Jewish and Arab Pastors Celebrate Together at ICB – 17 June 2015

This past week concluded the one-year study program specially set up by Israel College of The Bible (ICB) for a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministries.   I was privileged to have been among the students in this unique program, not least because of the mix of Jewish, Arab, and other congregational pastors and leaders being equipped to help us better equip the believers in our own congregations.  The love and unity among the leaders gave expression to the truth of the one Body of Messiah/Christ here in Israel, something that is only truly possible through being reconciled together in the name of  the Lord Yeshua/Yasua/Jesus.

You can read more about it here on the ICB site:  http://www.oneforisrael.org/blog/376-jewish-and-arab-pastors-celebrate-together

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. . .

CIRCUMCISION BAN – 26 July 2012

Germany and Austria have banned religious circumcisions on Jewish male babies, and on Muslim males.  In California, attempts  have been made to also ban circumcision.  Those decision-makers and complying hospitals and doctors think that cutting the foreskin of an 8-day-old baby causes “grievous bodily harm”, and that it is a denial of those persons’ civil liberties to impose on him a religious practice of faith by their parents.  What if, when the Jewish person would be old enough to understand, he would have wanted to be circumcised by his parents as part of their covenantal obligations to keep the covenant (not to mention how much more it will hurt when done after infanthood!)?

Circumcision is a sign of YHVH’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants, especially those of Isaac and of Jacob.  In other words, this early shedding of blood is a sign which Jewish people have practiced for 4000 years now to identify with their belonging as a particular people to the God who chose them to be His people and inheritance.  I do not have any negative recollections about my own circumcision, and I am glad and thankful to know that I am part of this rich heritage from the Creator of the Heavens and Earth for His “peculiar people”, the Children of Israel.

California, Germany, Austria, and many others do not seem to mind killing unborn babies and causing untold pain and grief not only to them, but also to the mothers and others involved in the innocent blood shed.  (Meanwhile, in countries like Zambia where HIV/AIDS is rampant and ruining the lives of too many people, they are encouraging voluntary circumcision by males as a preventative health measure, on the basis of the findings that circumcised males are less likely to contract the virus.)

Will not God hold them accountable for not doing or allowing what He does say, and for doing or approving what He says not to?  Woe to the spirit of Pharoah which arrogantly defies the God of the Hebrews by saying, “Who is YEHOVAH that I should hear and obey His voice. . .”?!

May many Jewish and Gentile people, and Christians, too, repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered untold pain in shedding His innocent blood on account of our sins, that whosoever believes in His name should receive forgiveness and salvation unto the glory of God our Father.

SURVEY: RECORD NUMBER OF ISRAELIS PROFESS BELIEF IN GOD – 28 Jan 2012

“Fully 80% of Israeli Jews believe that God exists – the highest figure found by the Guttman-Avi Chai survey since this review of Israeli-Jewish beliefs began two decades ago. The study also found that 70% of respondents believe the Jews are the Chosen People, 65% believe the Torah and mitzvot (religious commandments) are God-given, and 56% believe in life after death. But that doesn’t mean Jews in general are becoming more religious, at least not in an Orthodox Jewish way. Only 37% of Israeli Jews had a problem with fellow Jews not following the biblical commandments, and nearly 70% said they want more entertainment venues to be open on the Shabbat. The numbers, however, coincide with other recent findings that Israelis are increasingly hungry for a deeper spiritual life.” (Haaretz and Israel Today newspapers, and taken from Jerusalem-on-Line)

There is a spiritual emptiness throughout all cultures, being that the Spirit of God is resisted by the peoples and nations of the world.  This vacuum is being filled ( or else left emptied) by other spirits and self-justification, with the consequences of more wars and rumors of wars, lawlessness abounding, and the love of many growing cold .  There is ‘religious’ revival professing God, but denying the power of godliness.

We pray that our light, as believers in God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ/Messiah Yeshua, would so shine that those truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness, peace, truth, love will repent of their unbelief in Yeshua, and find the substance of what is good.  This is YHVH God’s covenant with the house of Israel and the House of Jacob:  He will forgive them of their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (Jer 33:34b Eng; Heb 8:10-12)

The Gospel, The New Covenant, and The Messianic Faith Are Neither Jewish Nor Greek – 19 Dec 1998

Jude 3 – contend earnestly for the faith which was once-for-all delivered to the saints
[Lk 22:19-20]; 1Cor 11:23-26 – remember Yeshua and His death until He comes again

The heart and foundation of the gospel and of the New Testament and of our faith as Christians is Yeshua the Messiah and Him crucified, risen from the dead, ascended to glory, and coming again.  Our sins are forgiven through faith in the once-for-all sacrificial and atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  We have fellowship (communion) with God our Father and with His Son, and with one another through the Holy Spirit indwelling all who are born again by the Word and the Spirit of God.

Does this sound like the religious teaching of Judaism?  Does it sound like the wisdom of the world’s great thinkers and philosophers?  NO!  For the cross is an offence to the one born with natural honor and privilege before God, such as to the Jews being the chosen  people, and  a  rock of stumbling to our fleshly pride and ambitions.   For the wise of this world, the cross – the means of a sure and shameful death for the transgressor – is foolishness, simplistic.  Yet for the one who believes, whether Jew or Gentile, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is the power of God unto salvation!

The gospel breaks down the wall of hostility between God and mankind, and also between Jews and gentiles, men and women, free and slave – in such a new way that it was a mystery known only to God until He revealed it in His own time to the Apostle Paul, in particular, who then made it known to the gentiles (nations), to kings, and to the children of Israel.

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the LORD God promised a Deliverer – a Savior – from the devil and evil to humankind through the Seed of the woman.  We learn in Romans how this deliverance extends to the whole creation.  To Abram the gospel was preached in that God told him that through him all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  It is faith such as Abraham showed which characterizes the faith of the true Messianic:  he believed the LORD; he believed what God said; he believed and trusted in the LORD that God Almighty could and would fulfill His promises, even if He had to raise the dead to do it!  The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is the living God of the living, the God whose power raises the dead to life eternal!  The Creator of the heavens and the earth is the one God of both the Jews and the Gentiles!

Is this what Judaism or any other of the world’s religions teaches?  Yet it is this good news and covenant of grace through repentance and faith in God which Yeshua came to bring and to fulfill.  He came to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets; He came to fulfill the word of God His Father – not the words or interpretations of anyone else.  The Jews and the nation of Israel as a whole rejected Him; so have too the gentile nations and peoples once the gospel is brought to them.  For the gospel allows no flesh to glory in itself or to approach God and live:  we must all – both  Jews and  gentiles from whatever nation or culture – be born again.  When we are baptized, we acknowledge not only Jesus’ death for us and His resurrection, but also our own death in His death, and our own resurrection in His, that we may no longer live unto ourselves but rather unto God in holiness and righteousness.  Therefore, there is continuity with our past life as unbelievers in that the Law and the prophecies are still being worked out fully; yet there is discontinuity in that we are alive in the reality of resurrection life, eternal life by the indwelling Holy Spirit –no longer under law but under grace.  The Holy Spirit will fulfill in us the righteousness of the Law, which we establish by faith.

The gospel and new covenant are so contrary and transcendent  to the natural man’s religion and intellect.  Let’s consider just a few points regarding Israel, since God gave Israel as an example for the Church and to the world:

  1. The religious and political leaders (in whom the people were represented) claimed that Yeshua consistently  broke the Sabbath regulations, even as He was manifesting the grace and mercies and compassion of God the Father towards others .  (Mt 12:2,10; Mk 3:2; Lk 23:14; John 7:23; Is. 58)
  2. They claimed that He was demon-possessed and cast out demons by the power of Satan, even as He was bringing the reality of the Kingdom of God into their midst.  (Mt 12:24; John 7:20; 10:19-20)
  3. They called Jesus a blasphemer because He claimed to be  God’s Son, or that God was His Father, thus making  Himself equal with God;  they accused Him of blasphemy because He, as a man, forgave sins.  (Mk 2:7; John 5:28; 10:31-39;  cp. 1 Chron. 22:9-10)
  4. The meek shall inherit the earth, rather than the rich and mighty who trust in their wealth and power and wisdom.  (Mt 5:5; 19:23-26; Jer 9:23)
  5. Many of the disciples themselves stopped following (walking with) Jesus when He spoke about eating His flesh and drinking His blood – a thought contrary to Israel’s law received from God.  (John 6:66; Lev. 17:11-12; Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:18-20)
  6. The apostles themselves were scattered when the Shepherd was crucified.  (Mt 26:31; Zech 13:7)
  7. Before knowing the Lord, did we see any beauty in Him that we desired Him?  Did we not, each in our own way perhaps, despise and reject Him?  Did we not consent to His death, assuming that there must have been some justification for it because of some sin of His own rather than for ours?  Paul, as Saul, was a blasphemer and a persecutor of Yeshua (who was already exalted back in Heaven) through the believers, the Body of Messiah, while being himself a zealous and God-fearing  Israeli!  (Is 53; 1Tim 1:13; Gal 1:13; Acts 9:4-5)
  8. A new commandment has been given God’s elect:  to love on the level of God’s love to us as shown and demonstrated through Jesus.  (Mt 5:43-48; John 15:12)

Brothers and sisters, the Christian testimony of Jesus being the Messiah and the Son of God the Father is confessed by both Jews and Gentiles who have believed and obeyed this revelation.  The gospel crosses every nation, culture, and language; the gospel brings Heaven’s rule and authority into the midst of the rule of the prince of this world’s power.  Jesus came to bring a sword into the world and to give His peace to the believer.  The church of the first-born includes all from Adam and Eve onward who have put their faith for salvation in the Creator God Almighty, who later revealed Himself as YEHOVAH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and still later as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The equality of Jews and Gentiles before God under the New Covenant in Christ is still difficult for both to accept and be reconciled to.  The Jews wanted to stone Yeshua and, later, Paul  when they spoke of their mission including gentiles.  For about 15 years after the death and resurrection of the Lord and after Pentecost (Shavuot), the early church was Jewish in character.  The Jews thought that all gentile believers had to become Jewish.  The Holy Spirit and the council at Jerusalem declared otherwise in the wisdom of God.  Later in Church history the opposite occurred:  the non-Jewish believers thought that all Jewish believers had to become gentile, fitting the cultural norm wherever they were living.

The truth is that in Messiah God has made of the two one new man – one loaf representing Christ’s one body in unity.  Today there is still a spiritual battle being fought to bring the Body of Christ to full maturity of the faith of the Son of God – comprised of both Jews and Gentile believers, but not being either quite Jewish or ethnic in character.  Our unity in Messiah and our love for one another is our testimony in and to the world that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus and that God sent Him and loves us as our Father, even as He loved Jesus.

The gospel is God’s good news – offering peace on earth, goodwill towards mankind.  Give thanks and  praise His Name!

E HAIM’S CIRCUMCISION – 28 Dec 1988

Gen 17:1,7,10-14 – Establishment of the covenant by YHVH with Abram (Abraham); identification with and relationship to the people, the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
            John 7:22 – The circumcision is not of Moses, but of the fathers.

Deut 10:15-19 – Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.

Deut 30:1-6 — The LORD will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love YHVH thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Jer 4:1-4 – Circumcise yourselves to YHVH.

Jer 9:22-25 – Glory in the LORD; there is no difference –in themselves—between the circumcised and uncircumcised.

Rom 2:28 – 3:2 – For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly [only]; neither is it circumcision which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart – in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.  What advantage then has the Jew?  Or what profit is there in circumcision?  Much every way:  chiefly, because unto them (us) were committed the oracles of God.

1Cor 7:19 – Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but rather the keeping of the commandments of God.  (E Haim means “stone of life”; our prayer is that he will become a “living stone” — e chaya — through spiritual new birth by repentance and faith in the gospel at an early age.)

Gal 5:6 – For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Philp 3:3 – For we are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.