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. . .

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

HUMBLING OURSELVES – 7 Aug 2011

A call for a national fast by the believers in Israel has gone out for this week, Aug 8-9, coinciding with the Jewish day of mourning over the destruction of the two temples, and for other calamitous events which have occured on or near the same Hebrew calendar date of the 9th day of the 5th month.

The Body of Messiah, as a priesthood representing our peoples before God, is called to intercede for our nation in the face of all the existential threats she faces.  For us to have any authority before God on behalf of our unbelieving people, the believers must face squarely our own sins as God’s people under the blood of the New Covenant at this time.

Not only are there external enemies and threats to seek to destroy Israel from being a nation anymore, but there are both external and internal agents seeking to prevent Israel and the Jewish people from being what God has created and redeemed her for.  We still, even as born-again Spirit-baptized and -filled believers in the truth of who Jesus Christ is, too often show a likeness to Israel who did/do not want to have the living God be her King, but wanted/want a king like the Gentiles have.  We want to be like the Gentiles, rather than a holy people serving the Holy One, and being a servant nation as a royal priesthood to bless other nations and peoples for the glory of our Father in Heaven and the Lord Yeshua Messiah/Jesus Christ.  Too many Christians — or by any other name that clearly identifies any and all believers with Yeshua/Jesus — want a Jesus that is like the ‘holy’ men of other religions, and not the unique and only-begotten Son of God who alone is the Mediator between God and men.

As we humble ourselves and seek God’s face, let us acknowledge our own sins first — as is required of the priests serving YHVH God — according to the calling and ministries we have in Messiah/Christ, so that there might be healing and deliverance and revival within the household of faith.  Then, perhaps those outside will come and see what the Holy Spirit is doing that brings lasting hope in the God of hope.  All their sins are a consequence of not believing in the name of the Son of God; all our own sins are for not believing what He says.

THE TEMPLE OF GOD

Tisha b’Av/9th of Av

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mt 12:6   Jesus greater than the Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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.

TO BE A JEW – 7 Dec 2008

I was born to a Jewish father and a Jewish mother.  They were each born to a Jewish father and mother.  They brought us up with a Jewish identity through circumcision, observance of Jewish holy-days, Bar-Mitzva (‘Son of Commandment’).  We lived with an awareness of being Jewish in a Gentile society, and an even larger world.  We sought our acceptance by the Gentile Christians, hoping to prove ourselves worthy in their eyes, while also considering ourselves as much Jewish in our identity as Conservative Jews in comparison to Orthodox Judaism, and more Jewish in our identity and practice (praxis) in contrast to Reform Jews.  We are God’sChosen and Peculiar People, even if we did not personally know Him who chose us, nor understand why.  We are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel was our special nation and land, even if we did not want to live there.

I was born Jew-ish; I was born-again a Jew!

When I was saved by the grace of God – repenting, and believing in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God who died and rose from the dead – I immediately and instinctively wanted to begin keeping the Sabbath (Saturday), observing the Jewish holidays, and keeping ‘kosher’ (adhering to the Jewish dietary regulations).  I reacted to coming to believe in God by thinking it natural and right to live as a Jew who would be ‘religious’ from a [Conservative] Jewish point of view.  I heard the voice of God say to me, “I didn’t tell you to do that.”  And so I didn’t, and I haven’t – at least not in the way of the Jewish religion.  My approval of being a ‘good Jew’ is no longer determined by men, but from the very Creator and Redeemer God who chose us for Himself!

The Lord and Messiah Jesus Himself, and His apostles to whom He gave authority to write the New Testament by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, all spoke plainly regarding our true identity and expression as born-again believers.  The Jewish or Hebraic roots of the Messianic/Christian faith are found in the Word of God – the Bible – not in commentaries, nor in the teachings and doctrines of men (or of demons); not in the wisdom of Jewish sages, nor of Church fathers.  Jesus/Yeshua is the Root and Offspring of David, and before Abraham was, HE IS!  The olive tree which grows out from God’s chosen shoot (the netzer) – who is the Son of David, the Lord Jesus – is a qualitatively different tree than the natural tree whose trunk is Israel and whose roots are located in this land (of Israel) and in the earth.  The new tree, which is all of Messiah – taken out from among His humanly natural Israeli Jewish heritage root – includes all born-again Jews grafted in again for what is a natural ‘transplant’, and also born-again Gentiles grafted in contrary to nature.  The older tree continues by God’s sovereign power and grace, but the new tree lives uniquely as a testimony of God’s eternal redemption through a better covenant, based upon a better sacrifice, with greater promises, and a better hope.  This tree is rooted in Heaven as an anchor for our soul, being a so much greater and pre-eminent plant (tzemach) which the Father has ordained.

That Gentile Christian forms and expressions of the faith will not be overtly Jewish is evident when we consider the implications of Yeshua speaking in parable to tell the Jewish Israeli religious and political leaders that He would take the Kingdomof Godaway from them and give it to a nation bearing the fruits of it.  This judgment falls upon Israel and the natural Jewish custodians of God’s purposes as a consequence of their mistreating all of the servants God sent to them, including, and especially, the very Heir, the Son of the Owner of the vineyard, which is the whole House of Israel.  We, the Jewish people, chosen of God, have thrown Yeshua out of His vineyard, and He is still outside the camp, bearing the reproach of the people as the Scapegoat for all our sins, transgressions, and iniquities, and for their consequences to ourselves and others.  He is calling a mixed multitude of people out to Himself there, who are willing to identify with Him in His current rejection, patiently obeying Him with faith until the set time for His Kingdom comes.  The tabernacle of David is being re-built as we go out to Yeshua – YHVH’s anointed King — and leave ‘Saul’ – the king like those of the gentiles, whomIsrael prefers.

Gentiles were not brought up with the Law and the Prophets.  They are not natural branches; yet God would take them and purify their hearts through faith from their idolatries.  Most of what the Gentile church has done historically has not ‘looked or sounded Jewish’; yet all the while, the Holy Spirit is fulfilling what YHVH spoke through Moses and the Prophets and the Writings.  Thus the apostle Paul could honestly write that he did nothing against Moses and the traditions of the fathers, for the things pertaining to Jewish people under the New Covenant in the blood of Messiah were written beforehand for our (believers’) learning and admonition.

The Gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek.  The Gentiles would be brought into the tents of Shem through faith in the truth of the one true God; and born-again Jews would be enlarged in their understanding of YHVH God of Shem as they paid attention and appreciated His work of salvation amongst the Gentiles.  The good news of God in sending His only-begotten Son to die for sinners is unnatural to the mindset of both Jew and Greek:  the gospel is entirely from God in Heaven in Christ.  No flesh will glory in His holy presence!  Pride, which sets itself against the goodness and grace of God, will be abased!  The meek and humble will be exalted!  The world has been turned upside down!

The New Testament is written by Israeli Jews, with the exception of Luke.  Similarly, the Old Testament (which will not pass away until every jot and tittle are fulfilled, and which can only be so with the literal restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel and the world during the Millennial Kingdom upon Yeshua’s return) is written by Israelis, with the exception of Job.  Why is it that we who are Jewish believers in Yeshua have such difficulty with what the New Testament says about the very things which we consider so Jewish?  It is proof that the gospel is not Jewish and does not appeal to the Jewish mind or flesh!  The glad tidings come out of a thoroughly Israeli, Jewish, monotheistic grounding, but the revelation of the mystery waited for the appointed time.  We find ourselves resisting the Holy Spirit even now as our forefathers did before us!  

Of course, also in accord with the New Testament, we have liberty to worship on a day most suitable for the people we live among; we have liberty not to eat certain meats; we are always at liberty to love our brethren, so as not to be a cause of stumbling to them, by willingly and humbly giving up our freedoms for the sake of the gospel and the well-being of a “weaker” brother.  But we do not have the liberty to use these liberties at the expense of the truth of what the gospel has accomplished.  We are not free to forbid what God has [now] allowed, nor to teach or speak against what He now says is revealed truth.

We have been called to be witnesses of the risen Lord and Savior, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  Messiah has come, and the apostles teach, reprove, correct, and instruct us in the way of righteousness in light of this reality.  There are changes and differences in the New Covenant, which is not like the Old.  The new brings us to maturity, and is written to the royal priesthood whom God is preparing to rule in the world to come with Messiah.  Moses is no longer ‘our Rabbi’.  The one of whom he prophesied has come, and we are to listen to Him.  Moses was a faithful servant in the house, but the Son is the builder of the house!  We are called out by Yeshua to become His disciples.

All born-again believers in Yeshua/Jesus are priests unto God.  It is no longer only for the family of Levi and Aaron; nor is it for men only.  Our priesthood in Messiah transcends the Levitical priesthood.  That is temporal, and will eventually come to an end at the close of theMillennialKingdom.  Our priesthood in Christ is an everlasting one, after the order of Melchizedek.  The Bride of Messiah will rule and reign with King Yeshua overIsrael and the nations, rather than be ruled over during His reign on Earth.  We already now as priests have the privilege of eating the “Showbread”/the Lord’s Supper; we work on the Sabbath in God’s on-going work of redemption.  These are privileges and services not allowed to others of our nation who do not now know their Savior God.  Just as God separated the tribe of Levi out from their brethren, not reckoning them in their number or inheritance of land even though being their mediators, so now are we who are priests in Messiah are not reckoned with those whose inheritance is anything less than the Lord Yeshua Himself.

There are numerous passages which show that Biblical kashrut has been altered so as to enable us to eat not only with our Gentile brothers and sisters in the Lord, but also what they eat to whom we may be sent to carry the glad tidings from Zion!  If God can make a sinner such as me kosher by the blood of the Lamb, He can certainly declare foods clean which had previously been labeled as unclean.  After all, they go in and out of the body, but what is in our hearts may be wholly unaffected.  Keeping “Biblically kosher” includes what is taught in that part of the Bible called the New Testament!

Marriage under the Torah was to have been not only between Israelis, but preferably even within each tribe.  Priests could marry only daughters of other priests.  These laws helped ensure the preservation of the Jewish people and nation, even while in exile, but most importantly they were intended to strengthen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

the faithfulness of the covenantal relationship to YHVH God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob within  Israel.  YHVH always made room for the Ruths, who joined herself to both the people and the God of

Israel; yet she was always referred to afterwards as Ruth the Moabitess.  The New Testament teaching goes back to these same roots:  marriage is a covenant relationship, and believers are to marry those whose faith is in the same God and Father, and in His Messiah.  The key issue is [new] covenantal faithfulness to Him, not to traditions of man, nor to those things from the Law of Moses which have already now been superseded by the grace and truth through Yeshua Messiah.  This includes not only marriage and foods, but also to the priesthood.

Moses wrote of Sunday – the day after the Sabbath – in two significant passages when he is given the order and description of YHVH God’s appointed feast times.  These two places correspond to the first of the First Fruits/Resurrection Day of Messiah, and to Shavuot/Pentecost, when God called for a new thing in Israel:  a meal offering containing leaven in two loaves of bread, signifying that God had opened the way to Him for both Jews and Gentiles equally through the death and resurrection of His Son.  This marked a new day which YHVH had made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!

The prophet Isaiah received a word from YHVH God that He would call His servants by another name, implying that the term ‘Jew’ or ‘Israeli’ would no longer be enough to describe who His true servants were.  We see in the New Testament that those who walked in The Way – firstly being Jews – were called Nazarenes (Notzrim) after the name applied to Yeshua, the Nazarene (the Messianic netzer of God from the root of Jesse, father of King David, and also the notzer brit, covenant-keeper), and they were called Christians (Meshichi’im) – whether Jew or Gentile believers in the Christ/Messiah/Anointed One.  The Lord calls to all of us to be His disciples by denying ourselves, picking up our cross daily, and following Him.  Just as YHVH placed His name upon the children ofIsrael through the Aaronic blessing, so now He has placed the name of Messiah/Christ upon those who are in New Covenant relationship with God the Father through His Son.  What love that we should be called the children of God!

God has broken down the wall of enmity within the Law of commandments which separated the Children of Israel from Gentiles.  This separation will continue to be somewhat evident during the 1000-year Kingdom of God on this Earth when the full remnant of the twelve tribes of Israel will receive the inheritance promised them with an oath by God for an everlasting (till the end of time) possession, along with other non-Israelis dwelling among them.  The center of Messiah’s kingdom will be inIsraelas He rules over His chosen people and over the remnant of the other sheep nations fromJerusalem.  The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YHVH as the waters cover the seas!  Rabbinic Judaism will not be the religion of the Messianic Kingdom, but rather the faith and religion which honors the Son of God, the King of [all] Israel, who was crucified for them.

But now, in Messiah, God has completely broken down the middle wall of separation between born-again believers from among the children ofIsrael and from among the Gentile nations.  Through the cross God has reconciled us to Himself and made of us two people groups one new man, into one body, thus making peace.  We are called to be reconciled to God on matters which offend us in the way of truth.

As a Jew, my destiny and identity is hid with Messiah in God.  The New Testament scriptures tell me both what it is, and how, to be a Jew.  There is an honor attached to being a Jew in the flesh.  But there is a greater honor to be also a Jew whose heart has been circumcised and whose past life has been forgiven.  I have received far more as a Ben-Hesed (‘Son of Grace’) who believes the truth of the New Testament for us who believe now in Yeshua/Jesus, and my conscience is clear before God and man.  You can call me by whatever name you want, as long as you mean that I believe in, belong to, and follow Messiah the Lord, Yeshua/Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.  By God’s power and grace, may I give the good confession, give thanks to my Lord and Savior, and forever praise Him who has had such mercy on me.

Let us fear God and keep our proper domain as New Testament believers, not shrinking back to a pre-born-again position.  Let us love the brethren.  Let us love the Lord Yeshua with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, living for Him who died for us and rose again!

ISRAEL IS GOD’S CHOSEN

Oct 2007

“Go Unto All Nations” Magazine

Hong Kong Asso. of Christian Missions

For the first time since the dispersion of the children of Israel almost 2000 years ago, more Jewish people in the world today live in the State of Israel than in any other country.  More than 40% of Jewish people live here.  Close to 68% of the more than 5.4 million Jews who live in the country are native born (sabras).  The modern state is 59 years old, and YHVH God is actively intervening in the affairs of men to bring to fulfillment His covenantal promises and oaths given long ago – as recorded in the Bible – and which He confirmed by the words of the Lord Jesus and of His apostles. (Gen 17:4-8; 26:2-5; 28:13-15; Ezek 36:22-28; Mt 5:17-18; 2Cor 1:20)

“You only have I known.” (Amos 3:2); and, “Israel is my first-born” (Ex 4:22-23).  Israel is a special nation.  It is unique amongst the lands and nations of the world.   There were other nations, such as Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt before Israel came into being, but God has declared Israel – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – to be His inheritance (Is 19:25).  YHVH chose the children of Jacob not because they were/are better than the other nations or people groups (that is, the Gentiles), nor because He needed a large number of people to accomplish His purposes to glorify His name and the name of His Son.  (If so, He would have chosen the fathers of those who became the Chinese!)

No, the LORD’s thoughts and ways are not like ours.  The Father of all the families in the world (Eph 3:14-15) chose Israel before they were even a people so that they should not boast about being God’s Chosen People to the hurt or offense of other nations.  God chose us (I am myself a Jew) because He loves us – just as through Messiah He chooses out individuals from every nation and tribe and family in the same manner – and has called us to be a blessing to Himself and to all nations for His holy name’s sake.

This high calling has proven too great for the Israelis to live up to (Acts 15:10), just as it would be for any  other nation or person had God chosen them.  Only Yeshua/Jesus, the Messiah and Son of the living God, only He has completely and fully pleased and satisfied God the Father.  Israel’s hope is going to be realized only through Jesus; the Church’s hope is going to be realized only in Messiah/Christ.  The tension between this destiny of holiness and between being like the gentiles is powerful in these last days.

With this very brief theological and historical background, we can view in perspective the context of life and Christian ministry in Israel.

LIFE OF ISRAELIS TODAY

Despite being the People of The Book, most Israelis and Jewish people around the world are ignorant or unbelieving regarding the covenantal relationship with YHVH. (Ezek 36:16-29)  This results in the present deteriorating conditions of life in the nation.  Not because of Jewish people’s obedience is God fulfilling His perfect plan of redemption of saving His people from their sins, but rather by His mercy and grace for the honor of His holy name.  We are immigrating (making aliyah) from all the countries to which we were scattered.  Jerusalem is considered by God to be the political and religious/spiritual capital of Israel.  But as with the chosenness of the Land and of the People, God’s choice for His city is contested by those who do not have His word in their heart.

Since the beginning, defense has been the top priority of securing Israel’s borders from neighboring Arabic nations – predominately Islamic – who have opposed and resisted the re-establishment of a sovereign Jewish/Israeli state.  YHVH God’s sovereignty over all the nations brings with it both satanic  and human negative reaction!  This emphasis on defending the nation and her borders from continuous wars and rumors of war has burdened the population with high taxes.  The cost of living in Israel is very high.  The standard of living is a mix of first and third worlds.  Compared to her immediate neighboring countries, Israel surpasses them all in providing a relatively high standard for her citizens.  At the same time, wages are low, sometimes oppressively so.

Israel’s economy is no longer based on agriculture, as it was in its first 30 years, but has shifted to high-tech research and development, in which she excels in a number of areas. In the Negev Desert southern region of the country, much desert research and application of water use and irrigation is carried out through Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.  Music and the arts play a major role in the cultural life of Israelis.  All these talents and works are beneficial to other nations also, but Israel’s calling as the Chosen People of God is to honor and glorify YHVH as a holy people, and to serve the other nations to bless them for His holy name’s sake!

Modern medicine is practiced at a high level, and is provided at low cost to most members of the society without distinction.  Although Israel is located at the western edge of Asia, her political and economic models are western oriented.  Educational institutions of higher learning are very competitive in receiving applicants.  The cost of education continues to grow, placing a further burden on the normal wage earner.

The stereotypical path for many Israeli youth is that they finish high school at age 18, go into the compulsory military service for two years (girls) or three years (boys); upon completion of their duty they travel to other far parts of the world, often to the east, or to South America; then [the parents hope!] they return to Israel to study, get married, and continue their lives.

Israel and the Jewish people are an interwoven cross-cultural fabric which God is making and forming to be a praise to His name.  We come from many different cultures which we acquired over our long years of exile:  many languages, skin colorations, cuisines, styles of music, art, literature.  Israel is truly a masterpiece in the making!

RELIGIOUS LIFE

Some people have the mistaken impression that the Israeli people live holier lives than people from other nations.  When they visit the “Holy Land”, they have been disappointed or even disillusioned to find Israelis acting in ways unsuited to the “holy people of God”.  This is a cause of stumbling for even many Christians who do not understand the prophetic word given by the Holy Spirit through Ezekiel (36:24-27) that [most of] the Jewish people would be brought back in unbelief and living in the manner of gentiles to the land of promise before the Lord would cleanse them of all their uncleanness.  Israel today is primarily a secular society with lots of authority in the hands of ultra-orthodox religious and political parties and leading rabbis (Jewish spiritual leaders and teachers).  Believers in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God make up a negligible percentage of the population (much less than 1%).

Significant issues governing life and cultural events are regulated by orthodox halacha (rules and regulations for every facet of living):  for example, determining who is Jewish from birth; who has legal authority to marry in a Jewish wedding; who/what legitimizes divorces; who conducts burial ceremonies.  The orthodox Jews fall into many streams within the religion of the Jews.  Some do not even recognize the existence of the current nation, because to them the Messiah has not yet come!  (Of course He has!)  Others accept the State, but refuse military duty, and receive exemptions to study in yeshivot (Jewish religious seminaries).  And then there are those who are religious Zionists, believing that this land is ordained by God for the Jewish people, and that the Jews must defend and preserve it by all legitimate means sanctioned by law – and sometimes in ways deemed unlawful.

Other streams of Judaism, such as Reform and Conservative, are seeking to gain legitimacy in Israeli Jewish law, and have had a very limited amount of success till now.  In other religions – including Christianity – there are many similarities to the way in which Jewish people conduct themselves in the affairs of God and man.  The Jewish people are a glimpse of humanity.  It is important that believers in Jesus recognize this when looking at – even judging – the Israeli Jewish people.

There is something of a religious/spiritual revival in Israel, but not yet a return to YHVH God Himself, and especially not in the full repentance of believing the gospel.  There is very much a looking eastward (Ezek 8:15-16) by many Israelis, seeking spiritual meaning in forms of eastern religions and various New Age expressions.  Nothing has changed much since Moses and the Prophets warned Israelis not to follow the ways of the heathen, but to keep covenant with the one true God who created them for His own glory.

KOSHER FOOD

One of the main features of Israeli culture is kashrut, or, religiously acceptable food for eating.  Part of this dietary custom is based on the Law of Moses regarding the types of food – especially with respect to meat, fowl, and fish – which YHVH God of Israel allowed or forbade for His people to eat (Lev 11).  Many Israeli Jews, whether religious or not, will “keep kosher” in their homes, and many restaurants have kashrut licenses so that religious Jews will know that the food there complies with regulations.  These regulations also include, in rabbinic Judaism, the separation of meat and dairy in food production, storage, consumption.  This is based on a misunderstanding of the commandment “do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Ex 23:19), and has led to all sorts of religious regulations requiring, for example, separate dishes and silverware for either meat or for dairy products; separate refrigerators and sinks, as well.  These rabbinic restrictions place a financial burden on many people and also in their eating habits, and upon their conscience as “good Jews”, and their freedom to eat other people’s food preparations and provisions.  Under the New Testament in Messiah, Yeshua has broken down this wall of enmity between Jews and Gentiles, making it possible to be sent as “missionaries” anywhere in the world, and to be free to eat socially and sociably with all people, giving thanks to God, to whom belongs the Earth and all its fullness! (1Cor 10:25-33)  The Lamb and His blood have made us kosher!

One of the main weapons which ultra-orthodox authorities will use against restaurants, banquet halls, and conference centers is to threaten to invalidate their kashrut license, which for many of these establishments would mean losing their ability to remain open and operate successfully.  This legal sanction is used not only lawfully against violators of dietary regulations, but also against such businesses who, for example, host Messianic/Christian events, especially those sponsored by local Israeli believers.

THE SABBATH

The Sabbath day (Saturday; the 7th day of the week) is the blessed and sanctified day which God made a sign between Him and Israel (Gen 2:3; Ezek 20:12).  YHVH gave Israel the Sabbath to observe to remind His people that He is the Creator of the universe in six days (Ex 20:11), and also that He is the Redeemer and Deliverer (Dt 5:15).  It is a covenant sign for Israel to remember YHVH’s work in this creation, whereas the Church is a witness to the new creation in and through Christ, and to the eternal New Heavens and New Earth to come for all who are the Lord’s.  Thank God for the day after the Sabbath! While the Sabbath continues to bear a certain difference from other days of the week in Israel, it has become more and more like any other day throughout most of the country, except for a few ultra-religious pockets in parts of the nation, such as the Mea Shearim section in Jerusalem, and Bnei Brak in the Tel Aviv area.  Religious Jews today will not drive a car on Shabbat; will not smoke (if they do on other days); will not write; will not spend money; will not use a phone, turn on electrical switches, or cook a meal.

The spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of unsaved Jewish people everywhere today is fought over the issue of ultimate authority:  does it belong with the teachings and traditions of man; or does it lie with the Word of God as written in the Tanach (the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings) and the New Testament?  According to the Lord Messiah Himself, more Jews would believe in Him if they believed what Moses and the Prophets wrote! (Lk 16:29-31; Jn 5:44-47)

There is a sense, similar to the time surrounding the lifetime of Jesus, that people are “waiting for Messiah to come”.  Street signs and car bumper stickers even proclaim this!  We are in the last days when many false messiahs will come on the scene, promising peace. (Mt 24:4-5)  Within one sect of “mainstream” Judaism – Chabad – many believe that their rabbi, who died in 1994 at an old age and never was in Israel, is the Messiah.  Even today they actively promote his picture and his teachings as if he is the Messiah for the Jews.  Others are looking for a political or military leader.  Yeshua said that Israel would accept someone “coming in his own name”, but that He “comes in the name of His Father”, in the name of YHVH (the LORD)! (Jn 5:43; Mt 23:39)

MESSIANIC BELIEVERS

The Jewish believers in Yeshua/Jesus in Israel go by – and are called – several names:  Jewish believers in Jesus; Messianic Jews (Yehudim Meshichi’im); Hebrew Christians (Ivrim Meshichi’im); Christians (Meshichi’im or Notzrim); traitors and infidels.  Depending on who is saying what to whom, the description can sometimes be clear as a reference to faith in Yeshua; sometimes it is not clear; sometimes it carries a negative connotation.  Even the Chabad Jews who believe in the Lubavitch Rebbe are considered Messianic Jews since they are Jews who believe in a Messiah.  Therefore, it becomes a matter of great importance that we distinguish ourselves as believers in Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah, based on the Bible.  The Lord tells us that if He was called names of dishonor, so, too, would we if we are of His household (Mt 10:24-26).

There are no definite figures as to how many Jewish believers in Jesus there are in Israel, but the overall number of evangelical believers is somewhere between 10,000-11,000.  At present there are over 100 congregations/churches within the Messianic Jewish community.  Most Jews still come to faith through the witness of Gentile Christians, but an increasing number are being brought to repentance and faith through the testimony of friends, or through reading books – often those which tell of Jews who became believers.  And now, of course, many more families are bringing up their children in the knowledge and way of the Lord.

Many of the congregations use the Hebrew language as the primary language within the services, but there are many in which Russian is the “official” language for worship and teaching/preaching.  In our own congregation, Hebrew is the unifying language, and we provide translations into Russian and into English.  More than half of the members of our congregation are from a Russian-speaking background.  Everyone is encouraged to learn and to use Hebrew as much as possible, since we live in Israel and Hebrew is our common tongue.  Praise God for helping us, since still most believers in Israel are immigrants who have come from other countries, speaking Spanish, Rumanian, Amharic (Ethiopian), etc.

A growing number of native-born Israelis are repenting and believing the gospel, but they still make up a very small minority within the whole Body of Messiah in Israel (not to mention in the world!).  As God brings more of the Gentiles to saving faith in Jesus, we should expect to see more Jews being saved on the way to that Day approaching when all Israel – the full remnant from all the tribes – will be saved when they see Him whom they have pierced.  (Rom 11:25-27; Rev 7:4-8; Zech 12:10)

The believing community in Israel has developed remarkably in the past 25 years.  There is a much greater awareness within Israeli society that Jews do and can believe in Jesus and still retain our identity as Jews.  Hundreds of books have been written in or translated into Hebrew to help inform and educate believers in our knowledge of the Lord and of our walk of faith.  Summer camps for children have multiplied to meet the growing number of children from believing families, as well as to fit the varied interests and expressions of the Messianic body.  Youth conferences, soldiers’ conferences are organized every month, sometimes every week somewhere around the country within the Body of Christ.  Uncountable local and international leadership events and prayer gatherings take place regularly and frequently in Israel.  It has reached the point where we have too many good things to choose from!  Our Father in Heaven is surely pleased whenever He sees barriers which Jesus broke down being enjoyed, as brethren are expressing His reconciliation through the blood of the cross in unity and love between Jewish and Arab believers; and as different streams within the Body – charismatic, Pentecostal, “baptistic” – rejoice in opportunities to mix in humility and love for the sake of the name of Yeshua and of the gospel.

There are now more believers serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) than at any other time in her modern history.  As the generation of fathers and mothers has grown and multiplied, so have our children come of age to enter military service in larger numbers.  This provides the believing soldiers a stronger support network, as well as real-life situations in which to mature in their faith and relationship with the Lord, to demonstrate the truth of the faith through their own life and conduct, and to share with those who still do not know the one true God and His only-begotten Son.  It is a key stage of transition from youth to becoming young men and women.

Evangelizing in Israel is technically legal, but is still viewed with much suspicion and disfavor by the majority of society.  Anyone who witnesses about his/her faith to others with the intent to persuade them that Yeshua is the truth is considered a missionary, which is a very negative term here.  There are laws against adults knowingly witnessing to minors (not their own children), that is, to those under the age of 18.  Of course, minors can speak of their own faith with others in their age group, such as at school.   Reasonable laws also exist to prohibit offering any bribe or other inducement or promise of material gain as a means to cause someone to “change his religion”.  We are often falsely accused of doing such things, but God cannot be deceived, and He knows the heart of every person.

The most effective way that is used to show Jewish people why we believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah is through the prophesies given in the Old Testament.  Some key passages which are often referred to are Isaiah 53; Jeremiah 31:31-37; Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:24-27.  These portions have historically been accepted as Messianic – applying to the Messiah – and so have much credibility to influence someone to re-consider his “inherited” prejudice and ignorance regarding them.

There are anti-missionary groups, such as Yad L’Achim (Hand to the Brothers) and Lev L’Achim (Heart for the Brothers), which aggressively operate to prevent Jewish evangelism.  They employ strategies and tactics to discourage, and even intimidate, Jews from hearing the gospel and from attending Messianic worship services.  Little has changed since the New Testament was written, and just as false witnesses and false accusations were used against Yeshua or against Paul in a futile effort to stop the spread of God’s good news, so today similar methods are used against the evangelical Messianic community.  In different cities around Israel, and in different congregations over the years, there have been various degrees of persecution and harassment to disrupt life, and at times to the extent of loss of jobs or the ruin of businesses.  Bible book stores have been burned; congregational facilities have been destroyed by arson; windows have been broken in homes; believers have been publicly insulted and humiliated simply because of their faith in Jesus.  Violent demonstrations and riots have occurred at Shabbat services; baptisms have been forced to be carried out in other places due to measures used by such anti-missionary groups.  Some of these situations have been taken to court, with mixed results.

Surely there are those amongst these groups that do fear God, while many are innocents caught up in a spiritual battle which they do not realize or understand.  Others are simply rabble-rousers who are willing to make trouble for a price.  We know that Saul – before he was Paul – was such a God-fearing Jew who was sent out by religious/political authorities to persecute the beginning church.  He did a good job!  Then one day, by the grace of the living God, Yeshua was revealed to him and he repented and believed, giving the rest of his life to suffer for the sake of the name of Him whom he had been blaspheming.  So, too, we believe that there are amongst these anti-missionary forces some who truly fear God and believe with all their heart that it is right that they oppose the Holy Spirit and the gospel.  And we also believe that God, in His lovingkindness, will also reveal to them the truth about His Son, and change their hearts and spirits to love the One they now hate without cause.  Meanwhile, the believers need to trust the Lord, loving Him above all things – even our own lives – and to grow more into the image of God through blessing those who curse us, praying for those who persecute us, loving our enemies – all this for the sake of Yeshua who died for our sins while we were His enemies, not knowing what we were doing.

Over the course of years in struggling for the right to be considered as Jews while accepting Jesus to be the Messiah and Savior, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled against the legitimacy of that idea.  They base their judgment on historic precedents and perceptions:  that for a Jew to believe in Yeshua is to forsake Jewish identity and the Jewish people. (Jn 9:22; 12:42)

Religious and political interests which oppose the gospel have tried several times to change existing legislation, or to make new laws, which would further restrict the liberty to evangelize or preach the gospel to the Jewish people.  Thankfully these efforts have not yet succeeded, but the intent to do so is strengthening.  This is a matter for prayer that the Lord would prepare the believers to remain faithful to the Great Commission which He left us with to carry out until the end of the age.

Gentile Missions

What can Gentile groups do to engage in Jewish ministry?  Firstly….pray.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; pray for reconciliation between Jewish and Arab believers; pray for Israel and the Jews to repent and return to their God through the only Way – Jesus – and so find true peace and security through the forgiveness of their sin.

As Gentile believers, the Holy Spirit has given inspired instructions for reaching out to Jews for their salvation.  The New Testament is based upon what was written in the Old.  Therefore, it is important to know the whole Bible when speaking to Jews about Yeshua, as they are usually ignorant of their own Scriptures, but in their souls they know that they speak to them as God’s chosen people.

The specific role of non-Jewish Christians is to provoke Israel to jealousy (Rom 11:11) by your humble and thankful relationship with the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob through knowing the truth about who Jesus is.  Gentile believers can express to the Jews that they love Israel and Jewish people because of their faith in Jesus as Messiah and the Savior whom God promised.

The Jewish person may not respond in a way or as quickly as hoped for.  The Apostle Paul teaches the necessity, therefore, of also showing mercy to them (Rom 11:30-32) because of the great mercy shown to you by God.  Gentile believers can also support Jewish ministry through financial gifts to the believers.  (Rom 15:26-27)  This helps the many Messianic believers who live near poverty levels to know they are loved and blessed by their brethren, and to enable them to maintain even a very modest level of living and to be freer to serve the interests of the Lord.  Too often well-meaning Christians want to “bless Israel” by donating money to Jewish institutions, some of which actually discriminate against the believers!  Should there be a desire to bless unbelieving Israel in this manner, then it is best to give first through the local believers, and allow them to give to suitable organizations in your name and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This puts a local personal face of the Messianic/Christian community as the channel of blessing Israel.

Finally, you can come as tourists and see for yourselves what God is doing with living stones!  Visiting the Holy Land makes the Bible a very personal book, as places and geography written about in the Holy Scriptures become familiar.  Jesus was born in Israel (Mt 2:20-21); He grew up and ministered in Israel; He was crucified, buried, and resurrected in Israel; this same Yeshua will return to Israel to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth!  Even so, come Lord Jesus! 

The Joy of Fellowship in the Truth of God’s Love – 1 Oct 2004

1Pet 1:3-9 we rejoice greatly in Him whom we love for saving our souls

On the Day of Atonements last Shabbat, the Jewish believers amongst us then did a very significant thing (Neh 9:2):  we accepted and confessed our sin and rebellion against YHVH our God (Lev 26:40) and against His Son, the Messiah Jesus (Mt 27:25).

As priests of God in Christ – and as sons of our fathers, whether in the time of Moses or whether in the days of Yeshua – we have a responsibility to accept our personal and collective guilt for our iniquity, transgressions, and sins against God and against our fellow man (Lev 16:11,15,17,21).  We are connected to our people both in promises and in judgment, according to God’s covenants with us.  God has an historic plan of redemption throughout the generations and history of man to bring about His purposes to live with all those who love His Son, Jesus Christ, and know Him as Savior and Lord.

All of the appointed times of YHVH – Sabbath, Passover, Shavuot, Succot – remind Jews (and Christians) that the Creator redeemed and delivered His people Israel from bondage in Egypt (Dt 16:6,12; Lev 23:43).  They are also based upon sacrifices of blood, the blood of covenant with God and His people.

As I have mentioned times before, the Passover was a sacrifice and a deliverance by grace and power, apart from the reckoning of sin.  But it did require faith and obedience on the part of the Israelis in Egypt to put the blood of the slaughtered lambs upon their door posts and remain inside their homes.  From Shavuot, with the giving of the Law, the people became aware of the holiness and righteousness of the great God and Savior who had saved them and promised to give them the land which He promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob and to their descendants.  The people of Israel “became” sinners, who had to offer all kinds of sacrifices in acknowledgement of his or her sin and guilt and defilement.  The Day of Atonements was the national day of corporate cleansing by the Holy God through the sacrifice of the goat to YHVH and the sending away to live in the wilderness the other goat to Azazel, laden with all the sins of the children of Israel.  This, too, is all of grace, but requiring the personal application of the Israeli to him-/herself, lest he/she disqualify himself from inclusion as a member of the family of God.

Now we come to the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated with great rejoicing (Dt 16:13-15), because not only is the final harvest of fruit gathered, but God Himself will dwell in the midst of His people! (Ezek 37:21-28; Lev 26:11-13).  The sacrifice has been accepted, and the people rejoicing in the goodness and love of the Lord!

For us now as believers in Jesus, we have a better sacrifice and already enjoy the pledge of the fullness of God’s presence with us.  The Holy Spirit dwells within us, and there is great joy in the love of the Father when we live with thanksgiving by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross when He died for our sins.  There is great joy to know God’s power working on our behalf, and of His righteous ways.  The blood of the Son of God cleanses our conscience, which all the blood of animals could not and will not accomplish.

The booth (succa) reminds us of our temporary life here, both in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, and in our actual lives as we anticipate the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection.  Through it all, God keeps us and provides for us as we look up at His wondrous creation and consider the ultimate expression of love in giving us His Son for the propitiation of our sins.  The Kingdom of God is presently within us, yet there is joy.  How much more so when the Lord Yeshua returns to bring the Kingdom to Earth, and with it righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit!  All the nations which survive along with the remnant of Israel will be blessed by the presence of the Lord in their midst.  And to demonstrate this – and their understanding that this is all of the one true God – all the nations will come up to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles to worship the King, YHVH of Hosts!

As we celebrate today Succot, we also celebrate with the Lord’s Supper, which is a prophetic reminder that the Lamb who was slain, and for doing so has received all power and authority and blessing and honor and a Name above every name. . . this same Yeshua who ascended up into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father will Himself return to establish God’s Kingdom in Israel and over the whole Earth and universe!

Come, Lord Jesus!