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.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
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.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
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
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
‘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.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
New visa to Israel – B-5 visa – Moving to Israel as an American investor
The United States and Israel have a unique relationship. As allies, they cooperate in the political, military and economic spheres. American politicians often declare that the US was founded on “Judeo-Christian” values, to emphasize the connection to Israel and the Jewish people.
Unfortunately, this cooperation does not extend to guaranteeing freedom of movement between the two allied countries. Israel citizens need to apply for a tourist visa in advance at the US embassy in Israel in order to enter the US. The visa application process takes time, costs money and not all applicants get the visa. Many young Israelis seeking a tourist visa to the US are actually denied due to fear of illegal work and settlement in the USA. Also the Israeli immigration authorities are strict and US citizens may be denied entry to Israel with no recourse when attempting to visit Israel.
Visiting and living in Israel
Many lovers of Israel find it difficult to secure a permanent residence or even long term visa in the Holy Land. Opportunities to immigrate to Israel are generally only available to Jews and family members / spouses of Jews and Israeli residents.
Messianic Jews face an even greater impediment from the Israeli immigration authorities (Misrad Hapnim). Messianic Jews are often denied the right to make Aliyah due to having “converted” to Christianity. Christians and Messianic Jews are sometimes even prevented from visiting Israel because they are suspected of being active missionaries, entering into Israel on a mission to convert the Jewish population. As the Border Control and Ministry of Interior are not answerable to authorities outside Israel, they are rarely required to prove that their suspicion has any basis in reality.
A solution for those Americans who wish to live in Israel – B-5 Investor visa
Only recently, after many years of speculation and negotiations, on the 1st of May 2019, Israel launched its first investment visa program that allows American foreign citizens to acquire a long term visa in Israel. The B-5 visa allows US citizens to invest in a business in Israel, reside in the country or visit it as often as they wish.
After receiving the visa, the investor and their family members (spouse and children under 21) may live, work and study in Israel with no restrictions. They are free to reside and work wherever they wish, not limited to the business enterprise for which the investment visa is granted.
The B-5 visa conditions – How to get the investor visa to Israel?
The new investment visa to Israel is only available for Americans and is granted only on the basis of a “meaningful” investment. The entrepreneur is required to purchase at least 50% of a “non-marginal” Israeli business. The business enterprise must contribute to the Israeli economy and employ Israeli citizens (or be demonstrably ready to do so soon after the visa is granted).
In addition, the investor can apply for work visas for US citizens who are skilled managers and workers to receive accompanying visas to reside in Israel while working in the Israeli business. Their family members can also reside and work in Israel.
American citizens are now granted an opportunity to acquire long term status in Israel with the new investment visa, which is a step in the right direction.
Advocate Joshua Pex is a partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm in Jerusalem. He specializes in immigration to Israel.