There you go with that “F” word again!
Are you a “Fundamentalist” Christian? If not, if you’re anything less, why are you even bothering?
In some countries, in the past, there was a rationale for doing so, as the culture was predominantly Christian and identifying oneself with that word could be advantageous for social, economic and political reasons. But increasingly in the West, and definitely here in Israel, it can be a distinct DISadvantage to do so.
Why on earth would anyone expose themselves to those disadvantages by calling themselves a “Christian” (or “Believer” of “Messianic Jew” if that’s your preference) if they weren’t totally committed?
If one has not submitted oneself TOTALLY to the Will of the Lord Jesus Christ and subordinated every other aspect of one’s life, identity, one’s own fleshly desires and opinions, thoughts, feelings, etc. to Him, why would one even bother to expose oneself to the considerable downside of calling oneself a disciple of Him?
Since I started contributing blogs to KNI, I’ve had several people throw this accusation at me, that I’m a “Fundamentalist” and that dooms me to inevitable irrelevance as the Human Race advances and matures and gains more knowledge and leaves such attitudes and those who hold to them behind.
I was and am utterly flabbergasted by these accusations and filled with nothing but pity for those who made them.
Brothers and Sisters, most things in life are not black and white, but a handful of things are, and the Bible is one of them. It is either the Word of God, or it’s just a collection of ancient tribal fairy tales, myths, legends and exaggerations.
If it’s the second thing, than it is the height of lunacy/stupidity to put ourselves to the slightest inconvenience by claiming to be followers of the God described in it.
But if it IS the Word of God, we need to take it seriously.
I mean, REALLY(!) seriously!
We need to study it DAILY and get ourselves as familiar as we possibly can with it, because by doing so we’ll get more and more familiar with the mind of the God who wrote it. It is only by doing this that we can avoid falling into the many errors, heresies and deceptions that the Bible warns will increase as the time draws closer for Jesus to return to this earth.
Worldly knowledge and the wisdom of (fallen) Humanity is one of the easiest ways for the Enemy to deceive us, and many who call themselves Christians will try to use such “humanistic thinking” to ensnare us. It is only by being immersed in the truth of the Word that we can save ourselves and those around us from this evil.
Finally, the God who wrote the Bible takes it pretty seriously, and it’s difficult to imagine that He’d be okay with anything else from us.
We’re all going to strand before Him one day and give an account for our lives in this world. I’ll have a lot to answer for when I stand before Him but I am ABSOLUTLEY SURE that of all the things I’ll have to answer for, He won’t be demanding to know why I insisted on taking His Word so seriously and encouraging others to do the same.
So the next time someone calls you a “Fundamentalist” as if it’s a bad thing, hold your head up, look them straight in the eye, smile and say “Yes, I am!”
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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The last great day of Sukkot
Today concludes the 22-day period of the feasts of ingathering — of the autumn harvest. Sukkot is the time of the fruit harvest, and of great rejoicing in the goodness and faithfulness of the God of the Bible, who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to give them an inheritance in the Land of Canaan. YHVH would be their God, and they would be His people.
Today is Simchat Torah (the Joy of the Torah), which the Jewish people celebrate, and in the synagogues they not only conclude the reading of the five books of Moses which is read throughout the year, but they also begin to read Genesis as an indication of their joy in the Law of Moses, which for them is more ‘holy’ than the other portions of the Old Testament (Tenach). Yeshua stood and cried out on this last great day that all who are thirsty should come unto Him and drink, and out of his heart would flow rivers of living water. (Jn 7:37-39; 4:10; Is 41:17-20)
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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The Jezreel Valley train rises again
In the late 19th century some British politicians concocted the idea of constructing a train from Baghdad to Haifa. Its purpose was to connect British interests in the region. With starts and stops the Ottoman Empire assumed control of all plans, and in the early 20th century built a famous railway known as the Hejaz Railway, running from Damascus to Medina/Mecca. Their goal was to further mesh the Arab communities and particularly Muslim holy places with Ottoman rule. The Ottomans also took over the planned Damascus-Haifa route, already under partial construction by British investors, and converted it to an extension of the Hejaz Railway. The rail line running from Haifa to the main artery of the Hejaz Railway, running through Jordan, became known as the Jezreel Valley Railway. Essentially, the line ran through the heart of the Jezreel Valley, a valley famous for numerous Biblical references. The valley was part of one of the major trading routes in the ancient world and the avenue for numerous invading armies from the north. It’s also known in Biblical terminology as the Valley of Armageddon.
Overtime the Jezreel Valley Railway became quite popular and profitable, both for tourism and commerce. This was particularly true during the British Mandate period, 1917-1948. However, as the Jewish settlements in the Mandate moved towards nationhood to which the British was blocking, Jewish resistance fighters attacked various parts of the railroad to disrupt British commercial and military interests. Finally, during the War of Independence the Hagganah (predecessor to the Israel Defense Force), destroyed most of the bridges carrying the rail lines to prevent invading Arab armies from using it. Thus, usage of the railroad ended.
For sixty-five years the Jezreel Valley Train was a footnote in history until just a few days ago. On October 16, 2016, the Jezreel Valley Railway rose again. The Israeli government had discussed resurrecting the rail line for many years, and finally started reconstruction several years ago. When we moved to Kibbutz Merchavia (which abuts the city of Afula), we heard about the railway plans. After our first year here, the open fields behind our house, which had been filled with wildlife, were suddenly under construction. Massive apartment buildings sprang up, just beyond our backyard, and then construction began along the main road between Beit Shean (near the Jordan border) and Afula. This was the pathway for the new/old railroad.
For the past three years, massive mounds of dirt were moved and erected, creating huge swirling dust storms through and around our property. And then suddenly the announcement was made that the new Jezreel Valley Railway had resumed service. For the first month rides were free. So, my wife, Stacy, and I decided to take advantage and ride to the Haifa beach on the Mediterranean Sea. There’s a station in Afula, about a mile from our house. The train essentially follows the route of the earlier one with stations in similar places. We pulled into the large parking lot (rare for Israel) and proceeded to the station. I intended to get there early since we didn’t know the layout, but I didn’t expect the crowds.
Even though these early rides were free, we still needed to “purchase” a ticket. As we entered there was bedlam in the station with folks encircling the few ticket machines, trying to figure out how to get a ticket. We were starting to run out of time to catch the train – the next one was in an hour. I was worrying about figuring out the machine in Hebrew, especially with anxious people behind us, vying for a ticket. Fortunately, the machines offered an English option. We grabbed our tickets and rushed to the platform. Shortly thereafter, the train arrived. But oh-oh, it was packed. The platform also was filled with folks. The doors opened. People tried to exit while the crowd on the platform surged forward. I grabbed Stacy by the hand and plunged in. We made it, but standing room only.
There were two stops before Haifa. The trip to Haifa center took about 35 minutes, but we were heading further to the beach to meet a good friend for lunch. Except for standing, it was a pleasant trip. We passed alongside the Carmel Mountain range, comparable to the route of the ancient traders. Clearly, all the building in our city was due to commuters’ plans to use the train for working in Haifa.
The Haifa station also connects to trains running north and south, leading to Tel Aviv, Beersheva and Modi’in. People have asked if I can use the train for work, and the answer is no unless I have a meeting in Tel Aviv. Petach Tikvah, where I work, while also on a train line, would mean transferring trains twice and taking me twice as long to get to work.
After a pleasant lunch on the beach, I assumed grabbing the train in the other direction would be less crowded, especially because it was only mid-afternoon. Sure enough, the train arrived with plenty of seats. It reminded me of the days when we lived in the Washington, DC area, and I took the Amtrak train to work every day. We were just enjoying the comfortable, scenic ride. A couple of stops later I noticed very few people in our car, and I thought that strange. Wait a minute, the sign said Nahariya, far north of Israel, near the Lebanese border. I looked outside – sure enough, we were heading north – wrong train. No wonder the train was empty – who goes to Lebanon these days? I’m sure Hezbollah would have welcomed us with open arms – not sure what kind though.
We got off at the next stop (nowhere near Lebanon) and headed back. By the time we arrived at the Haifa station, we now had to wait almost an hour for the next train. The place was filling up. It is generally vacation time now in Israel due to the seven-day holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), and I think every family in Israel with thousands of children were using the railroad, especially due to the free rides. When the next train arrived, it was also packed, and there were tons of people on the platform. Again, I grabbed Stacy and pushed forward. It’s hard to believe everyone got in. Sardines in a can have more room. Once again we were crushed into a corner, standing room only. To top it off, the last person on was a religious guy who had enough luggage with him for a month long trip. He slammed in and then erected a wall of luggage against the door, of course making it easy for ingress and egress at the next station. I think someone could have died standing there, and no one would have noticed until the crowd departed the train and the dead person would have fallen off somewhere in the station.
We finally arrived back in Afula. Stacy and I were exhausted from the trip. But it was still fun to ride on a historic train. The train is not only for commuters and vacationers but also for commerce to and from Jordan and into the larger Arab world. I’m sure we’ll use the train often to go to Haifa, but hopefully charging for tickets will limit the crowds.
Jamie Cowen is a Partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh Law Offices, Petach Tikvah, Israel; Former Rabbi, Tikvat Israel Congregation, Richmond, Viriginia; Former President, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Former Chief Counsel, US Senate Subcommittee 1978-1986
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Living Water from the Messiah
During the festival of Sukkot, the priests poured out living water onto the altar while the people prayed, “Hoshana, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!” (Psalm 118:25). On the first six days of the festival, the worshippers encircled the altar with palms in hand while singing those words.
On the seventh day of the festival they encircled the altar seven times, chanting out a litany of “hoshanas,” preparing for the final water libation. The worshippers shook their palm branches to create a rushing sound like wind and rain. They thrashed them against the sides of the altar. They regarded the entire celebration as a fulfillment of the passage in Isaiah (12:3) that says, “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” The rejoicing and ecstatic worship of all the previous days culminated in that seventh and last water-libation ceremony.
On the last day of the festival, Yeshua stood up in the midst of the Temple courts and declared Himself to be the source of spiritual living water:
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me, and let him drink who believes in Me.” As the Scripture said, “From [Messiah’s] innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)
The last phrase of John 7:38 claims that the scriptures say “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water,” but no existing scripture specifically says so. Instead, John paraphrases several texts and prophecies which cluster around the theme of living water in the Messianic Age. Moses made water flow from the rock, and Ezekiel saw the water flow from the future Messianic Temple. Joel predicted that in the Messianic Era, “A spring will go out from the house of the LORD” (Joel 3:18). The haftarah reading from the prophets for the first day of the festival of Sukkot, says, “And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem” (Zechariah 14:8). Given the importance of these passages in the context of the water-libation ceremony, it seems that John 7:38 contains a paraphrase on the passages about living water flowing out of the Temple and Jerusalem in the Messianic Era. If so, the pronoun in John 7:38 should be ascribed to the Temple, i.e., the verse describes living water flowing out the belly of the Temple:
And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem … (Zechariah 14:8)
Water was flowing from under the threshold of the house … (Ezekiel 47:1)
From out of its [i.e., the Temple’s] belly will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
John uses a paraphrase of prophecies about living water flowing out from the Temple and applies it to Yeshua, whom he sees as the living Temple. Yeshua also stands in for the Temple elsewhere in the Gospel of John, for example, “He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:21).
The same image recurs in John’s apocalyptic vision of New Jerusalem. He sees “a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). An invitation at the end of the vision declares, “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:17).
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion and is reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.
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Watchmen for the Nations: Global Gathering 2016 in Jerusalem
This November 7-11, 2016 believers from around the world will be gathering in Jerusalem—along with many from the local Body of Messiah, both Jewish and Arab.
The theme of this gathering is taken from Isaiah 11:10:
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His resting place will be glorious.
David Demian, on behalf of The Global Gathering 2016 Facilitating Team, shares, “The family of God is being restored in a sovereign way; even now, the Lord is doing for us what we have not been able to do for ourselves. We are watching Christian Arabs and Messianic leaders from many streams and denominations walking together as one. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah 19:23-25:”
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.