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Numbers 13:1 says this:
“Adonai spoke to Moses saying, ‘Send some mean on your behalf to investigate the land of Canaan, which I am giving to Bnei-Yisrael (Children of Israel).” (TLV)
This section of Scripture can teach us much as believers in the Messiah of Israel. The spies went into the “Promised Land” and saw many wondrous things. They saw a land that was bountiful and wonderful, however, they also saw giants and walls around the cities.
Matthew 28:19 says this:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (TLV)
Here we have more people being sent, not just to the Promised Land this time, this time into the entire world.
If you’ve been a follower of Yeshua for a while and have gone out into the world, then you know. You know that we still encounter giants and walls. People have “giants” in their lives that they need to overcome; “giants” like addictions, pride, selfishness, sins, etc. To top it off, usually, there are “walls” around these people’s lives that have to fall before the giants can be dealt with. None of those giants or walls can be taken care of by us. It’s the Lord’s work to make those walls fall and topple those giants. He uses us, yes, but it is not by our own efforts.
When we go into the world, just as the Master sends us, it is easy to get overwhelmed and fearful of what we see. As we look around at the world today, there seem to be more giants and walls than ever before. The giants are tall and strong. The walls are high and thick. However, it’s still no match for the King of the Universe.
I think this is why the Master added to the end of his command to go out into the world, “And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He knew we’d face giants and walls that would scare us, that would make us like the spies who went into Canaan. We would become fearful and decide that we are no match for what we are facing. We would say that we “seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:33 NIV)
However, we know how that story turned out. After many years, they went up into the Land and the walls fell and the giants toppled. It only happened when the Lord went with them. It’s the same for us today. We can’t go out and make disciple in our own timing or in our own strength. The Lord has to go with us. That’s the only way giants and walls fall. We see this in Numbers 14:44 & 45 when the Israelites tried to take the Land anyway after they were told they had to wait.
In Hebrew, those who are sent are called “Shelachim” or “sent ones.” This is the meaning of the Greek word “Apostles.” As followers of the Master we are also Shelachim. However, we are not all sent to the same places. Some are sent to the world, others are sent to nations, still others are sent to regions and some to cities. Most of us are sent to those around us; our immediate circle of influence. And we must not mistake the importance of that. It is just as valuable and important for us to be obedient to the Lord when we are sent to only those in our everyday circle. Every life is important.
Giants are still giants and walls are still walls no matter how close to home they are. Your next-door neighbor may be facing a dozen giants everyday. The co-worker that annoys you might have the thickest walls you’ve ever seen. Those giants and walls won’t fall unless we are obedient and go when we’re told to go. So listen and have your shoes laced up and ready. When the Lord tells you its time for you to go, go forth and be a giant slayer; go forth and tear down walls. The Lord is with you always, even to the end of the age.
Today I want to deal with a sensitive subject. I know it’s sensitive, because I have so often heard the passion of those who have given themselves to a holy walk with the Lord, and who have strong convictions about their music making and listening habits. I heard it recently from a singer-guitarist who was a fairly new believer, and was playing in a Christian coffee house setting. I heard it from a more seasoned believer, in a passing remark around the table at a restaurant. I’ve heard it various other times.
All of these people have shared their conviction that all secular music was off limits for them. Only music written about and for the Lord was acceptable. Some of them were convinced that what was true for them should also be true for all believers.
I would like to begin my response by stating that I respect the believer who chooses to avoid all music except “sacred” music, as they might term it. I remember once being around an excellent musician who was in a Messianic band, and who had been a professional secular musician before he was a believer. His previous life had included drugs, alcohol, and all that goes with that lifestyle. When a certain light-hearted secular love song from the sixties played somewhere near us, perhaps at a restaurant (specifically, The Beatles “Drive My Car”,) he expressed discomfort. I sensed in my spirit that memories were triggered that created a stumbling-block for him. I feel that this was a perfect example of a principle expressed in Romans 14:14.
“I know and am convinced by the Lord Yeshua that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”
I realize that even what some might consider an innocuous song could present a significant problem for them. And I also realize that there are some songs that, by their very nature and focus, might be inappropriate for anyone to listen to or play. These might include songs with graphic sexual references, profanity and the vain use of God’s name, etc. However, I have a problem with a carte blanche application of the second conviction stated earlier—the one that considers anyone who plays or listens to what might be called secular music as unspiritual—or at the very least, the practice as unspiritual. Below are a few reasons for my disagreement with this stand.
First, when one is calling all secular music off-limits, they would have to include all secular music throughout history—whether the themes involved romance, historical subjects, comedy, mythology, or whatever. One would have to include Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” for example. And almost all operas and operettas would have to be included, as well as almost all show music and American standards. Would Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors”, Handel’s “Messiah”, and Schwartz’ “Godspell” be representative of the rare listenable vocal material?
Second, why single out music, and separate it from all other art forms? Almost none of those who hold to the “no exposure to secular music” standard would avoid all films. This represents hypocrisy on two levels. First, even if one would restrict themselves to PG films, they would still expose themselves to secular material, and that material would cover some of the same territory subject-wise that various songs do. The other level relates to the songs on the film soundtracks. Most of these songs are either songs written for the film, like “Flashlight” from recent film “Pitch Perfect 2,” or songs from some composer’s catalogue, such as “I Will Follow Him” in “Sister Act.” If one would be consistent, they would avoid all films. But very few of those who would shut out all secular music would avoid a film like the recent “Wonder Woman,” of even an “art” film like “Woman in Gold.” And what about the viewers’ favorite TV shows? Some binge watch series on Netflix or Amazon Prime for hours at a time. Others watch their preferred shows on cable TV. They are not to be judged. But it is also important for them not to judge others for their music preferences.
Third, restriction of all secular songs would present a dilemma for anyone attending school, whether junior high, high school, or higher education. What if the English class includes a study of the lyrics in Bog Dylan’s “Desolation Row,” or the theater department is casting for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” and the student cast in the role of Ado Annie is tasked with singing the song “I Cain’t Say No?”
At the risk of repeating myself, I will say that I understand the choice to not listen to secular music, and I certainly can appreciate the preference for listening to sacred music that many might have in their daily experience. However, before believers declare all secular music off-limits at all times, I think that some of the above thoughts should be taken into account.
At his usual Sunday morning cabinet meeting this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu donned a kippah to read from the Torah. Two days earlier the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, “acting on a request from the Palestinians, declared Hebron’s Old City to be a heritage site in danger” (https://www.jta.org/2017/07/09/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/netanyahu-reads-ftom-genesis-to-illustrate-jewish-peoples-israels-claim-to-cave-of-patriarchs).
In response to the resolution, Netanyahu read Genesis 23:16–19.
Abraham heard Ephron. So Abraham weighed out to Ephron the silver that he had spoken of in the ears of the sons of Heth—400 shekels of silver at the merchant’s rate. Now Ephron’s field that is in Machpelah next to Mamre—the field and the cave that is in it, and all the trees that are in the field in all its surrounding territory—was handed over to Abraham as a purchased possession in the eyes of the sons of Heth, before all those who enter the gate of his city. Afterward, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah next to Mamre (that is, Hebron), in the land of Canaan. (Tree of Life Version)
Netanyahu’s point is clear enough: Hebron and the cave of Machpelah have been Jewish heritage sites since the days of Abraham, and it’s wrong for UNESCO to focus only on their significance to Palestinians. Israel raised similar objections last year when UNESCO passed a resolution that appeared to deny Israel’s claim on Jerusalem. Despite the UNESCO terminology, Netanyahu declared, “The connection between the Jewish People and Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs is one of purchase and history which may be without parallel in the history of nations” (www.jta.org).
The story of Abraham’s purchase of the cave of Machpelah has an additional implication, just as relevant as this one. Years before the purchase, “After Lot separated himself from him, Adonai had said to Abram, ‘lift up your eyes, now, and look from the place where you are, to the north, south, east and west. For all the land that you are looking at, I will give to you and to your seed forever’” (Gen. 13:14–15). This promise was repeated several times and Abraham could have argued that Ephron’s field actually belonged to him and his descendants and demanded a place to bury Sarah. Or he could have gathered his followers, as he’d done years before when he successfully rescued Lot (Gen. 14:14ff.), and mounted a military campaign to take possession of the cave. Instead, Abraham approached the owner with humility (“I am a stranger and an alien residing among you;” 23:3), and negotiated a deal that most commentators think was pretty sweet for Ephron.
This purchase reveals that regarding the land there is both Promise, which is from above, immutable, and firm; and Possession, which involves human effort, and its attendant successes and failures. Centuries later, when the Torah is given at Mount Sinai, it will add conditions, not to the Promise, but to Possession of the Land. Later, in Deuteronomy, when Moses addresses the generation about to take possession of the Land, he emphasizes that it’s not Israel’s military might or numerous population that will gain the victory, but God’s gift (e.g. Dt. 7:7–8). To continue to merit that gift—to maintain possession—the Israelites must walk in accord with his Torah.
Keep, therefore, all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you today, so that you may have the strength to enter and take possession of the land that you are about to cross into and possess, and that you may long endure upon the soil that the Lord swore to your fathers to assign to them and to their heirs, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Dt. 11:8–9, NJPS)
As a Messianic Zionist, my hope doesn’t rest on military and political power for Israel’s future, although we must pay attention to these, but ultimately on God’s purposes and on teshuvah—a return to God and his ways—among my people.
This distinction between Promise and Possession is vital to our discussion of Israel today. The promise to Abraham establishes that the Jewish return to the land of Israel in the past 150 years fulfils a biblical mandate. The specific form of return embodied in the state of Israel, however, is a matter of possession, a pragmatic, human response to the promised return.
Current Palestinian leadership may be a tougher negotiating partner than Ephron—or perhaps no partner at all, as some claim—but it would not violate God’s promise for Israel to accept a less-than-complete possession of the land for the sake of peace. Abraham had a clearer right to the Land than anyone, and he acknowledged that possessing the Land might be a long and arduous process when he handed Ephron 400 shekels for the cave of Machpelah.
All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
When we come to faith in Messiah Yeshua, we realize how great the love of God is. There is nothing greater in life than to realize the unconditional love of God. He forgives our past sins; He gives us help for today and promises us eternal life. The beautiful word ‘agape’ is almost inexpressible to us, His children.
As we grow in our faith, we realize that our expression of our love of God is demonstrated in our commitment to Him. It is not a works system, but one of love. After all, if you love someone, you want to do everything in your power to express that love. As we walk daily in the light of God’s countenance, we desire to be like Him, to live a holy separated life, and show Him how we love Him. We do this not because we have to, but because we want to, because we love Him.
Is there anything better than the favor of God? The Hebrew word for favor is rah-tzone רָצוֹן for will, favor, delight, acceptable goodness. Don’t we all love God’s favor? Yeshua even instructs us to pray for it in Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come, Your will (rah-tzone) be done on earth as it is in heaven. Psalm 5:12 states “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor (rah-tzone) as with a shield. Psalm 30:5 states “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor (rah-tzone) is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” When one is blessed by the LORD’s favor, it is better than any material gift one can receive. You cannot put God’s favor in a gift-wrapped box. It demonstrates His love for His children. Psalm 145:19 “He will fulfill the desire (rah-tzone) of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. “A good man will obtain favor (rah-tzone) from the LORD, But He will condemn a man who devises evil,” states Proverbs 12: 2.
If we cannot earn God’s favor, how can we demonstrate our love for Him? There is a blessing in that Hebrew word rah-tzone. If one takes the Hebrew consonants of that word and reverses them, one gets the word nah-tzahr נָצַר . The word nah-tzahr means to watch, to guard, to keep secret, to keep close, to guard with fidelity. Psalm 25:10 states “All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep (nah-tzahr) His covenant and His testimonies.” I want the lovingkindess and truth paths of the LORD! I will keep His covenant and testimonies. Psalm 78:7 notes “That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep (nah-tzahr) His commandments.” Psalm 119:2 asserts “How blessed are those who observe (nah-tzahr) His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.” Proverbs 16:17 states “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who watches (nah-tzahr) his way preserves his life.”
There are conditions in walking with the LORD. Believers are to trust in the LORD, to keep His commandments, to observe His testimonies, watch our way. We nah-tzahr נָצַר watch, guard, observe. In turn, the LORD blesses us with rah-tzone רָצוֹן goodness, favor, good will.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Yeshua Jesus to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (rah-tzone), to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.
In all wisdom and insight, He made known to us the mystery of His will (rah-tzone), according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Messiah, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will (rah-tzone), to the end that we who were the first to hope in Messiah would be to the praise of His glory.
Dr. Michael Herts is the New York Regional Director for Chosen People Ministries
Do we truly understand how spiritually dark the world is around us? People really do need Yeshua and they are lost without Him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). But what can we do about it? While there is much that can we done, the place to start is prayer including prayer for the lost. People cannot penetrate the darkness unless they become a follower of Yeshua, unless they have a saving faith in Him. They need to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
In the following three passages we see Yeshua’s and Rabbi Sha’ul’s (Apostle Paul) heart for the Jewish people who do not yet believe in Messiah.
““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Luke 13:34, TLV)
“Now Yeshua was going around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workers into His harvest field.”” (Matthew 9:35–38, TLV)
“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for Israel is for their salvation.” (Romans 10:1, TLV)
Are our hearts broken for those who do not yet believe like Yeshua’s heart, like Rabbi Sha’ul’s heart? Do we act like their eternity is not our concern? If it is a concern for Yeshua it should be a concern for those who follow Yeshua. The issues that break His heart should also break our hearts.
The place to start bringing light into dark places is prayer. No ministry or outreach to those who do not yet believe in Yeshua can be truly effective unless it is undergirded by prayer. Throughout history great revivals and awakenings can trace their roots to prayer meetings such as:
- First Great Awakening (1730-1740): 50,000 people came to the Lord in New England. Since New England had 34,000 people, almost 15% of the population came to the Lord.
- Second Great Awakening (1790-1830): In three counties in Virginia 3200 people came to the Lord in a three month span.
- Prayer Revival of 1857-1858: 50,000 people came to the Lord a week. Holy Trinity Church in Chicago went from 157 members to 1400 members. In New York City 10,000 people were coming to Messiah a week.
I have never met anyone who claims they spend too much time in prayer. I know I surely do not spend too much time in prayer. Next week I will be at Camp Kesher where I am one of the Directors of a Messianic Jewish camp for children and teenagers 8-16 year old. Soon after that I will be with our Shalom Brooklyn outreach with teams sharing the good news of Messiah with our Jewish people on the streets throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. These ministries are intended to penetrate the darkness and bring our Jewish people to faith in the Jewish Messiah. While there is a lot of planning and preparation involved, the most important preparation involves spending hours in prayer. Prayer prepares the spiritual battlefield. Prayer lays the foundation for victory. It is through prayer that we cry out to Yeshua who has all power in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).
May we pray earnestly for revival among our Jewish people. Who knows, perhaps we are due for the next major revival. I believe we are due for the next great outpouring of the Spirit of God. Let us pray …
 Byron Paulus, Onecry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 54-55.
 https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/159020.Leonard_Ravenhill?page=1 Accessed July 2, 2017.
In these end times, I believe God’s word for us today is “NO MORE!” No more gray, no more lukewarm, no more self-serving faith, no more blindness to spiritual warfare, no more abusing and being abused, no more ignoring and/or being controlled by strongholds and lies we believe about ourselves and about Him.
God is raising up a powerful and focused army to release His plans and purposes in these end times. As Moses parted the Red Sea, I believe the Lord is parting the body of Messiah - separating those who are armed and ready for battle from those who are not. He’s asking you today ... Are you in? Are you ready for battle? And if not, how can you get ready?
- Be Set Apart
Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the Lord.
But you will not go out in haste,
Nor will you go as fugitives;
For the Lord will go before you,
And the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
If you are to carry the sacred vessels of the Lord - and in these end times, I believe these “vessels” include: His Word, truth, righteousness, fruit of the Spirit, healing, restoration of the Feasts and Jewish calendar, all that supports and aligns with His strategic plan for the future and His Millennial reign (see Ch. 7 of my book Unshaken) - you need to be pure. He will tolerate “no more” an army made up of individuals who believe in Him, but are not purified and ready for battle.
- See the Unseen
It’s critical to recognize that all of these “fleshly” responses or weapons give the enemy ground or authority in your life. Picture, if you will, an unplugged appliance - perhaps a vacuum with it’s power cord pulled out of the wall. It no longer has any power, it cannot make any noise, it cannot move around or go anywhere, it can do nothing. However, if you take the cord and plug it back into a wall socket, it “comes to life.” It becomes filled with power and energy.
The same is true in the spiritual realm! Yeshua defeated Satan. He and his demons had their plugs pulled out of the wall per se at the cross. However, you plug those cords back in the socket and give them power and authority in your life whenever you fear, stress, etc. Again, this battle is going on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether or not you choose to be aware of it.
In closing, I encourage you to pray to God each day:
- that He would help you to see the unseen throughout the day
- that He would help you to partner with Him to release HIS purposes that day
- that He would shine His light and show you any lies you’re believing about yourself or about Him that are giving the enemy (the father of lies) power and authority in your life.
God is calling up an army who is committed to keeping the enemy’s power cord “unplugged,” and who is willing to respond to life’s challenges not with “fleshly,” but with spiritual weapons of warfare. Are you in? Are you ready?
Jeanne Nigro is a seasoned teacher, speaking at conferences, retreats, churches, congregations and professional organizations around the world, as well as through her television program “Facets of the Stone,” and daily “Unshaken” radio segments. Her messages are relevant, practical, and life-transforming whether she is bringing the Jewish roots of our faith to life, healing strongholds of the heart, or preparing believers for Yeshua’s return. She is passionate about leading her audiences to experience greater intimacy with God, mobilizing them out of fear, stress, frustration, and apathy and into action and purpose in these uncertain times, as powerfully communicated in her book “UNSHAKEN: Standing Strong in Uncertain Times. She and her family reside in Plano, TX. www.jeannenigro.com
Rabbi Chalafta ben Dosa of Kefar Chanania used to say: If ten men sit together and occupy themselves with the Torah, the Divine Presence rests among them as it is written (Psalm 82:1) “God has taken his place in the divine council.” And from where do we learn that this applies even to five? Because it is written (Amos 9:6) “And founds his vault upon the earth.” And how do we learn that this applies even to three? Because it is written (Psalm 82:1) “In the midst of the gods he holds judgment.” And from where can it be shown that the same applies even to two? Because it is written (Malachi 3:16) “Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened.” And from where even of one? Because it is written (Exodus 20:24) “In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.” (m.Avot 3:7)
If you’ve been keeping up with the various mishnayot of Pirkei Avot, you know that there have been many others that have emphasized the importance of Torah study and being engaged in the Holy Text. Rabbi Chalafta ben Dosa’s mishnah is another reinforcement on this concept. Why is this concept so important? Because the more we are engaged in the Scriptures, the more they will be on the forefront of our minds. And the more we think about them, the more likely we will be able to let them guide our decisions at any given moment.
Think about the temptation of our Master Yeshua. At three different points he was tempted by the Adversary. The Satan even quoted the Torah to lure Yeshua into his schemes. However, Yeshua used the very same Torah to rebuke the Satan, because he knew it inside and out. How many temptations could we have avoided if we had abided in the Scriptures as Yeshua and our sages?
Rabbi Chalafta ben Dosa knew that value and wanted to show that through engagement of Torah study a transformation can take place in anyone. But what does he mean that the “Divine Presence rests among them”? The passage he quotes (Psalm 82:1) uses the phrase Elohim nitzav, which means that God is standing. Chalafta ben Dosa uses this to tell us that even when the members of the Fellowship of the Torah go their own way, the Shechinah continues to abide, or stand, with the individuals in the merit of their previous endeavor.
But why does Rabbi Chalafta feel the need to show that groups of a lesser number of people, and even individuals, can have the Shechinah rest among them also? Beginning with ten men, he shows the merit of studying Torah as a congregation (since ten men constitute a minyan, therefore a congregation) and how it connects the Shechinah, Hashem’s Divine Presence, to those who are occupied with it. He then works his way through smaller groups of five, and then two, and then to a single individual. Using the proof text from Exodus, he claims that even one person who is faithful to study Torah, even though he may not have the benefit of being with the community, invites the Shechinah to reside with him, as it is written: “In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.”
In the same way Avraham Avinu argued with Hashem as to how few people it would take to forfend divine wrath, Rabbi Chalafta argues that numbers do not matter when it comes to experiencing this promise for whoever would occupy themselves in Torah study. Arguing from ten down to one, he shows that even if an individual engages in the Torah by himself, then the Shechinah is able to take up residence with him.
When we are occupying ourselves through Torah study and the performance of the mitzvot we are causing His name to be remembered. Every time we have an opportunity to study Torah, especially as a community, we are welcoming the Divine Presence, and asking for that blessing to remain with us, as we have learned from Exodus 20:24, “In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.” Therefore, He promises to come and bless us. Who doesn’t want Hashem to abide with us and to bless us? I sure do.
Darren Huckey is an author, blogger and teacher. He is the Rabbi’s Assistant at Nachamu Ami Messianic Synagogue (www.maconmessianic.com) in Macon, GA and the director of the Messianic teaching ministry, Emet HaTorah (www.emethatorah.com). He teaches classes on a variety of subjects including Biblical Hebrew, the Torah, the Apostolic Scriptures, and Jewish literature. Although not Jewish himself, he has a passion for helping people understand their Messiah in his “natural Jewish habitat,” particularly in relationship to the Master’s radical call to discipleship.
Many Messianic Jewish young people serve with distinction in the Israel Defense Force. One such soldier was recently awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence. A Messianic Jew won a televised national singing competition. Another won the annual national Bible quiz. Messianic Jews serve in the government, law, high tech and medicine, to name a few. The government’s response: tighten the screws on Messianic Jewish immigration. Now, whether applying for immigration to Israel from outside or inside the country, questions are asked whether the applicant is a Messianic Jew or attends a Messianic Jewish congregation. If they answer yes, they are blocked from immigrating. For every other Jew applying for immigration, one only has to prove Jewish heritage to successfully immigrate. It is shocking discrimination.
So, what does the church world do? Nothing. Do you think Jesus or Paul would approve cozying up to a government that blatantly persecuted their followers? It reminds me of lines from the Eagles’ famous song, “Hotel California,” where people unwittingly are welcomed into the high life without regard to the consequences, “Welcome to Hotel California, such a lovely place, such a lovely face.”
But something can be done if the believers of the world would draw their heads out of the sand. Here’s some suggestions:
- Every Christian leader who meets with the Prime Minister or a Knesset Member should ask when will discrimination against Messianic Jewish immigration cease.
- Christian donations to Israel should be made contingent upon requiring the presence of Messianic Jews from Israel in donation ceremonies. You may think this is overly strident. However, when I was president of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, this is exactly the arrangement we made with a Knesset Caucus group who requested we raise money for a worthy project in Israel. I demanded and the Knesset Member relented to allow me to publicly say at a ceremony in Israel that the money was raised by Messianic Jews in the United States.
- Christian tours to Israel should demand as part of their tours to meet with Messianic Jews and view their various humanitarian projects.
- Christian leaders should cease their accolades of the Prime Minister until he acquiesces to Messianic Jewish immigration to Israel.
- Christian leaders involved in political lobbying on behalf of Israel should include demands that the Israeli government cease discrimination against Messianic Jews.
- The approximate 15,000 Messianic Jews in the land should vote for political parties that support religious plurality, rather than parties who will likely join with ultra-orthodox parties to form a government that will automatically target Messianic Jews.
Partner, Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh Law Offices
Petach Tikvah and Jerusalem, Israel
Former Messianic Rabbi of Tikvat Israel Congregation, Richmond, Virginia
Former president of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations
Have you ever done something so awful that it stings when you remember it? The memory of it brings your head down low and it becomes a wave of shame. When I think of Rahab, that is what I imagine she must have felt. In this month’s Torah portions, we have the haftarah portion of Shelach, which includes the story of Rahab. The story of Rahab is found in Joshua 2:1-24. Joshua is now in charge of the Israelites and they are ready to go into the Promised Land. He sends two spies to enter the city of Jericho to give him a report. While the spies are in Jericho they are hidden by a prostitute, Rahab. She hides them from the king of Jericho in return for their promise of protection for her and her family during the Israelite invasion.
In v. 9 Rahab makes an important statement to the spies. She says, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.” Then in v.11 she says, “for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Rahab has had a very important revelation about God that she is willing to act upon. She is willing to put her life and her family’s life in jeopardy because she believes that the Israelite’s God, “He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath”. For Rahab to have come to this conclusion is pretty astounding. Remember who she is. She is a Cannanite, a woman and a prostitute! As a Cannanite she was raised believing in multiple gods and goddesses. As a woman in her culture she had very little power over her life, and as a prostitute she was marginalized even further. Yet, God positioned her on that wall so that she could take a stand for Him. Out of all the people in the city of Jericho God chose Rahab because He knew she would respond.
As the Israelites conquered the city of Jericho, they remembered the promise that they made to Rahab the harlot. As they burned the city to the ground, Rahab was safely removed along with her family and her possessions. She stood there as someone who had taken a stand for God and helped them in their victory, but, she was still Rahab the harlot. Even today she is known as Rahab the harlot. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you have made terrible choices in your life and others/yourself continue to remind you of your bad judgment? Rahab was living now in a community where everyone knew what she had been and that she was an outsider. When Rahab watched the city of Jericho burn, I don’t think that she thought she had a future that would unfold for her life. But, the first thing that God did was to reward her faithfulness with a husband. I’m sure that Rahab thought that no man would ever want her, but, God provided a husband for her! If we look at Matthew 1:5, “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab…..” God provided an excellent man to be a husband to Rahab. As Salmon and Rahab nurtured their son Boaz, we can only imagine what they taught him about condemning others. We can only imagine that they spoke to their son and encouraged him to be loving, merciful and kind. As others perhaps ridiculed Boaz because of Rahab, it created in Boaz a strength of character that God would use in his life. When Ruth the Moabitess returned with Naomi to Bethlehem, Boaz didn’t just look at her as a foreigner but, as a woman of integrity. He knew from his experience with his mother Rahab, what it was like to have a past and to be an outsider.
When Rahab made the stand for God she didn’t know that the God of Israel would forgive her past, give her a present and give her a future. In Matthew 1:5-6 we see the future that God gave her, “… Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, Jesse was the father of David the king.” Because of the stand that Rahab made, God allowed for her children to be in the lineage of King David and ultimately the Messiah.
No matter what our past is our God desires to forgive our pasts, to give us a now that has meaning and a future that is full of promise. Rahab had no idea how her life would change when she made the stand for God, none of us do!
Diana Levine is the Rebbetzin of Kol Mashiach Messianic Synagogue in Melbourne, Florida. She has spoken at national conferences, regional conferences, women’s retreats and bible studies. She is also the co-founder of the Daughters of Righteousness Conference. Keep in touch at https://www.facebook.com/DianaLevineBlog/
The modern state of Israel is a young country born merely 69 years ago. It is a small nation with approximately 8.5 million people in an area the size of New Jersey that has been plagued with conflict, war and terrorism even prior to becoming a state, and certainly since then. It is therefore surprising that Israel has developed to become one of the leading and most innovative countries in the world in fields as diverse as high-tech, bio-medical, agrotech, renewable energies, defense systems and many more.
Dozens of technologies that have changed the world were either developed in Israel or by Israelis. Some surprising examples are the Flash Drive (aka disk-on-key) that forever changed how we store and transfer data. What is less known is that it was developed by an Israeli company called Mirabilis and was bought out by another Israeli-owned company – SanDisk. Another Israeli development are the Intel 8088, Centrino, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Skylake and Kaby Lake processor chips, designed and developed by the Israel Intel team. More examples include Instant Messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), WhatsApp, Waze social navigation, the Amazon Kindle, the PillCam and many more.
Israel’s economy is sturdy and resiliant, and Israel is a proud member of the OECD group of economically developed nations. It boasts a robust and stable economy, ranks number one in the world for inflation stability, and continues to have a low unemployment rate. During the recent 2008-2009 global recession, when most developed nations declined into negative growth, Israel’s economy remained strong with positive growth demonstrating that although dependent on foreign economies, it is still strong intrinsically.
How then has the nation of Israel achieved such astounding breakthroughs and achievements, despite its small size and much opposition? The answer is simple – this is God’s doing! There is no other way to explain how a people that was dispersed among the nations for 2,000 years were regathered back to the Land given to them by God thousands of years ago. There is no other explanation to how their ancient but dead and unspoken language was revived to be their official language and their small and inexperienced military force (the IDF) was repeatedly victorious against multiple enemy armies that far outnumbered them in all parameters. And, in the midst of so many difficulties, Israel has become a shining light of innovation, advancement, economic stability and democracy in a region where many still live under tyranny and in poverty.
God foretold of these events through the prophets of Israel thousands of years ago. The prophet Ezekiel said: “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land… Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.” -Ezekiel 36:24-29
Zechariah said in chapter 1 verse 17, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity…”, while the prophet Jeremiah said, “I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first… all the nations of the earth [which] will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the abundant prosperity and all the peace that I make for it” (33:7,9).
This is the time when God is restoring Israel and making her the head of the nations. This is seen through her miracle rebirth as a modern nation in 1948 and continued successes on all fronts. Believers around the world not only have the opportunity to bless Israel and be blessed (through investment possibilities in Israel’s economic success, donations etc.) but also are called to do so. Will you respond to the call?
Stefan Silver serves as the Director of Business Development & Operations at Wise Money Israel (WMI), the first Investment Management firm in Israel staffed by Messianic Jewish professionals. WMI works with hundreds of individuals and organizations from around the globe to invest in Israel’s leading companies and technologies through Israel’s capital market – the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).
Stefan holds a B.A.in Economics and Management, and an MBA from Haifa University. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Stefan immigrated to Israel in 1992 and served for four years in the IDF’s Combat Engineering Corp, including combat experience on the front lines of the Second Lebanon war. He is currently a Captain in the IDF Reserves.
LinkedIn: Stefan Silver
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