do not prove its exclusivity.

It is no longer questioned nor considered a viable option that only Aramaic was a colloquial language in the land in the first century. Hebrew was also a colloquial language and a candidate for any teaching with Jewish audiences throughout the land, and may be the primary candidate for such teaching. As for a mother tongue, we simply do not know enough to speak about any particular family situation anywhere in the country.

Why is there such an emphasis on an Aramaic-only Jesus? What is the sub-text that unifies many of those who suggest that Jesus taught in Aramaic? If Jewish teachers tended to use Hebrew in the first century, then a Jesus that teaches in Aramaic can be portrayed as “non-Jewish” or “less-Jewish.” Some will be comfortable with that. Historically, many Christians have wanted to emphasize a universal (and non-Jewish) orientation for the Church and an Aramaic-teaching Jesus fit that role model. Ironically, the same motive might have been comforting within a Jewish context: Jesus is not one of “our Jewish teachers” and incidentally, he did not even teach in our language. Both sides could miss the real Jesus.

A Hebrew and Aramaic-speaking Jesus challenges long-held misconceptions. And even if we disagree, Netanyahu and the pope demonstrated that we can begin discussing these issues amicably.

Randall Buth, PhD, is Director of the Biblical Language Center and a member of the Jerusalem School for Synoptic Research, a consortium of Christian and Jewish scholars who collaborate in studying Jesus and the Gospels. He is a co-editor of the recent book, The Language Environment in First Century Judaea, (edited by Randall Buth and R. Steven Notley), Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels, Volume Two (Brill, 2014).

_ _ _ _ _ _

Thanks to Randall Buth for responding to the opportunity afforded by the exchange between the Pope and the Israeli PM, Bibi Netanyahu, to give scholarly support for what the Scriptures have long indicated.

I (Howard) have always thought that Jesus spoke Hebrew as the primary spoken language of the Jewish people in His day.  If Nehemiah pulled out the hair because the returning Jews from Babylonian exile were speaking the language of Babylon (which I assume was Aramaic), and not the language of the Jewish people, then surely the Messiah Himself would be speaking the language of the Hebrew man.  (At the same time, I also believe that the language of the original texts of the New Testament was Greek, with many Hebraisms, given that nearly all of the writers were Israeli Hebrew speakers who could also communicate in Greek, the universal language of the day.  There are lots of Americanisms in my own Hebrew!)

Erasing Hebrew as the language of Jesus and of the Israelis in His day is similar to referring to Him living in Palestine, rather than in the Land of Israel, as mentioned in Matthew when His mother and foster father returned with Him from Egypt.  This is, on the one hand a form of anti-semitism; and on the other hand the righteousness of God:  Israel wants to blot out the name and memory of Yeshua; the nations want to blot out Israel from being a nation anymore.  Thanks and praise to God for our Redeemer and Savior to deliver us from the wrath to come!

TRUTH, AND THE LYING SPIRIT – 23 Aug 2011

Greetings from the land where the lie is often spoken as truth,

Thanks to the many of you who have written in, and to those who didn’t yet lifted a voice to our Father in Heaven.

From the time that the serpent got Eve and Adam to listen to him over the clear Word of God, we have inherited the tendency to believe lies over truth.  And when the lie is repeated enough and taught and passed on as being true, it takes a rude awakening sometimes to open our eyes and ears to reality.  I was always brought up to believe that the truth of Jesus was not true — at least not for Jewish people.  If something is true, it is true for everyone.  Today Israel and Jewish people curses — although not always knowingly — both Jesus and those who believe in Him.  And Israel herself finds the nations delegitimizing and cursing the truth of her existence, and her witness to the one true God — even in her unbelief.  We reap what we sow; as we judge, we shall be judged.

In the present state of war preparations, Israelis were attacked and murdered.  Israel responded by killing the terrorists, and also some Egyptians, who may or may not have been complicit in the attacks near Eilat last week; and the news media, including some of Israel’s own, give a picture that Israel is the aggressor against Gazans and Hamas.  I heard a BBC newscast just two days ago, with the story stating that Israel had killed 15 Palestinians, including civilians, in response to a militant raid which killed  eight Israelis.  NOTHING about the civilians that the terrorists killed, including the injury of two children.  NOTHING about all the rocket attacks which had already begun on southern Israel towns and cities.  And with all this, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations involved who started the latest salvo during Ramadan, threatened Israel should Israel retaliate during Ramadan! 

The terrorists who chose to start the killings and attacks then also decided when the “cease-fire” should begin — 9:00 pm on Sunday.  Since Sunday at 9:00 pm (2100), rockets have been fired towards Ashkelon and other Israeli towns near Gaza.  Israel, once again, finds itself in a dilemma that no matter what she does, it is wrong.  Believers in Jesus/Yeshua, whatever we do or say about the truth of who He is, are never right in Judaism thinking. 

Praise the Lord for His righteousness!  His thoughts and ways are just and true, and His wisdom is awe-inspiring, and His judgments past finding out! 

Here is a link to a pretty amazing video about Hamas tactics against their own people and Israel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUuhw0RpRMY

Here is a very wry response to the U.S. demands for Israel to always apologize:  http://yossibarnegev.wordpress.com/  (I do not know who the author is, as far as I know.)

And here is a video of rocket attacks in Beer Sheva this past Saturday night, with most being intercepted:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n5ICddnSJk

BLOOD OF NEW COVENANT ON JEWISH PEOPLE

14 June 2011

Much ‘blood has been spilled’ over the outcry of the “all the [Israeli Jewish] people”to Pontius Pilate washing his hands wishing to be “innocent of the blood of this just man”:  “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Mt 27:24-25; Acts 5:28; Dt 19:10)

In the sovereignty and wisdom of God, and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this Scripture is full of life and death, for “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. (Pr 18:21) This publicly spoken word by the rulers and the common people had consequences which were not understood or foreseen when rashly uttered. (Acts 5:28)  When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, he had no idea really of what he was doing and the dreadful consequences of his action – that in him all future human beings would be starting out in life as sinners and dying!

Through the centuries the Jewish people have suffered much because of the irrational hatred toward Yeshua when He walked among us.  The Romans and other Gentiles have taken those words and, still wanting to wash their hands of their own evil part in the crucifixion of this ‘Just Man’, caused horrible suffering to the Jewish people and to the nation Israel because of this blood we have brought on ourselves as being guilty of rejecting the Son of God, and seeing to it that He was put to death on the tree. (Acts 2:22-39)  The ‘curse’ of blood-guiltiness turns into the ‘blessing’ of atonement when any Jewish person or Gentile repents and believes the good news of salvation through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin and sins.

I want to look again at this shout of ‘all the people’ in the light of God’s sovereign grace reigning through His righteousness.  The blood of Jesus will either forever cleanse those who love life that comes through confession of Yeshua as Lord, and believe with our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, or else it will bring eternal condemnation for those who love the fruit of refusing the goodness of the Father to bring us into His household and family.

God has dealt with Israel in a unique way among the nations in that He has cut covenants with her fathers, extending to their descendants, including a chosen king and priesthood; and ultimately, in the fullness of time when Messiah came, God cut a new covenant with the House of Israel and with theHouse of Judah. (Amos 3:1-3; Rom 9:4-5; Jer 31:31; 33:17-25; Gal 4:4-5) The full meaning of these wonderful truths of the Creator and the Redeemer of the Heavens and the Earth will find their full expression only when the Lord Messiah returns to restore the Kingdom to Israel and over all the other nations.  This is crucial in the plan of God in order to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets, so fulfilling all the promises of God concerning all things. (Mt 5:17-19; Rom 15:8-9)  In the cutting of covenants – rather than merely ‘making’ a covenant – the shedding of blood is a vital part of the covenant in which a life has been sacrificed as the binding price of the ‘deal’.  And for our sins to be forgiven there must be the shedding of blood. (Lev 17:11)

At Sinai, the covenant with the Children of Israel from all of the twelve tribes was cut by the blood of oxen offered unto YHVH, God of Israel.  As Moses read the Book of the Covenant to all of the people, they said, “All that YHVH has said we will do, and listen to”.  Then Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which YHVH has cut with you according to all these words.” (Ex 24:3-8)  With this covenant, YHVH and the People of Israel became forever joined in covenant union.  Israelis and Jewish people may come and go the way of all flesh, but the covenanted nation with the God of the covenant endures forever!  Anti-semitism is first and foremost against YHVH Himself. (cp Acts 9:1-5)

In Lev 16:32-34 and again in chapter 23:28-29, the LORD gives His people the opportunity to have their sins atoned for and removed in order that He might dwell among them as a holy people, justified by faith in the provided sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sinfulness.  This blood of the atonement was given upon the altar for all of the people and for all else that pertained to the whole religious and civil life of the nation.  Any Israeli that did not afflict his soul that day for what God did to grant him life would cut himself off from his people – he would no longer be part of the people because he refused the blood that was shed to provide forgiveness for all his sins he committed under the terms of the covenant made at Sinai, and the covenant cut with those just prior to their entry into the land of Canaan. (Dt 5:1-3)

This means of atonement by the blood on the Day of Atonements was everlasting, and was God’s means until Messiah came to offer Himself as a guilt offering for sinners. (Is 53:10; Heb 9:23; 10:12-14)   At the last Passover supper with His apostles, Yeshua spoke to them about His upcoming betrayal and suffering and death.  The cup of the New Covenant in His blood, shed for all of us, but first of all for the House of Israel and the House of Judah, is our constant reminder that Jesus is the covenant (Is 49:8) which God has cut with His people. (Lk 22:20)  He is the Lamb of God who was slaughtered as an acceptable sacrifice to God, and “His side was pierced with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out”. (Jn 19:34-35)

He is also the Scapegoat who willfully, in His innocence, bore all their/our sins, and is wrongfully blamed for all our woes.

When Caiaphas, the High Priest responsible that year, said to the religious leaders who were alarmed at so many of the Jewish people beginning to believe in Yeshua, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish”, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle John to write:  “Now this he (Caiaphas) did not say on his own, but being High Priest that year he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (Jn 11:49-52Caiaphas did not realize that he was actually prophesying!  But if God can cause a donkey to speak, he can certainly bring forth truth from a man, even one opposed to or ignorant of His full intentions.  And being High Priest of the Israeli nation that year, the words of Caiaphas had power and authority, and his unintentional sin brought guilt upon the people. (Lev 4:3)

When all Israel accepted God’s covenant at Mt. Sinai with all its holy and righteous commandments, they did not realize what they were really committing to when they said “Amen” to put themselves under the yoke of the Law.  When all the [Jewish] people cried out that the blood of Jesus should be on them and on their children, they did not realize the consequences and power the words from out of their heart and mouths would carry throughout the generations and millennia.

Praise God!  On the cross, our Savior, the Son of Man, called out to His Father – and the Father of Israel (Ex 4:22) – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Lk 23:34)

Praise God!  In His own divine love and wisdom, and in His own faithfulness to His Word, His promises, His covenants – He had His priestly nation ‘sprinkle the blood of the New Covenant’ firstly upon themselves and their descendants! (Lev 16:6; Heb 7:27; Is 52:13-15The atonement has been provided for the whole House of Jacob, and the way was opened for the Gentiles to also be purified and brought near!  The covenants belong to Israel of the flesh (Rom 9:3-5).  Those who repent and believe receive the blessedness of God’s grace and favor.  The day is coming when all Israel – the full remnant from all the tribes who turn from ungodliness – will be saved and enter into the good of the New Covenant cut with them by the One whom they have pierced. (Rom 11:26-27; Zech 12:10-14)  They will afflict their souls and cease from all their own works.  Those who still refuse His provided sacrifice will cut themselves off from their people and His people.  The blood of the Messiah which God promised to His people Israel has been shed for all people and nations everywhere at all times. (1Tim 4:10)  The Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world, and all of God’s covenants are based upon His eternal plan of redemption. (Rom 15:4; Rev 13:8)

Praise God!  His will has been done, is being done, and will be done – on Earth as in Heaven.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

MORE THAN A CARPENTER INDEED!

Mt 16:16-18 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Yeshua answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (Sheol) will not prevail against it.”

Gen 49:24b . . .by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel)

Yeshua and His legal father, Joseph, are called carpenters (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3). They may well have been; the Galilee area around Nazareth certainly has plenty of trees. But the region is also rich in stones. The Greek word used in the two passages referred to is transliterated tekton. It generally refers to a skilled builder or craftsman, used for carpenters as well as for stonemasons and metalworkers. The Hebrew equivalent would be pronounced charash, and is also used for skilled laborers in wood, stone, and metal.

It is interesting that the imagery throughout the Bible makes much use of rocks and stones when it comes to building things, especially for endurance. There really is not a whole lot speaking of wood for overcoming the rock of the ages and the sands of time. Fire, especially, is an enemy of wooden structures. Rocks, gems, and precious stones can withstand the heat and other forces for a much longer period, and are often enhanced in color and purity. Rocks speak of strength, solidity, and stability. Gems and jewels express symbols of beauty, worthiness, divine qualities. YHVH God is our Rock; He is our refuge; and we are His workmanship!

Here are some verses (English numeration) from the Scriptures that suggest the probability that Jesus, while perhaps also working with wood, was primarily, perhaps, the best stonemason and gemologist who ever will be! The natural physical qualities and abundance of stones and rocks in the Land of Israel provide the template for working with us and on us spiritual stones:

Ex 20:25  And if you build Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.

Ex 31:3-4  And I have filled him with the Spirit of God — in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all workmanship — to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, incarving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.

Dt 8:9b  …a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper

Ps 31:2b  …Be my rock of refuge, a house of defense (a fortress) to save me.

1Cor 10:4 (Ex 17:6)  and all drank the same spiritual drink. And that Rock was Christ (Messiah).

Is 51:1-2a  Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek YHVH: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug (the quarry). Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you. . . .

Ezek 36:26-28  I will give you a new heart and a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers: You shall be My people, and I will be your God.

Ps 118:22; Mt 21:42; 1Pt 2:7  The stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone!

Is 28:16; 1Pt 2:6  …Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.

Is 8:14: 1Pt 2:8  He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both houses of Israel. . . .

Mt 3:9  and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones!’

Lk 19:40  ut [Jesus] answered and said to [the Pharisees], ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out!

1Pt 2:4-5  Coming to Him as a Living Stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua Messiah.

1Cor 3:9-15  For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Eph 2:19-22  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone, in Whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Mt 16:18; Jn 1:42  [When Peter confesses Yeshua as the Messiah, Son of God, this testimony of who Yeshua is is the Rock upon which Yeshua builds His church, His body. What is interesting is that the new name which Jesus gave Simon was Peter, which means ‘rock, or stone‘. Upon the likes of simple, ordinary people, who are also sinners, Jesus takes us as living stones to build His body, a holy and stable spiritual House of God. It is Peter in his first epistle that uses this metaphor for born-again believers, and the foundations of the wall of the great city — the holy New Jerusalem, whose architect (designer) and builder are God (Heb 11:9-10) — are the twelve apostles. (Rev 21:14)

More than that, Yeshua is the Son, which in Hebrew is ben. This is the root word for boneh, which means Builder! The Hebrew word for house is ba’it, whose root word is baht, meaning Daughter! O for the wisdom of God and the treasure He has given us — Yeshua and the Bible! Praise the Lord for Zion, and the virgin Daughter of Zion, the dwelling place of the Father and the Son in the house of God (Jn 14:23): for the New Jerusalem, the Mother of all who are a new creation through Messiah Jesus! What honor and glory to become the virgin, spotless, and glorious Bride of the Son of God — co-heirs with the King of kings and Lord of lords, all living together in the Father’s house — the eternal new heavens and new Earth!

Rev 2:17  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

Rev 21:9b-11,18-21  “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. . . .The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: . . . . The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

The Lord Jesus Christ. . .more than a carpenter indeed! There is NONE like Him!

YESHUA/JESUS IS COMING AGAIN! – 14 Oct 2010

This news is not new!  It is also good news for those who love His appearing!  It is the same “old” news!  It remains current news!

There is a wave of deception entering from without and working within the “Church” connected with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven to judge the nations and to establish His righteous reign over Israel and the rest of the world.  Many professing believers/Christians — and some are truly so — are re-defining terms to interpret the Word of God to be saying what He isn’t, or else to not be saying what He is.  The spirit at work in this seeks to de-legitimize both Israel and the gospel in their uniqueness; to make what God calls “new” (as in New Covenant and new creation) only something re-newed or re-cycled; and to weaken doctrinal support not for these only, but also for the hope of the literal and personal return of the same Yeshua/Jesus who ascended in bodily form to sit at the right hand of the Father until the time appointed.

The gospel/good news goes out to “whosoever” from whatever nation and group of people.  God is working to save whosoever repents and believes His good news concerning repentance and faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and the free gift of eternal life to all who truly believe.  Any consequential transformation of a society or a culture is only in part and definitely temporary.  Only the return of the Lord to establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth is going to permanently change this situation at a universal level.  Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is working to bring as many as will to have part in the better resurrection, which is the first resurrection, which is far better than merely entering the Millennial Kingdom in the flesh for those of Israel and of other sheep nations who come through the great tribulation without giving themselves over to the antichrist, and upon whom Yeshua will show mercy and compassion at the end of the age.

To make this as simple as possible:  as long as Satan is the god of this world, then the world is not going to be transformed to a degree satisfactory to YHVH God and His Son; and as long as Israel — His chosen people and nation — remains an enemy of the gospel, then the God of Israel is not going to be satisfied with any lesser transformation.  Both of these conditions will prevail until the coming again of Yeshua, and thank God that the Father has set a time for this!

Therefore, it is for true believers not to lose sight of the blessed hope as we go about being light, salt, and a fragrance in the world in the faith, hope, and love that more individuals will have their own heart and minds transformed by that which is the power of God to save:  the gospel.  In God’s Kingdom, every part will be holy in order that all is holy.  It appears that the elect are going to be more and more “hid with Messiah in God”, and not be the most vocal and visible, or high profile, or most popular, or even most ‘influential’.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!

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.

Lawsuit Update – 24 May 2010

We are still waiting for the Judge’s verdict in our lawsuit. The customary 30 days have passed, but he is under no legal obligation to have given it during that time. The times are in the Lord’s control, and so we trust Him for making the best use of this time to bring forth the verdict He wants, and the consequences of it. Please continue to pray for Judge Iddo Ruzin, who is understandably under much pressure.