Studying stones and branches
During the Caspari Center’s Discovering Jesus in His Jewish Context course which took place recently, 13 participants had a unique opportunity to discover the Land of Jesus. Among the course participants there were some Norwegians, some locals and, like me, many Finns.
Observing the Ancient Rocks
The stones all around reminded us of what once was: whether the great palace fortress of Herodion, the intriguing Magdala Stone at the Magdala Village Synagogue excavations, or the Temple Mount’s fallen stones. It’s possible that Jesus himself, while tempted by Satan (Luke 4), had stood next to one of these such stones at the top of the Second Temple.
Gazing at the magnificent Qumran caves filled me with excitement. In the past, these caves could only be viewed in the imagery of school books, but now they were before us! Thanks to the faithfulness of the sect of the Essenes, who hid their texts in the Qumran caves, we have proof that God’s Word really hasn’t changed over the centuries!
All these archaeological sites, excavations, and ancient cultural phenomena shed light on what we call “Jesus’ Jewish context”. In addition to these excursions, we had the opportunity to meet some inspiring “living stones”, some of the special people who live in the Land.
The Olive Branch Theology
The very core of our 10-day-course was lectures on Messianic Judaism. The worldwide community of believers, Jews and Gentiles together, makes up the Body of Christ. We share the same nourishing sap of the olive tree (Romans 11). Some of the branches are native, while others have been grafted in. Paul made an interesting request of us Gentiles: “[…] do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches” (Romans 11:18). We must never forget that it is only through the Jewish Messiah that the Gentile Christians are connected to the original olive tree.
Israel being “chosen” instead of the nations may cause jealousy in those who are not a part of Israel. Alternatively, being part of Israel can provoke pride among the chosen. Hatred and jealousy have resulted in violence and persecution, as we have seen throughout Church history. And yet, the bible also states that the Jewish people will be provoked to jealousy because of Christians’ relationships with God through the Jewish Messiah (Deuteronomy 32:21, Romans 11:11). God used one chosen nation to bring all the peoples of the world together, and he did this by giving His one and only Son.
Paul also reminds us in Romans 10: “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”. In my opinion, Paul is reminding the Israelites not to build on the Law of Moses as if there were a way to salvation other than Christ. He is the fulfillment of the entire Law and is the only one who has followed the whole of God’s Law without any transgression. A person becomes justified through faith – and through faith in Yeshua alone.
With equality of all the children of God, the calling of Israel hasn’t vanished. Jews still carry on with the covenantal responsibility, for God doesn’t revoke His covenants. (Of course, this is a matter of theological discussion and interpretation.) A new awareness brought on by the course has prompted me to search deeper into contextual and covenant theology.
The Power of Resurrection
English lay theologian G. K. Chesterton once stated: “Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave” (The Everlasting Man). You can easily substitute the Nation of Israel for Christianity here. There have been many deaths in the history of Israel, and many resurrections, as well. Over the centuries, both Jews and Christians have shared this common experience of persecution.
This quotation brings to my mind the Holy Communion Liturgy at the Garden Tomb on our last afternoon together. Echoing Pastor David, we all shouted aloud: “Christ is risen!” Let us be reminded of Paul’s words: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. […] But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1. Cor. 15:14, 20).
God has prepared a magnificent salvation plan for all humankind. The Heavenly Kingdom is already here, while at the same time, it isn’t yet. And so we look forward to one day seeing the Son of Man on the Mount of Olives, having returned to redeem this corrupt world.
This article originally appeared on Caspari Center, July 10, 2018, and reposted with permission.
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First meeting of Messianic Israeli Momtrepreneurs
A conference held in Poria Illit last month aimed to establish a support system for believing mothers in Israel who balance hands-on parenting with professional fulfillment.
The organizer, Christina Cohen, is herself an entrepreneur and mother of three young children. A dozen women attended the conference, held in the Galilee region, while many more from across the country expressed interest.
Today, many women balance both children and careers. After putting in the effort and financial resources to obtain a university degree or other form of professional training, many women want to use their gifts, passions and talents in the workplace while still being available for their husband and children.
Whether they need to work for financial reasons or want to work because they don’t want to take a complete break from the professional world, most working mothers face the conundrum of spending quality time at both work and home without comprising their availability on either side.
In short, many women want to be working moms and stay-at-home moms simultaneously.
While several options are available, a rising number of women have found that the answer is to start a business or to find an employer that allows them to work from home.
“I spent my twenties and early thirties building a career,” said one participant. “But when I was pregnant with my first, I realized that I didn’t want the stress of arranging my family’s life around the full-time office jobs of both parents.”
There’s no doubt that working from home has its own challenges. Women can feel sometimes that they got the short end of the stick: Being the primary caretaker of a small child (or several) while meeting deadlines and running a household is a challenging undertaking. But many wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is where Cohen’s initiative, the Women of Valor Business Society, comes in.
“Our vision is to create an encouraging environment that supports mothers in integrating parenthood and entrepreneurship. This demographic faces unique challenges that are often overlooked,” she said. “Women who choose to be mothers and wives first, are a blessing to their families and I believe that God wants to bless their endeavors.”
The project’s objectives are:
- To create a supportive community of mothers who are in the same situation
- To encourage women and support them through challenges stemming from combining childrearing with entrepreneurship
- To make available professional and practical content that would otherwise be difficult to access including conferences, meetings and workshops accompanied by a children’s babysitter
- To provide assistance in finding a business idea and then through the process of starting a business
- To encourage and facilitate cooperation between businesses
About a dozen women, mostly residents of northern Israel who are mothers to children ranging in age from babies to pre-teens, attended the initial meeting. The session included introductions, roundtable discussions, group activities, dinner and brainstorming ideas for future meetings.
Plans are already underway to build a website containing the business information of each woman and to lay the groundwork for future collaboration. The next meeting is planned for October.
“We’re praying and looking for a person or organization to back us financially,” Cohen said. “We have a strong desire to reach out to mothers but need external support.”
If you are a believing mother living in Israel and are interested being a part of the Society, write to WOVisrael@gmail.com.
Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.
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Music on the Wind Tour – Israel and Bethlehem 2018
Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common. -Sarah Dessen
A year ago to the month, Deborah Paul, Director of i61Collective was in the family home of Christy Anastas in Bethlehem, establishing the vision of Music On The Wind.
The house of the Anastas family has received media attention over the last 10 years, primarily as its the only property in Bethlehem that is surrounded by the wall between Israel and the West Bank on three sides.
Many from the Bethlehem community faced severe economic challenges, including livelihood devastation during the Palestinian intifadas (militant uprising). This lead to the Israel completing the wall in 2006. Whilst significantly reducing the number of terrorist attacks, the wall subsequently blocked trade and movement of people in the region.
As Deborah gazed onto the barrier wall the question arose.. how can we invest in the lives of people on both sides in a nonpolitical way? Deborah had a vision of the healing and restoration power of live music crossing boundaries.
So Deborah, Christy Anastas and myself, began to brain storm how we could go about taking talented musicians from London to perform to locals in this politically and religiously contested areas of the world, regardless of race or religion or political stance.
Seven talented musicians were chosen and we were grateful that they felt privileged to be part of this audacious vision. With a top line schedule and an agreement that we were to take a professional cameraman and sound engineer, we were confident we had covered the foundations.
Except we overlooked one crucial element.. how were we going find the money to fund the trip in under four months.
In March, less than three months of our planned travel, we launched the Music On The Wind Gofundme crowdfunding campaign, and consulted with friends on fundraising ideas that allow donors with a heart for reconciliation to come on board with us on this journey.
LONDON LAUNCH CONCERT
We brought all the musicians together for the Fundraising Launch Concert to play together for the first Music On the Wind performance. Against the stunning backdrop of St Peters Church in Notting Hill over 120 people came along to hear the musicians perform the same music that they would go onto play in Israel and the West Bank. The response was overwhelming positive.
JAFFA – TEL AVIV
We had the opportunity to perform at Beit Emmanuel, in the historical port town Jaffa. Our debut gig in Israel, we couldn’t of asked for a warmer atmosphere from the mixed groups age group audience.
Many of the audience stayed around after the performance, to thank us, to learn more of the vision, and ascertain whether we would come back and play next year!
JERUSALEM – JAFFA STREET
On the prominent Jaffa Street, many of Jerusalem’s youth congregate around a public concrete piano to sing and play music together. Our musicians accepted the invitation to join in, much to the delight of the youth, particularly as Hebrew songs were played alongside music they had not heard before. There was a real buzz, as passers by stopped to come and join in.
OLD CITY ROOFTOPS
For the musicians, the opportunity couldn’t be missed to get onto the rooftops of the city, and play to pedestrians passing through the narrow streets.
Small audiences gathered on the rooftops and in the streets, and were clearly moved that the musicians wanted to play to them what was for many original sounds.
“Music can change the world because it can change people” Bono
JAFFA GATE – JERUSALEM
Christ Church, founded 1849, is a center of prayer for all nations with worship and strong local community, a ideal central location in the culturally rich city of Jerusalem.
The audience included local Armenians, Arab Christians and some Muslims that we had met on the streets of Jerusalem.
On our final night of the tour was in Bethlehem, which coincided with the end of the Muslim festival of Ramadan.
As the sunset, young Palestinians congregated in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, giving our musicians a window of opportunity to engage, to ‘busk Bethlehem’
One moment that hit me is when some Palestinian teenage women shared with our cello player their dreams to learn to play music, and to go to university to make their mark on the world. It was evident to all of us that they felt inspired.
Children were also fascinated by what was going on, and eventually joined in with group dancing.
All of our group noticed a real shift in atmosphere during our time in Manger Square.
Many locals were clearly moved that we, as foreigners, took the time and resource to perform to them. Bearing in mind how well we were received by all communities, it would would unwise to simply leave this as a one time only June 2018 event. Hence the planning is in motion to reach even more people in 2019.
We are discussing what the Music On The Wind music album is going to look like. Purchasing a copy of the an album will allow people to enjoy the live sounds of the musicians on tour, whilst also providing the opportunity to directly support the vision of bridge building and reconciliation through live music in our 2019 tour.
You can stay up to date with the latest development and join us on this ongoing journey of bringing the restoration power of live music to the Middle East by joining the Facebook Group
Should you wish to volunteer your services to help us make the 2019 tour a reality, then we would love to hear from you. You can reach out emailing Jon, Christy and Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org
~The Music On the Wind 2019 gofundme page is now live, and we welcome donation partners.
~ Israelinvestment.org Music On The Wind Article
Jon is a digital project manager who consults for small start ups in London. Through Israelinvestment.org he stewards a small community of Christians in the UK who encourage each other to invest in ethical businesses in Israel.
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Crossing over – A Hebrew
We were about to break bread together, when God impressed me with this picture, that shows a piece of His heart.
“A wound inside His heart?” I wondered. Yes, apparently. I saw inside His heart the map of Israel and Jordan, with a deep wound in the middle. The Jordan valley, the Rift.
This happened at the end of a Jewish-Arab conference I attended. After listening to stories and testimonies for two full days, I realized how most of us deepen the wound. Not because we fight with one another. The conference was full of mutual respect and sincerity. But many times we think we sow healing, while in reality we scratch the wound, tearing more layers apart.
And it is not only Arabs and Jews who cause it. Most Christians who are involved with this region or live in Israel tend to take sides, thus making the wound bleed even more, not realizing this Rift is right in the heart of God.
I also saw that the wound will be healed with tears shed from the north, filling the water reservoirs along the rift, and eventually turning the Sea of Salt into a sweet resource.
Ruth and Naomi journey together
When I saw that picture, I was already planning to travel along this wounded rift a few days later. The idea to take that journey was birthed in a surprising encounter with a Jordanian “Ruth”, who popped into my life as if straight out of my book’s pages (see “His Faces” – new book now available), or rather, out of the Bible.
My plan was to cross the border with her into Jordan. I wanted to symbolically go into “exile” as a Naomi, in order to “collect” myself, my people, and cross back into Beth Lehem – into the house of bread.
We first met a few weeks earlier, at the beginning season of the harvest of barley, right before Passover. So Pentecost sounded like the best timing for our journey. After all, the book of Ruth takes place between these two season (see Ruth 1: 22), so delighted about the perfect timing, we decided to relive the story of Ruth and Naomi.
I also had a personal agenda. I connected this journey to my personal healing process in the Tabernacle [see I Will Tabernacle Inside You], and was looking forward to touch my alienation from myself from a fresh angle. I figured that this journey is not only prophetic, but also a personal return from my emotional exile. No more standing on Mt. Nebo, looking at what is happening as if it takes place outside myself, and sharing it only after I process it.
I had no idea I was going to leave a part of my heart there and return home with deep insights concerning the wound, or that I will be carrying it inside my heart. I did not know it was going to affect my routine, my understanding, my passions. To the point I could not even write much about it until now. I couldn’t find the right words to describe this precious experience. No, this was not an experience; It was a journey, a passing over the wound back and forth.
In Hebrew, “crossing over” means exactly that – to be a Hebrew. The words cross, pass and a true Hebrew are derived from the same root: ABR.
Abraham was a Hebrew because he crossed over from a culture of idol worshipers into monotheism, from Ur of the Chaldeans into a promised land. The children of Israel are called Hebrews (see for example Gen 43:32; Ex. 2:6, 13; and others). Back than we were not Jews yet. Jews are the descendants of the kingdom of Judah, and that comes into the picture much later. The first time an actual reference is made to the Hebrews as Jews (YEHUDIM) is in 2 Kings.
So I was ready to practice my Hebrewism, to cross over the rift, the wound, and see how God will lead us and use us.
Be on the lookout for my next post, in which I will start sharing about the richness of that journey.
This article originally appeared on Ot OoMofet Ministries, July 6, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Orna, born and raised in Israel, is a lover of books, and especially The Book. She is fascinated with the Hebrew language and with the God who created the world through the mere expression of Hebrew words. In 2003 she established Ot OoMofet Ministries (Hebrew for “A sign and Example”), whose main focus is turning stories of brokenness and hardships into stories of victory. Besides ministering to the broken hearted in Israel, she now teaches worldwide about the widowhood of Israel, the role the church plays in its restoration and on a variety of other subjects.
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Jerusalem Encounter 2018 – Building the living stones of Messiah’s kingdom in Israel
The heart and vision of the three-day powerhouse conference, sponsored by the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries, was to inspire, network and build the living stones of Messiah’s kingdom in Israel.
Throughout the conference, hosts featured ministries serving the Body of Messiah in Israel through outreach and discipleship, local congregations, social justice, resources and training, prayer and worship and ministry to families. During the opening session of the conference, three local ministry leaders testified about their life-changing and strategic work in Israel.
The first ministry, Lech L’cha, a youth ministry that takes its name from Genesis 12:1, where God commands Abraham to “Go,” ministers to youth prior to and after their army service in Israel. It is the only Israeli organization that offers a comprehensive discipleship training program empowering young Israelis to build a firm foundation for their walk with Yeshua.
The second ministry, Netivah, encourages and equips the youth of Israel, pre- and post-military, to know God, live for Him and remain connected to the believing community.
The third ministry, Derech Avraham, sends Jewish believers to testify and serve throughout the Middle East. More Arabs than ever are coming to faith and that is something that Jewish believers want to be a part of. They shared the powerful testimony of a Jewish and Palestinian believer who ministered together in Iraq. This example of kingdom ministry defies the patterns of this world and shows a radically different approach to life.
The evening’s main speaker, Don Finto of the Caleb Company and former pastor of Belmont church, stirred conference goers with a message about the interplay between the Bible’s promises and our prayer life: If it’s in the Bible, you can own it. The promises and commands are life-giving and they are ours to pray in and walk out.
Finto spoke about the duality of the times using as an illustration the parable of farmer who allows the weeds to grow together with the wheat until harvest. Finto said this indicates that both evil and good will reach full maturity by the end of the age. We will be living in a generation that is simultaneously the most wicked and the most holy the world has seen since the days of Noah.
This paradox, described in Daniel 12 where some awake to “everlasting life” and some to shame and everlasting contempt, characterizes the challenge of our faith: to know that as the world gets darker that God’s kingdom is growing stronger. We must stand fast on the promises in the Word of God rather than listen to the bad reports in the news, he said.
Finto used Iran as an example: The country is dominated by a dark religion, but underground Christianity is flourishing. He exhorted listeners to live with constant expectation and confidence, to identify God’s purpose at this current stage of their lives and to take on an attitude of unrealistic optimism.
Local speakers at the conference included Wayne Hilsden, president of FIRM and co-founder and president of King of Kings Community; Samuel Smadja, pastor, regional director of TBN in Israel and president of Sar-El Tours; Dan Sered, Israel director of Jews for Jesus; and Erez Soref, president of One for Israel.
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.