Another view of Israel’s Nation State Law
The recently passed Nation State Law has received a lot of publicity and not a little controversy since it was voted into law last week. Being a follower of Yeshua, a concerned citizen and a member of a minority group; I had hoped and prayed that this proposed legislation would not become law. To my sorrow, it was passed into law, albeit by a very narrow margin. The essence of the Nation State law is to ensure that the Jewish population in Israel will exclusively be the recipients of full civil rights, that Orthodox Jewish religious tradition will be the sole source for legislation concerning cultural and civil affairs, which in effect prioritizes Jewishness over democracy. The fact that the issue of minority rights is absent from this legislation is alarming. It needs to emphasized that this new law is a “Basic Law” and as such is enshrined alongside Israel’s Declaration of Independence. As a Basic Law this legislation provides a conceptual framework for future legislation. Basic Laws are very difficult to rescind.
Some view this law as merely codifying and legitimizing what has become the status quo in the country. The law does reiterate much of the content of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. What is not stated in the law is in some ways more disturbing than what is stated. Minority rights are not mentioned; leaving opening for non-implementation of equal rights for all citizens of which there are over 2 million non-Jews who are Israeli citizens. This law gives priority to Jewishness in terms of both religion and ethnicity. According to this law, Judaism determines national holidays and influences curriculum for education. Jewish ethnicity determines status and certain civil rights. Regarding Messianic Jews, who are a much smaller minority than the Arab population, the already difficult situation with immigration is likely to become even more problematic.
All minority groups in Israel have reason to be concerned, including Messianic Jews. In Orthodox Judaism Messianic Jews, regardless of their ethnicity and certified pedigrees, are routinely categorized as no longer Jewish on account of their faith in the divinity of Jesus/Yeshua. Not even the adherence of some Messianic Jews to traditional Jewish observance and life style is enough for the Orthodox establishment to accept Messianic Jews as truly Jewish. Our faith is the stumbling block upon which they repeatedly fall.
For the large non-Jewish Arabic speaking citizens of Israel this new law is yet another means of reducing their status to that of second-class citizens. Although it is the right of a sovereign government to downgrade a national language, and it and is not without precedent, (Turkey, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ukraine, Gabon, etc.); national downgrading of a major language seems always to be linked to political concerns. In this case, to downgrade Arabic is clearly an instance of Israel asserting Jewish cultural dominance. This is perceived as an affront and insult to the minority Arabic speaking population
The most controversial clause, the “settlement clause,” was removed hours prior to the final vote. For this I am thankful. Had it remained it would give credence to claims that Israel is increasingly racist and would legalize discriminatory policies. There is much opposition to discrimination against certain segments of Israeli society (the LGBT community for example) and this clause would allow the creation of communities based on exclusion of undesirable, unwanted population groups.
While the offensive clause was eliminated, point seven of the law states, “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”
By passing this Nation State law as a Basic Law of Israel, the foundations of democracy are undermined. Given the total absence of reference to non-Jewish minority populations, the primacy of Jewishness is now inscribed in law which will become the basis of further legislation. A number of major terms (like Israel and settlement) are not defined. This can easily lead to a broad implementation of the basic concepts included in this law. Until now, civil rights and equality have been part of our ethos as the people of the Book. As a citizen of the country and as a member of a minority group (Messianic Jewish) that has experienced prejudicial action and legal efforts to deny access to full civil rights, I am deeply concerned for the future of Jewish ethics and values in Israel.
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Commentary on Parashat Va’etchanan (To Implore or Beg…)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 3:23–7:11
One of the most beautiful passages with regard to God’s amazing love and endless grace toward His beloved Israel is found in this week’s Torah portion:
For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own treasured people, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His Grace to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.
God chose Israel to be His own treasured people; He did it simply because of His love for them. In the Scripture above, you can also see His incredible and endless grace, especially in the account of the Exodus out of Egypt. He is faithful to complete any promise He makes.
It’s amazing that even in the name that God gave to Israel, you can see a prophetic element that reveals His deep love, endless grace and faithfulness. In Genesis 32:22–28, we read of the famous account of Jacob wrestling with God:
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. And when he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And he said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.
The name “Israel” is linked to wrestling with God. Just like Jacob (who became Israel) wrestled with God, so does Israel today. But just like Jacob insisted to not let go until God blessed Him and revealed Himself, so too will it be with Israel and the Jewish people. The day will come when Israel will see the revelation of God’s endless love and grace to them in the person of Yeshua, our Messiah!
My dear brothers and sisters, yes, Israel broke their part of the deal, but God’s endless love, grace and faithfulness is not dependent on that! In fact, His covenant never depended on man’s faithfulness, but only on HIS faithfulness to keep His word and fulfill HIS promises. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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4 key ingredients for discipleship
In the Great Commission Yeshua (Jesus) commanded His followers to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Matt 28:19-20). The moment you believe upon Yeshua and are born again, you become a lifelong disciple, and take up the charge to become an active “discipler.”
As a young believer, I sometimes felt frustrated by the vagueness of the Great Commission. Why couldn’t Yeshua go into more detail of the ‘how to’ for His global discipleship initiative? I believe He left out a specific formula so that we would study His life example and apply what we learn from it through our own creativity, methods and personalities.
Here are four keys that I have found to help bring disciples to maturity:
The foundation for all discipleship is the Word of God. Not only do disciples need to develop a lifestyle of regular meditation in the Word, but they should be familiar with all the books of the Bible, taught how to read it them context, and know how to teach others the basics (2 Tim 3:16-17), through personal testimonies of how you are personally applying God’s Word in your life. Don’t limit Bible teaching to someone standing in front of a group of people holding a microphone—or on YouTube!
2) One on One Meetings
Quality time, face to face is a must. In these meetings we listen on two levels, 1) to the person we are meeting with and, 2) to the Holy Spirit. Don’t assume the advice you gave the last person you met with will work for your new disciple. We need to be led by the Holy Spirit in how we ask questions, share our hearts and pray. These personal meetings can happen anywhere (I like to take my guys hiking in the Judean hills). Be sure to include transparency and accountability. Share about your shortcomings and victories, but don’t do all the talking.
3) The Supernatural
Seeking to walk in and demonstrate the supernatural is critical (1 Cor 2:4-5). This includes praying for the sick together, experiencing God’s presence in worship, giving prophetic words, ministering in foreign nations, and so much more. Training others in the gifts of the Holy Spirit requires faith and risk. The more they are exercised, the more they will grow. We cannot love, engage in spiritual warfare or do anything else that will bear kingdom fruit without the supernatural anointing of God on our lives.
When you spend time investing into someone, the natural result is an authentic relationship. You don’t have to be so serious all the time. Invite them into your personal life. Play a game. Go to the beach. Hike a mountain. Laugh, eat and enjoy life together. With so many broken families today, multitudes are longing to experience and be a part of a loving family (Mal 4:6). Watching how you interact with your spouse and children is part of their training.
The beauty of these four areas is that few people excel in them all. This means everyone in the body of Messiah has a part to play. You may not be a great teacher, but instead excel in hospitality and bringing others into your home. Great, then do it regularly and intentionally! (Rom. 12:6-8)
Recently, one of the young men I have been mentoring for years has begun meeting with a teenager to invest into him. Watching someone grow in the Lord to the point where they are ready to sow into someone else, brings me great joy and makes all the effort worth the while!
Yeshua’s command to make disciples requires sacrifice, unconditional love, patience and availability. No matter how you feel, where you are at in life or what level of training you have, you still have something to give to someone else. As you obey the Great Commission, He is ready to use you in ways you have not imagined!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, July 25, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Cody served on staff with YWAM for four years before moving to Israel. He joined Revive Israel's staff in 2013. He and his wife, Liat, help lead the youth group at Ahavat Yeshua Congregation and work together in Revive Israel’s international department. They have a passion to see the word of the Lord go out from Jerusalem through media and by going out to the nations themselves.
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Does the Bible really endorse slavery (as Sam Harris claims)?
A few days ago, in a debate between Atheist Sam Harris and Ben Shapiro, Sam Harris claimed:
“Slavery is endorsed in the Bible, it’s explicitly endorsed in the Old Testament.” – Sam Harris
So, if God is good and moral, why would He endorse or encourage slavery?
Well actually, Harris’ statement is assuming that the Law represents God’s ultimate high moral standards.
However, Jesus is teaching us that the Law is representing a compromise on God’s behalf because of the catastrophic moral situation Israel was in: “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to…” (Matt 19:8)
Meaning, that God did not at all “endorsed slavery”, but merely acknowledged the reality on the ground (people had slaves) and commanded to put boundaries and restrictions on the way one behaves to his slave (Exodus 21).
Taking a “bird’s eye view” of humanity’s progress across the timeline of the Scriptures, we can see how the status of slaves, gradually changes from degradation to a restoration of human dignity.
In ancient Near Eastern culture, treatment of slaves is brutal and demeaning. Slaves do not have the value of other human beings. They have no rights and are subject to corporal punishment and are even put to death without regard for their humanity.
Moses’ laws regarding slaves, while far from ideal, bring a big improvement over the ancient Near Eastern culture: punishments are limited. There is a more humanized attitude toward slaves. Runaway foreign slaves are given refuge in Israel (Deut. 23:15-16), versus being put to death as they would be in the surrounding cultures. We should also point out that slavery in the Bible never approximated American slavery, with its denial of full personhood.
The New Testament provides a further improvement over Moses’ laws: Christian slaves in the Roman Empire are considered equal to their masters in the body of Christ (Gal. 3:28). Masters are to take care of their slaves, and slaves are encouraged to seek freedom (1 Cor. 7:20–22).
In summary, Harris is holding to a very simplistic, bias and shallow approach to the Bible, only to try and promote the atheistic agenda.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
Eitan is ONE FOR ISRAEL’s Media & Evangelism Director.
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7 ways to pray with children
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
God created families. He intended the home to be a safe place for children to grow and mature, knowing that children learn the most from the people that they live with day in and day out. The family is the environment that form habits and attitudes which will be passed on down the generations. Before a child goes to school, they will already have learnt many essential life skills. In Christian homes, they learn one of the most important; they learn how to relate to the unseen kingdom of God.
Jesus trained his disciples by being with them 24/7 for a period of about three years. They watched as he ministered to the people, teaching with authority and healing the lame, the deaf and the blind. Then he sent them out in twos to go ahead of him and practice what they had learnt. They asked him questions. They watched him get up early in the morning before it was still dark to talk with his Father in heaven and they realized that they knew nothing of this kind of prayer. They asked him to teach them. He answered with the words now known as The Lord’s Prayer. He addressed his father as Abba, Dad, and taught his disciples to do the same. The most important thing we can teach our children about prayer is to relate to God as a father, a good father, and to pray in partnership with the Holy Spirit.
The foundation for teaching children to pray comes from having an attitude of seeking God and putting him first in everything. Children pick up quickly on hypocrisy. When their parents only pray at church, they will understand that prayer is an activity for church and not for the home. On the other hand, when they see their parents praying at home and setting aside the best times of the day for cultivating their relationship with God that will impact their lives more than any other lesson. My desire for this year is to make the Holy Spirit the center of our home. I’m still working out what this means in practice, but it teaches me to be constantly on the lookout for what God is doing in his kingdom right here and now.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Praying with children starts when they are still in the womb. Many mothers have sung to their unborn babies. They pray, prophesy and read the word of God to them. The angel Gabriel prophesied to Zechariah that his son John would be “filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born,” Luke 1:15. His wife, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when this baby recognized in her cousin Mary’s voice the anointing of God through which Jesus the Messiah had been conceived (Luke 1:41).
Praying with children takes different formats at different ages but it is good to always remember that we need a childlike attitude. There is no ‘one size fits all’ formula. I asked friends from around the world how they have incorporated prayer into their daily routines. They helped me compile this list of suggestions. If you feel like you are getting stuck in a rut, mix it up and try something new. This isn’t a comprehensive list, I would love to hear from you with more ideas: email@example.com
- Setting aside specific times such as around the dinner table and before bed. Ollessia from Kazakhstan shares, “Most of our praying happens around the lunch and dinner table and before bed.” Dionne in Cyprus adds, “Evenings, I ask them what they want to pray about, then I usually start with that and include things that I feel will help.”
- Family worship together. Shayla from Haifa writes, “We have worship together most mornings, and our three preschoolers sing, dance or just play together. Then my husband and I pray, and they sometimes join us with topics that are on their hearts. They have been praying a lot lately for the children of Syria. When we have ‘teaching moments’ throughout the day, whether because of discipline or another opportunity, this will often lead to prayer with one or more of them about the topic. In the evenings, we have another very brief worship time, and just before bed we have a Bible story and prayer time with them about things related to the story, or the day, or whatever.”
- Praying in the spirit, singing and speaking in tongues. Billy Jo in Michigan shares, “I pray in the spirit around them. Their spirits love it and sometimes they fall asleep when I do this. My 6-year old has become a prayer warrior.”
- Listening prayer. Melissa in Jerusalem: “We have listening prayer during which I put on soaking music and give our children paper and colored pencils or markers. Each one of us draws or writes what they heard and afterwards we. We often use this method to listen for direction as a family.”
- Taking turns leading. Elizabeth in Alabama: “When our kids were at home, we normally had a brief devotional time in the evening, except for when we had church meetings. We would have Bible reading, and each one would briefly lead in prayer.”
- Praying “in the moment” and bringing God into everyday family interactions. Caroline from Northern Ireland shares, “We do things very simply. We pray with them every morning following devotions and again in the evening. If there are wrong attitudes, we talk about it and pray with them. There is no right way. We feel it’s about showing them how to just speak to God as they would to us but always in a right manner too. It’s tough on this generation. As parents our need for the Holy Spirit is massive.” Hedva in Israel adds, “Whenever they have something bothering them stop, pray, then continue on with the day.”
- Using prayer boxes for family and for the world. Hadassah in Jerusalem: “With our ‘GrandWonders’ we have a family meeting every two weeks. There’s a prayer box containing cards with people’s names and needs. We pass the box around until all are prayed for.”
As children mature, we want to encourage each one to develop their own relationship with God. Rose from the UK writes, “When the children were young we would read the Bible together and pray as part of our bedtime routines. As they grew into their teens, we gradually stopped reading with them and they began to take responsibility themselves. Their peer groups of other Christian believers at school and also Church youth groups became more influential. Where they had a strong support group, they encouraged one another in prayer and Bible study. Where our children see us living our lives for Jesus and not just following a system, they pick it up unconsciously. It’s harder to rebel against a genuine way of life rather than a religious system.”
Overcoming obstacles in praying with children
Sometimes we need to encourage our children to relate to God as their Dad. Dionne writes about her daughter, “I put it to her that if she wanted to talk to me she wouldn’t wait for daddy, or her brother to do it, but she would come directly to me. God our Father wants to hear our own voices. She prayed a very short prayer but it’s a start.”
Most of us have a picture in our heads when we think of prayer time in the home; the family gathered around the table or around a log-fire with the dad holding a big old Bible and the children quietly sitting around him listening. Having a ‘perfect scenario’ can prevent us from getting started. What if the father isn’t there? We are raising our children in partnership with the best Father there is. He fills in all the gaps in our parenting and turns our mistakes into lessons for all involved. Timothy learnt about God from his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). Each family can find its on pattern, single parents included. But just as God has a special concern for widows and orphans (Exodus 22:22-24), I believe he also wants to encourage all the parents raising children singlehandedly. He wants his body of believers to reach out, encourage and support. Prayer can be taught by the wider community of believers too.
Growing up in church, we often think that our children will automatically follow Jesus. Subconsciously we can subjugate our role of living out the faith to church leaders and Sunday school teachers. God didn’t command us to take our children to church every week, he told parents to teach their children the truths about God from the Bible. He told us to live it out day by day. We can be encouraged by the promises of God for us.
“All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.” Isaiah 54:13
This article originally appeared in Faith Filled Family Magazine May 2018 Issue, page 64, and reposted with permission.
Wendy Halloun lives on Mount Carmel with her husband Sharbel and their four children. She is passionate about the Word of God and equipping fellow believers to be anchored in the Word of God and flowing with the power of the Spirit. Her book, Identity in Messiah is releasing February 2018. Find out more on wordsofclay.com