Messianic Jews are not Antisemitic!
One of the mini-controversies to erupt in the wake of the horrific Antisemitic murders in a Pittsburgh synagogue was a candidate inviting a Messianic Jewish leader to pray at a campaign event at which Vice-President Pence was present. Afterwards, both in the media and on social media, Messianic Jews were characterized as Antisemitic. Are Messianic Jews hateful of their fellow Jews?
At the outset, I don’t want to comment on the wisdom of having a Messianic Jew pray at a political campaign event or even if such an invitation should be offered or accepted. That’s not my concern. The question is, are these public characterizations of Messianic Jews as Antisemitic fair or true?
Some Gentile Christians are shocked that anyone would make an accusation of Antisemitism against Messianic Jews because Gentile Christians often don’t know or understand the history of Christian persecution of the Jewish people. That’s why Messianic Jews are vilified this way. Nevertheless, the history of the past does not make this charge true in the present. Here’s why it’s a mistake to call Jewish followers of Jesus Antisemitic.
First, Jewish people who believe in Yeshua (Jesus) do so out of conviction not convenience. In the past, some Jewish people adopted Christianity to avoid the persecution that came with being Jewish. In some cases this provided protection from Antisemitic mobs while later on it offered opportunities to advance in society without the social stigma of being Jewish. But these are not motivations for contemporary Messianic Jews. Most of us, having grown up in Jewish homes, valued our culture and heritage. And by studying the Scriptures, we have become convinced that Yeshua is the fulfillment of the messianic hope of the Hebrew Bible. Our faith is the sincere outworking of the promises God made to Israel. We are convinced that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah and our faith in Him does not eliminate our identification with the Jewish people. In fact it enhances it.
Second, Jewish people who believe in Yeshua identify with the love of Yeshua not the past hate of so-called Christians. While many Christians today are unaware of this history of Christian Antisemitism, most Jewish people are equally unaware of Yeshua’s love and concern for the Jewish people. As Yeshua taught in the synagogues of Galilee, He looked at the crowds of Jewish people around Him, “and He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:35-36). In the very next chapter of Matthew, when Yeshua sent out His disciples, He instructed them to “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 10:6). It wasn’t only the impoverished Jewish masses that Yeshua loved. When he met an affluent leader of the Jewish people, Yeshua looked at him and “loved him” (Mark 10:21). Yeshua even loved the Jewish leadership that opposed Him. He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) and said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matt 23:37). Yeshua loves the Jewish people in a special way and so do His Jewish followers who identify with Him as their Messiah.
Third, Jewish people who believe in Yeshua stand in solidarity with the Jewish community not with the vile haters of the Jewish people. Messianic Jews have always been subject to Antisemitism not proponents of it. When the Emperor Claudius expelled all the Jewish people of Rome, Jewish followers of Yeshua, like Priscilla and Aquila, were expelled with the rest of the Jewish community (Acts 18:1-2). In the modern era, Jewish followers of Yeshua in Germany and Eastern Europe went to Hitler’s ghettos, concentration camps, and gas chambers as did the rest of the Jewish people there. Messianic Jews not only suffer with the Jewish community but they also boldly oppose Antisemitism. Jewish followers of Yeshua are some of the most outspoken supporters of the state of Israel, defending it against the legion of haters that attack it. And when there is a terrorist attack there or one in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Messianic Jews weep and are just as brokenhearted as the rest of the Jewish community.
It is mistaken and false to label Messianic Jews as Antisemitic. In their desire to be sensitive, Gentile Christians should not be taken in by these charges. C.S. Lewis had a special insight into what it meant for a Jew to believe in Yeshua because he married such a Jew, Joy Davidman Gresham. Lewis said the Jewish follower of Yeshua “is the only normal human being in the world. To him, in the first instance, the promises were made, and he has availed himself of them. He calls Abraham his father by hereditary right as well as by divine courtesy. He has taken the whole syllabus in order, as it was set; eaten the dinner according to the menu. Everyone else is, from one point of view, a special case, dealt with under emergency regulations … we christened gentiles, are after all the graft, the wild vine, possessing ‘joys not promised to our birth’; though perhaps we do not think of this so often as we might.” It would be a good idea for traditional Jews and Christians to adopt this perspective.
This article originally appeared on Dr. Michael Rydelnik’s blog, November 10, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Michael Rydelnik is Professor of Jewish Studies and Bible at Moody Bible Institute. He is the Host/Bible teacher on Open Line with Dr. Michael Rydelnik, answering listener Bible questions every Saturday morning for more than 200 stations across America. The son of Holocaust survivors, he was raised in an observant Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York. Michael trusted in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah in high school and began teaching the Bible almost immediately. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute, Azusa Pacific University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where his doctoral research focused on the messianic hope of the Hebrew Bible.
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2nd Peter – Introduction
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord
Peter was/is the Apostle to the circumcision; that is, to the Jewish people, especially to those who believe in Yeshua as the Messiah, the Son of God. In his first epistle he clearly writes that he is writing to the pilgrims or sojourners of the dispersion (diaspora; galut) – to those Messianic Jews not living in the promised land of Israel, who have been chosen to obedience through the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. (1 Pt 1:2) God exiled His people because of the unbelief and disobedience to His covenant and its law. For those of us who do live here now, we also see that although many Jewish people do live here, the large majority of them are still in spiritual exile, still in disobedience to YHVH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.
In his second epistle, Peter mentions that he is writing to them again. Yet, of course, the teaching and exhortations and warnings and hopes in both letters are applicable to all believers, whether Jewish or Gentile. Gentile believers are brought into the commonwealth of Israel. So it is also with the Apostle Paul’s letters: he was commissioned by the Lord to be the apostle to the Gentiles, and that he would also speak to the Jews. All believers need to read the epistles in the New Testament — and the Old Testament, too — as if they are all relevant to themselves, while also paying attention to the details, which may make more or less sense, depending from which background we come, such as male or female.
I find it worth reminding us about Peter’s ministry to the Messianic Jews in particular, that he neither preached nor wrote ANYTHING about keeping the Sabbath, eating kosher, or keeping the holidays. (Neither, by the way, did James, who also wrote his epistle to the twelve Israeli tribes in the dispersion. There are no lost tribes to YHVH, God of Israel!)
Peter wrote his epistles at a time when heavy persecution was about to come upon those who were called Christians, followers of the Christ/Messiah, for their faith in a King who required their primary and utmost allegiance. (1 Pt 4:16) Patriotism to our earthly nation is not the evidence of being a true disciple of Yeshua/Jesus, even if we, in obedience to Him, are usually model citizens or residents or tourists, and seek the peace and good of whatever city or country we live in. (1 Pt 4:15; 2:11-17; Rom 13; 1 Tim 2:1-6; Jer 29:4-7) Peter addresses these issues for believers in the face of severe tribulation for our faith.
He is writing to the Jewish believers in the dispersion. (1 Pt 1:1; 2:11-12, 25; 2 Pt 3:1) The Holy Spirit is maintaining through these Scriptures that the Church and Israel are related, yet distinct. God has not finished with Jews, or with Israel, His chosen people and land: there is no valid “replacement theology”, and believing and obedient Christians have a better hope and better promises by virtue of our new birth from Above by the Spirit of God, already being forgiven for all our sins through repentance and faith in the gospel. We always need the blood of the Lamb and the Word of God to cleanse us, since we are never, in this body this side of the resurrection, perfectly obedient or faithful. Just like Peter!
Peter is writing to us about how we are to practically live in holiness and with love in countries and a world among people hostile to the truth of who Jesus Christ is — even within the churches — as we keep our focus on the coming of the Lord and of His kingdom, and on the New Heavens and New Earth for eternity, where our eternal ‘homeland’ will be.
Peter’s second letter is similar to Paul’s second letters: they are written in view of the failure to live up to God’s holy and righteous standard, and to the evil that is coming into the world and the churches more and more. At the end of the age, which we are living in, these conditions are rapidly coming to their maximum level, which will bring God’s judgments – first in His own household; afterwards to those outside. This in order to obtain for Himself in love a holy, spotless, blameless Bride for the Lamb, and a holy and restored people for Himself. By doing so, the Father’s name will be sanctified and glorified, as will that of the Lord Jesus/Yeshua, and so, too, the saints saved by His grace and power!
Ch 1: Peter states several times that he is reminding us of things that we already know. (2 Pt 1:12,13,15; 3:1,2,5,8) We need to be reminded, because we too easily forget all that God has done for us, and all that He has promised to do. Peter tells us that our best guard against falling away is to actively develop in us by the grace and power of God the divine character – the image of the Son of God, who is the exact image of our Father in Heaven. (2Pt 1:2-11) We are to strengthen ourselves in God. Our hope in Christ is much better than what Jewish people under the Old Covenant expect. Through the gospel, and the New Covenant, we find that our joy in life is knowing God Himself personally – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Ch 2: In the church – the Body of Christ – the same things that happened within Israel also threatens us: false teachers, false prophets come in to try to deceive us, and even by those who supposedly had been “saved”. The primary heresies, which seem to me that these teach, are that YHVH is not the only true God; that Jesus/Yeshua is not God who came to us in the flesh, nor is He physically coming again to judge all unrighteousness and to rule and reign; that YHVH God will not fulfill all of His covenantal promises; that Jesus is not the only way to God the Father; teaching immorality regarding sex, and the unrighteous pursuit and use of money; and that the Bible is not the authoritative Word of God to all people. (2 Pt 2:1; 3:3-7)
Ch 3: Peter also takes us beyond the Millennial Kingdom – the 1000 year reign of Messiah after He returns – to when there will be a new creation of a new heavens and new Earth, where righteousness will dwell. This creation is “very good”; the new creation will be perfect! This creation is “very good”; the new creation will be perfect! Finally! He warns us against complacency regarding the actual return of the Lord, as if nothing has changed, and there are no signs of His coming. Yet Jesus gave us signs to watch for and pray about to let us whom He loves know and prepare for.
We are not to fear persecution, but to rejoice in the glory set before us of being the Bride of Messiah, and of the salvation of our souls and the resurrection of our bodies. Trials and tribulations produce patience and perseverance in the believer, as we learn to put our trust and hope in our Savior. If we do fear persecution in ourselves, all the more we need to strengthen ourselves in God: He is in us, and is with us; our Father loves us with an everlasting love; our Good Shepherd knows His sheep and leads us to life; the Author and Finisher of our faith has gone before us and is now sitting at the right hand of God, interceding for us.
Peter did not expect that the Lord would return “at any moment”; he knew that he was going to die soon; and he knew– or, the Holy Spirit, who inspired Peter’s words and quotes, knew — that the Lord’s longsuffering would last for about 2000 years, or about two days. (2 Pt 3:8-10; Hos 6:1-3; Ps 90:4)
How are we to live knowing these things? Both of Peter’s epistles are looking to the end of our life of faith, the end of our life without seeing but believing – that we would be a praise to His name at the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, when all shall see Him and submit to His good and righteous rule and authority, in the love of the Father. (1 Pt 1:7, 13)
There is much theology in Peter’s letters, and he was not a ‘learned man’. But there is a practical side to theology, which every believer should process: knowing God is the assurance of our salvation.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, November 10, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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But, it’s not fair!
PARASHAT TOLDOT (OFFSPRING)
BERESHEET (GENESIS) 25:19–28:9
This week’s reading opens with a description of the genealogy of Isaac:
Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples shall be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.”
In our portion this week, we find a very interesting prophetic word that God gives to Rebekah, which helps explain the events that followed after the birth of Esau and Jacob. From the womb, both children were struggling with each other. As Rebekah went to seek the LORD, He told her very clearly that the older shall serve the younger. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to us today, but in the biblical times, this would have been very difficult to accept. In ancient times, there was a tremendous amount of respect and honor for the eldest child – he inherited everything and was the one who all other siblings looked up to. It’s safe to say that all the hopes for the family’s future were set upon him!
But, God sees things very differently than we do. From the beginning, God chose Jacob, the “younger” child, to bring His blessing to the world. In Jacob’s name, which is “Ya’akov” in Hebrew, there are some hidden treasures which we can find in Genesis 25:24–26:
When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. And afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.
What is the significance of the heel in this account? The Hebrew word for “heel” is עקב(akev), from which the name יעקב (Ya’akov/Jacob) is derived. This is yet one more hint of the “seed” that would be the source of blessing that was promised through Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. The name here is not coincidental, as it reminds us of Genesis 3:15, where the “seed of the blessing will crush the serpent.”
I’d like to offer another interesting observation about Jacob’s name. Another possible meaning of “Ya’akov” can be “to follow or to observe”. God chose Jacob (Ya’akov) to be the one who would follow Him and faithfully observe His commands.
It is amazing how the Word of God points to the same person (the Seed) from the beginning! His plan is whole and was complete even before time began. We can take incredible comfort in our God’s sovereignty and rest in His capable hands. God never makes mistakes.
Be encouraged in Him today!
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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Everyone is affected somewhere by pornography, abortion, sexual harassment, homo-les-bi-trans, divorce, adultery, pedophilia, carnal entertainment, seductive advertising, and so on. Sometimes I also feel “abused” by this whole metro-sexual mess (“Me Too”). Pictures I don’t even want to see seem to “pop up” and appear everywhere.
Everyone wants to do their own “thing” but nobody wants someone else to do his or her “thing” to them. They say, “I have a right to do whatever I want.” They don’t ask, “What is the right thing to do?”
It seems to me there is only one way out of this moral confusion and sexual labyrinth: A man marries a woman; they love one another; they stay loyal to one another; they raise their children together; they teach their children to do the same.
It sounds kind of over-simplistic. Yet I’ve tried to think through all the myriad other possibilities, and none of them seem to work. Every other option causes enormous damage – emotionally, socially, physically, economically and morally…
God is called our “heavenly Father;” we are His children. Yeshua is called our heavenly bridegroom; we are His bride. We men should be loving fathers to our children and loving husbands to our wives.
Marriage and family only work when they are filled with this kind of gracious, generous, self-sacrificing love. Divine love can heal sexual deviance. Faith, marriage and family all seem to fit together into one picture that is both healthy and natural.
Wouldn’t that just seem to make things work out okay?
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, November 7, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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We must stand with and pray for the Christians of Egypt
Completing an 11-day swing to three Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — on Sunday evening I met with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, and Dr. Andrea Zaki, head of all the Protestant churches in Egypt. We met in Cairo in the office of His Holiness the Pope.
I expressed to both leaders my deepest condolences for the horrific terrorist attack against Egyptian Christians on Friday in Minya. ISIS jihadists killed seven Christians and wounded 18 more, including children. They were returning from a child’s baptism celebration. Overall the security situation in Egypt has been improving. But this was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt this year.
In addition, I briefed both leaders on the work of our Evangelical Delegation in the region, and particularly on our meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Pope Tawadros welcomed the Crown Prince to the church he shepherds earlier this year in an historic and unprecedented moment. I had mentioned to MBS when we met with him on Thursday that I would be seeing the Pope a few days later. It should be noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury in the UK also met with MBS earlier this year in London, which was also unprecedented and very encouraging. (see pictures below.)
Please keep the Christians of Egypt — and all Egyptians — in your prayers as they battle terrorists and extremists and work to transform their society towards a safer and more prosperous future. The Bible is clear: God loves Egypt. We should, too.
Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of 10 novels and five non-fiction books, with more than 3 million copies sold. He is also the Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com), a non-profit educational and charitable organization he and his wife launched in 2006 to mobilize Christians to “bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.” He and his wife have four sons. They made Aliyah in 2014 and now live in Israel and the United States.