October 12th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to decay and death into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.     Romans 8:21

Our online dictionary includes this definition for the word “Hebrew”:

ORIGIN: from Old French Ebreu, via Latin from late Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ‛i b ray, based on Hebrew ‛i b rî — understood to mean ‘one from the other side (of the river).’

Abraham’s descendants’ escaping from Egypt and, with divine Providence, rushing across the “parted” Red Sea certainly do come to mind. Hebrew = one from the other side — or, as this is sometimes expressed, “one who crossed over.” The Red Sea is a long, narrow, land-locked sea; in some ways it is more like a river. Further, Joshua would much later lead the Israelis into the Land by crossing the Jordan River near Jericho.

When we visited Israel a couple of years back, we learned that “Bethlehem” means in Hebrew “house of bread.” He who has been referred to as “Panis Angelicus,” Bread of Angels, the ultimate “manna,” the one who illustrated His “body, broken for you” with bread — was born in the House of Bread!

Yeshua’s kind of “bread” differs from the ordinary kind, however. When we eat ordinary bread, it becomes us, so to speak. But when we appropriate Christ, we become increasingly like Him through the new birth.

Jesus spoke of the importance of being “born again” to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and had come to Him at night in the hope of not being seen by his own colleagues. When we think about the definition of “Hebrew” meaning essentially “one who crossed over,” the word itself seems to speak of this new birth — in addition to Israel’s exodus. Consider Abraham, Rahab, and Ruth. They left their very different former lives to become Israelis — to “cross over” to a new and unknown life; they somehow summoned the faith to move toward this new life in preference to what was familiar. They sensed something better; they crossed over.

In Isaiah we find the stirring words, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; can you not perceive it?” We find a paraphrase of the first part of this statement in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.”

Astrophysicists tell us that more than 200 finely-tuned characteristics of Earth reveal that the universal stage was set in advance for us — for billions of years. And that Earth is in a unique place and time parameter that enables us to observe these exquisite elements of design. A personal Creator had you and me in mind.

Scientists who have also studied Scripture recognize in it a setting forth in several texts — not only in those in Genesis 1 — of the astonishingly-unique process of setting the stage for our world for the very purpose of creating — not suns, but sons.

When He was physically present with us, Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He is described this way in the fiery-furnace story in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament as well. But after the resurrection His description, in the epistles for example, consistently becomes “the Son of God.”

“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ  appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this hope will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.”    (1 John 3:2,3)

The goal that Jesus put before Nicodemus is the same one He puts before you and me — to become citizens of the newer creation that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard.” The one in which weapons will have been transformed into garden tools that facilitate life. In which there will be no more killing or evil or death. No animal predation. No sickness or sorrow or night. The perfect creation — as God would design it.

“You must be born again,” Jesus told Nicodemus, the apparently wise, older man.

“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.”    (Hebrews 12:14)

God’s love and mercy are freely extended to all. He waits as long as He can. His desire is that as many as possible will enter the Kingdom of all things new.

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September 24th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

The events of the week that began with Jesus’ humble-but-triumphant entry into Jerusalem and culminated with the crucifixion are unspeakably precious.

The overturning of the moneychangers’ tables in the Temple apparently followed His arrival in Jerusalem. Every one of His recorded acts during this pivotal week is spotlighted by the world-changing events that would subsequently unfold. This story of the cleansing of the Temple comes to our ears and hearts on its surface as revealing Jesus’ desire to re-establish God’s sacred intent for the Temple. To put the emphasis back on prayer and take it away from financial gain. “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer.’ — but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

This level of purpose comes across clearly. Perhaps nothing is more important in this world than prayer. But Yeshua was accomplishing more than this with His decisive and fearless disruption of the status quo.

He knew that He would fulfill the Passover later that week, once and for all, as the sacrificial Lamb for whom God had been preparing the way through the Temple’s sacrificial system. God had instructed Abraham to sacrifice animals. And the specific practice of sacrificing a spotless lamb at Passover had been divinely instructed as the Israelites prepared to depart from captivity in Egypt for the Promised Land. We remember John the Baptist’s clarion announcement: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” And Revelation’s describing Yeshua as “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.”

His overturning the tables that had been used for the business of selling doves and pigeons to Jews wanting to make ritual sacrifices signaled the end of the centuries-old sacrificial system. Fully knowing the price He would very soon pay to deliver Himself up to redeem lost humanity and restore us to His Father and our Father, no one was more appropriately qualified to upset these tables — notwithstanding the indignation of the Temple elites who stood by. This was His way of signaling the new and better covenant; the new dispensation of grace that He, the spotless Lamb, would provide through His voluntary sacrifice of His own sinless blood. He showed us in a way that we cannot forever miss how profoundly God loves every one of us. “For God so loved the world . . .”

Matthew 9:13 is a wonderful, instructive verse. The Torah teachers or scribes had just asked Jesus’ disciples why their teacher ate with marginal people like tax collectors and sinners. Yeshua the great communicator replied, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (NLT; italics added)  This is a direct reference to Hosea 6:6, among other passages. Jesus revealed that God never liked the idea of killing animals to sacrifice their blood. But He instituted this practice to paint a picture of Yeshua’s ultimate atonement. Down the long centuries God had worked through a concrete example that He hoped would provide the clear insight to enable Israel, forever the beloved seed of Abraham, to recognize Yeshua.

In Dr. Brown’s The Real Kosher Jesus, he provides several rabbinic texts that speak of the atoning sacrifice of a tsadik (righteous one) as a means of saving the people. He points out that this concept is not a Christian construct; it had for centuries been part of Judaism. As one example, “. . . the Zohar states, ‘As long as Israel dwelt in the Holy Land, the rituals and the sacrifices they performed [in the Temple] removed all . . . diseases from the world; now the Messiah removes them from the children of the world.’ ”

In addition to providing several rabbinic sources for this fundamental Jewish teaching, Dr. Brown details discussions from rabbinic literature associating the deaths of righteous people with atonement. Miriam and the sons of Aaron are examples.

These insights help to clarify the initially-opaque John 18:14, among other verses, which indicates that Caiphas, because he was “high priest that year,” explained the need for one person to die for the people — as the dark events surrounding Jesus’ illegal trials unfolded. While Caiphas undoubtedly had his own misguided reasons for citing this Jewish teaching in support of the outcome of the bogus hearing that was perfunctorily extended to Jesus, Caiphas’ doing so clearly reflects that an understanding of the power of the death of a single person to benefit all the people was present in Temple instruction.

Dr. Brown’s life-long focus on sacred content that matters is deeply appreciated. Its power to enlighten our understanding is considerable.

Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

August 16th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the human mind, the good things that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

It has been a trend in our culture for some time to consider the concept of “hell” to be one that is outdated. Some express the mindset by saying that a good God wouldn’t send people to a place like that. Yet we have that best and most-loving One on record, from His walk here with us, referring to it.

Christian writer George MacDonald lived in Victorian times. In his three volumes of Unspoken Sermons, he treated important topics powerfully and in a way that enlarges and encourages his readers. He is the writer whom C.S. Lewis described as “my master.” Scripture is illuminated on MacDonald’s pages, and one is “fed.” He touches on every important subject, just as the Word does. MacDonald’s sense of hell is that the Father who is Love will resort to whatever tormenting tactics He has to use — to cause as many souls as possible to turn to Him in righteousness and recognition.

Righteousness? In referring to the essence of the sacred text, Dr. Isaac Rottenberg, a past president of the Dutch Reform Church, observed, “It’s all about righteousness.”

Recognition? We remember the conversation between Jesus (Yeshua) and His disciples that began with His asking them who other people said He was and culminated with His asking them, “But who do you say that I am?” When Peter — apparently alone — responded with full recognition, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus expressed profound appreciation for his recognition. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you — but my Father in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter. And upon this rock I will build my church; and the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.”

For much of our early life we appreciated the non-judgmental, progressive qualities of the liberal Christian church that our family preferred. But in more-recent years we have seen this church become increasingly one of the “ear-tickling” variety, as described in Scripture. Its primary spokespeople have chosen to be guided by what is popular to the extent that they are leaning toward secular humanism — largely abandoning this church’s Christian foundation and even disrespecting the Bible.

The perception of “crude salvationism” may have driven some toward secular humanism. This perception would perhaps be voiced by people associated with liberal churches — or even more likely by those who don’t bother with church at all. Of course there is an element of truth to this perception: that a “dumbing down” of something vast has been done by well-meaning, unsophisticated people.

Astrophysicist and pastor Dr. Hugh Ross has devoted his life to searching out answers to important questions — with the unique result being a synthesis that reflects both his considerable personal “assets” and his (at least) two areas of expertise.

We have learned from him and his organization, Reasons to Believe (reasons.org), that our world is apparently fine-tuned to an astonishing degree and in a sufficiently significant number of ways to leave no other rational conclusion than that a Designer of absolute mastery is behind the evidence that He has left for us to find! We have also learned from Dr. Ross that astronomy is entirely focused on determining when cosmological events took place.

He and his associates see evidence of this masterful Designer’s having worked for millions of years to create an ideal environment in which He could, in Dr. Ross’s words, “in the shortest time possible accomplish the elimination of evil.” He notes the many ways in which this present world could be described, as it is in Genesis, as “very good.” Beyond this world, ahead of us, Dr. Ross foresees a “perfect” creation that will be free from every manifestation of evil — just as one reads about in Revelation.

Carlisle Marney expressed it this way: “We know a secret — Jesus is the name of our species.” It has been said that Jesus was the first Human Being; but He invites us all to join Him! Jesus (Yeshua) is the perfect example of what God had in mind for every one of us. In His own precious words to His disciples after the resurrection, as He prepared breakfast for them on a beach, “Come and dine.”

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June 27th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

Yeshua/Jesus consistently sounded the “Wedding theme” throughout His ministry time with us — and since. His ministry even began with His “turning water into wine” at a wedding celebration in Cana, even though this was apparently unplanned. Marriage is a powerful picture of oneness. Of our becoming worthy to be citizens of His kingdom. Of the deep love of a “Bridegroom” who longs to see His “bride” appear spotless and beautiful before Him.

In ancient Hebrew culture, marriage was surrounded by a rich, if somewhat folksy, tradition. The young man who had identified the young woman with whom he wanted to share his life would gather his financial resources. He would go to the young woman’s home. He would take wine with him. He and the young woman would often be seated at a table. He would pour a glass of wine and extend it to her. If she chose to drink it, this indicated her acceptance of his betrothal. The prospective groom would then make arrangements with her father for a gift of money or other valuable items that the bride’s father would receive. But if she chose not to “drink the cup,” the young man would gather his things and leave.

We remember Yeshua’s asking His disciples, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” He framed this question in Jewish wedding-tradition language.

If the young woman accepted the young man’s proposal, he would return to his father’s house and begin preparing her a place — often not more than a room added to his father’s home. But this room was sometimes referred to as their “mansion”! The prospective groom might have been overly hasty in his enthusiasm for his new life, so only his father could say when the addition was complete and sufficiently well done that his son could bring his bride.

During the time that it was being built, when people would inquire about when they would be married, the groom would reply, “Only my father knows.” The groom often went to claim his bride in the middle of the night! This practice increased the suspense and excitement. The bride-to-be, assisted by her wedding “party,” had to be ready to depart for her new life with her groom at a moment’s notice.

When disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast, as they and the Pharisees did, He answered by characterizing Himself as “the bridegroom”! “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”

Like the prospective groom’s giving his prospective bride’s father a gift of money or other valuable items, the apostle Paul tells us that we are “bought with a price.”

It’s well known that the Church is figuratively described as the “Bride” of Christ. Yeshua tells us that we are to be ready — to know the signs and seasons of His return. He tells us that He will come for us at a time that we don’t expect Him! He tells us that, like the groom of old, He is “going to prepare a place for” us. That “In my Father’s house are many ‘mansions.’” Like a trustworthy bridegroom, He reassures us, “If these things were not so, I would have told you.” And when asked about the timing of last-days events, He replies, “Only the Father knows.”

Jesus sounded the Wedding note from that first wedding at Cana throughout His ministry on earth. And finally in Revelation, His angel speaks of the coming marriage supper of the Lamb!

Hebrew scholar Dr. Karl Coke has said that a closer translation of the familiar “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” that Jesus said from the cross, in part to remind us that He was fulfilling the words of Psalm 22, would be: “My God, My God, why have You bachelored me?” Dr. Coke explained, “He saw that He wouldn’t have His ‘bride’ until He got to the other side of the cross.”

In John 17 we find Jesus speaking less figuratively about the wedding. Having responded to a questioner earlier in His ministry to the effect that in heaven we won’t marry, His prayer offered shortly before the crucifixion, in John 17, speaks plainly of oneness.  This is one of the precious places in Scripture where we are told that we have the opportunity to become like Him! His prayer here is that we in all ways — with everything we have — will join Him.

Posted in Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: , , , , ,

May 3rd, 2012 by Christine Colbert

Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves.” John 6:53

 

Israel’s exodus from Egypt, as celebrated in the Passover Seder, was a foreshadowing of a much larger escape to freedom.

A Seder is a celebratory meal. Much could be said about the ways that each item on the Seder plate reminds us of Israel’s bondage in and flight from Egypt. We might touch on precious details like having a young boy sing a song that sets forth “the four questions,” for the purpose of emphasizing the unique historical tradition of Passover.

We won’t try to cover all the details and tradition here, but will instead touch on just a few of the most meaningful aspects.

The blood of a lamb that was applied to the doorposts and lintels of all the Hebrew people’s homes — to protect them from the angel of death that would strike down the first-born of all people, and even animals, living in Egypt — would have approximately suggested a cross. As one pictures the blood being applied to each side post and to the lintel over the top, this image or connection becomes clear. The Jewish people were told to eat the lamb before they fled from Egypt.

During the celebratory Passover dinner each year, three pieces of matzoh, or unleavened bread, would be placed into a white cloth with three separate pockets. The middle matzoh, or afikomen, would be removed from the cloth late in the Seder, broken, and the pieces would then be eaten by all who were present. Jewish people had for some 1250 years — and in the last two millennia many still have — practiced this Seder without understanding its larger meaning.

Many of us are really only now coming to realize that Jesus’ “Last Supper” with His disciples was a Passover Seder!

For more than a thousand years, until that “Last Supper” Passover that Jesus shared with His “brethren,” the prayer “Blessed art Thou, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth” had been offered as the afikomen, or the matzoh from the central pocket of the white cloth, was broken and then consumed by all.

But this second-person kind of prayer was brought into the first person as Yeshua dined with His disciples that night. Taking the cup of wine, He said, “This is my blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many.” (Matthew 26:28) Then “He took bread, said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ ” (Luke 22:19)

This is also the origination of the Eucharist or Communion, as practiced in Christian churches.

We remember that when Jesus had earlier in His ministry told His disciples and others that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, many found the teaching so appalling and incomprehensible that they departed from Him! He was speaking figuratively of the vital importance of our recognizing and coming to Him — of understanding what the long Passover tradition had been foretelling.

The placement of the afikomen in the center pocket revealed that it would be the body of the Son — among three — Father, Son (in the middle), and Holy Spirit — that would be broken. The matzoh in the central pocket represents the One in the central position in the Trinity.

Jesus was crucified on Passover, died on Unleavened Bread, and was resurrected on First Fruits. As one person put it, “Probably not a coincidence.”

The matzoh in the Passover tradition, in addition to representing the sinless Messiah — since leaven had long been a symbol for sin in the Jewish culture — also reminded the Jewish people of their hasty flight from Egypt. They had been instructed to make the bread without leaven so they wouldn’t have to wait for it to rise.

The First Fruits tradition holds great meaning. Each harvest season, the “first and best” of the grain harvest would be offered to God. Its acceptance would guarantee the acceptability to God and the security of the rest of the harvest.

Yeshua, clearly the first and best in His sinlessness and voluntary sacrifice, provides and ensures the rest of the harvest of souls. He is described in Scripture as “the first fruits of those who sleep.”

The blood of the spotless lamb that was applied to the doorposts in Egypt protected the Hebrew people from death and signaled their freedom from bondage, the beginning of their exodus. The blood of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ — His giving Himself that we might renounce sin, recognize Him, and live — protects us from spiritual death and “makes us free.”

Israel’s feasts were called, in Hebrew, “moedim,” or “appointed times”; they were considered “rehearsals.”

The “rehearsal” idea suggests their preparing us for future events. Many people perceive that the annual timing of these feasts that Yahweh characterized as being “for all time” will parallel the timing of major “last days” events.

Who can adequately express the value of beginning to glimpse the uniting theme running through this vast history — that it is Jesus Christ (Yeshua), hailed by John the Baptist (Yohannan the Immerser) as “the Lamb of God,” who fulfills the Passover!

For all the contentiousness, cruelty, and false dichotomy that have existed down the centuries between spokespeople for the Jewish roots and for the Christian branches of the one tree that is the tree of Life — it is Jesus who is the Passover Lamb.

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March 27th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

Zola Levitt taught that while the Book of Job tells the story of a man — his story parallels the larger story of the country of Israel.

We remember early glimmerings of the important ideas in Job. For example, its raising the question “Why do the righteous suffer?”

And that most-beautiful statement of faith that Job managed to voice in the midst of his grievous trials: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”

As we read to see if there was anything in Job that opened the door for dark experiences, we consider his realization “The things that I have greatly feared have come upon me.”

We might even have gone so far as to look deeply at why God, rejoicing in Job’s righteousness, more or less paraded Job before Satan for him to consider — and ultimately take aim at. We heard one analyst observe that God’s boasting over Job to Satan was done with the hope that after Satan had taken all of his best shots, God would then be able to bless Job even more. We appreciate this opinion, because it arrives at the same enormously-loving Father that Jesus “walked” before us.

But Zola’s teaching that in Job, as in other scriptural stories, there is a parallel between the central figure’s story and Israel’s story is particularly helpful.

God knew that while Satan’s worst arrows would bring Job — and Israel — very low, even close to despairing — that Job and the Jewish people would never turn their backs on God. He knew that the crusades, the pogroms, World War II — all the horrific anti-Semitic experiences — would leave Israel an emaciated, disenfranchised state of “dry bones.” But He also knew, and even prophesied for Satan to see, that the dry bones would come together again, the scales would fall from Israel’s eyes; that the second time Yeshua appears, His own beloved brethren would run to embrace Him. That like Job, God’s beloved Israel will finally come into her own.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 13th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
This is from the LORD and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22,23

Zola Levitt once said in a broadcast: “When God chooses a people, Satan chooses them too.” Dr. Brown has detailed the history of anti-Semitism, pointing out that it has had longer tenure and more depraved manifestations than any other prejudice in the world.

Yeshua invited every one of us to “become one with” Him, which He presented in the parable or paradigm of the ancient Jewish wedding tradition. The beauty of the language He chose slowly dawns on us as we become acquainted with the unique features of this tradition. It is a tradition that is well worth looking into — because throughout the New Testament His most reassuring promises are framed in an analogy to this wedding paradigm.

But Jesus issued to Israel — to His Jewish brethren — a unique opportunity. He told them that only when they invite Him to return will He return! “You [Israel] will not see me again until you say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis recently mentioned that Satan knows all too well that Jesus’ return will wait for this unique invitation from Israel. Jonathan explained that this is why some of the most vicious recent hate crimes and harassment have been directed toward Messianic Jews. We have seen reports of these incidents — one particularly barbaric, all deeply disturbing. They have occurred in recent months in Israel.

We’ve seen reports of young Messianic Jewish children being tormented about their faith by other children. They’re mockingly called “Christians” — as if this were a deplorable thing to be. But Messianic Jews are certain that they are Jewish. They’ve realized that recognizing the Jewish Messiah doesn’t detract from being Jewish — this recognition completes and fulfills Judaism. This is what the Orthodox don’t want Jews to know.

This is why some among the Orthodox try so desperately to keep other Jews from reading the New Testament — the B’rit Hadashah. Some among the Orthodox will even use listeners’ memories of the Holocaust, pogroms, and other terrible suffering at the hands of people who pretended to be Christians to remind Jewish hearts or minds that are beginning to open that “the New Testament is for Christians.” The Orthodox persuade other Jews that reading it is “disloyal” to all the Jews who suffered and died over the centuries at the hands of people who posed as Christians — “disloyal” to being Jewish.

Scripture is full of such amazing and beautiful “pictures” and reversals. In a picture of Jesus’ return, David refused to return as king of Israel after Saul finally died until David’s (and Yeshua’s!) own tribe — Judah — invited him to return. Ultimately the people of Judah not only invited David to return — they went out “to conduct him over the Jordan.”

Peter was so broken and remorseful after having denied knowing Jesus three times before the crucifixion that he thought he would just go back to fishing — he thought he might be “good enough” to do this. But Jesus restored him to his higher calling by extending a single question to him three times — a question that allowed Peter to affirm three times the very bond that he had three times denied — and to receive his personal commission as well.

Apparently the ultimate “Playwright” wants the same people who, through their “representatives” who were in power at the time, “did not know the time of their visitation” when He lived on earth — to be the very ones to call Him back to all of us. This is the world’s Story; and no person could have written it.

Yeshua said that when Jews at long last look up in recognition to invite Him back He will come. The One who “alone knows the end from the beginning” indicated that this will happen! We can be in prayer to strengthen His beloved Israel — the Jewish people — against all the slings and arrows of Israel’s — and God’s — outrageous enemies. And to strengthen the Jewish people toward “the scales falling from their eyes” and the recognition’s dawning.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: , , , , , ,

June 23rd, 2011 by Guest Writer

By Asher Intrater | www.revive-israel.org | Reprinted from Revive Israel Ministries with permission.
This past year offered some unprecedented opportunities to discuss our faith on Israeli media. This included the educational television, television channel one, and the largest Hebrew newspaper, Yediot.

During this time I have also attended a local Sephardic orthodox synagogue, because I enjoy studying, praying and fellowshipping with them. A few weeks ago, one of the members identified me from the television. I affirmed to him my faith as a Messianic Jew. It didn’t take long for the word to spread around the synagogue.

The rabbi asked to meet with me. He is a dear man, whom I respect. We talked for over an hour about faith and religion. Although he was polite, he told me that the rabbis in Jerusalem were organizing “harsh” opposition to me and that he would stand with them. That next Shabbat they refused to let me into the synagogue.  I realized they were not really rejecting me, but rejecting Yeshua, who loves them more than they know. He and I walked away together sadly.

On Sunday the police showed up at our door. They had a summons for me to appear in court (along with a couple from our congregation). The summons contained 19 pages of unfounded claims. The suit was presented in the name of the parents of a teenage girl who had developed a friendship with the couple in our congregation.

In Israel it is illegal to convert a minor to another religion without the parents’ consent. We would not do that under any circumstance, and in this case, we had notified the family in writing that the teenager could only attend with parental permission. Therefore the suit was groundless in the first place.

When we arrived in court, there was a religious lawyer and a representative of an “anti-missionary” group. [It is worth noting that the majority of the Israeli public and the government agencies are not “anti-Messianic.” The opposition comes primarily from extremist religious groups.]

Instead of dealing with the suit of the parents, the lawyer simply began to attack us as a cult, calling me repeatedly “a leader of the cult of the Messianic Jews (Acts 24:4-5).” While this was demeaning, it had no legal bearing on the case. The suit was a ploy to defame us and had little to do with caring for the needy young lady.

Finally, the judge became angry and asked what all this religious talk had to do with the legal suit (Luke 23:4, 14, Acts 18:14-15, 19:38).  When we presented as evidence our letters to the family requiring parental permission, the judge closed the case.  It is a shame that the parents were exploited in the hands of those trying to discredit us. We can only hope for the best for this girl and her family.

When we returned home, we found out about the next “wave” of opposition: an article planned in the local newspaper, attacking us as a “missionary” cult. Apparently the court case was part of a “spin” to defame us in the newspapers. Please pray fervently that everything that was meant for evil will be turned to good. I want to thank our lawyer and dear friend Caleb Myers, of Jerusalem Institute for Justice, who represented us in this case.

The spiritual attack of religious persecution is three fold: Rejection, Intimidation, and Defamation. You could say they are trying to get RID of us. Because of your prayers, we were protected by the grace of God and sustained with great peace of mind.

The whole situation was reminiscent of living out a scene from the book of Acts. There we were, sitting in a court room in Jerusalem, accused of being a cult, blocked from the synagogue, plotted against by Pharisees. I suppose it was sort of an honor. The slanders against us are a diversion from the real issue: Either Yeshua is the Messiah, or He isn’t (Acts 17:3).

For decades I have taught that we should live like the apostles. Ah, but there is no apostolic revival without persecution. “Now, Lord, behold their threats, and grant to Your servants to declare Your word with all boldness, stretching out Your hand to heal and do signs and wonders…” – Acts 4:29. Did we expect to get the signs and wonders without the threats?

We are gaining a clearer perspective on the biblical narrative.

  1. Religious leaders will “incite” normal people to be angry (Acts 6:12, 14:2, 14:19, 13:50, 17:5, 17:13).
  2. They will hire legal and forensic specialists to accuse us (Acts 24:1).
  3. This is why Yeshua decreed to separate state and religion (“Give unto Caesar…” – Matthew 22:21), and Saul/Paul turned to state authorities (“Before the judgment seat of Caesar…” – Acts 25:10).
  4. We will be accused of being a cult (Acts 24:5, 14, 28:22).
  5. Instead of dealing with the content of our message, the issue will be diverted to attacking our character, through lies and slander (Luke 23:1-2, Acts 16:20, 17:6, 18:13, 21:28, 22:22).
  6. They will seek to catch us in one mistake in our words in order to accuse us (Luke 11:54, 14:1, 20:20).
  7. If we pray hard enough, the modern day apostles will be delivered from jail (Acts 12:5). If we do not, they will not be delivered (Acts 12:2).
  8. Thinking there will be revival without persecution is a deception (Acts 14:22).
  9. Everything will be acceptable except one thing: the name of Yeshua (Acts 4:17-18, 5:28, 5:40).

Is all this worth it? Yes. For what reason? – LOVE. If we love our people, then pain and persecution are worth the price to show them the love of Messiah. I don’t feel in any way offended or hurt. We simply love our people and would be willing to lay down our lives for them (Acts 7:60, 20:24, 21:13).  They really just don’t understand (Luke 23:46). Yet.

 

Asher Intrater is the director of Revive Israel Ministries, an apostolic ministry team dedicated to revival in Israel. To access more articles by Asher Intrater or to find out more about the Ministries of Revive Israel, go to www.reviveisrael.org.

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June 3rd, 2011 by M. French

Message from Dan Juster at the Israel and the Church in the End-Times Conference from IHOP in Kansas City. Take special notice of the following:

  1. An analysis of the Jesus & Paul vs. the Pharisees conflict as one of differing end times programs.
  2. A history of Zionism, and the importance of Evangelicals in birthing the nation.
  3. The status of the Messianic Jewish movement in Israel, with it blossoming in the last 20 years.
  4. The head of an Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva coming to faith in Yeshua, and secretly attending Pentecostal camp meetings in the States.


[Link to Video]

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