Are we a kingdom divided against itself?
Ten years ago, at the Call Jerusalem 2008 assembly, Lou Engle and Asher Intrater publicly proclaimed a breaking of the dividing wall between Jewish and Gentile believers. Unity is more significant than most of us have thought: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to ruin. And every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25, LITV).
Every kingdom, every city, and every house – this is true of the world wide body of believers, of any group of people, of each marriage. Do we want to be brought to ruin, or do we want to stand? United we stand – divided we fall. This is why Yeshua prayed in John 17:21-22: “… that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which you gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:21-22).
From The Beginning
Since creation began, God has longed for unity. He arranged a search for a covenant partner for Adam. “But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him …” (Genesis 2:18). Then He created a covenant partner for Adam, and “they … become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The biological facts of life in creation demonstrate to us the message from God that new life comes only out of unity (the two becoming one flesh).
Later we see a unity among men, but one that had gone awry in pride at the tower of Babel. “The LORD came down to see … and the LORD said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they have one language, and this is what they begin to do now. Nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them’” (Genesis 11:5-6) God saw that the sons of man were united together, but not with Him, not for the purposes for which He had made man. So God scattered them and confused their language.
God did not leave mankind hopelessly scattered. He initiated a plan to unite a people together under Him. God chose Abraham, to whom He promised: “I will make you a great people … and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).
Unity amongst us is only half of the picture. God wants unity with us! This is the core meaning of covenant. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you” (Genesis 17:7).
Here God was creating a group of people to be in covenant with Him. This is why it was so critical that Abraham’s covenant wife Sarah would bear the son to continue the covenant. Hence the miracle birth of Isaac when Abraham and Sarah were old. Hence the divine favor in finding Isaac’s wife Rebecca. But division (the opposite of unity) immediately sought entry. There was strife between Joseph and his brothers, the next generation of the covenant family. The other brothers almost killed Joseph, but in the end sold him into slavery. The brothers were only reunited with Joseph after they had a change of heart and came before him with humility and repentance.
God’s covenant people grew and became a kingdom, the corporate manifestation of God’s covenant presence on earth. King David prayed at the time of passing the crown to his son Solomon: “He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of theKingdom of the LORD, over Israel” (I Chronicles 28:5) But again, within one generation division split the infant kingdom of God on earth into two, the northern kingdom (“Israel”) and the southern kingdom (“Judah”).
Even the believers in Yeshua in the first century often succumbed to division. After just a few generations a schism was formed between the Gentile believers and the Jewish believers, a chasm that only in our generation 2,000 years later, is beginning to close. History is filled with wars in the name of religion. What about family relationships? A 50% divorce rate among professing Christians in a number of nations is testimony to both the challenge of true unity, and to the forces that come against it.
Destiny of Unity
However, God promised a destiny of unity. Immediately after the great prophecy of the dry bones God said, “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations … and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again” (Ezekiel 37:21-22).
The promise of unity is available for us: in Israel, as Messianic Jews, and as believers in all nations. This unity is a central aspect of the Gospel message. “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you … if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship [connection, sharing] with one another, and the blood of Yeshua the Messiah His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
This unity was present in Acts 1 and 2 and was a prerequisite for what happened there. The disciples “continued together with one accord [with unity of heart, mind and passion]in prayer and supplication …” “When the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot) had fully come, they were all withone accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind …” (Acts 1:14, 2:1-2). There is a clear relationship of cause and effect. Unity was essential to receiving and bringing down the outpouring of the spirit.
May we in our day see something similar; let us cooperate actively in becoming part of the answer to Yeshua’s prayer – in our families, friendships, congregations, and across denominational, racial and national boundaries. May our Heavenly Father answer speedily the prayer of His Son: “that they may be one just as we are one.“
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, June 10, 2019, and reposted with permission.
David is on the Editorial Staff for the Tents of Mercy Network.
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Why don’t more Jews believe in Yeshua (Jesus)?
Over the years that I have been a Messianic Rabbi, I have been invited to share in hundreds of churches. Whenever possible I try to set up a time for questions and answers from the congregants. I know that there are many people who do not fully understand what a Messianic Jew is, so this gives me an opportunity to share who we are and what we believe.
During these question and answer sessions, one of the first questions asked of me is “Why don’t Jews believe in Yeshua (Jesus)?”. I usually respond by saying “I do.” This allows for a slight change of mindset for the group as many even when speaking to a Jewish believer in Yeshua don’t realize that there are more than a million Jewish believers in Yeshua today. The person will invariably ask a follow-up question. “Why don’t more believe?” They often will follow that with a few verses like Isaiah 53 or Isaiah 9 and continue by saying,“How can they read these verses and not see Yeshua?” “How can they be that spiritually blinded?”
For years I responded by saying something like, “Jews believe what they are taught by the leaders, just as Christians do.” In other words, no matter your faith background we tend to believe that our rabbis, pastors, priests know what they are talking about. After all, they went to bible college or seminary to learn, so they could teach us.
But more recently, I start, not by showing how Jewish people have been blinded to Yeshua for thousands of years. But by sharing just how blinded many Christians have been for thousands of years. For context, I use Acts chapter 2 and the Pentecost Narrative. When asked what happened on Pentecost the usual answer is “The birth of the Church.” I follow up by asking “from a plain reading of the text of Act 2 why do you believe that “The Church was birthed or born?” This question usually is followed by a spirited conversation.
The truth is that nothing in the actual text says anything about the “Birth” of the “Church.” Now before you start getting mad at me please read on. Acts 2 begins with:
1 When the day of Shavuot (Pentecost) had come, they were all together in one place.
Shavuot is a Biblical Holy Day which is one of the days commanded by G-D to be observed by the Children of Israel in Leviticus 23. So the “they” that “were all together,” was a group of Jews observing an Appointed Time. These were not a bunch of anti-Jewish people rejecting the ways of Judaism. These were not a bunch of religious rebels holding a rally for “Jesus.” These were hundreds of thousands of Jewish worshippers fulfilling the commandments to observe Shavuot. Included in this huge assembly were the followers of Yeshua who had been gathered in the “Upper Room” (A topic for another blog to come). All who were there celebrating the Day of Shavuot.
When we actually read the text of Acts 2 we find a few things. First, the Acts 2 experience was not the beginning of something new. In fact, it was the fulfillment of Prophesy:
16 But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Ruach on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even on My slaves, male and female, I will pour out My Ruach in those days, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will give wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath— blood, and fire, and smoky vapor. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious Day of Adonai comes. 21 And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of Adonai shall be saved.’
Notice people are not proclaiming this as the start of something new, he is proclaiming it as the fullness of a promise. Peter continues to proclaim who this message was to be shared with on that day, The Whole House of Israel as we read in Acts 2:
“Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him—this Yeshua, whom you had crucified—both Lord and Messiah!”
In Acts 2:38 Peter responds to the heart cry of those “fellow brethren.” In verse 37 who had come to realize their sin in rejecting when they say “Fellow brethren, what shall we do?” What is Peter’s response? Peter says, “Repent.” What is repentance? Well, it comes from the Biblical concept of turning or returning. Returning to G-D and His ways.
So far we have seen that Shavuot was already a Holy Day, that the Children of Israel were commanded to observe. That those gathered in Acts 2 were gathered to observe that commanded Appointed Time. Peter lets us know that it was the fulfillment of something already established and not the beginning of something new. We also see that Peter’s response to the questions “What should we do?” when asked by this group of Jewish people was to repent or return.
In Acts 2:41 the text continues with
41 So those who received his message were immersed, and that day about three thousand souls were added.
Notice carefully what is said and what is not said in this verse. We read that those who received Peter’s message were immersed and that 3000 souls were added. What were they added to? There is no reason to conclude that they were added to a newly established “church” a replacement for Israel. Not at all, the full text in context has us to conclude that these 3000 were added to repentant Israel that Joel spoke about.
After I finish sharing about what Acts 2 really says about the day of Shavuot or Pentecost I say “The reason more Jewish people do not accept Yeshua as Messiah is the exact same reason that Christians believe the “Church” was born on the day of Pentecost. It’s because they were taught what they were supposed to believe instead of reading the Bible for themselves.”
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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Yeshua, the “face” of the menorah
PARASHAT BEHAALOT’HA (WHEN YOU KINDLE)
BAMIDBAR (NUMBERS) 8:1–12:6
An interesting translation issue came up as I was reading the parasha for this week from the book Bamidbar (Numbers). The second verse of chapter eight in particular stood out to me because of a mistranslation from Hebrew to English of a certain phrase: פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה
The verse in the original Hebrew is as follows:
דַּבֵּר֙ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֵלָ֑יו בְּהַעֲלֹֽתְךָ֙ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֔ת אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה יָאִ֖ירוּ שִׁבְעַ֥ת הַנֵּרֽוֹת׃
In the vast majority of English translations I read, the verse is translated as:
Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you mount the lamps, the seven lamps will give light in the front of the lampstand.’
I believe that this verse ought to be translated differently to keep the integrity of the Hebrew intact. It is a much more literal translation, and therefore reads less smoothly in English. Here is my suggested translation:
Speak to Aaron and say to him ‘When you light (elevate, increase) the lamps toward the face of the Menorah (Lampstand), shine the light seven lamps.’
As I read this portion, I pondered the meaning of the various specific elements, which are mentioned here in Hebrew:
- The “Menorah” (lampstand) (הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה)
- The “Pnei HaMenora” (the face of the lampstand) (פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה) *This can be translated in Hebrew two ways; either as “in front of” or “the face of”. I personally believe that the accurate translation here ought to be as the face of the Menorah.
- The “Nerot” (נֵּרֹ֔ת) which are the lamps/lights/candles.
When we put these “pieces” together, I believe we get an amazing prophetic picture, which connects to the way Aaron was instructed to “bring up” the lights (lamps) before the face of the lampstand. God Himself is the Menorah (lampstand); Yeshua is the face of God through which the Father has chosen to shine His light:
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
We, His followers, are the lamps through which He chooses to shine His light here on this earth. As Yeshua said,
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
I also believe that John refers to this in his vision which he wrote in the Book of Revelation:
And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle.
As I continue to study from His Word, I continue to marvel at His Work here on this earth! God is The Light of this world; Yeshua is His face through which He has chosen to shine His light on earth; and, we are the ambassadors that He choose to represent Him!
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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Your art has nothing to do with your emotions
I used to live in the past, so much so that I tried to make a whole album about it. Which got scrapped. Today, as I finish up recording my latest album, I’m no longer living in the past. What changed? And why does the author Steven Pressfield say, “Personal life has nothing to do with work”?
This episode talks about:
- Why your art has nothing to do with your emotions.
- How living in the past will keep you from succeeding in life.
- How to respond when your emotions try to get the best of you.
In dreams begins responsibility. Adam Lee Rosenfeld, of the indie rock band Har Adonai, shares his lifelong pursuit of finding and creating beauty and truth. Check out more episodes here
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‘Sexism’ – A new word coined for the 21st c.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man”- 1 Corinthians 11:9.
“the LORD has created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man”-Jeremiah31:22.
‘The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit’ does not include a mother or a daughter. And if one believes Yeshua to be God, then God is a Jewish male, on earth as well as resurrected in heaven, with no female counterpart other than his “bride”- the body of the faithful. Of course, the idea of God being our Father is not as depicted by Michelangelo as an old man with a long white beard, for Yeshua told us for our edification and understanding that “God is spirit” and, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones”(John 4:24; Luke 24:39). If God is depicted as Father who is the initiator of all that is, then the matter that He created may be termed as the mother- “mother earth”- for from it He formed all things including the man. But it is written that the woman was created from the man as his helper (ezer k’negdo).
The New Testament therefore describes a spiritual chain of command thus, “But I would have you know that the head of every man is Messiah, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Messiah is God” and, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Messiah is the head of the congregation, His body” (Ephesians 5:22-24). “Therefore as the church is subject to Messiah: so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things” (1 Cor. 14:34). “Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak but to be subject, as also the law saith” and, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behoves in the Lord” (Col. 3:18).
But with the advent of the modern movement which is called Feminism, the above biblical directives have been declared outdated, retrograde, irrelevant, and obsolete as many in both church and synagogue have been swept into a paradigm undreamed of when they were written. Many modernists have taken the scriptures written by the same pen as the above writings, “There is neither male nor female in the Messiah” and applied it well outside its intended context, which speaks of equal access to God for all in the Messiah, now applying roles meant for millennia in the faith for men, and appointed women to those same roles (Galatians 3:28;Colossians 3:11). The same scriptures include “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free in Messiah” as well, but then goes on to describe the different roles of men and women, Jews and non-Jews, slave and free.
By very small increments over time women have now become pastors and preachers and leaders of congregations, obliterating such directives as “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy2). Some modern Messianic congregations, even in Jerusalem, have now invited women to publicly read the Torah in their Shabbat services, reducing the role of men, and the integrity of sound religious tradition.
The Feminism that has affected the world, blurring the distinctions between male and female, turning to a grey sludge of uniformity what is intended as a harmony of differences, has now absorbed into many churches and synagogues, which is a compromise with the world and its ever shifting values. This phenomenon has perhaps come about due to men not taking the responsibility designated them at home and house of worship. When one step is taken in a wrong direction, the next will surely be yet further in the wrong direction, until one finds oneself after time lost in a very shadowy swamp of error (easier to get into than out of). History is dynamic and always changing, therefore it behooves us to stand on the rock of values and principles that are unchanging and permanent, rather than compromising with a churning world in flux and decline.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.